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Greg Writer: Celebrity Deals, Pitch Tips & Selena Gomez

You are in for a treat because we are talking to Greg Writer. If you're just getting to know Greg, you should know that he is the President and Founder of Celebrity Lifestyle Brands with Bernt Ullmann. Bernt Ullmann is a FUBU and Tommy Hilfiger fame and lots of fame there. What they do is they partner with celebrities and influencers to help them build and manage their brands with the goal of monetizing social media.

You are going to love this if you are interested in working with celebrities. You're going to love this show if you want to figure out how to monetize social media. We talk about how and really why to do business with celebrities.

We also go into Greg's background in buying an investment bank at 21 years old. You've got to hear that story. I grilled him on what are some of the top pitch secrets that we can leverage including two questions that every person that's doing the pitching or receiving the pitch should. We talk about the newly minted Selena Gomez deal and how big brands and influencers think. It may be a little contrary to where you and I come from. This is jam-packed.

Dustin
You're 21 years old, you're working at an investment bank and you come up with the idea to buy it. Greg, you could barely just drink. How does that happen?
Greg
You guys know the book of Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich?
Dustin
Of course.
Greg
I was born into a really wealthy family. If you've ever read the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, that was me. That book was written about me. As a matter of fact, tell Robert I want my royalties because that book was written about me. My parents got divorced when I was two. I was born to a very wealthy family. My dad taught me to invest when I was nineteen. I made my first investment in a stock called Dennings Mobile Robots.
Dustin
In the ‘80s?
Greg
It would have been 1981. They never did build a robot, but the stock was crazy. We got an attention to share. I sold out four months later at $0.70 a share. I turned my $2,000 into $14,000. I also got to tell people that the reason I even had the opportunity to do that was that my dad was in what I call the good old boys club. The good old boys club, it's the foundation for the rich get richer because he always got the call. He had to put $100,000 in because that was the minimum investment. He let me put a measly $2,000 on top of his $100,000. I turn in my $2,000 into $14,000. I was like, “I have found my home. I’ll be a stock magnate.” I went and got my broker's license and I started helping manage my dad's money. I started helping to get referrals from my father. The next thing, I was making $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 in a couple months, $50,000 a month in commissions.
Dustin
Were you a broker?
Greg
Stock broker, selling stocks, managing money. I had no idea what I was doing it back in those days. Do you remember the Wolf of Wall Street, that stuff where they give you phone books? That was the world that we lived in. That was the same time frame. I remember at that point there were seven of us and the seven of us were doing about $350,000 a month in commissions. The guy we worked for in the real estate world of stuff, they were taking half of our commissions. I first had just got the book, Think and Grow Rich, my brother turned me onto it. I read that. I went to my dad, “Dad, these guys are taking half of our money. I want to buy this guy out.” My dad said, “Go for it.” Part of the world that we live in is some people are depressed. They're told that you can't do it, they're holding you back. My dad's like, “Go do it.” I’m like, “Really?”
Dustin
You figured it out. He didn't give you the seventeen steps, you just had to go figure that out.
Greg
I did it. I went and made the guy an offer. He took the offer. It's one of those things where if I could do things all over again, I would definitely change and I wouldn't have done that because I had no idea. I didn't have a clue what I was doing. The next thing I know, I have 40 brokers working for me. We have multi offices. We're doing multimillion dollar raises every week. I would never want to give back the street smarts and the knowledge that I learned by jumping in that fishbowl the way I did. It was pretty amazing stuff.
Dustin
I always think of stuff like that, at least in my life as the Wild, Wild West. Was it like that back then?
Greg
It was, but for me it was so cool because we were financing and helping entrepreneurs with their money, with the money they need. I’ll tell you a little story. I raised money, $5 million, my very first deal for a guy that invented some technology for a credit card. That chip on our credit card that we all have now was invented in 1983. I raised the guy $5 million and I was 21 years old. I had long hair. I gave him a check for $5 million. The tears of happiness and joy, him and his wife giving me hugs saying, “You're making my dreams come true.” That's the good part of the story. We had letters intent with Visa, Mastercard and American Express. The guy who invented the technology had a heart attack and died. The wife inherited the stock, had an affair with the attorney and the technology didn't surface until how many years ago. We lost all of our money.
Dustin
I want to ask you about this. I am grateful. You’ve got the baby face where I can tell. Back then, you're 21, I had it too. How did you get people to take you seriously? Did you already have stature and credit there?
Greg
None. I was going to Wall Street, heading out to New York, doing stuff and people were looking at me like, “Who is this kid?” Wall Street is a very dog-eat-dog world and I like to say it this way. I remember Wall Street giving me $1 million of profit, getting me all on their side and their goodie buddy-buddy and then taking $2 million the next week. It was like give, “Give him a million, get in, take two. Give them another million, get him back in and take two.” I’m getting run over. That goes back to the street smarts and what I learned and what I did, what I accomplished. It was amazing but it was quite a ride.
