From being ahead of his time with internet-based printing in the 90’s to helping airlines get rid of manually written plane tickets decades ago, today’s guest has been helping businesses think outside of the box for decades and now wants to help you do the same.
Please welcome Thomas White.
Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Three, two, one Thomas White joins us today. He has created and led private and public organizations that initiated disruptive breakthroughs. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and synthesized technology and human systems to create solutions that others didn’t see today. He brings the ability to see what others don’t to assist companies in creating disruption in their markets and meeting challenges.
So their organizations ride the wave of change rather than be overwhelmed by it. Thanks for jumping on Thomas. My pleasure to be here with you. So is a really dynamic background. Um, break it down on the fifth grade level. All right. Good idea. So you know, a lot of white here, so you see I’ve been around quite awhile.
So I’m one of these people that when somebody says to me, you know, that’s simply not possible. It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Yeah. Yeah. Well, let me show you. And so I, I, whatever, however, my brain is wired. I looked at the world sort of as a, as a, as a network rather than a transactional point of view.
So I look at well, where is this thing where how salt fit into the way the world is? How can we bring elements that people aren’t using to apply to this problem and create a system around that? So just, just to. Back to fifth grade level. So my first innovation, which was an awful long time ago, most of the people listening to this will not remember this, but there was a time when we could read it airline tickets with somebody with a pin and a coupon book, one through four coupons.
And they wrote those out by hand. Every ticket was written that way. And the agents used to have red carbon on their fingers. And I, with my first job was I was a controller of a travel company. I looked at that and said, this is absurd. And then I had to do manual reports into each airline, how much we sold and our netlist, our commission is 10 minute check.
And we, then somebody else over here got typewriter typed up an itinerary for a passenger. And we sent them bills at the end of the billing period, all this kind of stuff, a lot of work. I said, gosh, that’s just, it’s crazy. And about that time, IBM was in, you’re losing its first Mandy computer. And I thought, well, that must be what we could use that here in the office.
And. Long long winding road. We couldn’t because of the way tickets have to be managed and so forth, but there were people using teletype straight tickets. Just manually one question I wanted to put, because I put it in the form and it comes out the other side. Right. Ah, maybe we can do this. So one of the things that was going on at the, in those times was it was the real explosion of what was called computer timesharing.
So people were saying sharing mainframe resources, right. So I said, well, wonder if we could do that. We could have a computer somewhere. Yeah. You all this work and then spit it out. Art, tell us, I think it ran at 110 characters per person per minute is really slow. So, so we did, we created the first one.
Electronic airline tickets in the world. Now what a great lessons there that I can see I did. It was, well, I thought, gosh, you shouldn’t be able to this right software. So I went to my, an attorney and I was doing this in new Orleans, which is not exactly the hot bed of software or technology innovations.
And I said to my attorney, what do you know about software pads? He says, I don’t have put, I’m going to send you to the number one patent attorneys in New York city to friends of ours. So I was excited. I was 27. You go get the plane, went up to New York. I’ve been here. But anyway, so I went to the wall, I’ll speak with this firm was, and I went up the tower and I met this guy
Is it? Yes. It’s a big, as you know, you can’t believe it. It offers a big as a football field. Huge. So he sits there and he has a conversation about what I’m interested in. He looks at me, he says, son, I would never waste my money on trying to patent software. It’s never going to be allowed. So now I now know if I had gotten on a plane and gone to San Francisco and had that conversation, I probably would’ve had a different outcome because innovation, it was already happening.
The patent attorneys in San Francisco are already thinking about this and they were already beginning to shape the conversation with the patent office to have this be allowed. Of course it was. And I have some software patents now, but it’s one of those things where. It really taught me that if you’re going to do innovation, you need to have support systems around you that are contextually relevant.
Or are you going to end up getting bad advice, not bad advice relative to that person’s world, but advice it’s not approved, we’ll get to what you’re trying to do. So I had many at times like that there was a company in salt Lake city, uh, that was as Macintosh was introduced when the Macintosh was introduced.
It’s one of the challenges was that it was just this blip. Macintosh usage was a blip in the world. It was really, they forget how things started. It was relegated to it. Maybe the marketing department corporate, it hated it. They forbade it. So they, people would sneak them in, you know, these kind of square, rectangular boxes, but most of the software was IBM PC software, PC Mac.
