"As I sort of got more familiar with the needs of single fathers, I realized that most of them were more in financial distress than anything else."

Mitchell Stern

About the Guest

Mitchell Stern is the founder of SingleDad.Club.com. As the name suggests, the Single Dad Club is a club about – with a membership that caters to all the single dads in pursuit of becoming awesome parents. There are many advantages of being a member of this club. One can get discounts at various places, including amusement parks, movie theaters, mini golf, laser tag, museums, zoos, aquariums, to name a few. 

Single Dad Club also gives you many free resources such as an easy one-pot recipe, how to save on college tuition for your child, and a parenting forum. If you’re struggling to buy gifts for a child, then you are at the right place as it will help you buy age and gender appropriate gifts, also. 

Interview Transcript

Minnie: Hi, Mitchell. How are you?

Mitchell:    Hi, Minnie. I’m great. Great to be here. Thank you.

Minnie:    You are most welcome. I have to mention this, Mitchell. Do you know that you hold the honor of being my very first male guest on this show?

Mitchell:    Really.

Minnie:    Hurray for that.

Mitchell:    I am honored. I am so honored to hear that.

Minnie:    Yeah. Hurray for that. And I’m so happy and eager to talk to you. So, let’s do that. 

So, before we start our conversation, I wanted to give you a brief background of our audience. The majority of them are women involved in the field of transcription and translation. And most of them work from home by choice. 

So, tell me. What inspired you to start your business? And which year was that?

Mitchell:    Well, I was inspired to start my business because I found out that I was going to be, myself, be becoming a father. And I went about looking for resources for single dads and realized there wasn’t a whole lot out there. There’s a lot for single moms but there’s a tremendous void when it comes to providing services for single male parents.
So, I tried to create an organization, really, just that would provide support, that would provide discounts, that would provide – just kind of point people in the direction of resources and other things they might need.

Minnie:    Okay. And which year was that, do you remember?

Mitchell:    That was in 2018.

Minnie:    2018. So, you started then, in ’18. And then, do you think that after you started this, you are seeing other websites like you offering such services? Or you are still holding the ground, you are still the only one?

Mitchell:    Well, I’ll tell you, actually, over time, it sort of morphed. As I sort of got more familiar with the needs of single fathers, I realized that most of them were more in financial distress than anything else. They didn’t necessarily need – well, I mean, emotional support is also a huge component of it, of course. But I’d say nine out of the ten queries we got were looking for help finding jobs. For other sort of tax breaks and financial – ways of overcoming financial challenges. And yeah, so we sort of shifted, over time, to more of trying to help people to find employment.

Minnie:    Perfect. Okay. So, tell me. What is your business model?

Mitchell:    Single Dad Club is essentially a free service. There are local groups you can join that the fees vary with the groups. But as a national organization, anyone can go to our website, anyone can sign up to receive discounts on things like meal prep kits and other services like that. And yeah, we mostly make money through advertising, through affiliate marketing, and other affiliations.

Minnie:    Okay. And I see you offer different kinds of memberships. So, would you like to tell us more about that? What are those?

Mitchell:    Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you the tiers of membership off the top of my head. 

Minnie:    Okay.

Mitchell:    Well, I know we – well, it’s basically – it’s really just off of – the only variable is how long you wanna join the club for. And we give you financial incentives to join for a lifetime. Three years is more expensive per year than doing it if you signed up for five years. You get a free trial period. You can join for 30 days, just kind of see what we’re all about, get a few discounts on a few products. And then, if it’s not for you, you can just write us off. That’s okay, too.

Minnie:    Okay. Good, good. So, and I also – I see you offer many free resources. Would you like to tell me more about that?

Mitchell:    I would love to, yes. Really, actually, as a result of Single Dad Club, I started another website called SideHustle.Tips. And that was really a gender-neutral sort of just help people find ways of making money on the side. We help single mothers, single fathers, married couples, doesn’t matter. Teenagers, even. Really just trying to point people in the direction of resources that they can use to kind of create their own business, their own online store, their own freelance side hustle using some sort of computer-based skill. 

And that’s really, I think, probably why you wanted to have me on the show was to talk about with transcription and how – I don’t know. You can tell me. But, yeah.

Minnie:    Yes. I was going to ask you about that. But, so, you are aware of that, right?

Mitchell:    Yes.

