BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER - KANE GROGAN
"I always say yes and then try and figure out the consequences." Kane Grogan, business development manager, Death Wish Coffee Company
ON EPISODE 39 - BE EXCITED:
A sunken pirate city off the coast of Jamaica is giving up its secrets thanks to a team of archeologists, and D-Man and Jeff talk about it on Science. Then the idea of saying 'yes' to things in life can make everything more exciting is What Fuels You this week. Finally, Cauldron Aged Pumpkin Coffee is back for a limited release, and a new freebie and T-Shirt are revealed.
ABOUT KANE GROGAN:
Kane had his whole life changed when he started working for the World's Strongest Coffee Company, and he discusses how everyone thought he was making a terrible decision. Hear how the company has changed since Kane joined the team and some of the projects he has worked on. Also, Kane talks about his love of music and performing with his band Angels on the Fourth.
Jeff: As we do with every single employee on this podcast, I always like to start where you started with this company, and I think this is a very interesting story because you really had to work hard to get a job here.
Kane: That's true.
Jeff: Okay, so tell a little bit about what it was like, what the company was like when you started working for Death Wish.
Dustin: I want to hear how you started working for ... How'd you hear about it? How'd you get sucked into working, into a creepy basement?
Kane: I had a very interesting journey leading up to that. I was in banking in Maine, in Portland, Maine, which I love very much. I was 24 years old, and I just didn't like my life, didn't like where it was going. I decided to leave everything. I had a band, I had a good job at a bank, that whole thing, nice apartment, nice car, nice everything. I said, "You know what? This is not me." So I decided to move back here, to Saratoga, where my brother had a house. I was going to stay here for a few months, and then move out west.
Got a job at a haunted hotel, that was cool. But it was really strange starting over-
Dustin: Was that the Gideon?
Kane: The Adelphi.
Dustin: Oh, the Adelphi, right, right, right.
Kane: It was really strange starting over, you know you're 24 years old, a lot of people would be really scared. I wasn't afraid, I just knew I had better things to do than what I was doing.
Jeff: Sometimes discomfort overrides fear.
Kane: Yeah, absolutely. I'm just gonna open as many doors as possible, and one of them is going to be awesome, but I'm gonna keep opening doors until I find the awesome one. That's kind of what it was. Everyone around me said it was the worst decision I was making, you know, my family, everybody, like, "What are you doing?" I think some-
Jeff: Why'd they think it was such a horrible decision?
Kane: 'Cause I was basically going to not have a job. I interviewed for a job when I got down here, I had nothing. It looked like I was running away from something. They thought, "What happened? Am I going to see you on the news?" Like, "What the hell are you doing with your life?"
Jeff: You can't run from your problems, kind of.
Kane: "What are you doing?"
Jeff: Listen, people, you can run from your problems.
Kane: You can.
Dustin: As long as you keep running. Don't stop. Don't ever stop.
Kane: Just don't stop.
It was an interesting time period. The hotel season ended so they closed down. I ended up on unemployment, which was really humbling, and also sobering. At the time, everyone was right, "What am I doing?" It's winter, and then I moved around to a bunch of different places.
Jeff: Slept on my couch a bunch.
Kane: I slept on a lot of people's couches. Thank you to all you guys out there, and all your awesome couches that are a little worse off than they were before I slept on them.
Jeff: Don't worry, I got rid of that couch years ago.
Kane: It was an interesting time of discovering myself. It was the very, very, very bitter winter we had around here, we had a couple of 'em in a row. I essentially had no money, unemployment was keeping me afloat. I was looking for anything anybody out there had to offer me. I was never jealous of anyone else, I was always just like, "What are they doing? What are you doing? Do you have anything, can I do anything at all, can I help out?" Eric Donovan had been doing this part-time, here in the basement, when we were in Saratoga. He was like, "We just got mentioned on Good Morning America," at the time, sometime during those months.
Jeff: So this was after that whole-
Kane: This was after some time-
Jeff: 'Cause we talked about that a little on the podcast, how this company hit its first success and failure with Good Morning America.
Kane: Oh, man, that's a whole 'nother subj ... We'll get to that.
Jeff: So you started coming on after that had already transpired.
Kane: That had just transpired. Within a month or two, I don't remember exactly when it was, but it was an interesting time. And he's like, "Come in, do you want to come in for a few hours? We'll take whatever we can get. We're literally gonna weigh coffee, you're gonna seal, sticker, do whatever ... We have thousands of orders." I went in, and first day, I think it was about 15 hours. It's a small ba ... I mean, this is not a great place to be.
Jeff: Oh, no, not at all.
Kane: I still have nightmares that I was locked in that basement.
Dustin: I think I was in there for like 10 minutes, and I was like, "Good, let's go now."
Jeff: It's one of those drop ceiling basements, where you have to almost duck, 'cause it's that-
Kane: Part of the floor was not finished-
Dustin: Just waiting for spiders to drop on you.
Kane: It's messed up.
Jeff: Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Kane: Totally. It was not fun.
