Randall Kaplan is a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and business advisor. He is the Founder and CEO of the venture capital firm, JUMP Investors, as well as the travel company Sandee, which is on a mission to create the world’s first beach brand. Randall has also co-founded several other companies, including Thrive Properties, Akamai Technologies, and River City Restoration.
In addition to his entrepreneurial ventures, Randall is a public speaker and guest lecturer, has served as an advisor for over 50 companies, and has mentored more than 100 students through JUMP’s internship program. He is the host of the podcast, In Search Of Excellence, and the author of the best-selling coffee table book, Bliss: Beaches.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Randall Kaplan’s non-linear career path and the strategy that helped him land his dream job: writing letters
- The key lessons Randall learned from writing over 300 letters to the country’s top CEOs
- Randall shares an example of how to achieve the position you want — even if the company isn’t hiring
- The value of making a great first impression and taking action quickly
- One of Randall’s biggest professional mistakes and what he learned from the experience
- Randall talks about his book, Bliss, and how he earned the nickname, “Mr. Beach”
- The vision behind Randall’s podcast, In Search of Excellence
- Randall’s philanthropic efforts and the impact they’ve made
- How Randall’s wife has influenced his career
In this episode…
Are you looking for a tried-and-true strategy that will help you achieve your biggest professional goals? Do you want to meet the people in your industry that can catapult your career to new heights? If you’re nodding your head, it might be time to take advantage of Randall Kaplan’s “300 letters” approach.
After Randall graduated from college, he struggled to find a job that both paid his rent and aligned with his passions. After leaving two different positions, he decided to try a new strategy for landing his dream job: writing over 300 letters to the country’s top CEOs. By making each letter unique enough to catch the attention of these business leaders, he was able to schedule as many as 80 meetings — and achieve his goal of working for one of the greatest leaders of the time. Now, Randall is here to share the key to his success and offer his tips for standing out from the crowd.
Randall Kaplan, the Founder and CEO of JUMP Investors and Sandee, joins Dan Kuschell on this episode of Growth to Freedom to discuss his unique strategy for achieving your professional goals. Randall shares the lessons he learned from writing 300 letters to the country’s leading CEOs, the visions behind his recent business ventures, and why it pays to make a great impression. Stay tuned.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Growth to Freedom with Dan Kuschell
- Randall Kaplan
- Randall Kaplan on LinkedIn
- JUMP Investors
- Bliss: Beaches by Randall Kaplan
- In Search of Excellence podcast
- Sam Zell on In Search of Excellence
- Sharon Stone on In Search of Excellence
- Brad Keywell on In Search of Excellence
- Kliff Kingsbury on In Search of Excellence
- The Justice Ball
- Imagine Ball
- Schedule Your Breakthrough Strategy Call
- Free Mini Business Growth Toolkit
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Dan Kuschell 0:10
Welcome to growthtofreedom.com, the show that brings you inspiration, transformation, and leadership, we’re helping you connect the dots, see the blind spots, and get unstuck. So you can go out create more leads more sales, more profitability. More importantly, so you can go out and have a bigger impact and a bigger reach and make a bigger difference. Is that what you want? If that’s what you want, you are going to love today’s guest expert. Now, before I tell you about today’s guest expert, you know, the question I have for you like, what would it take for you? What would it mean for you, if you could apply one simple strategy that might just might that you could model from our guest expert today to get you in front of some of the highest value people in the world, maybe even billionaires, maybe even directors of the biggest companies household names that you know, would you want to know about that? Well, that’s just one of dozens of things we’re going to talk about with today’s expert. Now before we roll, our show today is sponsored by Breakthrough3x. You know, if you’re struggling to get clients on a daily basis, maybe you find yourself stuck in the business versus on it stuck in the day to day of still trying to create all the revenue and create all the sales, there is a solution, we’ve set up an opportunity for you to get a full business review. It’s like a diagnosis for your marketing and sales system. When you have a better sales and marketing system. You can create Predictable Revenue daily, it’s geared this business review is geared to pinpoint the gaps, the hidden blind spots, the roadblocks and a whole lot more to help you identify. Where are you? Where do you want to go? How are you going to get there, and we’ll give you a game plan that will bring you clarity, confidence and direction. So you can get more clients daily and get out of the day to day if you’re looking for something like that. It’s real simple. Go to breakthroughstrategycall.com, that’s breakthroughstrategycall.com, and set up your 100% free consultation business review. That’s your diagnosis to better business. Anyway, today’s guest expert, let me just share a little bit about him. He’s a serial entrepreneur. He’s also a philanthropist. He’s the co founder of a company called Akamai Technologies, is an active venture investor, you’re gonna learn more about that he’s the managing partner of JUMP Investors. He’s the soon to be best-selling author of a book called Bliss, an amazing podcast called In Search of Excellence, we’re going to talk about all of these things and he can help you understand how to be able to go out and grow your business with a lot less stress. His name is Randall Kaplan, Randy, welcome to the show. How are you?
Randall Kaplan 2:45
I am great to have you. I’m doing phenomenally well, today couldn’t be better.
