Nate Haber 00:00
Episode 195 is here everybody. With the resilient man, I was really blown away by this conversation. Sometimes you’re just blown away in life when you meet somebody or talk to somebody. And they’re able to find the silver lining in such a horrific situation. That was the case. In this conversation that I had with this man who lost his mother at the age of… when he was only 14 years old, his mother committed suicide. And he was able to take that and turn it into somehow a positive experience. Somehow, ironically, he was able to make a horrific situation and find a silver lining which ultimately set him on his path and his entrepreneurial journey. fascinating conversation with a fascinating man, the founder of Got Mold?, a man who went from high school dropout to Wall Street to now business owner Got Mold?. Please welcome the one and only Jason Earle to the optimal life. So this is the first time I get to bring on… what somebody refers to as a healthy home evangelist. This is very exciting, Jason, how are you today?
Jason Earle 00:14
Excellent. Thanks for having me, Nate.
Nate Haber 01:12
So I’m curious, back to your childhood back to your teenage years, you went through quite a bit of adversity. And let’s start there. You were 16 years old when your mother committed suicide? Is that correct?
Jason Earle 01:26
I was…just turned 14.
Nate Haber 01:29
You were 14?
Jason Earle 01:30
Yeah, I just turned 14, I was in ninth grade. And yeah, that was… it was… that was probably the most transformative experience of my life. And without me, we can, we’re obviously here to chat about a lot of different things. But as if it was a foundational aspect, I would actually argue that my mother’s suicide was perhaps the best thing that ever happened to me. And whenever I say that, people kind of look at me askance. Because they don’t quite understand what that means. I love my mother, I would do anything to have her back, even just for a hug. But the trajectory that put me on, I would argue that on a larger basis, and maybe on a spiritual basis, I would argue that she gave me the gift of her suicide.
Because it opened up my mind to looking at how our, how our perspective, in life, it’s the quality of our life. She had lost perspective. She was overworked and underpaid, and also took very… took her divorce with my father to heart very deeply, also the previous divorce and considers herself a failure. But she just lost, she lost touch with the magic of the universe. And I had as a teenager, right around that time, I had also lost touch with the magic of the universe. And I was not suicidal. But I would say I was sure I entertained it. I ideated. And I listened to all the wrong music and all that kind of stuff I was, I was a very unhappy teenager. And when she died… somehow I was already in therapy. Because of all the family drama that we had. And I had, I had some tools, and I had some perspective. And quite frankly, I was also experimenting with a lot of psychedelics and I… and that looking back now, I believe that probably was one of the key elements in me being able to assimilate that experience of her committing suicide, and to recognize that she had lost her perspective and for me to gain or regain that perspective. And so from that point forward, I realized that it was up to me to determine the quality of my life. And as shortly thereafter, I got Lyme disease, or at least I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and then treated very aggressively with antibiotics, which knocked me out. I mean, it was three days on, three days off of antibiotics. And so I was sick and vomiting for three days and then sleeping for three days. I missed a ton of school. And the combination of those two things caused the school to flag me and basically told me that I was going to have to repeat my junior year or leave. They pulled me into the office one day in January. We’d only been in school for a couple of months. And they told me to leave or that I was going to repeat the year. So, I immediately pulled the trigger, and I dropped out of high school.
I actually called my father from a payphone and said, hey, listen, they’re trying to get me to stick around here for another year. Nobody wants to be here. I don’t want to be here. I’m going to sign out and my dad goes, I knew this call would come one day. And I said, well… He goes, What’s your plan? I said, I’m going to drop out, go to the gas station where I work part-time and get full-time hours and save money and get my GED and psychology early and you know, there’s no better revenge than massive success and I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I had heard it I repeated it and so I… My father’s a little bit of an anarchist and he drove right down and signed me out of school. And as I was walking out the door, I was walking with him towards the car and he goes, where you going? I said, I’m going to go home with you, and he was like the hell you are, you’re going to work. You’re a man now. So I walked down to the gas station from school, and told the owner of the gas station that I just dropped out, and I needed some more hours. And she goes great, I got another loser.
And I said, No, well, let me explain what’s going on here. So I told her and she goes, well, in that case, she fired the guy on the pump that minute and handed me his cash and said, go finish that shift. And you’ll be here tomorrow morning, because you’re on the counter, and I worked my ass off. I loved it, I was getting more money in tips than I was in my hourly wage. And, that was where I met the guy who recruited me to come work on Wall Street.
Nate Haber 05:45
Let me ask you going back, though, to the 14 years old, because it sounds like you were able to handle this devastating loss in a pretty beneficial way or the outlook that you had, because you were still in school. I mean, as a 14-year-old kid, I’m trying to get into the psyche. What was the feeling like when your mother was no longer here? What were those first days, weeks and months like for you?
Jason Earle 06:13
Really good question. There was a huge amount of denial at first, I remember when I was sitting in school, I was actually sleeping in sweats in Spanish class and my guidance counselor came out to get me and she looked very concerned. And I thought I got in trouble. I thought I was going to have discipline coming my way, because she didn’t come and get me for no reason. And so I walked into the principal’s office, and there’s my father, and my therapist, who is my rock and was wonderful man I’ve ever known. And they’re both sitting there and they have this awful look on their face. And I’m like, boy, I am in trouble.
Nate Haber 06:52
You’re going what the hell did I do?
Jason Earle 06:54
I was way off. I was like, oh, boy, what did they find?
Nate Haber 06:57
Let me ask you real quick. Let me ask you real quick, Jason, before you get to the story here. Did…Was there anything in your mind? Did you see the mental health issues that your mom… was your mind able to go like, this may be something really bad about my mom, or did you not even go there.
