Creating a multi-million dollar company isn’t always easy. A lot of people have asked me what I have been through to get to where I am now. Although now I enjoy running my own multi-million dollar business empire, Ted McGrath Brands, my journey hasn’t been all smooth-sailing. During a recent chat with LA Talk Radio, I bared the personal challenges I’ve been through that compelled me to start my own company.
My Journey to Creating My Multi-Million Dollar Company
Host (Sam): All right, well we’re going to bring in our guest right now. We are joined by the incredible Ted McGrath! Welcome to the show, Ted.
Ted: Thanks for having me.
Sam: So Ted, as we read about you, you’re multi-talented and everything. You’re very handsome.
Ted: Thank you.
Sam: You’re full of energy. Are you an Angeleno? Did you grow up here?
Ted: No, I grew up in Millburn, New Jersey. Also in Point Pleasant, the Jersey shore. So I’m a Jersey guy. I went to Florida after that, and then I came out here to California.
Ted: Yeah. I’ve been in California for about nine years.
Sam: Oh, so it’s home for you now. Where in Florida were you?
Ted: I was in Orlando.
Sam: And you lived there for a while?
Ted: I lived there for like, ten years.
Sam: What did you find there that took you there? School, or…?
Ted: I wanted to go out there to be close to my dad. I went to school there. And I played collegiate tennis for four years. After I graduated, I went into the insurance business.
How My Tennis Career Helped Me
Sam: So were you an athlete early on in your life?
Ted: Yes. I was also a baseball player. In high school, I had to decide whether I wanted to play tennis or baseball because they were in the same season. I chose tennis. For me, it symbolized battling the inner demons, stuff like that. I saw it as an individualistic sport. Tennis was a crazy journey for me.
Sam: So it was more than just a sport for you? It was a transformation?
Ted: It was a transformation, yeah.
Ted: I got to know myself, and I felt responsible whenever I lost. It was only myself I could blame. And then I went through the journey of rising up when I was in college. I played with guys who used to play pro— and I was the worst guy on the team.
Ted: Yeah. I was the worst guy on the team, and the coach told me, “Don’t try out, ever.” After I hit with him for ten minutes, he’s like, “You shouldn’t even try out for this team.”
Still, I showed up the next season and tried out. He was surprised to see me. And I made it! I beat out all of the walk on players, and I got to be on that team.
My Family Backstory
Sam: Really? Wow, there we go. An achiever here. So did you grow up with your mom and then you moved to be with your dad?
Ted: I grew up with my mom because my parents got divorced when I was young. I always wanted to be closer to my dad, so I went to be closer with him, and it was great. I had four years, my brother also went to the same college as me and we were in the same year, so it was a wild journey. My step-brother did as well, so three of us were seniors at the same year in college.
Sam: How mature were you at that point when you made that decision [to move with your dad]?
Ted: My dad moved to Florida when I was 10. As I got into my teenage years, I wanted to be around my dad. My mom was amazing, but I just wanted to be closer to him and spend time with him, so I went to college there. It was a journey to find [the balance] and make sure that I got closer to both my mom and dad.
Sam: Did you feel a sense of responsibility to bring them together or something?
Ted: Not as much to bring them together, but to have good relationships with both. For years I was distant because I got caught up in drugs and alcohol, and then my career. So for a lot of years I was very, very distant. Now I really spend time with them frequently. Even though my dad’s in Florida and my mom’s in New Jersey, I see them both at least four times a year.
Hitting Rock Bottom
I don’t recommend everyone visit rock bottom, but if you have, maybe it’s time to learn from it and teach others. pic.twitter.com/etF79dwXUd
— Ted McGrath (@ted_mcgrath) June 26, 2017
Sam: So how did you get involved in drugs and alcohol? Was that in college?
Ted: You know, yeah. Drugs happened during my senior year in college. That’s when things started to kind of spiral down for me. My tennis career started to dwindle. And that’s the thing about drugs — I didn’t realize that I was beginning to have that separation from my goals.
I started to give up my persistence for my tennis career when I was in my senior year. I didn’t know why. Only later did I find out that a lot of it was because I got involved in drugs.