Dustin
You went on to raise money for then early stage companies like Home Shopping Network, Smart Carts, our favorite carts in the airport where you put a couple of quarters in and get that among others. What are the key tips when it comes to pitching you, the guy with the money, one of our early stage businesses? Should we research Mr. Greg Writer and get some intel? Do you try to get a warm intro to Greg? What's the strategy here?
Greg
Every Angel investor, every venture capitalist, they all have their own set of criteria. What they invest in, what they look at, what they look for is those red flags. The best thing I can tell you is what you said. You need to research who you want to go present to and pitch. I remember being taught this in the PR world. You don't go pitch ABC News something about an alcohol deal. You pitch the right person, the right message. For me, I don't invest in biotech. I never have. Oddly enough, I’ve never really done anything in real estate. For me, I like software. I’m an early stage guy. I like the direct response market. You and I know each other from the direct response market and that stuff. I love direct response and infomercials. The internet's the new infomercial and we'll talk more about that when we get into eCommerce. I like that. Here are a couple of really good tips. I figured this out. I’m a copycat marketer but every once in a while, I’ll create my own Greg-ism. I’ll create something that's an original because this is an original.
People would come into my office and they say they want $1 million, they want $5 million, whatever they wanted. I’d say, “I love your deal. I’m going to give you all the money you want.” They're like, “Greg, I haven't even told you what the deal is.” I say, “No, I love it. That's my nickname. I love every deal. Greg, the entrepreneur's best friend. I’ve got two questions for you. How much money have you raised your friends and your family?” If they said, “Greg, I would never go to my friends and family.” I would say, “If you won't go to your friends and family, I won't go to mine. Every investor that I have is a friend of mine. Thank you. See you later.” That was the end of it. If we got through that one, then the second question is, “I want you to think hard about this next answer, but I want you to tell me what's wrong with your deal and what can go wrong with your deal.”
Dustin
They're not ready for that, are they?
Greg
No one ever asked that question. If they can't articulate to me the real world of, “Here's what could go wrong, here's the risk mitigation,” we're done. You can tell the guys, when you ask them that question, they start rambling on. When you have the experience that I had and even have now, you can tell who knows what they're doing, who's honest and who's got that authentic, true, “Here's what I’m doing, here's where I’m going.” I would ask those questions. The third piece of advice I would give is when I ask a question or when an investor asks a question, pretend like you're in court in front of a judge and your lawyer is telling you only answer the question. Nothing more. Nothing less. I see so many entrepreneurs and they just barf. They foam at the mouth and everything keeps coming out. You’re going, “All I want to know is this.” The more you say, the bigger the hole you're digging yourself into.
Dustin
I always find there's an interesting story behind the creation of something. What's the story behind starting the Angel Investors Network?
Greg
When I retired from being an investment banker, I thought and had this vision that we could use the internet and video to basically present deals. I got my kicks off of raising money for Home Shopping Network. You think back to the day when the guy came in our office and said, “Greg, we're going to start selling stuff on the television 7/24, 365.” To put that in perspective, you're talking 1983, maybe ‘84. At that time, we had three channels, cable was just coming out and no one had ever given their credit card over the phone ever. I believed in the guy. I love helping inventors and dreamers that stuff. You take that and you go, “Bring that forward.” How do you deal with that? What do you do and how do you coach entrepreneurs and get to that point?
Dustin
How did you start it?
Greg
I got out of the business and the internet comes along. If you remember back in 1997, 1996, video was coming. They were like, “We can do videos,” and I’m going to start the world's first nationwide network of investors. Most Angel and early stage investors are geographically in their niche. You have the San Diego Tech Coast Angels, you have the Silicon Valley Angels. They're all over. Only until recently are people starting to invest in nationwide because they can have a point investor in the city and that guy can keep an eye on the investment. I had the vision way back when and I thought, “By the year 1999, we're going to have video, we'll be doing this stuff.” I was way out of my time.
Dustin
Do you remember the Victoria’s Secret live streaming? Do you remember that it was the big thing at the time? I don't remember what year that was. I want to say ‘99 or whatever but it was really slow, at least on my internet that I had back then. I think it's funny because you're right, it's like we've got these futurists and they're right. It's a matter of time, just like people predicting the markets. Over time, you were going to win most likely, but we’re sometimes off on the window.
Greg
We started a radio show called The Angel Investors Network and we were interviewing entrepreneurs and doing all that stuff. I never did get that part of it off the ground on the online network. I actually am bringing that up until now. Until Shark Tank took off, people didn't know what we did, “I’m an Angel investor. I’m an investor.” “What do you invest in?” It's like they didn't get it but now I just go, “Do you watch Shark Tank?” “Yeah.” “That's what we do. That's what I’ve done.” Everyone gets it now. It's made it really easy. We're actually doing well with that whole stuff with the online stuff.
Dustin
I want to talk about this because this will tie all together with our future conversations. The original Shark from Shark Tank and also a Get WealthFit show guest bought into AIN. Why did he do that?
