Reed Dickens, Founder and CEO of LA Golf, From the Bayou to the White House to Industry-Disrupting Entrepreneur | RUHM Podcast
In this episode of RUHM Podcast, join host Tim Smith and guest, Reed Dickens, Founder and CEO of LA Golf, for proof that with the right mindset and gumption, anyone can achieve their wildest dreams.
Reed shares how he, a kid from the bayou with no connections, money, or knowledge of politics, would go on to become one of the youngest on-the-record White House Spokespersons under the George W. Bush presidency. He explains how manifestation and visualization paired with laser focus on a singular goal for each day, week and year that align with your long-term goals will make all the other dominoes fall.
The two further discuss Reed’s post-politics career, during which Reed made his first million in crisis management for billionaires, Hollywood A-Listers, and CEO’s; later co-founding Marucci Sports which came to disrupt the baseball bat market and sell for $200 million; and culminating with the creation of LA Golf where Reed has combined his passion for golf with his proven playbook of business success to innovate the technology and dominate the market of golf club shafts, putters and more.
Listen wherever you get your podcasts!
Rate review and subscribe if you haven't already.
For those who'd like to read the episode.
Tim Smith 0:05
Tim Smith of The Smith Group here at CineNewport presenting our podcast RUHM where we're here to highlight and expose to the world the amazing people, places properties and stories of Southern California. Today I'm excited to announce my guest Reed Dickens, from the bayou to the White House to LA Golf. Can't wait to chat. Thanks for joining us.
Reed Dickens 0:27
Happy to be here, it's fun.
Tim Smith 0:27
Yeah. So to start, before we get into details, I just want to kind of talk about what brought you to Newport Beach because this is a destination spot where the eyes of the world are now on it. The first 20 years in my career, we always got overlooked for bigger markets like LA, Malibu, Montecito, Miami, New York. But I think specifically because of COVID and the paradigm shift to focus on safety, lifestyle, climate, people are coming here that we've never seen before. So what brought you? Obviously grew up in Louisiana, had a very interesting life and career in politics. What brought you to Orange County?
Reed Dickens 1:04
Yeah. So when I was a kid, I was obsessed with Saved by the Bell. They were doing school on the beach. I couldn't figure out why they got to do that. And I literally was obsessed with L.A. But I went was working in government when I was my first job out of college, and I actually flew in with President Bush, my first trip to California. We landed on Marine One on the St. Regis golf course, for the grand opening in May of 2001. And as the helicopter was landing, I told everyone the helicopter I said, I'm going to move here, meet a girl, start a company and never talk to you guys. And they all laughed. And four years later, I did just that.
Tim Smith 1:41
And this is when you're single not worrying. Had you been here before?
Reed Dickens 1:43
No, it was my first time ever coming to California.
Tim Smith 1:45
This is when you came to Paul and Hadi's grand opening the St. Regis?
Reed Dickens 1:49
And we were, we were literally landing hovering down over the golf course and all I could see for miles was golf courses and beach and ocean. And I was just, I fell in love.
Tim Smith 1:57
Smitten. That's awesome. Okay, so father of four husband. I know how busy it is, I have two. What are some local things you guys love to do here? Restaurants, what are you guys doing on weekends? Just to give kind of the listeners like what's the Orange County vibe?
Reed Dickens 2:13
What's what's funny is our favorite thing to do as a family. We did it this past Sunday is going into the little park right there in Corona del Mar that looks out over the ocean. And I never, it blows my mind that there's a park where you can just we have picnic, we throw the football, we just lay in the grass. We spent three and a half hours.
Tim Smith 2:32
Right there at Inspiration Point.
Reed Dickens 2:33
Right there. I'm just looking out over the ocean and it blows my mind because I'd never seen the ocean until I was you know, probably 18. That's our favorite thing to do. We take advantage of all the parks on Bison and CDM, Oliver.
Tim Smith 2:46
It's funny you say that - when I was 13 I moved from Utah to California and remember, we went to the beach for the first time and we went down Marguerite and I don't know why it was so like the palm trees blew my mind. Like we didn't have palm trees. We didn't have the ocean. I hadn't been to the ocean so I totally relate to that. Okay, date night restaurant. Where are you going?
Reed Dickens 3:04
We're pretty lazy. Bandera every time.
Tim Smith 3:07
Okay, Bandera, we just had that. Okay, what are you doing? Breakfast, coffee?
Reed Dickens 3:12
So it's it's funny. We'll do a lot of Rose Cafe, but pick up. We love to eat in our backyard. But you know, I think it's funny for breakfast. We were really we love to bring breakfast home. We go to Sidecar Doughnuts. Go to Rose Cafe and bring it back and have it in the backyard.
Tim Smith 3:34
So being in the golf industry best golf courses in Orange County? Your favorite?
Reed Dickens 3:38
I actually am a huge fan of Pelican Hill. Yeah, I've been hosting board meetings and investor events, and I've been hosting events there for 17 years for all three of my companies. And I think it's one of the most underrated golf courses in in California, let alone Orange County. I think it's the Pebble Beach of Southern California and obviously, it's irritating sometimes because there's a lot of tourists and people don't fix their ball marks, etc. But I think the north course at Pelican Hill is as difficult from the tips as any golf course in Southern California.
Tim Smith 4:06
Yeah, private club, which what would you say private club in Orange County your favorite?
Reed Dickens 4:10
I'm actually a fan of Shady Canyon. I like the membership there. I've played, you know, I have I have friends and partners and investors at Newport Beach Country Club and pretty much everywhere. But just because I work in the industry. But Shady Canyon, I think it's a great hang.
Tim Smith 4:24
It's a great, it's a great membership, but it's a great flavor of being so close to the beach. It feels like you just have space forever. Okay, so a little bit of history - grew up in Louisiana. I love the line that I read from the bayou to the White House. Give us a little bit of the childhood and really the thing for me is how did a kid from Louisiana, one of five boys end up in the White House? Tell us a little bit of that story?
Reed Dickens 4:50
Yeah, it's really I was a big believer in manifestation and visualization before I knew what those words meant. I didn't even know what that was but I I would sit in my house when I was a kid wondering where every plane, every plane that flew over every car that drove by, where are they going? And how do they get there? And I was actually walking through, actually, first I went to visit Air Force Academy to see a friend graduate when I was about 16. And I saw Bill Clinton's helicopters laying in the parking lot. I told my friend that I was with I said, I'm gonna do that one day, he was getting off the helicopter talking, like yelling at all these young people, and they were on two cell phones. And they looked like they were just doing something meaningful. And I said to my friend, I'm going to do that one day. And he said, Do what I said, work for a President. He said, How? I said, I don't know, I didn't even know what a Republican or Democrat was, and didn't know anyone in politics. And I always love to tell that story because six years later, I landed in that same parking lot on the same helicopter with the next president.
Tim Smith 5:47
So you're literally at a graduation, and you knew the President was coming, or you didn't?
Reed Dickens 5:52
Yeah, he was speaking.
Tim Smith 5:53
Okay. So he's coming down and you're, you're actually like watching this, and you can remember the feeling. And you just said, I'm gonna do this.