Minnie:    Okay. Are you aware of what we do here at TCI? So, let me tell you.

So, what we do here is we have an online training program in general transcription, and we have a job board that matches transcriptionists and translators with transcription companies seeking such services. We also have accuracy assessment tools for newbies to test their transcription skills. Actually, I was going to ask you a question about this, that how would you rate transcription as a work at home career?

Mitchell:    As a work at home career, I think it’s ideal. I think you – I mean, anything that allows you to work from home, to set your own hours, to not have to commute, and something that you can do from anywhere. I mean, I assume that there’s probably not a set schedule. This is probably more of an end results only type of thing where you’re basically getting paid a flat rate, I would assume, to translate a certain document. And the faster you do it, the better your return, I suppose, right?

Minnie:    Yeah. It doesn’t have to be – yeah, of course it has to be fast. If you’re a good fast typist, then you can do more work in less time. So, obviously, it will work in your favor. But it depends. There are all sort of different kind of work you can take. There are rush files that you can take. If there is no time limit, you can just take all the time, like three to five weeks. So, it’s like different time frame, right? So, I guess –

Mitchell:    Well, I’ll tell you one thing – oh, sorry. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Minnie:    No, go ahead. Go ahead. Please.

Mitchell:    Well, I was gonna say one of the most popular sort of virtual services that I think people are gravitating towards is being a virtual assistant. And I can’t think of any other job where this particular skill, the transcription, would be more relevant.

Minnie:    Yeah.

Mitchell:    And honestly, just off the top of my head, I think transcription probably sets the good virtual assistants apart from the great ones. And the demand for virtual assistants is through the roof right now, especially with the pandemic and everything sort of migrating to online, there’s a surge like never before.

Minnie:    Yeah. And this field was actually, before pandemic, also, this has been always filled with independent contractors. Normally, you don’t work for a certain transcription company. Like, you just sell your service. So, whatever job comes in, you just take it, at the comfort of your home. Mostly, the majority of them are independent contractors. So, definitely it works in their favor. 

And now in this pandemic, and I guess post-pandemic, we have all changed, also. So, we will be all working – many of them will be working from home for good, I guess.

Anyway, so let me talk about your model. So, I see – so, we talked about your free resources, right? So, I was just going through your website and I saw so many new recipes. I was, like, amused that how do you come up with any new recipe? Are you a chef or what? After a few trials and errors, you perfect a recipe? How does it work?

Mitchell:    I like to call myself a chef. I’ve not been to culinary school, I’ve not worked in a restaurant. But I’ve been cooking sort of for myself since I was about 12. 

Minnie:    Okay.

Mitchell:    So, yeah, I picked up a few things over the years. I enjoy it. I’m pretty good at it, I think. And I sort of just – I wanted to create a few simple, like, one-pot meals just for people who are busy or just people who might not necessarily wanna take all that much time to cook or don’t necessarily enjoy cooking but still need to come up with something to feed the family every night. So, yeah, I just tried to brainstorm a few of my own personal favorite one-pot meals from childhood. These include family recipes, these include things that are supposed to be one-pot meals. Things like jambalaya, paella. Easy, simple, nutritious.

Minnie:    Yep. Your veggie soup looks so good. I’m going to try it.

Mitchell:    Veggie soup, yeah, there you go. Yeah. Enjoy that.

Minnie:    Yeah. Yep, yep, yep.

Mitchell:    And healthy.

Minnie:    Of course, healthy. So, okay. But continuing on this topic of resources. So, among many other things, you also offer SAT prep tests, correct?

Mitchell:    Yes.

Minnie:    So, how does it work? Are you the one who created all the test materials? Or have you partnered with someone to do this?

Mitchell:    Yes. That was an affiliation. We don’t actually get involved with the actual test prep piece of it. But we will point you in the right direction if that is a service you are so seeking. We like to compile resources and just sort of give people options.

Minnie:    Okay. And your horizon is so big when we talk about your partners. Would you like to tell us about them? Who are those?

Mitchell:    Honestly, there are so many. The literal count is probably over a hundred.

Minnie:    Oh, wow.

Mitchell:    So, I couldn’t – 

Minnie:    Okay. Yeah, yeah. You cannot name them.

Mitchell:    I couldn’t name all the brands right now, but –

Minnie:    Right.