Greg
I’m a doer. I get stuff done. I’m pretty committed. I met Kevin backstage. We've done a lot of speaking events and all that. I met him in the green room and told them what he did and he's like, “I want in.” He became an investor in Angel Investor Network, and this was even before he became as big as he is. He got it. He's the same way. What he likes with the Angel Investors Network is the deal flow because we all know it's like you've got to look at 1,000 deals to find that one gem that can make you hundreds of millions of dollars.
Dustin
I know this is such a big, broad question. I’m curious to get inside your head a little bit and say what are the traits when you look at a deal? You mentioned being in your lane, only investing in the things and sticking to that. What else do you look for when you go to place an investment?
Greg
Speaking to potential investors out there. You're sitting there and you're watching Shark Tank and you're saying to yourself, “I’d love to invest in that deal.” How do you do that? I came up with this method or this storyline. Kevin came up with the acronym and the acronym is DVRS. D is deal flow. People would come to me and go, “Greg, I’ve got the hottest deal. You're going to love this. This is the most amazing deal, the best deal you've ever seen in your life.” I’m like, “How many deals have you seen?” They go, “I don't really see deals. This is just a friend of mine. It's the best deal you've ever seen in your life.” I’m like, “It's not the best. It's probably not even a very good deal.” He's like, “How can you say that? You haven't seen it.” I’m like, “Until you see 1,000 deals a year, you don't know what a good deal looks like.” You have to remember that the entrepreneurs are competing for money. D stands for deal flow. If you want to invest, get into a network, get into an organization like the Angel Investor Network where you can see lots of deals. Get out there, deal.
V is you have to learn how to vet deals. Going back to my couple of questions, what's wrong with your deal? Do you have your friends and family in the deal? You have to learn how to vet deals very quickly because you can't spend a week doing due diligence on 1,000 deals. It's not possible. You have to learn how to vet deals or get with somebody who's already done the vetting for you that you trust and respect. That's what we're trying to do at Angel Investor Network. R is Rolodex. We've got to a point in our world, and you can relate to this easily, is if we can't open up this thing right here and go through here and go, “I can introduce you to Dustin. He can do this for you. I can introduce you to Kevin. He can do this for you.” You can use your Rolodex to accelerate growth and to decrease risk. It’s all about the risk reducers. I want to get there faster, but I want to decrease risks. Maybe it's manufacturing, maybe it's due diligence, whatever it is. What we're doing is we're putting this network of investors together so we can look at more deals. We can do better due diligence on deals through that Rolodex.
The last one is structure. You have to learn how to structure a deal. It’s one fair and reasonable for the entrepreneur. I have a disdain for vulture capital. I’ve been vulture capital before. I’ve seen it happen before. I think there's plenty of money to go around. I come from the mindset of prosperity. I want to structure deals that are protected for the investor but it's also fair, reasonable and a good deal for the entrepreneur. Try to focus on those areas. How do you get more deal flow? How do you vet the deals? Can you use your Rolodex or how to expand your Rolodex to decrease those risks? How do you structure the deal?
Dustin
I wanted to ask you this because I’m always into online and tech, especially the early stuff. What brought you into the online space and the tech space early?
Greg
What it was for me was I moved out here to San Diego from Denver, Colorado. The internet had just got on board and I ended up buying one to San Diego's first ISPs. I figured out fast that I did not want to be in that business. The same time at that time, I got a guy come to me and he sold me the very first eCommerce mall. It was called 1st Net Mall. Back then, search engines indexed alphabetically. If you typed in mall, we came up first. If you type in shopping mall, we came up first. We were drop shipping eCommerce a night way back then. They got smart. Let's start searching based on relevancy and went down. I named the company 1st Net Technologies. We bought 1st Net Mall and we were doing web design and web development. I’m an early adopter, so I saw the thing and I was like, “This is going great.” I did make one big buffoonish mistake. I had this sixteen-year-old kid that I hired and he already was a senior in high school. He’s already got accepted to MIT. He's going into MIT when he was seventeen, graduating early. He came to me a list of four pages of domains. He said, “Greg, you need to buy all these domains. These things are going to be worth a fortune.” Back then, I think domains were $40 a piece or $70. I can't remember. They were expensive compared to what they are, and I didn't buy one domain and if I would have had $100 million worth of domain.
Dustin
Thank you for sharing that because it's so easy to look at you and say, “He's got it. It's easy. He doesn't make mistakes.” I want to talk about what you're into. You've got a company called the Celebrity Lifestyle Brands and Launch Cart. What do these companies do?
