Getting to Know iDrive: Meet Shaun Rothwell, Founder & CEO
Matt Simmons sat down with Shaun Rothwell to discuss business, family, Abraham Lincoln and more. Remember to check back for subsequent releases of “Getting to Know iDrive.”
Shaun, Supply Chains & iDrive
How did you get your start in Supply Chain Management and what attracts you to this industry?
I got my start with the US Army as a supply chain specialist. There many things I love about this industry, but one thing that really sticks out is the long-term stability of it. With eCommerce, it’s something that will be around forever. As long as we have a functioning economy there will always be the need for supply chain and transportation management.
Why did you start iDrive and what is your end-game?
I wanted to create a team and culture that was fun to work in and could provide value to customers and employees. As far as my end-game, I want to die with my boots on. Continue to work hard and provide value until I can’t any longer.
Why did you serve in the military and what were the biggest challenges, mental and/or physical?
The first reason I joined, was that I wanted to provide an opportunity for myself to get a college education. My family didn’t have the means to do that, so the military provided the perfect avenue to earn my degree. The biggest challenges for me weren’t necessarily physical or mental. I was already in great shape entering basic training having played sports, so that wasn’t difficult for me. I wouldn’t say there was a mental struggle either, but I will say that my experience helped me learn how to control my thoughts even in bad situations.
How has this helped you throughout your life?
Learning to control my mind in difficult situations has really helped me as an entrepreneur. There are a lot of challenges and things you have to overcome in business, so you have to focus on the positive and the endgame rather than focusing on the problem staring you in the face. Problems can be crippling or they can be empowering depending on the way you look at the problem. The military helped me tremendously in the sense that it helped me learn to manage and address problems and challenges.
Childhood and Growing Up
Born and Raised: Utah Valley
What was family life like?
Insane. We had 9 kids in my family, including 2 who were adopted by my parents. I was the middle child in a crazy household. I got forgotten most of the time, though my siblings would say that I was “Mommy’s favorite.” Don’t know if that was true. I was just the squeaky wheel. My parents were very giving and very caring. We had foster siblings that came and went. Our first foster sibling was a neighbor whose parents had died, and my parents adopted them after they had gone through the foster system. It was a crazy life, but looking back, I’m very proud of the things my parents did for others.
What were the most important lessons you learned from your childhood?
From my father, he was always there for everything I did. As busy as he was with all the other kids, I only recall one time when he could not attend one of my baseball games. I can’t remember more than the one game he missed because it was a high school playoff game. He was always there, but in addition to that, I also learned from him to be giving. He was always giving, even if he didn’t have much, he would always leave good tips for friendly waiters; or, if he had a good meal he would make sure the cook in the back got an extra tip. He was always someone willing to pull over and pick up a hitch hiker and help someone that needed it. From my mom, it was really just the value of being a good person, believing in a higher power and being humble. Not looking at your accomplishments without looking at the people around you as well as your deity.
What were some of the biggest challenges or lessons you learned in discovering who you are and what you wanted to become?
Going back to the last question, there are so many things you learn from the people around you – good and bad. There were lessons I learned from dad, things I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to be overly stubborn, although sometimes I still fight that today. I learned from my mom that I didn’t want to be so prideful that I was unwilling to say ‘sorry’ when things went bad or when I made mistakes. From the Army, I learned that in order to become a good leader, you first have to learn to be a good follower.
Life as a Missionary
Why did you serve an LDS mission?
I had—and still have—a strong faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and I wanted to share that happiness with people. In the craziness of my childhood, I found peace in the small moments when I felt comfort from a higher power. Those collective moments brought me happiness and peace, and I got to share that in Birmingham, Alabama for 2 years. It was a great experience.
What was the one thing or lesson you learned from service?
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. People will ultimately have the agency to make their own path. Even though I don’t believe everyone has to be Mormon to be happy, I do believe people need to learn the lesson to be humble and appreciative and rely on some source of higher power to find peace and happiness in life.
Inspiration and Favorite Things
What are your three favorite things to do in spare time?
The first thing, by far and away, is to do anything with my wife and kids. They laugh at me when I tell them that, but it’s true. Outside of that, it’s golf and fly fishing. I love to get out and smell the fresh air with freshly cut grass on a golf course, and I love the quietness and peace that comes with fly fishing. It’s been a great way for me to bond with my boys and get away in a serene environment and enjoy nature.
By far, The Team of Rivals. It’s about President Lincoln and how he battled his way through the election, won the presidency and then surrounded himself with the people who fought against him. He learned how to befriend them and draw on their strengths and really learn from them. It’s a phenomenal book just in human nature. It has a very profound message and something that I think about in business in the sense of surrounding myself with people who who challenge my own personal conventions.
A River Runs Through It. Great fly fishing movie. I’ve watched it probably 25 times.
Favorite sports teams?
Don’t really have a favorite. There are many that I look up to and admire. The thing that I respect most about entrepreneurs is building something from the ground up.
“Character is the ability to carry out a decision after the emotion of making it has passed.”
What inspires you?
Being able to positively impact someone else’s life.
Any advice for young entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who carry different perspectives. And spend less than you make.
Shaun Rothwell the Husband and Father of Four
You are a husband and father to 4 children. How does your family fit with your life goals?
My family is the most important thing for me. My life goal is to be able spend as much quality time and create as many memories as I can with my family.
How did you meet your wife?
Jenea and I met in college at Utah Valley University. She was on the drill team. I had recently returned home from my LDS mission…I won’t tell the true story because she would get mad at me. As I tell the story, she picked up on me, but she hates when I say that. We actually met in the hallways during school, went on a date and it was game over.
What has been your experience as a father?
That’s an emotional answer for me. I love my kids more than anything in the world. It’s difficult…kids don’t come with a training manual, so my philosophy on being a father is don’t mix up being a father with being a friend. Your kids need to know the boundaries that they need to live within, but they also need to know how much you love, admire and appreciate them. My experience as a father has been the best thing in my life with Jenea at my side.
What is your favorite moment as a father and a husband?
I have a lot of favorite moments. To me it’s a collective from some of our experiences together as a family—Christmas Eve and thinking about the meaning of Christmas as well as those quiet moments we’ve had together on the beach as the sun sets. Those are moments that make me realize that being a father is the most important thing I’ll ever do in this life.
If Jenea was asked, “what aggravates Shaun the most,” what would she say?
People that are lazy and entitled and think they deserve something simply because someone else has more than them. I love to give and love to help, but the thing that really irritates me the most is someone who is always the victim and feels entitled to certain things.
What would she say about what brings you the greatest joy?
She would say work, but that’s certainly a point of argument and certainly NOT the source of my greatest joy.
What does bring you the greatest joy?
Quality time with my family.
If you had one mulligan throughout the course of your life, would you use it? If so, what might you use it on?
I wouldn’t use it. The experiences you go through, the trials you go through, the really hard and frustrating moments you go through are all what shape us into who we are. The challenges make us better if we approach them the right way.
What has been your most meaningful accomplishment in your life (personal or professional)?
By far and away, marrying Jenea and having 4 kids. It’s not close.
If you could paint your perfect legacy, what would it look like?
I would want my kids and friends to remember me as someone who was willing to help when they needed help. That I was there as someone they could lean on. Professionally, I would want to be someone who left everyone I worked with better off somehow, and for people to think of me as someone who helped them accomplish their own goals whether it was personal or professional.