Alan Ezeir – The Dot Com King of Samoa
6 months ago · 1:09
In 1997, a young businessman got a wild idea. He and his partner would strike up a business deal with the King of Western Samoa. The plan? To use the tiny island country’s rights to the “.ws” domain extension to create a new “website” alternative for the world to use.
Incredibly, that young businessman (our guest, Alan Ezeir) pulled it off, and built a very profitable lifestyle business that made everyone involved a lot of money. The lesson? The seeds of success are planted when you do things that others simply won’t.
We caught up with Alan to learn about how he’s hustled since his college days to always ask questions, be kind, and satisfy his curiosity in technology, business, tequila, and more. Alan’s a guy who’s endlessly curious, kind, and willing to do the work to find an answer.
That’s something we can all do. Whether it’s waking up early, making a cold call, or walking over to shake someone’s hand and say “hi”, it’s the basic actions that will set you apart. Listen now to Alan’s incredible story.
Alan Ezeir: 00:00:00 I wish I could say I had some magic to it. I didn’t come from a silver spoon, didn’t have any money when I started. So, I figured if I just worked hard and get a little lucky and kind of look up and say, “Is it my turn?”
Nate Broughton: 00:00:12 This episode of the Opt Out Life Podcast from the Opt Out Media Network was recorded here in San Diego and is the Opt Out life story of Alan Ezeir.
Speaker 1: 00:00:24 Welcome to the Opt Out Life Podcast. The no BS guide to living the modern good life hosted by subversive millionaires Dana Robertson and Nate Broughton. The Opt Out Life Podcast explains exactly how creative hustlers are turning side gigs into real income and taking back control of their time. From their studio in sunny San Diego, the Opt Out Life welcomes guests who are solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, travelers, and creatives who are proof that you can choose a lifestyle over money, but still make money too. If you feel like you’ve been chasing your tail, running the rat race or stuck in a system that’s rigged against you, we like to offer you an alternative here on the Opt Out Life Podcast.
Dana Robinson: 00:01:06 Imagine sending an email that goes something like this. Dear customers, thanks for your loyalty over the past few years. We value your business and strive to provide you with the best long distance telephone service in the market today. By the way, do any of you know the king of Western Samoa?
Nate Broughton: 00:01:22 Around the year 1997, that email was real. The man sending it was Alan Ezeir. At the time, he was a 29-year-old businessman stuck in an industry that was becoming obsolete, but that wasn’t going to keep Alan down. He was and is a man who is never afraid to ask a question or pick up the phone and see what he can learn.
Dana Robinson: 00:01:41 Would you believe that that email actually did get a response saying, “Why? Yes, I know the king of Samoa.” It was the first break for Alan in his quest to strike up a business deal with a tiny island country that held the rights to any website that ended in .ws. Through this loose connection, well, because after all, every Samoan seems to know the king, Alan and his business partner took a leap of faith and hopped on a plane to see what they could pull off in Samoa. How the story unfolds is truly one of what we call the best bedtime stories of the internet. Now, it’s one of the best stories of the Opt Out Life.
Nate Broughton: 00:02:16 Our buddy Alan recently turned 50, and humbly has built a career as an entrepreneur investor, tequila enthusiast, parttime house designer, tinkerer and world class networker, but that’s just sizzle. When you break it down as we do in the upcoming conversation, Alan is simply a guy who’s endlessly curious, kind and willing to do the work to find an answer. That’s something we all can do no matter how old we are or how much money we have. The seeds of success are planted when you do things that others simply won’t. Whether it’s waking up early, making a cold call or walking over to shake someone’s hand and say hi, it’s the basic actions that will set you apart, and it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or a king or a peasant or a lowly podcast host.
Dana Robinson: 00:02:59 So, without further ado, here’s the tale of the .com king of Samoa.
Nate Broughton: 00:03:08 Opt Out life, Opt Out life, it is good to be back. Dana and I are in the same room, let alone the same country for the first time in six weeks or something like that.
Dana Robinson: 00:03:17 I think so.
Nate Broughton: 00:03:18 It’s good to see you.
Dana Robinson: 00:03:19 Good to see you too.
Nate Broughton: 00:03:19 You look well rested with like tan.
Dana Robinson: 00:03:21 With a nice tan.
Nate Broughton: 00:03:22 Yeah, it’s-
Dana Robinson: 00:03:23 It will fade. There’s some clouds in San Diego.
Nate Broughton: 00:03:26 Dana’s tan. I’m trying to grow my hair out. This is all that’s happened in the last six weeks, except we are going to have some cool interviews from Dana’s travels that we will be coming out with here soon. Today, we are joined actually by our friend from up the road Alan Ezeir. Hello sir.
Alan Ezeir: 00:03:41 Hey, hello.
Nate Broughton: 00:03:42 Thanks for finally being here. We’ve been trying to get you for a while. I’m glad to have you on because you live the opt out life. Why else would we have you here? You are a true liver of the opt out life, San Diego style, tech entrepreneur, internet entrepreneur style, but I think more than any other guest, I’ve actually … I thought more about you heading into this than any other guest to date, because I struggle with what stories to tell and what stories to focus on, right?
Alan Ezeir: 00:04:10 I feel pressure all of a sudden.
Nate Broughton: 00:04:13 No pressure. You get to pick. I think some people come in and I think it’s obvious what’s the cool thing we want to bring up about them and then let’s kind of tell their narrative a few points along the way. There are so many cool things that we could say about you. From the fact that you started the .ws domain extension, all the charity work that you do, your interest in tequila, the fact that your network is like unrivaled by anyone who is not like a, I don’t know, a head of state or something like that, not only just here in San Diego, but around the country.
Nate Broughton: 00:04:42 You always seem to know someone, to be friends with someone. I think it’s a product of your personality, of your interest and curiosity, which are things that we like to try to tout on the Opt Out Life. So, I want to talk about that. Yes, I very much struggle with where to start, let alone that you have the coolest house that I’ve ever seen in my entire life which we could dedicate a podcast episode to. Not because it’s like a sexy house, but because of all the thought that went into all the different things that are in there, which I think exemplify some of the things … It exemplifies who you are as a person and who your wife is. It’s a very cool place. So, with all those things, I have no idea where to start. Help me out.
Alan Ezeir: 00:05:21 I’m going to ask that we start with a .ws.
Nate Broughton: 00:05:23 Yeah, okay.
Alan Ezeir: 00:05:23 I just think that’s-
Dana Robinson: 00:05:25 [crosstalk 00:05:24] sure.
Alan Ezeir: 00:05:25 Yeah, let’s do that.
Nate Broughton: 00:05:26 Okay.
Dana Robinson: 00:05:27 Can we do that?
Alan Ezeir: 00:05:27 Sure. Yeah, of course.
Dana Robinson: 00:05:28 Take us back to the beginning. How did you end up the head of a domain?
Alan Ezeir: 00:05:32 Yeah, so this is … Again-
Dana Robinson: 00:05:35 Is it TLD, right? It’s top level domain.
Alan Ezeir: 00:05:37 Top level domain. So, I always say to the right of the dot. You can always say. It’s very easy to remember that. Again, back to … or you always have to remember timing is really important. If you came to me now and said, “Hey, let’s get into the domain business and get a top level domain.” I look at you going, “Yeah, we’re about 20 years too late to be a pioneer and then probably 10 years too late to get into the business.” Being in the telecom space and being online helped a lot and the telecom business kind of going sideways, because we went to I call it all you can eat Vonage cell phones. You don’t pay for long distance anymore and needed to find an opportunity, need to find what’s next.
Alan Ezeir: 00:06:16 It was an easy transition because what is common or what is as similar to a phone number but a domain name. So, we kind of … I mean I hate to say this, it was almost that easy, but you’re like, “Okay, we got to get out of this space. What can we do on the internet that’s similar?” Dot com was big back then. There wasn’t all the extensions that they’re all right now. It’s that naivete to be able to say, “Who owns .com?” and just ask the question. You google it or … I’m sorry Google didn’t exist back then.
Dana Robinson: 00:06:49 That’s right. You dogpiled it.
Alan Ezeir: 00:06:51 Whatever. AltaVista I think we were on or whatever it was.
Dana Robinson: 00:06:54 Did you Ask Jeeves who owns .com?
Alan Ezeir: 00:06:56 Ask Jeeves maybe. I remember all dial up modems and all that stuff. It got to the point where I realized it was part of the Department of Commerce could answer the question for me. So, I said, “Well, we pay taxes. So, let’s give them a call and say, “How do I own .com?”” They kind of did the “Let me explain how this works.” There was a site that listed all the domain extensions. I’m like, “all right.”
Dana Robinson: 00:07:20 .net, .org.
