– Here’s the punchline, somehow at Sundance, this movie, Ghoulies, which I didn’t know about, but then like in this weekend it became the most important thing in my life, so then, a couple months later we go to Strauss’s house for this event or what have you, somehow not a lot of people are left and somehow me and Ben are, somehow it gets referenced, Ghoulies, like we say something, like it’s the inside joke, it’s the meme, and Strauss goes, I made that movie. Which to this day, is a top 10, Strauss and I have not spent a whole lot of time together, we have a lot of mutual friends, I have have an enormous amount of admiration from him, from afar, I’m gonna let him paint a five minute context of his career and then we’ll do some Q&A because he’s gonna help a lot of entrepreneurs, and then anything else, Strauss, on your mind. I’d love to know anything that you wanna talk about. But the Ghoulies thing is a top 10 moment. Like from the heat, I think everybody can associate with this, you’re friends, random shit becomes something you all talk about, this was like white hot.
Like I basically said the word Ghoulies 87,000 times over a one week period, and then one week later, the man who fucking green lit the movie, it was an amazing, I don’t know if you remember that Strauss. – I do remember the story, you know I’m probably gonna like ruin the whole thing. I made, I’m not sure I made — – You made Ghoulies one? – I made Goonies or Ghoulies, and I never went to look to see which one was ours, after we had this conversation.
– No, but I think you had, if you made Goonies, you would definitely know it. Goonies is fucking the greatest movie of all time. – Well we made either Goonies or Ghoulies, but anyhow. – I think you made Ghoulies. – All right, we made the worst – Yeah you made Ghoulies.
– Yeah we were not talking about Goonies. What I think is actually a top 10 movie of all time. – No, I would have remembered making any, oh no, we didn’t make a Steven Spielberg movie. – No, you made Ghoulies. – I barely met Steven Spielberg. – You made Ghoulies, which is a movie that nobody, Pete, what’s goin on, you got something?
Yes, yeah, it was, anyway, nonetheless. – It does look familiar, anyway. – So for everybody who’s watching, there’s a ton of entrepreneurs, lot of business people, why don’t you give everybody a three minute like, comic book episode one, who you are, your career, a little bit about you?
– So on the career side, I always wanted to be in the entertainment business from growing up for no particular reason. – Where’d you grow up? – I grew up in Boston, and then New Jersey.
– Very close, go ahead. – And I went to Wesley in undergrad, I went right to grad school out of college because I didn’t wanna work, and I figured couple more years in school, and I was trying to figure out how to get into entertainment, and a friend of a friend helped me get my first job in entertainment, which was a summer internship in Viacom. And I worked there, I had an amazing summer.
Met some people, that led to my first full time job which was at Columbia Pictures Television in sales. Which wasn’t really what I had in mind. I wanted to run a movie studio, but okay, good place to start.
– But flat out, at that young of an age, you’re like that’s what I wanna do. – Oh I knew I wanted to run a movie studio when I was five years old, and I didn’t even — – Really, how did you even know that existed? – How did I even know, I didn’t even watch, I wasn’t allowed to go to the movies particularly.
– You heard parents talking about it? – No, it was completely made up, my dad was a lawyer. So, no clue, but I was committed to it.
(laughing) – So real quick, just one more time, because I need to rewind that, you’re not sure because you were young how it got into your zeitgeist, but you immediately became committed to it? – Yeah I think I had some sense that it was like very glamorous and that you could be like. – But at five you cared about the girls already? – I think it was more about the money. – God, respect.
One or the other, I guessed wrong, keep going. – Little did I know. There are better ways to make money. Anyhow I got recruited from Columbia to go to what was then the largest Home Entertainment Company, Vestron. It’s the early days of home entertainment.
That’s how long ago it was, and they were launching a motion picture initiative and I became the president of the company like nine months later. – How old were you at the time? – I was 29, so I was basically three years out of school. And to say that I didn’t know anything is a gross understatement, I used to say, my friends were like, well this is a public company and it was the biggest independent, and their question was, well why would you be president of this company? And my answer was, well definitely not competent for the job but I’m definitely glad they gave it to me, so I did that — – And then, you know at this point, for a lot of people who are listening, these days, 29 having a big company or a big job, not insane. – Wasn’t then either, in the entertainment business.