Sam: And they take most of your energy, right? I mean, you don’t focus on anything else when you’re addicted.
Ted: You don’t realize it at that time because you’re high, and you have all these stories and experiences. But over time it just starts to suppress. That’s what happened to me. When I was 21 years old, I had the experience of waking up on the kitchen floor from overdosing.
Sam: So that was the bottom for you?
Ted: That was the bottom. It was interesting because I started out in the insurance business when I was 21. Initially, I wanted to go into business with my dad. But my dad’s business was not doing well. He shut it down, and it left me thinking, “Okay, what am I going to do?”
My Insurance Career and First Spiritual Experience
Ted: I decided to try going into the financial business. I worked with an insurance company called New York Life. I had a mentor who told me on my first day that I could make six figures in my first year in that business.
Ted: Yeah, he saw something in me. We had this great conversation, he was an amazing guy. So I became determined to make six figures.
For me it wasn’t about the money. It was all about getting approval. I thought that if I made six figures I’d get approval. The night I cracked six figures, I went out to celebrate. I consumed drugs and alcohol until at 4 o’clock in the morning, I found myself on the kitchen floor. Overdose from a bag of cocaine, two pills of ecstasy, and 15 drinks of alcohol brought me there. I felt my soul coming out of my body.
Ted: Yeah. It was my first spiritual experience, but it was negative. It was the first time I knew that I was more than a body. And I didn’t have this realization until years later, but at that time I was leaving my body.
It was terrifying—holding onto the body. It was the weirdest thing. Because I wanted to stay. I didn’t want to leave. But I was searching for answers to make myself feel good, and clearly they didn’t work.
Sam: How long of a process do you think it was? Like, while you were going through that?
Ted: My brother was there with me for over an hour. It was weird. And in my one-man show, my theater show, I actually tell that story. So people can experience seeing what it was like for me at that time.
My Turning Point
Whatever your lowest point was, you can learn from it and you can teach others because of it. pic.twitter.com/G4rrpmNmvA
— Ted McGrath (@ted_mcgrath) October 2, 2017
Ted: I think a lot of times I was climbing the wrong ladder. I thought success was drugs, alcohol, sex, money — all these things. There are still a lot of people who believe that today. Now, I have a totally different perspective on what success is.
Sam: Wow. You see, that’s the thing. People have to go through that transformation. And often, you hit bottom before you look up. Then you start to realize that there’s something bigger than you. I remember I became really depressed during the onset of my bipolar disorder. I would go nuts, and I felt there was no order in the universe. It was all chaotic. The problems were not around me, they were inside.
So with the drugs, did you have any emotional reason for getting into them?
Ted: Well, yeah. I think I had many reasons. One of the things I talk about in my life story is when my parents got divorced when I was a kid, I made up a lot of reasons why I wasn’t good enough. I think the reason why I strove for success was because I wanted to get approval. To stand out and be recognized.
Sam: And that’s how we measure it, with money and success, right? Like, material success.
Ted: Then all of a sudden, I started communicating about it. I’d have people come up to me after my one-man show and they go, “Hey, I had this experience too.” We sometimes carry these things, and we feel trapped when we aren’t able to communicate them. I think part of my job is to be a communicator, to express, so people feel that they can also talk about their life.
Tennis and Theater
Sam: Wow, that’s unbelievable. You seem to be comfortable in your own skin, and with discussing yourself. But of course, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to have a one-man show like you do. Let’s talk a little bit about that. What’s your show called?
Ted: It’s called Good Enough.
Sam: So you stand alone in front of an audience and hope to really please each and every one of them. Wow. That takes a lot of balls.
Host (Bridget Phetasy): Do you feel that your tennis career helped form your ability to do this? Just being responsible and having that pressure put on you?
Ted: Totally. Yeah, athletics had a huge influence on me. A coach once told me that I’d never start. I experienced losing 28 out of 30 matches. So to lose and be defeated that much, but still continue to persevere, eventually got me to start winning.
The results of my perseverance made me realize that I can go into any space — which I did in the public speaking industry. Now I’m doing it in the theater industry. I’m also starting to dabble on film. For me, I know I can go into any space and succeed because I have the persistence, and I have the ability.
