Opportunity Zone Pitch Day - March 23rd
Adventures In Private Equity & Entrepreneurship – Andy Hagans w/ Billy Keels
WealthChannel co-founder Andy Hagans recently joined the Going Long Podcast with Billy Keels, to discuss his journey from creating and selling four different startup companies, to the world private equity. The replay of their conversation is released here on The Alternative Investment Podcast.
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- The most positive part of Andy’s day.
- Background on Andy’s career, and how it began by building a startup company in his college dorm room.
- Why Andy decided to invest in private equity, after creating, scaling and selling four different startup companies.
- Andy’s definition of an “alternative investment.”
- A destination in Europe that’s on Andy’s list to visit.
- Andy’s current book recommendation (especially recommended for entrepreneurs).
Today’s Guest: Andy Hagans, WealthChannel
Originally Published By The Going Long Podcast
- Going Long Podcast (First Generation Capital Partners)
- Going Long Podcast on Apple Podcasts
About The Alternative Investment Podcast
The Alternative Investment Podcast is a leading voice in the alternatives industry, covering private equity, venture capital, and real estate. Host Andy Hagans interviews asset managers, family offices, and industry thought leaders, as they discuss the most effective strategies to grow generational wealth.
Andy: Hi everyone, something special for you today. This is a replay of a podcast that I recorded with Billy Keels on the Going Long Podcast. You can check out the original version at firstgencp.com. Billy’s a wonderful host, so make sure to check out his podcast as well. And I hope you enjoy the show.
Billy: Today’s the conversation that you are going to want to listen to until the very last word, the very last word, I promise. You know why? Because today’s guest not only started his career managing strategies as well as online lead generation, this guy, he also co-founded various startups from 2005 to 2012, and the host of the super popular podcast, “The Alternative Investing Podcast.” It gives me great pleasure to welcome today’s conversation, Mr. Andy Hagans. Andy, welcome to the show, man.
Andy: Thanks for having me, Billy. I’m excited. This is fun.
Billy: Oh, man, I cannot wait. This is gonna be so… I loved our pre-conversation. I love just the ability to connect with you. I love the things that you’re doing on your podcast already, the way that you are helping to build education, exposure, and also the real-life experience that you had. And I’m sure that the entire Going Long family is going to learn loads from this conversation today. So I’m super excited to jump into it. Andy, you’re ready to get started?
Andy: Let’s do it. I love to talk. My team’s always telling me that I love to talk, and I’m like, “Well, that’s why I need to be on podcasts, right? I can get paid to talk.”
Billy: Yeah. That’s exactly it. Oh, that’s another thing that we have in common. Let me make sure that I add that to the notes here. So, listen, as you know, Andy, you’re gonna get five questions from me, at least five questions. I’m gonna give you two in the beginning here in just a second, and you’re gonna get three in the very end and then. In the middle, well, we’re gonna get a bunch of questions. I just don’t know what those are yet, because they’re gonna be based on the answers and stuff like that.” So you like to talk, I like to talk. Let’s work on helping the entire Going Long family, get to know more about you. So help us understand, where is it that you call home today in the US?
Andy: I live in Holland, Michigan. It’s a town in the southwest corner of the state, about a couple hours, two hours outside of Chicago. The town is called Holland, and we do have lots of tulips here. We have the Tulip Festival every year, so it’s not just a name, it’s very, very Dutch where we live here.
Billy: Okay. Well, very fantastic. You know what, I was just getting ready to say, man, that’s like the perfect combination, like, with me being in Europe right now, you being in the States, Midwest, two Midwest guys, and Holland, Michigan. Wow, that’s fantastic. Awesome. So appreciate you sharing that with us. And then also, one of the other things, Andy, I really love positivity. It’s one of the cornerstones, and I think it’s one of the things that helps us every day to continue to progress just a little bit forward faster. So I would love for you to share with me and the entire Going Long family, what is the most positive thing that’s happened to you, or let’s even say for you, in the last 24 hours?
Andy: I gotta be honest, the most positive thing that happens to me every day is waking up next to my bride, Diana. I love business. I love the game. I love investing. I love startups, all that stuff. But at the end of the day, I’m a family man. And, you know, in business, I have up days and down days and good days and bad days, right? Like, we run into business, there’s always ups and downs. But my wife, she always brightens my day. I gotta be honest, that’s the most positive thing that happens to me every day.
Billy: You know what? And I absolutely love that you share that, that you share that perspective and the importance of being able to have that, because as you know, it goes beyond money. And then being able to have that person that brightens your day, that makes your day even that much brighter, happier and just adds that little extra oomph is fantastic. So thank you so much for sharing that with us, helping to get the things started off in a positive direction. Hey, Andy, do you mind if I share a little something with you?
Andy: No, no, go ahead.
Billy: All right. Well, here’s the thing. I’m a recovering perfectionist, and what that means is sometimes I try to do things that are well, almost impossible. And what I mean by that is trying to do things like telling your entire backstory in like one and a half seconds or maybe I gave myself two seconds today, I don’t know, but whatever it was, it was like impossible. You can’t do that kind of stuff. So I put my hand up, I let you know, I’m a recovering perfectionist, but most importantly, I really am gonna ask you for your help, because here, I would love for you to share your backstory in your own words. And because you’re our guest today, you can take a lot more than two seconds. You take the time that you need to tell your backstory so that we get a chance to know more about you.