Alan Ezeir: 00:07:21 .net, .org and then every country had one particular extension. The point of that was the government set that up very similar to the phone numbering system where every country has a country code. So, like Mexico is 52 if you guys know that. I think I used to know a few others but since Mexico is so close to us, when you’re they, you’re like, “Why does everyone start their phone number with 52?” Well, it was everyone had a designation. When I knew I couldn’t buy .com which was a nice just kind of like saying, “I want to own Malibu.” I can’t do that. We said, “Well, what’s next?” So, .net. Can’t own that one. .org and then you do enough homework and we said, “Well, the countries, why don’t we look at each country.”
Alan Ezeir: 00:08:03 Naively enough, going, “Well, what does it hurt?” Started I think the Acacia Islands with is .ac down to Zimbabwe .zw and it was just alphabetically grabbed a pizza, a beer with my buddy and one of my college buddies that I started the business with and we went down the list. It ended up by … we had eliminated all the big countries because we said, “I don’t think I want to call Japan. I don’t think they want to listen to me.” We ended up with two. The reason we ended up with those two was little creativeness of saying, “All right, what two letters could we spin in market?” Because we’re not going to market it as the Italian domain name, we’re going to market it as .it or whatever. So, the two we picked were Belize .bz and .ws for Western Samoa. We thought Belize, BZ. We’re like, “That could be the biz name.” Now remember, this is-
Dana Robinson: 00:08:54 Before the .bz.
Alan Ezeir: 00:08:54 Before .bz. This is 1997. So, .bz came in ’03 or ’01. I can’t remember right around that time. So, fortunately or unfortunately, I guess it was to a little stroke of luck again, you go to Belize and it’s a little more corrupt there. A little tougher to work with the government. Thank God we didn’t get that extension because .bz came out and would’ve kind of been a mess trying to market against .bz. Western Samoa we’re like, “.ws. Oh, that can mean website, world site, wireless. Maybe we can call Will Smith or William Shatner web shopping.” You think of what WS could stand for and it was like it was constant in terms of all the marketing that we could do around it. Back then, it was like, “Did people really know .com meant .commercial? I mean that’s what it is, is for commercial sites. Did anyone really know .net was for networks but no one used it that way?” So, we ended up in Samoa. That story is quite an interesting one. We had a telecom company as I said online.
Alan Ezeir: 00:09:55 Typical entrepreneurs, we just hit a button and emailed 50,000 customers and said, “Hey, we had this idea. Does anyone know anyone in Samoa?” We thought, “Well, they’re customer. So, why don’t we give them a free month of service, whatever.” Just whatever it was, can’t remember the exact how we got to it. There was a guy in Seattle that was Samoan. We said, “Well, let’s fly up and talk to him.” After we had a conversation with him, we said, “You can get us in front of the government of Samoa?” He’s like, “Yeah, yeah, I’m related to the king.” So, I’m going to roll this back to when we actually went to Samoa. Everybody’s related to the king or they say they are, but then it was the big … we call the big trip. All right, now we got this meeting with the prime minister or we thought we did. So, we never really had a meeting. We thought we did because he told us he set up the meeting. Didn’t have really enough cash flow to get on the plane.
Alan Ezeir: 00:10:42 So, credit card a flight and the crazy thing was and here’s a stroke of luck, right? We wanted to take the cheapest flights in and back so we had to stay a whole week. Hotels are really cheap there, 100 bucks a night or less. At the time, they’re being 50, but the flight was really expensive. So, we had to stay a whole week. We said, “Well, worse comes to worse, we got a vacation out of it.” So, my partner and I go there. We almost didn’t make it there because the flight that had a layover in Hawaii, we were on a plane that the landing lights weren’t working so we had to deplane and get on another plane. We get there and thank God we were there for a week because the first six days nothing got done. Then like on the seventh day-
Dana Robinson: 00:11:22 You’re on Island time, right?
Alan Ezeir: 00:11:23 Yeah, on island time. There’s like we’ll see … maybe we’ll get together with them. On the seventh day, we were one of the beach with the king drinking Kava and meeting with the prime minister. Gave them our pitch. As the story goes, they said no. Six months later after a lot of emails and a lot of correspondence, so like, “Okay, we’ll give you Americans a shot.” It was a ride. It was definitely a ride where we told them we didn’t have any money. So, we’re not going to write you a big check, but we’ll give you a royalty for life, and that I think made them realize we’re not in this just for a quick hit.
Nate Broughton: 00:11:58 Okay, Dana, first break in here. We’re getting one of the great bedtime stories of the internet from our boy, Alan. Before we fawn over the story, I feel like I must explain for the listeners exactly what this means that he created the .ws domain extension. That he monetized it, he turned it into a business. So, before we talk about all the cool things that he pulled off with this, let me explain.
Nate Broughton: 00:12:21 Everyone knows what a .com is, .net whatever. You go to GoDaddy. You try to register a domain or another place to go and buy a website. We’re talking about a time back in the ’90s where there were very few options as far as extensions. These things are called domain extensions or TLDs. There was .com. There was .net. There was .org and there were country extensions that were issued in the ’90s similar to country codes on phone numbers as he explains. Alan being entrepreneurial decides that there are going to be some commercial opportunities to apply to a country’s extension. He picks a few to target Western Samoa is .ws. He thinks that there are some marketable opportunities to market that as .website or whatever. Totally different time on the internet when this was happening.
Nate Broughton: 00:13:10 The business itself is him going there, and setting up a deal with the king of Western Samoa, which we’ll talk about, but he’s the one that owns the back end of this. He’s the one at the registry that’s passing out these domains, like phone numbers when you go and buy it. So, if you go by optoutlife.ws, Alan’s the one who registers that thing, holds it for you, and charges you a fee. That’s how it works. Does that make sense?
Dana Robinson: 00:13:37 Yes. That makes sense.
Nate Broughton: 00:13:38 Good. Okay.
Dana Robinson: 00:13:40 Good intro.
Nate Broughton: 00:13:40 Yes. I know it makes sense to you. Yes, it makes sense. Cool. Okay. Let’s talk about the fun stuff.
Dana Robinson: 00:13:47 Yeah, so you’re going to hear more about this guy who could probably reach out to any well-known entrepreneur in the world right now. Everybody knows him. He knows everybody. You’re just a scrappy entrepreneur in the ’90s with a telecom business that wasn’t famous. In fact, telecom at that time was full of scrappy entrepreneurs that were like wholesaling, buying and reselling. That business was slowly dying in the face of voice over IP. He’s looking for cool opportunity and just decided to do the biggest possible thing anyone could do. This is like asking if you could buy a state, because “New Jersey for sale?”
Nate Broughton: 00:14:28 Right. Yeah. So, this is the most audacious entrepreneurial idea of all time. I mean, it’s certainly up there.
Dana Robinson: 00:14:33 Yeah, and he called. Was it to say like, “How do I buy the right to .com?” the whole thing.
Nate Broughton: 00:14:40 Yeah, he calls to the Department of Commerce or something, right? I mean, I love it dude. You’ll hear more about his story. He’s always … one of his mantras is ask questions, always ask questions. Always have the audacity to reach out. He catches himself and says, “I couldn’t Google it because Google didn’t exist and I made phone calls.” What else did he do? He leveraged his customer base from his-
Dana Robinson: 00:14:59 Yeah, the telecom business.
Nate Broughton: 00:15:00 Right. It’s like-
Dana Robinson: 00:15:00 Like 50,000 customers. He’s like, “I’ll see if any one of these people know anyone that know someone.”
Nate Broughton: 00:15:05 In Western Samoa.
Dana Robinson: 00:15:07 In Western Samoa.
Nate Broughton: 00:15:07 And, the guy did. The guy knows the king there. He finds out that everyone knows the king there. He deliberately is going to take steps. He doesn’t know what those steps are but he’s willing to take them and ask questions and he finds himself on the island, sitting with the king and the prime minister. This is the stuff of movies.
Dana Robinson: 00:15:24 Yeah. I guess in the movie you’d be rooting for him to like close this deal on the beach over kava with the prime minister. He managed at the last day to get that meeting. You can imagine the build up to that. Of course, he’s supposed to land the deal but he didn’t.
Nate Broughton: 00:15:38 It didn’t happen. Luckily, he did a few weeks or months later, but yeah, that was kind of a funny build up and a let down, right? Maybe in the movie version, he would get it and drive off into the sunset or something like that. Yeah, Alan is for all of his accolades and qualities, he’s still known as the .ws guy. It’s a great story. We wanted to open with it. It certainly helped build a large chunk of his success although he’s had a bunch of others in business. It is one of the most inspirational I think and illustrative stories that we’ve been able to bring to the Opt Out Life podcast of the value of having the audacity to reach out, the value of just being like, “I’m going to figure it out.”
