Interview with Dr. Tony Jacob
The Optometrist Who Made a Multimillion Dollar Exit with Dr. Tony Jacob
In today’s conversation, I’m speaking with Dr. Tony Jacob. Tony is a doctor, entrepreneur, investor, and the former owner of a multi-million dollar optometry practice—which he built from the ground up.
Realizing the upside to owning a business, Tony made the leap from doctor to entrepreneur in 2010 and hit an impressive $1M in sales within the first 18 months of launching his company.
By the end of 2021, Tony had opened 11 different locations and increased revenue by 7X in the last 4 years of operation. He decided it was time to roll things up and sell. Last month, his company was officially acquired, making it the largest private sale in the state of Texas for an optometry business.
Despite having no background or previous experience building a company, Tony figured it out through hard work and persistence. He made mistakes, learned from them, and kept pushing forward—strong values which were instilled by his parents.
In this episode, you’ll hear all about Tony’s entrepreneurial journey and the steps he took to start, scale, and sell his optometry business. We talk about making connections, how to hire and grow your team, investing in cryptocurrency, and the power of earning enough passive income to live life on your terms.
Featured on This Episode: Dr. Tony Jacob
✅ What he does: Dr. Tony Jacob is former owner of a multi-million dollar medical practice, now a highly successful investor. His inspiring story is proof that anyone can live a life by design, if they’re willing to do the work!
💬 Words of wisdom: “Try not to turn down conversations or meetings because you never know where it will lead or who it can help.” – Dr. Tony Jacob
🔎 Where to find Dr. Tony Jacob: You can reach out to Dr. Tony Jacob on LinkedIn
Key Takeaways with Dr. Tony Jacob
- How the impetus for becoming a doctor was born and the key role family played in Tony’s life.
- Why a single conversation has the ability to completely transform your life. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and meet interesting people!
- How Tony went from doctor to entrepreneur and hit $1M in sales within the first 18 months—despite having no business background.
- Getting out of his own way and scaling to multiple locations.
- The big advantage doctors have over other professionals when it comes to financing—even if they’re just starting a practice.
- Why joining Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) was the ultimate key to Tony’s success.
- Using the Culture Index™ assessment tool to hire the right people and lead them to extraordinary growth.
- Rolling up 11 locations and selling the company—making it the largest transaction in TX for Optometry
- Living on passive income and becoming a “100-percenter”
- Selling a business sounds glamorous and really exciting, but it is a hard process. Here’s why…
- The value of hard assets and investing in cryptocurrency.
Dr. Tony Jacob | Appreciating the Long-term Horizons of Cryptocurrency
Dr. Tony Jacob Tweetable“Try not to turn down conversations or meetings because you never know where it leads” - Dr. Tony Jacob Click To Tweet “I’d like enough passive income to cover my expenses so that I could pretty much live for free” - Dr. Tony Jacob Click To Tweet
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Read the Full Transcript with Dr. Tony Jacob
Justin Donald: Well, Tony, welcome to the show. I’m so glad to have you. We’ve been talking about doing this here for a little while, and darn it, I’m just so excited to have you on.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Hey, Justin, glad to connect again, and thank you so much for having me. I’m honored and very flattered that I’m on your podcast. It’s a great podcast.
Justin Donald: Well, it’s great because sometimes people are like, hey, why me? Why did you pick me? But I think you embody a lifestyle investor in so many ways, and I’m so excited to unpack your story. And really, I feel blessed for our friendship. Getting to know you has been so much fun, and I’m glad that we share so much in common. But I think your story is incredible, it’s inspiring, and I’d love to just kind of have you share it because, from a work ethic standpoint, you’re like at the top of the charts and you have put in hours, you’ve put in time, you’ve been able to see the fruits of your labor now, most recently, and so, I’d love to kind of walk through your journey, like what made you want to get into being a doctor and then what made you want to start a practice and then roll up other practices and all the cool stuff that you’ve done.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah, it’s funny when you hear someone else really enjoy your story, right? And because I think my story’s fairly ordinary, but when I look back and think about it, there have been quite a few milestones and accomplishments. So, I appreciate that you recognize that just from chatting over the last couple of months. So, I guess, where do I begin? The impetus for becoming a doctor probably resides in the fact that I came from a traditional Indian family, and one of the three avenues that you have is go to medicine, go to law, or engineering, right? And so, we’ve got doctors in our family, I think mostly all doctors in our family. So, that was kind of ingrained in me, and I did want to see patients and take care of patients from a very early age. And so, I visualize that and saw that from a very young age.
But my story is a little bit different just going back to my roots. I was born in Kerala, which is a southern state in India, very tropical, high literacy rate. And my parents, they had immigrated to Kuwait, which is a fairly common thing for folks trying to get out and make a better life. And so, they lived in Kuwait for a couple of years, and so, I was raised there until about four or five. And my father, again, he was quite entrepreneurial, looking for a better opportunity, decided to immigrate to either the United States or Canada. And as luck may have it, he got his papers for Canada, so off we go.
I mean, at the time, we had quite a few cousins that were in the United States, and so, we had immigrated to Canada. It was 1989, I think, and my father, his background, he was an accountant, and my mom was a teacher. And so, he had sold everything, get an export business, import and export. He was selling cigarettes of all things, distributing it in the Middle East. And so, he had decided to start a business. I mean, naturally, that’s what he was used to and accustomed to. So, he came down to Toronto, that’s where we first landed, and of all things, decided to get in the restaurant business, right? And so, you can imagine owning a restaurant in a foreign country first time out. I had to give him credit for having some serious grit, but it didn’t pan out. And I remember at a really early age watching my mom and dad go through the pain of having a business and wanting to build a better future and just watching it kind of crumble.
