80’s Hair, Hanging with Billionaires and Saving Pumpkins
A few weeks ago we held our ‘Totally Rad 80’s Maverick Road Rally’ heading from LA to Napa. Starting with getting pink hair, the Mavericks really got into the spirit of the 80’s and helped to support Breast Cancer Awareness month. Here’s the photo that made the “Picture of the Day” in the LA Times blog:
Actually our little entourage made the front page of TechCrunch.com after the event. Click here for the full story.
The first evening Paul Mitchell students styled up our hair with all sorts of pink Mohawks, tails, ‘Fu-Manchu’s’, coiffed mullets and more! Plus, we had the Variety Boys and Girls club kids there who got into too. Here are the kids and members with the totally must-have 80’s accessory – a DeLorean:
(Random gross fact here: I was rocking the Don Johnson/Miami Vice look the first day and I bought my white shoes on eBay. If you look closely I’ve got no socks on!)
Our special business icon guest was billionaire John Paul DeJoria, who holds the rank of #261 on Forbes list of World’s Richest with an estimated $2.5B net worth. He told his story of how went from homeless to billionaire. Looking at this candid pic you’d think I was the homeless one – but this was the ‘flock of seagulls’ look for day 2.
I took quite a few notes during John Paul’s presentation. And one of the things I wrote down that really stood out for me was when he talked about how having no money makes you creative. I firmly believe that. J.P. talked about he had a pending deadline to pay his printer for the shampoo bottles they just screened – so he went knocking on doors. He made 12 orders giving the salon owners better-than-risk-free offers. Then he drove to a big distributor, showed them the 12 checks and said, “Here are your first 12 orders.” Proof, right?
Then, he asked the distributor if he could get paid upfront for the product if he gave a 5% discount. They agreed. Then 5 minutes later he pulled around the back of the building, made the delivery and asked for the check. It was brilliant!
But that kind of creativity wouldn’t work unless you’ve got the absolute best product. J.P. continually harped on this, from the shampoo business to Patron tequila. He has a quote, “You want to be in the reorder business”. Think about it. It’s possible to make the initial sale but it’s the reorder that will make you rich.
And guess what….even after J.P. was a billionaire and started the Patron tequila company with a friend, he still started small. He didn’t invest millions into the project – they bought 1,000 cases to test it out. And he still totally believes in making his product the absolute best. He told us how he spends significantly more to buy the very best agave plants that go into his tequila. And he was always thinking just a bit different. To get distribution he couldn’t use a regular liquor distributor because they wouldn’t talk to him and the notion of competing against Cuervo was ridiculous. So he decided to go to beer and wine distributors since they call on the exact same customers. Smart.
John Paul was such an inspirational guest and he told everyone he changed his schedule just to be with us – that was really humbling. After saying our goodbyes it was time to hit the open road. All the Mavericks drew partners and cars. The range of cars were classics like ’67 Vettes to Aston Martin and Lambo convertibles all decked out in Rubik’s Cube stickers and 80’s fun.
Part of the Road Rally involved shooting “video missions” for points. There were some pretty funny 80’s related missions. Everything from “Preach the gospel as an 80’s character” to “High-five a biker at a stop sign”. Lots and lots of silly video was collected (as you might imagine from these pics).
A pretty cool highlight of day two was riding in one of only 3 Zeppelins in the world. I kept badgering the pilot to let me sit in the co-pilot seat and I finally got my wish (though we were on the ground).
From the Zeppelin tour we headed to downtown San Francisco to meet up with Chip Conley, the CEO of Joie De Vivre, a boutique hotel group in CA. Chip is a really incredible guy and author of one of my favorite recent business books, “PEAK”. I strongly suggest you get it to see how you can incorporate Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into your business ventures. And if you have a chance in CA – stay in one of his properties. Hotel Vitale in SF is where we stayed and the Ventanna Inn is his as well.
Then after dinner the 80’s party really started. Full-on 80’s regalia came out for our night out! My buddies Jonathan Mizel and Tim Ferriss met us out to enjoy the evening. Here’s a tiny glimpse at the 80’s madness:
Giving Back to Young Entrepreneurs
The next morning we spent time with a group of aspiring young entrepreneurs from the Bay Area providing real-world advice and brainstorming their business ideas. All part of the Maverick mission to have 1,000,000 young entrepreneurs from ages 13-23 start their own businesses. Here’s Maverick Member Mike Hill and Mo Alkady brainstorming with kids on their ideas before they present in front of the group –
My favorite part about the session was showing up “regular” and then throwing out wristbands and 80’s glasses for the group to wear. I told them sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to be an entrepreneur!
