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Episode 24: The Power of Community in Trucking with Mutha Trucker News’ Alex Mai

Brent – 00:00:01:

ome to Freight Nation: A Trucking Podcast where we explore the fascinating world of trucking and freight management. We dive deep into the freight industry and uncover why the trucking industry is more crucial to our country now than ever before. Stay tuned to uncover the driving forces behind successful trucking businesses and hear from the hardworking truckers and leaders who keep the world moving. Let’s hit the road. Well, all right, Freight Nation, welcome back to a great next episode of our podcast. Man, this has been so exciting. For those of you joining Freight Nation for the first time, we started this podcast back a few months ago just to tell the story of these great people that make trucking so much fun to be around. And man, I tell you, you’re going to enjoy today’s show like none other because I got to meet somebody really unique in the industry last November at the F3 Conferences, the FreightWaves Conference in Chattanooga. You know, I’m doing my thing. I’m walking around. I meet lots of people. It’s a really cool conference, probably the coolest aesthetic conference that we do in trucking. And there’s lots of people everywhere. And then I met this guy. He’s got this black hoodie on and this black hat. And he says, hey, man, my name is Alex. I have seen you everywhere. And it was the most incredible moment for me to meet Alex Mai from Mutha Trucker because of just the person that he is and what he does and what he tries to help this industry do to get better and better and better for more people to have a voice. And then I found out, man, Alex Mai is like loved and heard by so many people, over 900,000 people connecting to him. And after you meet him one time, just one time, you know, you’ve met the Mutha Trucker. So Alex, man, thank you so much for coming at the Freight Nation and telling the story.

Alex – 00:01:47:

Oh my gosh, what an intro to that. You know, I’ll pay you later. One thing’s for sure, you know, our energies match and it was a beautiful conversation and we both had something great in our ideology of just loving on people and just wanting our industry to thrive. And so I’m just so gracious and happy to be on your show. It’s one of those things where I just feel like I’m talking to a friend. So yeah, let’s get into some topics, right? Whatever you want to talk about. And if you’ve never seen me, my name is Alex Mai. And I make things for truck drivers on all social medias. And we just try to inform people. That’s it.

Brent – 00:02:23:

Well, that’s fantastic. Well, I got to see him not just in person, we’re talking as a friend. I got to meet him as somebody who started out in this industry as a truck driver. He has a great story in that. He’s had Mutha Trucker for 12 years. He also owns Big Rig Tees. And so there’s all kinds of ways in which he’s taken what he’s learned in trucking and turn that into a successful business that matched us like kind of where he wants to go. And that’s really what Freight Nation is about. It’s about how do people who get into trucking, maybe find a non-standard way to create success and help this market be better. But I’ll tell you, Freight Nation, when I was there the very last day, Alex got a chance to be on stage with the one and only Craig Fuller. And it was incredible just to see him up there talking about the power of social media. It was Craig and Alex and I’m drawing a blank. Who else was on stage with you?

Alex – 00:03:09:

Dooner.

Brent – 00:03:11:

How do I forget? He’s a legend. He’s a legend. Dooner’s story was unbelievable. I just couldn’t, you know, you guys have a lot of similarity, but I saw Alex get on stage and It’s rare that I get to see somebody that comfortable in front of a public audience talking really plainly about how you can do great things with your brand and your product. We’ll talk a little bit more about that. He’ll give some insight on that. But Alex, man, look, I got to hear the story firsthand when we were having a great walk and run and workout together. So I want you to tell the Freight Nation watchers and listeners, look, where did you start in trucking? And then what happened during the process that helped get you to sort of develop other enterprises out there and then into today? So give the story, man. Tell the Freight Nation listeners and watchers all about it.

Alex – 00:03:56:

Oh, yeah. You know, and I’ll make a long story short. Don’t worry about this. Right. So basically, my background, my heritage, you know, we’re Vietnamese. And so we came over here. My family did. And I was born in Hayward, California. Right. So I’m proud to be Vietnamese. But man, American first, man, I’m so proud to be American. Right. So it comes out that my uncle comes over here and he couldn’t find a job. And he saw like a milk carton situation where it says like they’re hiring at the North American Van Lines. Right. And back then, I believe PepsiCo owned them. Right. Fun fact. That’s why North American Van Lines, it looks like a blue arrow.

Brent – 00:04:37:

Oh, it kind of, oh, right.

Alex – 00:04:38:

Yeah.

Brent – 00:04:39:

Yeah.