Reed Dickens 6:01
The helicopters, they do this, the shell game. And so four come in, and then four come in, and they kind of keep switching for security reasons and I was just mesmerized. And I told my friend and so apparently, my mom found a notebook after that, that said "Pathway to the White House", I went home, I bought a notebook, that said "Pathway to the White House", when I just started writing down names, people that I knew, but at the end of the story, or I guess, the beginning of the story, and I was walking down the hall at LSU. And I see an article on the wall. And it was a photo of interns taking a picture with a congressman. And I it didn't really click for me that Congress and the White House were even different things. I didn't know really anything about government and so I said to the professor, I said, How do I do that? And he said, you can't? And I said, Well, what if I want to? And he said, "You can't, it's just for donors, kids, he said only only donors, kids get internships." And so I went home and I got in the blue pages of the phonebook for those of you have seen a phonebook. And I called my congressman's office pretty much every morning for a month. And they finally called me back and said, you can come up between August 1 and August 10. And I now know that's not even a real internship. And Congress is in recess, and the Congressman wasn't going to be there. But I wouldn't stop calling. So I hung up. And I was in panic, because I didn't have any money. So I went to the grocery store and bought American flag stationery. And I used a grid, my grandmother's typewriter, because we didn't have a computer and sent out letters to everyone I've ever met in my life and said, "The United States Congress has chosen me to come to Washington, DC." And I wasn't the bs'ing because I felt like that. And that's the key to fundraising and politics. Right? You gotta believe what you're saying.
Tim Smith 7:36
It's almost like you're faking it to make in the sense, like...
Reed Dickens 7:38
But I was sincere. So I wrote this letter, and I got about $4,000 in the mail. No check was larger than $50. And I bought a plane ticket, a suit, four ties, a shirt, some shoes and a dorm at George Washington University. And I went up there for, I don't know, two weeks. And there was this one lady sitting in the corner while everyone else was everyone, you'd be horrified to see what people do on Capitol Hill, right? It's a bunch of youngsters who've never had jobs in the real world playing fantasy sports all day. And so this one lady was doing real substantive, serious work. And I pulled my chair up next to her and I just asked her questions. Well, two years later, she sends out an all inbox email saying, George W. Bush was looking for policy advisors. Well, I was like, I'm already here. So I wrote letters and kept getting rejection letters back from the Bush campaign. And I emailed her probably 50 times and she never responded. So I finally tried to dating tactic and said, I'm gonna come intern on the Bush campaign. I'd love to see you. And she wrote back and said, Come say hi. So I printed that out. Drove to Austin, I had about $300 to my name, and I told the security I've got an appointment with Sally Canfield, and I say her name every time. We love telling each other stories. It's a great story, you know, 22 years later, and I walked inside, and they were handing out intern badges. And the lady said, Sally Canfield doesn't have interns and she's my roommate. I know she doesn't, I got a cold, cold chill. I thought I'd been exposed already. But I went up to Sally's desk, and Sally came in happened to pass through the lobby. It's one of those movie moments you can't make up. She hugged me and said, I've got to run to a meeting. And so her, the lady went okay, and handed me an intern badge. Long story short, I ran out of money, put on a suit and knocked on every senior advisor's door.
Tim Smith 9:14
Okay so there's a lot to unpack. So the first thing is, let's go back to the visualize visualization. You see this as a kid. It sounds like hey, you grew up in Louisiana, like you were looking for a way to kind of get out.
Reed Dickens 9:28
Any way out.
Tim Smith 9:29
Spread your wings, right. So there was probably a million things that you wanted to do. Why What Why did this one stick and why did you stick with this, this particular?
Reed Dickens 9:37
It's interesting. I don't know I had this horrifying realization at about a junior in high school about the time I saw Bill Clinton's helicopters. I had this horrifying realization that my fastball was 83 and not 93. And that was and I truly mean that it was a horrifying realization. I had spent every day thinking that was my path out and we were we were in true poverty. I mean, we had been evicted from every house. And we're living on food stamps and eating out of church kitchens and it was a tough go. And obviously we mowed lawns, mowed lawns all day painted houses at night, and then I turned nine. And so it was just it was just a rough a rough go. And my dad worked really hard. But there were just weren't a lot of opportunities. You know, pre internet when a when a paper mill shut down on a small town. So long story short, I ended up over in Austin, I talked my way past a security guard. And I'm volunteering, well, I ran out of money, so I knocked on every senior advisor's door and said, I need a job. And they said, we're on a hiring freeze. And this one lady said, Who are you? Where did you come from? And every other intern there, and I mean, everyone was Stanford, Harvard, Yale, their parents went to some ivy league parents all went to school with George W. Bush, or one of my friends.
Tim Smith 10:41
Reed Dickens 10:41
One of my friend's dad owned the building. Like there was no normal kids there. And she said, and I got cold chills again. I thought I'd been exposed again. And I felt like Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can. And she said um...
Tim Smith 10:52
It's like impostor syndrome. Like you snuck in here and they're gonna realize.
Reed Dickens 10:56
I did feel that way. Because because I didn't know anyone. And so she said, Wait, right here. She comes back 30 minutes later, and she said, you have a job. And she said, I assume you've taken accounting classes? And I said, No. And she said, I assume you've taken business classes. I said, No.
Tim Smith 11:14
But this is all post-college?
Reed Dickens 11:15
Right, and she said.. Well, and I had a worthless PR degree, right? She goes, Well, congratulations, you've got a job in finance on the Bush campaign. And she said, I think you're a cork. And she said, corks are people who float to the top no matter what. And she said, I want to be part of your story. So I always ..
Tim Smith 11:30
Whoa whoa stop, there's so much to unpack there. Okay. So you're going back as a kid, you're thinking, I'm going to be a baseball player. It's my dream. But then you have this realization. I'm not like, as a young kid, I'm not going to make it. I don't have what it takes. And I had one of those experiences with basketball, I realized, I'm just not as athletic. As much as I want to be it. I have to be honest with myself. I'm not going to do it, you visualize, but the thing that I think's interesting about what the listeners are feeling, I think everybody thinks that like, people getting these great spots, and it's just like this easy, perfect path going there. But it sounds like from a couple of experiences, you had these mortifying experiences, like I've snuck in. But what gave you at those times, kind of the grit and the gumption to keep on going after it? Because it could have been just as easy for you to end that story and still be in Monroe, Louisiana, and not have doing that. What gave you that?
Reed Dickens 11:31
You know, it's interesting, I really think my dad was obsessed with excellence and not being mediocre. And he pushed us to work hard, but we all know hard work doesn't get you out of small towns. And I think I operated then like I operate to this day with visuals. I had a visual of those people getting out of that presidential helicopter with the President of the United States and I kind of feel like that drew me to every little crack in door that opened you know, that opened or didn't open.
Tim Smith 12:55
In the visuals that you're having, is this something that it's like you're because I mean, in our minds, we're playing things all the time the movie theater of our minds are playing things - are you affirming that I'm doing this? Is this something you're obsessing over at night, during the day all the time?
Reed Dickens 13:11
Yeah, I was I was pretty determined that I wanted to work in DC, I wanted to work and when I read the Time Magazine, my senior year in college, and I remember it said Governor Bush of Texas was running for president and I did the math in my head, I was like, that's five hours from where I am, I can drive there. And so I knew I could get there. And I drove over to Austin and talk my way past the security guard and, and got in the door. And I really to this day believe removing yourself from whatever environment you're in and putting yourself in another environment is probably the most important decisions. Probably the three or four most important decisions in my whole life. Other than you know, who you marry, is removing myself from those situations and putting myself in a different geographic environment around different people who are going somewhere. Warren Buffett always says 50% of success is hard work and the other 50% is whose trained you get on, and I wanted to get on someone's train, right?
Tim Smith 14:01
But it's almost like you weren't getting on somebody's train. You were taking your own transportation there. And there's a common theme in a lot of these podcasts we've done, like physically taking yourself into a new situation, which I think a lot of people have a hard time. Nobody likes to go into the unknown. And people just want to stay comfortable.
