Episode 8- Entrepreneurial Advice From Hammer


The transcript from this episode:

I love stories of grit. I love stories of determination and overcoming adversity and figuring things out and doing things differently because doing things the same is going to get you what everybody else is getting. So I look for these stories, I study it and I research it and I’ve always found them in interesting and odd places and one of them is from Hammer. If remember MC Hammer back way back from the, you know, “You Can’t Touch This” days and “Pray” and all the hit songs from the late eighties and early nineties and then going forward from there. He didn’t start with just the music business and he’s got a really interesting, incredible story where he’s, he basically said he was an entrepreneur from a young age, from nine years old. His mother didn’t have the resources, they didn’t have the money. So he went out to figure it out. 

And he grew up in Oakland, in California. And what he did, he was a huge Oakland A’s fan. He was a huge baseball fan and he would go to the games and he would befriend the ballplayers. And that was back in like the Oakland A’s were the best, one of the best teams in baseball. They won three World Series, I think Reggie Jackson was on that team, Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, and it was an incredible team. And he got to know the players. He would go up to them and he would talk to him. He would have conversations with basically befriended them and he wanted to make a business out of this. This is what he’s thinking at nine years old, he’s thinking this way. And he went to the players and he said, you know, what do you guys do with the extra tickets that you have? 

And they didn’t have, I don’t think they did anything with it. He said he was very clear with them, very honest. And he’s very open about it. He said, if you leave me your extra tickets, I want to go and sell them outside. And he said, and I will take the extra ticket and I will go to the ballgame. And if you do that, what I want to do is when I go to the game, I want to collect the extra bats, the broken bats and balls and like that. And I want to take that and I want to sell that. I want to make that into a business. And that’s what he came up and he went and told the ballplayers this and that’s really gutsy to do, to be able to have the wherewithal to say that. 

And then the main thing is to be able to say, this is how I’m going to do it. He wasn’t trying to be sneaky, he wasn’t trying to go behind their back. He said this is a business that what I want to do. He’s nine years old at this point and guess what? The player’s agreed to it. So the players agreed to it. So now he is getting the tickets and he is going outside the Oakland Coliseum and he is selling the tickets and he is keeping a ticket for himself. And then he’s going back in and he’s then collecting like a business. He’s collecting the broken bats and any other memorabilia that he could take and sell it to the fans outside. And there’s a great team, so there’s obviously a demand for it. He learned early on what it was like to be in business and he said the transparency and the openness was the key to it and he was making hundreds of dollars. 

He was making a lot of money per game and then this went on. So Hammer did this for five or six years from the time he was nine years old to the time he was 15 years old. In that time he got to be friend a lot of the superstars of the game and then eventually meet the owner and the assistant and become part of the organization, and those connections that built up from him at nine years old thinking differently and thinking like an entrepreneur is what eventually planted the seeds for his music career and the mega hits that he went on to accomplish. Even now he credits the lessons that he learned from that time with what he was able to do with his career. And when you are in this business. He said, you’ve got to have great customer service. You’ve got to make sure that your customers are happy, you need trust is what he said. 

He built it off of trust. He built the trust off of the relationships with these players and with these owners who had really nothing to gain, but he was honest with them and he told them what he was looking to do and they were cool with it. I think they probably saw themselves in him when they were like, man, I was nine years old. I wish I was doing this. And he went to them. He told them the truth. So customer service, trust, persistence. He said persistence was a huge part of it. You need to be able to get told no and continuing because we’re going to constantly be told no in doing this. And the other thing he said was give them a good price. He knew that getting a good price was going to make the customers happy. It wasn’t about gouging them. 

It wasn’t about making every extra dollar that he could possibly make. It was about giving them a good price and making sure that the customers are happy. So they come back to him because he was from the ticket selling business and if he wasn’t giving them a good price and if he didn’t have inventory, then they were going to go somewhere else and they weren’t going to look for him for the tickets. He’s learning this all at nine, ten, eleven years old. And it makes me wonder sometimes what we’re teaching our kids in terms of following rules and passing tests, but not learning the lessons that are going to go on to benefit them for real later on in life. So Kudos to Hammer, there are some more stories about him that are great that I’m probably going to do in future podcasts, in terms of his entrepreneurial spirit, even in terms of how he launched his music career. But I love that one. And that’s something I want to talk to my kids about. So I hope you enjoy that. And I will talk to you tomorrow.

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