From the Fight Ring to Business Success

Every business owner has moments when they feel like they’re in the ring, fighting for their life, and sometimes they’re tempted to throw in the towel. When facing challenges in your industry – against competitors or among your own team members – it helps to have experience tackling tough times and operating in survival mode. Few Santa Clarita business owners understand this process better than Jared Bradshaw, co-founder of MaxPro Insurance Solutions, who stepped into the studio with Amanda Benson-Tilch, host of The Ask Amanda Show.

As the co-founder and CEO of business strategy for MaxPro, a commercial insurance brokerage serving hard-to-place blue collar companies, Jared has used a background of adversity to motivate and energize his efforts to make changes to his business model.

“California is sort of the battleground for blue collar insurance because it’s very expensive, it’s high risk, and there aren’t a lot of brokerages that are really specific in this realm,” he said. “We felt there was a gap in this category, and we wanted to build a model that business owners and the blue-collar industry could trust and go to for anything and everything, to have a team that they can call for the most difficult things going on in the workplace.”

The types of insurance handled by MaxPro includes:

  • Workers’ compensation
  • General liability
  • Commercial auto
  • Professional liability
  • Group benefits
  • All sectors of commercial insurance
  • Employment Practices Liability (EPLI)
  • Directors and Officers Liability (D&O)

MaxPro was established in 2018, but Jared has been in the insurance business for 12 years. He opened a Farmers Insurance office in 2011 and was writing a lot of home, auto, and life insurance policies. Clients in the commercial insurance space began approaching him, which brought in a lot of high-risk categories and industries that Farmers was adverse to carrying, so they would decline it, but allow him to place it elsewhere.

“I had built an outside commercial book of hard-to-place commercial risk in the blue-collar space and was much more passionate about that, because I felt like I could be more hands-on with businesses and really dive deep into the business,” he said. “It was much more challenging, so I ended up selling my Farmers in 2017 so I could focus on the commercial insurance hard-to-place risks.”

Finding a Balanced Partnership

Jared met Christian Moore, his business partner, at a Bible study group that met at 5:00 a.m. “I’m always going towards difficult things, and it was difficult to wake up at 4 and go to this Bible study and then go to the office and work,” Jared said. “I met him there and we hit it off. I had my securities licenses – my Series 6, Series 63, and he had his Series 7, Series 6 – all different types of licenses. He was in financial planning and doing high net worth investments for individuals, working for Morgan Stanley and then JP Morgan.”

Jared had already decided to launch his own company, so he asked Christian to partner with him in the new venture. The two men were big readers and began discussions about how to make an impact in local business as well as in the world at large. That competitive spirit is something they have in common.

“Business is our new competition, it’s my new fight,” Jared said, “and I want to be the best at it.”

The partners agree on a lot of things, but their opposite strengths bring more to the whole, which is a big benefit for entrepreneurs hoping to maximize the success of their business.

“Christian is super analytical and he’s good at organizing facts and data and all these things that I’m actually not great at doing,” Jared said. “I’m more of the type that will jump in the ring or jump into the tough situation and handle it. I’m more of an operator. I’m like Michael Jordan and he’s my Scottie Pippen.”

The two teamed up to create a whopping 25-year plan.

“Christian mapped out how we would do it – figure by figure, year by year, month by month, policy by policy,” Jared said. “We want to build a billion-dollar company and that’s in the 25-year plan.”

That level of planning is an aberration for Amanda. “That’s crazy to me – a business plan is usually three to five years,” she said. “I haven’t met anybody who’s mapped out 10 years of their life. In a realistic world everybody’s more about the tangible, the here and now, like ‘what can I do in the next 5 years?’”

The here-and-now describes Jared’s general approach.

“I’m more of ‘What’s going on right now, today?’ and ‘What fire do I need to jump on?’” Jared said. “Christian’s very good at pulling me out of that and taking me up to a bird’s eye view so that we can really map things out and see ‘this road leads here and this road leads here, but we want to be here, so how do we bridge this to get there?’”

Prepared by a Challenging Upbringing

Successful entrepreneurs are often driven by backgrounds of adversity.  Many times, their origin stories involve difficult childhoods.

