22 May 2016

In this episode, Preston and Stig interview the billionaire owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Jesse Itzler. Jesse discusses his experience of living with one of the most extreme athletes in the entire world for 30 days. Additionally, Jesse talks about being successful in business and his sale of Marquis Jet to Warren Buffett.

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  • Why you shouldn’t focus on building your resume but rather building your life.
  • Why highly successful people are rewarded from making moves and ignoring embarrassment.
  • Why building a business around your passion is one of the most misunderstood concepts among entrepreneurs.
  • Why you are only using 40% of your capacity whether it’s physical training or in business.


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Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Intro  0:06  

Broadcasting from Bel Air, Maryland, this is The Investor’s Podcast. They’ll read the books and summarize the lessons. They’ll test the waters and tell you when it’s cold. They’ll give you actionable investing strategies. Your hosts, Preston Pysh and Stig Brodersen!

Preston Pysh  0:29  

Hey, how’s everybody doing out there? This is Preston Pysh. I’m your host for The Investor’s Podcast. And as usual, I’m accompanied by my co-host Stig Brodersen out in Denmark. 

I’ll tell you what, folks. Hold on to your hats because today’s episode is gonna be a blast. That’s all I can say because we have a guest on our show today that is gonna just be so much fun for you. You’re gonna be laughing. You’re gonna be taking notes. You’re gonna be doing all sorts of things. 

Today, we have an insanely successful guest on our show. His name is Mr. Jesse Itzler. Jesse is the owner of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team and he’s the founder of the Hundred Mile Group. He is  well-known for being the Founder of Marquis Jets, which is one of the largest private jet card companies in the world. Well, it still is because it was sold off to Berkshire Hathaway, which is the parent company of NetJets. Jesse probably got one of the coolest starts in business that I’ve ever read about. 

As you guys know, Stig and I read a lot of books here. So this is probably one of the coolest starts because Jesse started out as a rapper in the early 1990s. He had a single that made it into the Billboard 100. He even wrote songs for get this, Tone Lōc. I’m sorry, but that has to be one of the coolest backgrounds I think I have ever announced on the show there, Jesse. 

So recently, Jesse decided he just didn’t have enough excitement in his life and he need to shake some things up. So what does somebody do and they want to shake things up in their life but go out and hire a Navy SEAL to live with for 30 days? Not only live with you but train with you and just beat your physical body into oblivion. 

And so Jesse documented this experience in a book that Stig and I just recently finished reading. The name of the book is “Living with a SEAL.”

Stig, what are your initial thoughts about this book? And Jesse’s just sitting here smiling and laughing because he doesn’t know what to say with our intro here. But that book was crazy. It was so much fun. This book was like we’re used to reading about intrinsic values and discount cash flows and Stig, what’s your one word comment for it?

Stig Brodersen  2:39  


Jesse Itzler  2:43  

Much appreciated.

Preston Pysh  2:45  

Jesse, thank you so much for coming on the show and taking your just precious time to talk with us and to just teach your audience about business today. We’re gonna be talking business. We’re going to be talking your time with SEAL and all this stuff. So thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us.

Jesse Itzler  3:01  

It’s my pleasure and your theme song, your opening theme song, maybe me want to jump through a window. It got me so fired up like a business investor version of Rocky. 

Preston Pysh  3:11  

It is. That’s what we’re shooting for. Maybe we need to change a little bit of the motto and work some of that in there. But that’s exactly what we’re going for. You know, in our mission statement number one is we have fun. Number two is that we study billionaires and all the books they read. So that’s what we’re going for with the show.

Jesse Itzler  3:29  

When I first started out in business, a guy by the name of Bob Sillerman owns a company called SFX at the time, a public company. He said to my partner and I, when we first sold our company with him, our first kind of hit business. He said, “We got the three things that we do here. We have fun, we make money, and we have fun making money.”

Read More

Preston Pysh  3:50  

I love it. I don’t know how people can go about their day and do something that they’re not having fun and that they’re not passionate about which we have a question on that, which we’re going to wait to get to a little bit later. But I completely agree with you, Jesse. 

So the first thing that we want to do is we want to kind of open this up to you to tell people a little bit about yourself. Maybe something that we didn’t really kind of hit on in the highlights there in the intro. But ultimately, how did you, after you give that little intro, how did you decide to hire a Navy SEAL to live with you for 30 days is our first question for you?

