5: Using Leadership to influence with Mike Willingham from iPawn

February 7, 2018

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Yigal Adato: 00:04 Hey everyone, this is Yigal Adato and this is the Pawn Leaders Podcast, a podcast to help you make more money, stress less, and live an epic life, all while working at the pawn shop. Hey pawnbrokers, welcome to another great episode of the Pawn Leaders Podcasts, and with me today I have Mike Willingham who’s an entrepreneur, who’s passionate about leadership investing and of course, pawnbroking. Mike has held a number of senior executive leadership roles during his career with jewelry companies corporation, lead sales operations as national sales manager and director position with advanced issue and national supplier of medical supplies. Michael currently serves as vice president and COO of Ipawn Arkansas, and as president and Willingham diamonds and serves as a board member for the National Pawnbrokers Association. Michael developed a passion for leadership, reading, talking to individuals, and learning everything he could about responsible leadership. Michael’s true passion is influencing younger men to realize that leadership abilities. Six years ago, he joined forces with radical mentoring to help equip young men identified as high potential leaders. Mike, welcome to the show.


Mike Willingham: 01:21 Hey, thank you. Good day here.


Yigal Adato: 01:23 I knew you and I will be a perfect fit, after I read your bio, after we had a quick phone call after an exchange on Facebook, we jump on a phone call, we talked leadership, we talked personal development, and I knew I need you on the show. So, thanks for being here.


Mike Willingham: 01:45 All those things is I don’t get an effort.


Yigal Adato: 01:45 Awesome. So let’s start with your history. How did you get into pawnbroking? Where you had a history of jewelry sales and then tell us how you got into the pawnbroking industry.


Mike Willingham: 01:55 So, I got to the industry with a buddy of mine, I was having lunch with. I had’t gotten out of medical sales, that was just a job where I was traveling five, six days a week and decided to get out of that and was taking some time off and buddy of mine said, hey, let’s open a pawnshop. Why? Because they make money and it’s fun and you buy stuff, you sell stuff, you loan money. So, he talked me into it, we started and basically we started out stuff from our garage and through a sign up and that’s how we started eight years ago.


Yigal Adato: 02:33 How many stores do you have now?


Mike Willingham: 02:35 We have two stores.


Yigal Adato: 02:36 Two stores. Ipawn Arkansas and give us some background. What are the laws in Arkansas? What’s the interest rate? What’s the hold period?


Mike Willingham: 02:44 So, the interest rate is kind of open. There’s no Arkansas before August of this year. Arkansas was one of the few states that has zero pawn laws on the books as far as regulations go. We joined forces with a couple other pawn brokers in the state and actually got a law passed this past year and so that cap set at 25 percent per month and then a hold time of 30 days on merchandise.


Yigal Adato: 03:16 Nice. Great. And you do all types of merchandise, right? Jewelry and general merchandise?


Mike Willingham: 03:21 Jewelry, general merchandise, boats, cars, rv’s, everything.


Yigal Adato: 03:25 Anything. Awesome. Beautiful. So, how long has it been since
you opened the stores?


Mike Willingham: 03:30 So we opened our first store eight years ago this month, in fact.


Yigal Adato: 03:33 Nice. Congratulations. Happy Anniversary. Nice. And how has the ride been? What’s been some of the tough situations that you’ve had and what's been some of the great moments?


Mike Willingham: 03:47 SSo, some of the tough situations is finding as we expand and have expanded as finding employees and staff who don't just want to have a job and get a paycheck, but actually want to learn sales or negotiation, marketing, merchandising, we kind of say, tell our staff anything will sell on a pawnshop if its price is right, clean and well merchandised. And so finding people who kind of have a vision and a passion for whatever it is they want to do in life. It has been a difficult task.


Yigal Adato: 04:28 Yeah. And I’m sure for many, many pawnbrokers I remember when we had our stores, we had a team of 40 plus and just hiring the right type of people. It was tough, but when you found a good one, you treat them right. And there’s a big difference.