Good Enough: My Inspiration Behind The Show | Ted McGrath Life Story https://t.co/1XCNgLT4Dw
— Fahad Bin Yousuf (@RaoSaga) July 21, 2017
Sam: Very cool. So in Good Enough, people can actually come out and see you, right? And you have the shows every so often?
Ted: Yeah, sometimes we’ll have them every couple of weeks. Sometimes once a month.
Sam: Very nice. So it’s not only an entertaining show, but an inspirational show. What do you do here? Do you tell your life story?
Ted: Yeah, I tell my life story, and I play characters from my life. Whether it’s my boss, crazy guys in the club, or my tennis coach, I just play these different characters and tell the story. I go in and out of different characters.
Sam: And you obviously have a great story. Did you put it in a book yet? Or is that going to happen one day?
Ted: I’ve written a book before for my speaking business. But for me, the show is the focus of the art right now. I guess we could make it into a book, but I want to get more people to come to the show and experience the story.
Sam: It’s very interesting. Comics go up for a few minutes and hold an audience. But to do something like this and to really bring your own story across…very courageous.
How My Acting Career Started
Sam: How did you get into acting? Did you actually have training?
Ted: That’s a great question. It was about four years ago when I got the idea for the show. It came to me after I saw Bo Eason, a professional football player, perform a one-man show about his life story. His performance made me realize that I wanted to do my own one-man show.
Sam: Wow, how cool is that? It’s like the ultimate success for someone who wanted to get the attention and recognition. You mentioned that that’s what you looked for.
Ted: Totally. And for me, there’s an element of knowing that I have the ability and I can inspire people. My acting career is a great journey. The other thing I have is the pure desire to tell a story that really transforms peoples’ lives.
For instance, after I did my show in Vegas, a lot of people came up to me. My favorite part was just talking to every single person. Some people even told me things about their lives that they’ve never told anybody else.
Ted: Yeah. Because I bare it all in the show. And we make fun of it too, so it’s not a drama that’s a complete pity party. It is drama, but lighter. It’s important to not make my show like a sympathy story. Rather, it is a dramatic, inspirational story that tells truth. It is lighter, though, because there’s comedy in it too.
How My Speaking Career Started
I couldn’t think of a nobler career than coaching and teaching others. – Ted McGrath pic.twitter.com/ESkfemO18F
— Ted McGrath (@ted_mcgrath) October 1, 2017
Bridget: Where did you get the confidence to inspire people?
Sam: That’s really the essence of it all. How did you end up where you are today? I mean, it says here that he has made millions. Millions of dollars is what I assume you’ve made.
Ted: Yeah, I’m a multi-million dollar company.
Sam: Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about that.
Bridget: I’m so impressed with his confidence.
Sam: Yeah, but that’s the thing. Ted’s the Tony Robbins for the millennials. You have a lot of inspiration, you have the confidence. And you have the story. I mean, you’re well-qualified to be an international speaker in my book. How did this come about?
Ted: Early on, at 21 years old when I was in the insurance business, I took a coaching program that was just very self-reflective. I got asked about my long-term vision, and what my purpose is in life. And at 21 years old, I knew that I wanted to be one of the most inspirational people in the world. I wanted to help people transform their lives. I wanted to make a massive difference in the world. But there’s a difference between knowing and actually doing it, right?
While I knew my purpose, the way I thought I should operate in the world was to make money. Money equaled status. “Rising up in the ranks of corporate America will make you great and you’ll be recognized.” That was my notion.
At 21, I started doing seminars. My boss wanted to do a seminar, and I dove right into it.
The Challenges of My Speaking Career
Ted: I’ll never forget the first seminar I had. It was a dinner with 40 people and a 90-minute talk. I was up in front of the audience but I couldn’t even look at the people. I paced back and forth without looking at the audience. That was my first training in public speaking.
Then I had another experience that was unpleasant. I went out drinking all weekend, but I had to conduct a seminar for ten people from a CPA firm. Still hungover, I walked into the venue, and I started giving the talk. I had my lines memorized, so I didn’t really have any thoughts of my own. All of it was memorized. But two minutes into the talk, I forgot my lines. I went completely blank, and I started sweating profusely.