Reed Dickens 14:21
You have to face your fears and all your insecurities. I knew nothing about politics. I didn't know anyone in politics. I had a terrible education. I didn't know how to type. I didn't even know how to use Google. Like I really didn't have even basic tools that that all these other kids. Even my wife coming she grew up in - born in Sweden, grew up in Boston, went to Harvard. She had computers built into her desk when she was in third grade LSU got computers my senior year I didn't even have basic tools. So I go over there and I finally put myself in the situation which is where I wanted to be right in Governor Bush's presidential headquarters campaign headquarters, but when I got there, it just exposed that I didn't have what it took. But but but at the same time I had the you know, the Eminem line, success was my only option, right? I didn't have any, I didn't have a choice. And so I really made it a point to meet everyone I could, I was in charge of handing out petty cash. So I would deliver it around the campaign headquarters and meet every division director and meet every person I could. And one of the people I met name was Ken Mehlman who's now -- and Ken made me his assistant, took me to the Florida recount and made me his assistant. And then when it was over...
Tim Smith 15:27
I just want to, because like, this is like such a big thought, like the physical, and I think this for everybody in life. It's, I heard a quote, "It's only the view from where you sit that makes you feel defeat, life is full of many aisles, why don't you change your seat?" Like the physical, you changing your seat, and you saying, I mean, I think we all feel this way. When we grow out of something. And we're growing into something, we realize that we actually have to create a new set of skill sets. But going back to the cork thought, so the cork will always rise to the top what happened after that. So you got the in, you snuck yourself into an internship, and then what happened?
Reed Dickens 16:05
She gave me a real job, and I and my..
Tim Smith 16:07
Was the real job a real paying job?
Reed Dickens 16:09
Yeah, a paying job, and I was out of money.
Tim Smith 16:10
And this is the first job out of college.
Reed Dickens 16:12
Yeah, and I was out of money, I was living on a stranger's couch. And in presidential city campaign cities, a lot of volunteer people volunteer to host people. And so I was living on this stranger's couch and didn't have money to pay rent and she gives me this job in finance and I was supposed to reconcile the checks every day for my for three or four divisions and my checkbook. My checks never reconciled one single day. Yeah, I was I was I was really a terrible employee. But I entertained everyone and uh, but I met Ken Mehlman, and he changed my life. He made me his..
Tim Smith 16:44
And what was that meeting like those little like, those opportunities, like when you met Ken, give us a little bit more the setting.
Reed Dickens 16:50
I was just always networking and meeting people inside the headquarters. And he asked me one day he called me "Chief" and he said, Chief, what's your name? And I said, Reed Dickens. He said, he told his executive assistant to put a chair outside of his office. He said, you're gonna you're with me. He said, I'm taking you. So when everyone was leaving for the Florida recount, my division, the company, the Division I worked in, was staying behind to do the financial audit. My division wasn't going to the Florida recount. And he said, You're going with me. And so he..
Tim Smith 16:51
Did that create riffs with your former...?
Reed Dickens 16:53
No, she she thought it was a great opportunity. And so I remember asking Ben Ginsberg, our campaign Council, I said, Do you think I should leave I said, I was gonna get double pay to stay behind and do the audit. And, and he goes, history is being made. You know, that was the first time we thought democracy was coming unraveled. He said, this is history being made you you need to go. So I went with him and he kind of used me as a sidekick. I drove Secretary James Baker to his interviews every morning and I was kind of the little gopher. I remember going to Walmart at three in the morning and the pouring down rain, to buy them all underwear and T shirts. We thought we'd be there for three days were there for 36 days. And so I was kind of the sidekick for Secretary Baker and Margaret Tutwiler and Ken Mehlman. And when it was over, Ken Mehlman called me in and said, What do you want to do? And I said, I'd like to work in PR, I guess, you know, in communications. And I assumed they were going to if I got if I got a job in the administration, I assumed they were gonna put me in the basement of Veterans Affairs or some department agency, and went home for Christmas. And I got a phone call from the White House operator. My dad said, I think it's a prank call. He just says it's the White House operator. It was Ari Fleischer. And he said, Hey, meet me at the corner of 17th and G Monday morning. I've got you, you're gonna, and I didn't even know that was the White House. So I flew to DC. And Ari Fleischer came out to meet me and walked me into the old executive building and into the West Wing. And my little office was 20 feet from the Oval Office. And next thing you know, I was in the Oval Office, you know, multiple times a day, shuffling the press in and out of the Oval Office. And so I became Ari Fleischer's press aide. And then about after 9/11, they had shut down our West Wing people, senior, mid-level and senior-level people were having to be escorted into the West Wing because of 9/11 and that kind of irritated President Bush and so he they called my desk one morning, and they're like President Bush wants to see you. So I went in there and..
Tim Smith 19:11
And you had met him before, right? Before that moment, had you met President Bush because you were in the..
Reed Dickens 19:16
Yea but only briefly in the campaign headquarters because he was the governor and running - he was on the road. And I wasn't on the travel squad in Austin. So I got called in the Oval Office and he was asking me what some reporters, what stories they were working working on. And
Tim Smith 19:30
Was that a surreal moment when you're sitting there?
Reed Dickens 19:33
Of course! So I get called in there and so he invited me to go play golf with him on Sunday. He started you know, I started getting, I got to go running with him at the ranch, at his ranch in Texas. And so he kind of like...
Tim Smith 19:46
How did everybody feel that was in your positions? They're like, like, what has Reed got? What?
Reed Dickens 19:50
Well it was interesting because there were dozens of kids who on the campaign who all had worked in communications and wanted those few roles that had, those few roles had real estate in the West Wing, right? Everybody else is in the old executive building. So I really did get a dream job, right. And after 9/11, the White House Assistant Press Secretary, he was leaving to go with the startup of Homeland Security Department. And so I found out I was going to be getting promoted. And that's kind of like in the White House system press secretary has a seat on Air Force One, is in kind of the President's, you know, travel bubble. And it was a really surreal moment. Ari Fleischer announced me to the White House Press Corps. I got a standing ovation, a curtain call, I went out and..
Tim Smith 20:34
And he said, What did he say specifically?
Reed Dickens 20:36
A personnel announcement. You know, I want to announce that Reed, Dickens is gonna be the new White House Assistant Press Secretary and, and I and I remember, Mike Allen, I think the founder, one of the founders of Axios, he, he gave me the pool report. I think Dana Milbank from Washington Post at the time wrote it and just said, you know, Dickens came out for a curtain call and I got a standing ovation. And I became that that role. And so right after that, and President Bush invited me to go play golf with him. Well, soon after that. And at the time..
Tim Smith 21:02
Were you a good golfer?
Reed Dickens 21:03
No, no. It was nerve-racking. I almost threw up on the way because I was usually helping wrangle the press corps on the first tee box while he was playing golf. All of a sudden I was on the foursome. And he walked over to the cameras, like you guys know this guy. And you know, he was joking around, but I didn't appreciate at the time. He was giving me his stamp of approval. He was giving me credibility. He was showing the White House press corps that I know this guy's only 25 but he's part of my circle now. Right? And it was it was a really, he was really an instinctive of him to do that. But what's funny is, when he went to throw the first pitch out after 9/11, at the World Series, Yankee Stadium, I did my first official, it wasn't fancy, but it was my first official White House briefing on the field behind home plate that night, Ari Fleischer didn't go that night. And he threw the pitch, and the female reporter didn't know much about baseball, and she said, "What was the pitch?" And I said, "It was right down the pipe." And that quote, "It was right down the pipe," was on thousands of newspapers all over the world on the front page. That was my first quote, as the White House spokesman so that was one of the most surreal nights of my life.
Tim Smith 22:05
Yeah. What did your parents say about that? Obviously..I mean..
Reed Dickens 22:09
It was surreal to them.
