Ep598: Randall Crowder – Don’t Settle for the Easy Way
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BIO: Randall Crowder is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and venture capitalist who is currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Phunware, a publicly-traded technology company on NASDAQ.
STORY: Randall spent too much time being a venture capitalist when all he ever wanted was to be an entrepreneur.
LEARNING: Sometimes, the easy way is absolutely the wrong way. Don’t just take what’s right before you, especially when you know it’s not what you want to do. Nothing good comes easy; you must fight or work for the good things in your life.
“Know who you are and what you want to do, and don’t settle for the easy way when you know the right way.”
Randall Crowder is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and venture capitalist who is currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Phunware, a publicly-traded technology company on NASDAQ.
Worst investment ever
Randall had been an angel investor for over five years and felt it was time to hang those boots. He partnered with a few people and ventured into a healthcare tech venture fund. The idea was to invest in healthcare companies. The fund performed well, but Randall still considers this his worst investment ever, not because he lost any money, but because he wasn’t being true to himself.
He had always wanted to be an entrepreneur so starting a venture fund didn’t fulfill this desire. However, he kept finding a reason to justify staying at the fund. From not having an idea he’s passionate about to maybe he’d learn the venture capital side of things to be a better entrepreneur. All these excuses convinced him to continue running the fund. Randall felt miserable doing a job that was never what he set to do, and he knew it.
- Have the discipline to think about what you’re most passionate about and go for it no matter how hard it is to get it.
- Sometimes, the easy way is absolutely the wrong way.
- Don’t just take what’s right before you, especially when you know it’s not what you want to do.
- Know who you are and what you want to do.
- Don’t settle for the easy way when you know the right way.
- Be careful whom you choose to start a business with.
- Starting a business is a long-term venture. So when picking your business partners, choose people you want to work with long-term.
- Andrew believes three things make one company successful over another:
- The right leader
- The right direction
- Coordination of the efforts of the management team
- Nothing good comes easy; you must fight or work for the good things in your life.
School is not your resource; your resourcefulness is your resource. You can be resourceful even if you don’t have money, status, or connected parents. You just have to be willing to put yourself out there and try to create fire.
No.1 goal for the next 12 months
Randall’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to do his best to be the best father and husband he can be.
“Everybody’s got their own journey, and sometimes it might rub you the wrong way. But always be kind and look for ways to help other people; I guarantee you, it’ll be more rewarding and your best investment.”
Andrew Stotz 00:01
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 risk reduction lessons I've learned from more than 500 guests go to my worst investment ever.com To clean your spot. Well, fellow risk takers, this is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz from A. Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guests. Randall Crowder Randall, are you ready to join the mission?
Randall Crowder 00:56
I think so. I'm excited. I appreciate you having me. Yeah,
Andrew Stotz 00:59
I am excited to get you on. And already our talk before we turned on the recorder, it's got me thinking we're gonna have some fun. Let me introduce you. Let me introduce you to the audience. Randall Crowder is an entrepreneurial entrepreneur, angel investor, and venture capitalist who is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Phunware, which is a publicly traded technology company, on the NASDAQ. Take a minute Randall and tell us a bit about the unique value that you bring to this wonderful world.
Randall Crowder 01:33
Oh, man, I tell you what, it's probably at this point, it's gonna be experienced, you know, I used to have hair back in the day, believe it or not. And I think you probably made more than one or two worst investments, both in terms of time, you know, probably a little bit of faith along the way. And certainly, we'll talk about, you know, some actual company investments. But you know, that that experience builds, you know, scar tissue and muscle, right. And I think that's the value, you begin to bring over time as the sum total of all your failures. And you know, you really learn so much more from a failure than a success or bad leadership. And there's anecdotes galore, but they happen to be true. And I think for me, I've made a career collecting, you know, jobs I'm utterly not qualified for. But that doesn't mean that you can't Excel. And I always tell people, you know, don't let a resume or a past failure, or experience or even situations or even lack of resources, define the job you want, or the career you want to set out on. You can do pretty much anything in this world. And I'm I'm, you know, sitting proof of somebody who kind of came from a weird background, and was able to accomplish different things in different areas that, you know, on paper probably would have made no sense. So I just keep leading with value and being humble, and trying to help where I can. And I think that's all you can ask people.