Jesse Itzler  4:22  

Sure. Well, just a little bit about me. I had a very non-traditional route in business, very unorthodox. I was always into kind of building a life with building a resume. So I always kind of really followed my heart. As you mentioned, I started out music. I was in the music business as an artist, as a manager. I managed Run DMC and a lot of the old school rap guys for a while, and then I had a private jet card company. I ran 100 miles non-stop for charity. I was partnered Zico Coconut Water that we sold to Coca Cola. Most recently, I became an owner of the Atlanta Hawks with a great group of guys and friends. So I’m enjoying that. 

What happened with the Navy SEAL wasn’t planned like a lot of things in my life. This wasn’t planned at all. I was doing a race in San Diego. It was a 24-hour running race as a relay team of six friends. So like, Preston, you would run a mile. Stig would run a mile. I’d run a mile whatever team posts the most miles in 24 hours win the race. There was a guy at the starting line right where we set up that didn’t have a really… He was his own relay. Our supplies, we brought them all in. We had you know *inaudible. I just sold Marquis Jet. We overdid it. 

And this guy to my left had three items. He had a fold up chair, one bottle of water, and a box of crackers. 24 hours. And I looked at it I’m like there’s no way and after Mile 70, sure enough, he had faced that the toll of that… You know, took effect… because of his weight, he had broken all the small bones and both of his feet crushed him. And because he was only eating crackers, he had literally a kidney failure. So he sat down in his chairs, fold up chair at Mile 70. And I watched this guy with his wallet, you know, his feet were completely jacked up. The first thing that I said and that came to my mind was we need a medic. And what did he do? He basically taped his feet with duct tape or whatever. He got up out of his chair with his broken bones and ran another 30 miles to get to 100 miles. So I was like so blown away. I googled him. I learned that he had an amazing backstory. 

He was a navy SEAL with an unbelievable journey. I decided to cold call. I wanted to meet a guy like this, which is a theme in my life. When I meet someone interesting, I try to get in touch with them or meet them or bump into him in the street or whatever. I flew out to meet them, 15 minutes with no agenda, other than just kind of pick his brain. And about five minutes into our conversation, I realized that whatever got this guy to get up out of his chair, and run with broken bones and finish this race, whatever that drive was, if any of that rubbed off on me, business, in my personal life, training and my relationship with my family and my wife, all those buckets would be better. 

So I literally just reached across the table. I said, you know, would you ever come live with me for a month? And he said, “If you’re crazy enough to ask me to do that, I’m crazy enough to come.” And three days later, he was at my breakfast table. 

Preston Pysh  7:42  

Wow. So here’s the thing, Jesse, I have a background in the military and I’ve worked around these guys. I know these guys. I was reading your book and I’m thinking this, even for that crowd that you’re talking about here, this SEAL, in particular, and even you know, you get into some of the other obscure special operations forces that are out there. I was reading some of the stories and I’m like, this guy is hardcore even for that community. This guy was a standout. And your story, I mean, that goes 70 miles in the beat. And I mean, literally see this. I mean, that’s crazy. 

Jesse Itzler  8:18  

Just two seconds on his background. He’s known as probably the toughest guy or one of the toughest guys on the planet. He broke the Guinness Book of World Records for most pull ups in a day. He did 4030 in 17 hours. He has set multiple records in endurance sports and races. He was 300 pounds but when I saw him he was 285. 

But you know, he had a really tough childhood. African-American guy in a predominantly white and not accepting town. So he was ridiculed as a kid. He lost his self esteem gained all this weight and joined the military because he just hated the reflection in the mirror and what he was becoming. he wanted to turn his life around. Then when he lost some friends, during some military stuff, he decided to raise money for the kids of the fallen soldiers and googled the 10 hardest things in the world to do. And literally transformed himself into probably the best endurance athlete on the planet and really mastered the art of mental toughness. That’s what I was looking for when I asked him to come live with me. I wanted to get in great shape. But I wanted to apply what I learned to work and to all the challenges that come at all of us every day.

Stig Brodersen  9:35  

And Jesse, speaking about endurance, the first time your wife Sara saw a SEAL was at the *inaudible race. It’s a race you considered to participate in, but something your wife also called the dumbest thing she ever heard of. So, could you please tell us about the race and about the participants, and more importantly, give us a brief introduction to a SEAL’s personality and mental strength.

Jesse Itzler  9:59  

It’s a great question. So Badwater is a race through Death Valley in the heat of the summer in July. So the temperatures can get up to 135 plus. I think it starts at the lowest at like ground level and then both the lowest point and goes to one of the highest points of Mount Whitney, 13,000 feet of elevation. And it’s 135 miles through the desert back. It’s so hot, that many people, the soles of their sneakers melt. So they bring multiple pairs of sneakers. 

