Linda J. Hansen: Welcome. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Prosperity 101 Breakroom Economics Podcast. My name is Linda J. Hansen, your host and the author of Prosperity 101- Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, and the creator of the Breakroom Economics Online course, the book, the course and the entire podcast library can be found on Prosperity101.Com. I seek to connect boardroom to break room and policy to paycheck by empowering and encouraging employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs. My goal is to help people understand the foundations of prosperity, the policies of prosperity, and how to protect their prosperity by becoming informed, involved, and impactful. I believe this will lead to greater employee loyalty, engagement and retention, and an increased awareness of the blessings and responsibilities of living in a free society. Listen each week to hear from exciting guests and be sure to visit Prosperity 101.Com. Thank you for joining with me today. Canceled culture seems like a media sound bite until you are the one canceled. I have featured several canceled individuals and this episode follows the cancel culture journey of my guest James Staake and his family business, Your American Flag Store. James bravely faced multiple tech giants who attempted to destroy his business and he has become a voice for the canceled voiceless. His bold courage is an example to us all as we face a culture, intent on destroying our freedom. We can cancel, cancel culture and James is with me today once again to discuss the strategies for doing so. Thank you, James, for joining with me today. This is the fourth time I've had you on the podcast because I really want to help the listeners understand this journey because they may face a similar journey. Your story is unbelievable, but not necessarily unusual. So thank you for joining with us and we just appreciate all you're doing for the cause of freedom. James Staake: Thank you. Thanks for having me back a fourth time. Linda J. Hansen: Well, it's my pleasure and for the sake of listeners who did not hear the other episodes where you were a guest, could you give a brief overview of your cancellation story? James Staake: Sure. So our business was started in California. We pretty much launched out of our garage on the idea that our six year old son came up with to make American flags, with me making the flags and my wife doing the artwork on them. We worked hard in California for three years to save up the money and build the business up to where we could leave California for a better life in another state. We found Tennessee to be that state and we moved there, four months after we got here, It was our first home that we ever purchased. So literally, this family business that my son came up with delivered the American dream to us in home ownership four months after we got here In Tennessee, we were canceled by Facebook, who had really been a blessing during COVID, Before COVID we went around the country setting up a sales booth at rodeos and music festivals and carnivals and fairs and that kind of thing. And we went literally all over the country with that booth and our family and when COVID hit, all of those events got shut down. So we had to reinvent ourselves online and the only way we found that we could really do that was through running ads on Facebook and selling our flags to the social media community. That went very well, actually our sales actually increased from us driving around the country because we were exposed to a much, much larger audience. And over about nine months, our business really took off and that's really what enabled us to buy our house in Tennessee, was because when the bank wanted to know how stable our business was, and how could we move a business across the country and still know that we were going to be in business, well, it was an internet business. It was based on the internet, so we could be anywhere in the world running it. So in a strange way, it was indeed Facebook, the opportunity that we found at Facebook that allowed us to get our first home during COVID, so we loved having Facebook as our source and like I said, four months after we got here, Facebook then canceled us. They turned on us and everything that we had built with them, they took it away and suspended our marketing privileges for selling the flag behind me. Linda J. Hansen: Well, for the listeners who are only listening on audio, the flag behind him is an American flag with a painted picture of Donald Trump and please explain to the listeners, James, that your flags contain many examples of personalization’s. You can do a plain American flag or you'll customize it for whoever, and you've done a variety of things, and you've never really refused anyone, and you've just consistently painted these customized flags. So everything was going fine until a customer posted a picture of the flag that they ordered from you and they were so proud of it, they posted it, and once that post went up, your sales began to fall, correct? James Staake: That's right. Facebook. That's what alerted Facebook to us making that flag and someone there, I guess, took a closer look at all of our flags at that point, and they suspended our marketing privileges. What they said was that our products were not compliant