Andrew Stotz 02:56
You know, it made me think we had a brief discussion before we turned on the recorder. And I was thinking about a book called awareness. And it was written by I believe, a Catholic priest. And that book was really interesting. It was recommended me to me by a friend. And one of the lines he said in it is he was trying to basically say, like, we're all human, we're all messed up. And he said, we should we should meet each agreed each other with Nice to meet you. I'm an ass urine ass. And I just felt like, you know, this podcast, as I said, is about authenticity, where we talk about, you know, the hard stuff, and you know, what we learned from it and all that. But when you look at the, I guess, the older that you get, the more you realize, like every buddy and everything is messed up in some way or another. And when you're young, you don't see it that way. You see the people above you, or you see the people in positions of power and think, wow, and they're wearing a fancy suit, now you realize why they're marrying the fancy suit, right? To cover up all of the other things that are going on behind, but I'm just curious, your thoughts about that, particularly for a young person that is looking at people and saying, I can't do it, look at these guys. They're so amazing, you know?
Randall Crowder 04:10
Yeah, a few times different of the same coin, you know, you have on the one side, the older generation, and we talked about this before we started, you know, this propensity to put on errors and you know, you don't want maybe one you don't want to think about all the failures, that's totally understandable. You know, some of them are scary, and some of them are painful. But more often than not, I think it's a function of ego. I think people you know, they want to they want to feel bigger than they are they want to kind of toot their own horn and they don't want to focus on the failures because you know, hey, I'm I don't fail. And I think you know, things like what you're doing and things like what I think real leaders do is they show that vulnerable side, you know, they help others, learn from their mistakes or just help themselves learn from their mistakes. I mean, either way, it's kind of selfish. You're either trying to help others. This makes you feel great or you're trying To help yourself, which hopefully helps you do better. And then there's the younger generation needs to understand, you know, your heroes are all flawed. I mean, you know, not to be morbid, but you know, you look at, like, you know, the suicide of Robin Williams, I mean, you think God, here's this guy who brings so much joy to everyone's lives, and he's so funny, and He's so charismatic and a weight, he's got mental health issues, and he took his own life, like, you know, you're rich, you're successful, like, what's the deal. And so, you know, if that doesn't teach us that, you know, there's more to the story, there always is, you know, you can't hold these people up, you know, as gods in your own life, you know, that we're all flawed, and we're all asses at times, and maybe big asses at time. And so I think the younger generation really needs to see through the veil, and appreciate that everyone want everyone's going through their own challenges. So to be kind and to be, you know, watchful of that, you know, especially when people, you know, maybe are almost looking for some help themselves. But then also the older generation, you know, looking back and making sure they don't distance themselves from the next generation by being, you know, not really that authentic.
Andrew Stotz 06:09
Yeah, that's a great point about Robin Williams. And I often use that as an example to try to say, you know, he had everything. And yet, something was wrong. And I guess one of the lessons that I take from that, and what you've said, is that now is the time to get your emotional house in order, it is not going to get easier, it's not going to get better. Get it together now. And Randall, today's a special day, we're recording this for me on the 15th of September. And that's 2022. And it was 40 years ago, today, that I found myself on my knees, in a bathroom, in a hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And it was that day that I surrendered and began a life of sobriety and a 12 step process. And so today I celebrate 40 years of sobriety, which is, you know, so easy. But
Randall Crowder 07:13
congratulations, that that. I mean, wow. You know, that is, you know, you're talking about worth investment, but talking about your best investment, the investment in yourself and your future and kind of just that ability to see that through and stick with it. I mean, wow, I couldn't be more happy to hear that. And congratulations.
Andrew Stotz 07:34
Thank you. And I think, you know, the reason why I mentioned is because being in treatment, I was in various rehabs and in 12 Step Program, and basically a lot of great people around me forced me to turn around and look at the monster house, and said, You are going to go down if you do not start facing what you're running away from. And as a result of that, you know, it bought me a whole new level of, of awareness. And what I learned from that, is that, once you've dealt with all of the issues in your past, and in there, in that case, what people said to me is that if you don't address all of the issues from your past, you're going to end up right back where you are. And that was, that was hard as hell. I mean, I was in three different treatment centers over about nine months. But when I finished the final one, I was 17, just graduating from high school, and my life just, you know, as rocketed since and so I just want to go back to what we originally, you know, started mentioning is that we're all messed up. And the sooner that you become aware of that in yourself and others, and the sooner that you deal with it, the better life you're gonna have. So that's just my little inspiration for the day.
