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Sam Parr's sausage stand story

Sam Parr, the founder of The Hustle, has mentioned the story of starting a hot dog stand during his college days. He started the stand because he wanted to have a business where he could drink while making money . It took him about a week to start making $1,000 a day with 50% profit margins . It was hard work, especially dealing with the heat in Nashville during the summer . Although he no longer drinks alcohol, he still goes to social gatherings and orders non-alcoholic beer or other alcohol-free options .

Shaan Puri: I'm just an artist. I got to create. And I definitely feel that I have a creative itch to me. But I also have a path of least resistance itch to me where I'm like, oh, there's some beauty in just finding a simpler, simpler way to win.
Sam Parr: You know, like I agree with that. I also think it's fearful or it's it's fear to put to outlay to pay like with the Internet, you could start with nothing and spend time and you can get something.
Shaan Puri: But I think that's where he's like, you could build something new. High chances just not going to work. It's a zero. It's also going to take a long time if you're buying something that's already working. Yes, you outlay cash, but are you actually taking more risk? There's a difference between putting out cash and putting out risk. And I think what he's saying is that.
Sam Parr: But that's what I'm asking is the difference. I'm asking the difference between putting out cash. Like, how do you make that gap small?
(someone): So I'll say this. When I started, Sam, I was very much an artist like you. I enjoyed my creation. I enjoyed putting my, you know, fingerprint, footprint, whatever you want to call it on those.
Sam Parr: The shmi. I'm going to talk about that all the time. I love the shmi. And that was that one little line I took from that documentary. And I'm going to retell that story all the time. I'm going to talk all about the shmi. And so whenever I consume information, I'm just... Or comedy show or anything. I just look for lines or hooks of a story that I'm going to retell to people constantly. I'm going to steal it basically. I consume information as if I have to write a book report at another time. The third thing is I ask people all the time. And I ask them this in a very non-judgmental way. And a lot of people aren't used to being asked this. But I basically ask them all the time. I'll ask them about what they do for work or where they're from or whatever. and they'll say something and they'll say an opinion. And I always ask them, why do you think that? And I always try to ask that because it gets people to open up. And when I ask them all about themselves, there's this great book called How to Win Friends and Influence People. And Dale Carnegie wrote it in the 1920s. And he says, this tells a story about this kind of nobody young guy talking to this big shot executive.
Sam Parr: I think you're big on schools, right? You build schools. I forget where Pakistan I think and you like are giving away You put a lot of emphasis on Philanthropy and then it's you and your wife and your kid and a lot of these stuff and you have your own foundation you're giving away a lot of stuff and so I think it's awesome. I think that to reiterate what Sean said about being like, you know, he has this joke about being a total man and in a way that's kind of like what you are is like you're like a holistic person and your personal website does a really good job of explaining that.
(someone): Yeah, you know, I started doing those write-ups when my son, when we found out we're going to be, you know, we're going to have our son. I was like, okay, I should start recapping this. Well, we start trying to have a kid. I'm like, I should start recapping what's happening in my life. So that way, cause I'm going to forget it. And at some point, you know, I may want to tell him, Oh, check this out, check this out. And that's how those urine reviews came about. And I enjoy writing them. A lot of people love reading them and including you. Thank you, Sam, for reading it. And in terms of education, I do believe that levels of playing field. And that's why we're, you know, we do what we do.
Shaan Puri: Well, as I say, Sam gave you a compliment. I'm going to make fun of you.
Sam Parr: So that was really useful for me. He also has this great learning about gaining a skill. So I'm a huge fan of telling people, look, before you start a company or before you go and try to do your own thing, you need to learn a skill. In my case, it was copywriting. I'm a big fan of copywriting. But he's got this great line. where he talks about his time as an accountant. So from the ages of 16 to like 19 or 20, he was an accountant for a small firm. That's where he learned about operations and where he learned about like, where does money come from? How should it be accounted for? How do great operations look like? He's got this great line where he goes, Oh, how blessed the young men are who have struggled for a foundation in the beginning of life. I'll never cease to be grateful for the three and a half years I spent as an apprentice. And so that's where he learns all about the ability to overcome, to adapt, to get a skill. And so that kind of changed my life. There's this other great book called Mastery by Robert Greene. And the whole book is about on how you should develop a skill because in learning that skill, it teaches you and how to master something. And it also opens doors for you. And you could use that skill in other unrelated fields. And that's how you become incredibly successful.