And so, that was a particularly difficult time for my parents, even though they insulated us, and we really didn’t understand the true depth of that story very early on. And so, we picked up, we moved to Edmonton. We had some family there as well. And my dad and mom looked at each other and said, “You know what? We’re just going to have to go back to school and get educated in the Canadian system” because they didn’t quite recognize foreign degrees at the time. And so, it was kind of funny. My dad put my mom through school and my mom put my dad through school, and time just flies by. But I remember my dad like at the dinner table reading accounting books because he eventually became a chartered accountant, and my mom, same thing, going through nursing school.
And so, we were in about middle school at this point. By junior high, both my parents were out and started their careers, and so, time kind of flew by. But very early on when you mentioned the work ethic thing, I just saw it growing up, and my parents consistently pushed us to just have a good education and work really, really hard. And it lessens the need for luck. So, that’s kind of how that early part of my story starts, right? So, you can imagine just having parents that had to go through that grind just really stuck with me, whether they push it on me or not. I also watched it.
Justin Donald: Yeah, what a great characteristic to rub off on you, and man, to think about having a degree, but then having it not recognized by a new country, so you have to go get that degree again. I mean, today, it’s a whole different world. But back then, that was a thing, right? You couldn’t trust that system or you didn’t know that system. So, your dad’s like two times over.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah, I mean, he aced all his classes, right?
Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s just incredible. It’s funny when you talked about an import/export business, I couldn’t help but think, I don’t know if Seinfeld is a show that you ever watch growing up, but that was George Costanza’s big line, what do you have? Oh, yeah, I’ve got an import/export business. So, in my mind, any time I hear that, I just laugh. I just love it, brings…
Dr. Tony Jacob: It raises a lot of eyebrows. What exactly were you importing/ex– and it was cigarettes of all things. So, I guess it still raises eyebrows, but…
Justin Donald: There you go. It’s cool to see what he was able to do and to see what rubbed off on you. So, you didn’t have to become a doctor. You’ve got other family members that did. You saw your dad didn’t take that path.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Right.
Justin Donald: Why did you?
Dr. Tony Jacob: So, my dad became an accountant. My mom was a nurse, and I started working as soon as I was able to set 14 in Canada in Edmonton at the time. You could get your driver’s license. So, I applied for my learner’s permit as soon as I turned 14, and my first job was working at a movie theater, ripping tickets, and things like that. And so, I just wanted to start earning my own paycheck and doing that for myself. And I had worked a couple of different jobs at the time right up until college. And one of the last jobs that I had as a teenager was working at the equivalent of a men’s warehouse. So, in Canada, it’s called Moores Clothing for men. And I had worked there selling clothing and suits. And we got to meet a lot of interesting people.
Justin Donald: I’m sure.
Dr. Tony Jacob: You’d have guys walk in buying like five suits. And as a young kid, you’re thinking, what do you do for a living? Like why do you need so many dress shirts or whatever? And so, you’d have some awesome conversations. And it turns out one of the conversations I ended up having was with an optometrist. He came in one day and bought seven pants, and I was like, why do you need seven dress pants? And they’re all kind of the same color. And so, he told me he was an optometrist and he worked really close by. And he said, “You did such a great job with the sales and the process here. Why don’t you come on in one Saturday and check out what I do? I know you’re thinking about what you want to do in school.”
One thing led to another, and I got to visit his clinic and started shadowing on Saturdays, and I just fell in love. I watched how much fun he had with his patients and really seeing the tangible result, which is combined not only the happiness that he’d bring the patients once they got their prescriptions fixed, but it made him really happy. And I think his patients saw that on his face. And so, that was really the inspiration that drove me to then apply to optometry schools. And so, he wrote my reference letter to a bunch of American schools because we’ve only got one optometry school in Canada, right? And the other one is French speaking, and my French is mediocre. So, yeah, I applied to a couple of different schools in the U.S., and quite frankly, I just wanted to go to warmer weather. So, U of H was really high on my list. It was a great school, I had great professors there. And so, that part of my journey, in retrospect, kind of copied my dad’s footsteps of wanting to leave and do my own thing.
And I distinctly remember my dad asking me why I’m leaving. And I looked at him and said, “Well, you did the same thing too when you were my age.” And so, I didn’t really have much to say, he kind of just encouraged me to move on and do it. So, I moved to Houston. I didn’t know anyone at the time and 3,000 miles away and got my first student loan, and that began the next chapter.
Justin Donald: Wow. It’s crazy to think, Tony, that a chance meeting, a chance conversation. You could have not asked this guy at your store what he did for a living, and had you not asked that you probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to work with him and get a letter of recommendation and learn that you actually enjoy that. The trajectory of your life could be totally different, but it’s interesting seeing where the breadcrumbs lead. And that’s just a cool part about it. It seems like a random chance, but it may not be.
Dr. Tony Jacob: One of the lessons I learned from that, and I think is carried on with me is I really try not to turn down conversations or meetings because you never know where it leads. And you also never know who you can help, right?
Justin Donald: Right.
Dr. Tony Jacob: And so, throughout the years, I just put myself out there, even though I’m probably naturally a little more introverted anyways because generally, they turned out to be very positive things, some of my best friends, some of the best connections I’ve ever made have been because of a chance conversation, so I tend to agree with that.
Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s awesome. And it’s fascinating that an introvert like you is going to muster it up and be like, “So, tell me, what do you do?” But it’s great because you were rewarded for that. I feel like sometimes people are afraid to get out of their lane or to get out of their comfort zone to ask those questions or to engage with people in that way. And I love seeing you being rewarded for that. So, what ended up happening in Houston? You opened up your first practice, you went to school there, and then, what happened from there?
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah, so after I graduated from optometry school and I had interned in Dallas, rotated through those couple of clinics there. And when I got out of school, I went to a small town in East Texas. It was called Orange Texas, which is right on the Texas-Louisiana border. And I ended up working for, I would call her quite an industrious optometrist. And her husband also had quite the business acumen, and I had watched how they had built a clinic that they had purchased and completely turned it around. And while I was there, I also watched them move into a brand new building and really just build something awesome, and that set the stage for what I really want to do next, which is building. And I really do enjoy being “a builder.”
And so, that part of my journey was interesting because I got to learn how to interact with patients that are actually paying you for once, and you start to realize how much of an impact you have. And it’s just not the same when you’re in school, right? So, you’re really accountable for everything that you do. And that was 2008 is when I had my first gig. And so I worked there for about a year and a half. And the only problem really with East Texas is all the hurricanes. And I think it was a hurricane in 2008 or 2009 that kind of sealed the deal for me in terms of leaving the area and wanting to raise a family potentially in a different area.
So, I picked up and moved to Central Texas and actually settled in New Braunfels, which is a great little town. It’s kind of split between San Antonio and Austin and got out there and decided to kind of start from scratch all over again. But one thing that I had done before I had moved to New Braunfels was I had bought a property, my first ever building in Lockhart, Texas, and I had found this building just driving through on my way to Austin once. And this building was– I didn’t know it at the time, but it wasn’t an optometry clinic. It was just a building in a really good location. And digging back further into the history, I ended up finding out that it once used to be an optometry clinic or an ophthalmology clinic.
And so, I actually bought a building kind of for rental income at the time with a potential prospect of converting it to an office someday, if I ever wanted to. I really liked the location, and the town was really quaint. And so, fast forward to the point where I’ve now left Orange and moved to New Braunfels, I started doing kind of gigs again and I worked at a commercial location in Laredo, Texas. I would drive three hours one way, see patients over the weekend. It was very lucrative. But as you can imagine that not all things revolve around money, but I think it gave me what I needed to really get the next chapter going. And so, I did that and I also worked in private practice for a little bit. So, having worked in East Texas, Houston, Dallas, and then kind of around the San Antonio area in Central Texas, I felt like I was ready. And this is about a year and a half out of school. In May 2010, I opened my very first location in Lockhart, Texas, in the same building that I purchased two years ago or two years prior.
Justin Donald: Oh, it’s so cool. And this, by the way, here’s the transition for those that want to hear kind of the big defining moment, Tony went from being a doctor to being an entrepreneur. And there’s a big difference between the two. A doctor can make some incredible income. An entrepreneur is going to make unparalleled income generally, especially if they hit it big. And so, it’s neat seeing the shift because a lot of doctors, I mean, you haven’t been trained, you didn’t go to business school in how to run a business. You went to school to learn how to be an optometrist. And so, it’s got to be a little nerve-wracking to go on your own and start your own thing and then open up more locations or buy more locations. I mean, that’s where you’re really dabbling in this space that you don’t know you’ve never been. And it’s cool seeing you take the leap. So, I’d love to hear kind of how that evolved too.
Dr. Tony Jacob: It was definitely uncharted territory, but I knew I wanted to control my own destiny, right? And so, going from an associate where if you mess up, you’re taking a risk on someone else’s dime, right? But then getting out on your own, like you said, the potential is really in yourself. And so, when I decided to switch to business owner versus being an associate, things dramatically changed for me and it improved. And I would say, I was fortunate enough to knock on doors. I really love my patients. I really love the town. I loved what I did. And so, our practice just grew naturally. I actually think we hit a million dollars in sales in about 18 or 19 months, which in my profession is kind of unheard of. We were in the black the very first month, Justin, so I felt very lucky to be doing that, and it was right out of the recession.
Justin Donald: That’s unbelievable, Tony. The most interesting thing is most doctors never leave and go on their own. They never do their own private practice. They work for someone else. They work for another group. They work for another hospital. It’s hard to break the chains of security and the known and an income that you are comfortable with to like going to the unknown to income that you don’t know yet that may not be much. So, you took this leap. And most doctors don’t do it. I love that you did. And in our group, we have a lot of very successful entrepreneurial doctors that have really just done amazing things. And it’s not just the income, like you were profitable month one. That’s unheard of, right? And to do a million dollars in revenue in 18 months, unheard of. I mean, in almost any business, let alone your profession, but the quality of life that it buys you where you can have other people running things and it’s not totally dependent on you. You can have partners, you can have employees, your business can run, and you can have a lifestyle out of it because you get to call the shots, right?
Dr. Tony Jacob: Right. And what’s interesting was in that time frame, so you go from being an associate, you transitioned right to owning a practice. And so, I’m not classically trained in business, but you end up learning through the school of hard knocks and you make a lot of different mistakes, right? So, hiring a team, picking vendors, and negotiating and, you know, if something breaks, it’s on you, and so, managing your cash flow. So, from 2010 to 2013, those were all the mistakes. It was a lot of trial and error and figuring out what works and beta testing stuff in your office. And this is around the time when search engine optimization was a big deal. And I just remember thinking all the things you had to learn, right? So, I’m really good at seeing patients, but then I’ve got to learn all this other stuff. And so, it did challenge me. And I think that’s also going to come into play later for me, where I was like unlocking levels in a game, right? So, I loved the associate part, great, I unlocked it. And now, I wanted to go ahead and try this next chapter, which is owning my own business.