Randall Crowder 08:56
I love it. I mean, it's so powerful. And it's so true. I mean, one in terms of people, you know, stepping into your life, and I'm sure there was a time where you didn't want to hear it. And I think that I think people need to be cognizant of that in their own journey. You know, we're all trying to be type A take over the world, you know, type of people and, you know, you got to stop along the way and you'll find more, I find more joy, especially as I get older in helping people like, you know, I don't I love getting people jobs, I don't really ask for jobs, like, you know, when I can help somebody make a connection or do something, you know, it's so rewarding and so exciting. And so, you know, I love that you have people in your life that, you know, were willing to say, hey, you know, I'm gonna take time out of my journey to really help a friend or help someone I know. And, you know, at some point that resonated with you. And I think that's just beautiful to hear.
Andrew Stotz 09:45
Yeah, I, I Well, and the lesson is also, you know, reach out and help and I think part of what you're doing by getting on the show is just that. Before we get into the question, can you just tell us a little bit about what you're doing with Phunware just so that we can understand that business and you know, what's the exciting stuff that you're, you know, you've got on your plate?
Randall Crowder 10:05
Yeah, so we went public back in 2018. But you know, we've been around since 2009. So we basically got our start building large mobile applications. So we built the first NFL app, the first NASCAR app, all of Fox's mobile application, and we didn't have a presidential election in 2020. With the Sochi Olympics, you name it, we've probably built large mobile ecosystems for pretty much any industry. And so it's all about like really turning your phone into a mobile concierge. So now, rather than just kind of like apps that are all about content consumption, it's all that engagement, which is why I love doing podcasts and really engaging stories, because that's what I think drives people. I think the old version of advertising was all about building awareness. I think that we live in an on demand economy with limited attention span. So awareness didn't get it done anymore. It's all about contextual engagement, like how do I get your attention and influence you and hopefully, get you to listen to me, when you're most likely willing to listen to me. So we build mobile ecosystems to do just that. So we just launched it Atlanta down in the Bahamas, you know, we do smart workplaces, you know, we do a lot of health care. So we tech enable the continuum of care. And so it's really exciting. It's kind of the frontier of where mobile is headed. You know, we got our start before mobile is a thing. Now we're kind of transitioning into this new idea of digital transformation. And it's really cool to kind of be on the cutting edge of how do we like infuse technology into our real world experiences, and kind of make some of that stuff you see in Hollywood a reality, you know, so the minority reports and back to the future of the world where technology is seamlessly in the real world, we're trying to make that happen.
Andrew Stotz 11:41
And for the investor that find you a stock in your company and decides, you know, I like this story, they buy your stock, what is the story that you tell about what exposure for the future that an investor will get by buying your company?
Randall Crowder 11:58
Yeah, you know, it's funny, and you know, that market, you know, you know that you've probably been tracking it, you know, the markets had a pretty rough go of it this week. We were top gainer on NASDAQ yesterday. And today. So we've been, you know, a lot, a lot of people will follow our stock ticker symbol, CH U N, I think we've gained almost 50% in the last, you know, four or five days. And I think it what I tell people is one, we have great volume and liquidity in the stock. But more importantly, what we're doing is foundational, if you think about Amazon, you know, we had 10 years to invest in Amazon below $100. So you had 10 years. And on four separate occasions, the stock crate cratered by like 60%. And on one occasion, that crater by 90%, from 100, to like six bucks. And for 10 years, nobody paid attention. And it's like none of us will be working today, if we had just paid attention. And what Bezos knew was that there was going to be an on demand economy. And he built the infrastructure to deliver it. And by the time people realize what he was doing, he built an unbeatable competitive advantage. And so we're doing the same thing with experiences. So we're kind of like AWS for engagement. So we're a cloud layer that will allow any brand, any company to have almost an interoperability layer. So we're not coming in saying we're one mobile application to replace them all. We're actually one mobile application to rule them all. So we play well with all other platforms. When we did that last workplace solution for a company called Norfolk Southern one of the largest railway operators in the world, we've done 27 different integrations for them. And so that's 27, different companies, code bases, functions, it's all infused into our platform. And then to the customer. It's one seamless mobile application. So it feels like one product. But it's not just like AWS gives you that cloud infrastructure. That's what investors need to be paying attention to these kind of foundational platform plays that really can help other businesses succeed better, and get more utilization of the things they've already invested in. And that's what we're doing.
Andrew Stotz 13:56
Great. And for the listeners out there, you can go to Phunware, pH UNW, A R e.com, to learn more and think about if that's a vision that you want to be invested in. It's exciting. Absolutely. Well, exciting. Now, it's time to share your worst investment ever. And since no one goes into their worst investment, thinking it will be in tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to them. Tell us your story.
