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Dating Services, Technology & Competing With Elon Musk

Charles (Chuck) Bender is the CEO of Attentus Technologies, an IT company specializing in a wide range of services, including tailored IT solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. He is also the CEO of SkyNet Broadband, which provides high-speed internet services and voice-over IP solutions for individuals and businesses. Charles is skilled in business planning, operations management, sales management, and software as a service (SaaS). He is a strong business development professional with an EO/EMP focused on business from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Intro  0:04 

Welcome to The Future Is Borderless podcast with David Nilssen, we feature top entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world, those who bring a global mindset and a unique perspective to their life and business. Now, let’s get started with the show.

David Nilssen  0:23 

Hey, David Nilssen here, I’m the host of this podcast. Here on The Future Is Borderless, we connect with business leaders around the world who have what I like to call a borderless mindset. And the purpose is to share ideas, new innovations, best practices, things that we can use, both in our personal and professional lives that will help us thrive in a rapidly changing world. Now, this episode is brought to you by Doxa Talent. Doxa helps businesses to source full time highly skilled workers from all over the world. And as a result of this, the companies can scale faster, increase margin and improve culture. They provide everything from accountants, sales, development reps, virtual assistants, and even software engineers, to publicly traded companies and even local small businesses. If you want to learn how to grow your business with offshore talent, simply visit doxatalent.com. All right. Well, today’s going to be a really interesting show. My guest is Charles Bender who goes by Chuck and he is the CEO of not just one, but actually two companies, Attentus Technologies and Skynet Broadband. Chuck is a serial entrepreneur who has spent 20 years building business and he actually started his first business Renaissance for Singles in 1997 built that to a national franchise with 35 offices in eight states. And then in 2003, he moved across the country and quickly learned that his new home did not have access to the internet connectivity that he wanted. So he created Skynet Broadband to address this problem for the community that he was in and other communities that lack appropriate access. And in that time, Skynet has spun out other businesses like Biz IT Pros, a managed service provider for IT services, which actually was included on the Inc 5000 list. And then in 2017, he merged that with another MSP and they formed AttentusTechnologies. Today, he runs both companies. So be interesting to dig into that. And I also want to note that he is a Navy veteran and a 14 year Rotarian. So with that, Chuck, welcome to the show.

Charles Bender  2:23 

Thank you, after reading or listening to your open, I’m trying to figure out how to be interesting. So you set the bar really low for me. I mean, it’s going to be tough.

David Nilssen  2:32 

No, I think this is going to be a lot of fun. I mean, obviously we’ve had a lot of entrepreneurs on the show, but very few of them actually are responsible and oversee two separate operations. And so this, I think it’d be really interesting. Before we jump into that component, but I do want to step back and just talk a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey. You started Renaissance for Singles, which as I understand was a dating service, right, as the internet was just going mainstream, like it was just at the very beginning of that. And so I’m just curious, like, what inspired you to start a dating service?

Charles Bender  3:07 

Well, I’d like to say that I was the inspiration behind starting the dating service. But what had happened was I had gone to work for a dating service. Back in 1990, I want to say 1992 or 93. And actually met my wife there. We’ve been married almost 30 years. I poached her out of the membership. I saw her walking in and I was like, I’m going to have to say hi to that girl. So 28 years later, we’re still married and have two adult kids. And it’s all worked out really well. But I was actually in a transition in my life. When I went to work for that business. I had been a broker a stockbroker after getting out of the military. And there was some stuff that happened. It was like 1988 1989, there was a guy named Michael Milken who did some things with junk bonds and I got my broker’s license, like, I don’t know, a month and a half after Black was a Black Monday in October of 87. So I’d been working in that business for about three and a half years and the company I worked for had done some things that were trying to get me to sign off to be unethical, and I couldn’t do it and I left. So I was going back to college, and I was looking for a job that I could work at night while I was going to school. And I got into the dating business and basically took the skills I’ve learned as a broker and built out this whole division for using telemarketing and email marketing and kind of email marketing is really early, and mostly direct mail. So we were doing direct mail all over the country and kind of found out I was good at it right. And then an opportunity came to buy into a franchise of another dating service called Together. And then literally three months after we bought into the franchise, the National Company, the franchisor ended up on, it was either dateline, or one of those investigation journalistic shows for doing some really bad stuff, right. They were lying to clients, they were doing all that stuff. And my business partner at the time, and I sued them split away with our we had four or five franchises at the time, and then started Renaissance for Singles from there. But it was really interesting. For me, the reason I love that business so much is because you talk about love every day, right? You talk about what people want out of their lives, you kind of get a sense of what’s holding them back. You get a sense of, I mean, I literally personally interviewed 1000s of single people to understand what their desires were, what their needs were. And what it always came back to was values. Right? What are your values? I mean, looks are transitory. I mean, I used to be a very sexy young man. And now I’m a 55 year old, slightly less sexy, old man. Right. But anyway, what I will say, though, is that the values are what sustained. And I found that to be super instrumental in how I view organizations I’m involved in how I view and run my companies as I’ve gone on, is this, if we’re really super clear about values, it works, but I didn’t invent the dating business to answer your question directly. But we did really focus it around values. I’m proud to say that there were 50,000 plus couples that got married, and put kids in two parent households all over the United States. And I’m really proud of that effort.