Jason Earle 07:01
Sure. I didn’t even go there. Because my mom had attempted previously twice. Once when I was 10. We celebrated my 10th birthday at Carrier Clinic, which is the psyche ward where she was. So that we got to make up my birthday cake came out of one of those vending machines. But previously, she had also attempted but didn’t end up going to the hospital because my father just kind of just let her stay upstairs and recover. That’s a longer conversation. But the pattern and a history there and threats of such as my mom was struggling with were obviously mental health issues, but emotional regulation issues and she was a force to be reckoned with at work. She was the Assistant Administrator of the hospital. And the director of nursing, she carried two roles she was very well respected in her industry and our community.
Nobody understood what was going on. She left the door at work, she walked in, she came home and everything fell apart. And she was an alcoholic, as all the roots of my family tree go into bourbon barrels. And it’s just a consistent pattern throughout my genealogy. But so there was… it wasn’t a surprise when it happened. But the shock of it when they sat me down was such that my father just simply just blurted out your mother’s dead. And, and I remember as I was sitting down, I said like, it just didn’t even see it just bounce off of me, you know. And then they went to tell the story that she didn’t show up to work. And so she was, she never missed a day at work. So work got the priority. Everyone else and… everyone else got the priority with my mom, it was she was very concerned about taking care of others. When she came home, the people around her were secondary, including herself was the last.
That was… she was generous to a fault. And so the bottom line is that she ended up… She and I got into a huge fight the day before actually. And so the saddest part about this, or at least from the outside when I tell the story is that my mom was trying to get me to move back after she kicked me out. Because I was just I was deserving to be kicked out. But I get kicked out a lot. I was kicked out from my dad’s house back to my mom’s house. And so I was a little bit of a bouncing ball at the time. And I had a little brother from my father’s most recent marriage. And so I wanted to get to know that baby. And so when she kicked me out and I moved in and I had this beautiful baby, she gets to know him and so she tried to get me to come back because we had a lot of animals.
We have horses and goats and all sorts of stuff at the house I grew up in, and she was doing this all by herself. And so she was pleading with me the day before to come and help her, and move come back in. And I said, Mom, I just can’t… I can’t keep getting kicked out. I can’t, I can’t go through this, I can’t keep getting, you know, I’m just, it’s just not, I can’t live like this. And she basically said, fuck you, I hate you and never want to see you again… I’m not sure if I’m allowed to…
Nate Haber 10:14
You can say whatever you want here. Absolutely.
Jason Earle 10:16
And then she went, and then she went home and drank a bottle of booze and took a bunch of pills. And so, you know, at first, of course, you go, I was the last person to see her. The last thing she said, I mean, I was the straw that broke the camel’s back. But for some reason… not instantly… I waited two weeks… I had this… I had an understanding. And it wasn’t necessarily that I just had an understanding that she needed to cut ties with me, because I was the only thing holding her back. And so she was looking for something, she was looking for a fight. And there was nothing that I was going to do to prevent that. If it wasn’t that day, it would have been another day. If it wasn’t that circumstance, it would have been another. And so thank heavens that I had the insight to recognize that, because that’s her life.
And I still feel the same way I do, that I did two weeks after she died, which is an immense amount of gratitude and an immense amount of love. You know, this one was obviously in a tremendous amount of pain. But since that event, I have, I have galvanized a sense of optimism, which is hard to explain. But when I talk to other people who have lost family members to suicide, who’ve looked at this, sort of from a zoom out as much as you can look at the big picture. Most of the people that I know that have been able to work through this stuff have a similar view. It’s fascinating that you were able to have that view at such an early stage, to be able to put that into perspective and say, had it not been this event two weeks prior or the night prior? From two weeks ago, it would have been a different event. And for you to have that insight, maybe you had help with therapists and people surrounding you and giving you insight, which I imagine you did. But to be able to accept that and feel that I mean, most kids would say, oh my god, I just caused my mom to do such a bad thing. This is my fault, my life ruined.
This is my fault. I am so grateful that for but by whatever grace, whatever, whatever resources, whatever, you know, that was… yeah, it was, it was a very natural process that happened. I spent a lot of time by myself in those two weeks, and it just settled in. And, and I have a better relationship with her now than I ever have.
Nate Haber 12:48
Now, when you say you have gratitude, talk a little bit about that. Because that when somebody says, here’s that, at face value, they go, what the hell is he talking about? So you said you have gratitude for her suicide and for the situation. Dig into that for us?
Jason Earle 13:04
Yeah, more. Like I said before, I would argue that she gave me the gift of her suicide. My life now is such that it has been for a long time. I wouldn’t change any of it. In fact that I think that was probably something that I arrived at pretty young, I wouldn’t say I probably within two weeks, I felt that way. But for sure. The decision, the things that came out at the camp, she wouldn’t let me drop out of school for sure. She was very focused on education.
And so it there were all these limitations, all these fears with her in life, that were an incredible burden to her and to everyone around her. And being free to be myself and to express myself and to explore my own potential and to explore my own strengths and weaknesses and all that stuff. unencumbered has allowed me to become the person that I’ve always wanted to be I mean, you know, I, I would say that she being if a mother’s love is pure, right? Agape love, right? If that’s true, then then that’s what she wants, and her highest and best self… her highest and best self wants me to be that way, right? So my feeling is that, that she gave me she opened the doors for me to be more of who I was destined to be.
Nate Haber 14:32
So you’re so you’re saying Jason that while her intentions were pure, and she wanted what was best for you in her mind? Had she not committed this terrible act? Your life’s path would most likely have been very different.
Jason Earle 14:51
It would have been it would have been very different my not to say there’s anything wrong with blue collar work or anything like that, because a lot of my friends and family are in the trades. But my aspiration at that point after high school was probably to become an auto mechanic. And that would have been great, I would have loved it. I love working with my hands. But I’ve been able to go through through this amazing experience where I work on Wall Street as a young kid. And then I had a great career on my own firm for a while. And then I started this business where we help people.