Randall Crowder 14:22
Yeah, so I've wrestled with this a little bit. I've been investing for a long time. And I've got a lot of different companies. And I certainly don't want to make any of my entrepreneurs who I've invested in feel bad. And you know, so I thought I'd go a different direction because there's a lesson learned here. I actually helped start Phunware back in 2009. But as an angel investor helped me organize in the first kind of one and a half million dollar seed round to get the company started. But then I did a career of angel investing in venture capital for about a decade before I circled back around to Phunware. And I put about $3 million in the last private round before we went public. And it was in that investment that I decided have actually come on, I feel oh, and I've been doing this for the last five years. But I knew it would take a special company for me to give up the VC hat. And this ended up being it because I enjoyed being a VC. But it was also my worst investment. And I'll kind of explain what I mean by that. So, out of angel investing, I ended up you know, doing some healthcare deals on kind of a club deal basis. And we thought, well, you know, what, let's, let's start something, let's start something to actually hang a shingle, it was called Tech co ventures, and the idea was, let's go out and invest in health care companies. And, you know, I'm not a doctor. So, you know, we were focused mostly on tech enabled healthcare, health, it things I could understand, how do you take technology and make inherently inefficient systems more efficient, right. So as I think back now, you know, with the blessing of, you know, 12 1314 years, I started thinking about, you know, that was probably my worst investment, just starting that venture fund. And the reason being is I wasn't being true to myself, I got out of the army. So I went to West Point for undergrad 911 was my senior year. So I went straight to war, after graduating, I spent most of my career, the military, you know, overseas. And when I got out, I felt like you, okay, you know, the daarmee will teach you one of two things, either you love bureaucracy, and left and right limits, and you love having a boss, or you absolutely hate it, I was the ladder. And so I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, because I wanted to be my own boss. And that was never something that was very important to me. And so as I was thinking about, you know, this idea of like starting my own venture fund, it was really not being true to myself. And that's why I couch it is kind of my worst investment. And then, you know, and this is important for especially the younger generation, but just about anybody that inertia is a scary, scary thing. It's great when things are going, you know, when you're on the right track. But if you're not on the right track, it can really take you very far off your chosen path, you know, ask a surfer or you know, ask somebody who kind of you're always trying to position themselves well, and something, how quickly, you know, the momentum can take you so far away from where you thought you would be. And then you know, fast forward a couple years, you got 2.3 Kids, you got a dog, you need health insurance. And you know, you can't go back and do it again, and take those risks that you wanted to take or do that job, or go to Europe and start your own gelato shop, I don't know, whatever it is, it sets your soul on fire. I remember thinking like, I want to be an entrepreneur. And then I started justifying a lot of things to myself, I was like, Well, I don't have an idea that I'm passionate about. And, you know, I know, maybe I'll learn the venture capital side of things to be a better entrepreneur. And, you know, I started justifying why I was going away from where I wanted to be, and all of a sudden, got a little bit of success here and there. And you know, we're able to raise some money and raise more money and get more deals and do more things. And there were a couple of problems with that one, you know, foundationally, to me, it wasn't what I wanted to do. But I found myself doing it. And the fact that I was okay, at it justified the continuing decision to keep doing it. Or that's not what I wanted to do, though, you know, and it's like, it's like that person who's stuck in a cubicle somewhere. And all they really want to do is dance, it's like, Go dance match. And that's what's gonna make you happy, go do it. And so, you know, I start kind of, you know, the success, you know, builds upon itself, and I find myself doing things I didn't really enjoy. But then there's also something and I've seen this with entrepreneurs a lot. Understanding who you start stuff with, you know, most businesses, l probably most investments at this point lasts longer than most marriages. And so you need to be very, you know, kind of cognizant, such as me, because I was investing seed early stage. That's why I say it lasts longer than most marriages, I wasn't investing in public equities, I was investing in company creation, and textile was a company we created. So not only was it my, my own company, it was my own investment in my own company. And then you start thinking about, okay, who are the people around the table? And I wish to own I didn't know, and I kind of still felt like, oh, wow, I should be so appreciative of these opportunities. And you know, the people that I ended up starting it with one was 20 years older than me, one was 30 years older than me. And we didn't do a great job of coming together and saying, who's gonna do what? Who's going to add what value? You know, what, how are we going to cut up the baby? What are we going to do? And that kind of ambiguity, creates animosity, a lot of times, where, you know, one person feels like they're doing more work or one person feels like they're taking more risk, or one person feels like they're contributing more in one way. And it's the age old, you know, who delivers more value to the family mom or dad, or, you know, in this day and age, it could be either, you know, somebody works, somebody stays at home, and raises the kids who's adding more value Tell you what's a trick question. It can't be compared. They're both valuable. And so I found myself in that situation where we have an age gap, we have a capabilities gap. Some people are working more than others, maybe some people have more capital to invest in others. And so there's this weird dynamic of who's providing more value all depends on what you think is most valuable. So not only am I doing a job, that was never what I set out wanting to do, and I knew it. But I was also doing it with people who I probably didn't that in the proper ways, not that there's anything wrong with them. Not that there's anything wrong with me. But you know, when you come together, I used to teach it a chalk talk for about a year at Macomb was after I started, basically kind of an accelerator called Texas Venture Labs. And I'm raised to tell students like, you know, that idea of you just starting something with your two roommates and just cutting the company up a third, a third, a third, and you have three founders, and there's no jobs or responsibilities clearly articulated, that is destined to be a lawsuit. Like you need to define who's the CEO who's the CEO, who's investing what, who does what, and it doesn't have to be a third, a third, a third on a cap table, maybe it shouldn't be, and you need to really have those hard conversations early on. And we didn't. And so you know, it bred a lot of problems. And so I kind of always go back to not being true to yourself, and then not doing proper diligence, those two things, man, they'll bite you every time.