So in any event, the field is limited to 100 sickos that run this race. It’s considered the toughest foot race on the planet. That’s what it’s coined and I was debating running it because I felt like to be a runner, which I consider myself at the multiple marathons. I wanted to do the toughest race so I could say that I did it or at least attempted it. 

So my wife, having explained this to her said, “I’m not letting you do that until I go out and see the race.” So during our summer vacation, we flew out to Vegas and throw two hours to Death Valley to watch the race. There’s no one out there. There’s no spectators. I mean, it’s not a straight line 135 miles through the desert. So we parked like 30 miles into the race. And one by one, these guys are are passing us. There’s three different start times and you would think that they would be exceptionally looking athletes. But the reality is, they’re just incredibly mentally strong humans that have the will to do this race. So it was almost like it balanced out… other than the elite runners, the difference between those that could survive the elements and finishing those that *inaudible was simply those that had the will and were most mentally tough. 

So we’re out there cheering people and as these runners are approaching us, they’re thrilled to see another human on the sidelines. They’re high fiving and celebrating with us. And then all of a sudden, this robot.. shirtless comes over the hill in like a full gallop. And my wife goes crazy and she’s cheering them and of the hundred runners, he was the only one that didn’t look up, didn’t react, nor even acknowledge us. He ust went right by. And my wife was like, “Who in the world? What was that?” That is what moved into our apartment.

Preston Pysh  12:27  

Hey, just a little context for the people listening. So, Stig was referring to SEAL. And that’s how Jesse refers to him in the book instead of his first and last name. That was at the request of SEAL that his name wasn’t disclosed. So that’s why we’re referring to him as SEAL as we’re talking about him. I also want to throw out there… So Stig was talking about Sara, who’s Jesse’s wife. 

So just a little context on Sarah. So Sara is a billionaire who is the founder of Spanx. And for any guy out there or any girl out there knows who Sara Blakely is because of the Spanx brand. And any guy out there you have Sara to thank for what she’s done. So I just want to throw that out there. 

But when we go into the next part here, the next question that I have, Jesse, and it really, you’re hitting on this theme of mental toughness, and it really being the mind that’s really kind of setting people apart. I liked your comment about when you’re out there, and you’re looking at these people, they don’t necessarily fit the typical look of what you would think a runner looks like. It’s really a test of just mental strength. 

So I think one of the key variables for people, and this is kind of my experience from going to a service academy, and just kind of going through maybe a milder form of what you’re describing, because I’m telling you folks, if you read this book, the things that Jessie went through for 30 days was absolutely bananas. Absolutely nuts. It far trumps my time at West Point or any experience I had there, as far as the the mental toughness that he endured for these 30 days. It was crazy. 

But the thing that I noticed from my four years in college and the theme that I saw in your book, is that SEAL would always look internally for any mistakes or failures and never blame anything on his environment or the people that were surrounding him. I found that to be a very profound building block for people to become successful in life is to have that mental mindset to always look internal, as opposed to external when trying to discover why something went wrong. So that was one of my key takeaways. 

But I’m really curious from your vantage point, Jesse. You went through all this craziness, you went through this experience, what would you say would be one to three of the main points that you took away from these 30 days with SEAL?

Jesse Itzler  14:47  

He had me go down and wanted to see how many pull ups I could do just to gauge where I was at physically. And I’m not super strong. I got up on the pull up bar, I did maybe eight and then I wait 30 seconds and try it again. Like got that up on the bar and I did maybe six. And he said, “Wait 30 seconds and do it last time.” And my arms were completely like jacked up and I maybe eat out like two or three and I was done. I’m sorry, we’re not leaving the gym until you do 100 more. And I said to myself, “Like, that’s impossible, and like maybe in SEAL land you can do with 100. I can’t do that.”

And one by one, I did them. What I realized was that so many of our limitations are self-imposed. You know, and not just I said, like, “God, if I’m underindexing by 100 pull ups, like, where else am I underindexing in my life?” I really like digging but God, I could probably do so much more at work. I could probably do so many more of the goals that I have. Maybe I’m not reaching high enough. 