So this company built a device that sat next to the Macintosh that lets you put in your Macintosh floppy disc. And where did Abby and floppy disk Baylor. And he would read F I run the IDM program and then put the data and display it on the Mac. Pretty cool. So, so they, they had a problem with some technology, so I found somebody to solve it.
And ultimately we licensed that technology to Novell and other you talk company, and that helped the company get past, but pending bankruptcy. And then as I mentioned to you and sit and ultimately the company, but entail. So those are just some of the things that I just looked at, probably look at it differently and say, Hmm, What’s the underlying belief that we have about this.
Those beliefs are only beliefs. If we just dispel those beliefs and see the thing more as it is rather than we perceive it to be, we’re going to find different solutions than we imagined. Now is that something that you realized at some point in your life that was a talent and he started to hone in on that as a skillset?
Uh, like was there a definitive moment or is this just kind of something that just the way you’ve always been, I’ve always been, I mean, it’s one of those things, like, you know, I think we all have gifts and then if we use them, they can become something we can, we can serve in the world. Like there are people that are musically talented now they still have to.
Play the piano. They have to learn the basics, but mostly they get that behind them. They got their masters, but you’re still here. You have to have that basic training. So I did, I had, I was on my own by myself. I had to train myself cause nobody around says, I’m going to teach you to do this. So I just said, I’ve evolved now.
I’m more aware of it today because I made it a decision to. Not run businesses per se, but to help people who are running businesses and we were working with other people, you have to break it down a little bit differently. It can’t just be inside of myself. I have to understand it enough to have a conversation with them so they can also see it because I don’t want to give them an answer.
I want them to help them develop that capacity in themselves. So that I can easily leave and they have that ability to carry on. Otherwise it’d be some dependency that I’m not interested in. I don’t think it’s healthy. So I want to go back and ask you a question about the airline, uh, solution. Um, were you able, ever able to go back and quantify the amount of hours or time saved from eliminating all that man, those manual processes?
I know it wasn’t, but it’s a really good question. Isn’t it? So think about, you know, we, you know, at the time people, we figured the world, so boarding passes, where they have a configuration, the plaintiffs’ stickers for each seat, and I put that thicker on your, on your ticket. And that’s how you knew what yeah.
And if you had pre-assigned seats, which wasn’t very common, Oh, will travel. Just could usually get that our VIP customers, they had to make sure they didn’t screw up. Those walked off and then didn’t get to the wrong people. So the system wasn’t particularly well organized for the highest level of service and it was, it worked.
And of course the volumes. We’re seeing today with air travel would never have been able to be supported by the systems that are in place at that time. So this kind of automation shifted us from a people. Think about moral league travel while I usually have good Neil’s or I had good service. Yes.
Because the numbers were smaller as you, as you scale that business. Service shifts. Now it doesn’t have to no, but there’s a common belief in the airline systems and particularly in the United States that because we’re having the, all these numbers and we’re more like a commodity business tolerate less service, perhaps in Europe, it’s different.
You can get better service than European get in the United States because they have a different set of beliefs about this. Yeah, it’s interesting. That’s, that’s kinda what I was thinking in my head as I was. Curious, there had to be a gap between when productivity sped up as a result of this innovation versus when the larger numbers were adopted in customers.
And it makes me wonder where that revenue saved went like. So if so one place look at this is the phenomena of automation, particularly in the travel industry, particularly with airlines that we’re seeing today is what’s been eliminated, is travel agents. At the time I was doing this. More than 50% of the airlines revenue came through travel agents.
Today’s the smallest percentage because the expertise was in the travel agent. So the travel agent was providing a value to the airlines. There was falling the calls into the airlines that were already cooked and he just weighed on this thing. There was a company called the official airline guide that had all the airline schedules, you know, they printed these books and send them out twice a month.
There are people that, but I had tariffs and tariffs had to be manually calculated. It took a long time for that to change because tariffs complicated for whatever reasons. And so
if you feel like intellectual exercises are fascinating, but they do things over imaginary cities and all this kind of crap on it. But so, but also mainly with enough computing power, you can figure almost anything else. So they have, I don’t think they’ve ever simplified the tariffs, but anyway, so, so what happened is we had a.