Alex – 00:04:40:

Yeah. It blew my mind. Right? So at that time, you know, he went and trained, became a trucker, became a mover. And since I was like nine years old, every summer I would go with him. And so, I mean, he just wanted cheap labor. I mean, I know my uncle now, I love this guy, but I’m thinking he just, but all I want to do is spend some time with him. So every summer I got an opportunity to go with him and move some furniture. And he always said, Hey, stay in school, stay in school. You don’t want this to be your life. You don’t want to move furniture for the rest of your life. And, you know, I took his advice. Right. And so I got an opportunity. I went to Sac State, went out, got a degree in entrepreneurship, came out, Walgreens assistant manager, $13 an hour. Like-

Brent – 00:05:22:

Slow down. He was stacking them green bills up.

Alex – 00:05:24:

Hey, I tell you. I tell you. Right. And so, you know, I was working there a long while I was going to college, paying for my own way. We come from a modest family. My dad was a mailman for the last 30 years. You know, we just do what we can. Right. And so I did that. And along the way, I was starting to get a little kind of depressed. You know, you’re thinking to yourself, man, I got this degree. You know, you’re this good, fast talker, man. One day I’m going to grow up. I’m going to be a somebody. I’m going to be a millionaire. I mean, every kid has that type of dream. Right. And it just, nothing was really panning out for me. And so my uncle kind of saw that and said, hey, why don’t you go back and become a mover like me? I’m like, whoa, a trucker, a mover. I don’t want to make $5,000 a year. You told me these guys are broke. We don’t make nothing, you know? And he goes, look, let me show you what I really make. So I’m talking about like 2013, 14. He’s showing me $38,000, $40,000 gross. And look, let’s be honest. Disclaimer, you got to pay for fuel. The workers at the end, he’s probably making like $8,000. Right? But to see $40,000 gross for a two week trip, I don’t care if it was gross or net at the time. I was like, this is amazing. I had no clue. And you know, different specializing, they make different type of money. Van lines right now is hurting as well. But it’s just one of those things where I said, you know what? I told my manager, I said, I’m going to go become a truck driver. He looked at me in the face and literally said like, you become a truck driver, you’re wasting your time. You’re wasting your degree. You’ll never be anything more. You know, you’ll come back to Walgreens. You’re not going to be nothing more. Right. I went to school to forget it. Got my CDL. I did my thing. And I went with my uncle for like a year and a half. And the whole thing was he taught me how to drive the truck. I already knew how to move the furniture. And then at the end of it, he gave me this like 1998, like international like Eagle. The thing makes like one trip and the motor blows. But, you know, to be honest, I made a few trips. I was able to save up like $8,000. I put it down on an International ProStar. People make fun of me to this day. Right. So I’ve been a mover now for 10 years and people are like, why the internationals? All right. This was my argument. My uncle is my legend. And whatever he had, I had. So I saw this man so successful with this international. I’m like, hey, whatever he got, I’m getting. I didn’t even look at nothing else. So that’s the whole thing with that. And I went and I said, you know, I’m going to make this happen. Me and my wife now, the girlfriend at the time, like, you know what? We’re going to sell our house. We’re going to live on the road. Live this dream, right? Oh, my gosh. When I tell you, you think you fight when you live it? Oh, my gosh. I’ll tell you what.

Brent – 00:08:09:

She’s six feet away from you. Right, right.

Alex – 00:08:11:

I love her. But there were some moments where in my mind, I was like, when you go use that bathroom in that flying J, I’m going to be gone. I’m leaving. Right. But throughout that time, it’s just one of those things where you get bored on the road. I’ll never lie about it and say, man, I had all this passion for wanting to help truck drivers. It didn’t happen like that. Ten years ago, we’re vlogging our food. We didn’t even know what we’re doing. We were just journaling on video. And after a while, you start interviewing some drivers. You start doing this and you start doing that. And next thing you know, it’s like you’re making videos. And the show was called the Asian Mai Show. I’m Asian. My last name is Mai. And I have a show.

Brent – 00:08:54:

Asian Mai.

Alex – 00:08:55:

And people for six years had no clue what the heck was going on. Like, is this guy cooking? You know, is he cooking some Chinese food in this truck? Or what the heck is this guy doing? So only about a couple of years ago, I changed it to Mutha Trucker News. You know, I always told people what’s going on, Mutha Trucker News. But the show was called. Asian Mai Show. And my wife, she helped me coin that. And it’s a word that’s been used. So, hey, for anyone that’s looking and watching this and saying, this guy didn’t create that. No, I didn’t. Every time my uncle got upset at me and he didn’t want to curse because I’d call my mama. He would say, you Mutha trucker.