So it was just like this whole concept of I have so much more in my reserve tank to that point. You know, he had a rule, we call it the 40% rule, which I mentioned in the book, which is basically, when your brain says you’re done, you’re really just 40% done. At the first time, that we are experiencing any kind of discomfort or pain, our brain sends a signal to stop, because our brain doesn’t want us to get hurt. So that’s the way we’re wired. But when we ignore that tap on our shoulder that says, “Stop, because it’s getting a little bit uncomfortable. God, this feels a little getting a little challenging, I’m going to stop or Wwow, I don’t want to get into this business. This is too much of a learning curve. Stop.” We ignore that tap on the shoulder and realize that God, there is probably 60% more in us. That’s when all the great stuff happens. So that was another really, really powerful message. It’s something that I tap into as much as I can on a daily basis. 

You know, if I do I’ll use physical examples, but I could use this in any kind of investment, anything for me as an entrepreneur, I’ve always gone into businesses that I’ve had no prior experience in. And for a lot of people, that would be a deterrent. For me, it was a deterrent at first to, you know, like, “God, I don’t want to get into this. I don’t know anything about this.” But it also became a great blessing because the guarantee that I would do things differently, the guarantee that I have to be more creative, that guarantee that I would have to get out of my comfort zone. And SEAL, as I refer to them took it full circle, because he constantly got me out of my comfort zone. And that’s such an important thing in business, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, just to live outside and it’s like a space that is just uncharted. It’s so important.

Stig Brodersen  17:43  

Well, Jesse, could you tell us more about this process because you’re saying that you are only using 40% and you have 60% more in the tank? What’s happening in your brain when you know it starts to hurt, and you just keep on going?

Jesse Itzler  17:57  

Well, I just refer to that as mental toughness, not motivation, not passion. I think that motivation can fade, passion can fade. But it’s mental toughness and mental toughness, grit, resilience, it’s like a muscle you have to constantly exercise that your brain, you have to create an environment of when things get hard, I’m going to continue to go, I’m not going to quit. And by doing stuff that makes you uncomfortable, the way I look at it, I’m just exercising my muscle. But by doing things consistently that suck, you can raise that bar a little bit. And once you raise it and you continue to exercise and raise your setpoint, it never goes back down. So my approach is just let me push myself. Let me get it, regardless of the outcome, success or failure. And let me just create this environment in my head that I’m up for anything.

Preston Pysh  18:54  

I think an important part to this too, Jesse, is the culture that you place yourself in because for you that first experience where you know you did call it 10 pull ups or whatever. And then he’s like, “Okay, well, no problem, we’re not leaving until you do 100.” It was like 10 more than you ever even thought, impossible by any stretch of the imagination. And then you did it and you hung around there. Now, it might have taken you longer than what you thought, but then you did it. The culture that SEALl was basically creating for you, allowed you to basically see this hidden universe to yourself of 100 pull ups as possible. It is something that I can do. And I think when you surround yourself with people that have the ability to think and stretch their limits into, I guess, be hardcore like that, and really kind of pull you along initially… Next thing you know, your mind starts adapting to that culture and you start thinking it and believing it and then teaching it as well as time progresses. And I think it’s so important for yourself, to surround yourself with people that are going to take you to the next level and not pull you down and tell you how hard it is. 

Jesse Itzler  19:59  

Without question and you know, drive is so contagious. So you want to surround yourself as much as you can with people that are on this… who want to go the same direction you’re going. And you know, for me and I can say this firsthand just because I had that experience. I had the opportunity to live with inspiration for 31 days. So you’re dead-on surrounding yourself with people, putting yourself in that situation, because it’s so easy to listen to people be like, “So why are you doing that? Why are you doing this?” I hate that because that’s where I feel most alive. That’s where I get the most reward. That’s where I see what I made up. That’s what gives me *inauidible, and that’s what I can apply to other stuff. Not just reading it, there’s no magic. You can’t will this stuff in. You can’t just… 

It doesn’t just say like, “Oh, man, I want to do this and it’s gonna happen.” It happens by a series of consistent events. It happens by failing, it happens by pushing the limits. And you know, I didn’t really get all that until I went through this journey, I had been doing it through in my life because I think the greatest gift I gave myself early on. And I think it’s one of the greatest gifts that anyone can give themselves is getting over the fear of embarrassment, when you redefine failure is just not trying, not giving your all or be too scared to try something.

Stig Brodersen  21:24  

So, Jesse, you are actually in pretty good shape. When SEAL moved in, you have been running multiple marathons and longer races too. So You’re saying that it was to improve your physical state, you’re still in good shape. But SEAL managed to take this to a whole new level. I remember one thing from the book, and that was that at day 27, for instance, you managed to do 1000 push ups. To me, and I think almost everyone in the audience, this seems almost unrealistic to achieve. So I’m curious to hear about your thought process to live with SEAL, because in your book, you say at the same time that he was doing 2500 push ups, and you just talked to us about him doing more than 4000 push ups. You said that SEAL really taught you the appreciation of difficulty. So how has that realization influenced your physical training today? But also, how has it influenced your personal and business relationships?