“I’ve been through so much trauma and adversity from a young age. When I was about 6, my mom left and went to a different country, and we didn’t hear from her or see her for about 20 years,” he said. “I’ve never felt like I could think long-term, because I never felt like I had support or the back end to think long-term. I’ve always been thinking, ‘How am I going to take care of myself this month or today?’ or ‘How do I pay the bills? Where am I going to live?’”

He lived with his brother and father through adolescence.

“It was like growing up in the wolf ‘s den because my dad was extremely tough on us – mentally, physically, emotionally, every way possible,” Jared explained. “He had moments of being awesome, but then most of it was very intense and very difficult.”

His older brother provided comfort and stability for Jared, and he maintains a high level of gratitude for that.

“My goal always has been and always will be to take care of my brother financially as soon as possible, in every way possible and just help him live the most amazing life, because I couldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for him,” he said.

Jared started getting into the fighting world because of how difficult it was at home.

“I felt like I didn’t have a voice and I wasn’t in charge of even myself at home,” he said. “Our dad was so overpowering about everything we had to do, very controlling. We had to do everything his way or the highway. Outside of the house, when anything happened that was an altercation, I was very quick to handle it.”

Jared obtained a level of toughness by watching his father.

“He was a tough guy, so you do look up to that in a way, and you think, ‘I’m going to be tough too,’” he said. “So, I would get into street fights and different things, not because I wanted to, I never looked for it, but I was always ready to go.”

By the time he was in junior high school, Jared was practicing martial arts, beginning with Kenpo kickboxing.

“They would let me train for free as long as I would fight in the tournaments that were coming up,” he said. “So, I would fight in different kickboxing tournaments from a young age, when most kids were playing baseball and soccer. I didn’t realize how cool it was, but I was fighting, like, three people at a time on the weekend in a tournament and then coming home and skateboarding with my friends, not even thinking about it.”

One of the life skills Jared was nailing down was how to survive.

“I started doing straight boxing, jiu jitsu, and MMA in high school and kept going, and I decided I wanted to be a professional fighter after high school – that was my goal,” he said. “I also was in business, so I wanted to do some type of business entrepreneurship and fight.”

According to Jared, he got the entrepreneurship bug from his father, who ran a variety of his own businesses.

“Right out of high school I went into training all the time at different fight gyms and started doing cage fights,” he said. “Back then it wasn’t as big as it is now, where you could make money doing cage fights. A lot of them were underground and they were called ‘smoker fights.’ You’re drinking beer and you’re just jumping in a cage and you’re fighting whoever’s there that’s in your weight class.”

Emerging as an Entrepreneur

“I’ve always been driven by money, not in a greedy way, but because I was already living on my own, sleeping on couches after high school and renting rooms at different places,” he explained. “I worked in produce at Albertsons right after high school for probably a year. I saved the apple boxes and banana boxes and I put all my clothes in them and put them in the back seat of my truck. Then I would do laundry at friends’ houses where I’d be able to sleep and shower.”

Jared lived in survival mode and continued competing. He opened two gyms – Standup MMA and Fit to Fight MMA.

“I was also a certified private trainer, training people and fighting in tournaments,” he said. “I really got hooked on boxing, partly because I knew you could make more money. I thought, ‘I love fighting, so if I’m going to get punched in the head, I would love to make money doing it, not be doing these little smoker fights and trying to figure out my way.’”

Jared competed in the amateur circuit for USA boxing and won a Golden Gloves boxing title for welterweight in 2010. He also competed in the U.S. Open for the Olympic trials that same year.

“It was a good experience,” he said. “Boxing helped me learn so much in life – fighting did – just putting myself in those situations, being super nervous. You learn a lot about yourself leading up to a fight – what you’re capable of mentally and physically – and then showing up to weigh-ins and then looking at your opponent and knowing ‘I have to fight this guy tomorrow and there’s going to be a lot of people watching. I could embarrass myself.’ It’s nerve wracking.”

Amanda pointed out the relevance of some of the concepts in Tim Grover’s book, “Relentless.”

“It’s a good book and he talks about ‘you’re thinking too much; just get in there and do,’” she said.

Grover’s book talks about three categories of people:

  • The “coolers” think being successful is based on what other people tell them.
  • The “closers” are those who tell you about their success.
  • The “cleaners” never feel successful because there’s more work to do.

