Ep444: Randy Mortensen – Past Success Doesn’t Guarantee Future Success

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Quick take

BIO: Randy Mortensen guides talented individuals whose drive has led them toward destructive behaviors. He facilitates an 8-week cohort, guiding members toward True Significance: Success and Sustainable Living.

STORY: Randy was looking for an investment that would bring him huge returns to support his projects in the Caribbean and Africa. He came across the hemp industry, which he had zero experience in, but he was convinced it was the right investment. Randy invested $600,000 and is yet to make much out of it.

LEARNING: Don’t be too quick to jump into an investment you’re not familiar with. Succeeding in one investment doesn’t mean you will in another.


“Be a bit slower to jump into the deep end of the pool.”

Randy Mortensen


Guest profile

Randy Mortensen guides talented individuals whose drive has led them toward destructive behaviors. He facilitates an 8-week cohort, guiding members toward True Significance: Success and Sustainable Living. You can have both.

Worst investment ever

Randy wanted to help people in the Caribbean and Africa. He figured if he was going to support those efforts, he should look for a significant investment. Randy was convinced that the hemp industry would be an excellent opportunity for an investment.

Randy wasn’t connected well enough to the network of growers and financiers in Canada or the hemp industry in Europe. But he did invest heavily in it.

Well, $600,000 later, it’s probably still a good investment, but the returns have been horrible for the last four or five years.

Lessons learned

  • Don’t be too quick to jump into an investment you’re not familiar with.
  • It’s essential to communicate with your spouse and to draw on their common sense.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Your success in the corporate environment does not necessarily translate into the startup environment. Often, the skills required for the two are different.
  • Confidence from past success will blind you from doing the research you should perform when starting a new company.

Actionable advice

Draw on input from others and apply a heavy element of common sense instead of trusting your intuition and instincts.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

Randy’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to return to speaking and hold workshops and speak to talented management officials or professionals.

Parting words


“If you’re struggling with a compulsive, destructive behavior, don’t wait another day to seek help because there is hope.”

Randy Mortensen


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community. We know that to win in investing, you must take risk. But to win big, you've got to reduce it. To join our community go to my worst investment ever.com and receive the following five free benefits. First, you get the risk reduction checklist I've created from the lessons I've learned from all my guests. Second, you get my weekly email to help you increase your investment return. Third, you get a 25% discount on all a Stotz Academy courses. And fourth, you get access to our Facebook community to get to know guests and fellow listeners. And finally, you get my curated list of the Top 10 podcast episodes. Fellow risk takers This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz, from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guests, Randy Mortensen, Randy, are you ready to rock?

Randy Mortensen 00:58
I am beyond ready and excited.

Andrew Stotz 01:01
Yeah, I'm excited to have you on Randy guides, talented individuals whose drive has led them towards destructive behavior. Well, do you know anybody to the listeners out there, whose drive to be successful, has led them to destructive behaviors. Listen up, he facilitates an eight week cohort, guiding members towards true significance, success and sustainable living. Because he believes and he's proven that you can have both Randy take a minute and filming further tidbits about your life.

Randy Mortensen 01:41
Well, thank you for having me on the show, it's just a huge blessing to be able to share a bit of a little bit of my gray haired wisdom with you to all of your listeners around the globe. And when people say well, tell me tell me who you are, I actually come from a background of finance and energy started out in the banking industry, when in financial services bought and sold a couple of businesses. And then was fortunate to get sober about 30, just over 30 years ago, and following that, that that time of sobriety, then I was actually part of a company that was acquired by a multi billion dollar a $60 billion gas and electric utility in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I became vice president of that utility. And it was there that I was really motivated to the point where I realized that anybody with an addiction or anybody with a compulsive and destructive behavior, whether it's alcohol, or porn, or, or, or drugs, there's such a stigma in our workplaces. And there's a stigma in the business community in our faith communities, as well as in our families. And so for the last 15 years, I've really been on a mission to crush the stigma in those in those arenas. And, you know, the people that are dying today are husbands wives and sons and daughters of people who love them. And one out of every four people in this world is being impacted by either their or a loved ones poor choices, one out of every four people in this world. That's my mission for wanting to be a guide for those talented management professionals whose drivers lead them down a path of destructive and compulsive behaviors.