But anyway. I just said, "You know, this seems like something special." I went to school for business, I know when something has a lot of potential, and this to me seemed like, "They're on to something. They don't even realize it," Mike didn't think there was gonna be a company after that. I kind of saw the branding, the idea, the execution, the coffee. There was nothing out there for the world's strongest coffee at the time, so I literally just kept saying, "Can I come back? Can I come back, can I come back, can I come back?" And I did that for a few months, before Mike was finally like, "All right, this is the team, we're gonna get a warehouse. We're gonna see if we can sustain this thing."
Jeff: So literally, day-in day-out, you're leaving the job thinking, "I don't know if I'm gonna be coming back tomorrow."
Kane: Yeah, I was expecting not to, at some point. He was just gonna say no. But I kind of didn't let him say no, I guess. There was a lot of people coming in and out at the time, and I kind of just said, "Hey, I'll come back tomorrow. See you tomorrow." And then would walk out quickly before he could be like, "Wait a minute. What's your name again?"
Jeff: "Who was that kid?"
Kane: I remember the first night I met John Swedish, because he came down and ... We were doing 24-hour shifts, almost, at the time. He came down and he was playing on his cell phone. He was like, "This is my favorite song." And it was Crazy Bitch, by Buckcherry, and I was like, "Me and him are never gonna get along." I really thought about not coming back after that. 'Cause like, "If I have to work with this guy, and he's gonna play that song all the time, then maybe it's not worth it." I'm glad I stuck through it. And John's awesome-
Jeff: How many times did you have to listen to Crazy Bitch?
Kane: I don't know. The fact that I had to say it, and even hear it in my head now is too many times.
Jeff: That's so great.
Dustin: Oh, no.
Jeff: So, you started then, and from that point til now, one of the things I like to ask the employees, is what is it like from your standpoint, seeing the growth of this company? Is it something that you have to actually think back and look back on, or do you experience it as it happens? Because we have grown exponentially since that moment.
Kane: Yeah, and sometimes more than exponentially. It's insane, just the story alone. I do try to think about it, but it's so tough when you're in it every day. It's really hard to reflect when you're still in that reflection period. This is the thing you would look at many years down the road. One day, I'm sure I'll be able to think of, "Holy, you know, holy shit, we did that." But I do try to realize some of the things that we were able to accomplish, and have been able to accomplish.
It was crazy, during that time, we didn't think there was gonna be a company, because we got kicked off of Amazon, we got kicked off of eBay, we had a lifetime ban off of eBay.
Jeff: Lifetime ban.
Kane: Yeah, they literally ... It was like this weird, "Don't open that email." And it was like, "You're never allowed to sell again." And eBay's crazy, which I didn't realize, is if they give you a lifetime ban, or ban you, if you have family or friends try to sell what you're trying to sell, they'll ban them, too. Even if you're using a different email, everything.
Kane: If they see you're connected in any way, and they will, they will ban you, too.
Jeff: So the reason you were banned was because you had too many orders that you weren't able to fulfill?
Kane: Yeah, it was crazy. There were literal piles of just paper, and we had to keep going to get more paper, 'cause they were just piled up, and everyone thought it was a scam. At the time, we had a really terrible website, and it said, "We'll ship within five days." We were three and a half weeks, at a time, being behind, for a while.
Dustin: So you kept on coming in to work, and there was just piles of shit that needed to get done, and you just couldn't get through it fast enough?
Kane: There was no way to get through it, because at the time ... We eventually did, but at the time, we would literally get what the person ordered, their shipping label, and it wasn't organized, so it would take a couple hours to find, like, "The A's are here, the A's are ... This person's shipping label goes with this order." We would have to lay it all out on the floor like a map, and it was crazy. "This is going here, and this is going here." It looked like some serial killer shit, it was crazy.
Dustin: How long did it take before you were like, "All right, we have to have a fulfillment center."
Kane: That came after we realized that this was a sustainable company. So, it was a couple months of doing that, and then we would do this thing where we would get a pound of coffee, we would weigh the coffee out, 1.04 'cause you had to account for how much ... I'll never forget, you had to account for how much the bag weighed. And this is by hand. This is just like, scoop 'em, 1.04 weigh it, seal it, put a sticker on each side, roll it, put a tin tie, whatever, into a box, into a bag, into whatever, and it was just thousands and thousands and thousands of that, and it was insane.
So when we realized that we did awesome on the customer service side of things, where people knew, like, "Okay, they're apologetic, this is ..." They call it Shark Tank Syndrome, now, I think, when a company gets shut down because of too much business, they can't keep up, and they end up getting shut down.
Dustin: You think about it, the slow grow is a lot easier to deal with ... We were just talking about fulfillment, when you knew it was a sustainable company. Well, a company that slowly grows will find out it's sustainable at a more manageable point.
Kane: Yeah, it was throwing into the fire. At the time, again, we were lifetime off of eBay, kicked off of Amazon, and Mike was just like, "We're gonna get through this time period, and then we're gonna ... You know, that's it." So once we realized that, we refunded a ton of people. We figured out ways to at least get some of those customers back, and then orders just kept coming in. We spent the rest of that year kind of figuring out, "Okay, let's get a warehouse. Let's see what happens." It wasn't as crazy, but at least we had a lot of contacts, and a lot of people have tried it, and we can kind of keep reaching out to those people that have already bought.