Brent – 00:09:29:

So your uncle gave you the name. He gave you an idea for the name.

Alex – 00:09:33:

Hey, Trucker’s been saying Mutha Trucker for a long time. Okay. I can’t take no credit. So throughout the years, almost going on six years, nobody really watched the show. It was just a couple views here and there. And no one cared until I stopped making it about me. And I’d go, I didn’t get it. When I interviewed a driver about his story, people loved it. But when I talked about me and my success or what I had or this and that, no one cared. So for anyone trying to build a social media out there, I would say when you start making it for a bigger reason than you, and that’s why you and I get along so well. That’s when the magic really starts happening, right? And so, you know, it became Mutha Trucker News. And now we dedicate our time. And it started really hitting off when I started going to all these truck shows. And at these truck shows, I was interviewing drivers. And I would always see this guy selling shirts. It was called Big Rig Tees. He’d been around 20-some years already. When I was trucking, I saw his shirts.

Brent – 00:10:29:

I don’t remember yet.

Alex – 00:10:30:

It was like, we just became friends. I thought this guy had a little heat press that’s on one shirt. I had no clue. He had a print shop. He had a little factory. He had a whole thing. I kept on seeing him at every show. I’d promote him. And we became great friends. One day, he goes, Alex, you want to be my business partner? I said, me? The assistant manager from Walgreens that makes $13 an hour that’s this YouTuber that don’t know jack about nothing? I mean, this guy? And he was like, yeah, man. I think we really could help people. But his ideology is the same. He loves drivers. He was a fireman. And he made shirts for his fire department and his team there. And he got into trucking. And it’s just one of those things where it just kind of scaled up. And so when we became partners, at the time, I think in 20-plus years, he got into like 60 truck stops because he was a print shop. And then two and a half, almost three years later, we’re in 250 truck stops.

Brent – 00:11:22:

Get out. Nice.

Alex – 00:11:23:

And so now I’m going the other way. I go, wait a minute. I’ve been talking to truckers for a long time. But a lot of the decision makers go to a lot of these other summits and conventions. I go, let’s get an understanding. And I think that’s where we’re at now, right? Let’s get understanding. Because the trucker mentality is forget this, forget that, direct shippers, everyone else is screwing us, right? And I go, wait a, there’s got to be bad actors everywhere. There’s bad carriers, bad shippers. There’s bad freight brokers. I mean, you name it. There’s someone that’s making your industry bad some way, shape, or form. But then there’s some people that care. So I started to go to these things like F3. And F3 was my first one. I’d never been to this type of show before where everybody has a suit on, you know, or everyone’s looking nice, or they’re the decision maker at their company. So I said, let me start talking to these people. And maybe we can get a better understanding. Because the goal at the end of the day for me is to help give truck drivers, owner operators, fleet owners, just a trucker-centric ideology of giving them the better experience. And so that’s where we’re at now. And I think that’s why I wanted personally to be on your podcast show as well, is so that we can start building a connection. And I could go back to my community and say, hey, look, wait a minute. All these executive guys, maybe they’re not all bad. Maybe not all of them just want to do something. You know what I mean? I mean, there’s guys like you out there that say, hey, how do I help people? And so I think there’s a connection. And there’s an underlining here that a lot of people just don’t understand. Because they don’t have the opportunity to get to the other side. So that’s why we’re here. Let’s build it. Let’s connect it. And let’s get people in the know, right? And that’s what it is.

Brent – 00:13:08:

Yeah. I’ve watched some of your videos and certainly meeting you. I think the thing that matches up in the marketplace is that you were just direct. You’re just open and honest about how you communicate it. And so you said for the first six years, it didn’t take off when you made it about you and about your sort of world and what you’re a lot of people do. Nothing wrong with that. But you started seeing some more critical success as soon as you focused on others. You focused on someone else’s story or you brought the other topics to mind that needed to be talked about. And so you started finding more success. So it’s so funny, Alex. People, when they see somebody who’s blown up in some market somewhere, they always go, wow, that’s amazing. And they don’t realize there’s usually 10 years of struggle behind it before they got there, you know, because it just takes that time to do it. So I think that’s fascinating when you said you kind of just. Kept trying and kept trying things to try to see where the audience was going to connect. And then all of a sudden something clicked and you were able to say, okay, well, oh, this is what the audience need. Where was that exactly in the process?