Andrew Stotz 21:30
So let's summarize for the listener, the lessons that you learned.
Randall Crowder 21:36
You know, so first and foremost, you know, everyone loves like, I love podcasts, I love you know, I listen to motivational videos, I read books, I am a student of the game. But the funny thing is, we human beings have this incredible internal compass. And it senses authenticity, both in others and ourselves, like dogs smell fear. And when you go against it, you almost always regret it. And there's only two pains in this world, right? There's the pain of discipline, and the pain of regret. And so having the discipline to really think about what it is you're most passionate about. And don't take the easy route, take the right route. And oftentimes the universe, God, whatever you want to believe in, it puts the best things in your life, on the other side of sheer terror, and you have to do it in order to reach it. And so you know, sometimes the easy way, is absolutely the wrong way. Don't just take what's right in front of you, if you know it's not true to what you want to do. So it took me 10 years to come back to what I was always built to do lead people be in a company, one team one fight, carry a flag, follow me lead by example. I mean, I did it in the military, I always knew I wanted to do it in the business sector. And it took me 10 years to find my way back to what was my authentic self. So you know, I think that's gonna be the biggest thing for me is just know who you are and what you want to do. And don't settle for the easy way, when you know what the right way is.
Andrew Stotz 23:13
Fantastic. Well, maybe I'll share a few things that I took away, I wrote down a bunch of stuff as you were talking. First thing I wrote down is VC angel investing is really sexy. And you can get newer, yeah, there's definitely an allure, you can get caught up in it. And that brings me to the next thing, which is starting a business starting any business is a trap, ladies and gentlemen, you are going to be trapped with those people, your money is going to be trapped, your time is going to be trapped. And the question is, you know, if you're going to be trapped with in a situation for five years, or whatever it takes or 10 years is that the person you want to be trapped in, in a little cell with trying to figure out how the hell we solve this. And I think that that goes back to the breaker door, picking your partners is what you're talking about. And I think for the listeners out there, the big message is that don't just jump into something and you know, try to find the right people to do things with and I wrote down a word as Michael Porter talks about in his books on competitive strategy something called fit. And what you realize is that as a financial analyst, I analyze 1000s of companies over my life but what I realized is that there's three things that I believe makes one company successful over another number one, the right leader. And number two, the right the right leader chooses the right direction. You can have the wrong the right leader but if they choose the wrong direction, you're dead. You went over the wrong Hill. Yeah. And
Randall Crowder 24:53
and the wrong leader will be humble enough to pivot if they need to, and I think the right the right or the wrong the right leader. or will pivot when they need to the wrong leader will die on that hill, they will be like, Well, I don't I'm too embarrassed to change direction because this is the path I committed to I told everybody, this is the right way. And I can't be wrong. So I'll just send everybody to their death. Yep. Yep.
Andrew Stotz 25:17
And then the third thing I would say, which is the true secret sauce of competitive advantage is coordination of the efforts of the management team. If the CEO has a right, right, CEO, right direction, but they can't coordinate, I used to think it was about getting the right people on that team. But I realized, like, there's a lot of good people. And average, people can actually do amazing things if they are coordinating concentration of fire, you know, concentration of, and so it's the right leader, the right direction, and the coordination of effort. And that's the word that I wrote down fit that I was thinking about, when you were talking about that. And the last thing I was thinking about was, you know, those things that our parents used to say, I don't know if parents still say it, but that my mom used to say, Nothing never comes easy. You know, and I wrote that down, because you were saying easy versus right. And, you know, I would just say, you know, nothing good. comes easy. If it did you know, we'd all have all of this great stuff. But the reality is, is that good things in our life we have to fight for we have to work for and so what did you say there's either the you discipline and regret or the threat and discipline? Yeah. So that those are the things I took away? Is there anything you would add to that?