Greg
It was an interesting story. It was through a $2 million investment we made in a company called Star Shop. I was out in New York visiting our investment and this was a company, it was an app that was a partnership with Sprint and they were putting celebrities in this app and doing eCommerce. I met this guy named Bernt Ullmann, who's now my business partner. Bernt was the one bringing the celebrities to the table. I had this idea where I wanted to partner with the next generation of celebrities, what we now call the influencers. I wanted to partner with them and help them build a brand, take an equity ownership piece in this brand and wake up five years with a portfolio of brands. I recognize that's how you create wealth. I met Bernt and I said, “Bernt, can I share an idea with you? I want to create a company called Celebrity Lifestyle Brands and here's what I want to do.” He said to me, “That's interesting. Do you know what I do?” I was like, “I just know that you bring celebrities. Good idea, because we need to have lunch.” We go have lunch.
Here's the short version of what he said. “I start off with Donna Karan. I opened up stores worldwide. I was then hired by Daymond John. I became the President of FUBU International. I took FUBU from $100 million to $400 million. I then was hired away to run Phat Fashions for Russell Simmons. I took Phat Fashions from $80 million to $800 million in sales. I was hired by Tommy Hilfiger and became the president of a company called Star Branding. While at Star Branding, they did a deal with Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony with Kohl’s. It was a $3.5 billion deal. They then did deals with Nicki Minaj, Adam Levine and Rolling Stones.” My jaw was dropping. He goes, “I love your idea.” He goes, “Let's do this together.” I’m like, “It's just an idea.” He’s like, “No, let's do it together. You and me.” I’m thinking to myself, “I live in Escondido, California. You're out here in the Ivory Tower with Tommy Hilfiger. Why me?” He said, “Let's do a 50/50 deal.”
I jumped over the table, hugged him and said, “We're in, let's do it.” That's when I started looking for a CEO for Angel Investor Network and we started Celebrity Lifestyle Brands. The idea is that celebrities can be brands. Rather than doing it as an agency, let's work and partner with them and help create this idea. In that process of creating Celebrity Lifestyle Brands for the purpose of working with influencers and celebrities to help them build a brand, we said, “We need to be eCommerce platforms.” We've been using Shopify, Amazon, Magento, all the different things. You know where I come from. As an optimization and a direct response guy, it's like, “It doesn't do one click upsells. You’ve got to get this app and you’ve got to get that app. You’ve got to custom code the theme to increase the speeds to help with the bounce rates.” I said, “We need to get our own eCommerce platform.” We started talking about that and then I looked up Shopify. Shopify, last I looked, had a $19 billion market cap and they're ten, twelve years old. I’m like, “I can take a couple of billion of that as sure as I’m sitting here.” We have celebrity clients. We can use celebrity clients to drive traffic to Launch Cart. We ended up starting our own SaaS platform.
Dustin
You call it platform as service. That's a new one for me.
Greg
Wall Street has its buzzwords. It used to be Software as a Service, now it’s platform as a service.
Dustin
Did they change it?
Greg
They changed it. That sounds better. It sounds sexier. That's what Wall Street wants to hear, so that's what we call it.
Dustin
I want to ask you this. It is WealthFit because we create courses here, subscription play. Is that a platform as service? Is that education as a service?
Greg
I think I would call as a platform as a service for sure. You also got that eLearning. It's really hot. Are you familiar with Masterclass? Do you know how much money they've raised? $100 million.
Dustin
There are others. We've got our eye on it. I’m pretty sure this is a concern of your clients. What is your advice for balancing promoting products or services versus giving content and entertainment on social media? If you come out with a product every day on Instagram or Facebook or wherever, that's probably going to turn people off. However, you’ve got to make money, is there some magic ratio? Is there an advice you can give folks that maybe aren't J. Lo, but they want to do this too?
Greg
I’ll give an example with Skinnygirl brand. Skinnygirl brand was created by Bethenny Frankel, a guest investor on Shark Tank. She's one of our clients and partners. I thought it the same way, we do three to four emails a week in our email marketing or promotion. Obviously we have a social media team. It's very active on Instagram, very active on Pinterest, very active on Facebook a little bit. We're always doing content about her life and her story. As it relates to the eCommerce side, we merge in maybe some content maybe three times a month. The rest of it's, “Here's our new spring line, here's our fall line, here's our shorts, here's our intimates.” The people that subscribed to the newsletter for the shopping store want to know what's going on and they love the brand.
Dustin
You're driving them from social media to something else, getting an email and then following up with them. I’m going to ask you this. As with nearly every business that's out there, there's competition. What are you doing differently to separate Launch Cart from the pack?
Greg
There's integrity and there's optimization. I’m going to overall integrity, but I’m going to throw in a big one, which is new for me. That's brand integrity. Until I met Bernt, and I tell people arguably he's the biggest branding fashion mogul on the planet because who else can say they did the $3.5 billion deal, partners with Tommy and all that stuff. He's taught me over the last years how important brand integrity is. The color, the color schemes, the font, the messaging, the value proposition and everything about that because that's where you create the goodwill in the wealth. For instance, Bethenny sold just the category of alcohol to Beam Suntory for $120 million. There are no clients, no assets, no contracts, just the rights to use her name on Skinny Girl cocktail for $120 million.