With Got Mold?, we help people navigate mold problems in their homes so they can restore their property, and health and peace of mind. And so all of this stuff stems from I would even argue that I’ve made a point of finding my history for future goals, if you will. So there is a thing here where I feel like every single obstacle that I’ve had every difficulty, whether it’s, you know, in business or with my mom or with my own asthma, mold induced asthma as a child, all of those things have turned out to be stepping stones for me. You know, my optimism comes from my mother suicide. My business and helping helping other people live healthier lives comes from my… false diagnosis of cystic fibrosis from the house I grew up with.
Nate Haber 16:10
What do you mean, Jason, when you explain that your optimism comes from her suicide?
Jason Earle 16:17
Sometimes you need to get shocked to wake up. Sometimes you need to get jarred where… we all live on autopilot. I have a two year old little boy and a four month old and and I watched the the purity of their emotions, and they have yet to be indoctrinated into the way they should think feel or act. They’re just them. And, but when you when you’re a teenager, the indoctrination kicks in, and I think that’s what causes most teenagers to be teenagers. And there’s disempowerment. There’s, there’s a whole sense of, you know, gosh, this is gonna be I’m not being treated with respect, but they expect so much for me, there’s all these difficulties in teenage years.
And there’s just a daunting, daunting future. And I was a terrible student in the sense that I didn’t want to do homework, and I didn’t show up to school most of the time, and I was getting in trouble all the time. All those things were resistance to life, they were resistance to structure their resistance to I didn’t want to be like them I didn’t want to be. And when she killed herself, she forced me to look at what is it that she is or was that I didn’t want to do that I didn’t want to be. And I was raised by pessimists. I mean, when pessimists die hard, but my father, if he listens, his podcast, he will agree. He’s a pessimist. You know, he just he hates he’s an editor, he looks for problems by training, and his trade is defy errors. You know, that’s his perspective in the world. Even his eyeglass prescription forces him to look at things differently, right?
So the my mom had a similar pessimism, she was very fear, fear oriented. And so that, that that sort of cataclysmic event forced me to stop and, and back up a little bit and give me the space to see it. And to see them with love and compassion, because how could you not have compassion for a woman who felt that this is too hard to handle? And, and that love and compassion, I was able to get some space. And say, boy, if I did, a Ben Franklin, sort of, you know, pro and con, you know, do you do the comparison, you list your parents, the pros and cons and strengths and weaknesses and all those weaknesses that they had I examine that said, I can’t be like that. I can’t be like that, I can’t live… if I live like that…if I duplicate their, their reaction to the world, the way that they moved to the world, I’m gonna end up like them.
Nate Haber 18:48
Jason Earle 18:48
And, and so it was, it was a wake up call of epic proportions that I will… I can’t express enough gratitude for that.
Nate Haber 18:57
You articulated very well, I have to tell you. So you end up back to where you were, you’re at the gas station, and then your life starts taking a rapid change quickly and you get into the business world. Take us take us through it. How did you go from gas station to Wall Street?
Jason Earle 19:14
Quickly, very quickly. So I was I was pumping gas, I was having a great time. Washing windows, changing, checking tire pressures and fixing you know plugging tires and stuff like that. And like I said, before, I was getting more tips than I was actually earning from my whatever it was $7 an hour, I think it’s fine. And so the guy came out with a flat tire on his BMW and he was a big rush and and he asked me to put some air in his tire because it was flat. And I said, well, I can put some air in it, but it’ll be flat again before you know it. So if you give me a few minutes, I can maybe fix it for you. And he said, well, if you could do it fast, there’s money in it for you.
So I said sure. Pull over there. So you can see the nail sticking out I just pulled it out, put it put some air in the tire within five minutes. He was ready to go and so I said that’s $5 and he put some cash money in my hand and sped out. And when I looked at my hand, it was $50 bill, which I thought was a mistake. So I thought he was gonna come back for it. So I kept it, I put it in a little pocket in your jeans, you know. And I wasn’t gonna mix it with anything else. I just wanted to make sure that he came back, I can give it to him. And sure enough, he did not come back until two weeks later, when he came in for gas again, because he was commuting and the train station was right around the corner. And he came in and I went up to him, and I said, hey, man, I don’t know if you remember me. And he’s like, Jason, right? And I was like, how does he remember my name?
Which of course is like the first rule and how to win friends and influence people, right? So he remembered the faces… first name. I didn’t remember his name. And he gave me a $50 bill. So he… I said, I don’t know if you realize that. You gave me a, it was a $5 job, and you give me a 50. And he said, I didn’t have 100.
Nate Haber 20:51
Look at that.
Jason Earle 20:52
And I was like, wow, I mean, my small minded thinking. So obvious back, then.
Nate Haber 20:57
You’re going, this guy’s teaching me lessons left and right here in two seconds.
Jason Earle 21:02
And he said, he said, where he said, I said, I feel like I owe you a favor or something. He’s like, kid, you don’t get it. I would have missed the meeting. It was a very good investment. If anything, I owe you a favor. And I said, well, what do you do for a living? And he said, I work on Wall Street, and I said, how about get me a job. And he said, you only get what you ask for so write down my number. And call me by… call me at 9am tomorrow, or don’t ever bother calling me at all.
Nate Haber 21:23
Did you know what he was… when he said, I work on Wall Street at the age of 17? Did you understand what that meant?
Jason Earle 21:28
No idea. No, I just said give me a job.
Nate Haber 21:30
You just like the fact that you like the fact that he was able to hand you a 50 and not blink, and he was driving a BMW, so you want to do what he’s doing.