Alex – 00:14:11:

Probably going on like the seventh, six and a half year. I started going to trucking show events. People are like, what is Mid-America Truck Show? What are these truck shows where I could just meet truck drivers? Let’s talk about you. How long have you been doing this? I’ve been doing this 37 years. You know? Hey brother, I love you. I appreciate you. And then I get some guys that you think would never get emotional about things. He goes, you know what? In 37 years, no one ever said thank you to me. I appreciate that.

Brent – 00:14:38:

Oh, no way.

Alex – 00:14:39:

I go, whoa, man. So I’m getting selfish here. I’m like, I like the way this feels. I was trying to like this. So my addiction now is like, how can I get more of this feeling? And so sometimes it’s really cool. And there’s this weird thing now that happens where I’ve done over 8,000 videos. Between the 8,000 videos that I’ve posted, I probably interviewed about 1,500 people, truck drivers. And some of them have passed away. And I tell you what, it’s so crazy when people are like, Alex, remember that interview you did of my dad or what have you? He actually passed away. Do you still have it? And I go, I do. Which is, sometimes it’s like no magic. It’s just, I’m walking out of a truck stop. He’s walking out of a truck stop. Hey, brother, I like your truck. Oh, thanks, man. You know, my old lady and my daughter and this and that. But then now it’s kind of emotional for these people, but like, of course, but like now they’ve passed away and I have this like capsule of like memory where there’s like, oh yeah. And I always ask the question, who do you do it for? Some people give different answers. But, you know, my daughter, I hope one day she becomes something great, but I’m going to sacrifice it. I go, whoa. And then they get to see that. It’s like, so it’s just about life. And I just target that focus on truck drivers because I know how hard they work. And so I dedicate my life to it. And there’s just no angle. I have no angle. You know, I could never say, I don’t want to provide for my family. Of course I do. But all that other stuff, it comes secondary. I’m real big on this butterfly effect now. So I just started LinkedIn like two weeks ago. I’m very proud of it. I got like 3,000 followers now. And people are like, where’s this guy popping up from? And why is everybody jumping him on the podcast? Like you said, I’ve been helping people not for a very long time, but for a long time for me, you know, for the last 10 years. I’ve made a video, at least one video, every day for the last 10 years.

Brent – 00:16:42:

Heavy, really?

Alex – 00:16:42:

Yeah, that’s how you get 8,000 videos.

Brent – 00:16:44:

What’s up, Freight Nation Podcast? What was your video for today? Have you done it yet?

Alex – 00:16:48:

Okay, so my video today was right before this. FreightWaves had me on. Dooner had me on with the truck. And then after before that, I’ve already made two videos. One, we already know right now, she’s not the head of the FMCSA, but she’s playing the role of it as Sue Lawless. You know, it came out recently that she wants to propose a rule that truck drivers, when they get into an accident or anything like that, sometimes that tow bill, they get it three days later or four days later, it’s $20,000, $30,000. She wants to propose a rule that says, hey, truck drivers, you need to know what you’re paying without the hitting fees before you sign. I go, wait a minute. That sounds actually pretty good.

Brent – 00:17:27:

Yeah.

Alex – 00:17:28:

That sounds pretty darn good, right? And so sometimes when I talk about FMCSA or this and that, people think I’m anti this or that. I’m not. If you got a good idea. I’m for it. You know, life is about sometimes politics and it happens, but if you have a great idea, it’s going to help a trucker. I’m about it. So I’ve already made like three videos today. I posted four times on LinkedIn. I mean, this is what I do, right? And so the service I’m giving now is the reason why people are following me so much on LinkedIn is I said, look, I built from zero to 900,000 followers and made 8,000 videos. If you have a question and you want to help truckers and you have a question about your business, I will help you for free. I’ve already in the last two weeks helped like 50 companies answer questions. Some people go fishing. Me, you know, I get my little drink. I like energy drinks, right? But I get my little energy drink and then I go, all right, question, should I start another channel for, that was the question I got today. A big company goes, should we start another channel for a different type of content? I said, no, don’t spread your people thin. Segment it out. If you have truck stop, hey, have Freight Nation. If you have Freight Nation, it’s okay to have a segment that says life of a truck driver. You don’t need 20 different because now you’re sending people away from you. You are the network. It’s okay to have different shows.

Brent – 00:18:49:

Well, that’s another big pro tip. So Alex, you’re really good at this, but it’s interesting how your heart is to share all these tips to people. Tell me what’s motivating you to really want to give back that way.

