Josh Levin wasn’t born a success but a statistic, the Empowered Electric founder said, describing a childhood of severe poverty and a rough past. That history of hardship led him to a revelation — and a mantra.
“All of our employees and customers know that the concept behind Empowered Electric is ‘People Over Profit,’” Levin said. “And what’s crazy to me is when we care more about people than about profit, it attracts great people — great employees and customers. It attracts great profit.”
Levin worked in electrical construction for several years before launching Empowered Electric in 2015. Within the construction industry, he recalled, people often seemed to be treated like batteries.
“They’re plugged in; they’re sucked dry; then they’re thrown away,” Levin said.
Previous experiences taught the young founder what he wanted — and didn’t want — in a company, he said. When Levin started Empowered Electric, his goal was not to be the premium electrical contractor, he said.
“Usually that’s what people say: they want to be the Apple of fill-in-the-blank,” Levin noted. “What that means is they want to be able to charge the premium price and only work with who they want to work with … We want to be the preferred. In 2021, we want to take another step towards Empowered Electric being the preferred electrical contractor in Kansas City.”
Click here to learn more about Empowered Electric.
Empowered People Podcast
Levin always loved storytelling, he said. Before even starting Empowered Electric, he volunteered at the Watkins Mill Department of Youth Services where he continues to speak and mentor young people.
Once he finally felt ready to take the leap into podcasting, his time at the juvenile detention center made the storytelling feel natural. In September 2018, Levin debuted the Empowered People Podcast — now approaching its 200th episode.
Click here to listen to the Empowered People Podcast.
In the vast world of podcasting, Levin said he saw a lot of “hero” stories and not enough examples of relatable people.
“There are podcasts on people who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which are phenomenal, but not very applicable,” he explained. “I realized there was a need for examples of what growing, scaling and running a successful business looks like.
“[Empowered Electric] has grown to make $10 million in revenue a year, so what we’re doing is working,” he continued, “and people should hear that caring more about people and less about profit is actually good business.”
A cornerstone of the Empowered People Podcast is not a means for Levin to give advice. Instead, he focuses on sharing personal stories of overcoming stereotypes and defying the odds, he shared.
“I’ll start with my story, and then go into, ‘What did I learn from that?” he stated, adding that listeners might be able to apply the story to their own lives and have their own, personal takeaways.
Levin recently shared a story of his lying about reading 20 books in 4th grade, to earn the privilege of dressing up for Halloween. When his grandmother bought him an Oscar the Grouch costume for his not-so-honest achievement, Levin recalled, he felt embarrassed among his Wolverine and Power Ranger classmates.
“I learned not to lie about your knowledge because one way or another, you’ll end up looking dumb,” he said, laughing.
The community feedback from the podcast has been so positive Levin hired his last 10 employees through its platform, he said.
“It was never started as a recruitment tool,” Levin said. “But it allows people to see behind the curtain of our company, and they want to get involved.
“It’s also been crazy to see how many people want to tell their story, but they say to me, ‘I’m just a chef; I’m just a banker; I’m just this,’” he shared. “I’m always like, ‘Dude! I am an electrical company — that’s the least sexy company out here.’”
Click here to read more about how entrepreneurs like Levin are using podcasts to become thought leaders, empower founders.
Empowered People Business Class
With more and more people reaching out about the podcast and asking questions, Levin decided to take “Empowered People” brand one step further, he said.
The Empowered People Business Class — a weekly, four-course program designed to help, connect and motivate entrepreneurs and small business owners — launched in July 2020.
Not wanting to talk at people for an hour and a half, Levin said, he intentionally structured each course to consist of him telling a short story, then calling upon one of the 16 members of the cohort for a question-and-answer session about their business. Then repeat.
“We dig deep into their story, what defines success, who they are trying to prove wrong — all those kinds of things,” Levin explained. “It brings about really good networking between people too because others understand your fears, motivations and goals.”
Within the two cohorts (or, as the program calls them, 1st Company and 2nd Company) of 2020, Levin has worked with such local staples as the KC fashion brand Nickel & Suede and Lenexa brewery Limitless Brewing — as well as entrepreneurs who are just starting out.
Click here to read about the journey of a member of the 2nd Company — Isaac Thibault, whose PushIT Fitness brand aims to redefine “dad bod.”
The Empowered program also covers the four tools — attitude, effort, skill and exposure — and four building blocks — money, employees, customers and awareness — that an entrepreneur needs to succeed, Levin said.
He credited his business partner, Paul Shoemaker, COO, for giving him the professional bandwidth to pursue his big picture ventures while the company continues to run smoothly.
The 3rd Company cohort is set to begin in February or March, Levin shared. Those interested in applying can follow Empowered Electric on Instagram and LinkedIn to find out when the application goes live.
An example, not an influencer
Levin’s motivation behind his various ventures: letting people of wide-ranging backgrounds know they deserve a chance at success.
That desire stems from a specific moment back in high school when Levin was being driven home from wrestling practice by one of his teammates, he shared. After a car ride of silence, Levin’s teammate dropped him off at home on a street known for its welfare, drugs and crime.
“I was about to open the door, and he goes, ‘I should have known that you were one of those kinds of people,’” Levin recalled his teammate commenting. “He verbally said it, but my whole life I had felt like I was just one of those kinds of people who was destined to never succeed.
“That all just developed not only this imposter syndrome, but this I-don’t-deserve-anything-better syndrome,” he continued.
From that moment to now, Levin’s professional and personal growth has been exponential, he said — noting an objective is to use his growth to show others what is possible.
“I’m not aiming to be an influencer, leader [or] hero,” he said. “But rather an example of what the right attitude and effort can get you in life, regardless of your past … People don’t need someone to tell them every little step of the way. What they need to hear is that it’s worth it.”