Andrew Stotz 03:37
That's powerful. And I know, you know, I've faced my challenges of addiction, and I faced them at a young age. And I also learned that you have to, you have to put in the work. There's two parts of the work to get through the struggle. And it's interesting when you think about, you know, everybody's struggling with COVID, and all that stuff. But there's a lot of people that have, you know, destructive behaviors, and COVID is only made it worse. And they may be very successful in some areas as you have been throughout your life. But there's this one part of life that's falling apart, and it's reflected in their family, it's reflected in their relationships. And it's reflected in how they feel, you know, that feeling of waking up in the morning, feeling like, there's no point here, I'm going through the same thing. I mean, I can remember that. I still clearly remember that life just became kind of meaningless, in a way. And then when I got sober and I started, I realized, first of all, there's a huge amount of work upfront. You got to step back, you got to stop doing what you're doing. You got to work with people, you know, work through a 12 step program, and really try to do an inventory of your past and all that there's a lot of work there. And if you do that work if you are painstaking about that phase. Have your recovery, you're going to be amazed, because you're going to be able to get through that. But then there's ongoing work. And so you know, when I think about the people that are suffering out there, and I think about the service that you're offering, maybe help tell us tell the audience, if you know someone out there, if you as a listener are struggling, you know, how they can find you, I'll have links in the show notes, and what they would expect to if they got involved with what you're doing?

Randy Mortensen 05:30
Well, I think I think that one one, something that I say very often is what blows my mind is, it doesn't matter what sort of achievements a person has had in their profession, or how much education they might have, or the degrees or what their salary is, or what their you know, their balance sheet looks like their, you know, their wealth portfolio, it doesn't matter what they've accomplished. When they come up to me, and they ask a question, like, like this, they'll say, Randy, I, I'm just, I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired, right? Or I don't know, you know, I need to change because I'm about ready to lose it all. And they say, well, it's very interesting, because it sounds to me, like you really do care. And you do really want to change, why haven't you? And what blows my mind? Is this the responses, the same four words, every time no matter what they've accomplished? I don't know how every time I don't know how, you know, this person could have a PhD in whatever, or they could, you know, have hundreds of millions of dollars in their bank account. It's the same response. I don't know how. So what what I've really taken on the task of and you can go to my website, it's a Randy Mortensen calm, it's www Randy lastname. Mortensen, Mr. T e N Se en COMM And on the front page, there's a 21 question assessment. And what that assessment will tell you is whether you're a mild, moderate or severe case of substance use disorder, if you're mild or moderate, my lifestyle champion cohort is a good fit for that person. And if you're severe, then enter you and i, you and i both know networks that we can refer people to get in to get the help that they sorely need, because what did you What did I decide what was the final final? I had to admit, initially that my life was unmanageable? Right? istep? What very vague? Is Your Life unmanageable? The answer's yes, if you're struggling with that compulsive and destructive behavior. So once someone does that assessment, and there's no cost for it, it's something that is very confidential. And so the first thing that's critical for that person seeking help is how do you evaluate where you are today? You know, what, what's the scenario that you're in? post that evaluation? So it's the evaluation is number one. Number two is you need to learn the tools, you need to be equipped to live a different life with different choices. And in, you talked about the inventory, how to how do we admit all the wrongs but at the same time, I'm also quick to point out in steps four and five, that it's, it's not only important for you to admit what you've done wrong, but give your credit for some things you have done? Well, because there is a champion that's within you, you've didn't bury that that lifestyle champion within you by your poor choices. So phase one of that cohort is evaluate phase choose equip. But then it's very important that once you have this new lifestyle, guess what your old friends aren't going to be your friends. Because you know, those choices that you may you don't want to make anymore. So now we also look at how do you learn to enjoy the new you? And and so those that those are the three phases, and it's just critical for people to fight through the fear because as you said, in this time of pandemic, suicide rates have skyrocketed. Now relapse rates are at exceedingly high rates, you know, they've increased so much even since 1990. In the last 18 months, they've even increased of more than double digits. Wow. So the death toll is heavy, you know, and the wreckage is beyond imagination, for sure.

Andrew Stotz 09:37
Great. I'll have the links in the show notes for the listeners out there. So if you want to reach out to go to the show notes, click the links and get in touch with Randy and take that. Take that test on his website. Well, Randy, now it's time to share your worst investment ever and since no one goes into their worst investment thinking it will be Tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to it then tell us your story.