“I feel like you’re always striving for more,” Amanda said. “Grover talks so much about mindset before any game – like what you’re talking about before a fight – if you are in your head too much you could go in there and really screw it up.”

Jared agreed. “The best fights I had were when I was the most calm,” he said. “I realized I needed to put myself in more difficult situations before the fight, so I would spar the most difficult people around at different gyms. When I was doing that, putting myself in scary situations before my fights, I was the strongest and the most confident going in, because I’d already sparred the hardest people.”

The fact that he was getting paid to spar such competitors as Sergio Mora who won NBC’s “The Contender” was a boost to Jared’s morale.

“So, for anyone I fought, I was like, ‘I just sparred someone that’s much bigger than me and actually did very well against him,’ so my confidence level was through the roof,” he said.

Jared regrets making multiple career moves, jumping around from jobs in one arena to the next. He realized he has a pattern of leaving a specific pursuit once he becomes successful at it, possibly due to boredom. When it came to establishing a successful local business, he took a new approach.

“When I got into insurance, I had to tell myself to stick something out for 10 years and see where it takes me,” he said. “You’re going to realize after that 10-year mark if you want to keep doing it.”

Jared suggested that you don’t need to limit your options by only pursuing what you’re most passionate about.

“Your passions can be your hobbies,” he said. “What you make money with doesn’t have to be your passion. It can be something difficult that you don’t want to do every day and that’s what builds discipline too – doing what you don’t want to do.”

There’s a saying that the wildest colts make the best horses.

“I was a super wild colt,” Jared said. “Once I could tame myself and learn how to control my mind and learn stoicism – how to control my emotions – then I could do anything. I’m not just a feather in the wind getting blown around; I can control where my mind goes.”

Amanda shared the lasting effect of her own experience with adversity.

“My little brother passed away when I was 22 and that was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through,” she said. “Every single thing that came up afterwards, I just thought to myself, ‘I can do this.’ Whatever the trauma is. I think that’s the mindset I’ve recognized that most entrepreneurs have and that’s what drives them to keep going.”

Building Your Business and Family Dynamics

Your choices as an entrepreneur have an effect on your family members. When Jared decided to launch his new company, he was married and had two sons – aged 1 and 3. Christian was married with four children and left a stable job at JP Morgan to begin MaxPro. Because of their responsibilities, launching a new business in Santa Clarita was a big risk.

“I could tell my brain was already thinking we should start a marketing agency instead. That sounds fun – build some residual income … so we played around with it for a few months,” Jared said. “Then we snapped out of it and said, ‘No, stick with what we’re great at and what we can truly build.’ It was very hard.”

A husband and father of three sons, Jared is his own biggest critic, which adds to the pressure he experiences when business challenges arise.

“Anything I do, I’m self-analyzing,” he said. “Any presentation we make to a new client or prospect, I look back and think, ‘I did this wrong, this wrong, this wrong. I barely think about what I did right. That’s why I got so good at fighting and that’s why I think I get good at things, because I’m thinking and looking at room for improvement – physically, mentally, and emotionally.”

A huge part of it comes from his practice of positive thinking.

“I learned that from all the books I was reading as a kid and going deep into my mind and realizing that life is as you are, not as it is,” he said. “If I’m in a positive mind state, then everything around me in my world that day is going to be in a positive mind state.”

Jared’s wife, Alexa, is his biggest cheerleader, and he tries to stay present for his children, treating them with a softness he didn’t get as a child.

“I want to be a really good example for them,” he said. “One thing I learned from (lifestyle guru) Wes Watson was ‘build yourself into the man that you look up to and that your kids want to look up to. Be the hero and then give that person away to the world.’”

Lifestyle Decisions and Foundations for Business

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very important to Jared, and he sees a causal relationship between physical fitness and serving your clients effectively.

“I feel like if I walk into a room and I’m giving someone advice on how to run a business, why should anyone listen to me if I don’t look like I can take care of myself?” he said.

Discipline and routine are the foundations of Jared’s healthy lifestyle choices.