Mike Willingham: 04:44 Yeah. One of the things we do also is we pay above average wages, a commission our employees have health care, they have a free gym membership that we paid for all employees 401k that were match. So, it’s just like working for a large corporation basically was added expense, but it’s worth it.


Yigal Adato: 05:06 Great culture. Giving back to the employees helps you find great employees.


Mike Willingham: 05:09 Absolutely.


Yigal Adato: 05:10 Yeah. Nice. What made you decide to do those types of things as opposed to some other brokers who might be listening who say, why would I give them a gym membership? Like for what?


Mike Willingham: 05:22 One, it keeps your employees out there. Our employees go to the gym and a lot of times they're wearing an ipawn tee shirt that we've given them and so they're marketing themselves and that's one of the things we talked about a lot is personal branding. My background is jewelry and I started off branding myself because when somebody is at a function and they said, Oh, where'd you get that ring? I didn't want them to say I got it at x jewelers. I want them to say I got it from Mike Williams. So, that's one of the things I teach our employees it brand your self because probably not going to work here forever. So, take you can take your customers with you, clients with you.


Yigal Adato: 06:08 O’m so happy that you bought a brand new. I talked with Josh Davis in the last episode and he said that one of the reasons that he’s successful seven stores in Florida was because of branding.


Mike Willingham: 06:21 Absolutely!


Yigal Adato:Mike Willingham: 06:21 And that’s corporate branding, right? What do you mean?


Mike Willingham: 06:25 Corporate branding.


Yigal Adato: 06:25 Yeah. Let’s talk about what that means when you talk about like personal branding. Why is that important to a pawnshop when your employees personally brand themselves as opposed to just corporate branding


Mike Willingham: 06:37 Well, yeah. I think because you turn that customer into a client and there was a huge different customer and client and the relationship is different and but also your employee is going make more money, which means you’re going to make more money because they branded themselves and when you see Zach around Little Rock, you know Zach works at Ipawn and he gets rarely on solitaire or tv, whatever you need. If you need cash to get gas to go to work, that Zach’ your guy.


Yigal Adato: 07:11 Yeah, he’s the. He’s the guy to call?


Mike Willingham: 07:14 Right!


Yigal Adato: 07:14 Nice. Yeah, I agree. Branding is super important. What we used to give out CashCo t shirts. We would tell people if you're going to wear this around, you need to walk and talk with the integrity of the store.


Mike Willingham: 07:25 Sure, absolutely!


Yigal Adato: 07:27 Because you are who you are inside and outside of the shop as
opposed to separating that, those two things.


Mike Willingham: 07:33 Can we take it a step further? Even when you're not wearing something that’s Ipawn on it, you’re still representing yourself, your store, your family, your parents, all those things.


Yigal Adato: 07:44 Yeah. So, I want to talk to you about leadership. I think it’s important for, in the pawnbroking industry when I was in it before I got out two years ago, I started a leadership program from my manager’s leadership program for my employees and maybe many people said I was crazy. Why are you wasting your time? These are pawnbrokers. What difference have you seen in your business, in your team and the people around you when you became a better leader? What happened in them?


Mike Willingham: 08:17 I think When I became a better leader? It encourages them and it also challenges them. You can’t, you have the ability to challenge them to be better. If one of the things that we do is you want to set a sales goal and maybe a productivity goal for your employees and some employers are going to have to say, I don’t know what you want to do, but this is what we got to have out each week. But what I found, if you had let sales people set their own goals, they’re going to set them much higher than you would usually. Now. That puts me in a different position of now I’m here to help you meet your goals. Instead of just hammering on hey you got to, I need you to sell this, I need to get this most important activity. And so they become more confident because they realize that they can do with what they’ve been asked to do and what they want to do. They’ve set their goals.


Yigal Adato: 09:15 Now what is leadership? I mean, what does that mean to you?
You mentor young men to become better leaders?