Mitchell:    It encompasses a wide variety of services. We partner with companies that help you save toward college, that send food to your door, that help you find jobs, that help you fix your credit, that help you do your taxes. The list goes on.

Minnie:    Wow, good. Good, good, good. So, tell me, do I have to be a member to shop at your website?

Mitchell:    Oh, no. Definitely not. Definitely not. Anyone can come and take a look. And we also encourage you to go to SideHustle.Tips. If you’re looking for an easy way to make money from home, we have ideas for you. And again, free information. Just come and check it out and read it.

Minnie:    Okay. So, you have members there, also, for that website? Or is it, like, for –

Mitchell:    We do. We actually –

Minnie:    Okay.

Mitchell:    Honestly, that one has more members than Single Dad Club. 

Minnie:    Okay.

Mitchell:    Single Dad Club kind of pushed me in that direction, to try to specifically address the employment need. And especially, too, with the pandemic now, I mean, it’s not that people don’t wanna work. Everyone’s talking about a labor shortage. It’s not that people don’t wanna work. It’s that they don’t wanna work for someone else. They wanna do something where they can have a home-based career. Everyone sort of got forced into it over the last 18 months and realized, yeah, it’s not so bad. I mean, as long as the kids can go to schools, I can get my work done. But being able to go to work in my pajamas isn’t a terrible thing, it turns out.

So, everyone, all of a sudden, is looking for that unique niche that they can fill, that special trait that they have that they can market. And that’s, I think, where the biggest need is.

Minnie:    Yeah. So, have you been busy in this pandemic? How do you think that –

Mitchell:    Oh, my God.

Minnie:    Okay. Yeah. Because, here, we are, after the pandemic – I mean, when it hit, it was sort of, people were looking to work from home, right. They were always stuck there. So, we were busy last year. We were quite busy. And this year has been good. So, anybody who is helping. I know you have all this fan-base, your client base, who are looking to work from home, then I’m sure you are busy, right? You must have –

Mitchell:    Tremendously, tremendously. I actually – well, I’ve written several books during the pandemic. When everyone was stuck at home, I tried to use the time as best I could. So, I wrote two different books about how to build your own online business. They’re both available on Amazon. 

Minnie:    Okay. Did I miss seeing that on your website? Is it there?

Mitchell:    I don’t know that – well, that’s part of SideHustle.Tips. It’s not on SingleDad.Club. But if you –

Minnie:    Okay.

Mitchell:    Check out SideHustle.Tips. You’ll read all about it.

Minnie:    I will do that. I wish I knew that before. Otherwise, I would have asked you about that website also.

Mitchell:    I know, I’m sorry. I have a half a dozen different businesses, so I have to change gears quickly.

Minnie:    Wow. So, you are a real entrepreneur, huh? 

Mitchell:    Yeah.

Minnie:    So, when did this entrepreneur bug bit you? When was this that you started, “No, I don’t want to work for anyone. I just want to work for myself”? When was that?

Mitchell:    I think that was always the goal. I don’t know that I ever – I mean, certainly when I was younger I recognized that I would have to work for people for a particular amount of time to build up my career. But even as a child, I was extremely entrepreneurial. I always wanted to sort of work for myself. So, when I was about 25, I just took that plunge and did it.

Minnie:    Okay. Do you have any interesting story about your childhood that you want to share about this journey, like –

Mitchell:    How much time do you have?

Minnie:    Just one incident. One interesting one that tells you about you that you had this thing inside you, like when you were, even, little. So, if you remember. I don’t want to put you on the spot.

Mitchell:    There are a few that come to mind. I mean –

Minnie:    It’s okay. You can think about it while we talk. No problem. No problem.

Mitchell:    Wish I had time to come up with one, but go ahead. Go ahead. I’ll try to think of something.

Minnie:    So, I see that you sell a lot of stuff on your website. So, what is your best seller?

Mitchell:    Probably –

Minnie:    I see –

Mitchell:    Go ahead. Yeah.

Minnie:    I see tons of t-shirts and mugs. So, and t-shirts in all shapes and sizes. It’s like – I mean, the choices are so many. So, I was just wondering, what is your best seller? Have you [inaudible – crosstalk].

Mitchell:    Well, yeah. I don’t have that information off the top of my head, but –

Minnie:    Okay. No problem.

Mitchell:    Yeah. We just sort of – we just get a check from them. So, I don’t actually know what it – how it divvies up. But –

Minnie:    And I was curious who designs all the merchandise?