with their community standards or went against their community standards and all of our products are American flag themed. None of them are disrespectful. All of them are respectful. We have flags for, we try to make a flag for every American interest out there. We have hunting flags, anything that Americans do, we try to embody that in the artwork that we put on them. So it was shocking that we would get canceled for fulfilling an order of a patriot, basically. And we've always wondered what would happen if it was an Obama flag or a Jimmy Carter flag or a President Clinton flag, which we would make all of those flags if a customer wanted that, to be in their home. I mean, that's our goal, is to just get as many American flags and as many American homes as possible. So when they canceled that first flag, that's when we believe that a closer look was taken to all of our products and then we had a list of products canceled, things like the We The People Flag. Some of our Military Tribute Flags were canceled. A thin Blue Line flag was canceled. All of our Second Amendment flags were canceled. Our Don't Tread On Me Flags were canceled. Obviously, all of our Trumps, we have four Trump flags. All of those were canceled. And then two flags that were really all of those flags you could almost predict that the left would go after. But there were two flags that to this day, I don't understand it, but one of them was our Christian Cross flag that was canceled. So they're now canceling Christianity on Facebook. And then the second flag that we can't understand is our Multicultural Flag, which is a flag that has an American flag up on the top, and then another country in the bottom corner. And those flags are for immigrants. I mean, despite what a lot of people like to paint conservative as that we're anti-immigration, that's just not true. We're very pro-immigration, just has to be done the right way and this flag was a tribute to all of the immigrants who come to this country that want to love America. This flag that we make, the American flag is always on top. It is the one on top. It always flies higher than the rest, as it's supposed to. The other flag. And we've done them for, I think, 31 different countries now. So we've done these flags for proud American immigrant patriots to the tune of, I think, about 300 flags, 400 flags that are coming from over 30 different countries. So it really is we call our multicultural flag, but really, it's the melting pot flag. That's what it is and Facebook canceled it. So when Facebook canceled the multicultural flag, we got calls from immigrants saying, that's terrible. We can't believe that they're doing that. When they canceled the Christian Cross Flag, we also got phone calls from Democrat and liberal Christians that said, that's terrible. I cannot believe that this company is canceling that flag. And then when they found out that Facebook canceled the Military Flags, I mean, we're talking nine of our military flags were canceled. There are tons, millions of active duty and veteran Democrat people who have served our country in the armed forces. So when those folks found out that their army flag was canceled, they were also upset that was when we knew that big tech had actually stepped way across the line, and even liberal Democrats were getting fed up with it. Now, they don't stand up too much for the other flags that are canceled all that much, but just that the sentiment is out there that they see now that this really isn't a healthy thing that's going on in our country. It's a very unhealthy thing. And that if you can't tolerate, if somebody doesn't like a Multicultural Flag or a Christian Cross Flag or a Military Flag, well, this is America, and you have to be comfortable embracing things that you might not be comfortable with. As long as other people are respectfully displaying the love or affection for it, you have to just move on. You don't get to just say, no, I don't like it. So nobody else is allowed to look at it. Linda J. Hansen: Right, It seems like we have created a culture of victimization and narcissism in a sense that it has to be my way or the highway. And in America, we always celebrated the fact that we were one nation of many people, many states, many people, one nation under God indivisible. And this type of cancellation and the cancel culture environment really does separate people, and it does not allow for all voices to be out there. And of course, then government, or the powers that be related to government, the oligarchy, decide what voices should be out there, and they decided they would cancel yours. So just to keep moving this along, then your bravery to go and speak to the media about this really helped to drive more sales. So you had more sales than you'd ever had before, which was kind of exciting. But then there was another hiccup when the lumberyard called you one day to say that, lo and behold, your card did not work, and can you tell the listeners why that happened? James Staake: Yeah. So we went on Newsmax on Rob Schmidt Tonight's Show, and we kind of told Rob's audience about how that we were canceled for making a Trump flag. And that audience responded overwhelmingly that they weren't happy that any flag was being canceled. So they went on our website and they bought, I believe, about 330 customers