Randy Mortensen 10:04
Right in and I, I made hundreds of horrible decisions during my drinking years even though as I was successful I'm on the surface, you would have never known you know all the poor choices that I was making it cost me marriages. And when I say marriages I'm now on my third marriage and sober 30 years, not not a surprise that I've been married 31 years it was because of the beautiful woman I've been married to as my third wife. That really led me to get sober because I didn't want to go through the turmoil again. So the poor decisions cost me marriages to beautiful women's lives that I screwed up. And so even despite those four choices, I was a successful business guy in financial services bought and sold a couple of service businesses. At one time, we had 1300 restaurants under contract in seven states, even and sold that out. And then I was fortunate to become an early stage not partner but I was an early stage founder in a lighting retrofit company. And we that first year we did 600,000 revenue, year two, we did 10 million year to 20 million year three, we did 40 million. And this is in the mid 90s. Okay, so that's in the Enron era when you know, all deregulation was happening, and so on. And we ran out of money. So ultimately, the utility Minneapolis acquired it, I became a vice president of that unregulated subsidiary of now a $60 billion dollar gas and electric utility. But I walked away from that, and people thought I'd started drinking again, why would anybody walk away from that lucrative career, but I knew there had to be something more in life from a significance standpoint. And so I wanted to help people. And I had no hint what that meant. And so, I pursued doing work actually served on the President's task force for the redevelopment of Puerto Rico's go to the White House Office Building every six months for a couple of years. And so I wanted to do work in the Caribbean, and, and Africa. And so I thought, well, if I'm going to support those efforts, I should look at a significant investment. And I was convinced that the hemp industry was going to be that significant opportunity for an investment. Well, half $1,600,000 later, it's probably still a good investment. But the returns have been horrible for the last four or five years. And so I look at it from the standpoint of, I wasn't, I wasn't well enough, connected to that network of growers, and the network of financier's in Canada. And I didn't have the connections in Europe that I should have had, because a lot of the hemp industry was in the Netherlands and in a nap part of Europe. And here in the United States, there was stigma, right? There was stigma against that because they it was compared to the cannabis industry. It's not the most industry. Yeah. Plant. So the being being far too aggressive in that investment. I should have shown some temperament control and not not put as much money into it as I did. Those are the regrets.

Andrew Stotz 13:54
And when was the Can you think of the day or the period of time where you kind of realize this really isn't going the way I plan?

Randy Mortensen 14:03
Yeah, it was one my wife came to me and she said, How much more Are you really thinking you're going to put into this thing? And because I was already a couple $100,000 over what I had told her we would do. So I have a beautiful wife and she's very conservative. And I was overextended. And that's when I knew that we already had it set to do a reverse merger with a company in Vancouver. Right? Okay, we already had that dialed in. We just couldn't get the revenue to the point where we needed it. So,

Andrew Stotz 14:47
so tell me what lessons did you learn from this experience?

Randy Mortensen 14:52
Be a bit slower to jump into the deep end of the pool. As you know, I thought I had to build the company because I had run $130 million business unit with 400 people on my team, and I was responsible for, but I had far more backing financial back, I had far more access to capital was a utility. Right? So, so we that's, that's what I would say I thought I had sufficient access to capital, I thought I had sufficient access to the markets. I didn't, yeah.

Andrew Stotz 15:32
And maybe I'll share what I take away. I think, you know, this, this is a lesson I think for, particularly for executives out there, men and women who have achieved success in their life, in their career, they're making a good salary, things are going well. I want this lesson to be a warning to you, you know, to everybody listening, that, what your success in the corporate environment does not necessarily translate into the startup environment. And it's nice to think that it does. But oftentimes, the skills required are different. And the breadth of skills is much different, where you've got to be in marketing, you've got to be accounting, you've got to do all these things in a startup world. And so I think the biggest lesson is, for people that are in executive positions, don't rush to go out, and you know, leave it all and go start up something in your lap, by taking the confidence that you feel today, in your success in your job, and saying that that is going to translate into success in my startup, that would be kind of my biggest takeaway. Anything you would add to that?

