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  • - Good morning.

  • - [Audience] Good morning.

  • - So, I'll give a little spiel, but honestly,

  • I think given the size of the audience,

  • and given the vibe here, I think we should go into Q&A.

  • I think that's where the more interesting

  • value comes out of.

  • But, to create a little framework.

  • I am an immigrant.

  • I was born in Belarus in the former Soviet Union.

  • I came here when I was three.

  • I lived in Queens, in Rego Park for two years,

  • in a studio apartment with five, six,

  • seven, eight family members.

  • So, I can relate to that grind and that hustle.

  • I literally didn't even know my dad

  • for the first 14 years of my life,

  • because he would leave before I would wake up

  • and get home after I fell asleep.

  • First as a stock boy in a liquor store

  • making two bucks an hour,

  • and then eventually a manager.

  • And immigrants, and I'm sure some of you know this,

  • immigrants have really figured out the secret

  • of American Business.

  • Which is don't spend any money

  • on dumb shit for 10 years,

  • save it all, and then buy something, right?

  • And so, that's what my dad did.

  • And he bought a small liquor store

  • in Springfield, New Jersey.

  • I grew up in Edison, New Jersey.

  • You know, lemonade stands, shoveling snow, baseball cards.

  • You know, it's so crazy for me that I get to live

  • through the era where an entrepreneur is cool.

  • The fact that I take 10 selfies a day blows my fuckin' mind.

  • The fact that hip hop artists that I love DM me.

  • It's just so crazy.

  • And it's happened, right?

  • It's happened for sports.

  • I think a lot of people forget.

  • In the 1950s, baseball players and football players

  • had jobs during the summer at hardware stores.

  • Everything gets it's day,

  • and I think there's nothing more Americana

  • than the entrepreneur, than the business person

  • and so, I'm just fortunate.

  • You know, when I was your age, I was a loser

  • by a lot of people's POV,

  • because I was a terrible student.

  • And the narrative 25 years ago was that entrepreneurship

  • was not a feasible way out.

  • That the only way out was Yale and Harvard and Cornell.

  • School was the only benchmark that created opportunity

  • and so for me,

  • I'm excited about this entrepreneurial thing,

  • but at the same token, to be very frank,

  • one of the things that I want to try to dissect

  • in our Q&A now is,

  • I also think it's gone a little bit too far

  • in the other direction.

  • I think everybody thinks they're going

  • to be a winning entrepreneur.

  • You know, it's funny.

  • Everybody says they're an entrepreneur.

  • That's like me saying I'm a basketball player.

  • That's cool.

  • It's fun that I get to run at the YMCA a couple of times.

  • But, I don't get paid.

  • Right, I'm not an NBA All-Star.

  • And what I think is happening right now is

  • people are putting the word entrepreneur

  • in their Instagram profile and they think it's a wrap.

  • They think they're going to make it and this and that.

  • And it's extremely hard.

  • It's extremely lonely.

  • Listen, if you want this, you need to understand

  • that there's a lot of stuff

  • that people are not talking about.

  • Nobody in my tech startup world is talking

  • about the suicides that are happening when kids fail.

  • Maple, the food service

  • that was supposed to be so big, folded yesterday.

  • This is happening every day. Right?

  • And everybody thinks it's so easy,

  • and the reason they think it's so easy

  • is I grew up, when I was your age,

  • you couldn't roll up on people and say

  • here's my idea and they'd give you a million dollars

  • on a $4 million valuation.

  • That was insane, that's not how it was.

  • And I think the other thing I'm fearful of,

  • especially when I look around the room,

  • there's a couple of us, but for the majority of you,

  • we've had a good economy now for the last

  • seven or eight years.

  • And for a lot of you, seven or eight years ago,

  • you were a real youngster.

  • So you haven't lived through when the world melts.

  • I lived through the collapse of .com, 2000.

  • And then right behind it 9/11.

  • And then 2007, and eight.

  • And I've navigated my businesses through that.

  • That's hard.

  • Everybody's a peacetime general,

  • but who's a wartime general?

  • Everybody's really great, everybody's a hero

  • when you can print a logo on a t-shirt

  • and say I've got a fashion brand. Right?

  • But what about actually building something sustainable

  • that you can eat on and things of that nature?

  • So, for me, I'm not trying to discourage,

  • I'm just trying to paint a very real picture.

  • This is a long game.

  • Like, from 22 to 30, I did nothing.

  • I worked 15 hours a day, Monday through Saturday.

  • You know, it's funny.

  • I was talking at a talk the other day,

  • it was a Friday.

  • I go, "Tomorrow, more of you are going to

  • "have more Saturdays off in your 20s than I did

  • "in my entire 20s, tomorrow."

  • Because Saturday is the biggest day of retail

  • and that's when we sold the most wine,

  • so I was just there every single Saturday

  • of every 20 to 30 years old, 10 years.

  • Every fuckin' Saturday.