David Nilssen  6:54 

That’s super cool. It’s interesting. I mean, I guess now based on the story, I can see sort of how you would lean this way. But we recently had on the podcast, Jeff Dudan and he’s the founder of AdvantaClean, which is a national franchise, he exited that business, but he’s a franchise guru, for lack of a better term. And on the show, he made some really compelling arguments why someone should strongly consider franchising as a growth strategy. Obviously, you started in a singles franchise, but you had seen how that operated before you started Renaissance. So why did you choose to continue to use franchising as a growth strategy?

Charles Bender  7:30 

Well, so there was a couple challenges we had in the dating business, so it’s highly stigmatized. So 1992, 93, 94, there was no match, there was no normalization of doing anything other than having friends introduce you to each other, or running into somebody in a bar or going to church with somebody and meeting them. So every form of introduction was based upon a chemistry right, there was no Tinder, there was just none of the things that we just take for granted today. Like everybody just does it. So we wanted to bring a data driven element to dating. And that’s essentially what we tried to do. If you go back to other cultures in the world, the Yentas, and you’ve got matchmakers in different cultures everywhere, but what they’re matching on is values, right? And that’s why a lot of those cultures successfully go on now. It seems impressive, and I had one of my most fascinating conversations was with a dear friend from Pakistan, his daughters getting married. And it’s an arranged marriage in the sense that the families are involved in the connection between them, but I had no understanding of how they actually did it right. We have a western view of arranged marriage which sounds like this like oppressive thing if you’re the daughter and dad’s telling everything where to go, but it was the most enlightening conversation I think I’ve had in the last year around understanding other cultures and borderless and what really the essence of it for me was, is that the families are vetting for what they think is the best type of person for their daughters and for their sons. Right? And when a couple gets married, their families marry, but the people getting married have a lot of say in it, they literally will say no, they have a veto right. And that’s something I didn’t realize, but it’s culturally this effort to try and put people together. So in the dating business for us, we wanted to measure values, we created testing that we use to really identify what somebody’s temperament, their degree of trust, their emotional maturity, how sexual they are, like how physical contact informs their belief in themselves, we measured 13 different things. And then we matched on those things. And then what we found is if we looked at demographic information, we looked at the cultural matches, or the character matches, character trait matches, and then if they introduced to each other, they would be likely to be friends. And if there was chemistry, they would be likely to have a good match, right? That was kind of the thing. But there was nobody talking about it. So we got into franchising, because we really needed to solve the problem there for talent. And we couldn’t just buy talent and talent wasn’t searching us out in the dating business. So we had to create the talent in order to expand. And then we use the franchise model as a way to inspire entrepreneurs with opportunity, and then show them how to do it, teach them how to do it, partner initially in the franchise with them, and then launch them on their own once they’d partner but we had to build that ourselves that didn’t exist.

David Nilssen  11:03 

Yeah, I mean, looking back now, would you franchise? I mean, would you suggest people that they should franchise if they’re looking to sort of rapidly scale a business and don’t have the capital to do it themselves?