bought Flags that night. And the very next day, PayPal took all the money out of our PayPal account and put a hold on it, froze it, and said, this is a direct quote, “You guys have a shady business model, and you're not going to be in business very long, so we're holding all your money, and good luck. We'll let you know what we're going to do with your money in six months”. And we had to just sit there and make 300 Flags, which we needed the money to make them. The shipping cost alone for 300 Flags, I think it's just under $10,000. The wood is about $10,000. The labor is about $15,000. So when Facebook then takes all of the money that you have and says, hey, go produce all of this, so I asked them, hey, okay, so if I produce proof that I've delivered all these flags, you guys will release the money. They said, No, if you did this tomorrow, if you sent all these flags out tomorrow, your account is suspended for six months. So what in the world am I going to do? So I called the news back up and said, okay, look, they're doubling down. They took our ability to be seen and found away, then they took our best selling products off our website to hit us a little bit harder and we found a workaround so we could stay in business. And as soon as we did that and went on TV, I think PayPal and other big tech companies knew, okay, this is a good story that is worth a lot more than one visit. So then they just froze our bank account, and as soon as that happens, what are you going to do? Now? We can't ship anything, we can't buy anything, we can't make anything, we can't advertise. We are so dead that there's nothing they could do. So luckily, my wife's cousin did an internship at a law office that Harmeet Dylan is affiliated with, or I think that the managing partner that he was mentored by was a friend of Harmeet. And they reached out to Harmeet. Harmeet then reached out to me and said, get back to work. You make flags, I'm going to fight for you. You don't have to fight anymore. We're going to fight for you. So Harmeet was able to get them to release, I think, 10,000 or $15,000 right away so that we could at least start doing something and then she had to fight tooth and nail every single week and every single month for eleven months for them to give us little bits here and there, which really, from a bulk stance, it crippled us, because when you have 350 orders, it'd be nice to order all of the wood at one time. So you get a big discount. It gets delivered in one load. We have everything here that we need to make it. But what PayPal did was made it to where we had to get five different deliveries, which means we didn't get to take advantage of any type of discount for buying in bulk. And we had five different delivery fees, which are about $400 each. So by what they did, they ramped up the cost of doing business for us, made it unbelievably difficult. We couldn't do anything in a bulk way, so we couldn't. In a perfect world, when you get that many flags, you'd want to get all the wood. You'd want to cut all the wood, then you want to braise all the wood, then you want to drill the wood, then you paint it and you do each step all the way through. What they were doing was making us take small amounts of flags, like 15 or 20 at a time, make them all the way through, ship them out, and then start all over with another batch. And that's the most inefficient way to do a business like that. I mean, it won't work when you're doing that kind of volume. So what PayPal did was initially just tried to shut us down, and then when a big time lawyer got involved, they just dragged their feet for eleven months. At the end of the eleven months, I'd been on the news a couple of times, and I think PayPal kind of saw the writing on the wall and they tried to leverage the last $10,000 that we had in our PayPal account. Harmeet had gotten us 90% of the money back, but PayPal was insistent that they were not going to give the last $10,000 back unless we sign a nondisclosure agreement. And I wasn't going to sign a nondisclosure agreement, so I told them, just keep the money, but that I was going to be on the news this weekend to let the world know what exactly what they were doing. PayPal asking me for non-disclosure and it wasn't even just that they wanted a non-disclosure. The fact that they were bribing me with my own money to sign a non-disclosure, we'll give you back your money, if you sign this and never talk about that, we have done this to you. That was the part that I was just like, no, there's just no way. So we went on Fox News on a Sunday, this is after eleven months of hearing, hey, if we don't hear from PayPal Friday afternoon, you're not going to hear anything until Tuesday. They don't do this part of their job. Their legal department doesn't do this kind of work over the weekend. So if you don't hear anything on Friday, you're not going to hear anything until Tuesday. So they're basically shut down, their legal stuff is shut down from Thursday night till Monday night. So we went on Fox News on Fox and Friends. I was interviewed by Rachel Campus Duffy, who was awesome, and Sean Duffy who got put me in touch with Rachel, Sean is awesome. She did a very good interview and by the end of that interview, within, I think it was eight minutes after the interview, our money was back in our account, and