The First 17 Years: The reward of discovering your talents. Thanks, Mom and Dad

In this episode, we hear John and Wendy reminisce on growing a business while they grew their family. In the midst of their struggles and triumphs, there was Tiffany—their outgoing, relentless, joyful, stubborn, first-born child. Listen in to hear a family share memories and revelations as they unpack their intertwined (and parallel) life stories.

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Chapter 2: Dedicated to John and Wendy Schwab—my parents.

In this episode, we hear John and Wendy reminisce on growing a business while they grew their family. In the midst of their struggles and triumphs, there was Tiffany—their outgoing, relentless, joyful, stubborn first-born child. Listen in to hear a family share memories and revelations as they unpack their intertwined (and parallel) life stories.

For more exclusive content and a deeper look into Tiffany and her parents’ story, follow @ScaredConfident on Instagram.

Jon: When Tiffany was in, I think it was first grade, there was a Christmas pageant and Tiffany was supposed to do a due out with one of her classmates. And so the day of the, of the program, Her friend is sick. And so Tiffany, she like, so the whole light's on her. Right. You know, and she grabs the microphone, pulls it down to her and just sang it beautifully.

It was like, there was no fear, no hesitation at all. It was like, this is my moment. And I'm gonna take it.

Tiffany: Chapter two, John and Wendy Schwab. Mom and dad, the journey of going back and verbally documenting the first 17 years was about curating the people who chose to lean in to my life. And some of them I chose and some of them chose me, but our parents, that's like not a thing you pick normally, you know, it's like, God things bring you together.

And so. The role of parents in helping you uncover who it is that you are and who, you know, what it was that you are intended to do and helping you on your journey of becoming is like really important and super performative. And I think there's stages, even when you can't remember as a child where they begin to see like the sparks, the early sparks of who you are and.

The job of being intentional about how do you put your child in places where they can continue to like understand and reveal and feel what it's like to be in the middle of your gifts? These people, these voices, these experiences, they were my mentors. They are the people who help build and refine and grow me into the leader that I have the opportunity to be.

This is the first 17 years.

I remember what the room felt like towards me afterwards.

Wendy: Well, even during, and like the first words of the song, I'll never forget it is I'm a little doll and I can't be broken and it was like a pin drop. It was like she had captured like the whole room. It was amazing. Because

Jon: the response was immediate.

Tiffany: I just remember knowing I had done something that impacted people.

Wendy: Tiffany was always. Kind of like the energy, like she brought energy into the room. She knew everybody that was like at church. She was just always the one that would bounce up to people. She wasn't afraid of anybody. I think one of the things, um, that is fun now is like my mom.

When we're together, we will quote Tiffany when she was a toddler we will, we would just will kind of laugh because she was, she was just always announcing herself. She's like, hold on here, come TT. It was just special and fun. And we would always laugh at her.

Jon: Yeah. So we were of grain farmers and we had.

Couple full-time hired men. So it was, um, had people in the winters and grain farming. It's a little slow. And so we were together, my mom's side and one of my uncles said, Hey, have you ever thought about building pallets, wooden pallets in the off season, you know, in the winter? And I go, well, no. And he goes, why don't you come by and take a look at what we're doing?

Uh, cuz he had bought one a couple years or maybe five years before this. And um, Same uncle's operation, even though it was small, he had maybe a 10 or 12, you know, total guys. Um, but just kinda see this process. And I just loved it. I was like, well, if we can help solve a packaging or a, you know, mobility issue for him, you know, moving our product on palace, like I can do that.

And, um, and then started knocking on doors. Started getting a few orders. You know, it takes a while, but, um, they were small, you know, it was so we did farming and the pallet businesses for one year together. I always enjoyed farming when I did it. I was never like, I hate this at all. I, I, I loved a lot of it, but there's something about maybe the newness would get behind the four walls and see all these different products being made and, and you could be a part of that.

Um, and I love processes and with building pallets is if you can improve that process every day, you get to see that improvement. We weren't making any money yet. Wasn't based on that.