Charles Bender  11:15 

Yes. I think franchising is such a fantastic model. I think if you go into franchising, and thinking that it’s all about making money for you, I would say it’s going to be hard. Because you can’t be a selfish franchisor and be successful. You have to inspire entrepreneurs, right. So to me, in order to be a successful franchisor, you have to be the enabler of dreams. And you have to show people how to do it. So you’re mostly education, and inspiration, with processes that hopefully vet it out, and they’re working. Right.

David Nilssen  11:55 

Yeah, I love, Chuck, sorry to interrupt. I just love that comment because so many people and I had a business for 20 years, that is one of the leading franchise financing companies in the US still is Guidant Financial. I would talk to these small business owners who say I want to franchise my business. And the thing I would tell them is, I just want to be very clear, it is a very different business. If you choose to franchise, you go from having that quick serve restaurant, that dry cleaning store that haircutting location, and instead of it about you delivering to your customer, you’re now actually coaching and training other business owners, it is a completely different model. And at the end of the day, what matters most is the unit economics, not the franchisor’s economics, but the unit economics, theoretically those things should align. But it really is about delivering value for entrepreneurs to deliver value to their customers. And it’s very different. And most people just don’t grasp that.

Charles Bender  12:53 

Well, I love that you use the term delivering value because its core what entrepreneurship is right? And being an entrepreneur has changed my life. And it made things possible that I never even could imagine. I didn’t have the capacity, or the imagination, to imagine the life I live today, based on the childhood I came up from, right. So being in the group where that you can inspire people, and you can help them dream and help them solve problems. The most successful franchises are adding value. And value and wealth, I think of wealth is the people who solve the most difficult problems for the most people are always the most wealthy. Right? If I can solve more problems than somebody else, or what’s the size of the problem I’m solving? Was the number of folks impacted by the problem I’m solving? And how do I go out and solve that problem? That’s where wealth follows. So if I look at a franchise model, the problem you’re solving two problems, right? You’re solving the problem of the end unit, like you just described, but you’re solving the problem of an entrepreneur who really doesn’t necessarily have an inspiring idea yet, but that they have a deep desire to become and have the opportunity to serve in a way and they believe in the product that you’re creating to serve other people. So you have to make sure you’re serving them as well. And the more of them you serve, the more wealthy you become as a franchisor. Does that make sense?

David Nilssen  14:26 

Totally. Well, let’s talk about some of the other problems that you’ve solved. I think in my or in your bio, I read you moved to a particular area realize you couldn’t have access to high speed internet. So you started Skynet? How did you make the jump from I’m a dating service franchisor to now Internet Service Provider?

Charles Bender  14:51 

Hubris. So I was young, I was in my 20s and early 30s. And the dating business was wildly successful beyond what I could imagine. But in retrospect, it was so simple of business. Right? So simple, but it was so deeply flawed. But at the time I had money in the bank, I thought I had the world by the tail. And so I got out here and couldn’t get internet at my house. And I was like, Man, I need to get internet at my house. And frankly, I’m a little cheap, right? So I had to put a T one in my house that was costing me $900 a month. And at the time, I’m thinking, wow, that’s a lot of money. How do I get some of that money back? Well, if I put an antenna on the roof of my house, and my neighbors can help me pay for it, I can get them to pay my $900 that was my initial problem to solve. Right? It was like, how do I make my $900 smaller? Because they’d learned that I had a high speed internet, and they were all what? This is amazing. How do I get this? $900? Well, I can’t afford $900. Well, could you afford like $50? And then the 900? Yeah, so it kind of started there. I had a technology background from the military, which I worked on radar systems and computer systems for weapons systems for guidance systems and that sort of thing. And so in wireless broadband and radar technologies are very similar, right? It’s different frequencies and that sort of thing. But it’s similar to radio, well, radars more powerful. But the idea was is if I can solve my own problem, we’ll do that. And then I looked around, and there were 1000s of people that have the same problem. And from my back porch, the foothills are about four miles away, five miles away, and it’s 4000 feet up. And I looked up at that mountain, I went, man, if I could be up on the mountain up there. I mean, I can cover everybody out here, right? I can solve a problem for 1000s of people. And that’s what we did. Frankly, I had a business partner at the time, I didn’t know the technology very well. I knew well enough to Google. But that was about it. And this guy was telling me all kinds of things. And then when I started double checking what he was telling me, that’s when I realized that oh, shit, I’m in a business, I have no idea what I’m doing. And I have to go to school. So I literally would work all day, and then go to school all night to try and make sure I could be a competent network engineer, learn this business. But what really made it exciting for me was the dating business, there was no recurring revenue in that model, which was the flaw, right? And so you had two options, either they got married, fell in love, whatever, and they would never be a customer again. Right? Or they didn’t, and they were pissed off at you. And they were never a customer again. Right. So it was like, that’s a long term business strategy was a lose lose.