Sam Parr: Alright, what's happening? A lot of people have been asking me about what I've been reading lately because I've read a lot of amazing books. And I want to do a quick pod, a quick episode that explains what I'm reading and how it relates to business. Most of these books, we're only going to go through three or four of them. Most of these books are not business related. But there's a lot of learnings for business people. I actually don't read business books. I haven't read a business book in like five years. They bore me. and lately i've been reading a ton of like adventure stuff so things about like oh when americans expanded west or about people uh discovering uh north america or ship stories and pirates. I love that type of stuff. The reason I love that type of stuff is because it basically makes my daily life. It turns the volume down. It's like, I like to box and I like to get into adventures and things like that because it makes my day to day, which is mostly work and business stuff, it makes it way easier because I'm like, Damn, I just read the story about Shackleton and how got deserted on Antarctica for 2 years, this business stuff is easy. So I like things like that. And so here are 3 or 4 books that I've read lately that have had huge impacts on my day-to-day with business and I'm gonna explain how and why they did that. So the first one is called Undaunted Courage.
Sam Parr: We've sought the details. But when it doesn't go okay, you know what the commander's intent is. And I think that for me, with my first business, I remember starting it. And I said, by the age of 30, I want to have this much money. Great. That's my commander's intent. The reason I wanted this much money was I wanted financial freedom and not to stress out. And then once I had my commander's intent, I created a plan. And I created the rules I was going to follow when I created what input I needed to get to my commander's intent. And as expected, a lot of things changed. So I said, I want this much revenue by year two, this much revenue by year five, which means I could probably sell. I miss revenue on sometimes. exceeded revenue. Other times I had to fire people. I changed my value. Sometimes things happened along the way. But because I had my own commander's intent, I said no to everything that didn't get me to my desired outcome. And I had something to fall back on when I was making new decisions. So I thought to myself, is this going to get me closer to that particular goal? If yes, do it. If no, don't do it and avoid it. And so with the operator, I learned about commander's intent and planning. In the last book, I lied and said I didn't read a lot of business books.
Sam Parr: And are you pulling out a significant chunk from the business?
(someone): Yes, I'm pulling out massive chunks from the business. Um, in terms of liquidity event, yes, I sold, uh, two, two businesses, relatively small, you know, seven figure exits on both of those. One was the YouTube channel business and another was a, was a software photography software business. Um, In terms of the cash flow, you know, we operate with a very healthy cash flow. So I moved that out to the whole co-level and then used that cash to invest, you know, in private businesses as well as in real estate and public markets.
Sam Parr: If you had a pie, a good question Sean always asks is what do you do with your money? If you had a pie of your net worth, what's that allocation looking like? A pie chart, not just a pie. A pie chart.
(someone): Or a pie. Or a pie. It's so heavily skewed towards my business, the online business portfolio. Extremely, extremely heavily skewed. I would say then a good chunk is in the public stock market. And then I have cash.
Sam Parr: Do you actively manage your portfolio or are you just doing boring shit?
(someone): Big chunk of it is boring. You know, dollar cost average index. I have begun to play with, you know, a little bit of money to see what I can do with it. I've done all right. Like stocks or other stuff? No, no, stocks.