Dan Kuschell 2:51
Awesome. Well, I want to dive right into it. I’ve done a lot of research and listen to a bunch of interviews, right? A lot of stuff that you that’s out there about you. You have this story about something called 300 letters that I found fascinating. Now we’re both from Detroit, right? You grew up on the right side of Detroit, I was on the wrong side. Okay. So you know, we got that connection going as well. And for me why that story connects with me so much. Number one is the idea of generating business and unique out of the box ways to do it. But for me when I was in high school, I had a situation where I was to a degree, I won’t go into the whole backstory, but I was forced to have to market myself. And I was a 16 year old kid, basically being told, if you want to go play college ball, you’re going to have to do it yourself. And so I took this approach that like when I heard your story about 300 letters and what you did, I was like, Oh my gosh, he’s just done it at a bigger level. Yeah, I got offers from places like Clemson and Central Michigan and all these other fascinating places before my injuries. But you went to and you’re going to share the story, I hope but could you tell us about the 300 letter concept and why you did it and like what we can learn from him? Sure. Well,
Randall Kaplan 4:02
I think we should just take a step back for a minute and start thinking about what’s our end goal when we’re trying to approach somebody and get a meeting and how we go about doing that. And as an entrepreneur, I think it’s very important to try to do things a little differently than just send a note. Hi, I’m Randy, or Hi, I’m Dan, I love to meet with you please meet with me. And I think there’s different ways and times in your life on how to approach this one is reactively. So I was 23 years old. When I graduated law school I moved to LA I had a great job. I lost my job five and a half weeks after I moved here it was a bad legal climate, firms were firing people, I was laid off. I hadn’t even passed the bar exam yet, which was coming. I took the exam in the summer the results were coming A month later, I got called into the office of my law firm. Say, Hey, see you later, actually got a email from the librarian of the firm, the main office in Chicago, please turn in your library books today before you leave. That’s how I, that’s how I found out I was being let go. And that was a tough day. And what I did at that point is I have $3,000 in the bank. My rent was 1200 a month, and I thought, Boy, I need to find a job quickly. And no one was hiring. So I contacted Northwestern law school, and they sent me a list of all of the alumni in Los Angeles. And that so what I did there is I took a list, I don’t know there were 500 or so people. And I wrote letters and I contacted all those people tried to contact all those people very small handful responded. One in particular did a guy named Sandra Schwartz who worked at Columbia TriStar Pictures, not only did he respond, by the way, he took a lot of interest in care and me you really find out who your friends are when, when you know, you’re down. And I didn’t have any friends. When I moved to Los Angeles, I had a friend moving here from college, but but that required me to write a lot of letters. And I had written a lot of letters in law school as well to get a summer job or even a first year job because law firms, they’ll come recruit you between your second year, third year, but I wrote a lot of letters, looking for that job in law school, then I wrote a lot of letters looking for a job to pay my rent. And I was very fortunate to be able to get a job. And I was getting a job and a career I didn’t really want. But it was a means to an end. For me. I was a lawyer, I didn’t like law school, I never want to be a lawyer. I was always interested in business. But I liked the graduate degree, I thought that’d be helpful. So after losing my first job, and then moving to or driving to Orange County from Los Angeles, three hours a day there and back, working 80 hours a week or more. I thought I really don’t want to do this drive anymore. And I went to the managing partner of the law firm where I was working the downtown office and said I want to move and he said, No, we need you to move. And I said I’m not doing that I was not happy. And I was now looking for my third job my first year. Once I had graduated, I done very well in school. So I thought all right, you work hard things are going to go well for you and things were not going well for me. So getting looking for your third job, your first year is definitely not recommended, not the way to go. And he said you got to move down here to Costa Rica, Costa Mesa, or you got to leave. So I was now looking for my third job, I found a great job with a Chicago based firm. And I end up working there for 18 months, 20 months, approximately. But I started looking for my way out. From that point. I didn’t want to be a lawyer. My career wasn’t going well. So you start thinking, okay. What did I go to school for? What did I want to do? What was my education for? And what was my plan, you have a plan, you map it out, things don’t go according to plan. So what was I going to do? was I going to quit and say, all right, this is not going well in Los Angeles. I want to go home to Detroit, love Detroit, but wasn’t moving back there. I said, Well, I’m going to make it work. But I’m going to make a change. I was unhappy, I want to go into business. I thought I would work the law firm toss 30 go to work for a client and eventually start my own business. But I said all right, this isn’t working. So what do I want to do? I can go back to school, retool, get a business degree, a Master’s, I went to Northwestern. So I thought the only degree that was really going to help me was Harvard or Stanford, the opportunity from a resume building perspective, I would have to wait, I would have to go for two years give up the income, the opportunity cost was high. And that was really the straight path. Could I or could I find a job the kind of job that I wanted without going back to business school. And what I ultimately thought about was I want to be the right hand person to a CEO where they were my direct Boss, I would learn from them. And that was what I sought out to do. And of course, everybody would want a job. It’s a it’s a hard job to get. And guess what? I’ve never