Mike Willingham: 09:21 I think leadership is purists definition is influence and influencing

people to do something they may not normally do. Whether that’s set a sales goal or whether that is stop smoking or go to the gym three times a week. All those things get their finances in order to raise their credit score. I’ve helped employees do that with all those things.


Yigal Adato: 09:51 So, But again, why is that important in pawnbroking, especially in pawnbroking, why do you think in today, 2018, a pawnbroker needs to learn leadership and become a better leader?


Mike Willingham: 10:05 That’s interesting question because I think there are a lot of times they’re viewed as leaders in their community. They might not view themselves as leaders in their community, but they’re viewed as leaders in the community because that’s the place you go when you need to pay your phone bill or you need to pay your light bill or you got to buy your kids grocery, get paid for their daycare, and so if you’re not leading as the manager or the owner of the pawn shop or how you’re leading it is going to be a direct reflection on how your staff interacts with your customers. And so if you lead well, they’re going to treat your customer well. If you treat your employees well, it’s installed. It’s a trickle down effect.


Yigal Adato: 10:53 So, It’s safe to say that becoming a better leader improves your bottom line at some point.


Mike Willingham: 10:57 Absolutely, absolutely.


Yigal Adato: 11:00 Listen, pawnbrokers I’m going to say that again, becoming a better leader influences your bottom line. Increases it.


Mike Willingham: 11:08 And so if I use the analogy all the time, if time is money and we’ve all heard that time is money, then you’re either spending time or you’re investing time. So, either you’re investing in your employees, you’re investing in your customers, you’re investing in yourself, learning leadership, learning sales approaches, learning how to overcome objections, teaching your people how to overcome objections and teaching them goal set. A lot of people set goals, but they don’t have a plan to achieve those goals, which is just a dream.


Yigal Adato: 11:43 Yeah, it was with some of the clients and friends in Pawn Leaders when they come on board, they say, oh, I have a goal.I want my loan balance to go up $50,000. That’s it, there’s no plan of attack. How do we get there? How do we chunk that down? Let’s increase it, you know, $3,000 a month. So, I love what you said that there’s really no procedure as to I want this goal. And then you don’t process it to be able to achieve it.


Mike Willingham: 12:12 Yeah. If you don’t have a vision of where you want to be as a leader, if you can’t realistically to look at, here’s where I am, here’s where I want to be. It’s not about those two things. It’s about the gap. What am I going to fill the gap in?


Yigal Adato: 12:29 So Mike, talk about that. So, let's talk about the gap. We talk about where I am today and where I want to go, how does one fill the gap? What do you need to do to be able to fill the gap? To get from point A to point B?


Mike Willingham: 12:49 Well I thinks, Its commits I Love Golf. I'm committed to golf. I'm a terrible golfer, but I probably want to be a better golfer.Anything that has commitment behind it usually is going to involve time and money. So, if I'm going to commit to be a better golfer, I'm probably going to have to hire a, for me, a really good instructor, buy a good set of golf clubs, buy the bestballs, private lessons, and maybe a membership somewhere. So,I'm going to have to spend time and money to do that, to getbetter at it. If you want to become better at leadership or you want to become better at sales or you want your people to become better at sales, you're going to have to invest time and money into it. It is just not going happen by Osmosis.Yigal Adato: 13:34 Yeah, I totally agree with you. What did you do to invest in yourself to become a better leader? How did you go through this personal development journey? What did you do?


Mike Willingham: 13:43 I love to read. Reading is a big part of it. Probably the biggest thing is I became involved, I had a young man about seven years ago, asked me to mentor him. He and his wife had been talking about it, so my name kept coming up so we had coffee and it always kind of starts out as, I got this business idea and so I had never mentored anybody who had been asked to mentor anybody. So I immediately go online and I searched Google mentor and this website came up radicalmentoring.com. And so I called the guy we talked to, had a great conversation and he challenged me, he said don't just do one guy, he said do six or eight guys all at one time because what you're going to find is, and what I found is they're all asking the same questions and so instead of having six different meetings a week and you have one meeting a month and get it all done. So, radicalmentoring.com. It's a great thing, a great program. They have everything you need, but that's probably most been the most influential for me because now I know that I got six or eight guys watching me all the time.