It’s always been a business that gave young people opportunities early, no it was definitely, I mean, you know it was precocious but first of all, an old person talking about what it was like to but young and successful is pathetic, so I’m not gonna talk too much about that, but no, you know Barry Diller was in his early 30s when he was chairman of Paramount. So it was not at all unheard of for successful people. That went really well because the first picture I green lit became the highest grossing independent film of all time, which I do remember, which was Dirty Dancing.
– And then that’s that. – You know, we made a bunch of other movies, there were some that did very well — – Ghoulies. I remember this is how the conversation went down. No, no, you made Ghoulies.
– I know you’re committed to it, but I just don’t want people to like — – Look it up. – People are gonna be, if it’s not a Vestron movie, it’s not a Vestron movie, I completely made it up. And now Gary’s like, it ruined the rest of his night. – Strauss, this is like literally one of my top 10 favorite stories. – So it either was or it was not distributed by Vestron and I just don’t wanna get the ugly email saying I made that movie, how can you take credit for it? So.
– Who made it, tri-bloo-gah? – But was it distributed by Vestron? Yeah, you gotta figure, or who’s catalog is it in now, and then I could tell you. Anyway, moving on, that went pretty well. I was recruited from there to become president of 20th Century Fox.
Was president of Fox, that was a great run. We had a whole bunch of hits, so after being in the movie business for seven years, I really sort of revised my goal, as having met what I thought was a very long term goal pretty quickly, and I decided to revise my goal to say I really wanna do something that’s in entertainment, but also entrepreneurial.
And I sort of surveyed the landscape. And this is in 1993, and I said, you know I think video games are gonna become a huge entertainment business. And I went to a company called Crystal Dynamics which was a pre-revenue video game company as the first CEO, built that company up. And then after we’d sort of got it to a critical mass, I left to do a turnaround of a huge record company back in the days when that wasn’t an oxymoron. That was called DMG, that went super well.
Took it from last place to nearly first place. Would have been first place, but one and two merged. So we were second place, but you know it was a great result we had a lot of great hits and turned around the RCA label and other things. And then I revised my goals once again and said okay, my goal now is to run a diversified media company that’s supercharged by digital technology, and that was — – What year was that? – That was ’01, and that was considered somewhat out there, I mean, people had gotten the memo on digital technology, but I was always seen as the new media person.
– And this was post April 2000 where things melted, right? – Yeah, so, that’s right. – And you saw it as the opportunity. – I saw it as an opportunity. I mean most people thought it was a terrible time.
My view is that there’s never a good time, there’s no time when you’re starting a business and you look around and say, wow, this is an awesome time, it’s always hard. But it was the time when I was ready. And I was done working for other people. And so we started what has become ZMC.
And we had just, it’s always fun to tell these stories. So, we had no offices, no capital, no people, not really a business plan, and I started the business with $300,000 of my own money. So for the last 18 years, we’ve been building up that company, and today we have assets in the many billions of dollars and very little debt, a great deal of cash, and we own a number of leading companies in the media, communications.
– And entertainment business. Well our biggest company is Take-Two Interactive, which is a leading video game company, the third largest, with titles like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, NBA2K, Borderlands, BioShock, Civilization and many others. We own, with partners, 9 Story, which is a leading Canadian based animation company. Great hits and great titles, we have an investment in a company called Dynasty Sports.
We own IT Renew, which is a so-called ITAD company. It’s a pretty arcane part of the data center space. We’re big believers in the growth of data. We own Cannella which is a leading direct response television advertising company.
AdThrive, a digital advertising company, and a number of other interests. – And what’s happening with your day-to-day these days within that ecosystem? – My day-to-day is I’m a partner at ZMC and I’m the chief executive of Take-Two. But Take-Two is a part of ZMC, so I have the luxury that I’m able to both invest and operate in the media business, and I am able to, our entire thesis is based around the notion that technology will continue to transform and inform media and entertainment. And we only invest behind that thesis.