Nate Broughton: 00:16:17 Well, I think later he says like, we’re like, “How did you know you could do this?” He’s like, “Does anyone know they can do anything?” even at this point in his life or this connections and all this experience he doesn’t know. So, ask yourself, would you be willing to be audacious enough to think of a business that will require you to negotiate a deal with the king of Western Samoa and how would you meet said King? Because he pulled it off. It’s pretty cool. All right, so now we’ve heard all the fun sexy stuff from Alan. This was still a business and like any other business there are ups and downs that come along with it. Let’s hear how he navigated some of those and what those things were.
Dana Robinson: 00:16:51 That was good. Sometimes that would be bad because the government’s thinking who can write us a big check.
Alan Ezeir: 00:16:56 Right, exactly. It ended by being such a good relationship. They’re really relationship people. Until this day, even so I’ve not been a part of company for two years, I still consider them family. We told them we’ll sign up 30,000 names in three years. They’re like, “Wow, that’s a lot.” We did it in 30 days.
Dana Robinson: 00:17:14 Really?
Alan Ezeir: 00:17:14 It’s one of those moments where we knew we arrived. A lot of that had to do with luck, timing. We do some good marketing. This is back in the year 2000. Internet was kind of diving because of the crash, but everyone was still buying domain names. All of a sudden, you’re on the cover of every magazine. You’re the golden kid. It’s not .com. It’s .ws and all the big companies are calling you. You’re getting acquisition offers six months into the business, but the economy was going down. So, you had to decide, all right, how are you going to fight your way through it? I went through three cycles in that business where I had to fire 80% of the staff because markets changed. Domains used to be $50 a year, $35 a year and then down to $8 and then backup to 12, and then down to 3. You really had to adjust your business.
Alan Ezeir: 00:18:05 So, I guess that’s the abridged story. There’s a lot of pain obviously. I couldn’t say … There’s four CTOs that we went through. The fourth one was the golden one that probably was with us since ’04. So, from ’99 to ’04, we went through four CTOs that just … Remember, none of this stuff was … There’s no GitHub. There’s no let’s go get the software. You’re building everything. You call up Network Solutions back then or now VeriSign who acquired them. Everyone’s writing from scratch. So, there’s a lot of outages, a lot of like, “Oh my God.” Imagine hundreds of thousands of people not having service and you’re like, “You got to fix this.”
Dana Robinson: 00:18:47 I’ve got a bunch of questions but let’s go back to the beach with the king.
Alan Ezeir: 00:18:52 Sure. Yeah.
Dana Robinson: 00:18:53 You’re having kava. You’re hanging out with the prime minister and the king and they say no.
Alan Ezeir: 00:18:56 Yeah.
Dana Robinson: 00:18:57 This would be devastating for a lot of people. What was that like for you and your partner?
Alan Ezeir: 00:19:01 It was devastating, but we knew they couldn’t do it on their own. So, they needed to do it with somebody. So, we figured either they’ve got someone in their back pocket that’s going to do it for them or they’re not going to do anything or we’re going to do everything we can to let them at least give us a shot.
Dana Robinson: 00:19:16 Okay. Then, that brings me to the second question is, how did you know you could do this? You were a long distance telecom company, right? You’re selling minutes and for that, you don’t even have to have an infrastructure, right? I mean, post 1996 telecom act, you get unbundled access to all that. You’re just reselling something. You don’t have to own the tech for.
Alan Ezeir: 00:19:33 Call switchers to be seller. Yeah.
Dana Robinson: 00:19:34 Yeah, but you’re going to own a domain. You get to host that, right? You have to actually create the technology for that. How’d you know you could do that?
Alan Ezeir: 00:19:42 You kind of don’t but you have ability in your mind to say, “I’m going to figure it out.” We were a little bit of different as a telecom company, because we were one of the first telecom companies who are putting call records online. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but back in ’96, if I said, “Give me your credit card and pay for your phone bill online.” You’d look at me like I was an alien.
Dana Robinson: 00:20:02 Yeah.
Alan Ezeir: 00:20:02 Now, you just do it because you don’t want to write a check because, does anyone have checks anymore? So, we knew that we had a good shot at it. We didn’t know we could do it. I mean, does anyone know they can do anything?
Nate Broughton: 00:20:17 You’ve mentioned to me that you are a student of people … successful business people whether that was Tony Robbins who’s more of a personality and a guru or you mentioned a more contemporary version like an Elon Musk from a young age. It sounds like by the time you were doing this, you’re the type of guy who can believe that sort of thing, right? That you can pull this off regardless and you’ve proven that to yourself between college and that point in time with the telecom companies and whatever else you’ve done. So, you’re just kind of like, “I’ve I pulled stuff off before. I can make the sale. I’ll make it work even if I don’t have a lot of capital or any know how.” Right?
Alan Ezeir: 00:20:50 Yeah. I mean, look, I never raised a bunch of VC money to do some of the deals but I want to do it my way and that’s okay. I truly believed and I told my mother this. She was okay with it which is great when you have parents that are supportive. I said, “I’d rather sit on the corner with a cup and ask for money than do something I don’t really love and have passionate about.” I didn’t say it just to say it. I believed it. Deep in my soul was like, “I’m just the way I am.” To teach that with people … so that Gary Vee talks about not everybody in an entrepreneurial class is an entrepreneur. Find out first if you’ve got the chops and the willingness to do things entrepreneurial. Maybe you’re not suited for it and that’s a great lesson to learn I say early like 18 to 28 rather than get in your 30s and go, “Wow, maybe I’m not cut out for this.”
Dana Robinson: 00:21:46 Right. So, let me ask a question about that. You had this passion to do what you loved. A lot of people have sort of that same passion. How’d you end up loving being the owner of a TLD?
Alan Ezeir: 00:22:00 That’s a really good question. I struggled immensely with making a decision on what it would be. I sat down with a mentor of mine who actually I just saw yesterday. I’ve known him since he was 42. He’s 72 now. I’ve known him for 30 years. I remember going to him when I was 20 years old and I said, “Mark, I don’t know what I want to do. I know I just want to build a company or sell something.” We were at Mimi’s cafe. He loves …[inaudible 00:22:26] He always like to go to Ruby’s diner or Mimi’s café, and I’ve been at more coffees just all the time.
Dana Robinson: 00:22:31 It’s the French onion soup.
Alan Ezeir: 00:22:32 Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 00:22:33 Yeah.
Alan Ezeir: 00:22:33 I know what it is. We’re sitting at Mimi’s and he looks up and he goes, “Light bulbs.” I go, “All right, Mark. Yeah, there’s light bulbs here.” He goes, “Why don’t you sell light bulbs?” I go, “Why?” He goes, “Seems like everybody needs them.” It wasn’t about the product or service, it was about just having some type of passion and then I drove that one step further and said, “Well, maybe I’m never going to fall in love with a product or a service, but I can fall in love with the lifestyle or aspects of it.” I’m going to repeat that because that’s really important. So, if you get into a business that makes you wear a suit and tie every day and you hate wearing a suit and tie every day, there’s probably a good chance even if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re not going to feel comfortable in your skin. I enjoyed technology.
Alan Ezeir: 00:23:19 I just love the computer. I was an Apple computer kid. I watched the Apple IIe grow up to the Picasso and whatever all the Lisa and all the different ones that were made. So, I got a kick out of it. So, anyway, I knew it had to be something in technology and tech but I didn’t know what it was and then it was just back to that same thing that Michael Dell say. You just got to take the first step. I was started in the T-shirt business or even probably before that in the … God, I don’t know how many other businesses and I ended up … I’m in private equity now. How in the world did I get into buying companies?
Alan Ezeir: 00:23:53 Maybe you told me that when I was in my telecom business, I would have been like, “So, what does that mean?” I build companies. I don’t know where to buy them. Now, I’m knee deep and I’m like, “This is fun.” I’m with people I really enjoy. Tequila, I mean I wasn’t a drinker at 18. So, you’re trying to project on what you think you’re going to be doing to get ahead of yourself. Take the first step and it always lead you down a different path.
Dana Robinson: 00:24:20 Let’s talk about tequila. I don’t see any on the studio tables.
Nate Broughton: 00:24:25 It seems like it’s early in the week.
Dana Robinson: 00:24:28 It’s also early in the day, but I don’t know. I’m a little disappointed.
Nate Broughton: 00:24:31 We can do the afterglow with some tequila at Alan behest sometime soon.
Alan Ezeir: 00:24:36 Yeah. It’s hot. We can-
Nate Broughton: 00:24:37 Yeah. Like tequila … we were talking a little bit about it earlier as it’s a passion that you don’t want to fuck up by making it become a business interest, but it’s a strong passion. It’s something that you take trips on. You merge it with business and that a lot of your business opportunities, a lot of what I think you enjoy about business is the people and the relationships. I mentioned your network. Those two things get intertwined quite a bit. So, you’re able to get your rocks off on the tequila stuff by also mixing it with things that you’re interested in on the business side and by bringing along relationships and friends to enjoy that, because everyone enjoys it. In the end, it all makes sense in the Allen scheme, right?