And here’s the winner of our $500 in start-up funding – their idea was to do video tours of Bed & Breakfasts around the Bay Area as a ‘best practices’ association to other B&Bs. (Yes, I’m rockin the mullet wig and rainbow wristbands!)
And finally we headed to Napa from San Francisco and enjoyed an ultra-exclusive cave tasting dinner.
It was incredibly cool. Not only because of the wines they poured – the absolute best ‘cult’ wines in Napa from Screaming Eagle ($1700/bottle) to Colgin and Peter Michael – but because dinner was actually inside the cave. The acoustics in that place were completely nuts. It was hard to hear the person directly in front of you but you could plainly pick-up the conversation on the other end of a 22-person table. I don’t know if they were quite ready for us and knew what to expect but they rolled with it. Here’s Hal Oates from Porthos.com pouring a bit of Screaming Eagle down my gullet.
Now of course, hanging with one billionaire is never enough.
So about 2 weeks after the Road Rally I headed back to Los Angeles for a private brainstorming lunch with Virgin billionaire Sir Richard Branson. This was a small group of about a dozen entrepreneurs organized by my buddy, Joe Polish. There were 3 or 4 Maverick members part of this free-form discussion with Richard asking him questions. As I’ve mentioned before, Richard is one of my business heroes and I’ve been fortunate to spend time with him on Necker Island but I always walk away with a new distinction.
Building an Empire
This time somebody at the table asked him about his 300+ companies and how they inter-relate. He explained that at first he didn’t go in 100 different directions but that it started from a natural ‘evolution’. His record store created the notion of a record company and that gave way to merchandizing for the artists and then management. Followed by distribution and even operating the venues. He said you need a natural reason to expand the brand early on and to make sure when you leave you don’t leave the company damaged by your departure.
That made a lot of sense about naturally building and expanding instead of trying to start-up a couple dozen, unrelated products/services – no matter how much my ADD wants to.
You might get a kick out of this picture because if you look closely and zoom in I was caught doodling while listening to Branson. (Though in my defense I’ve read studies that you take in 28% more info when you doodle.)
After lunch I had a little bit of spare time so I set out to find something interesting to wear for the Rock the Kasbah black-tie charity gala going on that evening for Virgin Unite. I ended up in a pretty odd area of LA with 2 other Maverick members, Craig Handley and Tony Riccardi.
I knew I was on the right track when I saw a sign advertising “Tuxedos $129.99”. Awesome! I went in and asked for the oddest vests and tie sets they had and got a bright orange number. Perfect! We each bought one and I had to get one for my buddy, Joe Polish, to make sure he would be utterly embarrassed.
Here’s the two of us looking dapper:
I went around telling people I met that I was trying to raise awareness for pumpkins and every time you carve a jack-o-lantern you kill a pumpkin. I think some people even believed me until I told them it was a joke. The other story was my dad was a construction worker and that this was an homage to him.
We had an upfront and center VIP table to see performances by Estelle, Gavin Rossdale (from Bush) and Natasha Bedingfield.
Prettty cool. There were even a couple celebs in attendance, from Lindsay Lohan to Paula Abdul to Sharon Stone. But more exciting for me was seeing some of my business colleagues and meeting business icons like George Zimmer, Men’s Warehouse founder and CEO.
It was quite an event with all proceeds going to support Virgin Unite and Richard’s mother, Eve’s, initiatives teaching girls in Morocco. My buddy Dean Graziosi and online marketer, Russell Brunson, both generously opened their wallets to bid on naming one of the Virgin America Planes.
I got home and Zak was ready, psyched and totally set for Halloween. Now that he’s 4 years old he definitely gets the concept of knocking on doors and getting candy. Not much creativity on his part for a costume though – he went with last year’s Thomas the Train outfit. But he still loves Thomas so I guess that’s fair. This time Zak was accompanied by his little 2-year old sister, Zoe, in her princess outfit.
Last year Zo-zo’s didn’t last very long in her giraffe outfit and crawled upstairs to go to bed – but this year she made a valiant effort of hitting about 6 houses before we carried her home. Zak loved trick-or-treating but I think he got the biggest kick when he came home and started giving out candy to all the kids coming to our door. And there were a bunch of them. Here’s a pic showing just how much candy I bought so I could be prepared. (Last year I had almost as much and I ran out.)
I swear they bus kids into our neighborhood or something. They come in packs like little jackals but Zak loved it. Here’s a quick 2-minute video I show of the little dude giving out candy. He would yell out the door, “Who wants trick or treat?” like that would get more kids to come to our door. You’ll get a kick out of this video: