Ep590: Miguel Rodriguez – Protect Your IP Before Pitching Your Idea

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Quick take

BIO: Miguel Rodriguez is the CEO of the US Presidential Service Center. He has retired from an outstanding US government career and is currently a facilitator with the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management Program.

STORY: Miguel was actively involved in developing government contracting with companies. Some of these companies would take his ideas and start side projects without his knowledge. This led him to learn the importance of protecting his intellectual properties the hard way.

LEARNING: Always have an NDA with you before pitching your ideas. Get compensated for your intellectual property.


“Protect your intellectual property right from day one when entering any business transaction.”

Miguel Rodriguez


Guest profile

Miguel Rodriguez is the CEO of the US Presidential Service Center. He has retired from an outstanding US government career and is currently with the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management Program as a facilitator.

Worst investment ever

Miguel was actively involved in developing government contracting with companies. He didn’t realize for a very long time that in the course of this consulting, he was exposing his intellectual properties to the companies he was working with. Some of these companies would take his ideas and start their own projects on the side without acknowledging Miguel as the owner of these ideas. It wasn’t until he learned just how much he was losing that Miguel started copywriting his intellectual properties.

Lessons learned

  • Whenever you engage in any business discussion where you’re presenting your ideas or works, ensure everyone involved signs an NDA that protects intellectual property from going beyond that discussion.
  • If there’s a need for anyone to own your intellectual property, ensure that you receive a monetary return from that.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Be careful when bidding for a massive project. Don’t let the excitement make you do anything to get it because you may lose something in the process and still not land the project.

Actionable advice

Protect your intellectual property right from day one when entering any business transaction. Before you give your pitch, let everyone know your deliverables and how you expect to be paid.

No.1 goal for the next 12 months

Miguel’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to develop strong relationships with other companies worldwide that will work together to build jobs and address food shortages in Africa and Latin America.

Parting words


“Don’t be discouraged by failure because it’s in failure that we learn. So take that failure and keep moving forward.”

Miguel Rodriguez


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 risks but to win big, you've got to reduce it. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm on a mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. And that mission has led me to create the Become a Better Investor Community. In the community, you get access to our global asset allocation strategies and stock portfolios, our investment research weekly live sessions and the risk reduction lessons I've learned for more than 500 guests go to my worst investment ever.com right now to claim your exclusive podcast listener lifetime discount fellow risk takers, this is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz, from A. Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guests. Miguel Rodriguez, Miguel, are you ready to join the mission?

Miguel Rodriguez 00:54
I am absolutely at the ready. And I'm glad that you have chosen myself to be a part of it.

Andrew Stotz 01:01
Happy to have you with us. And I want to introduce you to the audience. Miguel Rodriguez is the CEO of the US Presidential Center. He has retired from an outstanding US government career. And he's currently with the George Washington University Graduate School of political management program as a facilitator. Miguel, tell us briefly about the unique value that you bring to this wonderful world.

Miguel Rodriguez 01:26
Well, we have to go all the way back to when I was 14, when my parents said, you have to get a job. So, therefore, I started as a tobacco picker at 14 years old. So of course, you know, the word ethics were embedded in the DNA as I grew up. So you know, from there, I entered the military at 17, and was traveling the world. And then from that point on, it all became an educational process. Because I was explicitly exposed to several different types of culture throughout the world. The opportunities, as I say, literally just came before me, and I just simply follow that trail that was set in front of me, opportunities would come along. And of course, I would recognize them at a young age, more of, you know, Jesus sounds kind of cool. But later on down the line, the resume continued to grow. And as that resume continued to grow, we also find ourselves in the entrepreneurial end of, let's say, business, and developing in that in different forms, whether it be as an individual identity, or a corporate identity, because as my, let's say, resume continued to grow, I then found myself working at the White House, working at the Pentagon, for three Chairman's of the Joint Chiefs of Staff directly, and being diversified. And watching what we call now is globalization at work. So of course, there's a lot of, let's say, pluses and minuses to that in our life careers. And that's how we learn. And that's why I say I lead your charge, and recognizing what are our faults, because if we don't recognize our faults in that path, then we only repeat them, or they rhyme, as Mark Twain says,

Andrew Stotz 03:40
Yeah, we don't want a lot of rhyming, we'd like to not do the same mistakes over and over again. Well, now, 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 the end. Tell us your story.