Alan Ezeir: 00:25:16 Yeah. I don’t know if the intention was it to make sense, right. So, I think when it started, it wasn’t like, “Oh, I can see how I can weave this in.” It just kind of happens. No different than I know guys that are in their 50s and 60s and doing triathlons and Iron Mans and that becomes part of their kind of group of makeup the people around them. Are you they’re not coming after us?
Nate Broughton: 00:25:40 I don’t know. There’s a lot of fire.
Alan Ezeir: 00:25:42 I don’t know. I’m little concerned. So, yeah, what neighborhood are we in? Am I going to get out of here safe?
Dana Robinson: 00:25:47 It’s cheap rent.
Alan Ezeir: 00:25:49 Yeah. So, I think that’s a big part of it is you don’t know how it’ll end up by weaving in, but like I said before when we were speaking is remain interested and be interesting. If you keep doing that, if you keep being interested in things, stuff, whatever it may be activities, it keeps you interesting to others. Not that that’s a goal, but we’re all here having relationships. In the end, it’s all about the relationships you have. It’s not about the pot of gold or the biggest house or the massive amount of cars. You want to enjoy all that stuff with people, which is a relationship. That’s why that brings more joy. Now, of course, relationships don’t always yield you cash flow. Doesn’t yield you money, but you don’t want one without the other. So, it better be a nice balance because money without relationships sucks.
Nate Broughton: 00:26:43 Okay, Dana, we’ve started to hear some more stories from Alan about his network. We’ve mentioned already how he’s probably someone who has maybe the best network of anyone that I know. Certainly my perception he’s always got a guy who’s got a connection. Whatever, through IPOs, through whatever. I started realizing talking with him that there’s two things about it that I think are interesting. First, he talks about always asking questions and always being kind and always … not really placing much expectation on a relationship or an interaction with someone right up front. He talks about things coming back 20 years later that you never would have expected.
Nate Broughton: 00:27:20 I think that starts with those two things I mentioned asking questions and being kind. Part of its the audacity to reach out too, but he is a guy who when I connected with him, I was almost like I’m kind of curious why he would even be willing to sit down with me. I think he finds interesting things in most people he gets connected to. He’s genuinely interested and nice in person. I think that makes him someone that’s high up on just about everybody’s Rolodex. I started to get that from him as we’re sitting here talking.
Dana Robinson: 00:27:49 Yeah. I like the character that comes through. This is a person that would love like he says if he could do nothing but give back if he had unlimited amounts of time. It’s unfortunate for the world that he really enjoys entrepreneurship and making money, because that takes time that he can’t give people. The idea is here’s a guy that is so successful, but is really willing to meet and talk to and help anyone, anyone that he can. That’s that kindness, but that kind of personality is somebody that will spend their life building great relationships, right? True relationships … What’s his quote? Money without relationship sucks.
Nate Broughton: 00:28:34 Right. That’s why he’s on the Opt Out Life. We haven’t qualified yet. I don’t think that … Yeah, he is rich and successful. He is and a lot of our guests are too in their own right. Alan might be someone where it’s like, he’s a little bit too far afield to be on this podcast, because we want these things to be attainable, but we’re telling you reasons why he’s here. First, the hustler story, the .ws. That’s a great story and that is something that truly anyone could pull off in reality. That could happen for anyone no matter their level of connections or fame or background or wealth. Also, his approach to networking is something that we should all take something from. I think that’s why we want to highlight it here.
Nate Broughton: 00:29:15 It is the kindness, the audacity to reach out, the curiosity, right? I think that’s really what drives him. I’ve made a lot of introductions for him, which is kind of funny now that I think back on it, because he gets into blockchain. He’s like, “Well, who do you know and blockchain that you connect me to? I just want to have a 10-minute call with them. Who do you know in SEO internet marketing if he’s going down that path?” That’s the type of guy he is. Then being here at the age of 50, the accumulation of all those years and those questions and that hustle is the product of Alan Ezeir.
Dana Robinson: 00:29:45 Yeah, and I think it’s a great lesson in building your network, because here’s a guy who we think has the best network, but who’s he coming to when he’s got questions about blockchain? He’s coming back to you. Someone who’s younger, somebody that’s maybe tied to people that are bootstrappy alternative businesses that are doing things differently. Maybe he’s not going to get the right answer if he calls some cool VC buddy.
Nate Broughton: 00:30:11 That’s a good point.
Dana Robinson: 00:30:11 Right. So, it’s really interesting that web that you’re building, that network really is diverse, and the greater diversity, the better the network is.
Nate Broughton: 00:30:21 He’s giving us a little bit of a story about sitting down with his mentor at Mimi’s cafe or whatever. A guy that he’s known for, God what is it like? 30 years. I think we’re going to hear a little bit more about how that relationship was ignited at a young age for Alan. He’s going to tell us I think two stories about things that happened to him when he was 19 and 20 that were relationships that were started based on the qualities and approaches that were saying he has, that he’s carried through his entire life. I think those are going to be really instructive too. Alan was a guy who at 19 or 20 was asking these questions, who was getting up early on Saturdays to be a part of some group to go listen entrepreneur speak. It’s so funny to have someone at that age sitting there who is successful and think back like that’s where he was at that age. He was different then in his subtle ways. He did things that other people weren’t going to do. He’s worked hard things like he calls them work, but he was following his curiosity and just going through a little bit of pain to walk out the door and ask a question. Now he’s got the sexiest house I’ve ever seen. That’s the real reason.
Alan Ezeir: 00:31:25 Relationships without money is kind of a poor place to be. So, he’s got to find a nice little balance there.
Nate Broughton: 00:31:31 I want to come back to the king, but I want to talk more about relationships though first. You’re someone who values relationships. You invest a lot of time in it. You seem to not be keeping score when you’re building relationships. You mentioned relationships come back around 20 years later. Someone that you had a relationship with comes back in your life at this point in time where you’re pursuing an opportunity and I like all those things. I think it follows who we both are and somewhat what we try to preach with Opt Out Life, but what I want to bring it back to is, what’s your suggestion to people as they try to approach having more relationships in business? I remember being 26 and being like, “I don’t have a network.” The only people I know in business are the people that I worked for. I’ve done right by them and that’s all good. There’s a whole world of people out there that I want to learn from, that my curiosity would drive me to. That if I read these books and realize that if I want to be successful, I need to expand. What’s the right mindset to have to go out to pursue relationships and where do you find them?
Alan Ezeir: 00:32:27 Yeah. So, it’s probably one of the easier things because all you have to do is ask. Let’s use the example outside of business, because I can give you a million business examples of how you can build a network but let’s say you like rugby. You know a bunch of people in the rugby world. You want to be more proficient, understand it, learn a bit about it. Anytime you meet someone in the rugby world, just go, “Hey, do you know anyone else in this kind of space that you can introduce me to?” If you’re kind about it, it’s amazing how people want to introduce you because they want to look good too. They’re like, “Oh wow!” He’s a energetic kid because usually if you’re younger and you’re looking for those opportunities, just asking. I mean, it’s really incredibly that simple. If you’re interested in coffee and you walk up to a coffee shop, and you’re like, “Hey, is the owner or manager? Tell me a little bit about this business.”
Alan Ezeir: 00:33:16 All of a sudden, you make a couple of phone calls. Where does coffee come from? Where … All these different places. What’s a distributor? you start making phone calls and asking. It’s amazing if you call a business owner and say, “Hey, I’m really interested in interviewing you. Could you give me 10 minutes your time?” It’s an ego boost. All of a sudden, now you have a new contact. Worst comes to worst, they don’t return your call or that you go to voicemail or the email doesn’t get replied to. It’s amazing how many people … I still to this day just cold call and just kind of reach out to them and say, “Hey, I’m really interested.” Now fortunately, I probably get a lot more callbacks now. It’s a lot easier for me to like reach out to someone or I just reach out to somebody and say, “I want to meet so and so.” Then they do the intro in any network.
Alan Ezeir: 00:34:04 If it’s in the computer network, you just learn about different computer companies and you call people in that space. You ask a lot of questions and you have to stay curious and you have to be willing to do the work. Guess what? Every person you meet, may not lead you to that next person. If you give up early, then you may miss out on that gem which in your life, if you can look back and put both hands out and say, “These 10 people changed my life.” That’s a pretty powerful thing. I feel like I can say that now I’ve got five, seven people. I’m sure there’ll be two or three more in my life that really altered my direction which is pretty powerful.
Dana Robinson: 00:34:46 Take the top two or three of those. You don’t have to say who they are.