Mitchell:    Me. I do. 

Minnie:    Wow.

Mitchell:    Yeah, those are all original Mitchell Stern designs. 

Minnie:    Oh, perfect. You are a creative person. I love that, actually. All the design. What’s in there, plier, something?

Mitchell:    It’s a cross of tools. Yeah. In brainstorming a logo, you know, I wanted to have something sort of funny but strong at the same time. And sort of just the cross of the tools, it was like – I mean, how dad is that? It’s just –

Minnie:    Exactly. It’s a very dad thing.

Mitchell:    Right.

Minnie:    Right. So, you definitely succeeded there. So, and also, I noticed you are open to finding a product or service that you can market to your clients, right? So, you’re always looking, right?

Mitchell:    Of course. 

Minnie:    Okay. Good. So, this is an interesting idea for someone trying to launch a product or service so they can use their platform, suitable for both of you, right? So, okay. 

So, let’s talk about your forum. Who comes there and what kind of discussion happens there?

Mitchell:    Honestly, I don’t know if that’s the best topic. We had to sort of shut the forum down because it got a little political and angry.

Minnie:    Oh.

Mitchell:    And it just descended quickly. So, we –

Minnie:    It became Twitter.

Mitchell:    Yeah, we sort of abandoned that idea. We tried to keep it – it was just too difficult to police. So, that might not be the best question.

Minnie:    Oh, okay. Okay. I’m so sorry.

Mitchell:    It’s okay.

Minnie:    I was going to tell you that we also have forum, which is quite successful. They’re all –

Mitchell:    Oh, good.

Minnie:    Yeah. All the students, they can come and they can put their queries and be in touch with each other. But that’s about us. So, –

Mitchell:    Oh, your forum sounds delightful.

Minnie:    Our forum is good, yes. So, since you are an entrepreneur, so what would you advise someone contemplating entrepreneurship?

Mitchell:    I would say the biggest factor that sets the amateurs apart from the actual professionals is willingness to take responsibility. And that extends to all areas of entrepreneurship. If you’re the kind of person who can give yourself an honest critique, who knows where your strengths and your weaknesses are, and who can compensate for your weaknesses and play to your strengths – and at the same time be realistic about your competition and what they bring to the table and where their true weaknesses are – if you can assess that realistically, I think you’ll be a good entrepreneur. 

If you have an over-inflated sense of self, if you’re not realistic about your own shortcomings, you will fail. And it’s only a matter of time. And I think a lot of people that get into it – and maybe not everyone has that sense at first, but successful entrepreneurs, I think, realize that that’s something they need to develop quickly. And if you can make that transition, regardless, I think, eventually you will be successful.

Minnie:    So, were you aware of your weakness when you started your journey? Did you know that, “I am weak at this point and I have to get better”?

Mitchell:    I don’t know that I was aware of it at the beginning of the journey. I think becoming an entrepreneur, you’re confronted, perhaps, with weaknesses that you might not have known were there. So, yes. As those weaknesses arise, I think you have the natural instinct just to sort of sweep them under the rug and pretend that, “No, no, no. Everything’s fine.” Well, a successful entrepreneur will quickly realize that that’s not gonna work. And the longer you kind of kid yourself, the bigger the hole you dig for yourself becomes. 

 And now I’m off the rails, here. Sorry –

Minnie:    So, when you started, let me ask you. So, you started your journey. And then, was there one or many failures before you were, like, “No, I got this. Now I know how to run this.” But did you meet with any failure? Did you have any failure before that, before that point?

Mitchell:    Oh, so many. So, many. I think for every good idea I’ve had there have been five terrible ones. And –

Minnie:    Okay. And you learn from it and then you just –

Mitchell:    The only way to learn is experience. It’s one of those things, you know, there’s certain things about being an entrepreneur you’re not gonna read in a book, you’re not gonna learn in the classroom. You have to get out there and do it. And there’s an old joke that, you know, how do you learn to make good decisions? Experience.

Minnie:    That’s right.

Mitchell:    But how do you get the experience? By making bad decisions.

Minnie:    Right.

Mitchell:    It’s like, how do you learn how to ride a bike? Well, you get up there and you try. And you’re gonna fall. I mean, it’s part of the process. It’s part of the learning process. You’re gonna fall off that bike. But you gotta get up, you gotta keep riding. As long as you keep getting up, eventually you’re gonna learn how to ride that bike.