Jesse Itzler  22:22  

So let me just go back to the first part of your comment about when he first moved in. When he first moved in, I was in a routine like so many of us. I’m sure a lot of folks listening today, you know, our inner daily routine, and routines are great. But routines can also be a rut. So for me, I was doing the same thing. And it became such a routine, that it was just like next day, next day next day. I wasn’t improving. So when he came in, and we started doing all these challenges, the first thing was that to get out of my routine changed the way that I was thinking about things and approaching things. 

When he came, I could do 22 push ups. And when he left, I was doing 1000 a day. And he had a motto every day, we have to do something that sucks. If it doesn’t suck, we’re not going to do it. At first, it sucked, believe me it all sucked. By around day 14, I noticed the shift. And what useful would be like, Man, I don’t want to wake up and do this again, I do not want to do this” became, “Gosh, man, I can’t wait to see what I can do today.” To really get better, you have to go through in anything, a little pain, discomfort out of your comfort zone.

Stig Brodersen  23:40  

I don’t want to simplify this, you know, saying going from 22 to 1000. But I’m actually curious how much of that is due to a different state of mind and how much can be credited to you building up more muscle.

Jesse Itzler  23:54  

Just to clarify, I went from I did 1000 a day so we broke them up. Maybe like 100 in the morning. But still, it was still a lot of, thousands a lot to do especially for me. I’m not even at all remotely strong. I would say that 80% of it was probably mental. But let me just give you an example. When I started running, I was running three miles, not with SEAL, in my life. I was running my goal…  I was going to run for 20 minutes, 10 minute miles, like if I could run 20 minutes without stopping, that’s an accomplishment. And then gradually my pace built up to nine minutes and I was like, “Alright, let me get to 27 minutes, that’ll be three miles, and then my goal was time was 40 minutes, and then ultimately an hour three.” So I’m like that would be a seven miles and a nine minute pace. Let me get to an hour three. That 20 minute run, which ultimately became three miles and but gradually built up 100 miles nonstop. And the biggest change wasn’t like I was never… During my hundred mile run, I was never doing more out of breath, or my heart rate went up more than my 20 minute run. But it was the mental practice of convincing myself that I could do it. 

Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile, spent more time convincing himself and visualizing himself that he could run a subfour minute mile, than actually time on the track. You know, he had to make himself believe because no one had ever done. That it was humanly possible. So if you would ask Bannister, he would probably say, “Man, I don’t like… I spent more time training my mind than physically sprinting.”

Preston Pysh  25:34  

That’s so profound. And that’s something that we talk about on our show a lot, because that’s a common theme that we see with billionaires is that they spend a lot of time and it really kind of goes on. I’m sure you’re familiar with the book “Think and Grow Rich,” and talking about how do you train your subconscious mind to basically put these things into practice and basically build this environment around you where you’re able to accomplish what it is that you think about most.

Jesse Itzler  25:58  

I always have a movie in my head So I have a movie, I know how it ends. And let’s just take the hundred mile run. Let’s take Marquis Jet, let’s take whatever. Marquis Jet, we’re going to build this up, we’re going to sell it, we’re going to work. That’s the ending of the movie, I’m going to go to the cross the finish line, I’m going to celebrate this hundred mile run. The rest is just filling in the script. The rest is just right is the journey. But like for me, I always want to know this is where I’m going to end up. I’m going to get here, regardless of the consequences of my body, if it’s a run, regardless of the commitment of time, if it’s a business. This is the end of the movie. And now let’s go write the script. 

This is gonna sound crazy. But since I’m 20, I’m a big basketball fan. Since I’m 25 years old, I always envisioned myself being involved with an NBA team. I had no idea how I would get there. I had no idea. But it was just always a movie in my head. I couldn’t see it clearly. And I didn’t know who I would be with, who my partners would be, who my team would be, but I just knew, at some time in my life, that I would be there and that I hopefully I could help move the needle for that team. 

Preston Pysh  27:09  

That’s amazing. Thank you for sharing that with us because this isn’t something, these aren’t insights that the typical person gets to hear from a person of a professional sports team owner to hear somebody say that they know that at a young age. Some people wouldn’t say it. And for you to tell our audience, this is very profound, because this is stuff that we talk about. And this is stuff that we tell our audience that this is how people like yourself think and to hear from you straight from your mouth is just really quite amazing for us to know that this stuff does work. 