Tim Smith 22:11
I mean, was it one of those things, though? Like, I mean, being your mom and dad and understanding like, you're a visionary. Were they surprised? Or were they like, did they always know like, you were destined for great things?
Reed Dickens 22:23
You know, it's funny, I think it was surreal to them, but they always kind of felt like, they claim, in fact, a reporter asked my mom after I got that job in the West Wing, what was Reed like when he was younger? And she said, shorter. You know, she just I was always driven and, and kind of focused on my, my plan, right. And I had always had a plan to do that. Now looking back, the odds of that were minuscule that it would actually materialize. But but it was a it was a really surreal moment. I was actually one of the last people in the Oval Office with him on the night of 9/11. I brought the reporters in, he did his address to the nation and the reporters all left and I was waiting in the doorway in the Oval Office, between the rose garden and the Oval Office, waiting for one of the producers to unhook the cables. There used to be physical cables, right?
Tim Smith 22:23
Yeah, that's for sure. 2001.
Reed Dickens 22:26
And he was just chewing on a cigar. And so after everybody was done, he stood in the doorway with me, and there's tanks in the street. It's just eerie, quiet, you know, we thought 9/11 was gonna be the first of a several wave attack. And so we're standing in the doorway of the Oval Office. And I remember, I remember not knowing what to say it was just this total silence. And he just stood next to me. And I said, "You did a good job tonight" as if he needed my affirmation from a 25 year old, and he looked at me, he said, "Thank you Reed." And then he walked. And I and that visual of him walking back to the down the colonnade, the iconic colonnade to the residence, the visual of him walking back is still the visual of how I choose a president to this day. Because when the world's melting down, you see in the movies, all these smart people in suits with their ties, loosened, leaning in having these secret meetings with the President, you picture the President being surrounded by all these smart adults that night, and the Oval Office, he was by himself, and he went to the residence of the White House, there was no one everyone was home with their families. And he walked back to the residence of the White House by himself and the world was melting down. And so I always think Presidents only matter in a few key moments. And that moment of him being by himself in the Oval Office at night, on the night of 9/11 is the visual burned into my mind.
Tim Smith 24:30
I just can't help but think this because like, I'm a film guy, as you know, and that will will be my second career. It's almost like and I know I've heard people compare you to this. I'm almost like visualizing this and seeing almost like your version of a Forrest Gump story of a movie. Because whether it was baseball, or the White House or that didn't work out, it seems like the cork always floats to the top.
Reed Dickens 24:55
Right. Listen, I have hundreds of photos. One photo in particular that looks like a Forrest Gump like I'm superimposed, is it was the leadership of Congress, Vice President Cheney, George W. Bush, all sitting around the Oval Office. And it's like all these iconic Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, the congressional leadership, Senate leadership, all sitting in the Oval Office, and I'm standing, holding on to the doorknob with my mouth open. And it just looks like a Forrest, it looks like a Forrest Gump moment.
Tim Smith 25:25
Have you been compared to Forrest Gump before?
Reed Dickens 25:27
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And it's fair. I mean, I was, yeah, you know, a Southerner who wasn't very bright.
Tim Smith 25:32
Is there something about like a singular focus? I mean, would you say that one of your I mean superpowers, like the ability and watching that show, and watching your career in your life? It seems like whatever you do, you get hyper focused and put everything into it. Where did you learn that? How did you create that?
Reed Dickens 25:51
You know, I've always been, I always said, President Bush modeled. People ask, have asked me so many times, what was the difference between President Bush before 9/11 and after 9/11? And I always say he was disciplined before 9/11, he was ruthlessly disciplined after 9/11. He was always what I call ruthless prioritization. He was a ruthless - if you were the worst position you could have for President Bush's the Department of Interior or something, right? If you weren't on his two or three priority list, you didn't really get much of his time or brain or brain-width, mindshare. I think I read a book probably 2018 2019 called The One Thing and it was about the science of the domino effect. Yeah, the word priority.
Tim Smith 26:34
Remember that - the one thing.
Reed Dickens 26:35
Yeah, the word the word priority was never a plural word until recent times, it was, for 1000s of years it was it was a Latin word. It was it was singular. And so I think that concept of having one singular priority at a time, right, yeah, I always have like a visual for the five year, for five years. And then I have like a plan for one year, right. And I tried to make sure that my one thing for each day and my one thing for the week and my one thing for a month kind of aligns with my visual for my one thing for the year.
Tim Smith 27:01
It that put down in like, are you doing yearly planning, monthly planning, weekly planning? Or are you just innately like...
Reed Dickens 27:03
I have a one, I have note cards all over my bathroom mirror. I have my one thing for five years. And then I make sure my plan for the year personally and professionally. I make sure my one thing for the year, I have a one thing every year, and I make sure that aligns with whatever my one thing for five years.
Tim Smith 27:22
Not three or four, just one. Simple.
Reed Dickens 27:24
And then I try to make sure that my one, that I have one thing every day, every day when I wake up, my assistant sends me a text with a lot of calls and texts and tasks that need to be done. But I have on Sunday night, I always identify what my one thing for the week is, if nothing else gets done.
Tim Smith 27:40
What's your one thing for this week and this day.
Reed Dickens 27:43
So my one thing for this for this for today was finalizing wires and closing my bridge round, a capital around I'm raising. And that's aligned with my one thing for the year, which is a larger recapitalization. And my one thing for five years is, you know...
Tim Smith 28:01
So in an inherent problem with everybody is choosing what to focus on, what to prioritize. So you have you have four kids, you have multiple businesses, you have a million things going on, like how do you do that?
Reed Dickens 28:15
So I always have a one thing personally. And one thing professionally. But I think the book does a great job of defining the one thing, he says that - I'm going blank of his name - he says that your one, if you have a bunch of things that seem important, and they seem equally important. There's one of those things that affects the most other things. There's one of those things that if you get it done, it's going to make all the other dominoes fall, or it's going to make all the other things easier. And so I you know, my one thing for this year is a pretty lofty goal. And my one thing personally has more to do with my family time. But my point is, I have them on my notecards on my mirror in my bathroom every day when I'm brushing my teeth. I read every note card, there's probably eight of them on the wall. In the mirror, and I read them all but my point is that, that there's science, there's a lot of science behind that right, if you focus on something and you visualize it and you think about it and you read it every morning. It helps you say no to a lot of things.
Tim Smith 29:12
Well we had a lunch years ago at Gary's and I mean I I will, self-esteem, I don't have great ideas, I'm really good at prioritizing and I hate to say I'm hyper focused on money, but I am, not because I think that I abuse it. I think that it's just a very clean and honest scoreboard.
Reed Dickens 29:34
It's a scorecard.
Tim Smith 29:34
It's a scorecard. I know.
Reed Dickens 29:36
Tim Smith 29:37
It's fuel and I know that like, people have such a hard time. For me, it's like, I've been watching the show Alone. I don't know if you've ever watched it. It's where there's 10 survivalists and they're dropped off in Antarctica and I'm like I've watched all the episodes or all eight seasons. My wife's like, Why do you love this show so much? I'm like, because these eight survivalists or professionals. They're put in like the Arctic and they go in in fall, and they have to make it as long as they can. And there's 10 of them, they don't know how long the other people are making it. Some of them are great. You know, they're great at everything, they can make great homes and do this and do that. But at the end of the day, if they don't eat for three days, they're done. And so the focus of that thing, that one thing, and it gets really honest there, if you don't eat, you're out. But on that, so figuring out a way by design, not by default to pick that one thing is really challenging.
Reed Dickens 30:30
Well, and he says in the book, sometimes your one thing for a year is finding a one thing. It's not like, you just sit in the sauna for 30 minutes and decide. Sometimes identifying your one thing for the next five, you know, for the next chapter of your like - I think of life in five year increments. And when I look back at my last 25 years, it really does unfold in about five year increments, right. Just every just natural.