Jason Earle 21:38
And honestly, he was overweight, and he had bad breath. And he had a beautiful wife and I thought man, he’s doing something right. His nameis Randy Astra, probably is one of one of my best friends. And it’s like a brother to me. Now, of course, but, but back then, you know, he just he was just a rough and tumble Wall Street guy. And he was just, you know, take no prisoners. And so I grabbed a pen and I went to go write down my number or write down his number, but I didn’t have a piece of paper. So I started writing on my hand, and he started laughing. And he rolls up his sleeve. And he had stock quotes written all over his forearm, he gooes you’re gonna, you’re gonna fit right in here. So he sped off and I went home, I told my dad that I just met a guy who, who offered me a job on Wall Street.
He’s like, what he’s like, so what’s the deal? And I told him, he goes, well, if you don’t call, I’m gonna call him for you. Like you have to do that. And my father… I that most parents would have said, watch out, that sounds sketchy. What’s he going to do with a kid from high school dropout and all this stuff? My father didn’t do that. He said that’s something you have to pursue. So I called him at 8:59. Because I was worried about that 9am thing. And, and then he answered goes, you called. I said, of course I did. And he goes, okay, most people don’t. I said… he says what are you doing today? I said, I’m going to work. He said, where? And I said the gas station. He said, Well, yeah, answer. I’d say can we do that again? He said, sure. What are you doing today is going to work? He said, where? And I said, What’s your address?
Nate Haber 23:05
There you go.
Jason Earle 23:06
And he goes, hold on a sec. What’s your address? Here? He’s a little bit of a he’s a funny guy. 888 Pine Street, 10th floor. See you soon! Click!
Nate Haber 23:15
No shit. Wow.
Jason Earle 23:16
And I was like, What? What am I gonna do? Dad, I gotta borrow. I borrowed my dad’s penny loafers. I put on my finest pair of jeans for my Wall Street interview. I had no clothes to wear, you know. And I put on a button down shirt with a sweater over top. I was all frumpy and I flip flop my way up to Wall Street. I took a train. There was a train station down down the street and took a train into New York by myself and found my way to his office and went upstairs and there was a cruise maniacal, very famous at the time. I didn’t know at the time, but it was a it became it was a penny stock firm. It was the same crew of guys that are described in the movie Boiler Room, and Wolf of Wall Street, and Guy.
Nate Haber 23:55
I was just watching Wolf of Wall Street last night ironically, again.
Jason Earle 24:04
Jordan Belfort and the guys who own our firm were contemporaries, and they were all playing the same dirty game. And Randy was the managing director, the guy who recruited me. So I went in there and he, he came out and he’s a kid you showed up? And I said, yeah, of course. He goes, no kid, most people don’t is it 90% of success in life is showing up. And I remember him saying that. And then years later, I realized that’s a Woody Allen quote.
But it’s but it’s true. And I learned later after I became a stockbroker, and I tried to recruit kids from gas stations, and I saw a kid with a great personality and he was a hard worker. And so I thought, man, you know, look what Randy did for me. I handed out probably 100 cards and maybe two or three kids actually follow through.
Nate Haber 24:44
So you started as a stockbroker at 17?
Jason Earle 24:47
I immediately he said so What’s your schedule like? And I said well, my gas station career is pretty flexible you know I can be I can be available for you. So he said well isn’t good if I if you give me six months your life I’ll make you rich. You know? I was like, okay, sounds good. What else am I gonna do?
Nate Haber 25:03
Right? You’re like dropping out of this dropping out of school thing working out really well here.
Jason Earle 25:07
Yeah, it was a fast track. Who knew?!
Nate Haber 25:10
Let me ask you real quick though, Jason, because I found it interesting. You said your dad was one of, you know, an ultimate pessimist. And he did admit to that you had to be shocked at his reaction when he actually told you to you better call this guy.
Jason Earle 25:25
Yeah, I mean, he shocks me sometimes with where his pessimism and optimism manifest or how they manifest you know, I think he was always optimistic about my future, but maybe not about his.
Nate Haber 25:37
Got it. Got it. Okay.
Jason Earle 25:39
Or, you know, I think that sometimes, you know, there was there was a lot of hope with my parents that I would be something, you know, every parent has that right. But my mom would always say, one day, you’re gonna get rich and you build a house in the back for me.
Nate Haber 25:51
Well, it’s interesting. I think a lot of times too, when a guy that’s a person that’s so pessimistic, and typically goes against the grain and tries to play the other side, or at least show you the other view, all the sudden is the biggest cheerleader for something and saying you better get on this and do it and grow active. It resonates it carries a lot more weight. Like wait a second. What does he know that I don’t you know, you almost think that he’s able to see it.
Jason Earle 26:15
Yeah, it reminds me a little bit of Willy Wonka or Charlie and Chocolate Factory. Remember the beginning where where Charlie finds a ticket but his grandparents are all sleeping in one bed. Remember that? Like all they’re just like completely losers.
Nate Haber 26:26
Jason Earle 26:27
And, and but they see him and they’re like, so excited. He might make it out of this place.
Nate Haber 26:32
Right? Yeah, exactly.
Jason Earle 26:34
Similar kind of feeling when it’s a good analogy.
Nate Haber 26:37
Yeah, it’s interesting. So you end up doing the stock broking thing and did he did he hold his word to Randy did he make you rich in six months?
Jason Earle 26:45
Well, it’s a quality that six months. But but but it was it was hard. I mean, I sat there it was back into his the old days it was before the internet. And so there was you know, I had a green quote tron in front of me. So I only had you know, if I had clients, they had to call us but before I became a stockbroker, before I was able to get my stock brokers license, the training was brutal. I had to sit there first site called Dun and Bradstreet, these basically just business owners like a telephone book, and qualified them as potential prospects and then handed the cards over. And then over time, I was given the ability to reach out to them and and solicit investments from it. And at the time, there was very the enforcement of our regulations about like how to do that were zero. And so there’s lots of abuse, that those firms were known for that.