Stig Brodersen  27:41  

To me this was not only a book about living with a SEAL. The way I read it was also a book that compiled a lot of your life philosophies, Jesse, and one that was really profound was actually about fruit. And then people are thinking, “Oh, what’s happening here? Why sticks talking about fruit?” But I actually find it very relevant. And I’m curious to hear more from you, Jesse, not just only why fruit is important, but also about how to use your energy.

Jesse Itzler  28:12  

It’s a great question. So well, I read a book. I was so lucky to read this when I was young when I ran my first marathon in 1991. I read a book called “Fit for Life” by Harvey Diamond who has since become a good friend, and is updated it with a book called “Fit for Life: A New Beginning.” And one of the main principles in the book is to only eat fruit until noon. I’m happy to go into the reasons why, at a high level, it’s because digestion uses more energy than anything else. You have a big meal, you usually get tired because your body’s using so much energy to digest it. 

Fruit digests incredibly fast, very easily, and provides all kinds of nutrients and goodness. And in the book I challenged the readers to try only eating fruit until noon, to conserve and to maximize your energy and be more efficient rather than having a bagel or bacon or eggs or food that requires a lot of energy. I tried it for 10 days. I only ate fruit and then I said, “Alright, I’m going to go back to my old ways.” And when I did, I was like, “Oh my God, what a difference.” 

The first couple of days were challenging. Maybe I went to 10:30 but ultimately to 12. And then I felt so good. I have so much energy. I mean, I can’t even explain it. I don’t even know what it feels like to not have energy on a daily basis, or to be tired or whatever, that I just… 27 years later, I haven’t gone back. You know, listen, I’m not a food scientist. I’m not a nutritionist, but I am a trial and error guy. And I tried this for me and it worked. 

It is relevant to investors, businessmen and entrepreneurs. I’ll tell you why, because how you feel is a reflection of how you operate in business. If you’re still sluggish, tired, whatever it’s gonna impact how you operate daily. Who wants to miss two weeks to work because you have the flu? You want to operate at optimal and at the highest level you can operate, mentally, physically, even spiritually. So I think it’s incredibly relevant to anyone in business, because you are your greatest asset. You know, you could be a billionaire on an island surrounded by Victoria’s Secret models in Hawaii, getting fed grapes and have a sore throat. You won’t even care about your money or the beautiful women serving you grapes, you want to get rid of the sore throat. So I think it’s really important that you know, and it should be talked about.

Stig Brodersen  30:43  

I completely agree with you, Jesse. And I think, I think it’s also interesting to hearing your story because it’s not the typical this is how I made a lot of money. So I started my own shop and then I bought a bigger company and then I sold it. I mean, there were so many different things. So many angles to include whenever you’re talking about investing and living a good life. And I’m actually thinking about the story that Warren Buffett always tell us that say that you’re 16, and you can only drive one car the rest of your life, what would you do with that car? You’re prone to take really good care of it, and that’s basically what you’re saying. Obviously, his metaphor is your brain, you should take really good care of your brain and that’s what you’re saying about your body.

Jesse Itzler  31:28  

Absolutely. And listen, for me, it’s really changed the course of my life. And I recognize that it might not be the case for everybody but for me, it has been a really good blessing. 

Preston Pysh  31:42  

So Stig was hitting on a little point here that I think is really profound and important for people to capture. This is something that you talked about in your book, Jesse, and that’s this idea of you only go into business and do things that you’re passionate about. And this is advice that we tell people… We get the question a lot like how do I start with the business that I want to create someday, and I say, “If it doesn’t involve something that you’re really passionate about, you’re not going to wake up at 5am in the morning to work on it, or whatever the case might be.” 

So tell us a little bit about your own personal experience with that, and why you believe that you have to do something that you’re really passionate about to be successful. 

Jesse Itzler  32:20  

I think you do have to be passionate about what you’re doing. But I think even more importantly, you have to be passionate about the challenge. So the passion about the product or the venture is important, but the passion about the challenge, and the journey is more important. “I love this new widget that I have. But if I’m not passionate about putting in the hours and learning and hiring my weaknesses and figuring out what I don’t know and dealing with the obstacles that come my way, then the passion for the widget is almost irrelevant.”

So I think people get confused about the word passion and what that really means. That’s just because you’re passionate about your widget doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful or necessarily that you’re going to like go into work. You have to embrace and the passion has to come with the journey to start, build and bring to the finish line the widget. 