But it wasn’t without its pitfalls. You end up realizing you work a lot more than 40 hours a week. My income went up significantly. I think it almost doubled my income from being an associate to being an owner very quickly. But then you start thinking about the amount of time that you spend building things and taking care of your new creation. And so, I spent a couple of years in that phase, building without recognizing how valuable my time was. And I didn’t quite understand the concept of scaling, but I decided, in 2013, I was going to try to do it again because a lot of what I did in my first go around, I made a bunch of mistakes.
And so, when I opened my second location in 2013 in a town called Kyle, Texas, it was one of the fastest-growing towns, it was probably about 10 or 12 miles away from Lockhart. I opened from scratch, got another bank loan, and decided, you know what? The first one might have been a fluke. We were in the black the first month. Let me try to do this again. And so, that’s when I started to think about scaling, but not quite to the extent that I did in the last four years. It was just, can I do this twice, right?
And so, I opened up my second location in Kyle. It was a hit from the beginning, but there were months where cash flow didn’t really compute and there were some really dicey moments. I had also hired an associate because I can’t be in two places at once. And so, now, learning to manage human capital became a really, really big focus. And so, I remember in 2014, paying an extra doctor to work the practice while I’m still over here and juggling that was really intense. And so, I still filled in, I was still seeing patients, but it was really difficult. And at some point, you have this epiphany that I can’t do everything. I can’t see patients and run a business very well. And so, the first practice was doing really well. My startup kind of part of it along until I decided I needed to hire a doctor at both locations, remove myself completely. In hindsight, you look back and you think, gosh, why didn’t I do that sooner? But it’s just a growing process, right? It’s just what you learn.
Justin Donald: Totally. Yeah, you gotta go through the pain of all the hours and all the stuff you don’t want to do and juggling these locations to actually get you to the breaking point of like, I’m going to go crazy or I got to solve for this, and then you solve for it.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Right. And then you solve for it. And so, part of the equation became I couldn’t be in two places at once, it was too difficult. And at that point, talking about unlocking levels, I felt like I unlocked the patient side, and we were getting great reviews. Our patients were referring, a lot of the word of mouth was already occurring. So, I thought, okay, I think the next level is, let me see if I can manage doctors and see if we can really scale this thing, so.
Justin Donald: Real quick question. The second location in Kyle, did you rent a building? Or did you buy another building, like you did in Lockhart?
Dr. Tony Jacob: I would have loved to purchase a building in 2013, I just didn’t have the funds at the time. And so, banks look at you really different when you’re self-employed, and they don’t always understand your tax returns. And so, I didn’t go down that route.
Justin Donald: Isn’t that the truth?
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah.
Justin Donald: The banks are stuck so far in the past where they give so much extra credence to, are you an employee? Do you have a W-2? Therefore, you have safety and security when you’re just as likely to lose your job as an employee as you are as a business owner, like there’s no trade-off on the risk side. It’s comical actually, how many more hoops entrepreneurs have to jump through when it is very clear financially and from a balance sheet standpoint that it shouldn’t be as difficult as the banks make it?
Dr. Tony Jacob: Well, and we won’t even get started with K-1s because that just throws them for an even bigger loop, right?
Justin Donald: Oh, man.
Dr. Tony Jacob: So, yeah, I remember trying to look for properties that we could get into and build at the time, but they looked at me and said, “Listen, you’ve already got one building. We think it’d be better for you to go ahead and lease your next one.” And so, I did end up leasing a building, and it was in a great location, and probably about a year and a half in, I had the tough decision of needing to replace my doctor and put in someone a little bit more productive. And so, I had to kind of get that right. And it’s a lot harder to do. Sometimes folks can think it’s really easy to fire employees or end things. And so, I remember learning that dynamic for the first time. But it was really important that we got it right in order to scale because the moral of the story is this location became the biggest practice in Kyle in short order. I think, in two years, we had already started dominating the market. And to this day, it’s still the biggest practice in the location in that area.
Justin Donald: That’s incredible, Tony.
Dr. Tony Jacob: The good part of the story is I ended up buying a piece of land a couple of years ago, three years ago because we were outgrowing our tiny little space. There are two thousand square feet. We were tripping over each other. And today, the practice sits inside of a 28,000 square-foot building, our clinics in 9,000 square feet. We tripled its footprint, and it’s just poised to continue growing. But I do remember that that phase of going to the banks, and they really wouldn’t consider you. But it was a good learning experience, right? And so, the one thing that I would encourage any doctors listening to the podcast is on your good name and credit, most banks really look at doctors quite favorably, and so, I was able to get 100% financing on my practices very early on. I mean, of course, you’ve got to sign the personal guarantees, but I think that’s stellar compared to some other industries.
Justin Donald: Yeah, there’s no doubt. So, what did you end up growing the practice to? How many businesses did you start and/or buy?