Alan Ezeir: 00:34:49 Sure, yeah.
Dana Robinson: 00:34:50 You can if you want.
Alan Ezeir: 00:34:52 I may say with some, I may not.
Dana Robinson: 00:34:53 Can use describe or recount one of the experiences of what they did to change course for you that made them that important to where you are now?
Alan Ezeir: 00:35:01 So, my partner in the .ws space. College dorm party at UCLA. We both looked at each other and we were talking not millions but in billions. You’re 19 years old and your eyes get big. You’re like, “We’re going to be billionaires one day.” We just spoke the same language and we kept in touch. We were magic when it came to that registry. So, we did a lot there. So, there’s one person … I’d say my mentor, Mark Johnson, anytime I needed to get kind of kicked in butt to go down the path. He was always 20 years ahead of me. We think almost identical. It was magic. You know, it’s like [crosstalk 00:35:38].
Dana Robinson: 00:35:38 How’d you get that relationship?
Alan Ezeir: 00:35:40 So, Mark is an interesting one. So, that college, and as you know I was part of the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs. I was also part of an organization called the Southern California Entrepreneurship Academy, SCEA. Unfortunately, no longer exists, but there’s tons of these organizations. You get involved because it’s interesting. If you’re not interested in it, then you don’t, right? He was a speaker in the organization. Essentially that organization had you go to an entrepreneur’s office every Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. Now, you’re a college student. You have to get up at six and you have to be at their office by eight or get up at whatever time you get up. If you’re late, you’re not let in the door. So, it’s a sign of respect because they’re getting up after their long work week to come in on a Saturday and speak to you for four hours about their business. So, I got to meet Bob McKnight of Quicksilver. I got to meet Bill Mow of Bugle Boy. I mean it’s back in the day when … Remember Bugle Boy pants?
Dana Robinson: 00:36:36 Yeah.
Alan Ezeir: 00:36:38 You just go to their office and they just tell you their story. Mark and I hit it off. Then I would just make excuses saying, “Hey Mark …” Call him on the phone and there’s no email at the time. I go, “I happen to be in the area and I’d love to grab a cup of coffee with you.”
Dana Robinson: 00:36:55 Liar.
Alan Ezeir: 00:36:55 Totally. You’re always close by because you’re not going to drive an hour and a half to see him. I would just tell him and until this day he always laughed because he knew. He’s like, “You’re not in my area, but sure, I’ll meet you for coffee at whatever time.” Because we just got along, and I asked him for a lot of advice. He was my … I call him my entrepreneurial father. He really guided me to get out of my own head. So, between Mike .ws and Mark, I’m sure there’s a couple more I’m leaving out in there. I mean, my wife giving me guidance. I always say you have a rock and it’s usually your spouse or its people in your life like that. I’ve been a part of YPO, the Young Presidents Organization, for 17 years.
Alan Ezeir: 00:37:36 I just graduated from it a month ago. So, one was at a college dorm party and the other one was through a networking organization that I actually paid for to wake up on Saturday mornings when I was in college. So, the commitment … Here’s something I always did is anytime I went to a motivational talk, everyone was like, “Why are you doing those things?” I go, “Because if I get one little nugget, I add it to the other nuggets.” Everyone is like, “Oh, it’s going to be a waste of time. It’s just like the other one.” I go, “All I need is one little nugget.” Who’s got the commitment? I wish I could say I had some magic to it. I didn’t come from a silver spoon, didn’t have any money when I started. So, I figured if I just worked hard and get a lucky and kind of look up and say, “Is it my turn?”
Dana Robinson: 00:38:19 Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 00:38:19 It’s so cool because you just described those two things. They happen when you’re 19 and 20, right? You’re such a shining example of accomplishment at 50 with that you can look at all the accolades. You had the cool stories, the fancy house and the whatever else, the big network, but it’s cool to have you as an example to say that’s when it started. That’s really when it happened. The credit you should give yourself for is that you’re the weird one. That’s like all I need is one nugget. Why wouldn’t I be interested in that? Why wouldn’t I go? I’ve seen that in the years that I’ve known you too. You come to our events. It’s like, “You don’t need to come to our events.” You might meet a couple of interesting people and I hope you have, but the attitude of like sometimes nothing’s going to come of it. Sometimes a relationship will be formed that’ll pay off in 20 years and I just need one nugget. Like that’s the belief that all people need to have to get themselves out the door. You always seem to be willing to get out the door to go “network” but to be around other people that you find interesting.
Dana Robinson: 00:39:18 Learn too. I mean you had four hours with an entrepreneur on Saturday sounds amazing to me.
Nate Broughton: 00:39:23 Yeah, right.
Dana Robinson: 00:39:24 I mean, how many of the friends that you had were hung over and not going to do anything on Saturday?
Alan Ezeir: 00:39:28 Majority of them. I could say the majority of them.
Dana Robinson: 00:39:31 In this world Nate, too many people are asking questions and they don’t really listen. They don’t really listen for the answer. I don’t know why that is, but I think a mark of successful people whether they sort of have done things the Opt Out way or not is this insatiable curiosity. That means listening. I mean, really listening and taking to heart and hearing what people say. To do that, you’re going to have to sift through a lot of information, right? You’re going to get a lot of things that maybe overwhelm you and your Alan’s the question guy. He’s got this, “If I get one little nugget, that’s worth everything.”
Nate Broughton: 00:40:14 Right. It’s an attitude thing.
Dana Robinson: 00:40:14 Yes.
Nate Broughton: 00:40:16 Right? It’s like his attitude to going out and asking these questions, to be in the places to be asking these questions and to be around the people that he wants to hear from. The attitude is, if I can get one little nugget, I think he says. People are always like, “Why are you going to those things?” Doesn’t matter if it was 20-year-old Alan going out at 8:00 am on a Saturday or it’s 50-year-old Alan going to a tequila event downtown. You could picture his wife right now being like, “Why are you going to those things? We don’t need whatever it is you think you’re going to get, but it’s an insatiable curiosity.”
Dana Robinson: 00:40:47 Yeah. It’s like your brain has to be an active participant. I think maybe we’ve been conditioned by marketers to be passive recipients. We think that’s enough. I think that’s the big part of the Opt Out mentality is that we don’t want to just live the life of being sold. We want to live the life we choose. To do that, you really have to change that mentality from one that’s passive recipient of information to active curious collector of information the way Alan is.
Nate Broughton: 00:41:16 I like that. That’s the way to put it. He’s a collector of nuggets, little nuggets.
Dana Robinson: 00:41:21 Our goal with the Opt Out Life is … we have a lot of goals, but we interview these cool people so that it ignites curiosity, it inspires and in some ways teach us, but it’s hard to get the information into people’s hands that say, like, “Okay, you’ve got my curiosity. You’ve got my attention.” We just finished building a course so that we can say to our listeners for a small fee, we will give you the lessons. So, we want to take this to the next level.
Nate Broughton: 00:41:50 That’s right. It’s called the Opt Out Life Blueprint. It’s our first course and it is the instructive that comes to you after the inspirational. These stories this podcast is heavy on the inspirational. It’s obviously heavy on the story. We are telling stories. We’re not going to break in here and be like, “Step one is do this. Step two is do this.” The goal is for you to enjoy these stories, to find inspiration, and then to hop over to optoutlife.com, get on our email list, start following us on social and keep an eye out for information related to that course, related to our membership that’s coming up. We want to kind of use this as the starting point to create a relationship with you and then have you come join us on optoutlife.com on the email list inside the course.
Nate Broughton: 00:42:37 That’s where you’re going to get I mean, hours and hours … I mean I don’t know how much time Dana and I have poured into this thing but it’s quite a bit. It’s your own opportunity to take lessons that are in the Opt Out book and lessons that could be inspired or learn from our stories here on the podcast and get the how to, the step by step based on what we’ve done in our lives and what we’ve heard from these people over 20 or so episodes so far. They’ve inspired us to amend some of the step by steps in the course itself. So, that’s all inside there. We hope that some of you come over and engage with that. When you buy those courses, when you subscribe to our newsletter, you’re getting one on one access to Dana and myself as well. That’s where we want to create. So, do it.
Nate Broughton: 00:43:19 I mean, tell me a great tequila story. You’re always like, “Well, we’re going to fly down to Guadalajara this weekend and we’re going to meet the owner of this place. He’s going to let us stay in his house and show us how he hand paints the bottles.” I’m like, “God damn it, I really want to go on that trip”. Tell me a good story from one of those trips.