And the reason that we’ve never suffered a loss, and we’ve been able to grow a very significant business from nothing, at least so far, is because we don’t look at what’s happening tomorrow or next quarter, or a year, we look five, 10, 15 20 years down the road. And so far we haven’t gotten it wrong. So in ’01, people in our business, and we did have access to capital or we couldn’t have bought these companies. People in our business were buying newspapers, consumer magazines, and that was sexy and appealing and we didn’t do those deals because we thought print was compromised. And of course we were right, we did however, by an online market research company before that was sexy, and obviously took over a video game company in ’07 that was very nearly bankrupt. And the perception was that company was at no chance of making it.
That companies market cap today is about $10 billion. – What’s kind of most exciting you right now as you look out five, 10, 15 years? – I think, this is just the beginning.
So for a lot of people, a lot of people think that, and I just heard this at a conference. You know, we’ve kind of established what the internet can do, we’ve kind of established what digital technology can do, it’s all gonna settle down, and now the move forward in digitally driven media will be evolutionary not revolutionary, I completely disagree. I think the next 30 or 40 years will be the most exciting time that the media business has ever seen.
And you will see it in every part, whether it’s B2B, which we’re in or B2C, which we’re in, or pure entertainment, which we’re in, or infrastructure, which we’re in. And the reason I believe in that, is several things — – History. – Well first is history right — – But honestly, right? I mean that’s the answer. – Yeah I mean in the 1880’s you know, the head of the U.S. Patent Office said I think pretty much everything has been invented.
– Because everyone’s financially invested in staying ahead of change. It’s more emotionally invested. Change scares a lot of people. – But I think you’ll appreciate this right, like to me, I’m of course financially invested in all of the things I do, however because I’m an entrepreneur, I’m putting my money where my mouth is, versus hoping that the things maintains for the next 27 months because I need to sell my stock at 27 months and go do what I wanna do personally after that. – Yeah, that’s a horrible way to live.
By the way, whenever people give me a story like that, I’m like, well here’s the problem with that plan, you could walk outside and get hit by a truck tomorrow. You can’t even be careful about delaying things for that. So anyway, I think you know, if you believe in Moore’s Law, which I do, you believe that whatever data consumption you wanna project five years from now, aggregate data consumption, you’re wrong, it will be more. – Couldn’t agree more. – You wanna project what devices will look like. So Nick’s holding an iPhone, I don’t know which one.
Looks like a nine. – If it’s mine it’s new. – All right, or a 10. So that form factor, in 10 years, we’ll look back on that form factor and we will think it’s really funny.
Looking at a couple cameras in here, these form factors will look really funny in 10 years. – I just don’t understand that people don’t understand. It’s history. – Right, so — – You know how rad as fuck the Walkman was? I know you do.
– Well yeah, of course. – And like it was just the crazy — – You just couldn’t believe it. – The Razor phone was the single most important status item, Seth you’re old enough? I’m impressed, like yeah, people are unbelievably confused about how it actually works. – So what we do, is we look at the world and we try to think about where that’s gonna be in five or 10 years. And then, to the point about preservation versus innovation or disintermediation, we gotta be the ones to disintermediate ourselves.
– 100% – And that’s a very hard task. But it you’re worried about cannibalization in your core business, you should be the one cannibalizing your core business. Or someone else will do it for you. – Something I said to a buddy a long time ago that I use a lot, it was the first time I said it and I’ll never forget I said it, I said look I’d rather put myself out of business then let somebody else do it for me.
– [Strauss] Exactly. – It’s exactly right. – When I got to the record business in ’94, the first things we did was launch websites which was innovative, and start thinking about how we can do digital distribution.
By the way we didn’t do such a great job but we were trying really hard. And we weren’t surprised when the Napsters came along. We were prepared for it and we were in the best position from anyone. – What do you think about blockchain?