Russel Simmons sold Phat Fashions for $80 million. Again, no client base, no contrast, just the name and the brand, the goodwill. Brand integrity is critical. When you're working with these celebrities and influencers, and people that really understand that they want to build a brand, what they're looking for is somebody that can hold that brand integrity of its highest level. I might make them an extra half a million dollars a year, an extra $2 million a year, $10 million, whatever that is, and if they're an A-list celebrity and they're making $50 million a year or $100 million a year, that's nothing in their world. Odell Beckham Jr. had an eCommerce site doing $50,000 a month, big deal. If you mess up one time to mess up his brand, it could cost him tens of millions of dollars.
Dustin
It's risk management. I hadn't thought about that. You can apply that too. What's hitting me too is we want to interview folks. Obviously, they have to vet and they have to put a lot of time. Here we are saying, “Look at our numbers. We can bring you this and get your word out there,” but if they don't do the right vetting, then one bad show, one crazy interviewer, that damages their brand. That's a big thing that you can apply to everything out there in the business world.
Greg
You know me well-enough to know that I’m a marketing guy. I love marketing. Now you say, “I’m a ready, fire, aim guy.” Everything's like, “No, triple check everything.” I’m going to give you one example. We launched this jean line for Skinny Girl. We got the pricing and everything from the jeans company. We copy and pasted the price of the jeans on the website. We have normal sizes and plus sizes. One of the numbers for the plus sizes was $60 off. One of the jeans for the plus jeans was $60 more than it should have been. Some overweight woman came there and said, “Bethenny Frankel's fat shaming us fat people because they're trying to charge $60 more for the jeans.” It was an innocent mistake. Bethenny was screaming at us. We fixed it literally in five minutes. Within one hour, there were over 2,000 comments. The press was calling. PR was calling. She almost lost a big contract with Macy's. It just happened that fast. That was not double checked. That it was like copy, paste. Bernt’s like, “No, there's no such thing as double check. It's triple check.” You really have to be cognizant of what you can do and how that can mess things up.
Dustin
Greg, you've given us a lot of intel, but I have to do a little digging here. Can you share some of the deals that you're working on? Maybe some of your other partners that are known in the world.
Greg
It's such a fun business we live in because I love talking to you because you understand this more than anybody. When it comes to marketing, we talk about conversion, optimization and direct response. I know what I’m doing. I talk a good game. When you talk to somebody who doesn't know that, they don't even know what a pixel is, they don't know re-targeting is, they don't know optimized conversion and they think you're a genius. As we're talking to these brands, I’m actually sporting a new one called PoloGear.
Dustin
Not Ralph Lauren
Greg
No, not Ralph Lauren. These guys started before Ralph Lauren. This is the authentic real Polo. They've been serving the Polo community for 30 years from head to toe. Here they go. They got this great brand. They should be as big as Polo Ralph Lauren. It’s a $5 billion a year brand and no one knows about them. They came to us, “We need help, we have this influencer and we have this biggest polo player in the world.” We're helping them. I’m super excited to show that we also are getting involved with the new brand called Krahs, which is shark spelled backwards. It's being promoted by Selena Gomez. It's a new swim wear line that you can go to KrahsSwim.com. It's cool because the cool story that her former assistant became her best friend and Selena’s like, “I want to help you do something. I want to start an apparel fashion line.” She's getting all this love from her best friend, with 149 million fans.
They came to us with helping with the digital marketing, the strategy, the brand integrity, all that stuff. They can do what they need to do, but they need guys like Bernt and us on the board to help them grow and build that brand. That's what I was going to say. There's that fine line between the marketing guru in me that wants to just like blow out a million impressions and spending money and spin ads and do sponsored ads. There's that side going, “No. We have Selena Gomez. We don't want anyone to see a sponsored ad. Why would we have to do a sponsored ad if we have Selena Gomez?” I’m like, “I’ll tell you why. Facebook and Instagram are only going to show this post.” There's some brand integrity. There's a fine line between brand integrity and brand positioning to marketing. That's where they're constantly pulling the reins back on me with my direct response marketing strategy to reality.
Dustin
That's a great partnership though. I can appreciate that because I want to get the message out to the world, grind and do that. To have a partner that slows you down and explains why, that's awesome. That's powerful. I used to knock branding, but obviously Nike and some of the brand, FUBU and the brands you mentioned, they’re no slouch. They're billion-dollar companies. I can appreciate it.
Greg
We've done pretty well. We started Launch Cart. We've done about $7 million, $8 million in revenues in the first fifteen months. If we keep on track, we'll end up probably $15 million, maybe more. We're going to take market share from Shopify. I got a little disruptive idea in the back of my mind.
Dustin
There are so many questions to ask here. I want to ask you the keys to growth as a platform, as service. You've done this revenue, you're on the path to $15 million. What would you say to someone growing a business in the eCom space or business in general? What are some of those keys? What have you witnessed in that $7 million to $8 million in a short time?