Randall Crowder 26:43
You know, the only thing I used to be a small footnote on coordination, because I think you're so spot on and an element of coordination, it took me a very long time to learn in between us girls, I'm still trying to figure it out. So if anybody listening and figured this out, you know, please contact me and tell me how you did it. early mentors in my life have told me something that's always stuck with me, and I've been wrestling with it. It's not just coordination, but it's delegation. And what I mean by that is figuring out how to be comfortable in a situation where you know, you could get an A, at a task, and allowing somebody else to get a B. So that frees you up to go do something else, where you might be able to get an A plus, but that's exponentially more valuable to the whole. But knowing full well, you could have done that other job better than the person you delegated it to, or maybe just different and being okay with that, like that is so hard for leaders to wrap their brain around, understand. You gotta let people do what they do, you need to resource them, you need to support them. And you can't always come down on them if they do it differently, or even if they don't do it as good as you and understanding how to be okay with that is one of the great challenges I think leaders will always face.
Andrew Stotz 27:59
Yeah, it's a great, great lesson about delegation. I remember, I became an analyst when I was 28 years old. And then I build a career as an analyst. And then I became a head of research. And then I hired the best analysts I could find in the world. I had a team of like, five amazing analysts that came up with great research ideas. And we worked together really well, we had a lot of fun. But I would often ask myself, I'm a graduate of Long Beach State, you know, nothing special and study finance, you know, I'm reasonably bright. But you know, this guy graduated from Columbia, this guy graduated from Cornell, this guy was a Peace Corps volunteer was in Africa, speak French speaks this, that and all these guys are like, and, and I was always wondering what made me the leader of that team. And I my conclusion was delegation, that they just weren't that comfortable to delegate, and I was looking at how can I delegate everything. And it's not just the things that, you know, delegating the things that you're not good at is, you know, important. But I delegated in 2000, I delegated the thing that was my number one skill, which was excel at the time. All right, I decided, I'm gonna give it to this guy, this Thai guy. And more than 20 years ago, we've been working together now for almost 22 years, that guy and myself, and he's, you know, I would say, top one, one to 5% in the world in Excel, and he can solve any problem that I have. And and I kind of gave up on that. What was my core strength? And that forced me to find another core strength, which was communicating and all of that. So a lot of takeaway story. So based or based on what you've learned from this story, and what you continue to learn in your life, what what action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate when they see this situation?
Randall Crowder 29:46
You know, I'm gonna feel from what you said about Long Beach, because I have the same thing. I went to West Point when I deployed for you know, about six years and I kept thinking like, how am I going to compete with these folks that are graduating from Columbia do a billion dollar Our deal is on Wall Street. And for anybody who has a younger group, but even older folks who are thinking about their own position, or maybe even transitioning careers later on in life, you know, it's all smoke and mirrors, you know, the thing that you can do to level the playing field is network and relationships. I think the real value of your school is really the relationships you build. And you can send somebody to Columbia, who will bury themselves in curriculum and never kind of learn how to capture being social as a competitive advantage for their own brand. And you can send somebody to community college, who just is that, you know, that magnet that personality, and I'll take that person with, you know, maybe not the Ivy League degree, but who has just immense, you know, social skills and high EQ and authenticity and work ethic, I'll take that 10 times out of 10, you know, you're not going to impress me with numbers, you're not going to impress me with your resume, because in going back to Angel and VC investing, we want you to have a business plan, we want you to have a pitch deck, we're not going to look at any of it, we're not going to really base our decision on much of it. And so you know, it's the same thing with a resume, I want you to have gone to school, I want you to have committed to the process of going through it, you're not going to win me over by going to Harvard. And quite frankly, if you lead with that, the conversation is probably over for me. And so there is a humility, to real true leadership. But there's also, you know, this great leveling effect, where you think about, you know, your school is not your resource, you're resourceful, this is your resource. And you can be resourceful. Anywhere you are from any station in life, you don't have money, you don't have to have status, you don't have to have, you know, connected parents, you just have to have the willingness to put yourself out there and try to create fire. And so I think, you know, that, to me, is something that I could always have done better, I wish I would have done even better. Because the more optionality you have, the more exposure you have, the more experience you have, the better decision you're gonna make. And so it's like, you know, you, we all we learn this as children and parents of children, you don't like say, you know, hey, you will only do this, I mean, some parents do, but we won't go there. You know, I want to, I want my kid to experience everything, you know, dance, draw, saying, Do this, do that. And I want to expose them to as much as possible, so they find their own path. And we forget that as we become adults. And I think, you know, the more you can network, the more experiences you have, the more stories you can listen to the more points of contact you have, in whatever career you may be interested in. But maybe haven't decided on, the better decision making, you'll have in the long run.