seen a Help Wanted ad for that job either. So I thought, all right, well, let’s let’s think about I have a goal, how am I going to try to solve it, solve for that goal. So I said, I’m going to write letters. And my letter is going to be different than every other letter that they have ever received. I thought about what are they get, and I also thought, if you write someone looking for a job, to a CEO of a big company, that’s going to human resources, one or two is going directly in the trash. There’s a forum for people like this. Thank you for writing, Mr. brode. Have a nice day or Good luck to you something like that. So I thought, let’s ask people for informational job interviews, where people will share their stories and how they did X, Y and Z. It didn’t say, I’m Randy Kaplan, I’m looking for a job. But I thought, all right, I need to do something else. So I wrote detailed letters, what was the detail, the detail was going on LexisNexis. There was no Google, then in searching for every article ever written on these people. So I did a search I printed out every piece written on them, where we’re looking at five inches of printed out material, which I’d go through, I’d highlight each of those. I had a two bedroom apartment, which was really a letter writing factory. The second bedroom, I printed everything out. I highlighted them and I incorporated every job they had had into that letter. were some of the CEOs, one of them the CEO of Maryon. His first job was selling ice cream at Disneyland when he was 16 years old. So when I wrote him a letter, I included that job as the first shot, it took me 42 phone calls, calling his office every time, the same week to get a meeting with him. Steve Baldwin, Bach. And I call the same time every day, once a week, the same time every week. And finally, he called me back. But the letter was different. It had the research, it had, which incorporated the job they had had it was spiraled down with the cellophane cover it had my transcript I did very well, at Michigan, I did very well at Northwestern, there was a article about something that I did in Michigan, I hosted part of Michigan daily life TV show. And there was a nice piece of the Michigan daily but we were wandering down there was only one episode, but there’s still a nice article, it shows something well rounded about me. And so I incorporated that in the letter was different. I got at meetings at a 300 letters. And every single CEO I met with said, I i’ve never take call letter is I just had to see who wrote the letter. So there’s a lot of lessons there. The first one is, when I told people I was going to do this and every single person told me, no one is ever going to meet with you, the CEO of Disney, you think he’s gonna meet with you? No chance in the world. None Marriot, every studio, I mean, people laughed at me. And lesson number one is trust your gut. Lesson number two, don’t tell people that you can’t do something. Three. Anything is possible, do your homework, do things nobody else has done before. And be different. My letter was very different. The key to a lot of the meetings was my very persistent and consistent follow up with these people. I didn’t just say okay, great. People will write a letter, they don’t hear only one or two messages, they’ll give up. These were I would follow up regularly, I would send follow up letters I would call their office. And it was very fruitful. I met I met a lot of people. And many of these people I met through that letter writing campaign. And that’s what I call it are now my friends and business colleagues that I have done a lot of business with throughout the years. Ultimately, Eli Brode, who sadly passed away a few months ago became my boss, I was the assistant to the chairman at Sun America. for almost three years, it was a phenomenal job. And if you had said to me, you’re going to be 27 years old, be the right hand person to one of only three people at that time who started two fortune 500 companies after losing two jobs looking for your first job, or your third job, your first year of school I think most people have said the probability was very close to zero or negative zero.Anything is possible. Do your homework, do things nobody else has done before, and be different. - Randall Kaplan Click To Tweet
Dan Kuschell 14:28
I mean, there’s so many layers of this, Randy that I mean, we could dive deep and literally spend hours and hours on on each thing. I’m curious because you have what five kids if I’m not mistaken, right.
Randall Kaplan 14:39
I have five kids. Yeah, yeah. So amazing. Kids. I live for my kids. I love my kids.
Dan Kuschell 14:45
So as you look back on this, there’s a couple things I want to ask. So one, this one main focus that you did in your 20s What would you estimate that it’s been worth to you? I’m curious, like, I mean, there’s layers of that right? Not just financial. Right? That’s that’s the surface one.
Randall Kaplan 15:03
But what you mean, what was the the experience of the letter writing campaign or the meetings? And I had?
Dan Kuschell 15:09
Yeah, and how all? I mean, if you’ve got many of these that are still friends today, like, yeah, like there’s layers of value all these tangential points, you know, there’s the strategic, you know, I got, I got this three year stint with the CEO of sun America, where I was basically mentored, because it’s obvious to me that you’re a researcher, and you you model things really well. And then that led up, if I’m not mistaken, then translated into aka my getting started in some of the relationships there, right. And then now even into what you do today, and it’s still going, it seems some of this is still an ongoing thing. So speak to that a little bit. I’m just just so as you’re watching or listening right now, like, you know, there’s this idea that you’ll one thing, right, can lead to many things. There’s the direct thing that happens, but then there’s all these strategic byproducts that’s been out of it. And like, what if this idea this concept, whatever business you’re in, whatever world you’re in, you can take some of what Randy shared with you, that could be a lifetime. Business Growth, personal growth model for you to really lean into one activity may be this catalyst, to 50% 30% of direct value and another 60% of indirect value. So sorry, can you speak to that a little bit, I’m just fascinated how you would look at that.