Sam Parr: But I got pretty fat and I got disgusting. And then about three or four years ago, I said, this is it. I'm going to get my act together and I'm going to become a fitness model. That's what I said. It was a joke. I'm not actually that, but it was a joke and I did it. I got pretty fit. And so I basically created this rule. General Mathis, he's this general in America. He's got this great line that says, Figure out your flat-ass rules and stick to them. And the reason being, and I saw this from Ryan Holiday, who's an inspiration to me, he said, The person who decides every day what choices they have to make for each decision, that person will be exhausted and burnt out. And so about when I was 29, 28 years old, I made the decision that I will never, ever, ever miss a workout. And so at first, I basically created programming for myself, which means I created my own schedule, my own lifts, and how much I should lift. I did that on my own for a little while. And then I hired a trainer. His name is Jesse O'Brien at Central Athlete. I think I've got a You can see him. I'm not affiliated. I'm just a fan. And he created all my training for me. And I meet with him monthly.
Sam Parr: Like we don't, we're not like digging that hard. So hopefully that changed your opinion.
Shaan Puri: That did that did so side. You're kind of an amazing guy. So let me just set the table here for people. Let me just give you a little, let me just tease everybody with the appetizer. So I think you are one, you've done something that I don't even know five other people on earth who have done what you've done, which is that you've basically bootstrapped a unicorn. You've bootstrapped a billion dollar company. Um, you've done it. You're only 32 years old. So you did this by 32. You also didn't like invent the next big thing. It's not like you did this because you're super genius. You know, you're not, you didn't, you're not like, oh, you know, Vitalik, you know, creating a theorem on the blockchain or something crazy like that. Like you just did a very specific set of like prudent, smart actions and it just added up in an amazing way. We're going to talk about it. Um, but also I didn't know shit about you. Sam's known you for a little while. He brought you up on the pot a while back. He goes, I know this guy.
Sam Parr: Maybe a year and a half or so. Oh, damn, you crushed it right away.
(someone): So, you know, we had a good revenue stream. Let me take a step back. So there was this business and the listicle business. So collectively passed a million in a year and a half. So about 2011, 2012.
Shaan Puri: And so your early 20s, basically, at that stage, you're a millionaire. That was my first million. How does that feel? You said you grew up your parent, you know, your dad worked. You told me you were like, Yeah, my dad worked at a gas station. And I thought, I study guy says gas station. I know you own gases. I was like, Oh, so your family owned gases? You go? No, no. He sat in the gas station. He he swiped the cards in the gas station. And you were like, everybody in my family, I knew you were either you worked at a gas station or you're like, oh, you're, you're real smart. Like you're, you get to be a bank teller and that's all you knew in your bubble. So tell me two things. How did you get, because you got to kind of see the possibility of being a business person of being wealthy before you're going to even do it.
Sam Parr: And then we would meet up and talk about the book. And I would bring experts on that book's topic to come in and lead the conversation. So it's kind of like an MBA, but it was free. And I organized it, hence the Anti-MBA. A bunch of my great, great, great friends, Sean and Perry, we came in each other's orbit via this book club. Cieva, Kazinsky, who's got a really successful PE firm now, he was one of my first members. I posted ads on Craigslist for this book club. That's how it got popular, by the way. I posted an ad on and on Craigslist. And I would host this book club. I think I did it for 2 years straight, every week. And that is how I developed a network. And then from there, I hosted a conference called HustleCon. And the whole idea was, I'm not sure what I'm going to do next after selling my previous company, but I'm going to host this event called HustleCon. And in doing so, I imagine I'm going to meet a handful of people who will inspire me or partner with me in order to create my next thing. And so I'm constantly... I do it less now. Now I jokingly have this rule called No New Friends because I have a pretty good network now. But basically, I just collected people. And anytime I saw someone who was intriguing, I did a really good job of getting to know them and then just filing them away in this bank.