David Nilssen  18:02 

Yeah, well, it’s actually really interesting, though, and I hadn’t really contemplated this, you actually in the dating service might have an adverse economic incentive. Right? You don’t want them to get that match? I mean, you do, but you don’t want them to because you stop getting paid once it’s successful. Whereas with the internet service, if it’s successful, you continue getting paid.

Charles Bender  18:23 

You get paid forever. So I have customers today that have been customers of mine for 19 years, who are dear friends, our kids grew up together. Our kids is kids that are well, I don’t have grandkids yet. Kids get to work on that. But anyway, the it’s a community, it’s a small county, I live in Eastern, it’s the up against the Cascade foothills in southeastern King County, right. But this is a problem in rural communities all around America. So I was part of the early founding of the Association of wireless ISPs, which used to be called part 15, and some different things. But really, for me, it was about learning, I could get in a room with other competent people who actually knew what they were doing, and just pick their brains. And it was kind of the wild west of broadband internet. So it was super exciting. And so that’s why I got in that business. I had no right to be in that business. I just saw a problem and figured I could solve it. And it was too stubborn to quit when I started.

David Nilssen  19:30 

Well it’s funny, my first business people always ask me like, why did you start it? And I said, well, we saw this opportunity. And at the time I was too stupid to know that it wasn’t possible. Right. So I love your comment about being hubris. But it sounds like you actually had a background in technology. And maybe it wasn’t as far as stretches, it seems. But I do want to just ask though, because you made a comment that this is a challenge on a lot of rural communities 20 years ago, we’re very different than today. Fast forward two decades and the internet is widely available, at least much more than it used to be. And it’s getting cheaper and cheaper in terms of the amount of bandwidth that you can get for your dollar. So how are you competing with the big boys because I have to imagine that they’re now in your backyard.

Charles Bender  20:18 

All over the place. I’m competing with Elon Musk now, I mean, he’s got Starlink up in the air.

David Nilssen  20:24 

He’s currently very distracted with Twitter.

Charles Bender  20:26 

Well, I think he’s got plenty to do. But here’s the thing, it comes back to service, it always comes back to service. And we’re in a relatively rural community. If you go to a soccer game, or a little league game, or a Parks and Rec basketball game, you’re not going to see Starlink, on the back of those kids jerseys, you’re not going to see Comcast on the back of those kids jerseys, you’re going to see those local businesses in that area, supporting those local communities in the community interested stuff. And when you’re in a rural community, they really like that, they like it a lot. They want to be able to go to the grocery store and talk to the owner, if they can. So I would say that that’s probably why we’re still successful and growing, is because all it takes is one time to go through Comcast script system and their troubleshooting. Before you’re like, you never want to call Comcast again. Right? But they deliver more bandwidth than we do. Our uptime is similar, I think we’re uptime is pretty close to each other. Fortunately, we’re never down at the same time. So that’s good. That’s super rare. But it really comes down to people, it always comes down to people. If you treat people like people instead of just a number, instead of just an RFQ. I mean, you have to treat people like they’re your neighbor, and you want to help them. And I think that kind of goes back to our core values. I mean, our core values, one of our core values is to be a blessing to our community. Like how do we do that? I’ve had employees who will come in on their day off and help somebody with a computer problem while they’re on dialysis, because they can’t get away from the dialysis machine. Because that’s what we tried to do. We just want to own the problem of be of service to the community, and hopefully never take it for granted.

David Nilssen  22:30 

Yeah. I love how you continually thread values into all of every answer you’ve had is somehow come back to values. And I especially love the community one, something that’s really important to me is lifting up communities versus profiting on their backs. Let’s talk about Attentus for a second. This is the business that you’ve got Skynet, you also are the CEO of Attentus. Can you talk a little bit about what Attentus is does. And what is that problem that you’re solving for your core customer?