In 2014, in January, we decided, "We built the roof first, so now we need to figure out how to build the basement, and the foundation."
Dustin: So, a question on that. Let's say there's somebody listening, and they're starting a company that's dealing with this Shark Tank Syndrome, as you call it. What do you think the best piece of advice for dealing with that giant influx, how to manage that. What do you think would be the best thing to focus on?
Kane: I would say not to get discouraged. 'Cause a lot of people get discouraged in that time, and we could have easily been like, "All right, that's it. It was a good run." But I think, it depends on what the business is, honestly, 'cause there's been some cupcake people, people that just can't, they just were way in over their head to accept the idea.
Jeff: Can only make so much cupcakes.
Kane: Yeah, there's a lot of resources ... What you don't realize is there's a lot of resources out there. Google is your best friend, so you'd have to figure out, "Okay, this is where we are right now. What do we need? I can do this much in this many hours, how do I double that? Okay, let's bring some more people in, let's do an overnight thing, let's figure it out," just plan and strategize once that happens, and not get discouraged.
Then just try to figure out ways ... At that point, you do have a platform, you have lots of people, hopefully you retained their information, via their emails, whatever you can of them. Hopefully at that point you are able to get that, and then you have a community at that point, like a Rolodex of customers that have already bought. Try to reach out to them and capitalize on that, and just really deliver the best possible customer service. 'Cause if they see you going above and beyond, they'll likely say, "Okay, I'll give 'em another shot. The little guy won."
That's essentially what happened. Not being afraid to ask for help, I think was Mike's best thing. He was literally pulling in people out of his coffee shop, and just saying, "Do you want to come?" A lot of people wouldn't do that. A lot of people would just be like, "Okay, we've got three people, we gotta get through this." You don't have to do it alone. And don't be afraid to ask, and reach out. We reached out to a lot of companies, and just said, "What have you done?" They'll usually, more times than not, give you answers and give you advice and help you out. People are, especially in small business, you're already against so many odds-
Dustin: I think people get caught up in micromanaging, and that that's why they're afraid to ask for help, 'cause they're afraid to leave any responsibility in anybody's else's hands, where I think that's Mike's best attribute as far as having a boss. Because he does not micromanage, and he has a good team around him, and he knows that. He's able to leave everybody to do the things that they need to do, which is amazing.
So, you started out basically just packing, and helping out wherever you could, but that was years ago. Now with the company, you touched upon this a little bit, you have a lot of hand in customer service, as well as many different facets of this company. Can you talk a little bit about what your role is now?
Kane: I kind of have always been the whatever-we-need kind of person-
Jeff: The utility knife.
Kane: Pretty much. So I've done everything, from the bottom of the bottom all the way to where I am now. It was kind of like, whatever the company really needed that no one else was able to focus on, I would take that project on.
So the first big thing was ... The person who kind of started with Mike, ended up leaving the company a couple of years ago. She had ran customer service to a point, which is basically just answering emails, and making sure that orders got fulfilled, and all that. So when she left, Mike's like, "Do you want to take over this for a couple of weeks, until we figure something else out?" And I was like, "I have all this experience with offices-"
Kane: "... banking, and I literally did customer service, I have all this crazy, executive-level customer service stuff, 'cause we were in call centers, and I know how all this shit works. I can make this awesome." So I developed an entire customer service department, responses, how we handle things. Mike had already had the no bullshit guarantee, so no matter what, you don't like it, we'll give you your money back or give you something else off the website.
Jeff: Still exists today.
Kane: Still does. So it was easy to kind of capitalize on that, once we had some of those ideals in place, and philosophies. Like, customer is always right, but way more than that, sometimes even when they don't think they're right, we'll reassure them, "You're awesome."
Jeff: "You're super right."
Kane: So that was kind of the first big one, and then we ended up, through the surveys and stuff that we send out, we ended up in top-tier customer service in the country for companies, which is pretty awesome. And now we have a great team, Sierra, Caid, and Christine. Caid's kind of been taking over more of a supervisor role, and it's allowed me to focus on other projects, like our subscription platform, our loyalty program, things that really drive what customers want.
For a while, they wanted a good subscription service. We didn't have a good one, or any one at the time. So we tried a few different ones out, and that was a big huge project. Now that's doing very well. We're able to offer things through that now, just recently, like, all the freebies, which people hated that you couldn't get freebies, and I totally agreed with them, but there was no easy way to do it. So we finally figured out a way to do it, we teamed up with a couple awesome companies to make that happen, so that's awesome now. So just delivering value, exceptional service is kind of what we've been doing. On top of that, events, I don't know, there's so many things, it's hard to name them all, now. But especially when you have like the Super Bowl thing in there, and like all that. It's been such a crazy few years.
It really feels like a different lifetime. My life is broken up, pre-Death Wish, and now. It's two totally different lifes at that point, it's crazy.
Jeff: I know, one of the things that actually I believe, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, that you actually spearheaded with this company is an event that's coming back around this year, that we've actually talked about a little bit on this podcast, the rUNDEAD event. You had a lot to do with this, right?
Kane: The cool thing about this company is you can just kind of do whatever you think is gonna be cool, as long as you figure out a way to make it happen.
Jeff: Welcome to the podcast.
Kane: Right, exactly?
