Dan Fleyshman – From Selling Sweatshirts as a Side Gig to Becoming the Youngest Founder of a Publicly Traded Company
Kara Goldin: Hi, everybody. It’s Kara Goldin from Unstoppable and we are very, very excited to have Dan Fleyshman here today. Welcome.
Dan Fleyshman: Thank you. So Dan, thanks so much for being here today. We’re both at the conference today speaking, the HPLT conference. Very, very excited. So Dan, for those of you who don’t know Dan, we’re going to talk a little bit about his company, Elevator, today, Elevator Studio. But Dan’s a leading authority on social media. We were just chatting that Dan had a beverage company ages ago.
In my former life.
Kara Goldin: In a former life, so we have that in common. And we’ll talk more about just social media and influencer marketing overall. But we also want to talk about your passion project and your nonprofit because I think that that is super, super cool. And what more for-profit companies should be doing and getting into really figuring out what is their why and what else can they do to really help people.
So he’s a regular speaker. Advise companies on just all aspects of social media influencers. Should you have social media influencers, which is a hot topic today? Should you not? And yeah, lots of great stuff. At age 23 took the beverage company that we mentioned public. We can talk a little bit more about that experience because I know that that’s always something that entrepreneurs want to know. Do I take a company public? Do I not take a company public? And then, last but not least, actually two last but not least, he founded the online poker site, Victory Poker. Super cool. And within one year built it into the third-largest online poker brand in the world. Crazy.
He’s a co-author of a bestselling book, How to set up your Business For Under $1000. I have a book coming out in October so I’m also very interested to hear how you got that book out there and for people to hear. So anyway, welcome.
Dan Fleyshman: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Kara Goldin: So first of all, you’re a serial entrepreneur with a variety of successful businesses under your belt and I’d love to hear more about… So 17-ish, that’s kind of like the beginning of Dan getting going. So where, where were you and where was your head through this journey?
Dan Fleyshman: So it was in San Diego. I was working three jobs, saving up money to pay for college. Somehow we survived on $24,000 for a family of four in LA. And so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t a burden. So I was working three jobs, selling cotton candy at the stadium, and working at Ruby’s Diner with a sailor cap on my head, and working for a stockbroker. Just all hours of the day and night, just working, working, working to save what this money. Saved up $43,000 during those couple of years.
Kara Goldin: Wow.
Dan Fleyshman: And I was ready. I’m going to San Diego State. Here we go. But at the same time, I launched a clothing line. We trademark this brand for 300 different products. So I go to the clothing convention. I’m 17-and-a-half, not even allowed to be at the convention. Can’t even register for a booth, et cetera. And we write $1 million in orders. I had no idea. I thought I was a millionaire except I had nobody to actually manufacture a million dollars in orders. I didn’t have the 4-or-500 grand it takes to manufacture those orders. I wasn’t a vendor. I couldn’t get certified. I couldn’t get approved by these chain stores. I was a kid with-
Kara Goldin: An idea.
Dan Fleyshman: Hoodies, hats and tee shirts on a rack on a wall in a 10-foot booth. Right? So my older brother and my partner’s father, they started giving us all this advice. My mom comes in and helps save the day. Gets us structured with company stuff. And so within the next few months, we were a clothing company. We were actually manufacturing, selling to chain stores. I found a big manufacturer who I’m still friends with 20 years later.
But I go to San Diego State one day and I walk in and the teacher says, “Dan, you don’t go here.” I said, “What do you mean? You just said my name.” He said, “No, I don’t know who you are anymore.” I said, “No, but you do because you just said my name.” And he was like, “Nope, you don’t go here. You can sit here if you want but don’t come back tomorrow.”
Kara Goldin: Because you had missed too many classes?
Dan Fleyshman: Once you miss more than three classes, off with your head. And so I had a showroom in New York at the Empire State Building. I had a warehouse in LA. I thought I was the cat’s pajamas. I was like, “What are you talking about? I’m here. I’m trying to make time for both.” So that’s it. That was my last experience in college. It was frustrating because I wanted to do it and then I just went to real-life university.
So over the next few years, we got into 5,500 stores for the clothing. And got a big licensing deal with Starter Apparel overseas in the UK for $9.5 million. And so all of a sudden, as I was getting screwed over along the way, bad manufacturers, bad this, chain stores not paying, all the things I had no idea about would happen in the clothing business being 18, 19, 20, 21, this royalty from that large deal with Starter Apparel helped kind of save the day. Every quarter we had a saving grace.
Kara Goldin: You got a check.
Dan Fleyshman: Yeah. And so 23 is when we decided to take it public on the stock market. I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know. I spent a year and a half and $2 million of legal fees and accounting and auditors. The thing is I just had no idea what an 8-K and a 10-Q and all these letters you couldn’t spell. And so we’re going public. And then the next four years is when we were pushing the energy drink.