And radical disruption, which was, we moved that cost, which was around 10 to 15%, which went to travelers and we took that cost out of the system. So the airlines put that cost either in. Uh, automation, or did you move around other areas of their business where their costs were kind of, uh, at risk, particularly in the fuel side.
So they talk about fuel costs, being a big deal. You have to think about that cost per passenger mile for field today is much higher than it was when I was doing this. So the economics of the whole industry changed. If they hadn’t had this kind of efficiency shift and move this cost to sales away, they’d be in much worse shape than they are today.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting. 10% on travel agents. There’s there’s a, uh, Travel agent that has this a little office right up the street from where I’m at. And I’m always curious, like how well do they really do? I mean, it’s got, I don’t know, obviously that market’s come down quite a bit, but I wonder if it’s just like the older generations to keep them alive and another 10 or 20 years they’ll.
Basically I’ll be gone or do they bring you value stuff? The industry itself has to choose sides to the smaller travel agency, mostly gone, but the ones that are still there are primarily vacation travelers is I want to go on a cruise. I want to go, I want to go on a tour. So, and those generally have higher commission rates anyway, so margins are better.
And, uh, you, you, you. Even with you do a lot of research on the web, which you can do today. You still, some people are uncertain enough. They want to talk to human being. Sure. Not making mistakes. Again, if you go on a cruise, you’re spending thousands of dollars just to do thousands of hours, hours for something that’s not a commodity, because cruise is in the minds of people.
Isn’t a commodity. It’s something that you want. You want a little more comfort by buying a ticket, whatever the ticket price is. It is, it’s something that’s known. It’s going to get me from here to there. So I don’t need, have a person tell me back, but other things like I want to go on a vacation to Fiji.
What’s the best hotel what’s well, we can read the reviews, but we still ascribe often some value to the travel professionals to know more than perhaps the reviews. So that is, what’s keeping that professional life, but change. I don’t know. Is it more skewed through this? To an older population. Yes, that’s true.
Yep. The end of the market is high volume traveling corporations. They still want travel agents there to control the cost. We want to make sure they’re getting the best price. So if I let all my employees choose the best price, I probably not going to get it. They also negotiate. Rates with airlines in a collective buying basis.
And they can only take advantage of that using a travel agency or some similar service, like an in house travel organization. So there, so the high end high volume corporate stuff is still available and vacation stuff is available. Everything in between is gone. And, and so like the corporate buyers where they collectively.
Bargain does do these airlines or whatever, vacation resources, um, allocate like a certain percent of their available buys to only that group. So they don’t get overbought just so sophisticated. I mean, you could, they want every seat, they can get, you know, they overbook, right. So they, they’re not sort of worried about it yet.
And they’re protected from any illegal lamp applications. Really. It’s more of. Well, one of the many protected industries by law, but, um, what they, what they, what they can do is they can negotiate a revenue line. So how much, how much business are you gonna give me if I’m going to give you $20 million or 50 million or a hundred million dollars in your American airlines, and you probably will get me a little break.
Right. Cause you can count on that money coming in and they have a choice between American and Delta or American and United whatever. So they’ll skew it. So they’ll get more than their fair share. And one of the things that happens, these kinds of things just is used to be a part of my history with the travel industry.
Whenever reservation systems became predominant and they were predominant travel agencies, the airlines, which skewed the displays much like Google does today. So, so I’ve been watching this phenomenal, uh, preferential displays for an awful long time. And it’s true. People go past the first page, hardly ever few back in the day when I did this, because they looked at the flights that were on the first page and they didn’t go past that and they chose one of those.
So if you are United and you put up. Reservation unit into a travel agency. Your flights were going to show up before Americans. So therefore you got more than your fair share. So that investment in the cost of putting that reservation unit and the travel agent, which is partly borne by the travel agent, partly by the airlines was always paid off handsomely because you always got more than your fair share of business out of it.
Hmm. Well, I don’t want to hang out too much in this. I want to get into some of your other things, but I do want to ask one more question related to this. Um, does the patent that you potentially had, does, does someone now hold that patent or did it go to public domain? That’s public domain. You say this is it’s interesting.