Google calls that 20% time, where you get 20% of your time to make a project happen, which is a very cool thing, 'cause then you can spearhead something. You're gonna be super into it, so you're gonna deliver it. So from a business standpoint, it's not trying to find someone to do the job they don't really want to do. It's gonna be something cool.
One of the things I really wanted to focus on was, we had a really big voice during and after the Super Bowl push, so I wanted to get more into charitable things. It's tough with charities and Death Wish, because of the name. But Special Olympics are something we can definitely get behind. And they're athletes, they just have some disabilities. We decided to partner with them for the rUNDEAD event. Last year was the second one we did, where we actually knew how it worked.
I believe they had a goal of $25,000 or $30,000. I had a good idea, like we sell these mugs, mugs always do really well. So why not do a special edition mug, we cover the costs, and all the proceeds, 100% go to this charity. So we don't have ... It gets the people involved, it gives them a collectible thing, they can see it, they can remember it. We get to support it. We ended up raising, I think, $18,000 off that mug sale. Our rUNDEAD team, headed by CJ. Awesome dude, CJ Lane. Huge, huge, huge supporter.
Jeff: Oh yeah, shout out to CJ.
Kane: He was so incredible, I think he raised like six or seven thousand dollars himself.
Dustin: He pushed so hard. He worked so hard, man. It was so cool to see that.
Kane: It was crazy. So we ended up raising like $31,000, between us and the team. So this year, we're doing it even bigger. We've got more mugs, we're gonna raise the price a little bit to get some more money for the Special Olympics, so don't go complaining, people.
Dustin: And the mug's a little bit bigger.
Jeff: The mug's, and that's what I think. The mug's a little bit bigger, and because we're raising the price, that just means we want to give more to the ... We want to give more value to the people that are getting the mug, but we also want to give more to the charity that we're raising all this money for, and I think that's really exciting.
Kane: So it's an easy way for us to be connected. My goal this year is $50,000, between us and the team. We had people flying out from Chicago and all types of places to run in the event. This year they're doing it a little different, they're doing-
Jeff: It's a treasure hunt.
Kane: ... a treasure hunt, which is really cool. And they told us that the event was dead before we got involved. I mean, no pun intended, but-
Jeff: It was dead in the water, pretty much.
Kane: It was dying, and they didn't know what to do. And Carolyn had just taken it over, from the Special Olympics, and she was like, "The zombie thing is fading, that fad, and there's so many 5Ks everywhere." Especially that time in the fall-
Jeff: There's literally one every weekend.
Kane: Yeah, especially in the fall. And there's all these new creative cool ones, like Color Me Rad, and all these crazy things.
Dustin: There's actually a zombie one where people chase you as zombies.
Kane: That's what this one was. But people were getting broken bones, 'cause they turned ... They did, I don't know whose idea this was, but they decided to do, a flag? So you wore flags and the zombies caught the flag-
Jeff: Like a flag football kind of thing.
Kane: ... yeah, you're done. And it was just, people just tackling, ripping flags-
Dustin: That's what flag football always turns into, tripping and tackling.
Kane: People literally got broken bones.
Dustin: Flags are always easier to strip off a downed opponent.
Jeff: That's true.
Kane: Especially when you just grab the belt, throw 'em down, and then take both flags and stuff 'em in their mouth, and-
Dustin: We're not condoning this, but it's pretty funny.
Kane: Anyway, so they had to do it a little differently, so we'll see what happens. We're expecting it to be pretty cool. It was way too early last year, the last couple years, and I was like, "Why don't we do something different, like a treasure hunt type thing. Why don't we do it later in the day, 'cause everyone's hung over on Sun ..." Not everybody, but-
Jeff: Lots of people are.
Kane: Lots of people are.
Jeff: Lots of people named Kane are hung over on Sunday.
Kane: Yeah, there was plenty of our fans that showed up, and they were like, still drunk.
Dustin: Well, it was a gathering of people who had met for the first time, or who ... It's like a reunion, so they were out the night before, celebrating each other, and it makes it a little bit rougher the day after.
Kane: So we had to make it later. I think this year it starts at noon, I believe. We're gonna do a cool after event. It's gonna be an awesome day. It's a great thing, it's a great cause. If you can't make it, there's plenty of ways you can help out and donate.
Jeff: Facebook.com/rUNDEAD, all the info right there.
Kane: We have a team, so make sure you find that. CJ's running it again, 'cause he did such a great job last year. If you can make it out, it's a good time to come out, we'll hang out with you, hook you up with some stuff, we'll be friends, we'll have some drinks, we'll drink some coffee. It'll be a great time.
Dustin: No tackling this time, I promise.
Kane: Not during the event, but, it's a long day after that.
Jeff: I'm excited to be part of a company that can be part of events like that, and do things that are a little bit outside the box. It's cool that you were actively looking to do that for this company. I think that's excellent.
But getting away from Death Wish a little bit. It's funny how you said, like, your life before Death Wish and your life now. You live a very full life. We've known each other for a while, so I can say that. You have a lot of extracurricular, as well. I want you to talk a little bit about, you have a pretty extensive musical background. What got you into music?
Kane: I don't even know.
