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Learn how a golf store apprenticeship inspired me to build the first all-in-one apprenticeship software.
I’ve founded 11 businesses over the last 30 years, and each one of them has laid the foundation for my grand plan – the reason you’re reading this now. Apprentix is the nation’s only all-in-one platform for creating and managing apprenticeships.
Because I’m proud of what Apprentix will do to revolutionize the way the world works through the power of apprenticeships, I want to share a story I’ve never told anyone before. The story of how my apprenticeship with a man named Rand changed how I’d live and lead my life forever.
I grew up in a Los Angeles motel from 0 to 14 years old. My parents managed it in exchange for a roof over our heads. It was a week-to-week motel, and it was sketchy, to say the least. While my family did their best to make ends meet, I was often left to my own devices. At just 12 years old, I began to work for my uncle’s neighbor Rand, who owned a golf shop nearby.
This is where my apprenticeship journey began (though I didn’t realize it yet).
At first, I took care of basic stuff like organizing, stocking, and taking grips off clubs. But Rand quickly gave me more responsibility, and I started to do bank runs depositing cash and checks – anywhere from $20-40k a day. Would you trust your 12-year-old with $40,000? Pretty crazy to think about!
As the summer went on, Rand gave me lessons on how to run a bootstrapped business. He also let me in on other parts of his life. I remember we’d have a guy come into the shop named Tom, and he was everyone’s bookie. Monday nights were “skins games” and all of the guys in the store would play golf on a par three course and bet on each hole. Rand took me along and taught me how to golf.
We don’t all start from the same place. But Rand taught me how to be a bootstrapper… or in this case, styrofoam helmet strapper.
You must be thinking, why did this guy do so much for some kid he barely knew? I’m not sure, but I know one thing – I was lucky AF. Rand took me to hockey games, taught me how to trade and sell baseball cards, and even let me borrow his truck when I was a teenager. Rand was all in for me. He’s the reason I created Apprentix.
I sold my first website design company when I was 18 years old, back in the .com days. I did it on a handshake with no contract, and I got screwed. When Rand found out what happened, he was there to help me emotionally and even tried to help me find a way to recoup my losses. That never happened, but it did spark the next phase of our partnership.
Rand brought me to help build an eCommerce site called Golfstore.com which eventually sold to a private equity company before the .com bust. I learned how to do it right, and it’s all because Rand was there to guide me. In a way, you could say my apprenticeship with Rand spanned over ten years.
In August 1999, Rand took me to a private airport in Van Nuys, California. Before then, I hadn't even heard of a private jet. Just five months later, we closed on the deal to sell Golfstore.com to a private equity firm.
I always knew I’d find some way to pay it forward, and around 2014, I had my chance. I was looking to hire a junior advisor for my wealth management business. It typically works by giving an advisor 18 months to bring on $X amount of assets, and if they don’t hit the mark, you fire them. It’s a pretty shitty system because it essentially relies on the advisors soliciting their wealthy family and friends for business. What if you don’t know any rich people? I certainly didn’t grow up around any.
So I wanted to teach people how to manage wealth, but I didn’t have a name for a program yet. So instead of finding someone who already had mad connections, I hired a kid straight out of college and apprenticed him. Eighteen months later, he became a successful advisor.
Though my process with this student was super grassroots and a little janky, it worked. And from then on, I knew I had to replicate that success. I had to go all-in for kids just like me.
Rand and I used to go to the beach together every week during the summer. It was a tradition that lasted for many, many years. Sometimes we’d talk business, but mostly it was our way to clear our minds, catch some waves, and just be friends.
I sold the majority interest of my wealth management company in 2015. I had a lot of time on my hands and more money than I’d ever had in my life. So I had to figure out what to do next. That wasn’t an easy task.
I had two college degrees under my belt and had been rapidly expanding a nonprofit called Minds Matter that sent thousands of low-income youth to college on scholarships. It was fulfilling work, but it only solved one piece of the puzzle.
My lightbulb moment came after reading this great book called Bold by Peter Diamandis. His book made me think about what kind of problem I wanted to solve. When I asked myself that question, the answer was immediate. I still wanted to work with low-income youth, but not in a nonprofit structure. Instead, I would apprentice young people who didn’t or couldn’t go to college.
So I started a customer service business called Ravience – a pretty significant swing of the pendulum from wealth management. The people I hired weren’t necessarily highly skilled but they were highly motivated. I hired people who had shown promising writing skills and eventually apprenticed them to become content marketers. There’s another pivot for you.
That’s how I launched my next venture, Flow, as a content marketing company. Once my apprentices graduated, they’d need a place to work. This time, my program was much more structured and streamlined and laid the groundwork for my next “next.”
Ok, now we’re finally talking about Apprentix.
After much meditation and weighing trade-offs, I decided I would build the damn thing myself. Utilizing a coach, some courses, and good ol’ YouTube University, I essentially apprenticed myself into learning how to code. And because I’m me, I decided to wait to launch the beta version of Apprentix until it was a fully baked product.
Apprentix is many things, but at its core, it’s a solution. It’s a tool that empowers businesses to tap into new candidate pools and create new jobs. There’s no more relying on the government to build a federally registered apprenticeship and no more fumbling through creating a custom program from scratch while trying to run a business. Apprentix is my gift to people just like me – kids from underserved populations and business owners who need motivated and loyal employees.
If you’re ready to be part of revolutionizing the way the world works through the power of apprenticeships, we’re here for you. Go to apprentix.io to learn more.