And then also too, Andy, if you could share some of the major decisions that you’ve made to get to this point in your journey? And then we’ll see where you and I take the conversation from there.
Andy: Yeah, I love it. I’m gonna start at age 21, right? So I won’t go way back, I’ll start kind of with my professional story. So I went to the University of Notre Dame. And my roommate, Jimmy Atkinson, he’s now my business partner. We hit it off. We became, you know, great friends. It’s funny. Is it a gene? Maybe it’s not a gene. Maybe it’s a gene that activates. We both have the entrepreneurship gene. And I say gene because my dad is a business owner, his dad is a business owner. So sometimes, you know, people will go into entrepreneurship and their parents were not entrepreneurs, but I do think that sometimes, you know, you kind of, you kind of have that gene.
So we ended up starting a business in our dorm room, which I know sounds incredibly cliche, right? But it’s true, we did. And without going too much into that first business, it did not really click. But it led to our next business, which was a marketing business and lead generation. So we built that business up and we ended up selling it to private equity buyers. Believe it or not, that was age, shoot, that was like age 24, 25 wen we sold that first one. Over the next six, seven, eight years, we built three more businesses and we ended up selling them all to private equity buyers.
One of those businesses that we built, by the way, was ETF database or ETF DB. If you’re into exchange-traded fund investing, some people have heard of that, it’s now part of a much bigger company called 06:35 Vet I, which is a really cool company. But we sold that. So we’re no longer involved with that. But we built these four businesses. I love startups. I just love that creative phase of building something, you know, that feeling you have of kind of starting from nothing. clean slate. Like, I can wake up, hit the day hard, do whatever I want, you know, but obviously trying to create value in the business.
This kind of gets me to my first mistake realization, or whatever you want to call it, Jimmy and I, we kept building these businesses and selling them to either strategic buyers that were backed by private equity or to private equity buyers. The liquidity is great. When you’re in your 20s and you have the ability to, you know, sell your business and then, you know, go buy a house, you know. I was starting a family at that time, you know. So, I don’t have any regrets. Like, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any regrets. Like, sometimes there are very good reasons to exit a business, to have that liquidity event.
But I realized over a period of time, it wasn’t like one aha moment, but it kind of gradually dawned on me that the private equity buyers, that side of all these deals, they were actually doing better on the deals than we were. And again, I’m not bitter that we sold these businesses, but it kind of dawned on me like, “Oh wow, we’re building these business and selling them to these private equity folks and then these private equity buyers, they’re taking something that we build up to be big, you know, not huge, but significant, and then I watch them grow at 3x or 10x, 25x bigger, and I’m going, ‘Oh, wow, that’s where the real money is made, you know, in a way.'”
So that’s kind of when it clicked for me, I actually want to be on the private equity side, and that was kind of a turning point in my career, I would say.
Billy: Wow, you know what, that’s really interesting. So, you and Jimmy at 21, you go through this point where, well, you’ve kind of seen this because you both had seen this from dad. And you go out there and you’re probably ready to get out there and make your very first, build your business and sell it off. And well, guess what? It didn’t kind of work out that way. But one of the things that’s really interesting is, through this iteration right now, because I’ve been living in Europe for a really long time and sometimes there’s this concept of, “Hey, listen, if you fail,” and that’s not a good thing, right?
But what I’ve just heard you talk about is, well, you learned through that first event, and that first event led to the second, which led to the third, which led to…which sounds like a rinse and repeatable process. But you also talked about realizing, “Hang on the second we’re on one side of the fence or the other. Maybe I kind of like what’s going on the other side of the fence.” The very first question that comes to my mind, Andy, and I hear you talk about that, because you talked about this, like they’re doing something different on the private equity side of things, they’re going three to 25 times. What was it that you recognized that they were doing differently to the extent that you could have been exposed, that really made you say, “Not just because it was the 3 to 25x, but you’re the startup person, you like being able to fix, build things?
And so what was it that you were noticing that they were doing differently, that were taking something that you had built and done really well with your team, but then they took it 3 to 25 times even further beyond what it was worth?
Andy: Yeah, well, I guess to use the economic or political terms, you have labor and you have capital. And as an entrepreneur, as a startup person, as a business owner, a huge part of your value, maybe the main part of your value, if you think, is your labor, right? Like, if you’re really good at something, like, you know, you’re very good at podcasting, you’re very good on this passive and, you know, syndication side, that’s really labor, that’s a skillset that you have that creates economic value. So I already knew, well, I have a skillset and most people have a skillset that’s economically valuable. But at a certain point when you exit a business, well, now you have capital.
And what the private equity folks were doing, what these groups were doing, by the way, they’re very talented, they’re entrepreneurs in their own right. They’re not startup guys, it’s not that they’re not entrepreneurs. What they’re doing differently is they’re leveraging their labor and their capital. Because I was just putting my labor to work. And honestly, the businesses that we built, one of them was kind of a roll-up where we were putting capital to work where we raised money from other investors, but two of ’em, yeah, at least two of ’em were just like pure labor plays, like, you know, the kind of thing you bootstrap, you start the business with $10,000, like, it’s just totally bootstrapped.