Charles Bender  23:01 

Great question. So Attentus is a managed IT services firm. So in essence, what we do, it was born out of Skynet in a rural area, because if you can answer a question about a computer server, and you’re the only one that can, everybody asks the question, right? And in 2005, that turned into about a million dollar business, and I didn’t even realize it. Right? I had no idea. It just was kind of people kept coming to us. And we kept helping people. I didn’t know I didn’t think of it as its own business model. I just thought it was like this service we were doing in the community at an hourly rate. When I actually looked at my financials and went over the numbers, I was like, Holy crap, this is a real business, I better start treating it like it’s a real business. Well, what I realized is there’s a huge problem. And I think this is true in many domains, not just IT, but it’s rare that you can find somebody who is a solid leader who even knows how to manage an IT person, much less deliver an IT result on behalf of businesses, right. So a lot of small businesses, and that’s our market small to midsize companies. You have an owner who’s really good at whatever the domain is that the business is providing whatever the service they’re providing, but they get IT people who come in and just lie to him all day long. Or tell them a bunch of stuff that they want to hear or don’t, they just don’t educate and inform them. And then they end up in situations where they’re in trouble. They’re hacked, their bookkeeper just sent $50,000 to something or their customers are getting invoices that they’re saying, hey, they’re getting an invoice from your company to send it to this routing number. Those things happen all the time, right? And they’re more and more prevalent today. So what we wanted to do is we wanted to take an approach of how do we educate and serve and always comes back to education and service, that marketplace in the small business community, so we also save quite a bit of money. So if you hire 3 IT people to work for your business, you’re going to have varying skill levels, but their skill level becomes frozen in time, because they’re not being challenged with any other environments but your own. So they get deep knowledge about what you have today, literally close to zero knowledge about what you need for tomorrow. And rarely are they, most of their domain knowledge gets stuck in their head because their systems and processes aren’t about documentation, they’re aren’t preparing the organization for if they die, get fired or change careers, it’s about job protection. So we’re able to provide a full suite of services at about a third of the price of trying to do it yourself and deliver at a much higher value to our clients. Does that answer the question?

David Nilssen  26:00 

Absolutely. I mean, I think any business struggles with the fact that hiring full time professionals in any particular area is tough. And so most people need a systems admin, they’re going to need help desk support, to your point earlier, cybersecurity is a major issue that everyone has to deal with data and security are major issues. And then there’s the new technology innovations that are happening all the time, who has time to even monitor that. And so I can see there’s both a de-risking the organization, creating scalability, and actually cost efficiencies that are all sort of wrapped up in that model. Chuck, I was just reflecting you’re dad, you’re husband? Sounds like you’re pushing to be a grandfather, but we’ll talk about that later. Two businesses. I know, you give a lot to the Entrepreneurs Organization, you’re part of Rotary, like, how do you do that all? How are you effective in managing all of that? By the way, I’m making an assumption you are effective.

Charles Bender  26:58 

The truth is, I may not be. So honestly, as you develop operational maturity in your business, I’ll frame it back to one of my core values. And the reason I’m an entrepreneur more than anything else, my core reason for wanting to be in business for myself was freedom. Right? So somebody asked me one time, do you want to be wealthy? Or do you want to be king? And I’ve always wanted to be king, so wealth is a relative number. But when you start to deal with investors, and VC funds and expectations, to me, those are like, that’s like slavery. I’m like, oh, no I’m working for the man again. So, for me, I’ve architected my businesses and built them from the ground to not need me. Right? So my purpose is, let’s add value, let’s do this stuff. I can be visionary, let’s be a great coach. Let’s do the things I like to do. But let’s get out of this stuff I don’t like to do and I don’t like operations. I’m not a fan. Right? I mean, I’m okay at it. Just okay. But I would say that, the way I’m able to do the things I want to do is by turning my business into an asset that pays me and thinking of it that way, rather than thinking of my business as me, right. I think a lot of entrepreneurs make a mistake, and they don’t weigh their business as an asset class, that they’re looking at the rate of return on the asset class, versus what the rate of returns would be as another asset class, absent their labor.