Kara Goldin: So you went public before the beverage company?
Dan Fleyshman: I went public for the beverage company. I needed to raise capital to be able to prepare for the energy drink. We had good revenue with the clothing company, but not enough that we could take out to really launch a beverage at scale. Because we didn’t want to do it small. Mostly we didn’t want to do it small because we got advice from somebody that had a beverage brand and he said you need a lot of money to actually do this.
Kara Goldin: You do need a lot of money to launch a beverage company.
Dan Fleyshman: Even with success.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, absolutely.
Dan Fleyshman: The more success you have the more money you need and it’s like this weird catch 22. You think if you get a million-dollar order that that’s it. You made it. How the heck do you do it?
Kara Goldin: It doesn’t float.
Dan Fleyshman: Right. And I actually talk about this and during these speeches, I’m like, “If you get $1 million order, you might go bankrupt because you’re not going to get paid for 30 to 90 days after you ship it, depending on the retailer.” Well, that’s like five months from the time of your order. I was like, “What are you guys going to do, if you could get a million on the order, you need 500 grand to make it? It’s January 1st and you don’t get paid until May 1st.”
Kara Goldin: Yeah. I tell entrepreneurs this all the time. And even if you can get receivables financing, I mean you’re not going to get receivables financing until you’ve got a few years under your belt. It’s just not going to happen, so I get it.
Dan Fleyshman: And what if your products hit water and it’s good and they reorder and you still haven’t paid yet? And then they reorder again a third time and you still haven’t paid for the first order. And then they reorder again and you haven’t been paid for the first order.
Kara Goldin: And no one tells you this, right?
Dan Fleyshman: No.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. So it’s the highs and the lows.
Dan Fleyshman: Yes. Even when you’re high, you don’t realize that you’re at low at the same time. So for those four years, we’ll go over that later, I guess, but that was the beverage world. And then that’s when I started the online poker site. What was crazy about that is it was the third biggest brand in the world. And then online poker was shut down in America. The number one and number two, they both got seized by the FBI. Billions of dollars were seized. It was called black Friday.
And so I didn’t get shut down, I didn’t get a knock on the door, but I willingly closed the company the same four day period because I was like, “I don’t know what’s going to happen here. And I want to be able to sleep at night.” So I paid back 41,000 people manually. Like I had my whole team manually paying everybody back. But that was the biggest wake-up call because I had lost my company overnight. Just coming and doing crazy revenue by myself. And so to me it’s still a failure. The scoreboard is the scoreboard. If you go back and look at it, whether it’s my competitors put me in this situation, it doesn’t matter. The government put me in the situation, the scoreboard is the scoreboard.
So that was the biggest wake up call. And that’s when I decided I was never going to have all my eggs in one basket again. That’s when I became an angel investor. That’s when I started the social media agency. That’s when I started the charity. All of it happened in the same few months. So from the worst business moment in my life came all the, I guess, best things.
Kara Goldin: That’s awesome. Well, I think what you describe is what great entrepreneurs talk about and oftentimes no one can actually share that advice to you. You can give that advice to people and so often it goes in one ear and out the other, right? But you lived through it, right? And I mean, I tell people all the time, the smartest thing for any entrepreneur, whether you’re in a beverage business or clothing business or beauty businesses is to get into one outlet and then clap your hands, have a drink, whatever you need to do in order to celebrate that. Then get into as many other places as possible where you can really service the brand and it makes sense for the brand, but then also expand so that you don’t have too much weight in any one thing.
Dan Fleyshman: Absolutely.
Kara Goldin: So I think it’s a huge thing. And frankly with funding, too, I think it’s the exact same situation. It’s like you don’t want one bank or one investor.
Dan Fleyshman: Or one retailer.
Kara Goldin: Or one retailer. It’s the exact same lessons learned along the way. That’s great. So I read that you orchestrated more than $68 million in deals between brands and social media influencers with your company. I’d love to hear more about that. I mean it sounds like it was all part of the journey of you going and starting it and progression of it, but I’d love to hear more about that.
Dan Fleyshman: So I started angel investing a lot and a bit wildly. I was very picky, but I did too many at the same time. Some of the brands wanted me to do social media stuff for them, even though I wasn’t a social media agency. And so it kind of just naturally became a social media agency because I knew these influencers, if you will, before influencer was a word. And celebrities that didn’t know what to charge for a tweet and they were charging $75,000 for a tweet when they’re worth a couple of grand. It was this weird, wild, wild west of just, people just had no idea. And so I formed the agency back then. And right at the same time when the FashionNovas and FITTEES, all the Instagram products, if you will, were coming out.