Randall Kaplan 16:34
I mean, there’s so many tangents and buckets that we could talk about right now. But the first one that I want to share with your viewers and listeners is people are always hiring. People are always hiring in good times and bad times. If you’re a phenomenal person, professional, and you show somebody something about you, that is different and unique. I don’t care if the company just laid off 20,000 people, you could be the one piece, one person that somebody says they really need. Here’s an example. We have a large summer intern program. I’ve had it now for going on 18 years, it’s grown into its own thing. We got over 1000 applications. Now each year, we have around 36 interns every summer, it’s a teaching internship, we just had the JUMP barbecue last night, people came over to my house, it was super fun. We’ve catered food, and just to the football round. We had an intern years ago named Pam Salahi, who did a great job for me here, he wanted to work at one of my portfolio companies, I was the chairman of the company, I’m very careful about not using influence, where I can make a difference or help or hire someone myself at a portfolio company. If it’s my own company, fine. I’m gonna make that determination myself. But it’s up to the CEO of our portfolio companies. So I talked to the CEO, cos Moulton. I said, Hey, we have this great kid, phenomenal, great work ethic, smart wants to work for you. He said, you know, we just don’t have a need for someone like as a general as we want to tech people say, well, it’s really valuable to have someone like him because he does all of these things. So I went back to pi him and I said, Sorry, no go. So he knew that we were looking for a CTO Chief Technology Officer. And what he did is he went on himself and found CTOs and other relevant companies. And he prepared a 42 page PowerPoint presentation. That list it was basically candidates that we should reach out to with their photos and then the resume side by side and then he ranked the people that who he thought we should have reached out to first. You can’t teach that. Okay. You just can’t teach that. That’s the first thing he did. And he didn’t stop there. He then we were in the process. We had built a rudimentary website, and it wasn’t very good. And he heard me on a phone call with Klaus, our CEO and founder said, Hey, we really need to make the website better. In one weekend, he taught himself how to code. And when he sent this PowerPoint, he also sent a link I heard you talking about redesigning this website and he gave us a link to a brand new website that he had built. You can teach that so people are Always looking for great people I can go on and on and on about people we’ve hired and things that I have done in order to get in the door. Sun America wasn’t hiring for the assistance of the chairman position. It was actually open. No one really knew about it. But I had done research when I went in there for that job interview. I was the most prepared person that he had ever met in his life, who walked into a meeting with him looking for a job. It was informational interview, but it was really, let’s call what it was, I was looking for a job. My goal was to get out there and impress the person I was meeting with and blow them out of their chair. And I did he I mean, I studied for this. Like it was a final exam. I studied for weeks and weeks and weeks. I read the 10k as a public company 10k 10 Q. I went in there I memorize 20 questions. Before I went in I softball so what were you like when you were a child? Did you ever do this? Or do you like working here never asked those questions. Those are ridiculous. I went through the financial statements in the footnotes. And I asked questions about things that when I read them the first time I didn’t even know what they were talking about. depreciation, write offs, pooling of interest, all kinds of of things that affected the financial statements in a detailed way related to mergers or things that they were working on. It’s different. And I memorize these questions when he told me about the job, the Assistant to the chairman. If I knew about the job, I said, Yes, this is the first person who had it, this is the second person is the third, fourth and Chef, this is what they’re all doing with their lives. And you could just see him craning his neck as I was doing this over and over and over again. When the pen started moving on his note card. The pen moving was a good sign and the pen kept moving. It kept going and and I’ll share the details with you. I mean, we could talk about this for one hour, the short of it was we we had a 90 minute meeting I not working for him for three years. I never had a one on one 90 minute meeting again in my life. But at the end of the meeting, he said, um, I want you to take a class at UCLA financial accounting, and my assistant will, if you get me a catalog, she’ll get back to you. So I left his office, it was really hot, 90 degree day, got in my car, drove to UCLA. didn’t know where I was going. Double park somewhere, ran around campus to get a catalog, got back to my car, got a ticket, went back to my apartment, wrote the thank you note delivered the thank you note with the catalog back at SanAmerica and less than an hour. Do it now, impressions matter? Yeah, that was huge. It says something about who I was and who I am to that I follow that same model, do it now. respond quickly. We have a one hour rule here. You need to respond to all calls within one hour, or emails within one hour. Do it Do it now, impressions matter. I didn’t wait a day I didn’t wait to get the catalog. I didn’t mail it. I went there. I got it and I sent it back and these kinds of things. The intangibles are often more important than the tangibles. intangibles are more important than the tangibles.