Andrew Stotz 32:52
There's one four letter word that you just use that I want to just continue on with. And that is fire. And I always use the example when my when I teach students and young people I teach, I tell about how I went to university, and I was kind of lost, and you know, wasn't sure what I was doing. And there was a professor who taught economics one on one on one and you know, it was a pretty scary course, for all of us. There was 200 people in the room. Yeah, it was at Kent State at where I started my education. And, and I went into the room, and it was intimidating, because there was 200 people in the room. And we were all sitting there chatting and whatever, lots of noise. And then the professor walks in. And he says, you know, good, you know, good morning, everyone, there's 200 people in this room, by the end of this class, there'll be only 100 200 of you will be gone. And out of the 100 that remain, I will give 10 A's, let's get started. And I just thought, I just thought to myself, I am going to be in the remaining 100. And I am going to be one of the 10 that gets an A and it forced me to rethink the whole way that I took notes the way I studied the way I prepared. And I threw myself into that class. And I got an A and I basically a tribute to that man who I can't even remember his name. I attribute that He lit a fire. And so will you use the word fire? I've read more than I'd say my estimate is three to 5000 books in my life. And these books are just a part of that fire that just continues on So find your fire that may come at a great university, it may come at a community college and may come at an online, you know, whatever, but find your fire and pursue it. Now. Let me ask you what is a resource that you'd recommend for our listeners?
Randall Crowder 34:41
That's a great question. You know, for me, you said you said at one I mean, obviously reading is so important and not just reading, you know, for the sake of reading but like you know, really just for context, you know, hearing people's stories. I love that I love what you're doing both kind of authentic things that some books get, you know, a little bit, you know, kind of macro. And so you know that I don't think there's as much to learn there as the real kind of in the weeds books, and I'm sure you've probably recommended some throughout the time frame of this podcast. But I think I did this I got out of the army. You know, I've made a list of 100 people in town that I wanted to meet, and why I wanted to meet them, you know, what stories are wanted to hear what questions I wanted to ask. And you always hear that anecdote. If you could have dinner with three people historically, you know, that have died? Who would it be, Oh, I'd love that dinner with Jesus, you know, and it's like, well, that's anecdotal. And you know, you're never going to be able to do that you can do it with other people just in your city on the fly anywhere, you'd have to go anywhere. But I set out to try to reach 100 people, and sometimes it'd be, you know, three degrees of separation, sometimes it would be one, sometimes I would have no connection to them whatsoever. And maybe I'm gonna go stand in a lobby and wait for them to, you know, kind of walk by and try to stock them a little bit. But, you know, hint, hint, people actually kind of appreciate that they appreciate the hustle. Now, I understood out of that 100. And this is actually what happened. 15 never returned, you know, my email, never returned my calls, you know, didn't couldn't find them, and they just kind of fell by the wayside, you know, 20 kick the can down the curb. And, you know, maybe half of those I ended up finally reaching at some point, but a good 30 were transformational. And they remain resources today. And I think, you know, a lot of things we have in this world are commoditized, you know, there's a lot of skill sets that you can now delegate human interaction, and your ability to sell yourself is one of the last great competitive advantages. And I think, you know, and it kind of takes a little bit of practice, because it's real uncomfortable, you know, cold calling somebody, trying to sell them something is hard, trying to sell them yourself, is just, you know, probably the hardest thing on the fly like, Who is this again? Like, why do I? Why would I meet with you? And really kind of, you know, figuring out that human dynamic, is something that I'm so thankful I did, because it was not something that was, you know, natural to me, it was really scary. But I did it. And it for every time I did that, in my career, it's led to something that has been transformational in my journey, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Sometimes I've learned something sometimes not. But, you know, I would just putting yourself out there is so important. And self selecting out, because you don't think you can succeed is epidemic in, you know, at least at least in this country. But I would assume it's probably more of a human condition than anything. And I think so many people, they don't make that call. They don't make that email, they don't reach out, they don't set that meeting. And they just think Well, why would why would this person ever want to meet with me? You don't know until you try.