Sam Parr: And he created all my training for me. And I meet with him monthly. And I do the workouts remotely. But basically, I don't miss a single workout. And I work out 5 days a week. And so that's 5 days times 52. I think that's 260 workouts. In the last 2 years, 3 years, I've probably have missed 5 to 10 a year. And that's usually only because of sickness or if someone dies and I have to take a flight to a funeral. But basically, 95% of the time, I don't miss. And so I believe big, big, big, big time into consistency. And so I don't miss. The second thing that I do, And by the way, I'm fairly extreme about it. So for example, I drive a ton. So when I go and I take tons of road trips, when I take a road trip and I can't get my workout in the morning before I leave, I pull over on the side of the road. I tell Jesse, today's a travel day. I'm going to be driving and I bring bands with me and I pull over on truck stop. I got lots of pictures and videos of me sending my wife saying, I'm at this particular truck stop. I'm doing push-ups, burpees, sprints, things like that. I'll pull over on the side of the road for an hour and do it. I do not miss workouts.
Sam Parr: And someone asked him why. And he recited this poem that he would say constantly. He said, a wise, a wise old owl lived in an Oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why aren't we all like that old bird? And so he would just sit and listen. And then when he had to make a decision, he had all types of information that he needed in order to make that decision. And so I used to think that when you're this big, successful businessman, you got to be the one doing all the talking. No, it's the opposite. You got to be doing all the listening. And finally, he did a very good job of complimenting people. So whenever he saw someone who was making a mistake, he was famous for complimenting them first. So for example, there was this accountant who he had and Rockefeller was an old former accountant. He saw a mistake and he goes, These books are very well kept. Very well, indeed. However, I noticed one little small mistake right here. And it was actually a pretty big error. But he was really good at catching the mistake, complimenting them first, and then getting them to correct it. Because he knew that the way that you motivate people is you got to make them respect you a little bit. You can't insult them in front of a bunch of people.
Sam Parr: What's crazy is you might be... like probably in the top 50 richest, maybe top 100, top 200 richest under 40-year-olds in America.
(someone): I've kept a very, very low profile. And the only way this would be validated is if I was ever to raise a round or if I was to exit. Right. So right now, what I can see and looking at are our numbers and what similar companies trade at and, you know, exit at. My assumptions are based on that. But it actually doesn't matter to me one way or another. I'm pretty uncomfortable.
Shaan Puri: This model of buy don't build and Of becoming a hold co and having a portfolio like there's a whole bunch of people who I know that are trying to do this right now. I'm sure you get a bunch of questions. I think I've called you asking you a bunch of questions about this. What do you think they get wrong? What's the common mistake or trap you think smart people can fall into trying to do this path or what's a misconception that smart people have when they come into this?
(someone): One thing that I've noticed, several things, but this is the primary thing, is that the excitement takes them away. So they will overpay on a deal and then regret it later on when they find out, because oftentimes they're taking investors' money. They are on a timeline. You know, most of them are trying to raise a fund, you know, your typical 10 year plus two years, whatever.
Sam Parr: I think one more thing, Andrew, is that I look at, I used to, you kind of said that, Andrew, in terms of like financial success, which is a big, but not only a measure of success, Andrew, you're like a grand slam at the moment. I imagine you're incredibly wealthy and you've built businesses that are incredibly large. So by that measure of success, you are way out there. And for a while, I think you were mystical to me, where I'm like, how is he doing this? Now, it's changed to where I acknowledge that you definitely have talent that makes you special. You for sure have skills that make you special. But really, A lot of it is also, I don't know what percentage of it is each, but let's just say a third, a third, a third, a third of it is, well, he's just been doing it for like 15 years now or a certain amount of time. And he just like took the risk of raising or building the business. And then he raised the money a little bit for the fun. And so it's not a matter of like, how is he doing is doing this? It's just like, well, if I want that life, like I probably could do it. I just have to dedicate 15 or 20 years and go through the same motions that he did. And that may or may not fit the one, what I like.
