Exclusive interview with Ted McGrath: a business success story, public speaker, and actor.
Ted McGrath, who made a name for himself as a public speaker, has been taking the stage doing a one-man play about his life journey. Now, he is making waves by turning this play into a fully-casted feature film called Good Enough.
The movie is currently in the works and will tell the tale of McGrath’s struggles and journey to finding himself in a confusing world where the “right path” can seem ever so elusive. It has even caught the attention of Joel Zwick (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), who saw the play and has been helping out during the pre-production of the film.
Needless to say, McGrath found his path, and in this exclusive interview, we talk about how he got there.
Here’s what he had to say about making it in the dog eat dog world of entrepreneurism.
Commyounicate magazine interviewer, Ryan Mekkes: So tell me, if you would, about how you got into business. How did you start out down that path?
Ted McGrath: Yeah, I started at 21 years old in the insurance business with a company called New York Life. I originally was going to go into business with my dad. And, his company went bottom-up. So I decided to get into the insurance business cause I didn’t have a better plan. And then I met this guy named Moe, who interviewed me, and we struck off a really great relationship, built a friendship in a short period of time. And he hired me onto the business. And in my first year with the company, I did six figures in income. I was always chasing the money and thought the money was going to make me happy or make me feel good about myself. And then when I cracked six figures, I overdosed that night from drugs and alcohol — like 15 drinks of alcohol, a bag of cocaine, and a couple ecstacy pills. I realized I wasn’t happy. So I decided to go after management, and so they put me into management at a young age. By the time I was 28, I was one of the top partners in the company. I was the number five partner out of five hundred partners in New York life. But I had that question that a lot of people have: is this all there is to my life? And, you know, I was driven, but I wasn’t a confident person. I was just driven by insecurity and fear and wanting to get somewhere so badly to feel good. And so when I had that question, I realized I wanted more. And I left and moved out to California, became an entrepreneur, and started two businesses that I wasn’t passionate about. The businesses kind of fizzled out. One of them is still going, but I left and I decided I had the skillset and life experience as a leader, as a salesperson, as somebody who built businesses within New York life, to become a speaker and a coach. And I built out a speaking business and I cracked my first seven figures in income as a speaker, leading my own seminars.
From there, I decided I wanted to make a bigger impact in the world, and that speaking could only make such an impact — I could get in front of hundreds at once — but at that point, I decided to build an online business because I knew I could reach millions. And today, I’ve reached 17 million people on Facebook alone in the last couple of years. I’ve built a multimillion-dollar business that will hit eight figures very soon. I also realized, about five years ago, that I had a passion for the arts. I saw a guy do a one-man play at a business conference one time about his life story — he was playing like 15 characters on stage — and I said, I want to do that. Because when I was a kid, I always knew I had a performer in me. So five years ago I started to write this one-man play. And I launched it six months later in front of 200 people. I did my first play. I just recently did a six-week run in Hollywood; and now, I’m pursuing my career in arts and entertainment. We’re also turning the play into a film. Additionally, I’m starting a production company where I’m going to produce movies and have the marketing platform to promote them. I’ll be able to help celebrities like myself and other celebrities really distribute their work and their movies — but there will also be opportunities to make a difference in the world by actually contributing beyond their movies and beyond their songs with educational products that change lives.
CM: Thank you for that. That’s great. So that’s your origin to now. That’s so awesome.
Ted McGrath: Thank you man.
CM: Yeah, so when was the first time you realized you had a real gift with sales and marketing?
Ted McGrath: Good question. I’ll answer marketing first. I didn’t have a gift for marketing initially. I just learned it. Backing up a little bit, I first had to take a course on how to study. Because I felt like an idiot when it came to school. Around four years ago, I just realized I didn’t know how to study, so I took a course on how to study. And when I took the course, I learned that, oh wow, I can actually learn. So then all of the things I wanted to know about marketing, I started asking the people on my team; like, how does this work? How does this work? How does this work? And I realized that a lot of people that I was working with didn’t understand fully how marketing works. And, honestly, a lot of experts today don’t understand certain works in their field. And so I wanted to clear it up and understand it. And once I understood, I was like, Oh, I can do this just like anything else. I can do this just like my speeches — just like I sell, just like I act; I can do this. So I just decided I was gonna do it. I created that ability probably five years ago. That’s when that started.
CM: That’s really cool.