But anyway, I ended up learning how to sell stocks over the phone, it was four to 500 phone calls a day, manual dials. And if you get 40 guys to pick up, you might get 10 guys to listen to your pitch. And if one said yes, and said, hey, kid, you know, I’ll buy 100 shares, or I’ll buy 1000 shares. That was the path to make a million dollars a year, you know, just one yes, per day out of four to 500 dials. So that if you do the math on that, that’s a quarter of a percent success rate. That’s a 99.75% failure rate. And that’s the key that the the path to success was was through a quarter of a percent chance of success. Right? So you look at that, that’s like the eye of the needle, right? There’s just nothing else what you all you do is you sit there and dial, I would sit there and dial two phones at the same time. And we can see who answered you know, and it was one of those, you just and so you went from that optimism. I got excited every day because I didn’t know I had this quote on my desk said you never know if the next guy you call changes your life.
Right? So just you just dial you just dial dial. Sure enough, the guy who says yep, kid, I’ll give you a chance to do that. You do that 365 days a year. And believe it or not, many of us work on Sundays, seven days a week 5am 6am until 10 o’clock at night. That’s how you get 500 phone calls in and, and sure enough, it started adding up but I was at that firm for about a year and a half. And I saw behind the curtain and saw that they were doing bad stuff. And I wasn’t I didn’t have kids in college or big mortgage so I was able to leave. They went out in flames of glory that are well documented and all the financial publications. They got took down the clearing agent who was their bank and a bunch of other firms and other business. It was a debacle. But I was able to break free of that and went to go work at a very reputable firm.
For seven years after that it was no longer in business. And then I got recruited actually out of a parking lot. I do well in garages apparently. I got recruited out of a parking garage while I was getting my car by Mario Gabelli, who’s the founder of Gabelli funds. He’s self made billionaire, and he and I start chatting about stocks. He’d been on CNBC, I’d seen him that day. And I went over to him and I said, hey, I saw you talking on CNBC about Barrick Gold. I have some questions for you. And he’s like, sure, let’s talk. So we started talking and he recruited me to come work for him. So somehow or another, the garages and the garage has served me well.
Nate Haber 29:52
Yeah, yeah, that’s fascinating. So what what forced you or got you to pick Have it from this lucrative it sounds like a lucrative career on Wall Street to ultimately getting into this environmental, Got Mold. You know, mold has become a very important thing. And that’s become your mission. So how did that all unfold?
Jason Earle 30:13
Well, so by my mom had me volunteer at the hospital where she worked during the summers, because I think mostly she was concerned I was going to burn the house down. So she would have me volunteer, although quietly, she paid me I think $5 a day so they could have you know, like they could get stuff out of any mission. So it’s kind of a little bit of a subsidized volunteer program. But it was great because I… it was… the hospital was a rehab facility, and physical and occupational rehab, brain trauma, that kind of rehab. It’s a lot of people there that were that were recovering from, from a very difficult situation a lot of amputees and volunteering there was in I didn’t dietary, I did shipping overseas, I brought stuff up to the wards, candy striping, lots of different stuff. And I got a sense of service from that, that, that really stuck with me the idea that I went to work all day, and I remember going home and thinking, my fear, so tired, but I feel so full, my heart feels so full. And I remember thinking about the people and how joyful they were, and they were sitting there with no legs or no arms, and how grateful they were.
And that was just that something really sat with me and stuck with me. And so when I went to go when I was on Wall Street, and I was making a lot of money, when I decided to start my own firm, I was 22 or something like that. And and I decided I was going to take 5% of proceeds 5% of my my net revenues, and donate that to charities, but I did a bunch of research to see what kind of charities I could actually see, I could watch, I see $1 go in and see this result, you know, track like investment, as opposed to sort of blind philanthropy, you know, this idea of just sending money to these giant, Sandy these, these these large employers basically. And so I identified a couple that were really compelling have passed for humanity and Operation Smile, both of which you invest in you because your house built where you can see a child’s face transformed. And I became involved with Operation Smile very actively I started doing speaking at youth volunteer conventions, Prince University in Malibu, and then also doing some international missions. And that really, that was that was it for me, I said, you know, I’m doing it wrong. If I’m going away for two weeks, I never took a vacation.
But if I went away for two weeks, if I took a vacation, I would come back more tired, because I was too busy dedicating myself, you know, drinking or eating or whatever. And I came back and I was tired, I needed a vacation from the vacation. And I also wasn’t able to really take a vacation on Wall Street. Because if you leave your desk for more than three days, someone else will be sitting at it, you know, so, so I bought what I would wait for volunteer missions, I would sometimes be away for up to two weeks, but my desk was somehow protected because I think it’s pretty hard to fire someone when they’re doing volunteer charity missions. And so, but I come back so invigorated and so so fulfilled. And so when the dot-com bubble burst, the firm I owned, the branch office went out of business, and I realized that the market was gonna be broken for a while because it was right around September 11. And it was a whole big thing. So between the dot-com bubble bursting and September 11, I decided to leave.
And, and I it was really because I just decided one day I I wasn’t having fun. I had fun for nine years. And one day I woke up and I said I don’t want to do this. Like I don’t want to call people I don’t believe in the asset class. I had a lot of doubt. And so I took a I walked into the, to the office, and I said I’m out of here, Scott. And he said, what do you mean, I’ll see you in a little bit. I was like, No, I’m really out of here. And, and so I quit I just literally walked out one day I made the decision in the morning when I woke up, hadn’t really thought about it before and I quit that afternoon.
Nate Haber 33:49
Now when you walked out to quit, did you already have this mold idea in mind or not yet?