What I saw them doing was they’d already had these successful careers where they’d been able to, you know, earn capital, save a bunch of money, they’re managing their own private portfolios, private wealth, and what they’re doing is they’re combining their expertise, their value add their talents with their capital. And so, if you’re gonna 3x something or 10x something, do you wanna start with that $10,000 startup and then 10x that? Well, like, that’s cool. But what these guys were doing is they were acquiring businesses for 2 million, 4 million, 10 million, 15 million. Or in the private equity world, you know, sometimes they’re buying a business for a billion dollars or whatever.
If you 3x that, if you 10x that, if you 25x that, you know, you can do the math, it’s way higher returns.
Billy: Yeah. And so the returns are higher at the end of the day. And so this talks to the person as well that is listening to what you’re saying and saying, “Well, yeah, but one is 10,000, the other is, you know, a million or three million.” But I think what is really important to understand what Andy is saying is the mechanics are very similar. They’re not saying that they’re the same, but they’re very similar. However, it’s just you’re attacking different problems at different phases, which therefore also creates different multiples in terms of what the returns are. Would that be accurate?
Andy: That’s totally true, Billy. I want to be clear, I encourage anyone with any amount of savings to think about investing and putting their capital to work. Because it’s almost like you wanna form that habit, that’s like a success habit, put your money to work, let your money earn you more money. But the fact of the matter is, there are different phases. If you’re at a point in your life where you’re in an entry level job and you’re barely earning any money, that advice to save 10% of what you earn, you should get, you absolutely should. But honestly, the main thing is, you should concentrate on earning more if you wanna be successful. That’s really step one, is to play offense, is to be able to save some significant money, right?
Billy: Yeah, absolutely. C could you repeat that just because I wanna make sure that people actually understood what you said there, because that was, like, super powerful. Would you mind repeating that?
Andy: Well, I’m gonna repeat kind of it all. It’s important to save and invest no matter where you are. I mean, unless you’re literally hand to mouth, if you can save anything, 5% of your paycheck, start investing to form the habit. But also realize, if you wanna follow this kind of path of private equity, that you need to basically focus on your career, start earning money so you can save a significant amount of capital, then the numbers get a lot more exciting.
Billy: Yeah. And that’s the point there, and I appreciate you repeating it because it’s, number one, understanding that you need to understand your individual context, number one. Number two is being able to save is something that’s important. But if that is not where you are today, make sure that you are doing everything that you can to generate income, right? And when you’re able to generate income and then you’re able to siphon a portion of that, then you can get into a different game.
The reason I say that Andy is, you know, I grew up and, you know, both of my parents worked two jobs most of their lives. And so they worked harder and harder and harder. But that siphoning off to be able to actually have savings to then get into another game. That part was one of the things that I didn’t see. It took me quite later to realize like, “Okay, yeah, go out and earn a lot.” But then I also realized, okay, earning a lot is one thing, keeping a lot is another thing. Because the more that you can keep, then it allows you to play in different games.
here’s one of the things, and we’ve talked about this before. Where you kind of started was in an area of leads and the importance of leads and those types of things. I would like for you to talk about that just because for anyone who is an aspiring business owner, for someone who really wants to be able to create a future for themselves, the importance of being able to generate awareness of what it is that you’re doing, can you talk a little bit about that? Because that’s probably one of the things that you and Jimmy were doing way back in the day. And it’s something that’s still relevant today. And I know you’ve also learned a lot from that. So maybe you could share some of your past experiences with us.
Andy: That’s a great question. And I’m gonna do my best to tell you the truth, and it may be something totally different from what most people will tell you. To me, I look at marketing leads, sales. You have two ends of the spectrum. And by the way, this is a lesson that took me like 20 years to learn.
Billy: Get your pens and paper out everyone. Yes, I did say pen and paper because he is getting ready to share some knowledge. Get ready.
Andy: Well, you have direct marketing on one end, and I love direct marketing. Direct marketing is the thing where maybe it’s on Google AdWords or Facebook ads or whatever channel. If you can put a dollar into spend on that channel and get back $1 and 10 cents, then you recycle the next dollar into the channel, you get out a dollar and 10, that’s direct marketing where you’re looking for sales as quick as you can. You put money, time into a marketing channel, you get those sales back and that allows you to invest more money into that sales channel.
So that’s direct marketing. And I love direct marketing. And so everybody should concentrate on a channel that can grow immediate sales. But, the real money is made in the branding, and that’s a long-term game. What I’ve kinda learned is, ultimately, if you have to choose one, well, I think I would choose branding, but normally, branding takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of money, it takes consistent effort. Like, I’m focused right now on building a 10-year brand, that’s a long time. Well, I need to make sure I have enough cash coming into my company and my company’s succeeding for 10 years to even have the ability to do that.
So you need to focus on the short term and you need to also focus on the long term. That branding is super important. But now, on the short term for a second. This is something that I have learned again from that school of hard knocks of entrepreneurship, which is, when Jimmy and I got started in lead generation, we are honestly good at like one thing, which was SEO, search engine optimization. So we were getting, like, all of our leads off of Google. And by the way, we weren’t necessarily doing a great job of building a brand. Maybe one of our businesses did a really good job of that, but the other three were more just direct marketing.