Wendy: I remember the moment thinking he has got so many ideas and financially it was just really tight. And I, I also remember the moment thinking if I don't let him talk, he'll stop talking.

He'll just quit telling me these ideas and then what's gonna happen. So I feel like we really formed a really great team back then when we went through the tough times, cuz I had to really learn to trust him

right after Brett was born, we call it the schwab depression, where we were doing, um, like doing more with the P company and phasing out of farming. And that switch was a really hard time financially for us. Um, our church family knew that, and there was $300 that showed up in the mail and that helped us buy milk in groceries that week.

Like, it was like to the point where it's like, this is getting really hard, John and that $300 was like somebody gave us 3000 was amazing.

Tiffany: I think mom and dad, both, I would say that the threat of hospitality runs very generously. Um, . And when there was a moment to serve someone very small or very big, there was never this like martyrdom that would settle into either one of you.

Like it was a real generous, like yeah, sure. No problem. Like no hesitation, whatever was required, even if the end point sort of kept moving, you know, like there was always just, I think that hospitality and sort of heart of service is very common in both of you.

Wendy: So I remember some, um, hard. Months of that transition of, you know, doing the pallet, um, business and like growing that I remember being dispatcher and sitting in the office and, um, Putting the kids in the other room, I was acting like I was this dispatcher from like, from like this corporate office.

Sure. We can deliver those. Hold on. You know, hang up the phone call, John. We just got an order from Eli Lilly. It was our first one. I mean, just being like so excited as kids being like, can you believe this? This is actually real, like Eli Lilly called us. And they think that we're and this is actually the changing.

But it was really literally the way it started. I remember she was a teenager. I was like, Tiffany, do you need to sweep the deck off? We had a bunch of like acorns out there and it was kind of a big job. She took this like broom out that was like six just wide. And I saw her out there and it was like, we have a pretty large deck goes, it's gonna take her three.

And she didn't actually like it, that she had to do it. And I was like, Hey, Tiffany, there's like a great big shop room, the garage, just go get that. She said, Nope, I got it. I'm good. John was relentless. Just talking to Tiffany in a way that, like, if you had another idea or if you didn't wanna do something, sometimes she would get stubborn.


Jon: I remember telling Wendy, if we hit a million dollars in revenue, we're gonna be a real company and we hit a million dollars in revenue. It's kinda. That's really just getting started. You, it dawns on you, you know? So, um, I, I still believe the first million was the hardest it starts picking up from there.

Cause you start getting some competency and then more people have confidence in you as a company. Right. I found myself doing 80% of what I didn't like to do. And 20% of what I did, I love the whole startup, the messiness. I like to see if we can do this better, but you make money by doing it consistent, you know?

And, and so. I remember coming home, telling Wendy. I said, I need to find my replacement in the next five years, the, the need for entrepreneurship, or lot of change and understanding the product, the industry, and all that we had figured it. Um, and even today here we are, you know, 20 years later. And even today we're doing 90% of what we did back then we do it much better and larger scale,

Tiffany: but is it right?

That you're the largest pallet manufacturer east of the Mississippi

Jon: we're largest privately held

Tiffany: my senior of high school. I went out. For the four H queen, which is a big deal in my small little town. Well, I thought it was, it is a big deal. No, it's a big deal and I mm-hmm and I won. And so then the next year you come back and you it's like a, kind of a transition ceremony, you address the four H community and thank them for.

This experience, it is really a special week where you get to interact with a community in a way that is very atypical for an 18-year-old. You have all these young kids that are suddenly really enamored with the fact that you have a crown on literally all week long, all day long from like sun up to sun down.

You're going to all these events and these kids have worked months and months and months for these, this sort of moment to be in the ring and you give them their ribbon and you're sort of there for. Where they explode and blow up and things go very poorly. And for those were the underdog and they won, and there's just all sort of this like drama playing out in real-time in these little fairgrounds.