Forget about bitcoin and all of that stuff, blockchain. – Look, I think the notion of a widely distributed network for computing is fine, the problem with the blockchain technology is so far anyway, for you to create the additional nodes you have to create an incentive for people to create the nodes. And so far the incentive has been currency.
Or I wanna transact, or I wanna have you come see something. – It was human. – But it’s hard to know in the absence of currency how you’re gonna make the blockchain work.
And then when companies talk about it I’m convinced, when big, big, big companies are, I mean, people talk to us about it in the game space all the time. I wanna apply blockchain technology to the video game business, I’m like, please tell me how that works, and it’s not sarcastic. I’m very interested.
– You just know that they’re putting hyperbole around the statement, I agree with you 100%. – And so right now, like do I believe in crypto currency? I don’t, and I know there are plenty of people that do.
My attitude is, I believe in speculations. They exist all the time, but any time a so-called currency goes from $10 to $20,000 to $3,600 in the space of like, my recent memory, (Gary laughs) that’s not a currency, it’s something else, it’s not a currency, and for people who transact outside a legitimate economy they don’t really care, because their margins are so huge that what they care about is private transactions, but for the rest of us, like I have a really high margin in most of my businesses, but I don’t have a sufficient margin to offset that kind of currency swing. – I understand. – So I’m not a believer at all in crypto currency. – What about sports betting?
– I’m a huge believer in sports, well first of all, it’s a little late in the day since the U.S. Government said “we believe in it”. We’re taking it from the Federal government saying it’s okay, to the states regulating it in a way that works, will be complicated. And then you’ve got a very powerful — – I grew up in the liquor business, so between cannabis and sports betting, two things in the macro I deeply believe in. – Right but micro’s different.
And so you’ve got massive lobbies, very powerful lobbies, who’ve proven, by the way that they can affect a legislation of late, who have a — – Not just of late, I’m they’re … – Right, but in the casino business where, so what do I believe, that if you’re already in the casino business in the U.S., will you be able to engage in broadly distributed, digitally driven sports betting? Yes, do I believe that we as a non-regulated, non-gaming company can take our sports titles and turn them into gaming opportunities? It would be wonderful to believe that, and if I were in the business of promoting our security publicly I would say yes. I think the answer is that the opportunity may exist, but there are a lot of regulatory hurdles. There are obviously far fewer of them internationally. – Talk to me about, actually I’m gonna ask you a question that I’m curious about.
So I’ve been really enjoying, similar to blockchain and cannabis, and sports betting, the notion of eSports teams, watching a lot of people deploy the logic around something, you know this is where I get interested. I think this is from afar, and you know it’s very clear to me, listening to you, there’s a lot of things that we cross over in agreeing on. I’m fascinated by people’s inability to synthesize things in lieu of what they hope or emotionally or financially want to happen. Watching people deploy eSports strategies in today’s environments, fascinating because much like what you did to whoever says to you, we’re gonna do this blockchain thing, I always say the same thing, I’m like, please explain to me why you think League of Legends is like the Major League Baseball system.
And when you get into even a basic first question, and you watch people dance in front of you, now that I’ve got a better framework of how you process, and it’s probably why I like you, you know, what’s your take on the eSports ecosystem around the IP holders versus how the teams think they’re gonna conglomerate the power? – So we’re in the business, right? And we eat our own cooking, but our view is that like major sports, we believe in eSports.
There are 250 million people who watch eSports. There are a whole bunch of people who are playing. – You’re preaching. – So for sure it’s real, it is however, the League of Legends business, and it’s a billion dollar business. And in our world, video game business alone, never mind the media business, video game business is a $130 billion a year currently.
Esports is a billion dollars, it’s a teeny little business and the bulk of the market is League of Legends. And I say that as a competitor, we have the NBA2K league. So I think they’ll be somewhere between three and seven powerful eSports that will develop in the same way that there are between three and seven professional sports leagues that truly matter. You know, you’ve got football, you’ve got baseball, you’ve got soccer, especially worldwide. – So you believe some of these IPs will come out, really lock in — – Absolutely and will create — – And then will become — – And they’ll become very valuable.