Jeff: Because, you started out, actually, in Maine, as a young kid, when I knew you when you were younger-
Kane: It was before that.
Jeff: ... and you got into the hip-hop scene.
Kane: I got into the hip-hop scene. Speaking of hip-hop, shout out to Jamie Robinson and the Throwback Thursday-
Jeff: Yeah, TBT.
Kane: ... waiting for the mug, man, it's great, if you have a chance, listen to them. They have an awesome podcast all about actual awesome hip-hop, not the crazy mumble shit that I saw at SPAC the other night, Future and Post Malone. Sorry if you guys are fans of that, that's cool, but it was terrible.
I've always been very, very much into music. I know that's cliché, but there's pictures of me all, as a baby, with huge headphones on, and every time a certain Clash song would come on, I would get up and start rockin' my head. The best Christmas present I ever got, I was eight years old, and my father got me a purple boom box cassette player, no CD. I literally tried paying him for it. He was like, "Santa Claus brought it." I'm like, "Dad, I know Santa Claus isn't real. What's my allowance, you can just take it out of it." I was so happy, I wanted to pay him for it.
Kane: I wore that thing out, and then I got a Walkman, and all that. I was always obsessed with music.
I'm lucky enough, I turned into a front man. I used to, when I was a really young kid, I would put a baseball bat into my dresser drawer, and I would have another baseball bat and I would emulate all my favorite ... My parents would leave, and I would just turn the music way up and I would do my own concert, play my favorite 15 songs. That's a long concert, 15 songs? I'd do that, an hour and a half, and I would like, shout out to the crowd. It was so lame. I was always obsessed with it.
When I was in Virginia, Newport News Virginia, which is AKA Bad News Virginia, it's a terrible, terrible place, there was a lot of freestyle rap. I was between 10 and 11, and I saw all these kids at lunch just rapping, and I was like, "That's the coolest effing thing I've ever seen in my life! What the hell is that about?" I was always really quick-witted, and I was a good poet, and I was writing a lot of poetry. I was writing songs, I got my first guitar at 12, so I was writing really terrible songs, about all the things-
Jeff: We all did.
Kane: ... I was mad and sad about. I started learning how to do that, and I was like, "I could do that, that sounds awesome." I moved back to here in eighth grade, and I got really good at it. I started, through eighth through twelfth grade, I became the kid in high school that did that, and if anyone thought they could, there was nothing you could do, I would just destroy kids. And then 8 Mile came out, and everyone thought they could freestyle rap. It was hilarious.
Jeff: Yeah, it became the-
Dustin: For those who don't know, 8 Mile was actually based on Kane's life.
Kane: Yes, it was. I gave the credit to Eminem, but you're welcome.
Jeff: Kane Rabbit.
Kane: Kane Rabbit.
Dustin: It was his sweater-
Jeff: With the spaghetti on it? That was the sweater, yeah.
Kane: My mom's still waiting, she's still ready.
Then I moved to Maine, and I really wanted to do hip-hop. I wanted to front a band, like The Roots. I kind of got away ... I really hated what I was doing, musically at the time, 'cause I was doing a lot of rap, rap, rap shit, and I wanted to do something better, so I threw away everything I had, and I'm gonna reinvent myself, I'm gonna try to figure something else out. I started doing really cool, kind of like Mos Def style, Talib Kweli, backpack rap stuff, over really cool beats and things like that.
It wasn't really taking off, and I was always really good at the freestyle thing, and I had some people that kind of brought me back into that, and I started doing competitions up there. I don't know, like a local college radio station, people would call in and vote. And I won for the whole year. And there was a point it would be like, they would put two kids on me, one against two, which was really cool, and people would call in and vote, and I won for a whole year in a row.
Then I started The Eclectics, which you were a bit part of, you played violin.
Jeff: I think I played with pretty much every iteration of your musical career.
Kane: Pretty much. So that was cool, and it ended up turning into a 12-piece, hip-hop soul band-
Jeff: That was fun.
Kane: ... which was neat. We're actually trying to finish up the followup to that record, that I put out as I was moving away from Maine.
Then I moved back here, and I had always wanted to do kind of rock and roll music, or some iteration of that, so I started writing songs for that, which became the band that we're all in, Angels on the Fourth. Now I'm kind of just ... I've got a bunch of different records I'm working on right now, which may see the light of day, probably won't, but.
Jeff: It's interesting to me, for someone who puts so much into their day job, but then also you have this affinity to put so much into what you love, music and stuff. Because, like you've said, you've been in multiple bands, you've been in multiple projects. You are now getting into producing, and being behind the board-
Kane: Yeah, I-
Jeff: ... behind the artists kind of thing, which is really cool. So I think that's very inspiring, that you can have a very full life, with lots of different things in it, and I think that's interesting.
Kane: It's cool when you get to tie all those things together, and then do something good with it. I've always been a very good songwriter, so I started helping out this kid called Kenny Kakaty, recently. I produced and helped him write some of the stuff, and produced his whole first record. I met them, it was the three cutest kids in the world, they're nine, 11, and at the time, Kenny was 13. The drummer's 9, and he's adorable.