And, and so at that ceremony, I got a chance to share that with the community and at the end, When I was done, the whole auditorium stood up and started clapping. And I think in that moment, I realized I had the ability to communicate powerfully to a room of people. The thing that I had felt and experience, and like we had a shared moment as a result of that,

Wendy: it was really special because you brought all the faces of four H and the community into that speech and celebrated it all.

And everybody felt so. Like excited that they were a part of four H and you just said, this is about you guys and what we have here and brought the little emotions of the kids, like all that, because the parents, the grandparents, I mean, everybody worked so hard for four H mm-hmm so, yeah, it was, it was really special.

Jon: Even today, 20 years later, the people that remember it was around when, when Tiffany was Queens, she was one of the best they ever had. Not really because she engaged so much, you know, it's true. It's hard for, for teens to do that, let alone, you know, every day for, you know, 5, 6, 7 days. And, um, yeah,

Wendy: I think if our kids did a good job, we like celebrate them, you know?

Cuz that was a big deal.

Jon: I've never said here's what you need to be doing.

Wendy: Um, yeah, I don't, we don't parent like that at all. I it's, it is interest. And when we think about like Tiffany and like what her business trajectory was, um, just the different things that you have done, like college and like the internships that you like went to, and even like scooping ice cream.

Remember, like, you had so many funny stories, but you always showed up and you just figured what you did and didn't like about things, but you did it with Gusto. That part was really fun to watch you grow. Then you're big ideas. I feel like Tiffany's always been, like, if I had to say like one sentence about her, she's just always had these big ideas.

Jon: Mm-hmm

Wendy: it always involves other people. And a lot of fun.

Jon: I think the, the nature that has really continued is like, you've never been one to say, well, I can't do it because of somebody or I can't do it because of some circumstances, like you've never had barriers like in front of you is like, well, this person, they won't cooperate.

So I can't do it. And that's still. You know, mantra today is just, and it's not like I'm gonna do whatever I wanna do in spite of people. Isn't that at all. It's just, I don't know. You don't ever think through that? No. Yeah, no.

Tiffany: I think that when I tell my story, I often say the question I'm always asking the world is can I compete in a bigger pond?

We lived in a very small town. . Um, but there were times we would go to the city. I re you know, it was a big deal. Mm-hmm we would, we would go to Chicago for like Disney on ice or, um, a play that you guys got us tickets for, like as a family for Christmas or something. And I re I just always remember loving the energy of the city and then, and growing up, I mean, I wasn't on a plane till I was maybe 18, but I just remember places like airports, where there were.

Kind of people moving at speeds. You don't see in small towns. Mm-hmm I was always just like really enamored by that. I never remember feeling like, oh, I gotta get outta here. Or I feel so trapped. Or like these people are backwards or like any, like, I never felt it in a way that was like disparaging to the environment I was in.

Cuz I really loved where I was like, I loved my friends. I loved. The community we were in. So it wasn't like I got a bolt. This place is crazy at all. And, and like never felt that way, but I had this sense of curiosity about that. That's what I remember feeling.

Jon: I think Tiffany always saw a big world. Yeah. No matter where she went it's um, everyone was included. Everything was possible. Um, she did have a lot of friends because she was always spunky and, and she liked to bring people along for the ride. Um, and she still does today, man. It was always core to her,

Wendy: Tiffany.

Always wanted to dream big. There was simplicity there, but I think knowing that in you, you were able to take that child curiosity, and you were able to plug that into things that were available to you.

Jon: She has a unique way of getting rid of all the clutter or all that, what everyone else sees too. And to Tiffany, she sees this thing that she's going to check out. What is that really? I just gotta go learn. I, I wanna experience everything. There's always something that she wants to experience.

Tiffany: I think the idea of, of, um, business as the center of the wheel for a healthy community, mm-hmm is very much an ideology that's inside of you dad. Mm-hmm that? I would say I'm a flag bearer for, because. You introduced that you lived, that you modeled that. And a lot of your mentorship in places you wanna change community is around creating stable income streams for families because you know, that creates stable tenants for landowners.