Jason Earle 33:54
Zero. So I quit with without any idea about what I was going to do or where I was gonna go. So I sold everything. I sold a bunch of stuff. I cleared out my apartment, I just I was gonna go on walkabout. And this was an I quit August of 2001 right before September 11. And I was going to do it around the world ticket and I was just gonna take my CDs that shows you when this was my seat I had CDs and my journal camera.
I turned my phone off. I put an autoresponder on an email, and I was gonna do an around the world ticket and then September 11 happened. So it said, and a bunch of my friends died in the buildings because I used to commute through that building every day. And so that was a very that was very close to home. My CFO, actually from my firm, when he left when my firm went out of business and he went to work at Cantor Fitzgerald. He was always the first one he went down he had a baby who had a six month old. It was just terrible. Most of the people I know that died September 11 had little kids.
Nate Haber 34:49
I gotta tell you that Jason I was watching videos on September 11 last month, and I was in college when the towers went down that day. And it’s amazing. 20 years later, sitting there watching it now with my perspective and having kids and just being more mature and older, of course, and life experience watching those videos of those and listening to the interviews I was, man, I couldn’t stop my tears from falling down. Just watching something that happened 20 years ago, I had never cried about it prior. But here I am. Here I am. 20 years later watching these videos, and just bawling like a little kid, I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you.
Jason Earle 35:30
You know, it’s funny, I didn’t cry about it for a long time either. Because it was so shocking. It was I was so I there was a sense of disbelief. I went back to visit the site after I’ve been traveling, and I couldn’t even believe it was it was still not real until I actually went there. But it was in and I moved ultimately skipping over just in the last five years. Well, five years ago, I moved back into the city with with Sarah. And we had our babies, but and I was only three blocks away from the World Trade Center. So this has been a central story of my life, you know, the whole gold thing. In fact, I started on Wall Street a month after the first bombing, check this out.
And I quit a month before September 11. So that’s like bookends for me. And so people say well, would you ever go back to Wall Street? And I said, well, no, my bulkheads are already in place. You know. That’s, that’s the chapter. So what happened was I went traveling and when I took a train from New Jersey, to via rail, Amtrak via rail is Canadian is a Canadian railway. So via and Amtrak had this deal where if you bought this package, you could travel between Canada and the US, you had to go in one direction and it was a 30 day pass and you have unlimited stops as long as you kept going in one direction.
So I bought this and what from Princeton, New Jersey up to Montreal and then to Toronto, and then Winnipeg and then all the way up to Churchill, which is like the Arctic Circle, Hudson Bay, hung out with the polar bears on the tundra for a while, and then went back down and then over to like Jasper and Banff and all the Canadian Rockies and then all the way out to Vancouver and Vancouver Island, hung out there for a while and then went down to Seattle, Portland, LFL San Francisco in LA, and, and I had some friends in San Francisco. So I stayed there for a little while. And then I flew to Hawaii from LA. And while I was there, I was still young enough that I could hang out. I could still live in the state of the youth hostels, and that’d be a creepy old guy. And I was sleeping on the beach and I was eating, you know, avocados from the farmers market. I was just like it was I was I was doing like college kids stuff, because I’ve never gone to college.
Yeah. And I was happy. I had money. And it was kind of fun. And no one knew I had money. So it was even more fun. I could just chill. And, and so I while I was there, I was reading a lot, and writing a lot, but reading a lot of local newspapers and stuff. And there was a story about this huge mold problem that had been discovered in the Hilton Kalia tower. And if you Google it, it’s still to this day, the biggest mold problem, biggest mold remediation project in modern history. And it have been shut down for this mold problem that was discovered by a maid initially where she found a little bit of mold behind a wallpaper and wallpaper that she peeled the wallpaper. She thought that was the whole wall. And as you know, this was in the early days of mold. So there was no such thing as a mold remediation protocol. There weren’t even really mold remediation firms, there were asbestos lead paint, and they would just throw on, you know, this different magnet on their car, on their trucks for the different environmental hazards, essentially.
So there was the these, this mold remediation was was underway at the time in this building in Hawaii. And there’s the stories in the local papers were about people who a lot of them are about people who got sick to the building people who work there or stay there. And there’s one story that jumped out. And it was about this 40 year old guy who had developed adult onset asthma, I’d never heard of that. And he also suddenly developed sensitivities to foods that he had never been sensitive to before allergies and sensitivities, which was like full of deja vu because when I was about four lost 30% of my body weight and three week period, and and was falsely diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, the later we had another round of tests, and they concluded they didn’t have cf I should have had asthma, compounded by pneumonia, and then they did allergy tests and I was allergic to literally everything in my environment was grass, wheat, corn, eggs, dogs, cats, cotton. That means sheets, T shirts, jeans, socks.
That means you know, I was living on a farm or we were surrounded by dogs, cats Craske we, you know, so everything in my environment was a source of difficulty. And so I lived on inhalers mostly until I was 12. My folks split up at that point I moved out or got kicked out and all my symptoms slowly started to go away. And and, and I was I can remember now going back into the house occasionally and noticing some heaviness, noticing the odor and stuff like that but never connected the house to the to the to the to the illness Until I’m sitting here in Hawaii reading the story. And I thought, Geez, I wonder if old truck road made me sick. So I called my dad from a payphone, which probably isn’t there anymore, and said, Hey, do you think we had a mold problem that we’ll try and wrote and his exact words were chasing? We had fucking mushrooms in the basement, of course, we had mold. You know, why do you ask? And I said, well, because I just read this article, I think that’s what made me sick. And he’s like, Well, certainly didn’t help.