People are always hiring, in good times and in bad times — if you're a phenomenal person, professional, and you show somebody something about you that is different and unique. - Randall Kaplan Click To Tweet
Dan Kuschell 23:56
I mean, there’s so many lessons here, Randy, like you’re making yourself invaluable. Right? And, you know, the the traits of being like a trail dog, right that you describe the the idea that there’s a big difference between resources, and resourcefulness. Right? And all of these examples that you’ve just shared. And then you know, the these paradigms of do it now. Do it quickly, and respond quickly. As you’re watching. Or as you’re listening right now. Like, what if you just took a couple of these ideas, this 300 letter approach, but again, it’s not about just 300 letters. It’s the backstory of 300 letters and the research and being resourceful and being a trail dog and making yourself stand out being different being unique compared to anybody else being willing to do the little things right. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary, is doing a bit extra, extra way most people won’t do it. So I’m curious, Randy, as you you know, as you look now in the last I mean, you work With some very you’ve worked with high profile companies, high profile CEOs, JUMP Investors, Akamai, you’ve been on this run like, you know, I’ve heard some people almost describe you as like, he’s got the golden Midas touch or some version. Right? And that,
Randall Kaplan 25:17
you know, you’re only as good as your last deal. And in the venture capital business, you fail 70 to 80% of the time, think about that 70 to 80% of your deals, go to zero. And you certainly don’t feel like you have the golden touch when that happens. And and we fall flat on our face, many, many times it doesn’t feel good. But you learn something every single time that that you do it. So I don’t I don’t. I don’t think I have the golden touch. I think we’re very hard do a lot of research. And some deals work out pretty good. But I say
Dan Kuschell 26:04
yes. So speaking of this, because I want to put context to this, you know, is, is you’re listening right now, or you’re you’re watching? Well, of course Randy’s had success, just listen to him. And, you know, he’s got a different way of thinking. So Randy, you know, as you brought up the failure rate 70 80% guessing to a time in the last, you know, handful of years, you know, to maybe a big mistake or a big failure or miss judgment, right. Yeah. And maybe it’s your biggest mistake or biggest failure misjudgment in the last few years. What was it? Like, you know, just so people can, you know, like, not just hear about the 78. But like, what is a, you know, one of your you would consider one of your biggest mistakes or failures in the last few years? Yeah, what was that? And then, what did you do? And how did you learn from it that ideally, our viewers and listeners could learn from too?
Randall Kaplan 26:55
Sure. I’ll describe the situation generically. But we invested in a company in 2014. That was a consumer product company, they sold generic medicine, you keep in a criticised pouch in your, in your wallet, generic aspirin, Tylenol, Toms, pepto, those kinds of things. And it’s a convenience product that was 20 micron, particle size with dissolved sublingually, three to five times, three to four times faster than a pill. The CEO we back was very eager to have me as a lead and it’s some part a partner. I became the lead investor, a board member, the chairman, we we rounded out the investor group with many people. I know we had CEOs, a very large company, I think there were seven or eight billionaires in the company, fortune 500 people, we had a tremendous Board of leaders in the CPG business. And once we raise a large amount of capital, somebody in that business who sold a $2.2 billion company as the CEO and chairman of that company became a chairman of this company. And ultimately, the CEO became somebody who became difficult to work with. And had raised money with a lot of projections that simply didn’t bear fruit. And we had close board seat there. Well, we I was on the board, we had five people on the board all very sophisticated, very bright people with a large amount of their own capital in that business. And company after raising a large round of capital $20 million round the capital Miss projections badly. It caused a lot of people to be angry, we ultimately lost 99% of our capital in that deal. And you look into a deal like that, what what went wrong there. Somebody sued the CEO of that company, for fraud didn’t sue the board. I mean, there was nothing to sue we, we had a lot of our own money in that deal. And we put our own money into that last round. So we saw the projections, we share those projections with people. Of course, we we tested the projections, we had the sales guy come in and run the projection by him. But what went wrong there. So what went wrong is you know you when your gut tells you something about someone, you should really listen to it. And CEO hat was an impressive guy could sell you an ocean front From property in Utah, but but at the end of the day, you know, there were a couple of warning signs, his treatment of people, the way he looked at things the way he blamed people for problems that that were his and he didn’t take responsibility for, there are a couple of things looking back that I thought, I really should have listened more to my God, we should have really delved into these things. There was nothing black and white that he had done, there was nothing. But But there were a few things looking back that gave me that gave me a little pause, gave the board pause, frankly, but no one’s perfect either. So so you start to say we all have flaws, I have flaws that people we work with flaws. See, no one’s perfect. But in looking back, there are a couple of things in that deal in that company with respect to the individual and the founder, where things didn’t look right. And he was sued for fraud. There was nothing fraudulent, that he did black and white, we would have known we were there, we looked at all the companies, but people will sue for whatever they want to sue for the fraud statute, in Colorado was very low, and the company had insurance. So so that was the nature of the claim. And ultimately, they sued him personally. And I know there is some kind of a settlement there. And of course, not surprisingly, that CEO and founder blamed his board for the failure of the company. And and, and, you know, it’s interesting there, it’s it’s we funded a lot