Yigal Adato: 14:59 So, you have to lead?


Mike Willingham: 15:01 Yeah. You have to lead. You put yourself in a position where you force yourself to do it.


Yigal Adato: 15:06 Yeah. And like you said, if you commit to them, you have to commit to the rest of. [Incomprehensible] areas in your life to being healthy, to having that balance, to work in hard to be able to teach them and mentor them about it.


Mike Willingham: 15:18 Well, it's about the productivity part of it too. We've all had those days where they had a killer day in sales. Everything just went right and we had enthusiasm. We're excited, and when you've had a good busy day like that,ou're a better friend, a better song. You're a better daughter, you're better husband,
better wife, better employee, and it's about enthusiasm. If you don't have enthusiasm about what you're doing that then you're wasting your time.


Yigal Adato: 15:48 Yeah, I agree. It's too much


Mike Willingham: 15:53 make you focus on your problems instead of your goals.


Yigal Adato: 15:56 Yeah, I agree with and if you're enthusiastic, if you walk into your shop

and you're enthusiastic, your employees become enthusiastic in a sense. If you walked in and are grumpy and you're angry, well guess what's going to happen? They're going to get grumpy and angry towards your customers and you're not going to make as much money as you should.


Mike Willingham: 16:17 Sure.


Yigal Adato: 16:17 I have a good friend, his name is David Tall, owns this huge company called Agentology and he walks to work and when he walks in, I think he has 100 employees now. He fist bumps everybody every day when he walks in, just be like, and just says, have a great day, have a great day to give them a little bit of that enthusiasm so they can perform at the next level.


Mike Willingham: 16:38 Yeah.


Yigal Adato: 16:39 So great. So, let's talk about, you have pawnshops, right? And you talked

about personal [Incomprehensible] and then you also have William Diamond's tell the listeners why you kind of branched out to that and how that maybe intertwines with the pawn shop and why it helps


Mike Willingham: 16:58 So, Willingham diamond, I've been in the industry for 28 years in a corporate office in. And it's just something I really love doing. I found, it's kind of a niche market that I have, just kind of a small office. My rent is 600 bucks a month, I don't have much overhead so I can make less money on a stone, and give better value to customers. And that's, I just love doing it.


Yigal Adato: 17:34 And are you selling this stones from the shop? Are you getting them wholesale? What's the-


Mike Willingham: 17:39 We keep that separate because I want the, I want the pawn shop to sell their product and I just sell mine wholesale.


Yigal Adato: 17:47 Gotcha, Gotcha. Great. So, you're doing incredible things on social media. I mean social media is on fire.


Mike Willingham: 17:55 Social media is something that a lot of what I've noticed, there's a lot of pawnbrokers don't use it. What if I told you there was a way where you could be known by hundreds of thousands of people, it's free, it's not regulated and you can say whatever you want to pretty much, it's an opportunity to solve your problems, your advertising problems. We were spending 10 to $12,000 a month on advertising. And so we made it a point to go out and get a lot of social media file, we wanted those to be local because you can go out and buy all kinds of followers. So,we came up with a couple of events that made people go to our Facebook and Instagram page and follow us, and so if you got 100 people coming into your store a day, would you rather speak to 100 people or the 15,000 people you've got following
you on facebook, you want to speak to both.