that was on a Sunday. So somebody at PayPal, after eleven months of they can't do anything on weekends, somebody at PayPal on a Sunday morning saw us on TV and went over the head of everyone in their legal department and just said, give that family back their money and they made it happen. So that's when I learned you got to embarrass these people and shame them to do the right thing. As long as it's done in quiet, they'll keep on doing the wrong thing. Linda J. Hansen: Well, and you bravely did that and you did so respectfully as well. I mean, you didn't riot or anything like that, but you went through proper channels and you told the truth. And that's what we all need to do. There is one piece to this that I want to make sure any of the newer listeners or people new to your story here, and that's the Shopify piece. You had mentioned how they were taking things off the website, but I don't think the listeners might not understand that Shopify was involved in this too. So many people who have online businesses or purchase things online depend on shopify on that system so that they can buy and sell on the internet. So you have mentioned how Facebook limited all your posts, didn't put up your ads, PayPal kept your money, let the people know what Shopify did. But then you also said your bank account was frozen. So you've got Facebook, PayPal, shopify and your bank account. So what did Shopify do just to complete that whole loop? James Staake: Well, by bank account, I do mean PayPal. PayPal was frozen. Our bank account, our actual bank account was never frozen. All of our working capital was held in PayPal. That's who did our credit card processing. So we kept all of our customers money is how we looked at it, until we fulfilled the order. We looked at it as that's basically an account where it's our customers until we give them the flag. So we kept all of our working money in that PayPal account. After we shipped out flags and fulfilled orders, then we took what was left over and we put it into our bank account. So just to make sure our bank account wasn't, but our working bank account, which was PayPal, was frozen. Linda J. Hansen: That's a really good clarification because so many people have had their bank accounts, their literal bank accounts frozen if they don't toe the political line. And it's really good clarification there, but that's a warning to all business owners, pay attention to what's going on, and I was speaking to a business owner recently about your story and when they heard it, they said, well that's un-American and you and I are so involved in fighting this fight for freedom and fighting against cancel culture that we kind of take for granted that everybody knows but everybody doesn't know. So that's why I wanted to make sure I had you on again, because we just can't alert people enough to what is going on so that they make sure they elect individuals who will stand for freedom, that they themselves get educated and stand for freedom. And they understand the policies in their local areas, their state governments and the federal government to make sure that this type of thing does not happen to anyone else. James Staake: Yeah, I agree, It is. Now what Shopify did was right around the same time that Facebook canceled our marketing privileges, shopify who was hosting our website. We built Shopify, for people that don't know, Shopify is one of those platforms where they make building your own website relatively easy and intuitive to where the small family startup can have a presence on the internet. And to be honest with you, it was easy to make, they were great until they weren't. And what they did was right around the same time, we think it was really the same week that PayPal canceled our marketing, shopify started deleting our best selling products. They deleted all the same products that Facebook had, by the way. So our Christian Cross flag, some of our Military Flags, all of our Trump Flags, all of our Don't Tread On Me Flags, all of our Second Amendment flags, they basically just removed them from our website. No trace of them, just literally took them off. So now what's happened? My wife and I are looking at it. So now at this point, we don't have our advertising, they've taken that from us. They've taken our best-selling flags out of our inventory, and we're no longer allowed to sell them and they've held all of our money, and we're supposed to stay in business for that year. It was by far the hardest year of my wife and life personally as parents, as spouse, and definitely as business. I mean, the business part at that point, when you're losing everything, what you come to realize is everything becomes much smaller when you start to see that you're going to lose your home, your family is struggling. The business and everything didn't really matter, although we had to save our business to save the other things. So it was just a night and day struggle on what to do. Do we fight? Do we back off loads? Do we push harder? What do we do? How do we get the result that we want? Do we be nice? I mean, Grandma always said you get more with sugar than vinegar. But in this case, I think that the people, the adversary that we're talking about, they are banking on that. We're going to be polite, courteous, Christian conservatives who tolerate and endure and fight