of people who have lost money for us in prior deals. A fact you’re losing money for us, or we’ve lost money 100% of our money.That’s okay, that happens. That’s the nature of the business. You want to see how someone acts when things don’t go? Well? Yeah, when things go, Well, everyone loves a winner. But in in many cases, the CEOs that we funded, that didn’t work, went down with the ship. Right, they did every last thing, they didn’t take a salary, they did all these things. And they never blame someone else. and in this situation, not surprisingly, this individual blame the investors, none of whom would ever talk to this person. Again, or be part of a company that he ran again. So it’s, you learn a lot by funding different people. You asked me as or, you know, a mistake in the past that you can think about that you were would have done differently. You put that on the list of things, okay. There were questions about this person’s personality that came up. As the funding rounds came up, he was very focused on himself and a salary and I was negotiating with the board with a salary, you want a more stock, I think it was just thing after thing after thing and little things here and there. Okay, that one, that one, that one, but after you’re working there three or four years, or working with him three or four years, it becomes too much. And so, looking back, what I’ve done things differently, I think what I would have done differently, is I would have maybe paused a bit and said, Alright, I’m seeing things that give me a little pause. Let’s explore this a little bit more. Let’s not let the freight train keep going. Let’s stop for a second and take a timeout and say all right, I have a little bit of pause on this. Let’s let’s look into this. Let’s talk to the other board members, which we did By the way, but the investors and and have more of a sit down that keep going full, full speed ahead. There was so much momentum and again it’s it’s just hard to stop you look at all these companies today. Wework I mean, wework has the best investors most experienced Board of one of the most in the country and they let their CEO buy buy $65 million dollar Gulfstream 650 jet by I mean how does this happen? Right? Things happen. I mean, they do the CEO has a lot of influence and power and you bet on the on on a person and you really have to ride that person going forward. It’s sometimes it’s impossible to get rid of that person. He or she has control that you can’t or to in the case of this company, there’s no one else there to run it if they leave
Dan Kuschell 35:00
As you’re listening or watching right now, right? I don’t know if you’re asking this but like, wow, how can I get more? Randy have you know who you are what you stand for all these sorts of things, because there’s just so much wisdom here in so many different layers, as well. I know you’ve got a book that’s come out, right that Yeah, you’ve been writing called Bliss. If people want to learn, first of all, you know, as you’re listening or watching, you get a glimpse, you get a glance at it, you know, who Randy is what he stands for, you know, you can see why he’s had the results and track record that he has. And, you know, hopefully you’re taking out of this, you know, some of what you know, I’ve got about four and a half pages of notes here. relationships, relationship, capital, resourcefulness, standing out being different doing what you say you’re going to do. Right? be okay with checking in now. And then with your gut, right, go with your gut. Also, and if things don’t go well, because everybody can be great. Anybody can be a sunny day kind of person when things are great. But how do you act? How do the people that you might surround yourself act in adversity? can learn usually more about someone’s true character and about five minutes of adversity than you can when everything’s Sunny, right? 1000 times? Yes. So Randy, talk about how people can connect with you. And yeah,
Randall Kaplan 36:27
sure. Well, first, I’ll talk about my book, Bliss, which is a collection of drone beach photographs from around the world. I’ll tell you how I got into drone photography. But this is available on Amazon and 10,000 bookstores around the world. All right, I got
Dan Kuschell 36:53
to stop you there because of all the all the beach scenes there. You’re called Mr. Beach. How did you get like this credibility called Mr. Beach?
Randall Kaplan 37:01
Sure. Well, the company I’ve been working on for the last seven years is called Sandee. And I’m a beach lover. The fun thing about this company is most people love to go to the beach, I think our data shows 99.5 or 6% of people in the world Love, love to go to the beach, and there’s no beach resource. That is a comprehensive list and database of every beach. So we started Sandee seven years ago, with a premise that we want to create the most information the best, most complete and thorough beach resource in the world. And we’ve done that by cataloguing. We’ve done that by cataloging 94 categories information for every beach in the world, more than 70,000 beaches in 212 countries, we spent 110,000 hours on this so far. And essentially we’re creating a Yelp for beaches. For the billion people a year who go to the beach, the the beach tourism market is a is a small niche. It’s only a $5 trillion a year business. And there, it’s only and and we’re creating a resource for people to use. We allow people to sort and filter through the category so they can find the perfect beach for them. Our trademark is choose your beach, that’s one revenue model. The other revenue model is government tours, boards, and beach locations don’t know information about their beaches. I’ve met with 14 tourist ministers around the world, and countries where beach tourism is the most important or one of the most importance of GDP in those regions. And the first question that I ask is, how many beaches do you have? And their responses 100% verbatim the same every time I have no idea. So our model is going to be to license our data to the government tourist boards, more data leads to more tourists leads to more revenue. And so over the last seven years, I become the world’s foremost beach expert. I know more about beaches than than anybody else in the world. And that’s how I became known as Mr. Beach.
Dan Kuschell 39:23
Mr. Beach and I’d encourage you as you’re listening or watching right now if you love the beach, go get the book, Bliss, number one. And then Randy, how can people connect with you to learn learn more about all the fascinating things you’re involved in?