Tim Smith 30:53
Great thought though, five year increments.
Reed Dickens 30:55
And so I don't have a five year plan. I have a five year visual. And I'm really one of the only private equity guys I know, that's never had a financial goal. And you and I remember that conversation too, because I remember, I was so struck by the fact that you had financial goals and usually hit them. And I was thinking I'm having all these financial problems, and I don't have financial goals. But the logic behind it is this, I have visuals because my definition of success is to control my time and environment.
Tim Smith 31:22
Okay wait, slow down, to control your time and your environment.
Reed Dickens 31:26
Yeah, my definition of success is to have complete control of my time and my environment. So where I am, who I'm with and what I'm doing. And if you live in rural Alabama, or Louisiana, that may only take a few million bucks. If you live in Southern California that may take 50 million bucks. So I don't think a financial metric is the right metric. I think my visuals for every five, my five year is always a visual because your life circumstances may dictate what total liquidity that takes, right. But But I always have a one year plan. And I always make sure my one thing for the year is something that will solve a lot of the other priorities. So if I have 10, or 8 or 10 really important things I try to pick something that if I get that one thing done, it's going to solve make a lot of dominoes fall.
Tim Smith 32:09
Tell us how the transition and what happened after the White House.
Yeah, so the White House was such an intense experience, because as much as I may have Frank Abagnal-ed my way in, surviving in and out of the Oval Office in that environment every day for four years was intense. I went to Baghdad, came back was a national TV spokeswoman for a reelection campaign. It was just a very intense four years, I thought it was getting fired almost every day. So when...
Did you really feel that?
Reed Dickens 32:34
Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Tim Smith 32:36
People, do people get fired all the time? Or was this more of your like?
Reed Dickens 32:40
No, it was part insecurity. But part, you know, every mistake I made, like I made some mistakes and embarrassed the President of United States on live TV, you know, it's like, everything feels so consequential. Right? Like the whole world is watching everything you're doing or so it felt like at the time, right?
Tim Smith 32:56
Did he ever have to like get after you about something? Disciplined? And how was he?
Reed Dickens 32:59
Oh yeah, one of the most intense, in fact, the day I really thought my career was over, I had been bugging him to have this Associated Press reporter come to his ranch. Because a lot of reporters were like he's a fake cowboy like Ronald Reagan. He's not a real cowboy. This isn't a real ranch. And I kept saying, Let's have one of the reporters come out here, and, and cut down chop down cedar trees and run and fish and like, do all the things we do. So finally, one morning, he called at 6am, the double wide trailer I was sleeping in, and said, "Hey, had that report out here. Let's, let's have him come work with us today." So my bosses were all out of town, I was the only person really there, the military with the nuclear codes. The personal assistant, the doctor, the nurse and me, I was the only communications person there. So I invited this AP reporter. I didn't really call it I should have called one of my bosses and gotten some guidance, but I kind of I was 25 years old - I had it under control, so I called the reporter out there, well probably a couple of hours into the day, and it was like 103 degrees, he starts going on a rant about, you know, if I see the President of Turkey, I'm gonna stick my my god dang boot in his ass. I'm like, whatever. And I'm gonna kick his ass. He starts ranting to the reporter about one of the countries wouldn't let our planes land north of Iraq, and that's gonna get people killed. And he was just ranting about some of the world leaders. The way all, the way all presidents do, right? And he looks at me in the middle of the rant and goes, "This is off the record, right?" And I got pale because I realized that I had forgotten to tell him, because he was a fairly new president. And I had forgotten to remind him that nothing is off the record when you're president. And so it turned into a huge drama.
Tim Smith 33:00
So he printed all that?
Reed Dickens 34:32
No, no, no. Well, I don't want to get the guy in trouble. He's not a reporter anymore. So I can finally tell the story. 21 years later, yeah, we went into a trailer and did a negotiation like you'd see in a movie. And I even I even had a conversation with him and reminded him about some personal things that I knew that, I mean, I wasn't threatening him. But I mean, it was both of our careers felt like it was on the line. And he was he was a gentleman about it. And so he ended up taking out some of the more incendiary quotes that would have caused international incidents. And that so anyway, the President looked at me later, he was having a briefing with his generals on the secure video screens. And he said, "Well, someone caused an international incident today," he turned around and stared at me and was like, "but they're not going to be working here much longer." And I was about to throw up because I thought, Okay, this is, of all the screw ups of all my mistakes. This one's actually gonna cause international issues. But the story ended up being okay. And he he called me out to the truck the next day. And he said, he would occasionally jokingly speak in third person, about himself, he said, "the President wants you to know that you're not getting fired." And the White House Chief of Staff told me a few weeks later, he said, "I've known him for 30 years, and I've never seen him apologize to a staffer like that before." So yeah, I had some moments that were touch and go.
Tim Smith 35:47
Yeah. So finishing up the White House. You're very young. I mean, weren't you the youngest?
Reed Dickens 35:53
Yeah. So yeah, at the time, one of the youngest spokes, on the record spokespersons.
Tim Smith 35:58
In history, right?
Reed Dickens 35:59
Yeah, at the time. Yeah, though, I think just the way it worked out. But umm..
Tim Smith 36:04
But you're going from a very high position. You're what 26-27 years old? So it's like, was there some visuals? Like when you were in...
Reed Dickens 36:13
Yeah, I had actually gone to LA a couple of times visiting and I had, my roommate's brother was an actor. And I had kind of gotten my sights set on living in LA. I met my now wife at a party at the Emmys and she said she lived in LA and my mind I was like, I'm in. And so we started dating.
Tim Smith 36:32
Stop, side note there. Pack the truck up, move yourself to where you want to be. Right? Like entrepreneur, move yourself, physically move yourself to where you want to be, no matter how insecure you feel, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. That's the way.
Reed Dickens 36:48
So interestingly enough, I didn't even stay for the reelection party. I got in a U-haul trailer and the day after the election was over and drove to LA. And, you know, I had a girl there. And so President Bush asked me, he said, I hear you're leaving. And I kind of got nervous and I said well, I said my goals in life are to have a family, own my own company and make money and I don't feel like I'm getting closer to any of those three goals here in DC. And I feel like I've done everything you could ever dream of.
Tim Smith 37:16
But that's probably like when you're in that line of work you like never leave DC, right?
Reed Dickens 37:21
Most people never, most people no matter how fast they run, or how hard they jump, how high they jump, they don't ever get far away from DC, right? They used to stay in lobbying or public affairs or PR. And so I said to him, I want to have a business I want to make I want to have a family. And I said I actually said this, it's kind of cute, I want to make a million dollars. And so he said, well, so my one of my bosses said well turn your phone off and don't let anybody talk you into staying. And so I literally turned my phone off, got in U-haul and drove to LA. And my first business, I didn't know what to do so I started a crisis management. I was like a Ray Donovan, like a fixer..
Tim Smith 37:59
Reed Dickens 38:00
Literally, yeah, I was I started a business called Outside Eyes. And I ended up with dozens of A-list celebrities, billionaires, CEO's...
Tim Smith 38:07
But you just went straight to that, you didn't say hey, I'm gonna go look for a job.
Reed Dickens 38:10
No I tried to find a job but I was too young for every job I was qualified for. So Disney, a few different places Motion Picture Association. My resume qualified me for these senior level SVP jobs but I'd never forget Zenia Mucha, she was one of Bob Iger's right-hand at Disney. She called me and said "Reed, I don't know how to say this but all of your direct reports would be in their 50s and 60s, and I just can't put you in this role. Like you're just too young. And so my resume qualified me for roles I was too young for I was 27-28. So I realized I there was a disconnect between my..