No one patented you’ve got priority issues. So there’s nobody who could come in. Everybody it’s sort of confusing. The first one is kind of sure, but everyone else does it around the same time after that, like, you know, it’s like elevations, any innovation happens. And then so many people jump in and you think about that.
And I go back to, I was talking about the police. So famous story about police was that there was a belief that the human body couldn’t run a mile in less than four minutes. Yeah, it was just at this, this fact, Roger banister did it within three weeks, six other people had run a mile less than four minutes because the belief system changed it no longer wasn’t impossible.
It was like, Oh, he didn’t die. So somebody has to go. So that’s how it works. So if somebody is doing something and they say it’s possible, other people jumped right in. And then, then this whole thing is a problem for the patent office, which is priority. It’s confusing. The first person sometimes can stake a claim.
Yeah. Yeah. So you’ve had these innovative successes and beyond the patent opportunity, do you have any immediate failures that you learned that you took some value away from. Mini, where do I start? So yeah, one of the things that I thought would be a good business was to do internet printing. So where people could take, they get from their desktop, send something to where was Kinko’s at the time, or search speed, your PIP, whatever.
And, and you can begin the process of the print so you can print your stuff from home. Um, We were too early for it phenomenal today, you think? Oh yeah, but that was a nice, it was 1999 as the internet bubble was rising. And everybody’s enthused about everything happened where everything didn’t happen exactly.
In the same time span for acceptance. Right. So people were more concerned about still seeing the printer to make sure they could see us proof of what they had, rather than sending the job through the internet today. You don’t worry about it because they’ll send you a PDF back of the proof and you approve it and you’re done with it.
But those extra steps weren’t in there. So. We were not able to create success. And in addition to that, I had an investor who was one of our insiders who committed to a certain level of funding and then renege. Now, what do you do? So, so one of my learning was, if somebody offers you a check and we had a venture capital firm that offers all the money we needed, we, I hear your presentation blows us away.
Come down. We got $8 million for it. And did they offer that money as a loan or as a, as equity? Of course, no. Rarely do venture capitalists loan money to anybody. That’s just the risk reward is so skewed against them, really? Because if you fail, they get nothing. Right. Yeah. And if, if you women, they get out there, get their interest a little, why would they play that game?
You’re not a bank. So they’re promised to the people that put money in the funds is a much higher rate of return than that. So it was investment dollars and it was, and we were really, we had a good guy. And if we’d had all the money, could we have been successful? Probably because the thing about innovations is generally speaking, your original plan never works.
Yeah. You know it, yeah. I look, you know, I work with lots of entrepreneurs as well as other people in business. And I remind them all business plans work. They can nothing else to that. Cause it, cause what you write about, you can’t know, you can’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. You can’t know what’s gonna happen in the marketplace.
You can’t know how your acceptance rates are going to be. Can’t know any of these things. You can’t know how fast you can develop your technology. You can make good assumptions. You can use those assumptions to learn from like, Oh, it just didn’t work out the way. I thought I’m going to change my assumptions now, but you can’t know.
So then, you know, so what, so when you do it that, well, you keep, you keep. You keep expanding your awareness of the situation. Now, my case about it was a long story about why the investment part, as soon as I had an inkling that this wasn’t going to happen, I should have changed the game, but I was tranquilized
Oh, it’ll work out. Oh, it’ll work out. Well, it didn’t smack. So we had to sell the business at a huge loss and it was into it. Good. Yeah, we could’ve made it go, but I think, but we didn’t. So, uh, it, you know, so that was like, Holy crap. It was disappointing to say the least also, um, it’s easy to get caught up, particularly if you’re looking for it.
Venture money. Although today, many people are smarter than I was. And the venture people ended up with control of your business because they say, well, the risk is so high and blah, blah, blah. So yes, but then the person who is the creator doesn’t get honored, like this is all becomes about the money. Then the creative process and innovations and become the channel, if you will, of the money people, rather than the people who created them, for which they, nobody to have an opportunity is not hard.
Right. I learned that process part of the process as well. You know what people, you know, you trust people to do what they say and they’ll sometimes disappoint you. So how do you manage that? We use, somebody says I’m going to do something well, you’re constantly paying attention. Does it feel right to me today?