Dr. Tony Jacob: So, we had started multiple practices from scratch, and so, Kyle and Lockhart were our staple practices. And then we added on additional doctors to the fold over time and we had gotten the group to 11 locations. And really, the scaling started to happen in 2017. And what changed for me in 2017 as I joined a group called EO, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and I was just in a different, different playing field at that point. We joke about being entrepreneurs, but it does get lonely, right? There’s not a lot of folks that are doing what you’re doing. And so, I finally found my group, and it was EO and my very first group of individuals that I worked with and I see as comrades where we’re all driving really hard and pushing each other. We were all pushing each other to grow and actually invest in ourselves, too, which is what I found to be the ultimate part of my success. And so, once I joined EO, I started learning how to scale, implemented two or three awesome things. Culture Index is something that we used.
Justin Donald: A lot of the Culture Index.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah, Culture Index really helped us.
Justin Donald: You talked about that for a moment because that was the key to us, scaling one of our businesses, was figuring out what personality assessment is the best, what makes the most sense. And so, for us, Predictive Index and Culture Index were easily the number one and number two. And I know a lot of people use different things. There’s Myers-Briggs, there’s DISC, and there’s, I mean, hundreds of them, right?
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah.
Justin Donald: You got StrengthsFinder and you’ve got Enneagram, you’ve got a ton of them. And by the way, any of them can work as long as you know the language, you know what you’re looking at. But we really like Culture Index for a lot of reasons, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on how that allowed you to scale and how you use that because for us, we were able to hire the right people for the right role, we were able to move people out, we were able to not spend time with people that weren’t going to be a fit just based on the criteria they would need to meet for positions that were open just through the application process.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah, I mean, we really got to fit people and what they would probably do best and naturally succeed. And now, at the time, my wife had also gotten certified in Culture Index and she was managing the recruiting part of our business and the HR portion. So, we had both on the two-day workshop together and just both dove right in. Once we understood it, it actually helped us understand each other more and even our friends and our family to a certain degree. And so, what I would say is I can’t speak for the other programs, but I do know that if you get into one and you understand the language, I agree that it tends to work.
But Culture Index, we found the data was very objective and we were able to use this in a way that made our team members understand themselves and helped us manage them better. And we started in 2017, so I think we got really lucky using this program right at the precipice of scaling. And so, I think there’s a whole bunch of other ones out there. And again, I can’t speak for it, but I do know that C.I. worked really, really well for us, and our trainer facilitator was fantastic. So, we’d pick up the phone and call them and say, “How do I handle a situation?” And I use that resource quite a bit over the years.
And so, I would say C.I. was one of the biggest things that we did. I wouldn’t start another company without it, that’s for sure. And again, being an introvert, I don’t always read the room super well, so it’s nice to have some data. I almost feel like it’s the cheat code. It’s unfair to know all of this extra stuff, but I think it just helps people interact better anyways.
Justin Donald: Yeah, sure.
Dr. Tony Jacob: It was a key to building our leadership team. We’ve got mostly high individuals with a certain amount of drive, and I don’t have to push them to do things. They were able to just do it on their own. The second thing is we did EOS. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Traction.
Justin Donald: Oh, yeah, without a doubt.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah, so Traction was the second part of what we did. And we finally put in an operating system that I think was easy to repeat across multiple locations. So, we use that in the leadership team, we use that across all of our offices, and it just really was pouring gasoline onto a fire for us. Once we did it, it was almost like we were drinking at a fire hose. Things just started clicking. Our vision started happening when we built our three-year plan or one-year plan. Justin, we were crossing things off the list, and I love crossing things off of the list.
So, then the third thing that we did that helped us really scale was we built out a really strong financial model. And so, these are three pieces that we incorporated very early on that in 2017 is the year I can really identify as going from just having multiple locations and kind of just figuring it out as I went along to truly having a vision, scaling, and then becoming a CEO. And at that point, I’d also removed myself from patient care. At that point, I had unlocked that level, feel like I had done really well. I knew how to open one office, I knew how to open two offices, but the next level was, how do you become a CEO? And what does a CEO really do? So, I just spent a ton of time reading books about it and spending time with other CEOs. That probably is a big contributor to that, the company you keep, and you end up becoming like that. They say, look at your top five friends and that’s who you’ll end up like, right?
Justin Donald: Well, it’s a good thing you joined EO because you had a lot of people that you could aspire to be and people that you could learn to think like. So, I think that that is awesome. And you built this practice up into just a powerhouse opportunity. You have had many offers over time to sell it, and I remember the big debate, do I sell it? Do I not sell it? What’s the next chapter for me? Because it provided, but I hate to give the spoiler right there, but prior to selling it, it created just an incredible lifestyle for you. Great cash flow, great opportunities. I mean, you didn’t want for anything. You enjoy the finer things in life, you live in a nice home, and you travel all over. You’ve got a nice plane to be able to take you to cool things, right? Like, you live a good life. And you said, “Hey, I’m ready to roll this thing up and I’m ready to sell it.”
And I’d love to know kind of the thought process there because this was a multimillion-dollar transaction. And I don’t want to get into anything that you don’t want to get into. But I mean, this is a game changer right here, and you did very well. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that for like why sell and what’s next? Because you’re truly a lifestyle investor, and it’s so cool to see, but I love exploring the evolution of getting there because you basically were an employee. You are an intern, then an employee, then an entrepreneur, sole proprietor, then kind of a true business owner. And you transitioned into an investor and more specifically, a lifestyle investor. In fact, we’re going to need to talk about some cool investments, too, but talk about this portion of it because we just recently had a cool, celebratory toast hanging out. I mean, we still need to do something in person here now that you moved away to Boise.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah. So, 2017, now CEO of the company, we’re managing several locations. And I would say in 2020, pre-pandemic, our group was fairly large at this point. We become recognized in our area. We had grown revenue. Gosh, I think we had four or five-star revenue in about three years. But looking from 2017 to the year that we sold in 2021, we had actually seven-star revenue, right? So it didn’t take us that long. And I look back, we did it in about four years. The company really grew. But after the pandemic had occurred, you start contemplating life. You’re thinking about, I’m spending time at home again. And gosh, I really do want to spend more time at home with my family. I really love my business, but it’s becoming challenging to run a business.