Anything. It also didn’t help that we had, you know, the cats and dogs use the bat, use the basement as a litter pan, and we smoked. And you know, it was just baster of environment, indoor air quality disaster, I mean, and so that immediately though, immediately, in that moment, I’ve said, this is what I want to do. I’m going to I’m fascinated by not mold, per se, but how buildings impacts people’s health. This is something people take for granted, this buildings or buildings, if we think about these things, as boxes, we live and store stuff in or live, work and store our stuff in. But really, they’re an extension of our homes, and our workplaces are an extension of our immune system. It’s an exoskeleton. And so skin, filters out environmental pollutants, or, or allows them in or creates an environment conducive to the growth of things that can harm you. And if you don’t maintain your building, the way you don’t maintain your body, you will suffer, it will impact your immune system. So in many ways, we are the building’s immune system.
And if we fail to do our work with that, it’s a symbiotic relationship. And somehow that idea I can articulate that clearly. But I had that notion at the time, that there’s a relationship here that needs to be explored. And, and thinking about mold and moisture. And this is a ubiquitous fact of nature. And I began googling it and seeing that there was nobody talking about this stuff. And I thought, Man, this is just this is going to be interesting. So I came back to New Jersey armed with curiosity, and and took a job working for a mold remediation company. Turns out a bunch of those are ex stockbrokers. So I thought these guys were thugs, that, you know, they’re just chasing dollars. And sure enough, they were abusing the consumer, they were using a lot of chemicals. And they were just overcharging. And I fought to create a company that would serve as an advocate for them in the sense that we would be doing inspections, we would be the first call, and we would protect them from the contractors, do the inspections, do the testing, be completely agnostic, be completely beyond any conflict of interest, and we would help them navigate the problem. And we would create a report that would be the guidance document, this wasn’t happening at the time, there was no such thing as a company doing this. And, and, and it worked. We went around to doctors and told them what we’re doing. And I asked him if they had patients that they were unable to help that were they were not seeing any improvement. And so I got these referrals that were like he’s crazy.
And and and sure enough, we went into the house and found environmental issues, mold issues, gotten corrected, and these people got better. And the doctors gave us more referrals. And around that time, I heard about a guy training dogs to sniff out hidden mold and buildings and I thought that’s just crazy enough to be brilliant. And I went down to Florida and Matt would be my partner for 14 years I have Oreo will sniffing dog whether or not she was elaborate lap Labrador retriever, put through 1000 hours of training and she and I did 1000s of inspections together we were on Good Morning America and Extreme Makeover Home Edition and 1000s of newspapers, magazines, a couple of books and working dogs, couple college biology textbooks.
And we never did any, any PR people People loved the idea of a rescue dog helping helping fix sick homes where little kids live and and so that became one 800 Got mold. And then that business, which is still Still we serve primarily in the Northeast region, that that that business has morphed into, for the benefit of scale into or from that business, we learned that the consumer has a hard time affording a mold inspection that average inspection is around $1,500. And that’s cost prohibitive for most people, most renters for sure. And so we began looking at ways that we could help make mold testing or air quality testing affordable for everyone. And so from that we’ve created a do it yourself test kit public got Mold Test Kit, we’ve got a got mold.com God mlb.com And, and that that test kit is is a game changer for the consumer because you don’t have to worry about hiring anybody, you don’t have to worry about conflict of interest, you don’t have to worry about the scientific validity, we have an exclusive deal with the number one lab in the country.
So the results are our top shelf. They’re actually the full professional accredited lab analysis. But you can test your house for 100. You can test one room for $149 lab fees and shipping included. And so the idea behind that is that we most people don’t take care of their mold problem because they’re disempowered. It’s either cost prohibitive, or they’re concerned about what they might find. And so what we want to do is give people a safe way to figure out how their concerns are valid. Give them a path with the resources and knowledge that we’re giving them through our learning. firstname.lastname@example.org The idea here is to teach a man to fish. You know, our mission is to empower people with the tools and knowledge, they need to make better decisions about the air they breathe.
And so rather than doing it for them, which is what we’ve always done, we’ve always made rich people healthy. Our job now is to give people leverage and tools so that they can protect themselves. Maybe they can break a lease if they’ve got a bad landlord using our kid. Or maybe they can, you know, get the attention they need if there’s moldy classroom is causing the problem. So, you know, we had some teachers use our kit in a beta test for holding classrooms. So we looked at as a lever for change, and a way to scale out the impact that the that we were able to do on a on a small regional basis store especially,
Nate Haber 45:32
that’s phenomenal. what a what a story. You’ve also been featured in addition to extreme makeover and Good Morning America, you’ve been featured in Entrepreneur, Dr. Oz Show and wired just to name a few. Got Mold Test Kit, real science, real simple. It’s amazing, because so many times people don’t want to even acknowledge things that they can’t see touch or feel right. And that’s probably the biggest thing is that you, oh, we have a mold problem, maybe but we can’t see it. It’s not really impacting us. But it really, as you pointed out, it’s impacting you in so many different ways, potentially that you don’t even know. So with the Got it. So with the got Mold Test Kit, Jason, how does it work? What how does it work? Do they get, you know, they open it up, they put it down and explain how it works. And then what they do once they find out what their levels are?
Jason Earle 46:21
Sure, if you want to have your house tested for mold, you would typically hire a professional who would come in well, let me say this, there’s an entire spectrum of mold products, including mold products, ranging from gimmicks, like these $10, petri dish test kits that you can buy at the Home Depot checkout, you know, the, like these impulse purchases, those are scientifically valid, they don’t work, they always grow mold. So by the way, if you’re concerned about mold, the last thing you want to do is grow more in your house. And these are encouraging you to do that. But then there’s also on the other side of the spectrum, there’s these professional inspections where they can be 1000s of dollars and often are. And so there’s a there’s this huge gap in the middle of where there’s a lot of question of questionable products, and they’re the ones that are very well marketed or even more questionable. And the ones that are not well marketed are actually usually scientifically valid. So it’s an unfair environment for the consumer. And, and so what we decided to do was take the same if you want to have your house to buy professional, they come in equipped with a variety of tools, including an air sampling pump, and that pump is basically a vacuum device that pulls air through a cassette, known as a spore trap.