“I’m the type of person who can eat the same thing every single day forever,” he said. “I don’t care what it tastes like – I’m eating for performance. I feel like I’m eating like a cheetah would, and it comes from fighting, because you have to eat this way to make weight. I can wake up at the same time every day, I can go to the gym at the same time every single day, do what I need to do, and then I feel amazing.”

Amanda went through a mind shift earlier this year that unveiled the link between physical performance and job performance.

“I wanted to really take control of that,” she said. “If I’m doing these high-performance things, my body needs to follow the mind.”

The mind-body connection means that a commitment to physical development can help a business owner improve their bottom line through better overall performance.

“You’re going to have a sharper mind if your body is in shape,” Jared said. “I take vitamins. I drink an insane amount of water every day. I eat an animal-based diet, a lot of grass-fed meat. I have liver, I have heart. I eat a lot of fruit. I try to eat stuff that has the minimum number of ingredients possible.”

Jared’s mental fitness routine includes listening to books and podcasts, studying what’s going on in the world.

“I’m excited to see where MaxPro is going to go,” he said. “We’re going to keep building our team and as long as we can keep dialing in our processes and systems, we can offer the level of service that we need to and that our clients deserve. We want to be able to pour in value and eventually build a platform for other brokers who have the same vision as we do. They can come work with us and get trained by us and build an elite, Navy SEAL-type of team in this industry.”

Meet the Experts

Jared Bradshaw – Co-founder/CEO of Business Strategy, MaxPro Insurance

From rising to the top in the MMA and boxing world to owning and operating several fight gyms and supplement stores, Jared has enjoyed a solid track record of business success in his past. He initially grew his business experience in the health, fitness, and fighting arenas and in 2011 he transitioned into insurance. While he established a Farmers Insurance office and successfully built it to serve more than 800 clients, he gradually saw the need to build a commercial insurance agency alongside to handle more complex insurance needs that were outside the appetite of Farmers.

As he realized his capabilities as a problem solver in complex risk management situations, his demand for the harder-to-place markets became so great that he sold his Farmers agency in 2017 to focus solely on this commercial business. He has received recognition from insurance publications along the way. He was one of the 20 agents nationwide to be named 2019 Agent of the Year and the only one chosen in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Connect with Jared on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn or by visiting MaxPro Insurance Solutions.

Amanda Benson-Tilch – Small Business Consulting

While you may notice her first by her wit and second by her infectious sense of humor, the next thing you’ll learn about Amanda Benson-Tilch is: She’s a problem-solver. Owner and Growth Strategist of Ask Amanda Consulting, she offers the skills, tools, and network it takes to get the job done — no matter the task.

Working with each client differently, she helps identify blocks, present solutions, implement them, and execute. And if she can’t execute, she’ll connect you to someone who can. She’s helped past clients improve their branding, operations, customer service, marketing, company culture, and more. She’s organized a company-wide rebranding and restructuring after it was bought out. And she’s helped local small businesses increase their growth without increasing the headache. From consulting to full-scale project management, Amanda steps in to help your business level up with ease.

In addition to her work with Ask Amanda, she’s also the Director of Business Development for Thomas Realty Co., a property management company in Burbank, where she oversees the growth of select tenants. Currently, she’s serving as the Managing Director of both Burbank Fitness Club and Burbank Center Apartments. Over the last year, she helped completely rebrand, renovate, and rebuild the gym, and she recently started the same process with their luxury apartments.

Follow Amanda on Facebook and Instagram.

About The Ask Amanda Show

On any given day, small business owners and entrepreneurs spend most of their time putting out fires, solving problems and asking themselves questions like: “How do I brand this? How do I reach more people online? Why can’t I break through my revenue ceiling and reach the next level of business?” They often feel like an island – holding it all together without the support, clarity, or feedback they need to finally achieve their vision. That’s exactly why Amanda Benson-Tilch created The Ask Amanda Show. As a small business consultant, not only does she have the answers to the questions you keep asking, but she’s also created a podcast community that reminds you: You’re not alone in this journey.

Tune in once a month to get access to small business experts, nuggets of inspiration and answers to those burning questions preventing you from growth. Enjoy powerful guest interviews as Santa Clarita small business experts share their stories and provide actionable steps to help you grow your business. Whether you’re a business owner, aspiring entrepreneur, or someone looking to get more involved in your community, this is your show!