Yigal Adato: 19:00 It's about leading, right? It's about creating that content and creating [Incomprehensible]. So, I follow you on Instagram and you're not just posting, check out this diamond for sale, checkout this watch for sale, check out this ring for sale. You're posting motivational quotes, leadership quotes, inspirational stuff you're giving back. You're not just trying to sell. And I think that's the biggest, you know a lot of pawnshops out there. Mike Willingham: 19:23 Well and a lot of people use social media as just an avenue to sell. You can't just use it as an avenue to sell. You've got to use it as an avenue to educate. So, like you said, encourage and videos are great, videos get more views than pictures and such, but you can't have all or you have to have a good mix. Yigal Adato: 19:46 Yeah. So, we talked about business leadership. We talked about your pawn shops. How did leadership affect your personal life?


Mike Willingham: 19:55 Well, I think I always tell people, you don't just go to work from eight to five or eight to six or work 60 plus hours a week, like a lot of us do. And then shift gears and become the leader you need to be at home. It's not either or, it's a both end. You're a leader at home and you're leader at work too. Those are maybe two different styles of leadership, but you're always leading And so in my personal life I'll lead the same way as I do at work and the results are the same.


Yigal Adato: 20:39 I agree with you. For me, when we were training our managers, we would tell them, the way you are at home is what you here and the way you were here, she'd be the way you were at home. So, if you had the store, you shouldn't say, Oh, you know, I do things differently here than I do at home. Being honest, be honest, everywhere, integrity, integrity, everywhere, being committed, committed everywhere. And I think lots of times, especially with pawnbroking, I think some people have such a bad image of pawnshops and pawnbrokers that we taken stolen merchandise that we're not honest. So, I think it's essential for pawnbrokers to have as much integrity as possible within their community so that they're seen as the leaders that, like you say, not just a place to come in and pawn my stuff, but this is a leader in my community who's giving back.


Mike Willingham: 21:30 There's so many small things that pawnbrokers can do to change that perception of the industry within their community. For instance, our guys were in gals wear Khakis and a branded polo shirt. So, everybody, you walk into our stores and you know that personal works there. They all have name tags. There's branding things, sending thank you notes for the most part, our customers in the pawn industry don't shop at places where they get thank you notes. Why not stand out from the crowd and send them a thank you.


Yigal Adato: 22:09 Yeah, I was seeing a website and I'm going to talk with the owner Seafield Giovan. It's called reviewwaived.com. I've never used it. My chiropractor uses it. And what happens is after you go there, it sends you a text message to rate how the service was. And then after you rate it, if you rate it a four or above, it'll
take you to the yelp, Google or facebook page to give them a review. If you rate them like a three or below, it'll say please let us know how we can improve. And I think those are small types of things that pawnbrokers can do in this day and age to stand out from the crowd, to keep up with other retail establishments, like you said. And to lead the pack. Like if you want to lead industry, if you want to lead your competition, you got to stand out.


Mike Willingham: 22:56 Well, I love what you're doing with this whole leadership thing and branching out in to that area and a influencing pawnbrokers our glasses. The other day I walked into my optometrist's office because I lost my glasses, so I was prepared to spend money. I would have ready. I walked in, I said, hey, I lost my glasses. I need to get. I want to get the same old, same frame. I said, okay, just let it around. I already told him what I wanted. They look my name up. My prescription had expired. That's all they told me it was my prescription had expired. Not let's go ahead and get you set up for an exam, take it the next step. So, I love my eye doctor, but I walked out of that store in that office without buying anything, without setting up an appointment and she lost a patient just because of her staff.


Yigal Adato: 23:52 The same thing that happened.


Mike Willingham: 23:54 And it happens every day in the pawn industry, everyday in every industry.


Yigal Adato: 23:57 Yeah. It happened to me. I have a trainer that I go to as a private gym and I was paying a gym membership somewhere else and just say, what am I going to spend the 50 bucks a month to go to the gym membership if I don't use it? So, I walked in and the girl at the desk and I just said, hey, I'd like to cancel my membership. This was the answer. She was, okay, what's your name? And I gave her my name. She said, it's canceled. Thank you. In all she had to do was ask me what makes you want to cancel it, what can I do to make sure that you stay a member. Can I give you a small discount? Can I give you an extra towel? Here's a cookie


Mike Willingham: 24:35 Rather to keep your business.