Randall Kaplan 39:37
Sure. Well, first Our company is called Sandee.com, sandee.com, and go there. Check it out. Let us know what you think. upload your photos. We want a lot of user engagement there. And we definitely want to get the word out on on Sandee.com. I have a podcast coming out as you may called InSearch of Excellence, it comes out Aug six, it’s about our desire to be the best we can be and reach our highest potential to overcome the challenges we all face, to do the impossible to accomplish the impossible and how to get there. And we’re going to go through stories of guests who have had incredible success in a variety of different fields, and hear their stories and how they got there. And it’s, it’s going to be great. We’re launching with Sam Zell, Tim Draper, Sharon Stone, Brad Keywell. We have a whole host of other great people, quitting Kliff, Kingsbury, the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Philadelphia 70, sixers, and lots of other good people who will, we’ll be letting you know about more in the next week or two I had. So that’ll be a great source to learn more about my views on the world and how I think about things and how my guests also have had very different paths on how to get to whatever they’re doing in life as well.
Dan Kuschell 41:12
So I want to encourage you to go to sandee.com that Sandee.com check out Randy’s podcast at In Search of Excellence that’s In Search of Excellence, go get the book. You know, Randy, as we’re winding this down, I mean, I wish I literally I’m sure you hear this all the time, I wish I had more time to go through. So there’s so many tangents and layers that I’d love to dive into what something I should have asked you that we didn’t get a chance to cover.
Randall Kaplan 41:43
What’s the thing you’re most proud of, in your career? What’s the most proud of in your career? I think the philanthropy I’ve done is the most impactful. I love trying to make a difference in people’s lives. And when I do through my work and my team’s work and my colleagues work that’s meaningful to me at age 27, I started an event called the Justice ball for a nonprofit called bet thetic legal service. It was a nonprofit law firm that helps 12,000 people in Los Angeles for your poor, so the elderly and the homeless, get free legal aid. And a prevailing thought was at the time 27 year olds don’t start charity events. They certainly didn’t back then there was no social media to get everyone together. No group means nothing like that. And everyone told me, that couldn’t be done. But we did it. I picked 27 or 28 people to be on my Planning Committee, including a gentleman named Doug emhoff, who’s the second gentleman was on the planning committee, and then he became a co chair as we progress with the event events now. And you’re 27 I ran it for the first 10 years. But it’s really made an impact on the amount of money they’ve raised for this nonprofit law firm. And it’s made a big impact to on getting people involved with the organization for them to use their sweat equity and volunteer strength to bring in more people and more money as well kind of the tree keeps giving as the tree gets bigger. So that that’s been a source of great pride for me. And then I started an event called the imagine ball with my friend john Terzian a few years ago that benefits the homeless, keeping families together one family at a time. That’s been a source of tremendous fun for me. watching these families get out of homelessness, making a difference. Their kids being the first one of their families to go to college, not living on the streets not becoming a drug addict or in jail, but actually getting out getting a college degree and changing their path of them and their families forever. I endowed a scholarship to the University of Michigan. It’s a full ride for someone interested in business. And then I got out of foster care, on scholarship and name of my grandmother who was raised in foster care. And that’s just been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. The student that received that her name is cherish Thomas. She was homeless living in her car in East Lansing, Michigan when she was 17 years old. She applied for the scholarship. God got the call was amazing. She was cheerful. Nothing could ever happen to her. She just about hung up on me. didn’t believe it was true. And here we are today. She’s a homeowner, a mother, a social worker, public speaker. a motivational speaker and a member of our family. And she comes to every single function our kids, our babies, our friends. And it’s super fun. And and let me say something about that too. Don’t tell anyone Don’t let people tell you, you can’t do something. Even in the philanthropy world, I came to University of Michigan, I said, I want to do this as a surprise for my grandmother. Foster Care. I said, it’s not possible. Why isn’t it possible? Because foster kids don’t self identify when they apply to Michigan, or colleges and too, they can’t afford the $100 fee to apply? Set. All right, well, you’re going to waive the fee. And second of all, let me let me figure out how to fix that first problem. I had to think about it. And the fix wasn’t that complicated. I went on Google and I searched foster care agencies in the state of Michigan. And there were two so I called the head up. I told them what they want to do. They were ecstatic. I said, we give me the list. I said, No, they can’t do the privacy letters. I said, All right, here’s the scholarship I’m doing, you send them out. So it’s not a 4000 ladders. and cherish applied, as she got in. And again, there was a there’s a solution to almost every problem. This was a simple one. And 4000 ladders lead to one but an amazing change forever and cherishes life and her family’s life, their kids life and everyone is going to fall in her family. But it also is a model for different people to figure out ways to whatever you want to do, there’s always a way to be creative, think differently and make it happen.There's always a way. Be creative, think differently, and make it happen. - Randall Kaplan Click To Tweet
Dan Kuschell 46:53
That’s amazing. He’s Randy Kaplan. I encourage you go check out what he’s doing all the links to everything that we’ve covered today you can come back to this episode of growthtofreedom.com/333, that’s growthtofreedom.com/333 go check out Sandee.com, check out his podcast In Search of Excellence if you want to check out some of the philanthropy work that he’s a part of lookup, Justice ball, imagine ball and a whole lot more. Again, all of the notes will be in the episode of growthtofreedom.com/333. One last thing Randy just made me think of related to some of the things you’re proud of we’ve we’ve talked a little about your five kids. You’re You’re you’ve been married for a minute, you’ve got five kids, your what your wife’s name is Madison. Yeah, I say is Madison. It’s not easy. Being an entrepreneur, it’s probably not easy being a creative type. Right? So as you’re listening or watching, you might be saying how do so how does someone like Randy, go out and navigate all this stuff personal because there’s this old false limiting belief that says I’ve got to give up everything to go get what I want. And as I’ve looked into Randy’s world, it seems and and not as, you know, the front stages, and always as the backs stage, seem sometimes, but I’d love to get your viewpoint on it. Randy, you know, because right now we’re at a time in a place in the world where burnout, mental health, all types of these things are a really, really important topic. Now coming off the backside of COVID-19. And we might be heading into some other variations of this, that carry forward. Maybe some experts are predicting even with some permanence to it with creates a lot of uncertainty, a lot of burnout, a lot of mental distress. Yeah. As you think about your career in, you know, your wife, like if you are going to turn to your wife, Madison today. And you’re gonna say, Thank you, honey. What would you think Madison for for how she shown up for you to allow you to be your best self as this creative entrepreneur?