No, we all have a gut feel about stuff in generally speaking few of us are totally surprised. We usually say we we’ll go back. Oh, I kinda felt that with Mike happen, then why didn’t you do something about it? Of course, in my case. Well, cause I used to, I was asleep at the switch. I was, I was pranked. I tranquilize myself.
Oh, this is going to work out. Cause I didn’t want to have to deal with that. What I felt was unpleasant itself. Confronting the situation. So I ended up having something that I put a lot into that turned out to nothing. You know, there’s a couple of things that you said that, that stand out. Um, business plans and BC money.
Um, a couple of years ago, I had a group interested in buying my marketing company, enrolling into an another one that they were buying, but was missing the component of the services that I offer. And as you said, I went with my gut. I ended up backing out of it because it was just something wasn’t right.
Yeah. And that was an interesting experience going through that, but I learned a ton, which I’m super glad because now, you know, the valuation of my company is higher, but more importantly, I understood the process of an exit. So I can maximize that when it does feel right. Um, And the other thing you mentioned was business plans
And I think this is super important for entrepreneur preneurial listeners is, um, you’re right. Everything changes. And that’s one of the biggest things. When I have people come and say, Hey, can you offer me advice on this or whatever the case is on a potential new store. And I, when it’s a first time entrepreneur, I say, you got to go like, you know, starting starts with starting and you can spend all day mapping this out.
And as soon as you flip that switch, all of it’s going to change. Right. So, and we both know, most people are highly uncomfortable with the uncertainty of that. You know, entrepreneurs are different. That doesn’t mean they’re not uncomfortable with the uncertainty. They just go through that. Anyway, they live, they push through that
Cause I realized, well, that’s part of the deal, but most people, I, most people. Don’t start something new is because that whole area of unknown, it’s just Frank and I, and they’re unwilling to do that. You know, also you mentioned that I did, I used to, I had a radio program I’m about to do and put it back on the air again.
And I was exploring this question about entrepreneurship in the United States versus entrepreneurship in Europe. And you think about this, you know, in this, in our country, we pride ourselves as being entrepreneurially oriented. To a point, but if you’re an individual and you want to start a business, you basically can put anything, everything you have on the line.
Usually often, no, everybody, but most people do that. Right? So maybe it’s your house cause you had to SBA what’s what security or is it your, so you, you, you don’t have health insurance because you can’t afford it. Whatever’s going on. You have no safety net that fails. You’re in big trouble in Europe. All your safety nets were available to you as an entrepreneur.
If you fail, you still have public assistance or you have some, some compensation you have, your healthcare is always there. So those things that keep your mind comfortable with your family’s going to be taken care of. Aren’t a worry to start up entrepreneur in Europe, as they are to a startup entrepreneur in the United States.
I thought, well, that’s really an interesting thing. We don’t think about that part of the deal. That is interesting because you would think that, um, That having those safety nets would be more inspiring for people to take the opportunity and to test the waters and experiment. And I don’t, I, you know, I, I can’t speak accordingly to Europe’s economy and their entrepreneurial, um, you know, mindset, but I feel like the stereotype is that.
The U S entrepreneurs are more innovative than the European counterparts. Um, and so that’s interesting that they have those safety nets available. Um, but it seems like there’s still more of a drive on the other side of the pond. That’s true. But I, one of the things, I don’t know this about being an area of speculation, I have no data, but I wonder if, because our cultures are different.
So what do we reward? We reward. The grand slam home run. We that what’s in the news, that person. So there’s lots of notoriety to that, but, but I don’t know that we ever done the numbers to look at entrepreneurial success. Cause it, for all, for each of those stories are this huge success. There’s tens of thousands of acres.
Sure. But we don’t, we don’t read about it. We don’t know about. So I was getting, I don’t know the numbers and it could be that we’re very, we were greatly more innovative than any place else in the world, but I think it’s changing it. I’ve done it quite a bit of business in Israel. Talk about a place of innovation who, you know, they are having an interesting environment.
Israel, they, everybody in Israel has mandatory. Armed service that, uh, thank you. Yeah. So everybody’s been the service. What that does is you’ve got a workforce from entrepreneurs to frontline workers who have standardized practices of how to work cause it got them in the army. So the, and they also, um, as soon as they come out of the military services, There’s a tremendous amount of public money to support entrepreneurial ventures.