– And do you think teams will be able to sit on top and play in all of them, individual? – So I don’t see a world, and this is perhaps wrong, because it’s just speculative, where you — – The good news is for all the things we’ve been right about, we’ve been wrong. – Many times, right, and when I say to people actually when they ask my advice, especially entrepreneurs, this is one person’s advice. But if you ask the great entrepreneurs if when they talk to people about their ideas people all said high five, that’s awesome, that didn’t happen, so you shouldn’t listen to my ideas.
If you truly believe, you should go do it. But in the case of eSports, I have to eat my own cooking. I’m betting on it, I’m paying for it.
So what we said is, look, people love playing NBA2K it’s the biggest sports title in the U.S., has been for years. People love competing in NBA2K, they’re doing it anyhow, so wouldn’t it be sensible to have teams that compete at NBA2K and then a broadcast if you will, we’re on Twitch, those games, that seems to stand to reason, and so that’s why we’re going for it. Do I think those teams should be both NBA2K and League of Legends — – And Overwatch — – And Overwatch, there’s no real analogy for that in professional sports. I’m a little skeptical, I think if you wanna be the best NBA2K player — – But Deion Sanders might just pop out of the side here.
– Yeah, it’s possible, and it’s a different skill set. – No question. – But I think if you wanna be the best NBA2K player, you’re probably not also gonna be the best Overwatch player.
– What I think is most interesting about what you’re saying, to me, is will they bake? Will three to seven titles bake, or because of the notion of the framework if the different thing, creating a ball-centric sport which is what we’re coming from, I mean literally look, EA just has a hit in a, will it be more like the movie and television business where in perpetuity there will be games that capture three, four, five, years, or are you saying Marvel, Star Wars, you know there’s — – I’m more saying that. – I know that’s what you’re saying. – But it’s a sport. – But in Marvel and Star Wars, there still will be a Forrest Gump, there still will be, right? And so it’ll be interesting if I’m actually, just literally as you’re talking, I’m like, oh, so maybe it bakes three to seven and, or maybe it bakes six and you’re always in an environment where another four are always getting five year runs and seven year runs versus the kind of five that get a forty year run.
I don’t know. – I’m skeptical only because team play, and watching team play seems to cluster around these very ancient forms. But you know what, this could be an example where history just isn’t a guide of the future. Because after all, League of Legends does not look like hockey, football, baseball or you know, soccer, so it remains to be seen, I feel very, obviously, very good about our bet, because I feel like it’s right in the pocket. – You’re doubling down, yeah. – Right in the pocket, but that’s it, that’s all it is, we’ve had one season.
– If you’re watching on Instagram, Facebook, put in your phone numbers, Calvin’s ready to call. We have to give you an opportunity to get some access to this wonderful thinking. You ready to do one, you got one?
Go ahead. – Yeah, you can ask personal questions too. Not just business questions. – I like business questions.
Is there anything you wanna talk about that’s personal? – Oh no, anything you bring up. – You know, I like trends, I like macro thinking, I love history, you know, I like the way you’re kind of story telling because it’s contextual. (phone ringing) Which I bet on context and human behavior.
It’s not super complicated, I’m patient. – [Recording] We are unable to complete your call at this time. – Mel you fucked up, we’re gonna go to the next call. (laughs) Actually speaking of that. – Speaking of Mel?
– No, not Mel, hold this for a second, speaking of some of or similarities, how much do you get excited about analyzing things that are popping in culture? Is that something you give a fuck about? – Things that are popping in culture? All the time. – Cool, so that makes sense to me, based on how we’re talking, give me something, is there anything that’s on your radar right now that you’re like, “huh”, or “hm”. – You know, I think — – What’s the last thing, so like Slime with nine year olds or K-Pop, like what’s in the “hm”.
– I would say “hm” has been the most recent social media apps that kids are using — – TikTok? – Yes, that I was not familiar with. – But you know that’s musicly, reincarnation sure. So, thoughts. – I have a young guy who every month comes in and shows me what’s happening in popular culture that I wouldn’t have run into. – Smart.