Randall Kaplan 49:06
You know, I have the most amazing wife in the world. She’s very supportive of everything I do. She’s supportive of. She’s my second wife, I’m remarried. We’ve been married. We’ve been together now for nearly 10 years. She’s supportive of really whatever I need to do. on the business side. She knows I put my family first no matter what I always have, and I always will. She encourages me I said in my book, thank you for supporting me. No matter how crazy the ideas and there are many of them. And she’s just a phenomenal mom. She takes cares of our of I have five kids. We have two kids together. She’s an amazing mom. She’s there. She’s, she’s not the type of mom that has a nanny or a caretaker, take care of the kids. She’s nurturing and very giving, she’s very unselfish. And what I would say to her is just thank you for being first and foremost, my best friend, my most loyal friend, kind of person that I can go to and for the honest feedback, and I always want to be a better person, she makes me a better person. And I want to thank her and I have, and I’ve said this to her, but I’ll say it publicly now, for being an amazing mom to our kids. She couldn’t possibly be a better mom. And from a support perspective, she knows how hard I work, she sees it. And I’ll come home from dinner, I never miss a dinner with my kids, no matter what ever. And I’ll come home from work, we’ll eat dinner as a family, help put the kids to bed, read them their books, and then we’ll spend some time together when she goes to bed, I’m back down in my office, and I managed to fit in what I want to fit in. I mean, at this point in my life, I’m still working very, very long hours. I’m excited. by Sandee, we’re raising some money right now, really, for the first time, and things are moving. So I’m lucky to have a partner who supports me, and allows me to do what I what I want to do. And like me, has the same family values with respect to my kids, our kids. know our five kids, I mean, I’m just very, very blessed.
Dan Kuschell 51:47
He’s Randy Kaplan, and you get a glimpse at the personal side and the values and the character and the structure and hope that you take something away from that in addition to all the incredible business wisdom that Randy has shared today, I encourage you to go check out what he’s got going on at Sandee.com, at Sandee.com. Go check out his podcast In Search of Excellence. You want to learn more about the philanthropy word go to Justice Ball, Imagine Ball, look that up. Again, all the links to everything we talked about will be in the show notes, you can come back to this episode of growthtofreedom.com/333. That’s growthtofreedom.com/333. Randy, it’s been a pleasure. It’s been an honor to have you with us today, man. And I look forward to you know, this impacting a lot of lot of our listeners and viewers. Thank you.
Randall Kaplan 52:35
Thank you, Dan, I’m honored to have been here and look forward to talk to you again very soon. Thank you.
Dan Kuschell 52:43
And I encourage you take action with what Randy has shared with you today. Right? He shared multiple insights and ways to be thinking creatively think outside the box, go with your gut, he’s used he shared strategies of how to deal with some adversity, how to even assess adversity, how to even go with your gut on, you know, pause, checking in, he’s talked about some bat family values. Family First how you do that, you know, even though he’s in the midst of, you know, Silicon Valley, working with billion dollar companies and, and building a great life at the same time, so I encourage you to take action with what he shared. Again, come back to this episode of growthtofreedom.com/333. That’s growthtofreedom.com/333. Seize the day. Make it a great week. We’ll see you next time on growthtofreedom.com. Thanks for listening to this episode of growthtofreedom.com. Are you struggling to get a steady flow of new clients every day? Or maybe hit a plateau or hit a wall and growing your business? Well, let’s help you solve this problem today. Let’s review your business and have a conversation. Do that for free today at breakthroughstrategycall.com, that’s breakthroughstrategycall.com. In addition, if you’re looking for a simple way to implement some of what we’ve been talking about in today’s episode, I want to encourage you to get our free small business toolkit. You get that at activate.breakthrough3x.com, and activate.breakthrough3x.com if you’d like access to the special resources and all the show notes for this special episode. Make sure to visit growthtofreedom.com.