The government is investing the office of the chief scientists of Israel has a lot of money that they’re investing all kinds of interesting things. We didn’t have none of that here. So you take Israel. There are so many innovations that get, get consumed or subsumed into American companies. Come out of Israel, you don’t realize it.
So it’s because the government is really doing a lot too to stimulate this innovative spirit in Israel. But they’re aware enough to know no that it’s really market small, so they need to have us, us, or Europe or Asia to make these things turn into something of value. You encourage your entrepreneurs to sell direct their innovation so forth.
To make it work for everybody. So the money comes back into it and then they have more wine to spread around. You know, it’s funny you talk about the required arm service. Um, I once had a conversation with another entrepreneur friend of mine. He’s a, you know, older and wiser than I am. Um, but to play devil’s advocate too, to your comment.
And I also played this part with my friend is I was curious about the, the ratio of the good and the bad of requiring, um, Military participation and armed services, as far as how it contributes to innovation, because on one side, as you said, it sets, um, you know, a solid mindset and structured thinking.
But on the, the other side that what I presented was an in, and I don’t necessarily have an opinion one way or another, but when I presented. To play devil’s advocate was had I been required to do, required to do military service around the 18 to 22 year timeframe, which I assume most places is probably the general required service range.
Um, That’s when I was starting my company and I felt it would have had the opposite effect for me. And I, I wouldn’t have been able to find success because it would have changed the trajectory of everything I do. So it’s an interesting conversation. I don’t think there’s a right side to it, but, um, that just reminded me of that.
Well, the thing about that is that’s true because of the culture you’re in, he had been in the culture of Israel. You might have a different point of view about that. Your timing might’ve been different. Cause you knew that you’re going to have military service. Sure. Yeah. And, um, what happens is many of these startups in Israel, they have colleagues from their military experience.
Cause you have people you can trust. You know, most of us entrepreneurs, we have to start every time we start a new venture. Typically the first few we starting over again. Now, as we move along, we have people where our network. Yeah. Yeah. But when you’re young, you don’t have a whole lot of experience working on teams with people’s or producing outcome.
Unless you’ve been in sports generally. So then this is a way for more people who have that experience of how to bring teams together with a clear objective to produce a good outcome. Yeah. That’s a fair point. Yeah. And that’s, uh, I think there’s probably, um, individuals that. Succeed in either of the scenarios now.
So kind of along those lines of working with others, is there any specific situations or examples that you can recall where you had a really defining moment as a result of somebody else, somebody else brought you a good experience that contributed to your career? Well many, I mean, so starting with my first experience.
So, um, here I was in new Orleans, Louisiana. I was in my early twenties and the woman who owned the travel company had confidence in me. She funded. The early startup, cause she said, I trust you at the same time I was married at the time. And my wife’s grandfather who was a prominent physician in businessman, opened the bank for me to do things, other things.
So, um, and I learned so much from both of them and things that I still remember today. The real lesson for me is I didn’t. Apply those lessons early enough, I was still super arrogant and plenty of arrogant enough now, little more than, you know, when you’re cause you get into this. Well, nobody will respect me cause I’m so young.
So then you have to puff yourself up to be more perspective and it’s a vicious circle of creating more ignorance. Because then you think you have to know when you think you have to have answers rather than saying, I don’t know, which is probably the best answer you could give most times and grow from there.
So I had these, these defining moments. I also have been blessed as I’ve been going through my life with people there. Very smart that I’ve run into when I was the company I started new world funds was actually acquired. By a company in San Francisco then was then acquired by a public company in Cupertino, California.
So then I was in, came from new Orleans to Cupertino and out my window. I watched Apple computer come to life for instance. And so I was in, and so, and then the division that my company that I started it. And ultimately ran again was in, was part of this kind of oddball group that did this kind of special projects.
And one of the things that was he, people that were great scientists from Stanford research Institute, we bought one of their divisions, the guy who’s, who created the mouse, Doug Engelbart was part of that group and other people like that brilliant people. So I got a chance to just learn from these guys who were thinking way outside the box.