Strauss on that note, this is actually something I think I know as well — – He’s one of our interns, he’s great. – On that note — – By the way he had to delete the inappropriate stuff before he showed me. – He thinks you would give a shit? – I loved that, that was great.
– Yeah exactly, you do a good job of that right, like you do have, it’s funny you just said, I don’t know why that triggered me. But it seems like all of a sudden my brain just jiggered and I feel like I’ve come across, over the last 10 years three individuals that talk about spending time with you or having lunch with you or breakfast with you, you’re doing that game, huh? – I spend about 25% of my time coaching and mentoring people at all stages of their career, all stages, including people who are older than I, but it does tend to skew younger, and I didn’t do it for any other reason except that I make light entertainment for a living.
And I really thought it was important to find some way to make a difference. And it seemed that I could do that, and so I had an open door, and when you give an open door in a business that’s hard to break into like entertainment, you know what, people come in. And so I gotta tell you, I didn’t do it for this reason, but I’ve developed an extraordinary collection of friendships from doing it, so it’s actually been amazingly worthwhile, and after all, that’s how you and I met, because Ben brought you to my house.
– Yeah, 100%, 100%. Who’s this? So TikTok’s on your radar. – Yeah, yeah, exactly, and something next month will be on my radar. – What’s interesting about that in the macro is it’s people using something to help them create. – [Andrew] Hello?
– Who’s this, Andrew. – [Andrew] Andrew. – Yes, you’re Andrew, right? – [Andrew] Yes (laughs) – I’m Gary, Strauss is here too. – [Andrew] Hey Gary. – Say hello to Strauss.
– [Andrew] Hey Strauss, how you doing? – I’m good how are you? – [Andrew] Good, just about to take my daughter home but had to put my number up there, had to tell you, Gary you’ve been an inspiration to me, thank you very much really appreciate it. – Is there anything we can answer, anything on your mind, anything we can answer for you? – [Andrew] So, I just created, well, let me start off. Been an entrepreneur for almost, since I was like 19 I’m gonna say.
– Okay. – [Andrew] My father’s been a hustler, you know, he sold pots, he sold water filters, he’s always been telling me you know, always hustle, hustle, hustle. – Where did you grow up?
– [Andrew] Yeah, well, New York. – Love it, keep going. – [Andrew] New York, so one day I sat down with my sister, we actually opened up a liquor store. – I know a lot about that. Go ahead. – [Andrew] Yeah, so.
– How’s it going? So wait, lay this out for me, you and your sister just sit down on the sofa in the living room and like let’s open a liquor store and boom you open a liquor store? – [Andrew] We’ve always kind of thought about it and it’s actually a place, a place opened up. – That went out of business and you just took it over.
– [Andrew] No, we just started from scratch. We didn’t know shit about liquor stores. – So how’s it going? – [Andrew] Not so good, not so good. – Why, what’s your hot take, what’s your early, how long have you had it? – [Andrew] Five years.
– What’s your read, so not your hot take, your like educated guess, five years in, what’s the struggle in your opinion? – [Andrew] (sighs) to be honest with you, just a lot of things, loss of customers, just maybe us not buying enough liquor. – That would do it. – [Andrew] Just for cost and everything. – Is your, you know one of the tough things about the liquor business in the North East, specifically in New York and New Jersey is it’s much more of a price market than people realize, it’s hard to differentiate when people know what they want.
Especially if you sell liquor and beer. One of the reasons I took my dad’s store from Shopper’s Discount Liquors to WineLibrary, was very quickly as a 15 year old I said oh shit, I am not convincing this 80 year old woman that walked in, that’s been drinking Johnny Walker Black for 52 years to try some other scotch that I could make more money on, and the same thing became real for me of like Truck Driver Johnny, he’s fucking drinking Natty Light. Like it’s hard for me to move ’em.