Tim Smith 38:43
So but you went out there looking to take your experience your resume, find another job. And you're getting turned down because of age.
Reed Dickens 38:49
Well, I was going for pretty big jobs. And so and so I started my own business. In fact, Sophia, my wife
Tim Smith 38:49
Just out of default. You're just like, okay..
Reed Dickens 38:51
Yeah, I was just impatient. So I, I knew that I had some big opportunity. I knew I had a good skill set.
Tim Smith 39:01
But you weren't married yet. This is when you were dating.
Reed Dickens 39:03
We got married that year. But I realized that I had been managing 24 hour crisis at the White House for three years during two wars. I had been the crisis manager in Baghdad, I had had all these different experiences. And so I, Sofia made a voicemail on our answering machine in a British accent, a fake British accent, saying this is Outside Eyes. And so I went and spoke at a talent agency. I went spoke at Athletes First here in Newport Beach sports agency. So Athletes First were my first client. Paradigm Entertainment.
Tim Smith 39:30
Who was the principal at Athletes First?
Reed Dickens 39:31
David Dunn, the founder. And so I, it my first client, but I started getting just calls - celebrities. I mean, scandals, paternity suits, rapes. You name it - financial fraud. And I mean, I ended up with some of the most high profile CEOs, companies, billionaires, and celebrities.
Tim Smith 39:47
And so when you were getting these problems, like this wasn't a 20 year business, you're just like, Okay, here's my team. This is how we solve the problem. Just going with your gut.
Reed Dickens 39:54
It was just me and I would quote them these outrageous numbers and they would say yes, and I literally didn't even have a bank account set up. So I started a company and it wasn't scalable but I definitely made my first million dollars. I made my first million dollars handling scandals, and then got an opportunity to..
Tim Smith 40:10
Okay wait, I want to stop there for one second. So, probably eight years ago, I was invited to go speak at a real estate conference in Australia with Tom Ferry. Trump was the last speaker, right? Now he speaks spoke or video conferencing, but it's making me think of this. Like he wasn't very relevant. This was 20,000 real estate agents in the South Pacific. Right. So he wasn't very relevant. But one thing he said is, "Your ability to make money is directly proportionate to how much pressure you can handle and how good you are at solving problems." And it sounds like I mean, from a skill set, not only were you able to do that, but it sounds directly like hey, I don't know what those jobs were paying, they didn't hire you. But making a million bucks solving problems, just kicking out seems to be probably a really great substitute, maybe even better than what they could have been,
Reed Dickens 40:58
Of yeah, of course, and I never have had a W-2 paycheck since. So I, but I went on and started a few other businesses. But my next my next my first real company, scalable company, was I co-founded Marucci, a baseball bat company with two former major league baseball players.
Tim Smith 41:13
Back to your roots.
Reed Dickens 41:14
And they were in Baton Rouge and I met them, my little brother was the personal assistant to the governor of Louisiana. He connected us because they needed help raising money.
Tim Smith 41:21
Okay, so give us a little bit more context. So you're doing this crisis management handling scandals. How did that like how did the bat opportunity?
Reed Dickens 41:29
Yeah, my little brother was working in the Governor of Louisiana's office, and my co founder, he was a former LSU star, former major league player pitcher went in to get advice from the Governor, which is a terrible place to get advice on business. And my little brother stepped out and called me and said, You need to meet these guys. They they need help building their brand. They own all this Amish wood. It was harder than Louisville Sluggers ash wood, and he said, they have guys on TVs and their bats, but they don't know how to raise money or start a company or build a brand. And so my little brother said you need to meet this guy, gave me his email, I cold call them, flew to Baton Rouge. We whiteboard for about seven hours on the whiteboard. And we decided that day I was gonna raise the money, and I was gonna be the CEO. And he, they were gonna be the co founders. And so we started from scratch that day. And we built the most disruptive brand.
Tim Smith 41:29
You stayed in LA raising money.
Reed Dickens 41:36
But then I ended up moving to Baton Rouge for a few years. But we took 90% of Louisville Sluggers market share in our first four years. We put Easton into bankruptcy. We really disrupted the baseball industry. We were very rambunctious about it. And I'm using that same playbook now in golf, you know, partner, we got 44 Major League players to invest. We made hundreds of videos making fun of Louisville Slugger, and we had a better product. So I kind of...
Tim Smith 42:42
So like, whose idea was all that? And where did like, I mean, you're going from the White House, then you're going for crisis management, then you're going to a bat company that I think eventually sold for like 200 million, right? And it did replace Louisville Sluggers? Like, what was the skill set? Or what did like, what did you?
Reed Dickens 42:58
I think its a combination of, again, the same playbook I'm using now. Kurt had the relationships with the players. And he had good wood, we had a good product. Demonstrably better product. And then I was a storyteller who was really comfortable with uncomfortable contrast marketing. In fact, my own partners and investors would say you can't make that video. Yeah, you can't say that. Like it's gonna offend everyone. I'd be like, well, we just did, you know, we we would make fun of college coaches who are getting paid on the side. We'd make fun of Louisville Slugger for their soft wood, we just, and so I was very aggressive..
Tim Smith 43:31
When they were uncomfortable with it, did it make you question whether or not that was the right path to go? Or instinctively your just like intuition told you?
Reed Dickens 43:39
No, because every other industry does it - beer, cars, cell phones. Everyone else does it. Baseball..
Tim Smith 43:45
But it sort of feels like you have to be a really big dog to do it. And you guys were coming like the underdog.
Reed Dickens 43:50
But as the David and Goliath like, I was a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm Gladwell's version of David and Goliath, right? If you have, if you're small and agile and you have speed, right, if you have unconventional weapons and speed, the David wins like 35% of the time, right? And so we kind of have that, that freedom and flexibility.
Tim Smith 44:08
Say that again because I think it's worth saying, the Malcolm Gladwell, if you have speed...?
Reed Dickens 44:13
Yeah his version, you instinctively would think that in a David and Goliath, he defines Goliath as anyone with 10 times more resources. Whether it's war, business, whatever, you would think that David only wins 5% of the time. It's a long shot, a Hail Mary. But in reality, if you go back 500 years of corporate, war, business, the David wins about a third of the time, and it's because they usually have an unconventional weapon and speed. Right. And so that's what we had, right? And I actually gave that David and Goliath at our first dinner as co founders when we started the company. I gave that David and Goliath statistic and that story to my co founders and their wives and I made a toast.
Tim Smith 44:52
That was like the battle cry.
Reed Dickens 44:53
Yeah, and I made a toast and our toast was to smooth small stones. And when we sold the company that was our..
Tim Smith 45:00
To smooth small stones... I mean, how was like when you gave that speech, do you feel like it rallied? Everybody became more vested or was it?
Reed Dickens 45:08
It did in the moment, but we had a lot of messy times, right? The NCAA de-certified our only two products. Every company went around, told Dick's Sporting Goods that we were out of business. I mean, everyone tried of suffocate us in the crib. But we we grinded it out, and it was it was a messy journey. But now, you know, after that sold, I always joke that I owe everything in my life to politics and baseball, and I never liked politics or baseball. So when Marucci sold, I bought the name LA Golf on godaddy for like $10. And found some bankrupt assets to start building a manufacturing plant from scratch in Anaheim, and really have the same..
Tim Smith 45:42
Okay so go back on that a little bit. Because I remember years ago when you are just starting this, and we had a couple of conversations give us a little bit more of like the environment in the framework. You bought LA Golf, how many, how much, how long before you actually had that opportunity?