Spore traps are the most common tool for assessing air qualities, especially when it comes to mold and what they called Bio aerosols, which means biological particles that are suspended in your air, all in and, and household dust and things like that your how air is more like stew than it is space. It’s got there’s a lot or even you can say it’s like spaces, asteroids flying around, they look like they’re piling, there’s a lot of stuff floating around in your air that you can’t see, taste, touch, taste or feel, but impact you in ways that like you said, you may not know until they’re actually until it’s removed, a lot of people don’t experience discomfort or they think they’re not until the mold is is fixed. And then suddenly they’re sleeping well and they’re not blowing their nose 10 times a day, and they’re not as fatigued. And they’re you know, they’re finding they’re not having as much rage and anger and difficulty sleeping. So people oftentimes experience relief without knowing that they were sick in the first place, when it’s when an environment gets corrected.
But the bottom line when it comes to how our shit works, we took the same devices that the professional uses that can set that spore trap. And we took that pump, and we reverse engineer and we figured out how we can make one that’s affordable battery powered, pulls the same airflow rate. And so that interfaces with the same cassette that professionals use all over the world. And so you buy the email@example.com and soon on Amazon, and it’s 149 for one room 199 for two rooms 249 For three rooms. And when you get it there’s there are two boxes inside the box. One has the air sampling pump, and it comes with batteries. So you can test right away when you get it. And then the other box has the cassettes in them. And that box that the cassettes come in is also a prepaid return mailer. So there’s very little waste in the packaging. You put the batteries in, you take the set, you do an outside air sample, five minutes.
So you bring it outside about five feet away from your most used entrance to grab an outside reference sample, and then you sample in the areas of concern in your home. So generally people have a pretty clear idea. Most people know if they have a mold problem where it is because the odor is that giveaway, where they have an intuitive sense. I’ve had pregnant women get down on the floor and point with their like with their reference point to a spot on the wall. And then later we bring the dogs through and the dog would alert exactly where the woman had pointed, you know, so people have a pretty good sense of where there’s a problem in their home. And so we recommend that they sample and complaint areas and also areas of concern like children’s rooms and nurseries and play rooms and things like that. And then you put the cassettes back in the prepaid Miss return mailer, they go to our lab partner. And then they’re analyzed within two business days. And results are distributed through our, through our app. So you get a really nice report with a clearer interpretation of the lab results with the green, yellow, orange or red indicator determined by what we find. And then he gets the actual lab data in the behind that you get a list of recommendations that are driven by your specific issue, or at least an opportunity to address each one, whether you’re looking for our mediation contractor, we have a link to the patient where they’re certified, and inspector different Association.
We offer a 45-page ebook filled with inspection checklists, and frequently asked questions about the subject, as well as some online tools for self-assessment that are also free. So really, this is, is built to enable people to do this comfortably. No one’s looking over their shoulder and having to worry about getting permission to buy this because it’s a relatively affordable product, right? So the idea here is to take most people who are sitting there thinking what if, what if, what if, and then to either validate their concerns or give them peace of mind.
Nate Haber 51:15
Yes. And then on top of that, you did address it once, let’s say somebody does have an issue. They’re in a red zone or a high mold situation. There are recommendations and contractors that you guys link to so that they can get this fixed.
Jason Earle 51:30
Yeah, so right now we linked them to the trade associations where they’re certified, and the reputable trade associations because there are lots of certifications that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. But the next phase for us is after we finished building out the Learning Center, we’re doing a bunch of online courses, which we’ll give away for free. misinformation is abundant in this in this industry, I would say 99% of stuff you read online about mold is inaccurate. Even with the best of intentions, they’re just wives tales, and myths that are perpetuated like Bleach Bleach is not the answer. 90 98% of bleach is water, 2% of its sodium hypochlorite, which evaporates quickly when we put bleach on a surface. So what it’s done is it’s made the surface bleach so you don’t see it. But it leaves behind all this dead fungal material and water.
So you basically add water to water problems and left behind all the fungal material, which is the most ideal foods or for mold. Mold loves the mold more than so. So you’ve just really, truly amplified a situation. But you have the false idea that you’ve done something because it smells clean, according to Americans idea of clean. And also it’s white, which again, is America’s idea of clean, but it is neither clean, nor remediated. And so these kinds of things we have to educate against. And so we’re building online courses to we’ll give away for free and market those courses, we want people to take them for free. So that we can arm them with the knowledge they need to make better decisions. And then the last thing that we’re building is an actual referral network application only professionals can apply like a LinkedIn profile.
And then provided that they qualify will make give them access to our customer base. And but it’d be a complete meritocracy. If they get negative reviews if they’re caught with any sort of conflict of interest. Or if they violate our code of ethics, they’ll be removed from the network. But the idea here is to and they have to test into the network to charging them like an advertisement that we’re actually only charging them for knowledge verification, once they prove that they’re qualified and they pass to get on the network. The leads are free. It’s between the customer and the contractor.
Nate Haber 53:40
This is absolutely fascinating stuff and really appreciate it. Guys, check them out online at gotmold.com You can email Jason at Jason@gotmold.com. And we’ll link you up in the show notes. Really appreciate your time today and your insight and being open and raw throughout this entire conversation and just the word that comes to mind when I sit and talk to you and people like you but especially you in this example is just resilience and everything that you’ve overcome and gone through in your life. And now makes sense. It’s led you to where you are today. It’s led you exactly to where you’re supposed to be.
Jason Earle 54:18
And I wouldn’t change it for the world. Yeah, I mean, it’s I thank you for the thank you for the kind and supportive words. Yeah, I appreciate your time here, Nate and I thank you for inviting me to the show.