I ran a software company or a technology company after that. That was started by a guy who was the former finance minister of silhouette, who was it? Prison when Diane Day, uh, was assassinated, came to this country, came to United States and had really interesting things about how people work together. So I got to learn from him and then apply that in a business.
So I’ve had many, many opportunities to have people that were really brilliant business, which I talk about Israel. I was working with Sheldon Ellison now shoveling, Alison has gone to be. Far more wealthy today than he was at that time. We worked together for six years and he had just sold Comdex, which was the big computer show.
For about 800 something million dollars from then he turned that into this huge gambling. He also have a nation and he’s worth 30 or 40 or 50, 60 billion. I don’t know, whatever. Yeah. You have the way of thinking. So when he was built, so he had the standard hotel and he demolished it. And so he was now building the first hotel and what now his empire, if you will.
And he would, I would learn. From him, things like, so he’s, here’s a guy, he has a particular idea and he’s going to do what it takes to make that idea happen. So he wanted to have a certain thread count if you will, for the, for the tapestry behind the beds. And he couldn’t get it at a price point, he wanted.
From the, from the textile mills and then the Carolinas. So he said to himself, Hmm. What if I were to buy that loom for you that you need to do this because you don’t have it, you do it for me at cost. And I’ll say, I’ll show you that loom for a low price when I’m done. Interesting or so when you own Comdex, Uh, he, he was getting tremendous amount of income per square foot for the three exhibits.
Cause it was the show at the time. So he had a space and he was like, Oh shit, I need, I need more space. And what do you do? So there was a parcel that was part of the complex of the Las Vegas convention center. And he said to them, I’ll tell you what I will build. That builds a building on that spot. I’ll sell it to you for a buck.
As long as I get to use that space for my conference every year. Okay. Smart break. Very creative. Right, right. You know how long it took him to get his
done. Yeah. When he built it and then he went onto, so he’s so I learned like, Oh my gosh. So I’m learning to think in ways I never would have imagined by the people I’m around. Yeah, I like the, I like that out of the box style, you know, thinking. Uh, so now we have, we have a, your good experiences you’ve learned, uh, on the opposite side and you don’t have to name names.
Um, ha has there ever been anything bad that you experienced where you took away something of value from it? Well, it just depends on how you define bad. So I’m in, I’m in the process of refining my deacons of that bad, quite frankly. So bad is uncomfortable is bad. Outcome is terrible or is bad. So it’s like, it’s a judgment I have.
So if I take the judgment off of it, I have a much greater opportunity to learn from it because I’m not looking through the lens of my judgment about it. Like it was a learning experience. Was the outcome different than I expected. Sure. Did. I feel like I could have gotten a lot further along. Sure. So I have now gone back yeah.
To reframe everything in terms of what can I learn here? Both things that worked out with bell and things that didn’t work out well. So I, I truthfully, I can’t say I had an experience that was horrible from that perspective. I mean, there are things where people were working with people who were nasty or something.
Yeah. And now look at my viewpoint at the time or at my point. Yeah. With time it was like, well, probably they get something that was totally had nothing to do with the current moment. But for my, they asked it, they’ve got reflected in that. And therefore I wasn’t, I w I was probably like contributing to, so if I own my own responsibilities, everything, I am my wife.
Which I do, then I look at things. Well, I’m a creative of that too. So it can’t be, that’s why I say bad’s a definitional thing bit me. So there are many things I’ve done. It totally didn’t work out. Yeah. But let’s say there were absolute disasters from a standpoint of expectations and outcomes and like many things in life.
I learned so much from that. One of the reasons I think I am great value to working with entrepreneurs and business owners is I bring that. Lounge to them. And I’m totally Frank about it. I don’t say, Hey, I’m so successful hiring me. No, I actually bring a lot of experience. And from that experience, mini lessons, now you can choose what to do with what I offered you, but, okay.
It’s an opportunity for you to not perhaps experience that. Or experience in your own way, but look less impact than I had. So that’s, that’s as valuable to someone who’s in business as, Hey, let’s think outside the box. I can do that too. Let’s look at opportunities that you can’t see. Awesome. But you need to have the whole package if you’re going to make a great success out of it.