Yigal Adato: 24:36 Yeah. I wasn't even convinced that I wanted to cancel my membership. I just did it because 50 bucks. But if she added on some type of value like, Hey, I'll give you this month for free something. And I think that that happens to a lot of pawnbrokers, we have a rule with our family that wherever you travel, you have to go to a pawnshop. That's the rule, right? My brother wants to take a vacation. No problem. Take the vacation. As long as you take a picture outside of a pawn shop for me and tell me how the experience was, And a lot of times it was the same thing. You walk in, people don't say, hi, how can I help you? What's going on? And I think leadership starts there. If the owner of the store studies leadership reads books, personal development, join a mastermind like the Pawn Leaders to learn how to better equip their employees, they will make more money.


Mike Willingham: 25:31 Absolutely.


Yigal Adato: 25:33 Investing in their abilities, their learning, their employees makes them more money. Why do you think pawnbrokers have this block against it?


Mike Willingham: 25:51 I think some of it is the one vision thing they don't have a vision for where they want to go and where they want to take their company or their employees, but it's also they don't know how, and so that's why I think what you're doing with the podcast is fantastic because that's going to teach them at least they have the opportunity to get the information. It could be something as simple as your core values. Do they have, do you have a set of core values for your store and your company and they're out there. Ours for Ipawn is creative, remarkable experience, which I explained that, that's something worth making a remark about. Embrace and drive change because things are always changing in the pawnshop. Excellence in every role. Little things are important. Little things turn into big things and honest is always best.


Yigal Adato: 26:51 I love that. Repeat those again. These are the core values posted somewhere.


Mike Willingham: 26:57 There's posters all over the stores with this, Yigal Adato: 26:59 Right. So, tell us again, these are the five core values of Ipawn.


Mike Willingham: 27:03 Create remarkable experiences. Embrace and drive change. Excellence in every role. Little things are important. Honest is the best.


Yigal Adato: 27:12 I love that Mike. I think that every pawnbroker needs to create the core values because when your employees see it, and if your posters are in the store as well, then your customers can hold your employees account.


Mike Willingham: 27:26 Absolutely. Little things are important and probably that is probably the one that we concentrate most on because if there are cigarette butts on the parking lot then that's not good to create a good experience. Weeds grown up between the cracks and in the parking lot. All those things.


Yigal Adato: 27:46 I think that pawnbrokers are spoiled for a long time and I'll speak for myself as well. There was many years where we just opened the door and money walked in. And this day and age.


Mike Willingham: 27:58 Now I haven't worked for


Yigal Adato: 27:58 Yeah, and it's funny because I'll talk with some pawnbroker and say, all the business is different, it's not the same anymore. It's not what it used to be. And my answer is, it's because now you actually have to work. Now you have to become three things a leader, a marketer and a business strategist. Would it be for you just opened the door, gold walked in, money walked in, and you were fine and I think that if you want to become a successful pawnbroker, if you want to take your pawnshop to the next level, it's about leadership. It's about marketing, it's about strategy, which [Crosstalk]


Mike Willingham: 28:33 I think one of the major shifts that has to happen in the pawn world is were so transaction oriented and we look at the merchandise and we don't pay any attention to the customer.


Yigal Adato: 28:49 I love that.


Mike Willingham: 28:50 Qualify the customer, not the merchandise. And don't become so transaction oriented. And that's one of the things we like for our employees, our SLA sales and lending associates, we like for them to wait on a customer all the way through the process, whether it's pawn because I want my customer the thing Zach is my guy, if I need to put something in the layaway, if I need to buy something, if I need to pawn something, I need to sell something or finding to make my pawn service towards [Incomprehensible], Zach's my guy that I do that with. That way they build a relationship and now that's how you transition a customer into a client for that.