And so I started doing these campaigns. I’d have the Kardashians posting for FashionNova, or FITTEES or these other brands. And through that, everybody started coming to me because they’re like, “Who did that?. There wasn’t that many brands. You can name the first few Instagram brands. And so I just naturally evolved into an actual agency. I mean, we spent a couple of hundred million since then. It’s mind-boggling how much we spent and we’re this big if you think about it. My staff’s tiny. My team’s like… The social media execution just doesn’t take what it takes to do a TV campaign or a billboard campaign or marketing campaign or magazine campaign or bus campaign. You don’t need as many humans. Those take a long, long time. I can do a Hint Water campaign this weekend.
Kara Goldin: Interesting.
Dan Fleyshman: I can have 60 influencers with 144 million followers combined and if they have the bottle, the caption, and what they’re contents are supposed to be, it could literally run it tomorrow. And it’s crazy where magazines, TV, radio, everything takes three to six months and a lot of planning, a lot of things to go through. I can also have the report back on Monday. It’s so fascinating to me because I don’t say don’t do the other things I just say do a little bit also.
I did a big campaign for DraftKings and it was really fun. It was like DJ Khaled, Amanda Cerny, all these different characters posting about this brand and we did it all in a two day period. They actually were upset about it. Like, “This is too fast for us.” Large corporations need time to analyze and plan. I’m like, “I can do the next campaign again if you want to practice again. How did I do in comparison to what you did last week?” Like, “Oh, you were actually our number two of all of our ad spend for the week.” I said, “Okay, well what was number one?” They said, “Okay, well, that was TV.” “How much did you spend on TV?” 18 million.”
Kara Goldin: Crazy.
Dan Fleyshman: “What was number three?” “Well, that was radio.” How much did you spend?” “9 million.” I said, “So I beat number three with 500 grand compared to your 9 million.” I’m not saying give me 9 million, but…
Kara Goldin: Yeah. Well, it’s hard. I mean, I think it’s harder for the more established brands, let’s call them that, right? Because they think they know how to measure that. And so they’re not really sure how to measure this. I mean, most of these companies aren’t even selling online. And so that’s a whole other topic. Because even if you’re able to show success on the-
Dan Fleyshman: Impressions.
Kara Goldin: Brand and impressions, et cetera, then-
Dan Fleyshman: How do you translate it to retail?
Kara Goldin: Right. And they have no idea. I mean, a lot of them… I mean, I figured this out. So 40% of our overall business for Hint is online. And so we sell on Amazon but we also sell on drinkhint.com. That was my world and what I came from. I ran a Wells eCommerce for seven years and sort of grew up in that world.
But it’s interesting because when I started Hint, I was doing what you were doing, hustling and getting Hint into lots of stores up in San Francisco where I live, and then New York, and then sort of came into the middle and now we’re in lots of different outlets all over the US. But it’s interesting because what I realized a few years ago when I first launched our business on Amazon was A) I wasn’t getting data from Amazon, which upset me. And then I said like, “Why am I so upset? I don’t get data from Whole Foods or Target or any of these. So why am I so upset with Amazon? If I really want my data, then I should set up my own site at drinkhint.com.” Which is what we did.
And so for us, we love Amazon. I mean Amazon is great. People go on Amazon. They know the brand.
Dan Fleyshman: It’s natural for them. They just swipe and that’s it.
Kara Goldin: And they know the brands, but then a lot-
Dan Fleyshman: It’s going to show up in five seconds.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, but Amazon will never carry… We have over 20 flavors. And then we launched sunscreen and we launched deodorant and we launched lots of different categories. And so we launch all of that on our site first. And so I always tell people that, the consumer now who really knows Hint believes that we have everything on our site and knows that we have everything on our site. They can still go to Amazon. They can go to target. They can go to Costco. They can go buy our product wherever they want to buy it. But I think that’s such a key thing that a lot of large, large brands just don’t really understand is that what you guys are doing is really building awareness but also building awareness potentially on where to find their brand and online, et cetera. So that’s very, very cool. Well, we should talk more about that, for sure. On a side note there. So what do you look for when you’re connecting brands? You mentioned a few different, DJ Khaled and Amanda Cerny.
Dan Fleyshman: So I like to look at category fits. Like inside of my office, which is just two blocks from here, we’ve built a full-fledged gym because we work with mostly fitness influencers. I say mostly, but half of them are fitness influencers in the beauty makeup space, the fitness space, food space. So we have these protein brands and CBD brands that we’re doing campaigns for. So I like to do niche influencers for certain categories. I like to do influencers that really focus on an overarching category. So somebody might be in the fitness and health space, but it still applies to CBD or still applies to supplements or still applies to food. Doesn’t mean that they have to be a beauty influencer to beauty. Does that make sense?