Kane: He's incredible, he's the cutest thing, he's like smiling the whole time. He doesn't know, you can tell he's trying to count, but he can't really count yet, like that. It's the cutest thing. They wanted to do ... They had been playing and performing for a while, which is pretty ambitious, kids. They wanted to do something for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the LLS, they do a fundraiser here, in March. So his father, the president of Poker Central, which we work with, asked me if I would come and help his kids. Maybe co-write a song, and figure ... See if they can come up with their own song. We ended up doing that, you both were actually on that song, which is really awesome. It's called Seven Days Today, and it ended up getting a bunch of buzz, got a couple million views. It ended up raising like 60 grand.
So that was really cool, and it kind of got me into this whole ... I've always helped people out, I've done beats and stuff like that, but it got me into, "I can actually help people write songs, and I can help bring their vision to life." We booked the studio, booked musicians, and now we have a tangible thing. This kid's 14, and he's the happiest he could ever be. I can't imagine if I would have had that when I was that age, what I would be doing. My life would be totally different now. It's really cool to work with kids and give back. I'm like, "You guys can do it, and I don't treat them like children. We talk to them like adults. They perform and we're gonna keep working together.
Jeff: That's exciting.
Kane: It's really cool.
Jeff: You've got kind of the same ethic when it comes to what you do at Death Wish and what you do outside of it. It's this idea that you will, if there's a job that needs to do, you're gonna give it a shot, and you're gonna try it. What fuels you as a person to continue to do that, to wake up every morning, and to kind of attack a day like that? What fuels you to do that?
Kane: I guess just not being complacent. I like to be excited. I like to like life. There's this rapper in Maine, we called Spose, really cool, really awesome dude. He released a new record called Good Luck With Your Life, and he's got kids now, and he's done ... He's been at the bottom, and he was signed, and he did a whole bunch of shit. He's got a quote in there that says, "If life sucks, stop sucking at life." It totally blew my mind, and I thought about that for a while. And I was just like, "Yeah, that's so true. 'Cause you have so many people that just make excuses, or if someone's got something that they don't have, they don't know why, and they're ... Everything is everyone else's fault."
Jeff: I think the best way to suck at life is not do anything. I think that's where a lot of people get caught up in, because they're afraid to fail, so they don't do anything, 'cause then they're not technically failing, but that's the biggest failure of all.
Kane: I agree. And it is scary, but you can always, always do something else.
Jeff: Part of excitement from day to day is learning new things, going into places that you've never discovered before, or never experienced before, and that takes going out on a limb, it takes risk.
Kane: It does, and risk is the only ... Risk and reward, they're synonymous for a reason. You have to risk to get what you want. You can kind of mosey ... I know so many people, and it sucks, some of them are friends of mine, who just kind of trudge through the mud. They wake up, they eat breakfast, they go to work, they come home, they make dinner, they watch TV, they go to bed, they wake up, they make breakfast, they go to work, they come home. And on the weekend they do their chores, whatever the hell they have on their laundry list. That's their life. Then they'll plan a vacation, it's just like ...
They're not happy. They're not necessarily miserable, but they're definitely not happy. There was this interesting survey that was taken from people of all different economic classes, people that made less than, $20,000, $40,000, $100,000, $200,000, a million, whatever. It was like, basically, asked a couple of questions: "How happy are you wake up? How happy are you when you go to sleep?" The really, really, really rich people were like in the mid, they weren't that happy, 'cause the guys were just counting a lot of ... They just always kind of had it, and they were counting every dollar that they had and spent, and that wasn't a way to be happy. The really, really poor people weren't happy either, because everything on their mind was, "Are my lights gonna get shut off?" But it was the people just above that that were the happiest.
They figured out, they went for their goals, they like what they're doing, they've tried things. They've taken risks, they do what they want. You can always do something different. You can just keep opening doors, keep trying to do shit.
Dustin: I think a part of it, too, in that pay grade, is that there's so much more to open up and discover and achieve. Where, if you're at the top, and you've achieved everything that you think you need to achieve, it gets pretty boring and unhappy. I think even if you're at the top, you still need to challenge yourself to be the person in the middle.
Kane: Totally agree.
Dustin: To find an area where you can have more achievement, because the financial achievement is not the end-all, be-all, is what we've come to find out.
Kane: That's really what, like I said, I just want to be excited. Doing whatever it is, whether it's my music, or hanging out with my friends, or doing cool stuff, trips, traveling. I used to say no to a lot of things.
Jeff: Me, too.
Kane: To the point where I would even make plans, and then cancel the plans, 'cause I was just like, "I don't really feel like doing-"
Jeff: Shout out to a bad calzone. Anybody.
Kane: So, one time, I had canceled plans so many times in a row, and this current excuse I had was, "I ate a bad calzone." So my awesome friends started calling me "Bad Calzone Kane."
Dustin: Anytime he cancels anything, it's like, "Hmm, must've had a bad calzone."
Kane: "Must've had a bad calzone."
Jeff: But you know, I was in the same boat. I was in a point in my life-
Dustin: Do you think you would, hold on, do you think you would ever purposefully eat a bad calzone to cancel plans? Did that ever happen?
Kane: No. I'd be like-
Dustin: "I don't want to do this, let me eat this horrible calzone."
Kane: I don't honestly know if I've ever had a bad calzone. I love calzones.
