What once housed his summer savings now reminds this CEO to build a strong team and focus on shared goals.
3 min read
When I was nine years old, I overheard my parents arguing about the rent. They didn’t have the money to pay it. I had a Mickey Mouse piggy bank with $30 saved up, which was a lot of money to me, so I thought I had the solution and offered it to them. “Thank you; that’s sweet, but it won’t cut it,” they said, “and it’s not for you to worry about anyway.” I remember thinking, If that’s not enough, I can get more.
I grew up in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood in the early ’80s. Friends and I spent summers skateboarding all over. We also had a casual business operation: We’d wash neighborhood cars for $5 each, then immediately spend that money at McDonald’s. When I heard my parents arguing about rent, I set out to grow the operation.
I told my friends that if they helped me wash more cars, I’d buy an aboveground pool for the neighborhood. Whatever was left I’d save for rent. We went door to door offering our services, and every night I’d stuff my Mickey Mouse piggy bank with $5 bills. After a while, I had to buy another Mickey Mouse bank to accommodate the cash — and then a third. Before long, I bought a $1,500 pool (which made me a complete rock star) and still had $1,500 left over.
I gave the remaining money to my parents, who thought I stole it. When I told them about my business, they cried — and did ultimately put it toward rent. From that moment on, I never stopped hustling. You can do a lot of good with money.
When I think back to that piggy bank — or see any image of Mickey Mouse — it reminds me of that hustle, and how important it is to incentivize a team. Our car-washing days were a success because my friends knew they would benefit directly from our work. Even today, that memory impacts how I work at Luxury Brand Partners. We develop and operate beauty brands, and our management team has equity in all our companies. When we recently sold our brand Oribe, that team benefited from the sale. It felt so good — the same as when my friends and I bought that pool.