Alex – 00:18:59:

The truth is I’m just here to help people now. I told myself when I make money, I’m going to start helping people. And man, when I start making enough money for me, I’m going to start helping people. And then I just woke up a few weeks ago and said, you know what? Why don’t I just start helping people? So I’ve been helping the truck drivers. The pain points that truck drivers are having, some of those pain points, they’re because of the other side and vice versa. But on the other side, that doesn’t just mean Congress. Because sometimes you can’t fight that, right? Rules and regulations. That’s an uphill, slow fight, very slow fight. So it’s like if I could get understanding with people that make decisions, on the other side, maybe we can move the needle faster. And so if I did have a strategy, my strategy right now is I think anybody that their business model is the experience of a truck driver, I think it’d be a shame that they didn’t connect with me and we tried to find understanding. And I help them, you know, because I don’t have to name any companies. But if there’s a company out there that doesn’t have a great light right now, but is a big part of the industry, you do have a chance to be better.

Brent – 00:20:04:

Yeah, don’t we all? Help me out. So you’re talking to these truck drivers and you’re talking about these pain points. You say, hey, let me help you out. What are some of the main things that you say, okay, do this and do that? Is your advice to them how they can improve their brand or their value in the market? Or what are the questions they’re asking?

Alex – 00:20:22:

Like, for example, they’re like, okay, let’s make this very specific to truck stop. Right. I just because you’re wearing the shirt, you’re reminding me of it. They’ll say, hey, Alex, I will use free load boards. And I go, that’s great. I go, why aren’t you using paid load boards? And they’re like, well, it costs money. Right. I go, wait a minute. What if there was a tool out there and that could be your company or not? But what if there’s a tool out there that can save you 10 hours a day? But they cost you 50 bucks a month. Would that not be a better use of your time, right? And they go, well, I didn’t think about that, right? So there’s driving a truck and there’s being a business owner. And a part of what I do sometimes is I try to educate on be a business owner. Do things that make sense. And so on the other side, there are truck drivers that say, man, using load boards and using this and that, that’s just taking money out of the truck driver’s pocket. Right? Wait a minute. Potentially you could build a business within a business. Maybe you could use them as your sales team. And here’s the part that truck drivers some don’t even know. By the time it goes on the load board, their best loads, and we’ll use this as an example. Just say they’re using truck stop load board in one of the brokers on your board. All the great loads that that freight broker has, they already gave it to their favorite truck drivers.

Brent – 00:21:37:

Well, that does happen. Absolutely.

Alex – 00:21:39:

It might have never made it on that load board. But guess what? The relationship could have started from the load board, right? So when I tell people, hey, have direct customers, you need direct customers, you need direct customers. Hey, you need direct shippers. You need direct freight brokers. You need direct everything, right? And there’s a tool to be used, right? Load boards, the way my uncle taught me was, hey, if you’re in a bind and you’re in somewhere that you don’t know, you can use that as a tool to get you out. And you’re supposed to use that as a tool to get you out and make some money, right? But it’ll get you out. And so it’s just one of those things where you want as many tools in your toolbox as you can.

Brent – 00:22:16:

There you go. That’s it right there. And I get the same opportunity you do, which is to talk to truck drivers, owner operators, small fleets out there. And I always say, look, the best thing you can create is a relationship with somebody. If you can create that relationship with a shipper, rock and roll. If you can create a great relationship with a broker, that’s fantastic because you can always get the best paying freight through the relationship. But the load board, truck stop being one of them, is the open marketplace. It’s where everything aggregates together. So use it just like you said. And that’s a heck of a pro tip, Alex. Use it as a resource to help you run your business. It’s always a. The light’s always on and it’s always ready for you to go find something that you need when you need it. Use it as a tool. That’s great advice. That’s a great pro tip that you give to these carriers. So what’s some of the other things you give them when it comes to their business?

Alex – 00:23:05:

The biggest one that I say is you kind of touched on is build relationships. This trucking game is such a relationship game. Just say you jump on truck stop. You’re looking for a load. I mean, if you’re not even doing your homework, you don’t know when things pick up, drop off. You don’t know anything. You think they want to give you more money for that load to begin with. That’s not a conversation that someone wants to have. You know, if you’re like, hey, I know that this loads needs to be here tomorrow at 10 a.m. I actually could get it there when you need it there. I read the extra comments that says that it needs to be here at 930. You know what I mean? That communication game, building trust, because I’ve talked to freight brokers where they say, I’d rather pay a carrier more money if I know that that load’s going to get there safe. Because when things get screwy, guess what? That freight broker’s going to. Lose that direct shipper anyways.