Well, the way that we actually had success with those businesses was getting good at one thing and just scaling the living heck out of that one thing. That’s a big tip that I still live by. So to be transparent, where we are right now is like, basically a month ago, I woke up and I was like, “You know, I’m getting a lot of traction and audience and engagement and leads off of LinkedIn.” And I was like, “Let’s just not even bother with all those other social sites. Let’s just focus on LinkedIn for six months.” We kind of teed it up and got started yesterday. So my secret weapon, Scott, he’s on our team, he’s really driving that forward.
And like even right away, like literally in one day, I’m like, “Well, we already have more traction.” So right now, we’re just focusing on that one channel. So my advice, if you’re in sales, if you’re building a business, you probably already kind of have a sense of which channel you’re good at. And so rather than say, “I need to be on Twitter, I need to be on Facebook, I need to be on LinkedIn, I need to do this, I need to do that.” Well, everybody needs an email list. But aside from that, focus on what you’re good at, try and scale that and really crush one channel. Once you’ve been crushing that channel for six months, okay, now go ahead and add that second channel.
Billy: I absolutely love that. Just to talk to the importance of leads, being able to build business, understanding the importance between where it’s coming from direct or, and then that direct marketing space, which is something that’s gonna be a shorter timeframe versus the longer timeframe. Loved how you frame that with the brand. And so I appreciate that insight. I wanna pivot a little bit because I know even you’re, as you’re talking today, and it’s one of the things that you are passionate about. You’re so passionate about it, you even have a podcast about it, “The Alternative Investment Podcast.”
I’m a big fan of alternative investments. People throw the word around all over the place. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Mr. Haggins, I wanna ask you, help us understand what in the world, when you say an alternative investment, how do you define that?
Andy: Billy, it should be the simplest question ever, it’s actually the hardest question ever. In fact, I literally have experts in the alts industry on my show and I ask them the same question, everybody sighs when you ask that question because it’s like, it can be a little complicated. But I’m gonna do my best to give the simple answer, which is, traditional investments, stocks, bonds, and cash. And if you have something like a mutual fund or an index fund or and ETF that’s holding stocks or bonds, we can kind of squint and say, “Well, those are stocks and bonds.” Those are traditional investments. Alternative investments is anything else.
So, any kind of a private fund that’s not publicly traded, multi-family fund, multi-family syndication deal, any kind of real estate, private equity, you know, buying businesses, venture capital, angel investing, farmland, commodities, just really anything that’s not stocks, bonds, or cash is an alternative investment.
Billy: Thank you for simplifying that, by the way. And as you explained, sometimes it makes me laugh because it’s really the exception are the things that we’re sold on Wall Street, It seems like the rest of the world is what we call alternative which is sort of I guess a misnomer, you know. The alternatives are actually pretty much anything and everything that is not directly related to Wall Street. Anyway, I thought I would ask that question.
Andy: Yeah, You’re right. I know
Billy: Because I didn’t even know world existed, you know, growing up the way that I did. But then later you realize that there is a whole world out there. There’s the world of private placements, there’s the different types of exemptions and whether you’re an accredited investor or whether you’re a qualified investor or a qualified professional and these different types of terms that provide you access to other types of investments.
Trusting that you enjoy today’s conversation. And you know what, if you’re tired of getting crushed by taxes and you’re looking for greater freedom to be able to choose what you want to do when you want to do it, make sure that you go to firstgencp.com/goinglong and see how we can help you today. Let’s get back to the conversation.
These types of sometimes alternative investments. Andy, my belief, or I understand what I think, but if it comes from Wall Street, there tends to be this idea that there’s so much risk related to alternative investments. I know that risk and like risk-adjusted returns and these types of things are something that… Tou’re even smiling about now, right?
Billy: Talk to us about when we’re looking in the alternative investment space and this whole concept of risk and how we should be evaluating risk, could you talk to us, just enlighten us a little bit about what your thoughts are around that?
Andy: Well, that’s a great question. I guess why I was smiling was because when people say alternative investments are risky, I agree. I think that’s right in the sense that when you’re investing in anything, you have to understand what you’re investing in or you’re gonna be in for a hard time. But why I smile, that’s also true of stocks and bonds. Everyday investors know that you can lose 20% of your capital in bonds in a year. Or, you know, in 2008, did investors know that the stock market can just literally draw down by 50%. And then you might say, “Well, but then it went back up.” And I’m like, “Well, the stock market did, but a lot of investors actually sold at the bottom, so no, they didn’t really ride it back up. They actually did take that permanent hit to their portfolio.”
There’s risk in any type of investment, especially the biggest risks, number one, if you don’t understand it, if you’re not willing to put in the time to research it and understand it. And then number two, behavioral risk. I think this is the risk that is talked about the least, but is probably the most important behavioral risk is, you know, you’re your own worst enemy as an investor 99 times out of 100. If you’re listening to this, there’s one person in the world that’s gonna be the world’s next Warren Buffet, but it probably isn’t you. I know it’s not me, I’m not the world’s next Warren Buffet. You’re probably prone to the same behavioral traps that the rest of us are.