Alan Ezeir: 00:43:34 Okay, I’ll tell you. I’m going to give you three stories. One is how it kind of came to a head where I was in, I was totally in. I do an annual meeting. Don’t do it as often now, but I used to do an annual meeting with all my professionals. This is when you have enough money around you, you start to talk to your money managers, attorneys, insurance people and accountants and say, “Let’s all get together and make sure I don’t do something dumb.” So once a year, you pay a lot of money to put them in a room and say, “Am I okay and did I do all the right things?” My accountant and he knows his name. He’s retired now.
Alan Ezeir: 00:44:07 So, he said, he goes, “Alan, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?” That kind of changed things, because I was already interested in tequila but he introduced me to my … one of the partners at one of my companies is Chris Simmons. That changed everything for it, because Chris love tequila even more than I did. It became like a relationship that I just wanted to be around him to learn more. I felt like I was with the Buddha of tequila. It was all because my accountant questioned me during a financial meeting to say, “What do you want to do with your life?”
Dana Robinson: 00:44:40 The existential dilemma will bring you the Buddha of tequila.
Alan Ezeir: 00:44:43 Yeah. Basically, I said, “Well, I’m kind of into this tequila thing.” He’s like, “Well, I know this guy.” So, that’s one story. Guadalajara, I have been very fortunate because Chris took me down there for the first time and I fell in love with it. We got into a lot of different distilleries, and I loved watching the process. I don’t know if you guys remember a show how it’s made. I loved it. I was always like, “How do you make stuff?” Then when I learned how tequila was made, I was like, “This is interesting.” Probably no different than how do you make an airplane or ball bearing or all the different things. Tequila was interesting to me. A lot of people didn’t know about it. So, one other thing about me is when I dig into something a lot of people don’t know about, then I get even more interested, because then I could share more.
Alan Ezeir: 00:45:24 So, if you’re like, “How do you make an apartment building?” Well, a lot of people know how to do that but domain registry and tequila were very unique things. Cryptocurrency is a very unique thing. So, it’s fun to talk about. So, going down to tequila, I was very fortunate to meet through my network because people knew I liked tequila, the seventh generation of the Herradura family and they sold out to Brown-Forman about a decade ago. It just so happened, because you keep your network on, the gentleman that was in the family lived by me in San Diego, and I met with him. He goes, “Hey, when you’re in Guadalajara, why don’t you go to my hacienda?” I’m thinking, “All right, sure. I mean, I’ll drop by.” I didn’t realize what I was walking into. This is a family that’s been around for … again, seven generations. It sold for almost a billion dollars 10 years ago. They still own the hacienda that is 300 years old or so. He’s like, “No, no, stay here.” Two guard gates, security. I mean, I felt like I went back in time. I’m with six of my closest friends. We’re staying at a true hacienda getting meals cooked in a kitchen that was 150, looked like it was forever old.
Alan Ezeir: 00:46:36 He looked at it like, “Wow!” So, that was an experience to not only go visit Herradura because they are still connected to Brown-Forman but to spend the night there. Through my network, I met somebody that met somebody that got sick and couldn’t show up to a party for a company called Clase Azul. You guys may know the tequila. It’s the blue and white bottle. Very well known. The only reason I got invited is because the guy that was supposed to go, got sick. He goes, “Alan, take my ticket.” Now I could have said, “I’m going to stay home.” I went. I just got in my car, sat in traffic, one from La Joya all the way downtown to the Keating Hotel. It’s like, “All right, what the hell? What am I do? I don’t know anyone here, but all right, I’m going to go to the 20th anniversary Clase Azul party.”
Alan Ezeir: 00:47:24 I’m thinking there’s going to be 1,000 people in there. There was 40 people. I’m like, “All right. This is a lot.” Now, it’s weirder because I don’t know anybody in this room. Arturo gets up on stage and he’s the founder of Clase Azul. I realize the other 39 people in the room were there to drink and I was there to ask questions. Arturo sat down next to me and an hour and a half later, we became fast friends. Now I’m like, “Wow, look at this guy who invented one of the most iconic brands. I feel like blessed to be able to just chat with them about it.” So, there’s a couple of stories. I can keep going but I don’t want to-
Nate Broughton: 00:48:02 No, that’s good.
Alan Ezeir: 00:48:03 Again, it’s just you’d never know. Like Dr. Seuss says oh the places you’ll go.
Nate Broughton: 00:48:09 Spoken like a true La Joyan.
Alan Ezeir: 00:48:14 Yeah, I guess.
Nate Broughton: 00:48:14 So, what are you doing now? I want to book end it a little bit. You exited the .ws business. You had it for 16, 17 years. You got out of that now. Had a great run with it. You have this disease of needing something to do, more so than that, to be in the business, the challenge, the excitement, to tackle something new. Tequila is not going to do it. You want to be in business. What’s Alan doing today?
Alan Ezeir: 00:48:37 Yeah. So, about a year ago started Circle Square Capital. When I actually did the attempted retirement, sit on the beach with a tequila bottle and panicked and a bunch of my YPO friends. I can actually share his name. His name is Andrew Dumke. I said, “God, what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” For someone that has a lot of interest, I still panicked because you always wonder. He goes, “Hey, why don’t you buy a company.” That’s really where it all began. He kind of taught me the road. It was just a founder of companies taking capital and capital of friends to go out and acquire companies that are certain size, $5 to $35 million in revenue, $1 to $5 million in EBITDA and hopefully, it’s close to San Diego. If it isn’t, within reason. It’s been a fun journey. It’s been like a learning experience. The people I’ve met in it are just another layer of ” Wow, more people, a different space.”
Alan Ezeir: 00:49:33 So, between that and then Sipping Life, which is my tastings, tours and education around tequila, so what happened was everyone would always call, “Hey, what’s the tequila I can buy? Hey, when’s your next dinner party? Hey, when are you going to go to Guadalajara next?” I’m like, “Hm, why don’t I just put up a website and just tell everyone go to that website. Sign up and then you know.” So, I spend time doing that just for fun. Then the whole cryptocurrency world and blockchain. I’ve got six or seven different ventures there where I’m more on the peripheral but that’s just because I want to be in the picture. I’m not as involved. I really focus most of my time on looking for companies to acquire. So-
Nate Broughton: 00:50:11 It’s a tough road to hoe.
Alan Ezeir: 00:50:13 We both know that.
Nate Broughton: 00:50:13 We do.
Alan Ezeir: 00:50:15 You actually could be semi responsible for some of my beginnings there.
Nate Broughton: 00:50:18 Yeah.
Alan Ezeir: 00:50:19 Can I give you the blame or the … You know what’s great is that when I come on the show years from now I’m going to go, “Remember Nate, when you pushed me into calling Brett and then I fell in love with his model and look where I am now.” It’s all your … It’s because I met you.
Nate Broughton: 00:50:35 Well, I think you-
Dana Robinson: 00:50:36 Right. If it’s a failure, it’s your fault.
Nate Broughton: 00:50:39 Right.
Dana Robinson: 00:50:40 If it’s a success, then thanks.
Nate Broughton: 00:50:41 Well, I think you’re going to pull it off. I actually gave up and started a podcast which is a foolish ass idea.
Alan Ezeir: 00:50:48 No.
Nate Broughton: 00:50:48 But, no, it’ll be fun to follow along and I’m really curious. It’s already been cool to kind of hear about some of the ones that have come along and talk about that stuff. A lot of that stuff flies through this office here with Captarget and Gabe and all that-
Alan Ezeir: 00:50:59 Great guys.
Nate Broughton: 00:51:00 Yeah, they are. As an entrepreneur, as someone who’s endlessly curious, I mean, it’s a lot of fun early on especially just to get behind the scenes. To sign those NDAs, to look at those packages and go through the financials and the stories. I think I love that more than anything at the beginning because you can start to think about how can I make this better, is this an opportunity, is it not. It’s like on steroids getting to look behind the scenes of businesses. So, I google your name. I google Alan Ezeir and this comes up.
Alan Ezeir: 00:51:00 Oh yes.
Nate Broughton: 00:51:30 A big headline that says Alan Ezeir, the tech entrepreneur selling his home for $8 million in Bitcoin. Have eight million in Bitcoin lying around. That comes up second for your name. So, I have to bring it up for a minute. So, your house is for sale. Is it still for sale?
Alan Ezeir: 00:51:47 Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 00:51:47 Still for sale.
Dana Robinson: 00:51:48 In Bitcoin only, in Bitcoin dollars.
Alan Ezeir: 00:51:51 I’ll take bananas if they were exchangeable. If it’s got any liquidity in the marketplace, I’ll take if they’re-
Nate Broughton: 00:51:57 Bananas are highly liquid.
Alan Ezeir: 00:51:59 Yeah?
Nate Broughton: 00:51:59 You sell bananas like that.
Alan Ezeir: 00:52:00 If there’s a buyer and seller on either side, I can trade it into an asset that I’d like to hold on to.