Brent – 00:23:54:

Oh, that’s very true. Yeah. If you’re a small player in the market, if you’re working with a shipper, you don’t have a lot of leverage because you might be a one or two truck entity or something like that. And so therefore, you don’t have a lot of leverage and ability just to serve the customer. And so you’re kind of at risk for losing that. Well, how do you feel about what somebody says? Okay. If I do it myself, I feel like I get more. How do you coach them on? How are you managing your time? How do you manage your time when it comes to the freight that you’re acquiring?

Alex – 00:24:21:

You know, honestly, all carriers and I have a lot of conversations with these small mom and pop owner operators. Your problem’s not going out. If you’re building relationships and just say you’re headquartered in Texas, you got no problem getting a direct customer out from Texas. But once you get to Florida, what’s going to happen? You’re not going to have that relationship. So you got to use these tools. And I tell them, use them all. I mean, if you talked on average, and of course, all business structures, we all have competitors. But if you talk on average, I guarantee every truck driver that’s successful, if they are successful, has a couple load boards that they have downloaded in their tools for their toolbox. Just say one day truck stop goes offline for a day. Is that an excuse that now you just don’t run your truck? You know what I mean? So it’s just one of those things where it comes out to a relationship game. I mean, if you’re sour as grapes when you pick up the phone or you call people, hey, I know you’re going to screw me. Nobody wants to work with that. You know what I mean? And so I actually promote people to have as much direct customers as possible and direct relationships as possible. So if you can get direct shippers, get them. If you can get direct freight brokers where they’re calling you before it comes off the load board, get them. But how those relationships happen? They happen because I can’t tell you. I’ve interviewed so many people where they said, yeah, I picked up a random load on this load board. And next thing you know, I make friends with Craig. And now Craig’s my best friend. And now he’s picking, you know what I mean? And so it’s all relationship. I’ve never met one small carrier that was bad at relationships be successful in this business. I mean, have you?

Brent – 00:26:02:

Oh, no, no. There you go. That’s another grapefruit. Nobody that creates great relationships doesn’t find success. They always do. All right, so Alex, you deal in a world that’s new to a lot of people. This is a very established industry with a lot of people that are my age and older. I’m 56. So social media can be really intimidating. All right. So what are the areas where you see people make mistakes on social media?

Alex – 00:26:25:

You know, the biggest one, honestly, let me give you an example. Okay. Just say PACCAR, one of the biggest, right? Everybody loves Peterbilt. Everybody loves Kenworth. You go on their YouTube and I haven’t gone for a while. Maybe you could look on your phone. I think it might be like 12,000 followers. You know what I mean? It’s just one of those things where in an older industry, I call it a dinosaur industry. Some people get upset when I call it that, but. Older industry, I’m already big and bad. I don’t need this marketing. And the old school way of marketing is changing because marketing companies are going to hate me for this, but this is what they’re doing. Hey, jerk stop, give us $100,000. We’re going to keep $70,000 of it in our own pocket. And then we’re going to use the 30,000 to boost ads on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, you name it. Because at the end of the day, look at every single platform there is out there. They’re a business. They don’t want to give you views. They like it when you don’t get views. And then you start seeing ads. Would you like to boost this ad? As soon as you take the bait, you think they’re ever going to give you organic views again? They want you to keep on paying. So the old school marketing way is a marketing company will come in and say, hey, truck stop, give us only $100,000 and we’re going to keep $80,000 of it. And we’re going to boost ads with $20,000. That’s the old way. That’s why they don’t like me. Because I built mine organically with the cell phone, right? And so my biggest advice, my pro tip to everybody is how many people remember Blockbuster?

Brent – 00:27:57:

Yeah.

Alex – 00:27:58:

Right? Because that’s what you’ll become. You’ll become Blockbuster. Because yes, the old generation remembered PACCAR. But if this Volvo guys keep on using Jean-Claude Van Damme and doing these funny commercials. You saw that commercial?

Brent – 00:28:13:

I did. It was great.