David Nilssen  28:50 

Let me ask a clarifying question, though, Chuck, because what you’re describing to me, is actually what I would have described as wealthy versus King. To me, King is more sort of like, I have to be the guy. It’s more ego driven. Whereas wealthy is like, hey, the system works without me.

Charles Bender  29:08 

So that I think you’re defining them differently than I do, right. So King, for me is about not having to do anything, if I don’t want to. It’s about doing what I want to do when I want to do it, ideally, right. And that creates space for me to do the things I want to do. It’s kind of a selfish view, I think a little but I wanted to be at every one of my kids sports things. I wanted to be the only dad who could go to the Co Op, with my two year old at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday. I wanted to be able to do that. Right. So choice is freedom. And King, to me implies having all the choices.

David Nilssen  29:53 

Yeah. Okay. That actually makes a lot of sense. I think I’m glad I asked the question because as you were talking about it, I was thinking, that’s how I would have defined wealthy, but I think at the end of the day, what you’re saying is, I want freedom of choice. Yeah, King or wealthy doesn’t really matter. Freedom of choice is really the end goal.

Charles Bender  30:09 

Yeah, well, and choice and freedom is expensive. So you have to have some modicum of wealth to do it. Right. So I don’t look for incremental increases in zeros in my balance sheet as my primary discussion of success. Like I have a dear friend of mine who gets into a lot of different businesses and is super successful, one of the most intense human beings I know, and I love it and gives everywhere love him to death. He was evaluating another business, and he gave me a call, and he’s like, hey, Chuck, I’m evaluating this business. What do you think? I said, Well, I don’t even need to know about the business. What I need to ask you is, let’s say it, it’s the most successful thing you’ve ever done in your life. Let’s just presume that that’s true. Will the incremental increase in your net worth change your life for the better? Like, for you to get there, will that change your life for the better? Or what do you have to give up in order for that to happen, that you’re not going to get back? The only thing we have his time. That’s it. That is the only thing that’s limited, and we don’t know how much of it we have. Right? So I’m not going to take anything with me after I’m dead. I want to make sure I could do the things I want to do. And I could probably be worth about 10x what I’m worth today, if I focus purely on zeros.

David Nilssen  31:33 

Yeah, there’s a lot of wisdom in that. And I want to tie that, I did a little bit of research before the show. And what I uncovered is that you’re a fan of The Daily Stoic. And for those that aren’t familiar with the book, this was written, I think it was co-authored. But I know Ryan Holiday was one of the individuals that was sort of the primary driver behind it. What is it about The Daily Stoic or stoicism, that that really connects with you?

Charles Bender  32:06 

Stoicism was like coming home. Right? And I’ll frame this in kind of a, in a maybe a different way than you’re asking, but it’ll answer your question. So I went through a lot of struggle as a child, our family was relatively poor, there was a fair amount of violence in our home, my dad wanted to be a minister at the time. And part of the way he thought that, what that meant was, is everybody that was drug addicted or had problems would live with us in our house, till they could get on their feet. And it was just chaos. It was just chaos, from very, very early age. And I basically go to the swap meet, right? So you go to the swap meet at the old drive in movie theaters. And this is in the 70s, I was walking to the swap meet and I read this little placard, it was just a little placard. And that was the Serenity Prayer. And I bought it for a nickel because the Serenity Prayer just seemed like what I needed as a five year old, right. And I wish I could quote it off the top of my head because I’ll butcher it because I’m on the spot. But if you look up the Serenity Prayer, it’s about granting me the strength or the courage to do what I need to do. The something else in the wisdom to know the difference, like what can I control and what I can and I can bring it up for if you want, but that stayed with me next to my bedside, from age five, through boot camp. And then actually as I started to get into business, the core of that is what can you control? And what can you not control? Right. And agency. And for me stoicism when I discovered stoicism as a philosophy, it’s literally about being virtuous. Recognizing what you can control and not letting the things that you can’t control be something that you just have to accept them. And the quicker you accept them, the less pain you go through as an individual. So for me, that’s kind of where I’m at. Like I think most pain comes from what we think things mean. So something happens, and then we ascribe meaning to whatever that thing is, and whatever that meaning is usually is a reflection of our own insecurity or self-doubt, some criticism that we have of ourselves. It’s never meaning something that is like oh, I’m great. This is perfect. This is awesome. It’s usually meaning something that I’m terrible or I did something wrong or I fucked up. Excuse me, I hope this is a public. But I would say for me stoicism became this like methodology by which to process the world. So the world does to impact me, I get to choose what I impact what impacts me.