Yigal Adato: 29:30 Yeah. I agree. What I call a raving fan, because you don't want somebody just to walk in once, buy a guitar and never come back. You want raving fans walking out of your stores and recommending you to their friends, family or whoever that is.


Mike Willingham: 29:47 And there's little things like we [Incomprehensible] parking lot two or three times a year. Makes it look fresh isn't it?


Yigal Adato: 29:53 Yeah. I told this story on one of the last podcast about a very famous lady here in San Diego who owns lots of restaurants. I had no idea who she was. She was picking up a cigarette butts in the parking lot and when I asked, they said that's the owner of this company, multi, multi million dollar restaurant chain and she knew, she's got to do it as well,


Mike Willingham: 30:11 Right.


Yigal Adato: 30:12 So, it's very, very important.


Mike Willingham: 30:17 Absolutely. Your employees are the backbone of your business and pay attention to the people you hire, we use a hiring process that it is a scientific testing and then training and then just you're invested in and you don't hire people to fire people, so let's get them trained up, let's get them to where they're
productive for you.


Yigal Adato: 30:51 What do you mean by scientific process?


Mike Willingham: 30:55 We use a test called the TTS, I can't remember what that stands for, the TTS report, that basically tells us how are you emotionally stable? They are how quickly they make decisions, how, if they have high leadership potential or if they're going to be best suited as an SLA, an inventory associate in the back, a bookkeeper or manager.


Yigal Adato: 31:27 That's great. So, what, we'll try this, we'll try to find the link to that and I'll put it in the show notes, the TTS reports, other pawn brokers can get ahold of that.


Mike Willingham: 31:36 A lot of times we place people in the wrong position and so their best isn't good enough and if their best isn't good enough, it's kind of cruel to leave that person in that role because you're going to be frustrated, they're going to be frustrated. And I'm not saying you have to let them go or do outplacement. It may just be they need to shift into another industry or another role where they're successful.


Yigal Adato: 31:58 Yeah. So, you talked about that in the beginning of the show. That reading is very, very important. What's one book that you recommend that everybody listening to this? Obviously pawnbrokers should read it to level up your leadership.


Mike Willingham: 32:11 So, one of the books it's become my favorite one is the newer one is by grant cardone. It's called be obsessed or be average. And it talks about, sales and, how to lead in life and how to lead people and how to become a good leader. The other one that I think is great for the pawnbroker industry is smart moves management by John Thedford. It basically tells you how to run a pawnshop, whether you're a single store operator or a multi store operator.


Yigal Adato: 32:47 Nice. Love it. Thank you for this. And Michael, we're winding down on time and I want to ask you, it's 2018. What do you think pawnbrokers? Two things pawn brokers need to do right now, make a change in their business so they can stop being average and become great.


Mike Willingham: 33:08 I think it's invest in your staff and invest in yourself. You pay your staff more money, given an opportunity to earn more money. I always told our staff the other night, I want you to make so much money that your friends are pissed at you and hope something bad happens.


Yigal Adato: 33:30 I love that. That's awesome.


Mike Willingham: 33:34 And, if we'll invest in our staff, been everything else will fall into place.


Yigal Adato: 33:42 Yeah. Love it. Mike thank you so much for being on the show, tell people where they can find you on social media. I think they should follow you, you Do a great job on it. So


Mike Willingham: 33:52 My business, Ipawn Arkansas on Facebook and on Instagram, Willingham diamonds on Facebook and Instagram and Mike Willingham on Facebook and then michaelwillingham.com


Yigal Adato: 34:14 Nice. Beautiful. I appreciate you for being here and
pawnbrokers thank you so much for listening to the show. If you want to continue the conversation with Mike, Remember to go to the Facebook group Pawn Leaders Podcast community, and we'll continue, you can ask questions over there. Also, if you're ready to invest in yourself and your team with the Pawnleaders.com to join an incredible group of brokers who are learning about leadership, learning how to grow their stores and it become better leaders. So, I'll see you guys there.