fair. The problem is, they're not fighting fair. They're taking your money out of your bank. They're deleting products off your website. They're making it to where you can't market, there's nothing fair about what they're doing and then trying to bribe you with your own money. Linda J. Hansen: Well, and I just want to emphasize for the listeners, too, they're a micro business. I remember one of the previous interviews, you said, we're not even a small business, we're a micro business. I mean, it's your family and you were making flags. So if you can be canceled, anyone can be canceled. And to share your experiences with people is so helpful because like I mentioned at the beginning, it's unbelievable, but not so unusual. But you have chosen to not only fight against it legally and in the court of public opinion, in a sense, by going to the media. But you are also involved in helping to drive legislation, helping to educate legislators about this so they can really create policy that will protect others. So you've been doing that in your state and talking, I know, to federal legislators, and maybe we can have you back for another episode to talk specifically more about legislation and what is recommended. But people can reach out to you at youramericanflagstore.com, of course, and ask questions and get sample legislation or things like that that may be helpful, that is being used in Tennessee, and they could possibly use that language in other states. But apart from that, I'd like you to tell the listeners some of the things that are upcoming for you. I mean, we've gone through the back story, we know that you're working to solve this whole problem for not only yourself, but for millions of people, and you're working on several fronts, but some really exciting things have been happening about this. On the last episode where you were a guest, we talked about a potential video series that was happening on a social media app, and that is since not happening, but something even better, I think, is. So I'd love for you to tell the listeners what's coming up for James Staake and your American Flag store. James Staake: Well, we were told really by, I'd love to take the credit for the idea and say it was my idea, but it really wasn't, It was our customer’s idea. Very rarely do I get the time to really sit down and tell people the whole story. When we go on the news, they're four to seven minute segments. We're very focused on talking about PayPal or Facebook or what have you. It's never how all of them kind of happened at one time. So what really, I think that people should know is that we do definitely need the legislation , absolutely, we need that and the best way for us to really tell the whole story so people can really understand how the legislation doesn't just affect businesses, but it affects families, is to tell our story. So when we tell the whole story, we'd have customers say, you guys need to have a TV show and of course I'd hear it and be like, oh yeah, I don't think so. I'm a carpenter. I just want to stay here in my shop and make American flags and talk with my customers, and that's what I want to do. But after we've heard that literally hundreds of times from our customers, we finally said, okay, let's put our toe into that water and see what happens. So I started reaching out to people. Originally, Parlor was very interested, and we started talking with them. That, of course, didn't work out in the end. But recently we've been talking with Derek Utley, and he has a production company that we're going to be making a reality series that really kind of tells our entire story and we're not going to stop at the cancel culture part. The first episode actually has been bought by Lore TV, which that episode is called Our Faith and what that entire episode focuses on is how when we were canceled, my wife and I got closer to God. It made our marriage better, while initially it really strained it and strained our family and our business. But by the end of it all, we were closer with God, our family grew, we adopted a 16 year old and helped him kind of find his way to God, and he helped us kind of understand how blessed we really were. So all of these little stories that are happening, we thought we should tell. So the very first episode that has been bought by Lore will be on Lore TV, and that just shows the spiritual journey and religious journey that our family went on that big tech kind of threw us into the fire, and that's what came out was what we are now. So the story is a happy story. It's kind of like where our part of this story has not really ended, but it's come full circle. But like you mentioned that there's hundreds, if not thousands, maybe even tens of thousands. My story is not uncommon. What's uncommon about my story is that it was an American flag that was canceled. And then on top of that, the business was a six year old boy's idea. And then on top of that, that the business was able to make our American dream happen in buying a home. So when you take those things, it makes it a little bit more interesting for people to really dive into all of the parts of cancel culture. And I think that by telling the story, we can really shed light on the dirty tactics that big tech uses and hopefully get some legislators emotionally invested in our story to where they