Sam Parr: And I thought that that was incredibly impressive. And they took 2 years to do it. So imagine going off on a 2-year hiking trip in a place you've never been, not knowing what you're going to find, and hoping that you come back. And I found that to be such a good book. The first big thing that I learned is punishment is necessary. And so in today's tech culture, I think... I used to joke about HubSpot, the company that bought mine. I was like, you guys are too nice, man. You guys are way too friendly. And I think that that's a common theme with most tech companies is they're way too friendly. They're way too nice. And I can't stand that. And I think I fall victim to that as well. The reason being is When I read this book, there's like a bunch of different stories. So imagine just a 31 year old Lewis and only 30 guys. It's easy to get like chummy with them, but he was really, really strict. And so there's a story about how they had to set up a fort during the wintertime and they set it up along with these Native Americans who they got to know. And they set up this fort and they built this wall. And one of Lewis's men at nighttime hopped over the fence after he had just gotten done hanging out with the Indians. And an Indian saw him and also hopped the fence. And they're like, hey, man, you can't be here.
Sam Parr: And the idea was if a parent put their baby's arms on one of my buns, and we put mustard on it, and we take a photo, they get a free thing, a free sausage. And that was like the shtick.
Shaan Puri: Was this like pre social media?
Sam Parr: This was in 2010 to 2012, so it was around, but if Instagram was around, it was barely around.
Shaan Puri: Okay, so we got Southern Sam's, Wiener's as big as your baby's arm. Yeah. The best name. I started a restaurant too, but it was nowhere near sort of the fame or appeal as that, so I love that. How did it do?
Sam Parr: So I just tweeted about this today, actually, because someone would ask me if I had to make money today with $1,000. I started it with $500. I was only able to afford the first day's ingredients. And the first day did okay, but it took me about a week to get $1,000 day with like, 50% margins. Most days I would make between 100 and 500 days. If I would go and work all night or go to a concert, I could make $1,000 to $5,000 a night. It was really hard work. In Nashville in the summer, it's 110 degrees some days. It was horrible. It was really hard, but it was really fun. But it paid. I got paid.
Shaan Puri: And you were the one manning the stand?
Sam Parr: But what I really was also doing, and I say this in an article, is I was defending this idea that like, it's I think it's nonsense and crazy that we build these people up and say that they're like the next, you know, the next Steve Jobs or whatever it is. And we like want small businesses to win and someone starts a business and we want them to win. But then once they get really successful, or potentially like, they're considered like a winner, we turn on them. And we just hate them just because they're doing something like that seems really weird. And they talk funny, or they look funny. And I thought that So I stand by that second half because now that's even, the whole anti-tech thing is even bigger. But yeah, I was wrong. I was so wrong about her. Yeah, it's just, you see so many cases of a lot of these hit pieces that are totally not fair to founders that like your guard was up enough that you didn't see that this was the time that they were actually right. She fooled me, man. She fooled me. She sucked you in with her deep voice and those big eyes. Dude, she got me. I was so on board. Here's why I was on board with it. And the reason why I was on board with it is really, I can't decide if it's a good reason or a bad reason, and you tell me. So their biggest backer was Tim Draper.
Sam Parr: And so here are 3 or 4 books that I've read lately that have had huge impacts on my day-to-day with business and I'm gonna explain how and why they did that. So the first one is called Undaunted Courage. It's the story of Lewis and Clark. If you're an American, if you're not American, I actually don't know what you know about Lewis and Clark. If you're an American, you've heard that term Lewis and Clark, and you know that they were people, two guys that kind of like were sent to discover the West. Well, this story kind of dives deep on it. And it's the story about in like, I believe, 1804. So it's this guy named Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. they were tasked by Thomas Jefferson to start in St. Louis and to discover the west of the country. At this point, Jefferson had just bought a bunch of what is now the western part of America from Napoleon and of course, Indians and Native Americans, they knew all about it. But no American had actually been really too far west of the Mississippi. And so what's interesting is that Lewis, who is the main guy, Lewis was kind of the captain of the ship. He took 30 folks, so him and William Clark took 30 folks, and they went to California and back. But no one had ever done that at the time. And what's amazing is that Meriwether Lewis was only 31 years old. And I thought that that was incredibly impressive. And they took 2 years to do it.