And so, a big behavioral trap that people have in the traditional markets is they buy high and they sell low, because those assets, because they’re liquid, they’re being repriced in real time, day in and day out. Mr. markets repricing every stock, you know, every index fund, every ETF and a lot of investors, when they see those numbers go down, they panic, they sell at the bottom. That’s a huge drag on return. So, when you see that graph of the S&P and you say, “oh, the S&P returns 8% a year in the long run,” well, that’s not what it returns to the typical investor.
The typical investor actually trails that return because of that behavioral risk. So, with alternatives, now by contrast, you know, when people talk about risk, one of the first things they go to is, these are illiquid. And that is a type of risk in a way. Like, if you need cash and your investment is not liquid, you may not be able to access it at all, or if you access it, you have to sell it, like at a deep discount or pay a penalty. So, sure, that’s a risk. But on the other hand, I’m like, well, that can also be a protection, because some of these alternatives, the fact that they’re illiquid, I look at it like it’s a feature, not a bug, because like the market, you know, the real estate market, all these REITs are down.
And so, a lot of folks who own publicly traded REITs, they’re tempted to sell out because the market’s down. Well, if you’re in a private placement owning real estate through an alternative investment, maybe you can’t sell right now. And that might end up being a really good thing because those investments may be worth way more in five years, and so, the fact that you were illiquid may end up being a good thing. So, you know, there are risks in all of this stuff, but my thing is, you know, sometimes the risks of these publicly traded markets aren’t really talked about and they’re really hurting a lot of investors.
Billy: Yeah. And when you have that impact, that negative impact on investors, you know, you bring to light two things that I believe are extremely important, because as you talk about risk, and I want you as a Going Long family to understand what Andy’s saying, he said first it’s education, it’s knowledge. If you don’t have the knowledge, of course everything is risky because you don’t even know what you’re doing. So, at least start there. But then also recognize who you are as an investor. What are the things that you feel, one, educated around, and two, that you feel comfortable investing?
You use a perfect example, Andy, the liquidity versus being illiquid. Well, you know what? Sometimes when you have the right team in place, you have the right knowledge, you’ve asked the right questions, you’ve gotten all of the things that internally would’ve kept you from making a decision. You’ve started with the knowledge, you got the behavioral stuff out, and then it’s time to move forward. And then being able to understand what are some of the potential impacts that could happen over the next month, three years, five years, 10 years, because the time horizons are different for every one of these different investments, you have to feel comfortable with that from an education, a knowledge base, as well as from a behavioral base.
I love how you broke that down for us, Andy. Thanks so much. Another thing I did want to ask you, and it goes to this concept of, because you’ve seen a lot, you’ve invested in and have been exposed to the gamut as it relates to investments. There’s always this question of portfolio diversification or portfolio specification. Could you talk to us a little bit about what your thoughts are or also, too, as you interact with other thought leaders on this kind of concept of diversification versus specification and kind of how we can be thinking about that to better move forward towards our life goals or our life priorities?
Andy: Boy, that’s a great question. I mean, I think it has to start from the premise that every investor is unique, every investor’s goals situation is unique. Also, every investor’s liquidity needs are unique. So, back to that last point about liquidity versus illiquidity, and this is back to the mistake that I realized I was making when I was scaling businesses and selling them. I was selling these privately owned businesses, taking the proceeds, and in largely investing them in liquid assets, you know, stocks, bonds, ETFs, index funds. And by the way, I still own plenty of traditional investments, so, I do have a very diversified portfolio. That’s what’s right for me.
But I realized like liquidity is expensive, you know, in the sense that a typical bond fund, a typical stock fund, they actually don’t generate very much income. The fact that they’re liquid essentially, you know, on a conceptual basis means that they traded a premium, that they have a higher multiple. The concept is, if you don’t need the liquidity, then generally, I think you’re better off investing in illiquid investments if they’re right for you, if you’re willing to research them. You know, again, this is personal. If you can’t live with illiquidity, if you can’t sleep at night being illiquid, then they’ll do it.
This is your portfolio, gotta fit you, but in general, again, on a conceptual basis, I’ve noticed with my investments, the illiquid investments, the private equity, the private stuff, the angel investments, those types of things, they generate much higher returns than what I have in traditional investments. That being said, what helps me sleep at night is that diversified portfolio. So, that’s what fits me. It’s what I want, you know, it’s personal to me, that’s what I’m comfortable with. So, that’s what I do. And I’m a big alternatives believer, but I still own those traditional investments because I like the diversify portfolio.
Billy: And so, understanding that you have a strong focus on alternative type of investments, you’re also invested in what people would say, “traditional.” One of the things, what I’m taking away from what you’re saying is that it’s about understanding yourself. And so, you’ve been in a different place, I mean, I’ve gone through this, but what would you say to that person who they’re the busy, high paid professional, high income earner today, they’re super busy. They’re listening to you and I and they’re thinking to ourselves, “Well, wow, that sounds really great. Andy knows himself and he knows that he’s focused on his liquidity goals, but he also knows for his situation, he feels that it’s the right thing to have a diversified portfolio. Billy knows where he’s focused, da, da, da. I’m just so busy, I don’t even know how to figure out what is the right thing for me.”