So what is it like to work with you when somebody comes to you and says, I want your help, where do you start? Pants. So for some people it’s, it’s total great cause we danced together. And I think the thing I’ve learned about working with me is depends on how honest the person wants to be with themselves.
You know, when you look at, um, well, I think one of the biggest challenges for most people in business is that they do not have the skill to be self honest to the point they need to be. So we can rationalize anything this happened because blah, blah, blah. Oh, you know, this weather’s economy’s bad. So, well the person who’s being successful, it doesn’t have that story.
The person who’s being successful says, yes, these, these, these conditions exist, but I’m not going to have that. Either reason I’m not going to succeed. Right. Right. So, because I’m responsible, I’m not going to have something else that happened external to me become the contributing factor for my failure or my lack of success.
I’m going to own it. Yes, I did this and it had this outcome and do it in a very Frank way. We’re moving to a time where people are being more. Authentic. They’re being more open about things and we have a ways to go and it still hasn’t changed much in the watcher public corporation area. I think there’s so much fear of that.
Yeah. Yeah. People are, are, are basically feel they can’t be. Honestly, they have to be, they have to spin everything. Nobody just really served by that. I tell you a small anecdote. I’ve had my first experience ever when I was running, running a company of sexual harassment, not against me, but against somebody in the country.
This was, and I was by calling the attorney and I called in our, our HR person. She, they brought an HR consultant and they interviewed the people involved and so forth. And I was presented with. Well, here’s, what’s happened. You bought this business and this business has certain behavior. And the person you’re talking about is a minority.
Who’s the perpetrator, this, and he can, he can Sue you because the company you bought had this behavior that was acceptable. So, so you need to just need probation. So I said, Oh, I thought about it. I said, all right, I’m going to. Just put this person on probation, huge mistake. Let the legal side of it drive me.
So the women involved all quit as they should have. They could not trust me and the guy left anyway, so it was going to happen. And so I was so upset with myself. I couldn’t get out of bed the next day. Like, man, you really screwed up the Gucci and that’s just terrible. I learned that. I’m going to go with what feels right first, do I want to, uh, the, uh, terribly exposed myself?
No, but I don’t think that I don’t think often it’s terribly expose yourself to what’s wrong. I think there’s a way in the middle and we need to be prudent, but at the same time, absolutely do what’s right. Had that be the primary motivator for action. Yeah. It reminds me of this interesting quote that I had.
Um, somebody say that it was gone through some, some interesting legal problems, um, that I, I think. Weren’t justified. And his wife went on social media to say, Hey, thank you everybody for your support. Um, and the quote that she said was something along the lines of, if you ever have the opportunity to choose between truth and self-preservation choose truth.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And it really is a simple quote that I think provides a lot of value because understandably, we all want to like survive, but as you illustrated, right. Um, you might be cutting corners and it’s going to come back around anyways. So you might as well do it, do it the right way for, you know, well, here’s the thing probably, you know, our fear of annihilation or survival and so forth.
It’s we know that that how that works, but probably the fear. Isn’t the reality that will happen. Just so we’re responding to fear, right? Fear is always going to be greater. Think about how many times has what you fear turned out to be worse. The actual experience was worse. I can’t remember one. Yeah. Or even equal.
It doesn’t have to be worried
so that we’re making our decisions from something that we know probably won’t happen. Yeah, that’s funny. Yeah. Well, Thomas, we’re going to get here wrapping up here. I’m gonna give you the opportunity to, um, put out your contact information, your website, anything you want to do. And then I’m going to ask you one follow up question afterwards.
Great. If people want to contact me, it’s real simple. I have two ways. One is profoundly simple.com, which is my website. And I also have a new radio program launching that we bring you back to life in October called business matters. And you go to business matters.net. You can see all of our archival content.
We have a new book coming out. It’s going to be available free of artists interviews and so easily get a catch with either those places where you can write the Thomas@profoundlysimple.com. Very cool. Thomas White. You’ve been a pleasure. I’m going to leave you with one last question. How do you want to be remembered?
So the legacy question, right? Yeah, I think the simplest answer is that I was a man of integrity. Okay. I don’t think that needs any more explanation. All right, Thomas, why profoundlysimple.com. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you, sir. Thank you.