Andrew Stotz 37:59
So ladies and gentlemen, make that list. And you don't have to even make 100 Just make five right now and get started, you know, and set the goal and the intention. Setting goals. Last night, I was at an event for a chartered financial analyst in Thailand where I used to be president and I was with the past presidents and we were talking, but a young man came up to talk to me afterwards, he said, You remember I studied with you at university in 2008. And I say, oh, yeah, his nickname is John J. O T. And and I said, he said you remember you asked us to write down our top three goals. When we were in our final year at university? I said, Yeah, definitely. I haven't all right here in my library where I keep all of them. And he said, one of my goals was to get my CFA by the time I was 30. And here I am with you, having gotten my CFA charter and passed. And I was like, Yeah, you know, that's just so set your intention set your goal, I think the inspiration that you provide to us, all of us is to what is the 100 people outreach that you want to do in your life, ladies and gentlemen, now is the time to write it down and set it as your intention and follow it whatever that thing is, it could be 100 days of exercise at the park, reach out to 100 people, whatever that thing is, find it, write it down and set the intention. Last question, what is your number one goal for the next 12 months?
Randall Crowder 39:22
You know, for me, it's changed. Because and this is probably you know, maybe speaking to perspective. So I got married, and in July. We found that a week before, you know, I was we were to you know, go through the wedding that you know she was expecting. And so I have, you know, a baby girl on the way here in March. And you know, he asked me two months ago would have been you know, I want to see I want to have fun. Were at a $500 million market cap or, you know, I want to get to $50 million ARR by the end of 2023. And it would have been Very cold, very KPI driven business, you know, goals, because that's, that's my mindset. That's how I've always been. And now all I can think about is, you know, how do I be the best father and husband I can be. And, you know, I think it's important for people to understand your goals. They need to be in, you know, they need to be, yeah, we talked about awareness and the beginning of this, you know, money, you know, I love how I feel it, I love the, hey, I'm an actor. And now can we just talk and be authentic. You know, if you are an athlete, and you make money, you'll be a rich ass. And you know, money does isn't going to fix your personality problems is not going to fix your happiness, as we already saw with Robin Williams, and our conversation around that. I think goals are a scary thing. And people need to be very aware of them. You know, I'm, you know, I'm older than, you know, I care to admit, and, you know, I'm a little bit late to the whole adulting game, you know, I was all about work. And I was like, I'll have kids, you know, at some point, I probably would have been 80 and turned around with no kids going, what the hell happened, you know, because I was just chasing work. And it was just, you know, I, making time for your relationships, making time for your kids and making time for your significant other, those should be your goals. And I guarantee you, if you do that, well, you'll be better at business. You know, and I always say this to people. And I said this to my soldiers in the military. So just because you're busy, doesn't mean you're productive. And just because you're productive, doesn't mean you're effective. A lot of people confuse action with results. And you know, you can spend, you know, two hours, you know, some people there two hours is worth more than 10 from somebody else. And so you have time for working out, you have time for running, you have time for your family, you have time for your kids, and business is going to be there. It's not going anywhere. Now, sometimes you're gonna pull all nighters, and sometimes it's gonna be hard, and you still gotta have, you know, good goals for your career. But as I get older, I've realized that, you know, my goals are changing, to be a really good person to be present, you know, to make it home in time to have dinner with my wife, you know, I want to be able to, you know, help my kids learn about all these really cool activities that are going to define, you know, their growth, and I don't need to be on the cover for to do that.
Andrew Stotz 42:27
Great. Well, I love what you say activity, productivity and effectiveness, let's figure out how we become more effective. Alright, 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 MyWorstInvestmentEver.com right now, as we conclude, Randall, I want to thank you again for joining our mission. And on behalf of ACE Don's 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?
Randall Crowder 43:01
Now, thank you, you know, be kind to each other, be present. You know, always remember that everybody's got their own journey. And sometimes, you know, it might rub you the wrong way. But you can always be kind and be present and look for ways to help other people, I guarantee you, it'll be more rewarding and it'll be your best investment. And so keep an eye keep an eye out for those in need and ways in which you can add value.
Andrew Stotz 43:25
Beautiful, and that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. Let's celebrate that today. We added one more person Randall 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.
Connect with Randall Crowder
- How to Start Building Your Wealth Investing in the Stock Market
- My Worst Investment Ever
- 9 Valuation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- Transform Your Business with Dr.Deming’s 14 Points
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