And so, we weathered a whole bunch of storms in 2020, right? So, quite literally, we weathered a storm last year in Texas. I remember watching our businesses get shut down. Gosh, we had a ransomware attack. I mean, we just were hit with an onslaught of things that kind of is really tough to get through as a business. But we did, and I think I pride myself and my team, we were just able to work through some of these challenges and we still had a huge pipeline or runway to continue growing and helping manage more offices. And so, I think in 2021, we had enlisted a broker just to see what was out there. And nothing really materialized the way that I expected it to or wanted it to until last month.
And so, last month, we had an offer come through from the largest vision insurance company in the United States or called VSP. And we got the deal done in about 30 days, Justin. My head is probably still spinning from it. It happened so quickly, but I really fell in love with their team. They just brought high-caliber people to the table. They interfaced really well with what we had built. We liked their long-term vision, their values matched up. It just seemed like a really good fit and the fact that they were able to do what I was told, the largest private transaction in the state of Texas for optometry, I’m still impressed by what they’ve been able to do and accomplish.
So, looking back, I feel like the moral of the story because I feel like I was recognized for what I did and rewarded for it. So, even though I wasn’t really looking to sell a year or two ago, when someone comes in and writes you that kind of a check and first, you’re flattered, and two, you feel like you’ve been rewarded adequately and you’re really appreciated for what you’ve done. So, I look at this as a really positive thing. And then from the perspective of income, along the way, I started buying buildings for my practices. So, I really am leaning on some of the real estate that we have. And I think, if I’m using the right term, Justin, I’m a hundred-percenter.
Justin Donald: Yes, that’s the right term. Explain that. What does that mean?
Dr. Tony Jacob: I should have read your book before I got doing all this stuff a couple of years ago, but I don’t know if it was published. So, one of my goals early on was in the event that I ever decide to practice or stop practicing or retire or not be a CEO, I’d like enough passive income to cover my expenses so that I could pretty much live for free. And so, I was able to become a hundred-percenter probably about two years ago.
Justin Donald: Nice.
Dr. Tony Jacob: And so, yeah, it’s been very freeing because now, you’re the master of your own time. And I think that’s the other part of selling, right? So, I really wanted to be in control of my time. I really wanted to have a fairly empty calendar and pursue my projects and passions that really drove me. And I think closing this chapter feels good because I was able to accomplish so much, and a short period of time may seem like a long time when I think about it, but it really was a short period of time and learn a lot of great things. And so, once this chapter closed, I looked back and said, “You know what? I am a hundred-percenter. I can stop and take a break.” And Justin, you’re kind of the inspiration for me taking a year off. I know that you did a whole bunch of great, awesome things in that year off with your family and for yourself and that helped kind of propel you to the next chapter, right? So, this is really crystallized for me. And so, now that I’m past the 100-percenter thing, I don’t know, is there like a 200-percenter rule now? What happens next?
Justin Donald: You bet, yeah.
Dr. Tony Jacob: I don’t know.
Justin Donald: That’s the next thing to go for, get to 200%, get to 300%. Yeah, you better believe that.
Dr. Tony Jacob: I feel like that’s your next book. It needs to level up that because that’s a very different mindset when you don’t need the extra income, but you’re generating it anyways. And so, I’m just in again on uncharted territory being in semi-retirement.
Justin Donald: Well, it’s so cool because, I mean, first of all, it’s nice to hold records, right? Largest private sale in optometry, awesome record to hold, right? Secondly, you’re able to buy your time back because even as the CEO, being the CEO of an 11 practice roll-up, I mean, that’s still a lot of time. Like, there’s no way around it. Was it better than when you were running a single practice? Sure. Was there more flexibility that you didn’t actually have to see patients? Sure. But it still required a lot of time, and I know how hard of a worker you are. You like to do everything to the best of your ability.
And so, you’re like me in the sense that you often have to battle against what is easy and natural, which is, hey, let me solve it by working hard, and it’s much harder to solve it by working smart and creating the framework for other people to work hard before they have their opportunity to move up and start their own. But one of the things to keep in mind here is that selling a business, it sounds glamorous and it is really exciting, but it is a hard process because you work with companies that don’t see you the same. They think they’re above you. They try to change the terms last minute. You had other buyers that could have bought that fell out, but the way they negotiate is rough. They try to lowball you at the end. They try and nickel and dime you on stuff that should not matter. And so, I’m curious. I mean, it’s so cool to hear because I know that there are other experiences of friends, yourself included, that weren’t as positive. It’s so cool to hear you got this done in 30 days with a very reputable company with the right strategic fit, but there’s some pain in the process of trying to sell, right?