Preston Pysh  33:15  

That is phenomenal. That’s a twist. And I wouldn’t really necessarily even call it, which probably isn’t the right word for it.

Jesse Itzler  33:22  

But I think that people can get lost in passion and passion,you know, “Oh, wow, man, I’m so passionate about music. I’m going to be an artist.” That can lead to a lot of frustration, because that is just the tip of the iceberg. And, you know, “Oh, man, it didn’t work for me that I was so passionate about it.” Yeah bcause, you know, the passion is about the process.

Stig Brodersen  33:46  

So Jesse, one thing that was not included in the book was what happened when you sold Marquis Jet. That’s one of the largest private jet companies in the world and the company that you co-founded. And then when you sold the company later, and you did that to NetJets and I’m sure a lot of the listeners would be familiar with this company because it’s a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary. Now, Jesse, could you tell us about the process of *inaudible transaction?

Jesse Itzler  34:12  

We had worked, my partner and I started this company in 2000-2001. And we had worked hard for 9 or 10 years, you know, on it. And this was the right fit for us. But I will tell you that for me personally, if you didn’t bring it up, I would never think about… I don’t think about it on a daily basis. Yes, it was a positive experience in my life. It provided me with a lot of things, but I’m a big check the box guy and move on. So right after we celebrated it, but it was like what’s next? You know, that was great, but it’s in my rearview mirror and I want to have a really big front mirror. So the process was like any transaction. It required negotiation, the regular process, but the end of it for me wasn’t a big celebration. It was just like I love the journey. I learned so much from it. I met great people. We went on to the next. What’s next?

Stig Brodersen  35:10  

I think it’s interesting that you say that. Preston and I were reading a book about the *Cypress founder. He’s talking about how he almost felt relief after he sold his company to Microsoft. And I’m curious to hear if that’s the same feeling you have or if it’s more, “Okay, we’re looking forward. It was a lot of fun. But now on to the next thing.”

Jesse Itzler  35:32  

Yeah, I didn’t feel relief or anything like that, because I don’t know if I mentioned this, but it’s never been for me about building a resume. It’s about building a life and Marquis Jet and anything else that I’ve done have been part of the puzzle… of my pie chart of my life. And quite honestly, regardless of the amount of time, as far as mental anguish or whatever, a small part, because my family is a big part, my personal growth is a big part, my friends and family, all that stuff. And business, it was super important to me. But I didn’t feel relief because I had all these other buckets felt very full to me.

Preston Pysh  36:11  

What was it like dealing with Warren? Was Warren part of the deal? Or were you dealing with other people during the sale?

Jesse Itzler  36:16  

Small part, other people, but since then, my wife has become really good friends with Warren. I spent a lot of time with Warren. And even most recently at the Berkshire Shareholder Meeting, multiple dinners. My wife did the Giving Pledge with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. So we meet every year at the annual retreat. So so since then, I’ve got to really enjoy him. And you know, what I love about Warren, he is obviously brilliant guy. He could ssimplify complex questions and answer them so my six year old can understand them, but he’s hilarious. Yeah, he’s hilarious and fun to be around.

Preston Pysh  36:54  

So Jesse, one of my favorite sayings, when I’m around friends and people that you know, obviously listen to the show. And things like that I like to say, “Make moves.” That’s like that’s my final statement that I usually say to people. “Make moves, baby.” And when I was reading some of your stories like the one that you flew down to get this sound clip for this Footlocker commercial and just I realized you’re a move maker, you’re constantly making moves. 

And so my question is, how do people that are listening to this that maybe aren’t necessarily move makers, but want to be that guy just always making moves? Is that something that can be learned? Is that something that you’re born with? Or is that something that you can develop over time by being around maybe a culture or whatever? I’m just curious to hear your opinions on this.

Jesse Itzler  37:43  

I don’t know. I think it goes back to the getting over the fear of embarrassment so which I didn’t always have.But once you get over try something and experience it… If you don’t do it, nothing’s gonna happen, right? If you don’t make a move, get on the phone, whatever. You know the outcome. I wasn’t the guy that really necessarily felt comfortable in big rooms or this or that, certainly not the smartest. But I realized anyone could just show up. And that’s when all this stuff happened. You know, guys are sending out resumes and mailing them or whatever. I was just showing up. And so for me, you know that that was a really good thing to experience early on. And it just became a theme. 