Well, what do you say to that person that knows that what they’re doing today, that there’s not even almost a strategy there. They’re setting it and forgetting it because that’s what they were taught. They were so busy now in their job or whatever is going on in their life, they just need maybe some direction to say, “How do I even figure out what’s the right thing for me?” What do you say to that person, Andy?
Andy: That’s a good question. I would say, step one, take out your phone. Open up your calendar, schedule out time to even think of this, address it, brainstorm it, because Billy, think how amazing this is that this is literally your future, or you know, if you’re like me, you’re a married man or married woman, if you have kids, maybe you have parents you take care of, not only your future, this might be other people’s future, and you’re not even thinking about it and you haven’t even scheduled out any time. By the way, an hour a year. I schedule out literally an hour a year, just kind of an annual portfolio checkup. You know, it’s barely any time.
But even just that, putting it on my calendar and having that accountability like, “This is important enough that I need to schedule a little bit of time to think about it and address it,” that’s literally step one. If you’re not even willing to block out an hour to think about this, then what can I really do to help you? That’s step one. It’s just like, decide that you are worth it, that your family is worth it to figure this out. That would be step one.
Billy: Love it. And keep it simple. And typically, and I love how you use the example of taking out your phone because the things that are in your phone, usually in your calendar are the things that are the priorities. And so, you must make that time for those things in your life that are priorities. And if this is important, moving forward towards your life goals and your life priorities, listen to what Andy just said. Literally, make an hour for yourself, start jotting this down, get in touch. Andy’s got an amazing podcast, he’ll give you wonderful ideas. We already talked about at “The Alternative Investment Podcast.” You’re here listening to the “Going Long Podcast”.
You’ve got Google, you’ve got a number of different things that can help at least help you get started. And then reach out to people who are actually doing, that will help you move forward faster as well. Andy, before we get into the Going Long final three, and I know we talked about this in the beginning, but I do want you to tell us a little bit about what you’ve got going on at “The Alternative Investment” database, because I know that that’s something also too that’s helping people to get their life goals and priorities in order and in shape. We didn’t even really talk about it. Talk to me a little bit about what’s going on.
Andy: Yeah. So my partner, Jimmy and I, we both have podcasts. He has the “Opportunity Zones Podcast,” which is also, it’s a really cool podcast on that covers this really niche type of private equity fund. I have “The Alternative Investment Podcast” that covers, it mainly covers private equity, but it also covers, you know, venture capital, private credit, really any type of alternative investment. And what our goal is, you know, you kind of talked about education being step one. With alternative investments, there really is a lack of information, a lack of understanding. It’s just opaque. Opaque is the word my business partner Jimmy always uses. It’s relatively opaque.
I mean, if you wanna learn about index funds, stocks, and bonds, there are like one million books you can buy. And they’re just more approachable. There’s also books about alts, but they’re honestly just less approachable. So, what our goal is, is we’re educating folks and we’re covering these products, these strategies and tactics for investors. And I think here’s the important part and why it’s kind of working is at the end of the day, we’re investors. You know, I’m an investor, I’m an LP, you know, funds like your funds, similar types of private equity investments, I invest in them. So, actually I live it. I have that experience, so does Jimmy.
And so, I guess, I don’t wanna say we’re objective, but we kind of see the market from the eyes of the investor, Like at the end of the day, I’m not really any different from your listener because I’m not a financial industry professional, I’m an LP investor. So, we cover all these products and strategies and I mean, we have great guests on the show. I’m hoping to get Billy on the show soon. You know, folks like him just talking about their strategies, how they generate alpha for investors and five, seven, eight times a year we’re scaling up this year. We hold events. So, that’s our main thing. Like the podcasts bring in the audience and they do a good job at that, but our events, like those are where the real magic happens.
So, you know, you kind of mentioned, you kind of alluded to this, there’s a lot of LPs or even potential LPs that are like, “I want to invest, I wanna learn more about this, where do I start? Where do I begin?” So, I got good news for you. We run these investor events and they bring together leading private funds, leading managers on the one hand. On the other side, we invite high net-worth accredited investors and it’s free for the investors. It’s free. They’re online events, and so, they’re basically jam-packed all day. And it’s a combination of educational content and fun presentations where these managers are talking about their funds.
And you know, there’s other conferences and things in the industry. They’re more like B2B where like professionals are getting together talking to other professionals. And I’m like, “No, I wanna see action happen. I wanna see like people decide, like get hooked into a strategy and learn about that strategy and then decide, ‘Literally, tomorrow I’m placing 250K in capital into that fund because I just connected with this manager.'” And so, it’s all live, it’s real time, and we allow people to kind of engage with each other. And then we also do educational segments, so it’s not just transactional, it’s kind of a combination.
They’ve been super successful. Investors love ’em. And fund managers love ’em because, you know, they’ll try and run webinars on their own and like, sometimes it can be hard to get even 50 people to show for a webinar, and we’re like, “Well, come present at our show. We have like 1,000 plus LP investors that register that wanna know more about funds.” So, those are really the main part of our business, but honestly, the most fun I have is with my podcast because as you know, I love to talk.
Billy: Yeah, yeah. We’ve got that in common, man. And I appreciate you helping us understand a bit more about what you’re doing, helping us understand not just your podcast, but also Jimmy’s podcast and also how you are continuing to help to educate, as well as bring people together, because at the end of the day, this is what it’s about. And so, here’s the other thing though. I know you and I love the talk, Andy, but I’ve gotta get us into the Going Long final three. But the thing is, I never get us into the Going Long final three unless you tell us because you’re our special guest today that you’re ready. Are you ready?