Miguel Rodriguez 03:56
Well, of course, I've always been in the government spectrum, as we say, from the Department of Defense, and then looking into the White House. And of course, my experience with George Washington University allowed me to capitalize off that in the private industry, because understanding government contracting and how we develop and purchase along the way. And of course, you know, when I grew up, I joke with people because I never knew what a trillion dollars was. I couldn't even you know, it wasn't in my vocabulary. So now we find ourselves where I would think that doing a $2 million project was big. Well, now, it's more like $100 million project. So when we think about on that trail, what has been my worst, let's say business experience, I would have to say It would fall in the form of government contracting. And that's what I would say. Because if we think about the budget, and we think about how much goes into the budget, well, it's in the trillions of dollars. So in the business sense, everybody wants a piece of that pie. And, and that's where I come in as a consultant, and actually step into companies, and help them develop that government contract ability, because now we have automated that system, where, you know, companies can literally, let's say, bid on multi contracts simultaneously. So if I am to talk to you about my biggest barrier, it would be about government contracting, but not in the form of, let's say, the big spectrum of the budget, but taking it down to, let's say, for the purposes of this conversation at the micro, the company, the organization in which you work with. So, in that, when you think about my worst failure, I would say is not recognizing, as you're developing government contracting with companies, you're taking your intellectual property, and literally just placing it on the table. And let's say, a neat naivete may set in, because there are so many dollars that are happening, and your focus just simply on the government contracting, but from the industrial and they're looking at monetary and, and nothing else. So, of course, I look at it from both ways, because I don't want to produce, let's say, the $500 Hammer, you know, and then of course, when you ask about failure, it's about how you develop a government contracting program. Everyone does not fit that bill it. So you know, when I think about it, I will say that all my government contracting jobs have been failures. But I must admit, trial and error has occurred along that way. And when you think about government contracting, also, it's about making sure that you have, let's say, control of the project as it's being developed. And, you know, it takes on multiple facets there. Teamwork, group efforts, group dynamics, recognizing who the people are within that circle of, let's say, your project. So if I was to sum it down, I'm going to bring it into what we would say real time, let's take us to like Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Rico, which a lot of your listeners understand that, basically, the island was flattened. I was physically there, when President Trump was throwing paper towels at us and telling us, You guys need to figure it out. So at that point, I realized that we had to turn around and work with nonprofits and work with for profits and government holistically. Well, the problem with that is government is not good, working holistically, okay. So you have to educate not only the government, but you have to educate the nonprofit you're dealing with, and that the for profit. So my biggest failure in Puerto Rico was at the time was trying to develop the for profit companies, because it was all about developing jobs. So you know, when we look at the end, and you're putting your intellectual properties on the table, and you're exposing it, you have to recognize that there's other people taking notes that want to start their own projects on the side. And they're taking your intellectual projects to include all your RFPs that you're presenting up on the door. And they're saying, well, that doesn't fit my company here. But a company on the side that I own, I can run that through there, and you have no knowledge at all that that's going on. Because as you know, in your, let's say, audience knows, it's all about a bidding process and an announcement, because anything that involves above $25,000 requires a government bidding process. So that would be my biggest fear is that taking for granted in the form of group dynamics as you're developing a government contract program, that the intellectual properties that you're presenting, could easily go through the cracks into another company that you don't know is being formed on let's say, another venue, and you're there capitalizing right off that particular information? and Puerto Rico was an example because so much involvement required for profit fit in nonprofit to work together, because the president kind of made it quite clear during his tenure, that we weren't going to be involved as a government identity there. So that would be my biggest failure, as I said, and because I was working with, let's say, a manufacturer, that had the ability to enter back into the industry of Puerto Rico, based on programs that were available, that offered companies up to 1.6 million to develop, and re and bring over their corporations directly to Puerto Rico. So in that factor, we noticed that also, at least I picked up, there was a metamorphosis on that island that was occurring. And again, not recognizing that on the other side of the island, your intellectual properties are being used in the millions, and then you don't recognize it until you come back home and say, you know, my project didn't take off. But the same individual that was in let's say, the group dynamics, his project was successful based on your intellectual properties that you offer. So

Andrew Stotz 11:13
how would you? How would you summarize the lessons that you learned from this experience?

Miguel Rodriguez 11:18
Well, the lesson that I learned from that experience would definitely be, let's say, the development of your contracts within yourself, let's say an NDA, which brings this to the point where you know that the people you're speaking with are not allowed to take that intellectual property beyond that circle. And if they do take it beyond that circle, then they owe you a monetary return from that. So I really didn't learn about NDAs till a weight age. And if I had, I think it would have been very, very beneficial for me, in the long run.

Andrew Stotz 12:01
That's a great lesson. And it's critical. In fact, I've never done any government work. But I can imagine that, you know, you have to kind of accept that you can get a huge project, but you're also just going to be exposed to a whole, you know, a big wider world of people observing and looking, and it's the transparency and all that. And next thing, you know, something can happen. So, I think that that's kind of my biggest takeaway is that sometimes, and you know, sometimes it happens with big companies where you think, Hey, I'm gonna get this huge project, it's worth doing anything to get this. But you may lose something in the process of doing it. And you may never even get the final result and still lose. So sometimes the biggest, you know, the biggest potential projects out there, can sap you dry. And that's one of I guess, but less than I'm thinking about, as I listen to what you say,

Miguel Rodriguez 12:57
exactly, John, you know, I mean, in that whole development stage, we were able to complete than, say, three or four factories that were above 60,000 square feet. And of course, we were bringing in new type of robotic machinery that, you know, at that, at that point in the infancy, 3d printers were just coming out, and the savings of what involved, let's say, in manufacturing, and it's happening today as we speak. So I found myself at the ground level, and also educating, let's say, the people on the island about this magnificent opportunity that they had. And of course, when we think about what's on the island, you're thinking about pharmaceuticals, you're thinking about, right now, Space X, and we could go on and on about Gorya and other big companies. And again, how are they involved in government contracting. So those opportunities that are out there, they continue to grow. But again, you come back and you step back, and you realize, if I had been better organized going into it, then I could have had not only one 6000 or 60,000 square feet warehouse, I could have reproduced eight or nine of these companies. I could have taken over the whole solar industry of one island if I was rendered ready and organized. But like I said, when you have multiple companies working together, they have their own interests at the table because they have a responsibility to their shareholders and things of that nature. So um, I guess we can use the word cutthroat here, can't we? Oh, yeah.