On the wine side, there was this exploratory kind of, I don’t know anything about wine, I drink Kendall-Jackson and Santa Margherita and Silver Oak, but I’m very insecure maybe you know something else, what’s this wine spectator Robert Parker. And I found my creative opportunity. And then once I understood wine makers mattered, I started painting pictures and what picture painting allowed me to do was split up the business. I sold everything everybody knew about at cost. I literally sold Budweiser, Schaefer, Dewars White Label Scotch, Santa Margherita, everything that people drank that they knew that everybody knew, every brand I sold at dead cost, and then I spent every single cent of my energy, life, that you would walk in because you knew we sold Budweiser at cost, or more importantly, specifically to wine, you knew that we sold Kendall-Jackson and Santa Margherita at dead cost, they were the two most important items, and I would intercept you through my merchandising or actually being on the floor at first because we were a small company, and I would try to story tell to you why Santa Margherita pinot grigio at 12.99 was overpriced, which it was, which having truth on your side was great, and why you needed to try this 9.99 pinot grigio, but oh by the way I was making $4 a bottle on that versus zero on the 12.99. And then when you tasted it, and you liked it better, or at least in the same ball park I started building trust.
My intuition on a limited context, I have six minutes and 13 seconds into you, I would go hand to hand combat, go hand to hand combat, localized, DM, meet people, shake hands, kiss babies, get those first 50 to 70 people. People forget that Uber was in San Francisco for well over a year, almost two full years before they even came to New York, right. Everybody wants to expand, just where do you live right now? – [Andrew] New York in Yonkers. – Yonk, win fucking Yonkers.
One step at a time, I’m already impressed that you got into the app store, a lot to people talk, they dream, I appreciate the execution, not sure how you did it, built it, this and that win fucking Yonkers. Win Westchester, let’s just start there. And how do you do that, fucking go to Google and go to Instagram and use hashtags and five 50 to 500 local players in your market and go buy them some french fries. Give them a free bottle of booze, figure it the fuck out, hand to hand combat. – [Andrew] I wanna say the name to my app before I leave.
So I would say, you know, as entrepreneurs go, Bill Gates, pretty good entrepreneur. He started with desktop operating systems and he stuck with that for a long time. – Long time.
Yeah, actually this is a good segue because this is something I’m passionate about. Might be a good place to take this back half of this interview, entrepreneurship. It’s become a very different thing than what you and I knew it to be for a very long time. Right, I was a bad student, which was unusual for immigrants from the former Soviet Union. All the kids, you know … I think a lot of Ls along the way because I just couldn’t be anything else.
I just didn’t have it in me. Baseball cards or anything else, then wine, blah, blah, blah, I literally sat, sophomore year in high school and would read the wine spectator cover to cover and that’s why I got Ds and Fs in science, and so it was just, it wasn’t viable. I was this poor student and I was doing all these, I was making $3,000 a weekend selling baseball cards but every parent of my friends and every teacher told me I was gonna be a loser.
There wasn’t even a framework in 1990 to ’89 to see the world through an entrepreneur’s eyes. We are very much not there now. – That’s right. – We are now in the other place where career students have decided they’re gonna be the next Zuckerberg, right. You know I’d love to get your perspective on the state of the union of entrepreneurship through your eyes based on the way I framed it up, are you, what do you think’s happening? – It’s easier to approach the world.
I mean you just talked to someone who owns a liquor store who just got an app in the app store. And you know as you point out maybe if he goes and hustles and promotes, it could take off. Pretty crowded place, the app store, thousands of new apps at all times. – The joke I was making, I was just having a little fun with you but trying to educate, two way marketplaces, I mean that is 9,000 times a day in my DM and email, because what I like is people scratch their own itch, they see the pain. They just don’t realize how difficult it is to build a monster in that space, but nonetheless.
– So I think you know, it’s always been hard to build a business that’s highly successful. It’s still hard today. I do think the world’s a little more forgiving today of people who take non traditional paths. – Because of the cost of entry? – No, it’s just gotten a little more popular because you know, really, really, really smart people like Mark Zuckerberg don’t complete college and go on to be hugely successful. But in fairness, Bill Gates didn’t finish Harvard, you know he’s my age, so I think. Upfront costs, to get in the game though, have changed.