Andy: I’m ready for the final three. Let’s do it.
Billy: I knew you’d be ready man. You were born ready. I knew that about you. So, here we go. So, we started with you over in Holland, Michigan. I wanna bring it back, even though I’m from Columbus, Ohio, I wanna bring things back to this side of the pond because this is what I’ve been calling home for the last 22 years. Help us understand, Andy, what is your favorite European city that you’ve either visited or is still on your bucket list to visit?
Andy: So, I’m gonna give you my bucket list city in Europe, which is, I’d really love to go to Lourdes in France. So, if any listeners are Catholic, you probably know the story of Bernadette and our Lady of Lourdes. Well, my favorite saint is Saint Zaley Martin. She’s French, So, she lived in France and when she was six, she went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes for healing. And I find Saint Zaley’s story just like so meaningful, inspirational to me. And so, I really wanna follow in her footsteps. I want to go to Lord’s. I’d love to bring my family with me. That’s probably gonna have to wait a few years because literally, we have a baby. So, I’m not into flying to Europe, baby. That’s probably…
Billy: No, don’t do that. Yeah, yeah. Just wait.
Andy: That’s my bucket list though. I want to go to France, I want to go to Lourdes.
Billy: All right. Well, that’s fantastic. Well, one year sabbatical that started 22 years ago started in France as well. So, absolutely fantastic. Question number two has a lot to do with successful people, and I know you know a lot about people that are successful being a successful person yourself. I have also been exposed to lots of people that are extremely successful and I’ve noticed a couple of traits and so I’d really love for you to help me here. But like one of the things, and I mean, you’re a startup guys, so you’ve done this, you’ve seen this over and over and over again.
The thing that people that are very successful do differently than most, Andy, is that they typically have a plan. And one of the things that they do differently is with that plan, they get the plan, no matter how many different plans they have, each one of those plans, they get them done and they are done perfectly every time the first time, which allows successful people to go on…he’s kind of smiling at me, I don’t even know what he’s smiling about. No, you know what, this is my show, I do it all the time. I get all excited. I think that’s how figure this is [crosstalk 0:16:16].
Andy: No, I love this spiel on everything going perfectly. That just makes me laugh.
Billy: Yeah, of course, it’s just me having fun with my show. I’m usually like, “Are people paying attention?” And the smile on Andy’s face, if you guys are not watching the video version, you need to check out the video version because the smile just went from like literally ear to ear. Of course, Andy, you know how it goes, man. People have this idea that successful people get things right every time the first time and it’s just simply not true. The reality is the most successful people usually make 20 to 50 times more mistakes than anybody else because they’re always trying new things.
But here’s the thing, the first part was a joke, just me having fun, but this is real. The idea is those people that are really successful every single time, they make a relevant mistake, a relevant mistake or learning opportunity or call it whatever you wanna call it. Every single time they learn from that mistake, but more importantly, what they do after is amazing. They put different strategies, tactics and actions in place to minimize the probability of that exact same thing happening again. So, you’re someone who’s successful, I don’t want you to think about the learning opportunities, I don’t want you to think about the mistakes that were made, but more importantly, what were the lessons and more importantly for the Going Long family today, what is the one lesson that you want to share with us that you know we need to hear to be able to get closer to our life goals and priorities and minimize the probability of making that same type of mistake?
Andy: Well, two, they’re really the same thing, but earlier I talked about how, you know, when Jamie and I were in our 20s, early 30s, we built these businesses, we sold them and I realized, you know, the private equity side, they were doing well on these deals and I was like, “Okay, that’s the game I wanna play. I wanna stop building and selling businesses. I want to start, you know, investing on the private equity side, leveraging my capital along with leveraging, you know, my time and my talents.” But that’s kind of the lesson on the first level. But I think the deeper lesson is I was thinking too small.
And so now, my best advice is to think big. If you have a big dream, it probably scares you a little bit because it’s like, “Well, if I say that dream out, if I tell somebody that dream, well that’s already really scary. I don’t even wanna say this out loud. What if they laugh at me?” Or even if I admit to myself that I really want this dream, well now I’ve just raised the stakes because what if I don’t achieve that dream? Now I feel like a failure because I failed. So, it’s like I don’t even wanna identify this dream. But I believe most people are capable of way more than they know that they’re capable of.
And so, my best advice and what I’m trying to do is think big, because you’re probably capable of like 10 times more than you think you’re capable of. So, don’t settle for the half dream. Like whatever it is you really want, take that risk to say it out loud and say, “That’s what I really want.” And then go after it.
Billy: Love it. Absolutely love it. So, think big, think bigger and then go after it. Love that. Here’s the last question, Andy, I always love for us to fill our brains with knowledge. You’ve shared a number of different things with us already, but what is one book that you would recommend to the Going Long family today?