David Nilssen  35:05 

I pulled up the Serenity Prayer because I was not familiar with it either. But now that I read it I am and it says grant us the serenity of mind to accept, which cannot be changed courage to change which can be changed in wisdom to know one of the other.

Charles Bender  35:20 

Yeah. What’s interesting is it’s part of the 12 step program, right? It’s what they use in AA, it’s a key component of AA. But I didn’t even know that was true until I was in my 30s. That’s kind of been this thing that gets me through the storms.

David Nilssen  35:41 

Tell me about. And I know, we’re getting towards the end of our time here. But I want to just, I guess, finish with one question around purpose, you talk a lot about values. And I guess my experience has been that most entrepreneurs have some sort of core purpose that they’re driving towards, or that they want to accomplish, or they want to make progress towards, what is yours?

Charles Bender  36:06 

It’s evolved, I would say that my initial core purpose was to end, like, be the stopping point, be the wall against generational poverty for my family. I wanted to end it, like, I don’t want my kids, I wanted to end the thinking, that leads to generational poverty. And the thinking is usually like the kids I grew up around, the ones who escaped, saw the world through an opportunity lens went out and scratch to learn what was possible. And then, as they gain knowledge, they gained some different things. And the ones who didn’t get out of the neighborhoods are the ones that justified, why they’re there and try to blame somebody else for it. Right? I was going to not be the person who passed that legacy along to my kids. So for me, that was my main driving point. And I was just afraid of not doing that there was fear, like, I described it, as I’m going to run, I’m really good at running from the bear. But once I got a really nice, comfortable campground, and I’m pretty good, right? I’ll put some feelers out. But I’m probably not going to be chasing the next bigger campground, right? So it’s kind of an interesting problem I’m trying to solve because I actually am fairly ambitious. So what’s changed as I’ve gotten older is I’ve seen more and more of this thinking in the world. And I want to change it. I think I can help impact generational poverty for other families and other young people who are coming over and not just young people, any people. I think that we live in a world where you can do literally anything, but we’re not taught, we can do anything. We’re taught that, I remember my dad telling me about college that it was just too expensive. There’s too expensive, it’s too hard, the world so hard. And that’s what I grew up with. But what I realized as I got older, was he was telling me that because he was afraid that he couldn’t help me. So in retrospect, I ended up not going to college after the military got the GI Bill to go to college. But at college was always this utilitarian thing. You do this, so it makes you money, right? It was like a utilitarian process, and everybody who ever gets out of college has always made less money than I did as an entrepreneur. So I figured out great. Now if I went back to college and study history and philosophy, because I love that shit. Maybe a little political science. That would be why I would do it. So my purpose today I would say is to make everybody who I interact with feel better about themselves for the interaction. It’s to inspire young people for possibility and hopefully make positive change wherever I am.

David Nilssen  38:57 

All right, well, we’ll leave it there. We’ve been talking to Chuck Bender, the CEO of both Attentus Technology and Skynet Broadband. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. But Chuck, if people want to learn more about your businesses and the work that you do, where can they go?

Charles Bender  39:12 

Okay, our websites are www.attentus.tech. And my ISP is Skynet Broadband. It wasn’t intentionally a spoof on the terminator, it ended up being. So I’ll just own it. But that’s how you can reach those companies. If you want to reach me, connect with me on LinkedIn. I love entrepreneurs, I love learning from entrepreneurs. And if there’s ever anything I can do to support anybody, I’d love to help with that too.

David Nilssen  39:51 

Awesome. And we’ll put all that information in the show notes that people can see that later as well. But with that, Chuck, thanks for being on the show today.

Charles Bender  39:58 

Hey, thanks for inviting me, Dave. I Hope I didn’t suck.

David Nilssen  40:02  

You did great.

Charles Bender  40:04 

All right. Have a good day.

Outro  40:07 

Thank you for listening to The Future Is Borderless podcast with David Nilssen. Be sure to click subscribe to future episodes so you can hear from more top entrepreneurs and thought leaders, and we’ll see you again next time.

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