– Yeah the upfront cost is way lower. – And the scale to get to the end consumer. – But the opportunity for great success is still the same. – What about, you know I apologize, micro success. Something I’m getting outrageously passionate about and really the book that put me on the map.
You know a lot of people are like hustle and they need to take shots at me, and I’m like did you read it, because really what I’m saying is my intuition, this is 2008, is the way the Internet’s going, specifically on social is there’s a lot of people making $69,000 a year being thrilled being an expert in Smurfs or selling jam who are making 80, this was my thesis. You could make 88,000 having a job you don’t love or 120, or you could make 79, or maybe 140, being the foremost experts of Star Trek, and that’s what played out. – So that’s for sure the case, our company AdThrive allows independent publishers to make a great living. Some of them actually are immensely successful and they become huge, for some people it’s the difference between making $20,000 in their spare time and making $100,000 a year which they can live on, and live on nicely.
– Especially, and stress, this is something that, happiness has to be talked about more. – So I ate lunch with an entrepreneur today. And he’s in the fitness space, and he had walked away from a very big and successful career as an actor to go into the fitness space knowing full well he would likely, permanently make less money because it pleases him. – Happiness. – And it’s what he loves to do, and he’s passionate about it, and therefore he’s great at it.
And it is his joy to spend his day in the gym improving people’s lives. And no, he’s not living horribly, because he’s so good at what he does. You know what my feeling is, you’re really, really good at what you do, generally speaking? You’ll make a living.
The other thing is most people, not everyone, most people are not, once they have food, clothing, shelter, and the ability to raise and educate their kids, most people don’t care about incremental money. In terms of what truly makes a difference in your happiness. Some people do, some people do, most people don’t.
– Especially if they can get into a place where they can deal with outside judgment and aren’t so insecure that they need things to prove things to people, usually they don’t need it. – When they’re self motivated, so when I coach people, the question I start with is, what is it that you want that you truly want, not that other people tell you you should want — – Not what you’re trying to prove to somebody else. – Exactly, what is it that you actually want? And think about what that life looks like. – Can I ask you a question?
For me it’s very clear, I love the game itself. The process is so much more enjoyable than the trophy, like do you feel like you’re a process guy? – Well I’m an achievement guy, I’ve decided.
I like doing hard things, and that’s why, if you look at what I do, I do turnarounds, I do really hard things in media. Sometimes I think like I’m intentionally the guy walking up the hill with a backpack full of rocks and if one happens to fall out, I pick up another one. If I run into you, I grab your rocks too. So I’m not sure it’s always the healthiest. – I got it. – But I like doing super hard things and then pointing, not to others, to myself that I was able to do that, that means a lot to me.
– I think I covered a lot of it. There are lots of things I look to talk about. But I think you sort of covered it towards the end. Which is you know, what are we all doing here? And it’s tempting to sort of focus on you know, are you gonna be successful or can you make it, or will the liquor store be successful, how can you have hand to hand combat to make your app successful, you know I think the thing I like to talk about is stepping back from them which is why are you doing this, and you know, if the answer to the question is yes that worked out, then what’s the question. If I say to you, you can have it, it’s gonna work, you know, it’ll be what you want.
How many people have actually thought about, well what exactly is that? I would say the one thing that I’m super proud of, is that when I was really young, I knew basically what I wanted my life to look like when I’m this age, and while of course I couldn’t have predicted it perfectly but it’s pretty close, and the other thing is it’s not for everyone, it’s not for everyone. But it is for me, and I think, one of the reasons I feel some satisfaction is not because I feel like I crushed it, not like I feel like I figured it out and certainly not because I’m the most successful person, I don’t feel any of those things. But I set out to have a certain life that would work for me both professionally and personally and more or less that’s what I got. – Man, I gotta tell you, when I tell people, after wishing people that I care about health, boy, is self-awareness the next thing that always populates because once you map that stuff can get real interesting.