Alex – 00:28:15:

It was a hilarious commercial. And I’m not sponsored by any of these people. I got zero sponsors. I’m not sponsored by any of these people. But in the new generation, if Volvo has 2 million followers and PACCAR has 12,000. In this day and time, who do people think the big dog is? Truckers might think it’s Peterbilt and Kenworth, right? But who is the big dog to people? They’re going to think it’s Volvo, right? And so the big pro tip is nobody’s doing nothing wrong. If you’re putting social media as part of your business model, you’re doing it right. The only part that they are doing it wrong is they segment it and believe that it should be on just LinkedIn or believe that it should only be on Facebook. If you make the content once, post it on every social media. And who made that biggest mistake? Me. Because I said, I’m going to make and help people. Where do I put it? YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook. Where am I big on? YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook. I had zero followers two weeks ago on LinkedIn, right? No one on the professional side even knew who I was. The people that make decisions. So you know what? The big problem is you should be posting everywhere. So that’s a big problem. So the first one, honestly, is, hey, start. Because if you don’t, your competitor will. And the second is, if you’re doing it, why are you wasting great content on just one platform? Put that sucker everywhere. You know what? The biggest way to get big fast, get big on one, and start telling your audience from that one to go follow your new one. I mean, I’m not trying to give truck stop advice right now, but just say, you guys have a great following on LinkedIn. Have you actually made a video on LinkedIn and said, hey guys, do you guys watch YouTube? If you do and you love us on LinkedIn, could you follow us on YouTube too?

Brent – 00:30:04:

That’s great advice. I didn’t know I was going to get some advice today too. I guess I’ve been it. That’s great.

Alex – 00:30:10:

We’re friends, you know, but it’s the call to action.

Brent – 00:30:13:

Yeah, well, sure. So let me ask you a question. So you’ve created this great following. You’ve created success at multiple levels. How has this changed Alex Mai’s life? And then how has it changed your outlook from this Vietnamese kid, grew up in California, went to Sacramento State, that’s Sacramento State for those that don’t live in California, to $13 an hour at the Walgreens, working for your uncle. You know, pushing this thing forward. How has this changed your life? And then how has it changed your outlook on life?

Alex – 00:30:45:

Ooh, I like this. I would say having the power to say no to things I don’t believe in. I think it’s not fair of me to ever tell people to go for their dreams because you got to put food on the table. You got to work. If the lights are on, the water don’t work. You don’t have shelter. It’s very hard to tell people to, man, go for your goal. Go for your dream. You can do it. Chase it. I don’t recommend that at all. So I’ll be honest. It went from 10% of me saying things that I felt and 90% of the BS of the world just so that I can survive. And that’s everybody. You know me. I’m pretty direct on that. And then at one point, it became all my bills are paid. Nobody in my immediate family works. I pay everybody’s bills. Everyone’s houses are paid off. Everyone’s cars. Everything is great. We don’t have the nicest everything. But if I don’t go to work, the repo man doesn’t come, right? Still got to pay your taxes, right? Of course. But I would say to be able to 100% wake up and say, today, I’m going to do what I like to do, is a very powerful thing. And it doesn’t take much money to do that. It just matters how you want to live your life. If you’re very basic, you know, just little things. Look, 4 or $5,000 a month with all your bills paid off, houses, cars, everything. Most people would be great. And so I would say the biggest thing that changed Alex’s mind, if I’m talking in like third person, really thinking about this is just I wake up every day with intention and I get to do 100% of what I like to do. How could you not smile? We all have bad days. We do. But I have less of them now because every time I do something, every time I try and someone says, no, Alex, you’re not good enough. No, we don’t like your big red tees, t-shirts. No, we don’t care what you’re talking about. Well, you know what? It’s fine because I’m working towards me and what I want to do. And I want to help truckers. I’m having so much fun. And I get to sit in these little rooms now with people and like, Alex, how do we scale our business from a $3 million business to $100 million business. And they’re taking Alex Mai, assistant manager of Walgreens, making $13 an hour. Seriously. Hey, I’m dumb as rocks, people. I mean, if I’m going to give like a real pro tip, do something, do it small, do it well and be real about it and be good to people and the world will take care of you. So that is where I’m at right now. And when you make money secondary and you make people first, things will come. Great things move slow. I can’t say that enough.

Brent – 00:33:25:

Man, I love your last statement, Alice, where you said, you really want a great success. Do something small and do it well, no matter what. Do it well. And then the small becomes medium, and then it becomes large over time when you continue to do it consistently. Yeah, to me, that was the difference in my life. And I just got to talk to our sales team a few days ago about something. And I said, what changed for me in my life is when I changed that mindset to my focus, which was, how can I be consistent in everything that I do? You know, because we all got skills, we all got talent, and you’re not dumb as rocks. I know that. You said that Walgreens was lucky to have you. Your undergraduate degree has entrepreneurship in it. So you like the idea. You’re an innovator. And that’s really what I’ve respected so much from the standpoint of what you’ve done is how you’ve continued to innovate who you are. All right, so you’ve got your communication channel. And by the way, I want to get your advice on this. So advice on the power of being able to communicate well and what that’s done for you. Then what’s next for Alex Mai?