Nate Broughton: 00:52:08 Well, that was just kind of a fun thing I guess you dig, because you’re into crypto. You’re already selling your house and you’re like maybe an idea here. You’d maybe seen someone else do it or an agent suggested. I forgot what it was. It was just to generate some interest, right?
Alan Ezeir: 00:52:19 I’m trying to remember how it all began. A lot of it has to do with pick something of shock value to kind of open people’s eyes to look at and say, ” What’s this about?” I think people are all … I get this once in a while, “Oh, you’re lucky you didn’t sell your house for Bitcoin.” I go, “Wow, they really don’t understand how cryptocurrency works.” You can sell $8 million of Bitcoin in 15 minutes if you know the right people. What’s the worry in 15 minutes? I think that’s why I use that medium or that asset class to get more attention to the house. I’m candid about it. Hey, it’s all about eyeballs. Show more people my house and more of an opportunity to do so.
Nate Broughton: 00:53:01 Especially with a house like that, that it really has an international market of potential acquirers.
Alan Ezeir: 00:53:06 Yeah. I truly believe that when they find the way just like the internet moved the way of how people did transactions utilizing that medium, cryptocurrencies doing that in international countries, well, welcome to the world when we see transactions being done. I think that real estate transaction will be … well they have been done so there’s just more of them. No different than what Mark Cuban did for eBay. He bought a $50 million airplane via eBay. Everyone is like, “You can do that on eBay?” I know it sounds kind of silly but he was just proving a point. He didn’t pay any fees for that. It was all marketing and whatever it was. The reality is, is that you’ve got to get people comfortable, no different than putting a credit card on the internet and using crypto for a house sale. I’m looking forward to it. I kind of get upset if I sell it for US dollars just because I’d be like, “God, I just wanted someone to do it in crypto just so that it’d be a better story.” because the story is fun. It’s like it makes it more interesting.
Dana Robinson: 00:54:07 What about the Opt Out coin? Do we launch or ICO yet just maybe we can buy Alan’s house?
Alan Ezeir: 00:54:16 I like that.
Nate Broughton: 00:54:17 I don’t know. That’s going to make my head spin. It’s already spinning. So, no Opt Out coin right now. Well, opt out of that. Well, you mentioned the story and we can kind of start to head towards the wrap up. I mentioned in the beginning how you have such a cool house. Yeah, it’s an expensive house, whatever. What I love about it is the stories behind some of the things. Not only the thoughtfulness to the design and I know your wife is a designer and has a background, but the thoughtfulness that you and she put into the house and some of the aspects as you go through.
Nate Broughton: 00:54:47 There’s little bins that roll around that fit in a certain space and allow you to like drop laundry from a couple floors up and go right into the laundry room and fit in this perfect little space. There’s the cover for the ping pong table and the pool table that slides into this little slot right next to the elevator just so. There’s the headphones that sit underneath the seat that kind of just disappear, that you don’t know that they’re there. Maybe the coolest one is the piece of art that you guys have that is the outline of Manhattan that’s kind of behind your stairs. You guys put little like … is it lights or pins?
Alan Ezeir: 00:55:21 There’s lights on each subway stop like an LED light.
Nate Broughton: 00:55:24 You put little things like where you guys have had dinner and places that you’ve remembered. So, it’s kind of like this memory wall that’s also like high art. That’s also really cool. Those sorts of things like those little fine touches I think are what make it the coolest house I’ve ever seen, because it’s a reflection of you not just like some like, “Who’s going to build the biggest house?” Like fit it in to the village which promotes a good lifestyle for the lifestyle that you want and the little things like that. You built a custom software program to run the house that you designed with a company out of North Carolina I think to power the lights and all that stuff. That’s a reflection of your personality and like, “I’m going to do some cool stuff with this that’s going to allow me to tinker and have fun.” It’s not just about having a big house.
Alan Ezeir: 00:56:08 1,492 day journey building it.
Nate Broughton: 00:56:11 Yeah.
Alan Ezeir: 00:56:12 I enjoyed a good 1,400 of those days. There’s probably 90 hectic like, “Ooh, this is painful days.”
Nate Broughton: 00:56:20 When there were protesters out front from the native group?
Alan Ezeir: 00:56:21 No, never had protesters.
Nate Broughton: 00:56:21 Okay.
Alan Ezeir: 00:56:23 We were really good with them. We got lucky and we also were really kind to everyone. I think a little bit of luck because there’s always going to be someone saying, “What are you doing?” Also, just being proactive and kind. I’m a planner. So, it was not hard for me to alert everyone and talk to everybody and say, “Hey, look, I’ll work around your schedule. I’m not going to be that ass neighbor that just says “I could do whatever I want.”” and having fun with it. I’ve had more people ask me, “Well, God, you built this house and you’ve lived in it now. Why are you selling it?” I go, “It was wonderful 1492 days. It was a wonderful for almost five, six years living it. Kind of done. Let’s go on to the next journey.”
Alan Ezeir: 00:57:04 I don’t think I ever want to stop. Stopping from what I hear you get closer to death when you stop doing stuff. It’s just not as exciting and it’s hard for me to say because most people were like, “Really? It’s not exciting to live in that house?” I go, “Yeah, it’s fun.” I have to say, when I look down the 20 foot waterfall over two stories, and I can make coffee out of my wall because I’ve got this coffee machine and I can go to my rooftop and sit on a bed that’s retractable and I’m like, “It’s cool.” After a while, it’s just stuff. You know, it’s like, “All right, next.” I was like, “All right, let someone else enjoy it.” With our kids leaving the house, you’re like, “All right, now, maybe there’s another journey happening. Why not? I want to tell more stories next time you have me on the air.”
Nate Broughton: 00:57:53 I love it. Alright listeners, so, I hung out with Alan for a while and kept chatting because I wanted to hear a little bit more about how he became who he was, his interest in tequila, who he met when he was young. He gave me a nice little story about meeting Michael Dell at an event when I think Michael Dell was still in his 20s. It’s vintage Alan walking right up to him and be like, “How do you do it, man? How do you do it?” Can you imagine it? I can certainly picture him doing that. Hopefully, you can too after listening to him. That was one I hadn’t heard before. His also his passion for tequila, the people he’s met through that interest and how he’s able to kind of mix pleasure and business with that. He’s kind of known as the tequila guy around town, not because he makes tequila but just because he has a curiosity about it. It’s a great way to bring people together, obviously. So, I got a little bit more from him on that.
Nate Broughton: 00:58:41 Actually, the one other thing that he told us about that I want to drop in here, and I think he didn’t even remember this until he was talking to us Dana was when he said his girlfriend … He had a girlfriend in high school. Her grandpa hired him 12 bucks an hour to do, I guess, kind of market research and secret shopping for his business where he had to cold call people and ask questions. He says that the guy told him, “Let me teach you how to get information.” That must have left its mark because I mean look at the man who is before us now and the things he says are his principles. That was so cool to hear because you get the hustler college stuff that even before that.
Dana Robinson: 00:59:16 Yeah, that early lesson from an entrepreneur that changed him.
Nate Broughton: 00:59:19 Right, it’s great. So, I mean, well, you mentioned walking out onto the beach before a meeting. I want to know why. What made you like that? That’s part of the reason that I think we do this podcast is to talk to people who have cool stories who took an alternative path, but why did you get down on an alternative path? Was it your parents? Was those people you met in college? Was it just inborn? I’m a little curious.
Alan Ezeir: 00:59:41 I do believe that there’s … it’s like two pieces. The first piece is you are who you are. You got the DNA and yeah. I took the path less desired where I graduated from a big university and not get a job and said, “This is the way I want to live my life. I want to be up at five in the morning because I love the morning. I want to be by the coast because I love the coast.” If someone goes, “Here’s 5 million bucks, but you’re going to be on a plane 300 days a year, and you’re going to travel the whole world.” I would have been like, “Ugh.” That’s my life. Maybe at a young age would have done it. You couldn’t make me do that right now. I just would be miserable because it’s not what I want to do. I think chasing money is always going to be part of me, because it’s fun, but it better be at least within the parameters of what I enjoy.
Alan Ezeir: 01:00:33 As cliché as it sounds, the journey really is such a big part of it. You want to believe that it’s got to be more than that, but it really is. The older you get, the more you realize it. The more you start to look at people in your life and go, “I want to be loved the way I want to be loved by the people I love.” rather than, “I’m just doing it and I don’t know where it’s going.”