Greg
Brand consistency, support, over-delivering all the typical stuff that those who had been around marketing, we know, but it's communication, brand consistency. People tell me, “Do you have live support on your website?” “No, I can't afford live support.” Live support is an income stream for you. Live support with the proper training, people are going to make you more money. They'll cost you every single time unless you don't have any traffic at your site. There are things like that. You have to be consistent with your communication and with your branding. You have to get out there and get in front of people. You have to figure out how to advertise and spend more money on advertising than your competitors. You just figure out how to spend money and make it profitable. If you can't advertise in today's age. You don't stand on chance.
Dustin
I’m 100% with you. That’s one of the big initiatives here at WealthFit. You've obviously got a thing with celebrities. I would probably get some hate mail if I didn't ask this question. What is your advice for one, getting past the gatekeepers, because celebrities have handlers, they have assistants, they have PR people but two, more importantly, is showing up with something of service? Not showing up and just shooting some random idea, how do you get past that gatekeeper? How do you show up with something that is smart and nicely packaged?
Greg
I can share with you what I’ve done and what I would recommend. Going back to if you're pitching for investors, research who you're going after. Just because they have a big name and a big following does no meaning whether they're going to resonate with your vision, your passion, your product, your service. That's one. Two would be what I’ve done is I’ve looked at it from a philanthropic standpoint and I like to raise money for companies. I would avoid the agents and the managers. I would go to the publicist and I would say to the publicist, “I know that Sadie Robertson is supporting that trafficking company to help girls and protect the trafficking. I want to help raise money for that charity. Do you think you could help me put together a program where I can help raise money for Sadie Robertson?” or whatever celebrity we're working with.
Believe me, when you do that to the publicist, the publicist is going, “This is easy to get press for. We're going to do that.” The publicist gets on your board with you. I’ve done that a number of times. It's worked very successfully. The other thing too, a lot of times you just have to pay to play, to get the relationship. I’ve done deals and I’ve done more deals than anyone I know for equity only, but equity only are hard to do if you can't persuade and share how you're going to make that equity worth a lot of money. You pay to play, you honor your deal and you do what you're supposed to do. I’ll give you another example. I paid to play to get the Bethenny Frankel deal.
Dustin
How so?
Greg
The people that had it, they wanted to hire me and I said, “I’ll do it. I’ll spend all the money on the inventory. I’ll spend all the money on the marketing. I’ll spend all the money for everything and I’ll pay you a percentage of profits. I’ll take all the risk.” They just got the bids from a whole bunch of other eCommerce companies, “$20,000 for this, $50,000 for that.” I’m like, “I’ll do the opposite. Let me just send you a royalty bid.” We did that and now we've done over $1 million in the first nine months and we've hit the ball out of the park, exceeded the expectations five-fold, so I’m getting referrals. We're in negotiations with a deal with Michael Strahan and maybe do his eCommerce. We're going to deal with Sofia Vergara and her company. We got another deal with Rachel Ray. I literally have a deal with this because we hit the ball on one. We concentrated and dominated on one and now we're leveraging and using that and that goodwill to go outside and get others in the door.
Dustin
A big thing I’m hearing from this show and it's hitting me hard is risk management. Just the term risk. We talked about risk management, brand risk management and integrity but also in this situation, you remove the risk from them because they were shopping this and they were having to pay to do all these services and you made a sweetheart deal.
Greg
You look at their pain points. In this world, if you're an influencer celebrity, you maybe have an eCommerce site, maybe you want to have an eCommerce site or like a lot of times they'll have an eCommerce site and one firm’s managing it. They'll have another support system, one for doing the support, then they have another team do on the social media and another team doing the returns. We do it all and the fulfillment. It's like we're a one-stop shop with that where it makes it easy for them to want to work with us.
Dustin
I often find out if you can do that and have everything in-house, basically they’re your in-house or maybe their adviser. Putting everything under one roof, it just makes for a better customer or client experience because there's communication. You don't have to communicate with seven different entities and figure it out. It’s very spot on about that. What's the Never Give Up Foundation?
Greg
One of my partners came down from Oregon to spend his eighteenth birthday in San Diego. He went into the waves the day before his eighteenth birthday, got crashed in a wave and broke his neck and was paralyzed. He woke up on his eighteenth birthday paralyzed from the neck down. Of course he went through, “I want to commit suicide,” and all of the thoughts and all this stuff. He came out on the other side going, “No, I’ll never give up.” He's spoken to over three million kids at schools. I remember the first time I experienced this thing that just really rocked my world as we were at a school. Actually, it was a school here in San Diego. He has spoken to the school. We had a receiving line after he spoke, kids would come up and shake his hand and say thanks or whatever. One kid came up and said, “I was going to commit suicide tonight. Now that I’ve heard you speak, I want to live.” I heard that and it just rocked my world. Later that day I was talking to Ron. His name's Ron Heagy, Roll on Ron. He said, “Greg, I’ve heard that thousands of times speaking to three million kids.”