Alex – 00:34:30:

The power to communicate well. I think what it really is, is as much as it seems like even you and I talk a lot, our skill is actually listening. It’s something different when someone says, hey, Brent, how you been? You know, how’s that run? But when people are like, man, how are your six kids? You’re like, whoa, you remember that? And so I really pay attention to really, it takes time to learn this. It’s not an angle. It’s not a strategy. But to really listen when people are talking and pick up key points. Because this is the best pro tip. You want to do well in business, this is it right here. People like talking about themselves more than they like talking about you. Okay?

Brent – 00:35:17:

Every day. Every day. That’s right. That’s right.

Alex – 00:35:19:

You know, that’s all of us. So it’s just one of those things. If you catch on what people like, you catch on how people are, and you really dive in and just be real. I can’t connect with everybody. If there’s no connection, I can’t do it. It’ll hurt my heart if it wasn’t true. But if you’re like, my ideology is people, I go, we’re locked in, brother, because I’m there with you, right? And so I would say being a good communicator, it’s really about being a better listener and about dialing in and being the same person at all times. I think that’s a big one, because I asked about you. I didn’t want to come up to you until I asked at least five or no, I’m serious. I asked people and they’re like, this guy right here, straight up breathes truck stop. He believes in it. If he’s at a show, he don’t wear truck stop socks on. I mean, this guy believes in this, right? And I go, really? What else about it? Oh, man, he’ll help anyone. Oh, he’s helped me with this or that. I needed some with this. And everything, every time I hear your name, it’s about helping somebody. I go, wait a minute. That’s real, you know? And people could BS people. The real is real, right? Right. And so whoever you are, you don’t have to pretend to be this outstanding and vocal person, but the quiet ones are powerful too. You and I both have some friends that are very quiet, but man, when they talk a little bit about something, it moves, right?

Brent – 00:36:43:

Very influential, right? Yep, absolutely. They’ve thought about it. Great advice. So, all right, what’s next for Alex Mai? So what’s the next few years now that we’re out of the pandemic, you know, the marketplace is balancing out and what’s next for you?

Alex – 00:36:56:

I don’t know. I mean, I’m having so much fun.

Brent – 00:36:59:

You are. I love watching you work, man.

Alex – 00:37:02:

I went to Manifest and people were like, so what is your business? I was like, I don’t know. How can I help you? They’re like, well, how much does that cost? I was like, I don’t know.

Brent – 00:37:12:

Yeah, you’re in the business of listening. That’s it. I love it.

Alex – 00:37:15:

I have no clue where this journey is going to take me. I’m going to do as long as I’m having fun and I want to help people win. This year, if I can help people win and get them to their next level and I have something that I can bring value to their life. I think that’s where I’m at. My goal this year is to help as many people as possible win at whatever the heck they want to win in. And I love trucking. I love our industry. So I’m probably going to help those people that care about that.

Brent – 00:37:40:

Man, that is a perfect way to end, Alex. I tell you what, I’m going to go help people be successful. And if I can do that, then it puts a smile on my face. What great words, Alex. Thank you so much for being on Freight Nation today, man. Time always goes so fast when you’re talking to friends, man. I tell you what. But thank you for sharing your story and thank you for motivating people and giving the great advice that you see that can help them, man. You are helping people. And Truckstyle’s proud and happy to be a part of the Mutha Trucker family as well. We’re happy that you’re part of ours. So thank you for being on today.

Alex – 00:38:11:

Oh, no. I appreciate you for helping me on this side too. You know, I’m a little rough around the edges and I’m figuring things out. So, you know, you’re being a great friend to me and I appreciate you taking me in and being a mentor too. I mean that.

Brent – 00:38:22:

Well, I appreciate it. Well, we both help each other and it’s an honor to help you. And. And I appreciate your help anytime. You know what? That’s a wrap Freight Nation. I tell you what, what a great episode today. If you didn’t get a bunch of great value out of talking to the legendary Alex Mai, as he says, you weren’t listening. So thanks a lot Freight Nation for being here. Don’t forget to work hard, be kind and stay humble. We’ll catch you the next time Freight Nation. Take care. On behalf of the Truckstop team, thanks for listening to this episode of Freight Nation. To find out more about the show, head to truckstop.com/podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. Until then, keep on trucking and exploring the open roads with Freight Nation: A Trucking Podcast.

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