Andrew Stotz 14:53
Yeah, it sounds like it's so based, based on what you learned from this story and what you continue to learn in your life, what one action that you'd recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate.

Miguel Rodriguez 15:07
I would, I would highly recommend that, again, with the most important thing in the business world today is intellectual property. And matter of fact, if you look at the world today, that is the big argument where foreign countries have stepped in and literally taken over on a lot of intellectual property. So I would say if my biggest recommendation to the listeners is really protect your own intellectual property, when stepping into any business transaction, and I say any Another words, before you give a pitch, have it straight up front, that this is how I operate, these are going to be my deliverables, and this is how I'm going to be paid. And again, because either way, whether the project has failed, or one, the reality is you have put the time, the effort and like you say, you're looking at $100 million project, and you're saying to yourself, I will do whatever it takes to get this project going. And I will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week until it goes. But holistically, all those wheels need to be turning at the same time. So if one of those wheels stop, so you so my advice to your listeners, once again, is control of your total intellectual property, right from day one. And that is very important. Very clear.

Andrew Stotz 16:37
Very. Yep. Last question. What's your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Miguel Rodriguez 16:44
Ah, that's a good one. Well, as you know, I am the CO CEO, the United States presidential service center. Now I'm gonna have to watch myself because I'm under NDA here. So I can, I can tell you, as you know, we work projects globally, okay, we just don't only involve ourselves in the United States, but we also involve ourselves around. So what's good about the presidential service center, we actually have 38 professionals within the Presidential service center. So we all sign NDAs at the table, so it stays in house. So the next 12 years, we're thinking about creating a huge permanent shift throughout the world. And several fronts, one would be the investment in Africa, which absolutely is primed. But again, working out the, let's say, the negatives, or let's say the mores within that culture, because like I said, we're talking about a huge, huge country that is underdeveloped. And not only that is recognized to be, let's say behind the times, in addition to that, we're also looking at Latin America, because that is a big important resource that we have let go over the last four or five years. So I'm focused right now in Latin America, and also in Africa. And during that we have a big, basically our own army, and we're going to be doing is we're going to be developing jobs throughout different countries. And as we get into this food shortage, we're going to have to rely on other countries for certain commodities. So as we start to develop in the next 12 months, we are developing strong relationships with other companies around the world that are going to work together. In other words, for India, or Africa, that is, let's say, working on aquaponics. And developing, let's just say lettuce. And then import and exporting that and working it through the maze of, let's say, the government bureaucracy that stands for insane at times, whether it be America or whether it be Africa. So those are the two, let's say areas of concentration for the next 12 months. And if I was to tell your listeners, pay attention to Africa, because there really is a lot of opportunities, but understand, you're talking about 24 different banking systems that have their own programs. So we're also trying to help them develop the marketing strategy because you have to monetize this and monetize it to the point that how would you say you're able to deal not only with Africa, but let's say Germany, and so on like that. So we're trying to educate Africa and Latin America to work in a global world now. And I do believe we're successfully going to complete that between six months and 12 months with ease, because we have opened offices in each one of those countries to include Kenya, Nigeria, and so on. And then if we think about Latin America, we've also started to develop areas in Nicaragua, Honduras, which is the center, developing and Central, let's say, supply chain. So and then, of course, what's ideal about the United States as I'm speaking to you, I'm working on a major project that's going to holistically work its way in from Florida. Why Florida? Well, in Florida, we have two coasts here, we're able to work the shipping from the Atlantic side, and we're able to work the shipping from the Gulf side. So there is the supply chain that we're developing. And like I said, we have no choice due to the fact that if we look at what has occurred over the last few years, including COVID, when people say I can hardly wait till it becomes normal. I say, folks, open your eyes. This is the new normal. Okay, so that's what I would tell your listeners that my goal is, is to establish a strong supply chain throughout the global world itself, using Africa and Latin America as the spearheads as we move forward with this.

Andrew Stotz 21:32
Well, listeners, there you have it another story of loss to keep you winning. If you haven't yet joined the become a better investor community, just go to my worst investment ever.com right now to clean your discount. As we conclude, Miguel, I want to thank you again for joining our mission and on behalf of A. Stotz Academy, I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Miguel Rodriguez 21:59
My parting words to the audience is that do not be discouraged and failure, because in failure we always learn. So take that failure to know and just continue to blaze a trail and keep moving forward. Always, always keep moving forward. And I wish your listeners the best of luck.

Andrew Stotz 22:20
Great stuff. And that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our wealth fellow risk takers. Let's celebrate that today. We added one more person to our mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. 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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