  • And so when people,

  • all the cliche shit that we all talk,

  • "I'm grindin'," "I'm hustlin',"

  • you know, like "I'm doin' this."

  • I laugh because I look at people's Insta

  • and they're fucking at Coachella.

  • (audience laughter)

  • So I think there's a mix.

  • There's a mix because entrepreneurship

  • has also gotten cool.

  • I said something at a talk that really resonates with me.

  • And she's like, "Oh fuck, club promoters

  • "have taken over entrepreneurship." Right?

  • We're putting it on this pedestal.

  • And now, with the way that Instagram dominates our world,

  • and the visuals of watches and private jets,

  • and girls and guys,

  • and boats and champagne,

  • I'm just like, "Fuck."

  • 99% of people are gonna lose.

  • And what I'm scared of,

  • is if people actually knew what to do, which is eat shit,

  • like work real hard, be real patient.

  • You know what I would wish on you more than anything?

  • More than anything.

  • And I'm looking around the room.

  • Our wonderful cops back there, a couple people here.

  • There's seven or eight of us that know this,

  • the rest of you don't,

  • which is if you knew that at 40,

  • you felt the same way inside as you do at 20,

  • it would fuck with your head.

  • If you actually knew how on fire

  • like, I think we're friends.

  • Like, I think we're the same age.

  • It's crazy.

  • When I was 22, my cousin was in the business.

  • He was 30, he was eight years older than me.

  • I thought he was old as fuck.

  • (audience laughter)

  • I remember, that's not super long ago.

  • I was 22, he was 30.

  • He was old as shit.

  • So when I sit here and I'm 41,

  • I'm like, "Fuck, these kids think I'm real fucking old."

  • (audience laughter)

  • And I feel fucking as young as you.

  • And if you knew that, if you knew that,

  • you would get way more patient.

  • If you knew that, you would get way more patient.

  • I promise you, the number one thing

  • that I'm trying to leave here with

  • is to get a couple of you to get real fucking patient

  • 'cause that is the singular advantage.

  • If you actually don't give a fuck,

  • the way I didn't, of what people think about you,

  • all through your 20s, like you just don't care,

  • like you literally don't,

  • and you just build something for yourself,

  • you have a much better chance.

  • So many people here will fail

  • in their entrepreneurial journeys

  • because they're worried about what people think.

  • That's just what it is, my man.

  • That's just what it is.

  • People are worried about what other people think,

  • how many followers they have,

  • how good the business is doing,

  • what they're doing, where they're going,

  • what they're wearing.

  • It doesn't fucking matter.

  • It especially doesn't matter

  • if you pour all that energy into building something

  • and then at 33 you're winning, and they're resetting.

  • (audience cheers and applause)

  • And if you really knew how young you would be at 33,

  • it would really change everything.

  • Like, that's the thing.

  • I'm trying to really put the words together

  • 'cause I'm going back to that time.

  • It's just hard. Right?

  • It's hard when you're that young.

  • It's hard to realize you'll feel that young.

  • I just don't know how to say it.

  • I really don't know how to say it.

  • I don't, but I want to say it with conviction,

  • so that a couple of you believe me.

  • But you have to build an actual business that makes money.

  • If you're going into the tech business,

  • if you want to build an app, it's hard.

  • For every single Snapchat and Instagram,

  • there's eight million Insta-shits. You know?

  • Everybody fails.

  • And we get seduced by the two or three people that don't.

  • It's really funny.

  • I went to Mount Ida College.

  • It was 94% African-American, Latino,

  • real minority college.

  • And every single person wanted to be a rapper.

  • It was 1994.

  • Everybody was gonna and I remember thinking,

  • "Wow, this is some delusional shit."

  • How are you gonna be a rapper if you're not writing?

  • How are you gonna be a rapper if you're not in the studio?

  • How are you gonna be a rapper if you're not hustling?

  • And it's funny, like, the white boy version

  • of that now is tech.

  • Everybody thinks they're gonna build Snapchat and Instagram.

  • And I'm like, how are you gonna do that

  • when you're at Coachella?

  • How are you gonna do that if you're out every night?

  • How are you gonna do that

  • when you're raising money and you're,

  • it's funny, raising money has been so detrimental

  • to the startup community.

  • It doesn't take a hero to lose $30,000 a month.

  • Everybody in here can do that.

  • And so, a couple things I want to get across,

  • and I wanna really go into Q&A,

  • and get real detailed 'cause I'm here.

  • I'm not coming back.

  • (audience laughter)

  • So let's take advantage of it, you know what I mean?

  • So the couple things that I think

  • you need to really wrap your head around is "it's for life."

  • 99% of the kids that walk into my office or I come across,

  • they're trying to flip their shit.

  • Which means they're doing it for the money.

  • And when you're doing it just for the money,

  • you've got way less chance to actually make the money.

  • So if you build a business,

  • if you're in the mentality,