Sam Parr: So this guy's way low key. And I got interested in the space because I've been a lot really interested in low sugar products. Whenever like whenever I'm in New York or particularly New York because I go to like corner stores all the time you see like Moms with the kids and they buy like Hawaiian punch or like fucking Gatorade like sugar factory a corner store and a grocery store are sugar factories It's sad and I feel horrible answer ease maybe Yeah. It's horrible. And it's because maybe that's just more convenient. And people just don't think no better. So I've been doing research and I found this guy named AJ Patel. So listen to what this guy's done. So he started a... He's only 32. So he started this thing called Smooth Viking, which was a men's grooming business that he sold. Then he started Insta Naturals, which is a natural-based skincare business. It did $55 million in 2018. And it's been... It crushes it. And then he started Zenwise, which was a plant-powered vitamins and supplements. And it was doing okay, like $5 to $8 million in revenue. But then he was like, the thing about vitamins... A lot of people are asking me for vitamins for my pet. for their dogs, for their cats. And he was like, that's cool.
Sam Parr: It wasn't me. I don't know. Like it's on Instagram Yeah, I was like dude it once you get to know me you'll understand neither of us to golfer I'm not a golfer, you know what I mean? And so and then I was like, hey Jeff this guy was I was like, what do I go and get like a shovel or something? He goes. Oh, no, that's some bitch. He's gonna be gone in three days. It's like what do you mean? He goes You'll see. And so I come back in three days and the whole body and carcass, everything was gone. The all the animals like the birds and hogs, they just ate it. It was completely gone. And the mother would go back to the spot where that calf was and would like mourn. And I was like, my heart was broken. I was like, I don't know if I could eat meat in the same way now. So I felt like devastated. And so since then, I basically I only eat red meat like once a month because the cows like I get to know them. And I'm like, I feel too sad. I can't do it. I'm not. I'm not. I'm not that manly of a man. I can't do it.
Sam Parr: Even after my DUI, I would still drink and drive and I basically planned my whole life around drinking. I couldn't plan anything Saturday morning because I knew I was going to be screwed up Friday. I eventually started a hot dog stand. A lot of people who follow my entrepreneurial career, the joke is that I started a hot dog stand that made a lot of money. The reason I started a hot dog stand was because I could get there at noon so I could wake up at 11. roll out of bed, go outside, and I could have a red Solo cup in my hand, and it wouldn't be considered that weird to be drinking on the job while making money. Then I would go pass out a little bit after the noon to three o'clock crowd. And then I would go out to the bars and put my car outside the bars. And I could still drink then and I could be around drunk people. And I wouldn't have to go home till 3am. And that's how I made a living. I started a hot dog stand while I was in school. And I basically did it because I didn't have a lot of money and I wanted to start a business where I could drink. It was not good. But again, I kind of loved it. The things I hated was I hated waking up and knowing I did something bad the night before based off of how hard my knees were. If my knees hurt me, then I know, oh, I fell all over the place. And if I was falling all over the place, I probably got in a fight.
Sam Parr: That's a lot of money. So That's my story with alcohol. I want to answer a couple of questions because people were asking me some questions. And if you go to the YouTube page, just Google Sampar alcohol, you'll see this page if you're listening on the podcast, and I'll answer some questions. I tweeted out that I was going to do this. My handle is The Sampar. So I'll read out some of the things that people ask. The first is how do you handle social gatherings when everyone's drinking? What benefits have you seen outside of the health side? So, when I go to a bar, I ask for an NA. That means non-alcoholic beer. And bartenders typically know that means you're sober. Or I'll do a Sprite and lime. So, with health, I'm way less bloated. My joints don't hurt. Now, I don't drink. I also take testosterone replacement therapy, which is a whole other podcast and video, which I like. But I feel like a professional athlete. I don't really get tired right now. I feel great. I sleep good. I sleep eight hours a night. I don't really have I feel awesome. I mean, I just I feel alive. I feel like a pro athlete.
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