Jeff: There we go.
But, I was in the same point in my life, at one time, where I said no to a lot of things, and I would cancel plans. I would just kind of wallow through the mud, like you said. You kind of have to hit a moment in your life, and you have to be able to look at it from outside and go, "Why am I not saying yes to these things? Why am I not saying yes to everything?"
Kane: The common theme with people that aren't happy, I guarantee, if you ask 'em to do something, they'll make an excuse of why they can't. Ask 'em anything, whether it's something fun, or something to do, anything at all.
Dustin: They'll start it out with, "Well."
Kane: "Well, I don't know, I don't know about that, I'm kind of, I'm tired today." A lot of times, people are just tired, so figure out ways to not be tired.
Dustin: Anytime you hear yourself say, "Well," check yourself. Check yourself before you wreck yourself because you're just making excuses that aren't actually in existence.
Jeff: It's the truth.
Kane: Just start saying yes. Ever since I started doing that, so many opportunities opened, I met so many people, I've done so much cool stuff, and it was just a matter of just saying yes, and opportunity pa-
Jeff: Just saying yes to it.
Kane: I always say yes, and then try to figure out the consequences. If something happens, it's like, "I might not be able to afford that," I'll figure out how to afford it. I remember, we used to have these talks, and it was like, "Just start saying yes. Let's just do it, you'll figure it out, you're gonna have fun. You're not gonna remember the extra hours you worked to be able to do it, but you're gonna remember the memory of that thing you did, that's what's gonna stay with you."
On my business card, we all have these quotes, and mine says, "No one looks back at life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep."
Jeff: It's the truth.
Kane: It's totally true. I still do that to this day, you just keep saying yes. Obviously, within reason, don't do anything that's gonna set you back or get you in trouble, but-
Dustin: I've been living like that for quite a while, and I think, the times I say no, it's like-
Jeff: "Okay, I need to catch my breath for a second."
Dustin: "I need a break."
Jeff: I've said yes way too many times.
Dustin: And you have, you actually inspired me and Mike with that, "Would Kane in a movie do that?"
Kane: Yeah, if you're watching yourself, you don't want to-
Dustin: "Would Kane in a movie go to bed?"
Kane: You don't want to be your boring self, no one wants to see that, including yourself.
Dustin: The army actually had a commercial, I remember now, it stuck with me forever, but it was like, "If your life was a book, would you read it?"
Jeff: That's actually good too.
Kane: Shout out to the army! Just kidding, I love the army.
Jeff: Finally, something, a topic that's been starting to bubble up in this office for a while-
Kane: Uh-oh, gossip.
Jeff: And actually the last employee that we had on, Anthony-
Kane: Fired, oh wait no Anthony's still here.
Jeff: We talked a lot about this with him, actually. Even Zakk Wylde was on a recent episode and we talked about this a little bit with him, too, and it's something I know you're very excited about: football season is upon us.
Kane: Ah, yeah.
Jeff: And you love football, right, that's like your sport? That's what you love to enjoy. What's your team?
Kane: The Oakland Raiders.
Jeff: The Oakland Raiders.
Kane: Shout out to Bobby Johnson-
Dustin: The Vegas Raiders.
Jeff: Very soon.
Kane: And I'm okay, I'm one of the people that are okay with that.
Dustin: I think it's cool, I like change.
Kane: It's cool, for lots of reasons. It does suck for the fanbase, and it sucks anytime a team relocates, or your favorite star leaves your team, or whatever it is, but it is business. They wouldn't give 'em a stadium. The Raiders are playing on a, I don't know if you know this, but they've been sharing the Angels, which is our baseball team. So half the year, they're playing on a legit baseball field, which is terrible. It's literal dirt, half the field in the middle. You see Derek Carr throwing from home base.
Jeff: Yeah, come on.
Kane: It's terrible. And so the owner-
Dustin: That's gonna take a 180 for them, ah? They're gonna go from the dirt to-
Jeff: The astroturf, probably.
Dustin: Yeah, this amazing field.
Kane: ... stadium, and it's an old stadium. They're like, "We don't want to play in a baseball field anymore," and the town, for whatever reason, just wouldn't give 'em the stadium they wanted-
Dustin: "We're too busy fighting crime."
Kane: Let's, you know ...
But it sucks, the Golden State Warriors are there, they're in Oakland, so it's becoming a cool sport city, and a cool thing to be around, but at the end of the day, you need to have the facilities there, you gotta feel good when you're home. They're moving to Vegas, and I'm stoked. Besides, barring people that actually live in Oakland and go to Oakland Raiders games, more people than not are not gonna go to Oakland to see a football game. They're gonna go to Vegas to see a football game. I'm gonna go to Vegas, every year, to see a football game. And that place is going to be roaring-
Dustin: Does Vegas have any teams right now?
Kane: No, they haven't had a professional sports team because of gambling. This is the first time they're allowing it.
Dustin: Oh, so they're gonna allow you to gamble on the Vegas Raiders?
Kane: Well, you can always gamble on sports in Vegas, but that's why. It's too much corruption, they didn't, sports team, baseball, basketball, football.
Dustin: Do you think they're gonna run into that issue, now that they're bringing in a football team?