Reed Dickens 45:58
No, I started LA Golf from scratch. I bought the name LA Golf, on godaddy. And I knew I wanted to go into the golf industry. So I was looking for something to buy. And it didn't work out. So I bought some equipment out of bankruptcy and started a shaft company from scratch. But with the vision of replicating Marucci, we're going into every product category. And so but the playbook, we used at Marucci, I kind of had a checklist in my mind and I've been sticking to that checklist ever since which is partner with the greatest players, have intellectual property that's demonstrably better, you know, in performance enhancing IP, having a material science story - materials that are different than everybody else. There was no regulation that said you had to use this kind of wood but Louisville Slugger had done it for 100 years. There's no regulation that says you have to use solid steel for a putter but everyone's always done it. So partner with players, good IP, a material science story, and then build a hot sexy brand. And then have good gross margins and have everything be simple to manufacture.
Tim Smith 46:53
So really the thing that drove you the you wanted to be in the golf industry? And you looked at other opportunities that didn't work out? And then you came across..
Reed Dickens 47:00
I told one of my friends. I said, what if I could go to Augusta or the US Open or just go play golf with friends and say to my wife, babe, I'm going to work. And we all laughed. And that's honestly was the vision is that I wanted to, I wanted to do something that I enjoyed every day. So I wanted to use the same strategic playbook as we did at Marucci. But I wanted it to be in an industry - golf is 13 times larger than baseball. And I love it. So so it's it's a much bigger opportunity. So it's the same strategic playbook, but much bigger addressable market, 14 years more experience, and I have a blast every day.
Tim Smith 47:31
Yeah. So going back to the opportunity, you said you bought a bunch of equipment out of bankruptcy.
Reed Dickens 47:37
So it was the only American made shaft company, they had gone into bankruptcy. And so I bought their equipment from a court appointed receiver. And I heard the best engineer in the industry. And a few players started...
Tim Smith 47:51
This is like mind blowing. People that are listening, like it seems like this is like just your skill set is clearly like, above, you're at the top of your skill set to be able to go in and do this seems mind blowing for just an ordinary person, right? But you're applying the same principles, some of the opportunities before what other golf opportunities were you looking at before you knew.
Reed Dickens 48:15
Yeah I looked at a simulator technology company, and we got pretty close to getting a deal done and fell apart. I looked at a few different deals, mostly golf technology. And when this opportunity came along, I said no, I don't want to do manufacturing again. And the guy who brought it to me said I think you're gonna like it. It's so similar to Marucci. And sure enough, it's the same materials, same raw materials very similar to Marucci. And I think manufacturing is romantic. It's like, other than someone hearing music, as Steve Jobs said, other than someone hearing music in their head that no one's ever played before. I think manufacturing, taking raw materials and building something from scratch, has a very God-like quality. And I love manufacturing. So I started out with shafts, which is kind of the the engine and transmission of the golf club, and no one had innovated shafts in probably 50 years. And then we made a putter.
Tim Smith 49:02
Who has been making, before LA Golf, like who's the one that's been dominating the shaft.
Reed Dickens 49:08
There's a few different companies Fujikura, Mitsubishi, but they all -
Tim Smith 49:11
Reed Dickens 49:12
But they all mass-produce and machine-make all their product.
Tim Smith 49:15
And these are all made here in the US?
Reed Dickens 49:18
Tim Smith 49:18
In Anaheim, right by where you live in Orange County. Yeah.
Reed Dickens 49:22
All hand-made in America. And so that allowed us to use new materials. So material science has advanced - one of our commercial slogans is that material science has advanced exponentially, but the major brands haven't. And so we use new material science and new design structures. Bryson DeChambeau was a player who came to us first and said I want to design my own shaft. So I connected Bryson DeChambeau is one of the top players in the world but he's also an engineer by trade. And so I connected my engineer and Bryson and I gave him something no one had ever given before.
Tim Smith 49:51
And did he actually reach out to you? Did he know?
Reed Dickens 49:53
We got connected. He wanted to he was intrigued and so we got connected by a mutual relationship but what I gave my engineer says this all the time, I gave my head engineer Jeff Meyer, and Bryson DeChambeau, something they had never been given, which was a blank sheet of paper. And that's kind of always been just something I've done, which is, hey, create the best product. And so it's the same thing with putters. Jeff came up with an idea that we could make a putter out of carbon, it's five times less dense than steel, so gives you a bigger sweet spot. Yeah. So now every commercial we run is making fun of Scotty Cameron for having a tiny sweet spot, right. And then now we have a ball that just came out. And it's a four piece construction, very high-tech ball. So bottom line is we're constantly looking for good IP and good materials. And then we make it cool with funny commercials. And we partner with players. So Dustin Johnson, Michelle Wie, Bryson DeChambeau, are our partners. One of my lessons from Marucci is that you don't need 40 pro partners, just a few. We have the best field player to ever play, other than Tiger probably, and the best mechanical player, and then Michelle Wie is the best female player in her day. And so we have a great board of directors of players. And so anyway, I've had a blast with LA Golf, because I've gotten to take my playbook, a proven playbook that I knew worked and apply it in an industry that I'm passionate about that's, that's 13 times larger. So the upsides way bigger, and there's a clear pathway for what we're trying to do.
There's one question, because you just said, I want to go back, you said somebody came to you and said, you're really going to love this. And you're like, No, I don't want to do that. Like how many times in life are we presented opportunity, because we have an idea of how we want it to look where we have to be open? Because it seems like you know, in retrospect, it seems like it was the perfect opportunity. And it's lucky you didn't get into simulators.
It's a great point. I had made up my mind. And it was probably a little ego driven and probably a path of least resistance. I had made up my mind. I wanted to go into technology. And I was done with manufacturing. George W. Bush famously said, when I told him I was gonna, we were starting Marucci, he looked at me, he said, "Manufacturing? He's like something goes wrong every day." And I always joke if I ever get a tattoo, that's what I'll get tattooed on my ribcage, but manufacturing is hard and messy. So the last thing I wanted to do was replicate Marucci, because it was such a hard journey and manufacturing is so messy. But when I got into it, I realized, wait, I've got a playbook. I'm way more experienced. I have better capital partners, I understand how to structure the company where I'm in control. Like there's so many things.
How long did it take you to come to that after you'd like to put your ego. Like he brought you this opportunity? Was this weeks, days, months? How long did it take you to come to it?
I knew it was a good asset. So opportunistically, so I moved quickly on the asset. But at first I thought I'm just gonna try to flip it. It took me about a year and my one of my largest investors actually said to me one day, he said, "Why don't you just rebuild Marucci?" And I was kind of embarrassed that he was having to say that to me, because it was like, it's kind of like running from running from your calling, right? I knew he was right. It's just so hard, right? Marucci was so hard and so messy. But it was also because I didn't know anything about governance, controls, capital structure, fundraising. We were kids. And so it was it was way messier than it had to be. And I had co-founders. I always tell people, you know, sometimes it's good to have a co founder and Kurt Ainsworth, who's now still the CEO, Marucci, he was a phenomenal partner but at the end of the day, I was like, You know what, I haven't had a playbook. And I actually know how to structure the company. I have capital relationships, to raise money. And I knew that I could do it a lot cleaner, that the playbook would be a lot cleaner, and it has been, it's been fun.