I had nothing to say, and I almost passed out on stage. It was horrible. Those were my initial public speaking experiences.
How My Multi-Million Dollar Company Started
I got freedom in my life through helping others find it. pic.twitter.com/qbrLsvjGhg
— Ted McGrath (@ted_mcgrath) September 29, 2017
Ted: I left New York Life when I was 28. At that time, I had already risen in the management and leadership ranks. I was one of the top partners in the company. Even though I had achieved those, I still thought, “What do I want to do with my life? Is this really all there is to my life?”
That’s when I left to pursue entrepreneurship. I figured that I would get more freedom out of it, because I wouldn’t be tied up to a company. I’d be doing my own thing. I moved to California, bought an almost million-dollar condo and a hundred thousand-dollar car.
I’ve got all these things that I thought were going to give me freedom and happiness as an entrepreneur. But within two years, I was broke. My house was in foreclosure, and my car, my motorcycle — all of them —were taken.
Bridget: So you lost everything when you first came out to California. What happened after that?
Ted: I asked myself again what I really wanted to do. My whole identity was tied up in this false persona. I went back to the things that made me happy. I was happy whenever I spoke in front of people, and I remembered the coaches who have helped me in the coaching courses I took.
So I figured out that I wanted to help people. I wanted to coach and speak. I knew how to do sales and business, and I got my own coaching client. That was the beginning.
My Personal Challenges
Sam: You had a career in the financial industry where you made a lot of money. How did you lose all of it and became so broke?
Ted: Good question. I think I lost it all just because of my recklessness. Here’s the thing. When I was making the money, I went to South Beach every weekend and spent thousands of dollars on bottle service. Even when I wasn’t making the money, the habit stuck with me.
I was an entrepreneur trying to grow my business, which required bootstrapping it. I wasn’t taking any salary from my business, although I still had some savings. But I was still out on weekends living that life. For instance, I shouldn’t have bought an almost million-dollar condo when I didn’t have income coming in.
Sam: Exactly, yeah.
Ted: Like, how stupid was that?
Sam: You were drunk on your financial success, really.
Ted: And you know what else? I got drunk mostly on Fridays and Saturdays. When Monday came, I’d be up at 5 o’clock in the morning, hitting the gym. So I switched a hat, put on a mask, and went to work.
And you’re right—I was drunk on success, too.
The Ted McGrath Brands
Sam: Everybody’s got an inside story. And I’m sure there’s a lot more to peel off this onion here that you presented to us, which is your life. That’s amazing. So, tell people again where they can go—websites, social media—to see you.
Sam: So go to tedmcgrathbrands.com to check out Ted’s amazing programs. Tell us a little bit about one of the brands you mentioned earlier, Message to Millions.
Ted: Message to Millions is my speaking career. I work with coaches and speakers who are experts in their field, and I basically show them how to get clients. I teach them how to market their business online and get clients. Then, I teach them how to speak in front of rooms and get clients. We discuss all these different ways to bring clients into their own speaking businesses.
Sam: That’s where we gotta go with this. You have to always promote and sell your own brand and business. That’s how it works. Nobody’s going to do it for you. Right, Ted?
Ted: That’s right. You have to promote your own brand. You have to.
Sam: There you go. You can also check out his one-man show website, i-am-good-enough.com. Much continued success to you, Ted. And I know obviously you’re not doing your show for the money, it’s more than that. Because you already have the money you want, right? I would imagine.
Ted: Yeah. My show is my love. I’ll figure out ways to open up doors and monetize it, that’s just what I do. I think when you have art, it’s also important to get it out there.
Sam: Exactly, that’s what I’m saying. Not everything you do has to be business and making money.
Sam: A very inspiring man, guys. You should go to his websites, get inspired, get motivated. Because if you’re into drugs and stuff, there is no future to that.
Ted: I believe there is zero future in that whatsoever.
Sam: Ted McGrath, thank you for joining us here.
Ted: Thanks for having me.
I hope this discussion was able to serve you. I share my journey to multi-million dollar company in the hopes of helping you achieve your own dreams. Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts about it in the comments section below!