Randy Mortensen 16:47
I would, yeah. Well, well said. And your part, I think the other aspect is that, and I teach this when I'm doing workshops, or speaking from stages, is it's so important to communicate with your spouse. And, and to draw on his or her common sense. And even, you know, I, I would like to think that when I was drinking, I was making solid business decisions. I was and I was lucky. And I was a hard worker. And so what happened to me, I'm convinced, as I reflect back is, I really am overconfident in my abilities. And I thought, well, I've done this before I can do it again. But it was in an arena that I had no experience in. And frankly, I didn't engage in dialogue with my spouse, to get her take from a common sense standpoint. And I think the other the other aspect is, is there were a couple of people that were engaged in the network, I was in that were drinking too much partying, partying too much, that was that old lifestyle I wanted nothing to do with. And so I was drawn in, because I thought here, you know, these are these are, these are smart guys. But yet, they're distracted, you know, they're poor choices. Not only affected them in the long run, but they're affected me also. So that's, that's the coaching from that aspect of it.

Andrew Stotz 18:29
You know, I went through all of my episodes, to try to classify them and you know, build the lessons that we can learn from this and one of the lessons I was just opening up the document, but one of the lessons is this and it comes from another episode, but this will be you know, the same type of general lessons and this one is I wrote this out like this confidence from past success will blind you from doing the research you should perform when starting a new company. Brilliant. And I wrote down pride and pride and ego and he got out there on my dream. Yeah, and my solution to this problem or this risk that you're going to face for the listeners out there is develop a hypothesis of your customers desire, test some minimum viable product, review the outcome with someone that you trust and iterate. So that's that's the outcome from that Alright, so now based upon what you learn from this story, and what you continue to learn what one action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate

Randy Mortensen 19:39
for it's similar to what you just said is really draw on input from others and and apply a heavy element of common sense instead of trusting your own intuition and instincts and and i It was an emerging market and emerging market the what was the what's the rate of failure, seven out of eight fail in emerging markets writer and startup, I just didn't think I was there was any way possible I could be in that 12%.

Andrew Stotz 20:16
And that, my friends is overconfidence. Yes. That's how we feel. There's no way I'm gonna lose. I'm smart. I know what I'm doing. I've seen this. I'm working. I mean, I've been in tough environments. I know what it's like. That's the overconfidence that we all feel. Right, so. So last question, what is your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Randy Mortensen 20:38
Well, prior to the pandemic, my coaching and speaking business was growing at a pretty decent rate. And so I shared with you I was supposed to speak in Africa, to an economic development group. And so so my number one goal is is to return to the stages, whether they be digital stages or or you know, in conferences and so on, because I'm looking to speak to I refer to white collar corporate America, right, or that's why a better representation is talented management officials or professionals, talented professionals. So I might my goal has been in the 20 to $25,000 a month range from coaching, as well as speaking and doing workshops. So that's my number one goal. Actually, before that, I will say, I'm three, almost three years behind that deadline. I'm finishing my book, my forthcoming book is titled God took me to Las Vegas to get sober. So that's probably my number one because then completing that work will then stir up interest in in in some of these other programs and this into my own podcast, also,

Andrew Stotz 21:56
my fantastic, well, listeners, there you have it another story of loss to keep you winning. My number one goal for the next 12 months is to help you my listener, reduce risk and increase return in your life. To achieve this, I've created our community at my worst investment ever.com. And I look forward to seeing you there. As we conclude, Randy, I want to thank you again for coming on the show. And on behalf of a Stotz Academy, I hereby award you alumni status returning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Randy Mortensen 22:33
I just want to encourage that guy or gal that's listening that's struggling with drugs or alcohol or porn or whatever that compulsive destructive behavior is. I just want to encourage them not to wait another day to reach out to you or to me because there is hope. And within each and every one of us has that lifestyle champion that's waiting to be revealed. But we have to make the decision to seek help. And there are people out there that want to help my lifestyle champion cohort is a great option. But there's other other people out there that love and care about you and to make that life change today.

Andrew Stotz 23:15
Yeah, that's great. A great point. And if anybody listening is struggling, either yourself or with someone that's struggling with addiction, you know, just come to the show notes come to the website, you can contact Randy You can also contact me on the website, my worst investment ever.com. Just go to the contact section and send me a message it will come to my personal email. But there are solutions to this problem. And we both are examples of that. And that's a wrap. On another great story to help us create, grow and protect our wealth. Fellow risk takers, this is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz saying. I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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