And that creates stable tax base for stable families. Yeah. And then fam yeah, all that kind of stuff. when you're not worrying about money, you have a chance to give more freely. And I think as you and mom have been blessed financially, you do see the size of your reach of what you can give grow.

Yeah. True. And there's a real, um, I don't know. It's cool to see that play out.

Jon: Yeah. Yeah. I'm a real believer in never taking away the tension of business or of, of transacting life. Uh, cuz as soon as you do, you weaken the person. I mean, as parents, we want to just spoil our kids. You know, we want them to have everything we didn't have, like, well, when you think about it, you're really ruining your kid.

At least I would've had, I, you know, it's just, it's just the way we are as humans, the way God made us the fact that, um, we don't know much yet we need to learn. It is when you take attention way, it just handicaps a person then. And I don't like that

Tiffany: outside of. Being my dad and a phone, a friend, and at times needing to be, uh, a stern financial partner.

Like, you know what I mean? Like. No, you've gotta figure this out. Or I would be like, I think I need a million dollars and it'll be fine. He would be like, the worst thing you could have is more cash. And I'd be like, my money solves everything. Mm-hmm and you're like, that's what you think. And then you would like not hang up and hang up.

um, that's really the, those are the, really the roles that you played yeah. In the,

Jon: yeah, for sure.

Tiffany: So I was working for the small agency that you bought mm-hmm um, As like a marketing director or something. I don't know what my title is. And then, and I don't know how much time went by maybe six months or something.

And then one day we met for lunch at O Charlie's in Lafayette. Do you remember this?

Jon: No.

Tiffany: You don't remember that part? I just was like, this is all the stuff. I think we had a month where we had $0 in revenue and I was like, that's troubling. I, I, I had exported a bunch to you and you said, well, I think you need to.

And it was really not on my radar at all. And I don't remember the series of events that happened to actually make that be the case. But I do remember that being the trigger for me being like what, oh, Hmm. Interesting. And that completely changed the course of my life. Dad, seeing that I could be the president of this completely changed the trajectory of my life.

Are there any aspects of my life today that are surprising to the two of.

Jon: None.

Wendy: No, to me either. I think one of the things like from when you were very little, you know, just if you were up there in a program at church, like looking back and seeing the thumbs up, you know, it's like, you got this girl and you had it.

And that was one thing I've I think, as you've grown, like, you've got this girl, you know, that you can do this. Like you don't stop. Then once you know that you can do it. Like, even if it's hard, so I'm not surprised where you're at. I'm like, Thankful that you have brought a lot of people on the journey with you.

And that doesn't surprise me either, cuz that it's would, you would be very lonely if it would just be you cuz you left a lead, you know that you would hate that, but it's neat to see the team that you have around you. And it's also very neat for me to walk in and see like it's so beautiful here. Like this space is beautiful and you care about like how they work and their families, all of that does not surprise me at.

I mean, you're a little like a diamond that is that the more pressure, the better you get. And I would never put pressure on you as a parent, or want to in business at all more than the world already, you know, or the business already gives you. But I mean, you've had plenty of moments that you could have bailed and said, you know what, this isn't, I didn't start this, this isn't me.

And, um, you never have

Jillian: next time on the first 17 years.

Tiffany: Chapter three Marsha stone.

Marcia :I remember this young, energetic baller coming at me. She almost blew me over.

Tiffany: You had great discipline in saying like, not yet, not yet. Meaning it wasn't time to synthesize yet.

Marcia: You either do one or two things. You either say I'm done and I quit right now. I'm not going any further.

Cuz I. Or you keep pounding at it and you did.

Tiffany: I hope each of these conversations are a reminder to stop and thank the mentors in your own life. The people who have helped us each unpack life and just live the journey much more fully. If you want more of this content, please subscribe to Scared Confident, please, please, and share it with a friend. And if you want more sort of inside track follow along on Instagram, we share a lot there. Thanks for listen. This is the first 17 years a production in partnership with Share Your Genius.

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