Preston Pysh  38:28  

I think it kind of goes back to a little bit of what we were talking about earlier, where you were saying that you had 100% confidence. This is the way that the movie is going to end. And you like had this positive, you know, maybe the probabilities like 1 in a 100 that it’s going to happen, but you know what, “Hey, I’m gonna try you never know, it might work out.” I think people that have that mindset, kind of have that move maker gene, if you will, at just pulling things off.

Jesse Itzler  38:54  

I think so. I think you have to have a little bit of I don’t care attitude. Listen, when I was younger, I didn’t care about the consequences. I just wanted it so bad. I didn’t have a detailed plan. You know, after college, I had really two things I could put on my resume. I was a kiddie pool attendant, and that’s not going to get you very far in college. And I was a rapper that really didn’t do good. So I could almost say I was a failed rapper. So that being said, you really don’t have a choice. You have to take those chances. And as a kid in his 20s, the consequences didn’t matter.

Stig Brodersen  39:29  

So my final question is that in your book, you talk about your love reading. What is an influential book that you have read that helped you become so successful in business?

Jesse Itzler  39:40  

I’m gonna have to go back to the book “Fit for Life.” I know it’s a little bit odd on this particular podcast when you guys talk about other things, but the book has put me on the right course. And sometimes you think you’re on the right course. And you know, if you’re in a sailboat, sailing to England, you are going and you think you’re on the right course. But your rudders a little bit off, you end up in Africa. This book kind of put me right on the right course because my days got extended, my energy got extended. And I got more clarity around what was important to me. So, as crazy as it seems, the most influential book in my life wasn’t a business book. It wasn’t a motivational book. It was a book about health. If you have health, you have hope, if you have hope, you have everything.

Preston Pysh  40:28  

That’s awesome. I love it. So Jesse, here’s the deal. Stig and I, we study all these billionaires, and we try to determine the critical habits and behaviors so that we can take that and put it into use in our own lives. And when we read your book, and we studied your background, there was one thing that you had done that no other billionaire has. And so as a result, we wanted to demonstrate this new and critical behavior for you so we can follow in your footsteps. And if you haven’t figured out what I’m referring to too, it’s our very own rap song. So here it goes.

Here we go, go! My name is Preston Pysh. We’d like to make beats go really fast. We run a buckets, we have fun, we always have a blast. We study billionaires to give our fans direction. Now get upm get down and hit me with the brass section.

You know, what’s your initial thoughts here Jesse on our talents? We have hope.

From the beginning, our show has been bringing the smartest of the artists from the industry of money making. We try to find the facts. We always have your back There’s something that we’re missing and we’re reminiscing when we got a billionaire. So get better, sit and listen, just learn. This dude is always making moves he taught us in this book that it’s all about our attitudes that get success and our best we want to thank you much for coming on.

Stig Brodersen  42:17  

Excuse me. My name is Stig and beats erupt like eruption. When I look at Jesse, he’s one who has done so well. Something I’ve seen *inaudible. It’s not Jets, not the Hawks or fast cars. You got well because you started as a rap star.

Preston Pysh  42:41  

Got to be a billionaire. Got to be a billionaire.

Stig Brodersen  42:55  

Very, very catchy. I just had to ask this. I know that you didn’t sign 50 Cent when you have the chance. So you think you can afford not signing Preston and me?

Jesse Itzler  43:08  

I love it. 

Preston Pysh  43:09  

Oh, you should have seen our faces as we were recording that it was just like oh…  

Jesse Itzler  43:13  

I had a blast doing it. 

Preston Pysh  43:15  

Oh my god the last two weeks that’s pretty much all we thought about is that song

Jesse Itzler  43:21  

That is really good, guys.

Preston Pysh  43:23  

So thank you so much, Jesse. All jokes aside, we we are obviously having fun with the rap song there. But the information that you gave our audience is just so priceless. It’s timeless. It’s stuff that people can listen to years from now and really gain some incredible insights. Thank you for your precious time and coming on the show.

Jesse Itzler  43:40  

My pleasure. My pleasure. Listen, I had a great time. I really appreciate you guys having me.

Stig Brodersen  43:45  

Alright guys, that was all that we have for this episode. We will see you all next week.

Outro  43:51  

Thanks for listening to The Investor’s Podcast. To listen to more shows or access to the tools discussed on the show, be sure to visit www.theinvestorspodcast.com. Submit your questions or request a guest appearance to The Investor’s Podcast by going to www.asktheinvestors.com. If your question is answered during the show, you will receive a free autographed copy of The Warren Buffett Accounting Book. This podcast is for entertainment purposes only. This material is copyrighted by the TIP Network and must have written approval before commercial application.


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