He tells cool stories like one of his story. I share all this stuff with you but he talks about the kids. He goes, “I want everyone to do something for me. You’ve got to do something for me.” He can only move his head. “Do something for me. Take your finger point, get your finger just like that. Wave that around. Everyone wave around. Take it. Shove it up your nose. Now enjoy it because I have never picked my nose for 25 years.” You use humor in that stuff. He went to San Diego state, pecked his way with a pencil in his mouth to graduate his friends say, “We want to take you to the beach.” They take him in the wheelchair, get them out of the wheelchair, picked him out of the wheelchair, take them over, put them in a chair in the beach.
He's sitting there on the San Diego beach, enjoying the beach, watching all the hot girls go by, loving San Diego beach. They went off to frolic in the water. He’s sitting there and he's looking at the sky, just loving life. He sees a big pack of pelicans. If you're from San Diego, you've seen these pelicans. The pelicans come by and sure enough, here comes one takes off, takes a dump. Right smack on his forehead. He's like, “Greg, I couldn't believe it. I’m sitting there and the sun's baking it off my head. The women are walking by going what's up with that guy? Wipe it off.” Never Give Up is our foundation. We just try to do stuff like that. We're actually building a wheelchair accessible Camp in Maui. We're getting ready to be a big one for that.
Dustin
I want to move us into WealthFit round, which is my fancy name for rapid fire questions. Are you ready?
Greg
I’m ready.
Dustin
What's been your most worthwhile investment?
Greg
Myself.
Dustin
Outside of yourself, financially, what's been your most worthwhile because it is Get WealthFit?
Greg
I’m going to say what I’m doing. That will be Lifestyle Brands and Launch Cart.
Dustin
What's that investment you don't want to talk about? Where's that misstep?
Greg
I got hundreds of those.
Dustin
What comes to mind? Which one makes you laugh now?
Greg
I think I’ve had a way of deleting it out of my mind. I don't have any because believed in everything I invested in. I did my heart to make it work. Just deals don't work.
Dustin
When life is great and you want to treat yourself to something, what do you splurge on?
Greg
I go skiing. I go to the mountains. I like to ski. I like the helicopter ski. I like to go do extreme skiing. I’ve been skiing since I was four. I love doing that stuff. I hang glide too. I’ll go do some hang-gliding stuff.
Dustin
Hang gliding solo?
Greg
Yes.
Dustin
I’ve seen that here. I haven't done it yet. We will do it. I definitely want to go skiing. We got skiers that read this for sure. Any hidden hotspots that you care to share?
Greg
Island Lake.
Dustin
Where is it?
Greg
It's up in Canada. It's close to a place called Fernie and it's a private club and they probably have a waiting list for two years, but you snowcat in five minutes. They have five-star chefs, masseuses and then you snowcat on your own private range for three days and you hit it right. I’ve hit it a number of times where it's like knee-deep way deep hit powder, every run every day for three or four days. It’s incredible.
Dustin
I’m so excited to be on this coast because I’m a Florida boy and so skiing was far. It's drivable now. You probably don't ski in the drivable snow.
Greg
Where I come from, I’m not sure. Big Bear, that's really skiing. Let's pretend. You're not far from Salt Lake. You can go over to Salt Lake and ski the Rockies over there.
Dustin
I’m curious to know, you are a positive guy. However, I also know that most people I talked to at least admit to this, they have fear and self-doubt. I definitely had fear and self-doubt at times, especially in new situations, new environments. Do you have fear sometimes?
Greg
Absolutely.
Dustin
What do you do to overcome it?
Greg
Here's the thing. Remember I said I read the book, Think and Grow Rich. That was when I was nineteen, twenty years old. I got introduced to Denis Waitley, Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar and one of those guys. Probably all of them said, “Dedicate your life to learning.” If you're not learning, you're dying. If you're not growing, you're dying type thing. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to try and spend twenty minutes a day forever to learn. Can I say I’ve done twenty minutes every day? I can't really say it but I think I’ve done pretty close. I’ve been a personal development junkie my whole life and I have learned how to program my thoughts and emotions. I have my times where I get negative or I get down, I got to fight with them but I just start saying my things.
You’re meditating, saying my mantras. I’ll get out my little 3x5 cards sometimes. I wrote down $2.5 million funding because I’m in the process of raising some capital. I’m just going to look at that card and carry it around everywhere I can and start to manifest that money. You’ve got to learn how to control what goes on up here and then you have to be grateful. My favorite saying is, “Wake up every day with an attitude of gratitude and tell somebody who loved me to have a better day.” The bottom line is if you can't wake up and start talking about what you're grateful for, you're never going to get out of self-pity.
Dustin
I am working on that. It's easy, it comes and goes and what calls to me is we hit the milestone of 100 episodes at Get WealthFit. You start to reflect a little bit more and I woke up every day feeling more grateful. I am grateful but sometimes life gets you. It's easy just incorporating that. I think that's definitely spot on. Greg, in the last three years, what have you become better at saying no to?