want to put in a stop to it with legislation. I've gotten calls from customers or not customers, just people who have owned their own business. Dozens and dozens, I'm talking probably near 100 people have called and said, hey, I was canceled, too. What can I do? And then we also have those customers or people call us that weren't necessarily canceled, but they have friends that were canceled or they know another company that was canceled, but they weren't lucky enough. We were so blessed to have the Duffies interested in our story and to have Rob Schmidt and Newsmax interested in our story. To have you interested in our story. And Wendy Bell and Stacey Washington. All of these people who are storytellers in our country, new storytellers in our country that have seen our story and saw okay, look, and this one should be told. All of you guys are really what allowed us the platform to hopefully, in the end, we're going to make a change. Linda J. Hansen: Well, you will and your bravery and determination and courage really set an example. And I'm so glad you mentioned other businesses because I was going to bring that up is that if you're a business owner listening, don't feel you're immune. You may think that you have an un-cancelable business, but you don't because it's just like anytime evil is progressive, they'll just keep mowing people down to get to their end goal. So standing up against it is important not only for yourself, but for everyone and for future generations. So James, you've set a great example. We look forward to being able to continue telling people your story and be able to direct them to where they can learn more, where they can buy a flag. And I'm just excited that not only has our friendship bloomed through this time, but we have created a partnership in a sense that if people go to youramericanflagstore.com/P101, they can order a flag and that is your way of helping to support what I'm doing as well. And I'm just so excited for that partnership and know that promoting your flags and helping to promote the values that you hold dear really help to raise the tide so all the boats can sail for freedom in America. If people want to reach you to learn more about your story, how would they do so? James Staake: Well, they can always give us a call. We're easy to find. Just go to our website, youramericanflagstore.com the phone number is on there and they can always call us if they want to know more about our story. The docuseries that we're coming out has twelve episodes. Those episodes are going to range from the cancel culture. We're going to get away from the cancel culture too, and talk about the stories behind the flags. We've met some unbelievable patriots along our journey and there's tons of heroes out there that we've gotten the privilege to make flags for, and they have amazing stories behind the flags of what inspired them to buy the flag. So we're going to be telling a lot of those stories in the documentary too, in a couple of the episodes. We're also coming out with the podcast to your American podcast that we're going to be highlighting other businesses that have been canceled and telling their stories. We're going to have some legislators on our podcast and some influencers on our podcast. And I'm hoping that in a respectful and courteous way, we can expose the people who are promoting cancel culture and who are benefiting from cancel culture and hopefully encourage them to do the right thing. Linda J. Hansen: Thank you so much, James. It's just been a pleasure to tell your story again, to hear your story again, and to be able to encourage other patriots who may be going through this, who may face it at some time in the future. We hope not, but it may happen and we just are encouraged by your patriotism, by your faith and your can do attitude that says, we don't have to take this sitting down. Americans stand up for America, and we can really work together to protect freedom. And may the flag still wave for freedom, of course. But listeners too, if you want a flag from James and your American flag store, go to youramericanflagstore.com /P101 and order the flag that reflects your love for America and the things that you value about your freedom. So. Thank you, James. I can't wait to have you on again to discuss the next phase of your journey and we just appreciate all you do. Thank you. James Staake: Thank you, Linda. Thanks for having me on again. Linda J. Hansen: My pleasure. Linda J. Hansen: Thank you again for listening to the Prosperity 101 Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share, and leave a great review. Don't forget to visit Prosperity101.com to access the entire podcast library to order my newest book, Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck or to enroll you or your employees in the Breakroom Economics online course. You can also receive the free e-book, 10 Tips for Helping Employees Understand How Public Policy Affects Their Paychecks. Freedom is never free. Understanding the foundations of prosperity and the policies of prosperity will help you to protect prosperity as you become informed, involved, and impactful. I give special thanks to our sponsors Matthews Archery, Inc. and Wisconsin Stamping & Manufacturing. Please contact us today at Prosperity101.com to let us know how we can serve you. Thank you.