Alan Ezeir: 01:00:54 The older you get, the less you tolerate idiots that you don’t want to work with. So, I had deep seated is just that thirst for life. I think I’ve had it always. I also say it’s a demand because you don’t get satisfied. So, I look at my brother who’s a school teacher and go, “God, I wish I was him sometimes because he’s just so at peace with like gardening on the weekends or summertime.” He looks at me like I’m an alien because I’m just go, go, go, go or want or try this. It’s like, “Why? Just go play golf.” I’m like, “I probably can do at once, whenever.” or “Well, then, let’s go invent a golf ball.” That’d be kind of fun. That’s be really-
Nate Broughton: 01:01:35 Reinvent the golf ball. It makes more sense to talk to you at this point in your life at 50 with the accomplishments you’ve had and have you say the things you just said about I didn’t want to work for someone. I wanted to be by the beach. I wanted to wake up at 5:00 a.m. To hear you say that, I’m like you can pull that off, but when you decided that you were a 20 something year old kid. So, that would sound crazy coming from your son. You know what I’m saying? So, I mean, were you called crazy for one and then, how did you make it work in your 20s versus now? I think a lot of people don’t understand how to get from that point to the point where you are today obviously let alone the first couple steps.
Alan Ezeir: 01:02:20 Sure. So, the old adage, tons of sacrifice and tons of hard work, a lot of luck and some timing, right? So, you’re not on the beach the whole time during your 20s because you have to actually pull away from that. I knew that I didn’t want to do something where I couldn’t get to the beach for at least a period of time each day and as you get more and more successful, you can spend more and more time doing the things you want and you find that pleasure in just going after industries or businesses that are tailored to your personality, because then you’re more passionate about it. So, if you gave me a job that started at 11:00 a.m. or a profession that you couldn’t do anything until 11:00 a.m., I’d lose my mind.
Alan Ezeir: 01:02:58 So, if I couldn’t have the opportunity to get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, in other words, a job where you just get a paycheck and the odds of getting that pot of gold is tough unless you’re getting equity, I’m not doing it, but you put your head down and you work really hard and you’re kind to everyone because you never know when they’ll come around in your life again. I can’t tell you how many people in the last 20 years have come around and now it pays off with spades because you can open a door like I can go on and on and give you a zillion of those examples. So, it’s being patient.
Alan Ezeir: 01:03:32 I met Michael Dell when I was 20 years old. He was 28. I looked at him like a starry eyed little kid. His company was doing 50 million in sales. I was a part of an organization called the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs, ACE. Doesn’t exist anymore. I walked up to him and said, “So, how do you do this?” He kind of laughed a little bit and he’s like, “I wish I could tell you there’s a yellow brick road. You just got to take the first step and just keep stepping forward and do what you love and keep working hard.” You know, like, “I don’t like that answer. Give me a better answer.” Right?
Nate Broughton: 01:04:04 Right.
Alan Ezeir: 01:04:04 So, I mean … because I was there. I was probably like a lot of the 20 year olds or 30 year olds or people that are striving to try to figure it out and there’s no guarantees. The shitty thing is it can happen to you in 20s. It could happen in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and you and you don’t get to really choose and that kind of sucks. So, then, what are your choices? You just turn it in and say, “This is going to be too hard.” or do you just put your head down. In college, I was the one up at four reading Tony Robbins books. It was my high. I’d go running and then read a Tony Robbins book and said, “All right, I’m ready for this.” I didn’t mean I didn’t go party also but at least five days with I was just really into being motivated. It’s called a calling but it wasn’t easy. Keep asking questions. Keep on asking questions and when someone answers, ask another question.
Alan Ezeir: 01:04:58 Actually, it’s funny. I was trying to figure out where that came from. My high school girlfriend’s grandfather gave me a part time gig. He was a consultant making 50 grand a job and he would hire me at 12 bucks an hour to make all these phone calls. I didn’t realize this until after the fact. My God, he was making a lot of money on me. He would give me a list of questions to call in to these companies to ask and he goes, “Let me teach you how to get information.” He kind of guided me. He would made me go, you know, ask a question on a question. Never ask a question that has a yes or no answer and it got into my head. Sometimes it can be annoying because I’ll be with my wife and I’ll ask questions and she’s like, “Enough with the questions.” because I get into it and my kids hate it, because they know exactly what I’m doing. It’s the curiosity I think.
Nate Broughton: 01:05:50 That’s cool.
Alan Ezeir: 01:05:51 I haven’t thought about that in a while. Yeah, Walter McIntyre. I’m sure he’s passed away now.
Nate Broughton: 01:05:57 If you’re out there Walter-
Alan Ezeir: 01:05:58 It was 30 years. Yeah. Thirty years ago, he was 60. So, I’m guessing he’s either in his 90s or … but yeah Walter McIntyre. It was a really … That was fun.
Nate Broughton: 01:06:08 That’s cool, because that age maybe you’re not even thinking much about who’s on the other line. The fear might not be as real because you’re like, “This is interesting. I just call people and ask questions.”
Alan Ezeir: 01:06:17 Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 01:06:18 It’s almost like better to start at that point than at 27, 28 or 37, 38 doing that.
Alan Ezeir: 01:06:23 Right. I have a book I eventually going to write. Maybe you can get me into writing my book finally. It’s called 10 years to tenure. I always say between 18 and 28 is your time to swing. Now, if you’re after 28, doesn’t mean you can’t keep swinging, but it’s the most opportune time to make as many mistakes as possible because you can pick yourself back up. Every business school that I’ve spoken to, a classroom, at the end of everyone, I say the same thing. I’m like, “All right, everybody, we’ve gone back and forth. What does everybody in this room have over me?” Occasionally someone will go, “We’ve got our youth.”
Nate Broughton: 01:06:58 And, time.
Alan Ezeir: 01:06:59 Because at 50, I mean I got less time than you guys. That means you can swing more times. A lot of them don’t catch that. They think they rather trade youth for what I have. I’m like, “Want a trade? I’ll trade.”
Dana Robinson: 01:07:12 I get asked like a million questions but we have limited amount of time.
Nate Broughton: 01:07:17 Well, we’ll have him on again.
Alan Ezeir: 01:07:18 Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 01:07:18 So, we will look forward to all the questions we want to ask still and the things that happened to you in your life in the coming year or two before we have you back on. We’re having another little Opt Out party in two weeks at Gabe’s new house.
Alan Ezeir: 01:07:30 He got a new place. Wow, he didn’t tell me.
Nate Broughton: 01:07:31 Yeah. It’s right down the street.
Alan Ezeir: 01:07:33 All right. I thought he would never leave that place. Gabe wants simple.
Nate Broughton: 01:07:37 Well, actually it’s just his house but like bigger and nicer but exactly the same style and stuff.
Alan Ezeir: 01:07:44 Okay. He likes that older cool-
Nate Broughton: 01:07:46 It’s all wood.
Alan Ezeir: 01:07:47 Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 01:07:48 It’s cool. Gabe fashion, we’re going to have a budtender there. We’re working on this.
Alan Ezeir: 01:07:52 Oh nice.
Nate Broughton: 01:07:53 So, it’ll be like a weed thing.
Alan Ezeir: 01:07:54 Oh! Budtender, yeah.
Nate Broughton: 01:07:56 Budtender.
Alan Ezeir: 01:07:57 Someone that’s actually going to-
Nate Broughton: 01:07:58 I learned this term yesterday and act like I’m in the know. So, think you know-
Alan Ezeir: 01:08:03 You’re going to have dude lessons like all-
Nate Broughton: 01:08:03 I think so. So, he’ll be educating and then also distributing.
Alan Ezeir: 01:08:09 … that be kind of cool. Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 01:08:09 It’d be kind of Opt Out, but you got to come check it out.
Alan Ezeir: 01:08:11 I would love to. Yeah, those are fun.
Nate Broughton: 01:08:13 Cool. So, anyone else who’s listening to this. If this actually comes out before the party, come show up in Mission Hills.
Dana Robinson: 01:08:18 It’d be a reason to get on our list.
Nate Broughton: 01:08:19 Exactly. Yeah. Get on the email list. You can come to that party. Alan, thanks for taking the time to come down and do this Sir. We could probably talk for three, four, five Joe Rogan style. There’s always good stories to having you around.
Alan Ezeir: 01:08:19 I really appreciate both of you.
Nate Broughton: 01:08:19 Cool.
Alan Ezeir: 01:08:19 Thanks.
Nate Broughton: 01:08:35 If you like what Dana and I are doing, if these stories of cool people sprinkled with our insights are valuable to you, do me a favor. Wherever you get your podcasts, go and click the subscribe button right now. Our goal is to spread these stories to as many people as possible and change lives. Let’s do that. We need subscribers. Hopefully, we’ve helped you to start to see things differently and there’s more to come. After you subscribe to the podcast, go over to optoutlife. com, get on our email list and join the Opt Out Life movement. Being on that list will get you early access to our course which is called the Opt Out Life Blueprint as well as our tribe membership and upcoming events hosted by the Opt Out Life. I promise you. I am sitting watching my inbox right now waiting for you to sign up. So, come say hi so I don’t get lonely. Deal? All right, Opt Out, out.