Ted McGrath: Yeah, thanks! And then sales came from a younger age, I think. I actually kind of learned that I could sell because I knew I could talk. So even though I didn’t have the skill set of how to ask questions and how to listen, initially, or how to do sales, I think I just kind of knew how to sell or I felt I could do it because my dad was a deal guy, and my grandfather made deals. I kind of listened to them as a kid, talking about how they did deals. So I just knew, well, you talk to people and you persuade them, and that’s sales. I think when I got into it, I knew I could do it, you know?
CM: That’s awesome. So some things that are quickly noticeable with you are that you live your life in a very transparent manner, and you live on full blast. You also have a lot of confidence to really speak your honest thoughts to people. And I was just wondering — how do you stay so upbeat and positive in life?
Ted McGrath: Yeah, it’s a good question. I mean I’m trying more and more to surround myself with people at my level or beyond. I find that those people think differently. And so what I decided is now I’m spending more time with people who see opportunity instead of obstacles. When you’re around people who see opportunity, they move quickly. And what I realized is, I used to allow people who see problems to influence me as to why things couldn’t get done. And this even pertains to people I’m surrounded by who are at the top of their game. I’m surrounded by some people right now who are at the top of their game. And I’m so shocked at how they’re that way, maybe, in entertainment — at the top of the game — but they’re not that way in all of their life. And so I look and I’m like, wow, how did they even get to where they’re at? They see so many obstacles down the road. So I try to find people who actually see the way I do.
CM: Gotcha. So are you somebody who is capable of taking a break and resting and taking some “you-time” in life? Or do you prefer to just go at it hard and work every waking moment?
Ted McGrath: It’s a good question. I like to gain. If I’m going to be on vacation, I still need to gain, and I need something to do. So it’s like, okay, let’s go to the best restaurants in Malibu. Let’s find them. Let’s do that, right? And even when I’m on vacation, during that time, I’m happy when I’m productive. Sitting around on a beach — I can do it for 20 minutes, but I’d rather sit around on a beach and write my book. Like when I was on vacation recently, I wrote half my book. I’ll wake up in the morning, I’ll do my workout, and I’ll write my books for an hour. It doesn’t take long, you know? An hour and a half. What are you going to do with eight hours of free time in your day? Are you kidding me? I could build four companies in that time. So for me, it’s just about, how much free time can you have unless you’re getting into something that ‘s engaging? Just being on vacation is boring as sh** because, what are you doing? I think people get exhausted when they’re stopping themselves from what they want. They’re exhausted when they’re working on things that they’re not choosing to work on. They’re exhausted when they have problems in relationships and they don’t want to confront it. But when you’re doing what you love, it’s different. Like, what do I need a break from? What do you need a break from if you love what you’re doing, and you’re creating, and it’s exciting, and you’re happy? Why would you ever need a break? Now to stay too fixed in one thing and to be like, this is the only thing I’m doing with my life — I think that’s the biggest joke that was ever sold on the American public. The world. Period. “You can only do one thing.” That’s the biggest crock of sh** ever. I believe if I’m doing too much of one thing, of course I’m going to be so stuck in that that I have no other viewpoints on life. So that’s boring, and not exciting, and of course, I would want a break from that.
CM: That’s great. So on a slightly deeper note, you talk a lot about overcoming struggles and negative mindsets, which ties into your message of helping people reach their full potential. What would you say to those out there right now who are at the bottom and don’t feel like they have anything to offer to the world?
Ted McGrath: I would say find something that you can do that helps you get a small win or success today. For example, Elon Musk is confronting the idea of flying to space. If somebody else tried to confront that, they’d pass out. Because it’s just not their reality. Many people just haven’t built up that ability. You’re going to be the best version of you. You have your own unique gifts and talents and your own purpose. So find out what that is and don’t compare yourself to Elon Musk or to the guy down the street who’s so much more successful — cause the grass always looks greener on the other side. You have no idea the problems that somebody else is dealing with, who may be successful in business, but maybe they have a horrible marriage. Maybe they have a horrible family life. Maybe they were abused. So you might think you want to trade for that person’s wealth, but they could be living in a trap. Some of the wealthiest people in the world have built their own prisons. So I would say to stick with your purpose and do something small today where you can win. It could be calling somebody to say, hey, I want to explore this opportunity. It could be that they want to start a book — okay, write a paragraph! It could be, I want to get a job. Great! You can get online and instead of feeling like, ah, I don’t have a job, what’s wrong with me? Just get online; just go submit a resume. Get into action.