Greg
Deals and focusing in on what we're trying to do here, and it is hard. When you have my background and you speak on stage, you have so many friends. That is the number one thing to success I’ve come to realize, focus. It’s not what you're saying yes to, it’s what are you saying no to. Again, I think it's different. For people like you and me, opportunity comes our way every day. You have any people that never been exposed to our world. They don't even know what opportunity looks like. There is that fine line in getting people exposed opportunity. For me it's every day, it's about saying no to every day and saying no to what's not a priority.
Dustin
Do you have any special routines or rituals you do to wake up or get you in peak state or make you, you?
Greg
I don't. I am a person of habit. I get up every day and I go down. I have business on the East Coast, so I get up 6:30, 7:00, I get my calls and do my stuff and look at my Facebook ads. I’m one of these guys, and you know this too about me, is I learn everything. I learned Facebook ads, I learned to do funnels and I learned all this stuff that way. I know if I’m hiring somebody, I’m getting a good deal. I’m running my own, like make a quarter million dollars a month in Facebook ad budget just because I want to keep on top of stuff. I think that's what we got to do. Besides that, no. I’m good at managing people and that's the other thing. It's hard. It's like we're growing. We went from three of us to 40 or 50 in seventeen months. You have to get better and better at delegating and not doing, it's hard not to do. It's like, “No, you could do as good as me.” You’re no different.
Dustin
Who do you learn from? Who are your mentors?
Greg
I’m learning from guys like Tim Bird. I got into Maxwell Finn. To me, it's all about the media buying and spending that money effectively. I love those guys that are actually out there doing it, teaching it and doing that stuff. I’m a man based on faith. I learn from the word of God.
Dustin
Do you experience overwhelm? Do you ever get stressed out?
Greg
I think I do, but not like most people. I think I’ve got to a point to where I’ve learned how to manage and control some of the most unbelievable situations we ever think. To me it's always about a solution. It's not like, “That's a problem. What's the solution?” I’ve had ups and downs my whole life. I’ve been up and down. I’ve had to file bankruptcy. I’ve lost companies before. I told you I got the vulture capital. In 2008 when the market crashed, I had $2.5 million in the bank that disappeared. One day it was there, the next day it was gone. I’ve had those things, get on my knees and praying and crying. It's just like, “Get up. What are you doing? What's the solution?”
Dustin
Thanks for that share. I want to know what you believe your biggest defining moment is. When I say defining moment, I say this. A single moment in time that you can see now when you look back and you said, “If I had gone and made a decision, my life would be completely different than it is today.” What comes to mind?
Greg
Remember I talked about being the youngest broker. I got into cocaine. It was terrible. I have an amazing testimony, where I tell the story and it wasn't God but God saved me. The short version of it is that I had called my mom and said, “I’m addicted to cocaine and if I don't get cleaned in the next two weeks, I want you to have me committed.” I called my dad. They were divorced. I said, “I’m addicted to cocaine.” I want to get clean on my own because I have strong willpower. I went up to stay at my dad's condo in Vail. During this week of going through withdrawals, God opened my eyes into the spirit realm, I saw angels and demons fighting. I saw the angels win and when the angels won, the demons left that I’d never had desired for cocaine. I’ve been clean ever since. It changed my life. I would be dead if it wasn't for that for sure.
Dustin
That's incredibly powerful. You are sharing the nuggets. Thank you big time. We get a lot of feedback from something said that makes a big impact for people, just like you said with Roland Ron. Thanks for making a big impact.
Greg
Thanks for the opportunity.
Dustin
Is there anything that we didn't talk about that you'd like to talk about?
Greg
I’m looking for people that want to get into eCommerce or you already have an eCommerce business and you need some help. Check out LaunchCart.com. We do eCommerce optimization. We do email marketing really well. We're always looking for that other influence or the other celebrity that wants to work with guys that have high integrity, they want to do the right thing and that you want to partner with. We do have an agency division but we're looking for people for the Launch Cart. If you're out there and you're an investor, I’m not the CEO anymore of Angel Investor Network, but if you sit there and you say, “I do want to get into investing. I want to look at these Shark Tank-type deals,” go to Angel Investor Network and check it out. We always want to grow our network. I had this vision to grow the network to over 1,000 investors so we can fund more companies, create more dreams, perpetuate free enterprise and capitalism.
Dustin
Do you want to drop some links? Where can people best keep tabs with what you're up to? Social media stuff, website links.
Greg
I have my GregWriter.com and on all the social media. It's Greg Writer on LinkedIn, everything like that. Of course, our website's LaunchCart.com and CelebrityLifestyleBrands.com.
Dustin
Greg, thank you for sharing, opening up, sharing your wisdom with us and personal life stories because they were incredibly powerful. I really appreciate you being here.
Greg
If I can help change one person's life, I’m happy for that. You’ve got to do what I do. Wake up every day with an attitude of gratitude and tell somebody you love them. You'll have a better day.
Dustin
Thanks.
Greg
Thank you.

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