Andy: 10X by Grant Cardone? It is absolute fire. I mean my thing is, if you can get inspired and take action, you don’t need the perfect plan. You can make plenty of mistakes. But if you can get motivated, you know, if you can identify that big dream and then find a way to keep yourself motivated to hit it hard, I think that’s when people become unstoppable. And you know, I think Grant Cardone’s just a great really inspirational guy and you gotta fill your life with things that inspire you to take action and inspire you to success. So, I definitely would recommend that. I’m having my whole team read it and they’re loving it too. We’re just soaking it up.
Billy: All right, fantastic. So, 10X, and don’t worry everybody for running on the treadmill, we’re gonna have links in the show notes. So, all you need to do is click a link, don’t worry if you’re cooking dinner or all that kind of stuff. We’ll make it really, really simple for you. So, you know, and Andy, this is just one of these things, you and I both like to talk, I can’t even believe this conversation like it’s just gone by so fast. And I’m thinking to myself, well you and Jimmy at Notre Dame, you’re figuring out, you guys want to go out and you want to do something, you wanna set the world on fire. You’ve got these father entrepreneurs, these role models. So, you guys go out, you’re ready to set the world on fire.
And the very first thing you do well, it doesn’t work out exactly like you thought, but you know what, you gained a lot of experience and you started to recognize that there’s certain patterns that you could do. And so, by the time you were 24, 25, not only had you started to repeat, but you recognized that there was a process, you rinsed and repeated the process a number of times till you got to the point to realize like, “Wow, we’re so good at this.” But then I’m looking on the other side. The people that are actually taking what we’ve created from scratch, are then three to 25 times in this. And so, hang on a second, this whole labor versus capital thing, how can we figure this out so you can get to the life that you really want to live?
And so, as you start putting these things together, you realize that you also want where you want to be, that you want to continue to have your capital work harder. You understand yourself because you’ve sat down, you’ve prioritized your time, you’ve built your life goals and priorities, understood the type of portfolio that you want to be able to have to get you to the lifestyle that you want to lead. And along the way, you continue to make the focus of your world, the alternative investment space. You even have a podcast named after it and you’re bringing people together so that they can take theory and put it into practice.
And so, the entire Going Long family’s thinking to myself, “Billy, just get over it. Just ask him the question, please.” So, here’s what everybody really wants to know, Andy, what is the best way for the Going Long family to find out more about what it is that you’re doing and also how we can find out more about what you’re doing at the alternative investment database? Over to you.
Andy: Yeah, 100% connect with me on LinkedIn. We love LinkedIn. There’s a lot of social platforms. Some of ’em, you know, I don’t care to spend my time on them necessarily. But there’s a lot of good stuff on LinkedIn. So, all of your listeners, if you want to connect with me, just look up Andy Hagans on LinkedIn, send me a request, I’ll accept it. So, I want to hear from you guys and you know, I’m just happy to connect there.
Andy: There is one other plug, if I can make one other point.
Billy: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Andy: To your listeners, I know that your show has helped a ton of people, and I’ve watched and before I came on, I watched some of the episodes. I’m like, “This guy’s really good. I love this show.” And my team said the same thing, they’re like, “This guy’s really good.” I’m like, “I know.” So, if you’re listening to this right now and this show has helped you, please pay it forward, go open up… Don’t wait and say, “I’ll do this later.” Get your phone out right now, open it up, go to Apple Podcast, go to Spotify, leave a rating and review, because not only does that help Billy, but that’s gonna help the next investor, the next person that needs this message, that needs all the other episodes, all those messages, you’re paying it forward to help spread the word.
So, that’s my plug is, I’m asking your audience to rate and review this because I’m a podcast host, I know how much that means, how much that helps us.
Billy: Yeah. I appreciate that, Andy. Really, really thank you very much. And yes, definitely everyone, if you wanna leave that honest written review as well as rating, feel free to do that. And the one thing I would also too say is, Going Long family, remember, when you reach out to Andy on LinkedIn, the one rule that we have here is, make your request a personalized request on LinkedIn because we also like LinkedIn. And let Andy know that you’ve already invested your most valuable asset, which is your time to get to know him. Make it a personalized invitation.
That’s gonna help the two of you continue the conversation. It’s gonna be much more meaningful and it’s going to let him know that you’ve already invested your time together. And guess what? He’s already said he is gonna connect with you, but it’s gonna give him even more incentive to want to do that. So, listen, Andy…
Andy: Well, and it definitely, when you send that request say that you found me through this show. That’s how I’ll definitely connect with you, 100%.
Billy: Yeah, exactly. Let him know, you’ve already listened to him here on the “Going Long Podcast” and you’re reaching out, you love the conversation. And yeah man. So listen, Andy, I can’t thank you enough for deciding to invest your time with me and the entire Going Long family today, Man. Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart. Really appreciate it.
Andy: Thanks, Billy. I had a lot of fun.
Billy: All right. Awesome. If you give me 10 seconds, I’m gonna wrap things up really, really quickly and then I’ll get you outta here. Going Long family, I mean, what else can I say? I mean, there were like drop-the-mic moments here with Andy. He’s telling you about all of his experience, the things that he’s done, well, the things that he’s learned from by not doing things well. Take today’s conversation, share it with one or two people, take the theory, talk about it. Heck, reach out to Andy, he’s giving you the opportunity to do that. And so, while you’re going from theory to practice, I’ll be here preparing for the very next conversation. So, until then, go out and make it a great day. And thank you very much.