Sarah Frey is the founder and CEO of Frey Farms which she founded at the age of 16.  The farm grows thousands of acres worth of fruits and vegetables.  Dubbed “the Pumpkin Queen of America” by the New York Times, she sells more pumpkins than any other producer in the United States.  She is also the owner of Tsamma, a bottled watermelon juice sold in over 1,500 stores all over the country.  Her new book is titled The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life – and Saved an American Farm.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Because she grew up poor and had to spend most of her free time doing chores around the farm, she learned to use her active imagination to escape.
  • Growing up without means was a strong motivator to find the freedom to live a better life and to have more control over her own destiny.
  • Her lack of scale and sophistication early on (no warehouses, distribution centers, extra drivers) became a competitive advantage, as delivering direct to the stores meant fresher and higher quality produce for the customers.
  • A lot of her success was due to her ability to exude confidence, even when she really wasn’t sure what she was doing.
  • Scrappiness is in her company’s DNA. A core philosophy from the beginning and just as relevant today is how to do more with less.
  • Always make sure that the customer’s needs are met. “Take care of the customer today and they will take care of you in the future.”
  • She doesn’t look for the polished, well educated, perfectly buttoned-up kinds of people but rather, the ones that have some imperfections. “Often the most imperfect people are the sweetest on the inside.”
  • “Excellence is loving what you do.”

 

Links:

Book: The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life – and Saved an American Farm

Frey Farms

Tsamma watermellon juice

Scott Boras is a sports agent specializing in baseball. He is the Founder and President of Boras Corporation, a sports agency that represents roughly 75 professional baseball clients.  He has negotiated more than $9B in major league baseball contracts, with 11 of them worth more than $100 million—more than any other agent. Scott has been named the “Most Powerful Sports Agent in the World” by Forbes magazine.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He felt it was important to have a backup plan. He earned his Doctor of Pharmacy and law degrees while he was playing baseball so if things didn’t work out, he would have another path to pursue.
  • The hardest part of being an agent isn’t negotiating contracts. It’s figuring out how to optimize a player, both physically and psychologically.
  • To effectively represent a player, you’ve got to not just understand their skill level but to understand them at a personal level as well.
  • You don’t go into a negotiation to win. You go into a negotiation to understand and build a bridge.  And you build that bridge with reasons which benefit the needs and wants of both sides.
  • His firm employs NASA and MIT-trained research scientists and engineers to uncover proprietary player performance data that nobody else uses.
  • His firm also has sports psychologists on staff whose ultimate goal is to increase the durability and hence value of the players.
  • The key to success isn’t comparing yourself to others but just trying to be the best that you can be in what you’re doing.
  • “My measure of excellence is how long can you stay in the game.”

Steve Schwarzman is the co-founder and CEO of Blackstone, one of the world’s largest and most successful investment funds with over a half trillion dollars under management. Steve is an active philanthropist with a history of supporting education, culture, and the arts.  He holds a BA from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  His new book is called What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • He has always been very competitive. When he graduated from Yale, he insisted upon an extra $500 a year in his offer from a prestigious investment bank so he could be the highest paid graduate from his class.
  • “What I lacked in basic economics, I made up for with my ability to see patterns and develop new solutions and paradigms, and with the sheer will to turn my ideas into reality.”
  • He single-handedly advised Tropicana on getting acquired, which was the second largest transaction in the world that year, even though he had absolutely no M&A experience up until that point.
  • “To be successful you have to put yourself in situations and places you have no right being in. You shake your head and learn from your own stupidity. But through sheer will, you wear the world down, and it gives you what you want.”
  • They closed on their first fund of $1 billion the morning of October 19th, 1987, aka Black Monday, the largest one day drop in stock market history. Just one day later and Blackstone might not have ever gotten off the ground.
  • After losing some money on a deal, he re-architected the entire investment decision making process to be much more rigorous with the goal of engineering out the risk so as to never lose money again
  • He has a philosophy to only hire “10’s”. Those people tend to be intelligent, articulate, calm, energetic, curious, and can envision the future.
  • “Excellence is being the best that you can be at whatever you choose to do.”

Rich Karlgaard is a bestselling author, award-winning entrepreneur, and speaker.  He is the publisher of Forbes magazine and is based in Silicon Valley.  He is a renowned lecturer on technology, innovation, corporate culture, and a number of other important business issues and the author of three books, his latest one titled: Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

 

  • His time at Stanford poring over Sports Illustrated in the library would later become the genesis for starting up what would become a highly popular technology business magazine.
  • Starting up Upside Magazine which had a unique style and voice ultimately led to a coveted role with Forbes despite the magazine not being a financial success.
  • Our cultural obsession with early achievement is detrimental to society.
  • Some people are successful because they’re competitive and set goals for themselves. Others achieve success because they are explorers chasing their curiosity without an end in mind.
  • Between the ages of 18 and 25, our prefrontal cortex is still growing and our executive function skills are still developing. Yet, this is the exact time when we’re supposed to be laser focused on launching our future careers.
  • One of the most important traits CEOs of high performance companies look for in new recruits is curiosity because without curiosity there’s no growth.
  • Notable strengths of late bloomers include curiosity, compassion, resilience, insight, and calmness.
  • “Resilience isn’t just the ability to be tough but the ability to have enough built in flexibility so an unexpected failure doesn’t shatter you.”
  • At any given time, there’s an optimal use of your time, your talent, and your effort.
  • “Excellence is the intersection between your perfect native gifts and your sense of purpose that is so deep you’re willing to sacrifice for it.”

 

Links:

Find Rich Karlgaard’s book Late Bloomers here.

Find Rich Karlgaard’s personal website here.