Kane: It's tough, and that's gonna be a cool thing to ask some of those guys, 'cause they're ... They apparently love Death wish, so their tight ends coach had reached out to us, and he sent us a bunch of stuff, and it was awesome.
Dustin: I wear some Raiders stuff, everybody's like, "Oh, you're a Raiders fan?" I'm like, "No, I just know 'em."
Kane: "Yeah, they're our friends." But it was cool. It would be cool to ask them what they think abut it. But it's something the NFL is definitely concerned with.
Dustin: They're definitely gonna, at least they should have some really close monitoring and regulation, as far as that goes, to make sure right off the bat it doesn't start corrupt.
Kane: I'm not even worried about the corruption. I'm worried about the players not being able to go to bed ever, 'cause their home is in Las Vegas now. Las Vegas is a city that I can take three days at a time, and then I need to never go back.
Dustin: And here's the thing, football is notorious for head injuries, and head injuries are notorious for gambling.
Jeff: That's true, that's very true.
Dustin: I wonder what kind of effect we're gonna see there, it's gonna be insane, man.
Jeff: So, real quick then-
Kane: They just want the players there to start gambling like crazy, they're gonna make their money back.
Dustin: They are gonna make their money back.
Jeff: So real quick, what's your prediction for this year? Are the Raiders gonna go all the way and go to the Super Bowl?
Kane: Well, first of all, I think that being the reigning fantasy football Death Wish champ-
Jeff: Are you calling every single person out in this office right now?
Kane: I won last year, so I can do that. I should do that. There was like 17, we have weekly, monthly meetings-
Dustin: Eric said you don't stand a chance this time.
Jeff: Eric Donovan-
Dustin: He keeps on telling me that every morning.
Kane: He did win the first two years.
Jeff: That's true.
Dustin: He said he wasn't even trying. This year, he's gonna try, he's gonna smash you to dust.
Kane: Okay, good.
Jeff: I think it should end in a fistfight.
Kane: I'll fight him right now, bring him in here.
Jeff: "Please welcome our special guest-"
Dustin: "With a knife-"
Jeff: No, but for real, in the actual league-
Kane: I think the Raiders will do good. I think, no one stands a chance against the Patriots, they're-
Jeff: You think they still have got that echelon?
Kane: They are better this year than they have, probably, been since Randy Moss was on their team. With their receiving, with everything they've got going on. The number one tight end in the entire NFL was hurt for most of last year, and they still won a Super Bowl. They're gonna get him back, they just got another star receiver in Brandin Cooks, they got better somehow, after winning. Tom Brady will have just as many Super Bowls, after this next year, as any team in the entire NFL.
Kane: Which is crazy. It just shows you ... And he lost two. He's, I think, the best ever, and I think they'll win again. I'm excited for him to retire.
Dustin: So it's the Patriots, who're they gonna play in the Super Bowl?
Kane: Patriots ... Oh, it's tough.
Jeff: I don't think that can happen.
Kane: I would love ... I think the Giants are gonna be awful. Sorry, Eric, but I'm not sorry, Eric.
Dustin: I don't know how football works, by the way, I just named a team. The Boston Red Sox-
Kane: I don't know, I'd love to see a rematch of the Falcons-Patriots last year. I think they'll play some, and I think the Packers will get there.
Dustin: That was quite a game last year, too. So weird.
Kane: It was the craziest comeback of all time.
Jeff: Everybody wrote it off, and then it just totally flipped.
Kane: I did, I went home halfway through-
Jeff: Everybody did.
Kane: ... and then I get home and it's like, "They're coming back somehow?"
Dustin: That's so crazy.
Jeff: The real question is, when is Death Wish Coffee gonna be back in the Super Bowl?
Kane: Oh, man, it's real easy to have a Super Bowl commercial when someone buys it for you.
Jeff: That's for darn sure, that is for darn sure.
Kane: Everyone always asks if it was worth it, "Was it worth having a Super Bowl commercial?" I'm like, "When it's free?"
Jeff: "When you win a contest."
Well, thanks so much for taking time to talk to us. Finally, if ... Is there any social media of your own that you want to shout out, for people to follow you on? I know a lot of people don't put theirselves out there-
Kane: Honestly, I'm gonna pass this one off, just so he can maintain his sanity, just follow Mike Brown on Twitter.
Jeff: There you go.
Kane: He's like weirdly obsessed with it.
Jeff: In fact, if you follow Mike Brown DWC on Twitter, just ask him questions about Kane.
Kane: I would love that.
Dustin: Ooh, there we go.
Jeff: He'll answer all your Kane-related questions on Twitter, that's awesome.
Kane: Also, hold on one second, let me pull something ... Let me give you a phone number to text.
Jeff: Oh, no.
Kane: Everyone out there, please, text this number any time of the day, and this person will talk to you. It's (518)495-1817, please send him text messages, he really wants them.
Jeff: Yes, he sure does.
Awesome man, well, as always, it's really fun to talk to you on a podcast, this is not our first time doing this, we've gotten to do this a couple times-
Kane: Thanks, guys.
Jeff: ... but it's the first time on Fueled by Death Cast, so thanks so much, man.
Kane: Awesome, today was fun, thanks.