Tim Smith 53:18
So personally, going back to 2008 selling real estate, I was always better than average at selling, great at relationships, wasn't a great business man. 2008 came, I had 30 listings, the market, I mean, tanked. And I was spending way more than I was making. My assistant came to me and said, you can either pay your rent this month, or you can pay me - you can't pay both. But something's got to change. I went found a real estate coach, just to get my head clear. But I still remember he's like, I want you to get into short sales. Like I want you to get in short sales, that's gonna be the future. Like I'm not getting into short sales, I just couldn't put my ego aside. I'm like, I want to sell these luxury, beautiful oceanfront homes. It took me like two or three months. And then I had this conviction and this feeling that's kind of similar to this. It's like, I actually don't really care what it is, as long as I can serve people sell homes and have a great business. I got early on into short sales, I ended up short selling 50% of the coastal homes. And that's what transitioned me in 2012 or 13, to the luxury because I wasn't luxury. And so it's going back to that point. I think sometimes we have to be able to be open, put our egos aside, because hearing the story, it's like a it's a no brainer. You already did it with Marucci, with the bats. It's right there. It's an Anaheim based. I mean everything about it But it's funny how sometimes we don't even see what's right in front of us and entrepreneurially, I think this is humility. This is having the right people around to advise and the guys that say why don't you just build Marucci bats again, right?
Reed Dickens 54:53
And it's it's so true because I think you hear all these cliches like embrace the grind and run to the roar, and those things are all great on T shirts and bumper stickers. But in real life, it's hard, right? You think, that was a traumatic 10 years and I want to do something easier. That was my instinct. Everything in me said I want to do something easier. But I want to I want to have a software technology company with passive income where I can just play golf. But instead, the pathway, the most direct pathway to building a billion dollar company was doing what I'd already done.
Tim Smith 55:23
Right. You've already learned it, like not starting over. And it's that book, I don't know, whatever you do for 10,000 hours. Right? It's, there's something about it. So going back, I want to just point out one more thing, because this has become a theme in a lot of our podcasts. If you choose something you love, doing it all day, you'll never work a day in your life. And so I think it was just a great point for you like by design, I want to do golf. And now, you know, we don't hang out as much as I'd like to because we have kids, but I watch you on Instagram. Like seeing like, I'm literally watching you on Instagram, when you're at the US Open, when you're doing these things, I'm like, how cool is this? You get to be at all those events doing things I couldn't pay to get into. And you're hanging out with these players and not only hanging out, when I read what Bryson DeChambeau and these guys are saying about you. They're like, you're like mentors to them.
Reed Dickens 56:14
Well it also make me feel old. It's true. And I'm so grateful, I actually told my wife Saturday morning, I had I don't like going up to LA - LA Golf is based in Beverly Hills. And I don't like going up on the weekends. I tried to be careful just to be home with the kids all weekend. But I had to host a CEO Saturday morning up at Bel Air Country Club and it was a it was a it was a key moment for me in terms of daily discipline of of gratitude exercises, is because in my mind, I was about to have a self pity moment which I think entitlement and self pity are the two most inexcusable you know human emotions, right? The most repulsive human emotions, right? And I was I was flirting with self pity saying, like, I'm gotta go work on a Saturday. And then I stopped myself and said, I used to jump the fence at Bel Air Country Club 15 years ago and walk around at night visualizing being a member, right. I used to dream about working in the golf industry. And like, you know, and so I had to remind myself, I'm going to play golf on a with a with a CEO to talk about golf on a Saturday. And so it's I'm really grateful. It's, it's fun. I'm truly grateful for the experience.
Tim Smith 57:21
And the name LA Golf. I mean, it just fits right?
Reed Dickens 57:23
So it's funny, I actually bought the name LA Baseball, years ago, when we were going to try to acquire our competitor at Marucci. And I remember then being shocked that it was available. So I remember looking at LA Media, LA Technology. And I was like, and I realized that people get such bad business advice from lawyers. And one of my biggest pet peeves is when people take business advice from lawyers. Because they're like, Well, you can't trademark that. Well, once it's in use in the market, you can protect it. Yeah. So people don't buy names that start with New York or LA because like, well, you can't trademark it. Can't trademark LA and you can't trademark golf. Well, now that we're in the market if you use LA Golf, I'll sue the -- So so the point is, I really just followed my instinct, I actually didn't use dots as a shout out to Louisiana. But I love LA and LA is a cultural center of the world. And also, we had the Super Bowl and World Series and World Cup and everything coming to LA the next two years so I was really glad I didn't listen to my lawyers.
Tim Smith 58:18
Yeah. Awesome. Okay, so a couple other questions. Is there a motto a mantra, a quote that you live by? Or that you're top of mind?
Reed Dickens 58:25
You know, I have about probably 8 to 10 mantras I quote every day, probably one of my favorites is that, "The only thing between you and your goals is clear pathways to smaller goals." I try to make sure..
Tim Smith 58:37
Say that one more time.
Reed Dickens 58:38
"The most dangerous thing between you and your goal is clear pathways to smaller goals." And that's that's what I have on my mirror.
Tim Smith 58:45
That's like the opportunity cost, right? Yeah, yeah. Okay. Favorite Books? Is there any book that you've read that?
Reed Dickens 58:52
Absolutely. 'Willpower Doesn't Work' - I've given that book to hundreds of people. It's about it. He defined it's about environment, and defines environment as the people you're around the information you consume, and the your physical surroundings, and how certain surroundings or unhealthy certain surroundings are good for your creative brand, certain surroundings are good for you to focus on problem solving. And that book, there's even a lot of science behind the five people you spend the most time with, you know, define you.
Tim Smith 59:20
But I mean, the gist of what you're saying is willpower doesn't work. It's like if you don't want to struggle with this, move yourself.
Reed Dickens 59:28
His thesis is that if you're having to use willpower, then your environment is rigged against you.
Tim Smith 59:34
Then you're in the wrong spot.
Reed Dickens 59:35
You're in the wrong environment.
Tim Smith 59:36
You're in the wrong environment. So we're gonna go back here and quote, "it's only the view from where you sit that makes you feel defeat. Life is full of many aisles, Why don't you change your seat? What's preventing you, what's preventing you - that's listening - from moving to what you really want? Okay, I have one more question for and this is because I'm a parent and parenting is not easy. And these days, you have four amazing kids. I know you know it, is that a Sophia thing? Is that a Reed thing? What's your strategy on parenting?
Reed Dickens 1:00:04
I would say that there's obviously no playbook for raising teenagers. There's no playbook for raising privileged kids. I grew up poor. Right. There's no playbook. So I don't think it's a strategy thing. I think it's an alignment thing. Well, the thing I feel so blessed about is that from day one, we're aligned on general philosophy, right? I feel like if you have alignment, on general philosophy of parenting, then everything else is about process. Process being when we have something we might disagree on about teenagers having sleepovers or something tactical, we take a long walk and talk for two hours, we take a long hike, we go to the fire pit in our neighborhood and talk for three hours.
Tim Smith 1:00:40
Okay so but the key there is alignment, but when you're not, it's communication and staying in that communication.
Reed Dickens 1:00:48
Habitual communication. We have a couple of topics pop-up in the last few weeks, where I had a strong visceral reaction to something. And I was like, Okay, I said, Let's go to the fire pit. And so that night we went to the fire pit I took a drink and a cigar and we talked for two and a half hours until we found found some alignment.
Tim Smith 1:01:06
And was it just a compromise? Just end in a compromise?
Reed Dickens 1:01:08
No, no, I always give-in. No, I really do trust mom-instinct a lot, so..
Tim Smith 1:01:14
Well, hey, I appreciate your time.
Reed Dickens 1:01:16
This was so much fun.
Tim Smith 1:01:16
This was fun.
Reed Dickens 1:01:17
I'm proud of everything you're doing.
Tim Smith 1:01:18
And there's gonna be a time we're gonna do this again, because I have a couple other guys where I want to do three or four of us.
Reed Dickens 1:01:23
That'd be fun
Tim Smith 1:01:24
In the next few months. So thanks for joining us, everybody, watch. We'll see you next time. Thanks, brother.