Dr. Tony Jacob: Absolutely. It’s a really grueling process. And I think early on, somebody told me, don’t visualize what it looks like at the end because you’re going to really love that. And if it doesn’t happen, just be prepared for it to have some mental weight on you. And so, I didn’t follow that advice. And so, I recall the first time when you have a potential PE buyer or strategic come to you and it doesn’t work out in the way that you expected or doesn’t go the direction that you do, it’s tough. It’s really tough. But again, as entrepreneurs, you’re built to be that way, or you become that way. And so, it doesn’t make it any less easier, but I think you almost get a little bit of what you deserve and you put the time in and you run your business like it’s not going to be sold, but build it to sell it. I think that’s how you should always build a business. But also, you should be rewarded fairly for the efforts that you’ve put in, especially as a founder, I think, for me, just looking back at all this and watching what it started from and to where it is today, I look back and I have very positive thoughts about the whole thing, so.
Justin Donald: That’s great. It’s all a learning experience, right?
Dr. Tony Jacob: It’s all a learning experience. Yeah, and in failure, we grow, right? And so, when a deal falls through, you just pick up the pieces and do it better the next time. And so, I think the end result here for me was significantly better than had I taken the first offer or second offer or whatever. And so, I look back at the process and say it was tough, but I’m really happy with the final outcome.
Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s awesome. And another cool thing that happened in this process, and hopefully, you feel fine about sharing this, but you had a major success with your jet, right? You bought a jet. This thing served you well. You get to fly wherever you wanted to go, made life much easier. And then, in the past couple of months, you were able to sell it for more than you bought it for. So, in other words, you flew for free for a good amount of time and then you made your money back.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah. Well, Justin, I got to walk that back a little bit. I actually didn’t end up selling the jet.
Justin Donald: Oh, you didn’t.
Dr. Tony Jacob: We had multiple offers. We decided not to. It’s really convenient. It’s a time saver. I started crunching the numbers and I’m still a hundred-percenter with the jet. So, I thought, you know what? I’ll just keep it there. So, I’m probably just going to end up rebasing it and figuring out what the long-term plan’s on it. But I think just with the pandemic, every asset that you have, even if it’s a depreciating asset, seems to have gone up in value. So, I think I may just wait, get a little bit more use out of it, and then trade out of it here.
Justin Donald: Well, it’s amazing that you can even do that.
Dr. Tony Jacob: I almost pull the trigger. I had an offer.
Justin Donald: Yeah.
Dr. Tony Jacob: I had multiple offers.
Justin Donald: It’s cool that you– I mean, you can hang on to it longer and you’ll likely sell it for a similar amount. That’s what’s neat about it. I’ve got a friend that sold his boat for basically what he paid for it seven years later, actually, one of our mastermind members. So, it’s like, man, that’s incredible. You boated for free for seven years. For you, whenever you sell it, you flew for free or you sell basically at a very discounted rate, which is awesome to do that private. I love that.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Yeah.
Justin Donald: And something I want to make sure we at least have a few minutes on because you have just an incredible expertise in cryptocurrency, you’ve done very well for yourself. I love that you bought all this real estate along the way, and that has allowed you to become 100-percenter. You’re covering all of your costs in passive income. But then you have done some really miraculous things in crypto and you’ve got an eye for it because you look at the world in a way that most people don’t. You don’t speculate. You look at utility. And I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on what you think this new wave is. This is something you and I, we both share in common is our appreciation and love for blockchain and the right crypto projects.
Dr. Tony Jacob: I think when we first met, it came out so quickly, and we instantly bonded over this, right? But I think looking at crypto from a philosophical standpoint, I think it’s just the way that humanity is probably going to just head towards because it’s simply just better money. And I think ultimately, and again, philosophically, I think it’s just better for the entire planet, I think it’s better for all of us to be in charge and stewards of our own money.
So, I started looking at crypto at the last bull run and I got in in the last bull run, but I wasn’t quite the trader that I thought I was and I didn’t really sell. I just endured the bear market and I thought, what did I get myself into? This was Bitcoin at the time. So, Bitcoin had hit $3,200 in the last bear market. And I had bought a little bit higher than that and I thought, great, like, what am I doing? And so, to make a long story short, I just continued stacking and dollar-cost averaging. I think that’s the best way to get in because my intention really isn’t to trade it, but I think just to hold it as an asset until it becomes the currency that things are denominated in.
But it goes back to my principle of, I do like investing in hard assets. So, for some people, that’s precious metals. Other folks, it’s real estate, and other folks, it’s cryptocurrency. And I do like the properties of where Bitcoin is headed, in particular Bitcoin, because I think it’s really sound money. It’s inflation resistant or it will become inflation resistant. It’s easy to transmit. And for all the properties that Michael Saylor and everyone else talks about, I do think it’s the right path now. I think in terms of a timeline of where we are, that’s what I really get, I love is I think we’re really early on the adoption curve. Institutional money is just coming in. So, I think if you’re getting in, you’re getting it in 1998 or 1999 internet, potentially. And we’ll just see how this helps humanity in the long run. But I’m really a believer in the long-term horizon like decades right now. And I just don’t even pay attention to the price at this point because it causes heart palpitations sometimes, but.
Justin Donald: Yeah, if you think it’s going to be worth more later, then does it really matter what the price is today because that price can hold you back? I remember at one point, I only wanted to buy at a certain price that I felt like I was catching it at a low or whatever. Now, I just say, “You know what? I think it’s going to be worth a lot.” I think it’s going to be worth at least six figures. So, Bitcoin, at least $100,000 at some point. Maybe it doesn’t happen for 10 years. Maybe it happens next year. I don’t know. But at some point, I think that’s where it’s headed. Therefore, whatever price you get it now, does it really matter? Does it matter if it’s $2,000 more, $5,000 more, $10,000 more? It doesn’t. And so, if that’s holding people back from getting in, then you might as well kind of move forward.