Minnie:    Yeah. I’m sure majority of the successes are like end product of many failures, right?

Mitchell:    That’s true.

Minnie:    Yeah. Okay. So, –

Mitchell:    That’s why – oh, go ahead. Sorry.

Minnie:    No. Go ahead. I was going to ask a different question. So, now, go ahead.

Mitchell:    Well, I was gonna say, ultimately, SingleDad.Club was moderately successful, marginally successful. SideHustle.Tips, which resulted from SingleDad.Club, is now more than marginally successful. I won’t call it completely successful yet – we’re still working on it – but showing much more promise than SingleDad.Club.

Minnie:    Okay. So, your other – I just keep forgetting the name, what was that?

Mitchell:    SideHustle.Tips.

Minnie:    SideHustle, yeah. So, SideHustle, it started after SingleDad?

Mitchell:    Yes.

Minnie:    Like, it branched out? Okay. All right. They are fairly very new, both of them, right? 2018 is not that far.

Mitchell:    Yes.

Minnie:    Well, I’m sure you have done well in this short amount of time, especially the SideHustle, right? 

Mitchell:    Especially, honestly. Yeah.

Minnie:    Good. Good for you. I wish you all the luck on that.

So, tell me, what is MeetUp.com? How does it work and what is that?

Mitchell:    Oh, that’s sort separate from us. That was – MeetUp is just a platform that we were using to host smaller, like community-based groups where dads would actually come together and meet face-to-face, like, to do an activity or just to hang out. Again, with the pandemic, though, that kind of – that sort of threw a wrench in the plans. 

Minnie:    Okay.

Mitchell:    But that was just a platform that we used. I’m not – I don’t own that or anything.

Minnie:    Okay. So, will you do it again after the pandemic? After everything becomes normal? Or, it’s like it’s gone?

Mitchell:    Honestly, it’s kind of done. 

Minnie:    Okay.

Mitchell:    I realize, though – I mean, I think it was a good idea. And it sounds good but the experience kind of pushed me to try to fill, specifically, the employment need. And that’s where SideHustle came in.

Another need that I recognized fully that I just don’t have the capacity to fill is mental health. There are so many single fathers out there dealing with extreme mental health crises, just brought on by the stress of parenting and not having any support. I wished I knew how to help those people. Because there’s a lot of them.

Minnie:    Yeah, I saw blogs on this topic, right? And child depression or something. Did you write all those blogs from –

Mitchell:    I did. Those are all me. 

Minnie:    Okay, great. Well, good. Okay. So, I’m almost down to my last question. So, before I let you go, who is Mitchell Stern in daily life? Is he a serious person? A fun-loving person? Or what?

Mitchell:    He wears many hats. He’s a different fellow depending on what time of day you catch him, I’ll tell you that much. He’s a hard worker. He works probably more than he should. Tries to – well, he’s a work hard, play hard kind of guy. I’m gonna stop referring to myself in the third person. But I like to work hard. I like to play hard. I have a beautiful three year old daughter who I try to spend as much time with as I can. Constantly exploring new business ideas. 

And when I wanna clear my mind, what I do for fun, is I make a pot of tea and I just stand outside and listen to the wind. And I’m alone with my thoughts. Instead of watching TV, that’s what I enjoy doing.

Minnie:    Good. You are a nature lover, right?

Mitchell:    Oh, very much so. Very much.

Minnie:    I am also like that. And actually, I’m enjoying my tea while talking to you.

Mitchell:    Oh, good. I got coffee because it’s morning here. But, yeah.

Minnie:    Yeah. All right. So, well, this wraps up my conversation with Mitchell today. Thank you for sharing your entrepreneurship journey with some precious tips and advice. We learned a lot.
So, would you like to tell our audience how to find you?

Mitchell:    Absolutely. You can go to SideHustle.Tips. Just fill out the contact form. My email address is on there, as well. I love to help people – oh, I’m sorry. I love to help people start their own businesses. I love to give advice. I love to kind of point people in the direction that’ll help maximize their particular skill set and find something to do that they truly love.

Minnie:    Okay. All the best. So, thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Mitchell. I so appreciate it. Take care and stay safe. Bye.

Mitchell:    Thank you. Thank you, as well.