Yigal Adato: 34:34 Mike, once again, thank you so much.


Mike Willingham: 34:36 Thank you.


Yigal Adato: 34:37 Thanks for listening and stay tuned for another episode.




Mike Willingham, VP, and COO of iPawn Arkansas and president at Willingham Diamonds speak on using leadership to influence persons to be their best self and work towards their dreams.



[00:24] Mike is an entrepreneur, passionate about leadership, investing and pawnbroking



[00:46] VP and COO of iPawn Arkansas, president at Willingham Diamonds and serves as a board member of National Pawnbrokers Association



[01:07] His true passion is influencing younger men to realize their leadership abilities



[01:54] Mike started pawnbroking with a friend of his, where they used items from their garage



[02:34] Mike currently has 2 stores



[02:46] Before August 2017, Arkansas had no regulations regarding pawnbroking. The law now states interest of 25% per month with a holding period of 30 days



[03:21] Mike pawns jewelry, general merchandise, boats, cars, RVs and much more



[03:29] He opened his first store 8 years ago



[03:47] Finding passionate and ambitious employees is one of the hardest situations Mike has experienced



[04:44] He pays above-average wages, gives employees health care, free gym membership, and other benefits, just like a large corporation would



[05:25] Employees are kept active and also marketing themselves and the company (while they wear iPawn shirts)



[06:49] Why is personal branding important? “Your employees are going to make more money, which means you are going to make more money.”



[08:17] When you become a better leader, it challenges your team to want to become better leaders



[09:44] “If you don’t let salespeople set their own goals, they’re gonna set them much higher than you would usually



[09:22] “Leadership in its purest definition is influence




[10:53] Becoming a better leader improves your bottom-line




[11:36] People set goals, but don’t have a plan for achieving them




[13:23] You must commit, by investing time and money, to anything you want to become great at doing




[13:44] Mike read and became involved in mentorship at radicalmentoring.com to become a better leader.



[15:43] “If you don’t have enthusiasm about what you’re doing then you’re wasting your time.”




[16:58] Mike started Willingham Diamonds from something that he loves to do




[17:38] He separates the pawnshop and Willingham Diamonds so that each entity makes its own profits




[18:39] Mike used events that would lead persons to his social media pages




[19:27] You must use social media as a platform to educate, not just sell




[20:18] Even if you utilize different styles, leadership can be portrayed at home and at work




[23:05] Your staff can determine whether or not you get business based on their customer service




[25:53] Lack of vision and know-how can prevent a pawnbroker from building their staff to make themselves better leaders and improve the viability of the pawnbroker




[27:03] iPawn core values:


  • Create remarkable experiences
  • Embrace and drive change
  • Excellence in every role
  • Little things are important
  • Honest is best



[28:40] In the pawnbroker business, we’ve become so transaction-oriented that we don’t pay attention to our customers. Forming a relationship with the customer can upgrade them to a client



[30:20] “Employees are the backbone of your business




[30:42] Training employees gets them to where they need to be in the business




[31:02] The TTS report focuses on emotional stability, making decisions, leadership potential and best-fit job roles for employees




[32:12] ‘Be Obsessed or Be Average’ – Grant Cordone https://www.amazon.com/Be-Obsessed-Average-Grant-Cardone/dp/1101981059 talks about sales and leading people




[32:33] ‘Smart Business Management”…




[33:08] “Invest in your staff and invest in yourself. Pay your staff more money, give an opportunity to earn more money




[33:32] Contact Mike at:


  • iPawn Arkansas on Facebook and Instagram
  • Willingham Diamonds on Facebook and Instagram
  • Mike Willingham on Facebook
  • MikeWillingham.com

Yigal Adato

Yigal is a 3rd generation pawn broker, and is now a mentor, coach and educator with the pawnbroking industry.

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