Dr. Tony Jacob: Well, it’s such a good asymmetric bet, right? And I think if you really believe in the world where we have hyperbitcoinization, I mean, the risk-reward is just stacked where why wouldn’t you take that bet even for a little bit, right? So, I read somewhere, I think it takes 0.03 Bitcoin to be a millionaire when it’s truly denominated in Bitcoin. But I think some of the other projects that are coming out like Ethereum and not really going to go on to like proof of stake versus proof of work, but I think some of the other crypto projects have some value, even though maximalist may not love it. But the majority of what I own is in Bitcoin anyway, so I do think it’s just something worth looking into, and this is not financial advice, but I do think long-term horizons, it’s definitely something to consider in your portfolio.
Justin Donald: Well, you got 40% of the money in circulation right now that was printed within the last year and a half to two years. So, let’s just call it two years. So, we printed 40% of our money out of thin air. In two years, we basically doubled our monetary supply. So, the value of the dollar is decreasing. You have a devalued dollar, it goes down every single day, you’ve got inflation at the highest rate that it’s ever been at. So, even if you’re looking at this as an investment, even as a store of value, even as a hedge to a devaluing dollar, I have a hard time believing that Bitcoin is going to decrease in value at any close to a resemblance of what the actual fiat US dollar is doing and will continue to do. It’s only going to get worse and…
Dr. Tony Jacob: Well, that’s unfortunate because we saw the Fed get us to nine trillion on the balance sheet, and such and such like velocity, I don’t think there’s anything stopping them from doing it again. As a matter of fact, I think we’ll probably hit 20 trillion before the end of the decade. If we have any type of financial crisis or anything, it’s too easy for our bureaucrats to hit the easy button and just print money when they think in quarters and years instead of thinking decades because we’re all focused on election cycle. So, their time frame is so short that the decisions that we’re making, I don’t think necessarily support a long-term vision. And again, this is just my CEO hat thinking. If we ran the country like a CEO and really thought a long term and rally behind it, I think, the United States can stay as number one forever. But I just don’t know where we’re headed with all that, so.
Justin Donald: Yeah, I agree. I agree. And this is not financial advice, but the way I looked at it for me is if this is what I believe, why not put half a percent or a percent of my net worth in this? Because to me, if you put half a percent or a percent into something, if you lose it, it’s not going to be catastrophic to your life. But if it goes big, then you’re glad that you have a piece of it. And that’s one way to do that, to gain access but in a responsible way.
Dr. Tony Jacob: And I agree, and one of the things I’m looking at now is when a portion of your net worth converts and becomes liquid, you start really thinking about it. And I don’t know if this happened to you, Justin, but I feel way more conservative now than I did when I was running a business and owning a business and I could take far greater risks than I would now. But with that being said, I know that investors are chasing yield. I mean, you and I have been in the same group, and we’re all doing it because we need to chase a little bit of yield. So, we’re outpacing inflation.
And so, I’m definitely looking at other alternatives. It can’t be all in real estate, it can’t be all in crypto or whatnot. And so, one of the things I’ve been looking at is a Stablecoin. Stablecoins pay fairly decent interest rates. I know Gemini’s paying 8.05%, and it converts directly to the US dollar. But yeah, if you’ve got any other ideas besides private investments, that’s the big thing for me right now besides taking some downtime is figuring out where do you allocate all this? If you’re already 100-percenter, what’s the next goal? What am I serving? What’s my purpose? All those things are kind of just starting to hit me now, so.
Justin Donald: Yep, well, that’s the thing. You’re transitioning from wealth creation to wealth preservation, right? There’s a different mindset now. It’s like, hey, I’ve got money I don’t want to lose. I can still have a bucket where I create in, but that percentage bucket shifts, and then the cash flow is shifted. So, you might be 100-percenter, but it’s a whole different amount of income than what you were used to previously. And so, that needs to be taken into account as well. Man…
Dr. Tony Jacob: How come you don’t have a book about that yet? We need the solutions now, Justin.
Justin Donald: In time, Tony. In time. I love it. I got all of these ideas, but I’m just not ready to go down that path yet. Hey, man, this has been awesome. I feel like we could talk another hour, two hours, three hours. But yeah, we won’t have the opportunity to today. I definitely look forward to connecting more with you tomorrow because I guess we get a chance to hang in person, which is fun, but where can my audience learn more about you?
Dr. Tony Jacob: They can reach out to me on LinkedIn. If you look up, Dr. Tony Jacob, I’m on there and I’m happy to connect with your followers that way. Also, they can reach out to you and grab my email address. I’m happy to help as many people as I can.
Justin Donald: That’s awesome. Well, we’ve got a lot of doctors of some form in our ecosystem, and so, I think your story is really inspiring. And by the way, I think your story is inspiring for people that aren’t doctors and just hear what you’ve done, like, I’m not a doctor, I’ve never been a doctor. That’s not my expertise or skill set. And I’ve just loved hearing and learning your story. So, thank you for being an open book and for sharing. You’ve done incredible. Congrats on the big exit. I’m excited tomorrow to actually, in person, toast and celebrate with you for the big exit this past month. I can’t believe it’s like four weeks ago. It’s so crazy.
Dr. Tony Jacob: It happened so quickly, right? Well, thank you so much, Justin. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to be on your podcast and we’ll catch up soon.
Justin Donald: Sounds good. I’d like to end our show the way I do each week, and that’s to say this, what’s one step you can take today to move towards financial freedom and towards a life you truly desire on your terms, not by default, but by design? Thanks, and we’ll catch you next week.