Kara Goldin: Yep.
Dan Fleyshman: There are some beauty influencers that are fantastic for food products just because the people still want to live their lifestyle. They want to understand why that makeup artist drinks that or eats that. Why did they drink Hint water and that? So some people, I’ll call lifestyle influencers, even if they’re a niche. Separate from that, we do mass appeal ones. Some influencers just have 2.4 million followers. They’re not in niche. They’re not necessarily the funny one, or they’re not necessarily just the good-looking one. They’re not necessarily just one thing. And so some of those are just for mass awareness. Those I get really good prices on because a niche influencer gets way higher. So beauty and makeup influencers get here. It’s not close. The next closest categories, fitness. But this is a big gap. The gap is humongous. Beauty and makeup influencers get more than anybody. Not close.
Then you start to get into the mom category. The moms do so well. I mean, they are so good because they’re so authentic. And the reason that beauty influencers do the best is because they start their videos without their makeup on and people feel like they trust them. It’s not the perfect photo. It’s not the perfect image. The boys or girls that are doing the makeup videos they are doing so bare face, this is me.
Kara Goldin: Authentic.
Dan Fleyshman: I just woke up. So that breaks the barrier for people that are watching them. They feel like they know them. Same with the moms. The moms are showing you, they got two kids running around. They still have their busy life. They’re the business woman. But then the kid throws the table over and Cheerios around the floor. That is relatable. The perfect glamor photo is not.
Kara Goldin: I totally get it. I mean, it’s aspirational, too. So it’s interesting. I think the challenge with beverages overall is that so many people believe that they’re paid endorsement deals. And so you look at… For some reason, I don’t think beauty necessarily has that same kind of feeling in the mind of the consumer. I don’t know why, but I think it still is… There’s a learning in there often with the videos like you mentioned or I think fitness is kind of the same thing. It’s interesting. It’s always sort of stumped me on the beverage side of the world exactly how does it vary and what are the right influencers for different categories. That’s really interesting. So you talk about, well, I should say, as entrepreneurs we are constantly learning, right?
Dan Fleyshman: Non-stop.
Kara Goldin: And you talked a little bit about your journey. How would you describe your philosophy on learning?
Dan Fleyshman: So I try to learn from high, medium and low, meaning I want to learn from Kara, right? I want to learn from the CEO of Hint Water. But I also want to learn from people that are just the executive there that they live and breathe the space. They’re the category manager for retail. I want to learn from them. But I also want to learn from the consumer. I want to learn from the customer and why. So a lot of times I would go into stores, whether it was a beverage product or any brand I’m working on, and I want to see the customer, what they do and why.
Kara Goldin: Totally.
Dan Fleyshman: The same thing on social media. I look at the comments because I want to understand why. Like when somebody posts them, I’m doing a campaign for a haircare brand and Kylie Jenner says, “Blah, blah, blah. I love this hair care brand.” I go and look at the comments because I want to understand. Are they yelling at her? Do they love it? Are they obsessed? Are they asking questions? Do they want this haircare? Do they hate it? Do they think it’s a paid ad? I really want to learn from them in between asking what does the agency think? What did her marketing department think? What did the brand think? So I’m constantly learning from everybody. I want to high, medium, low. It doesn’t matter where they’re coming from. I want to learn at all costs. That’s why I go to many events. I speak at so many events because I sit there and learn from the people that I… I want to learn.
Kara Goldin: Totally. Yeah. And even though you’re running the agency, it sounds like you’re still hands-on. You’ve got a team of people but you’re still in there.
Dan Fleyshman: Every client is run on a group chat, every campaign is run in the group chat, and we hand-to-hand combat texts with every influencer.
Kara Goldin: That’s awesome.
Dan Fleyshman: We are just very hands-on.
Kara Goldin: So do you take comments down if people are…
Dan Fleyshman: Yes, so… Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off. I am a very strict role. Don’t feed the trolls. So what happens is if Hint water donated $1 million today, there would be people commenting, “Well, they could’ve done it at 1.1 million.”
Kara Goldin: Totally. And we’ve had that.
Dan Fleyshman: Yeah. “Oh, Jeff Basal donates $10 billion. That’s nothing to him.”
Kara Goldin: Yeah, what’s the point, right?
Dan Fleyshman: He has other categories he donates to and he can keep donating. That’s just the amount he chose for today. “Oh, he donated a couple million to the Australia wildfires. That’s like 4 cents to human.” He’s not obligated to donate the Australia wildfires. He’s doing it willingly and he might turn around to do a bigger check the next day. The trolls will always demonize you and there is no changing their mind because they’re preset to just want you to feed them. And the feeding is responding because even if you argue a valid point, “Well, hey, I donated $1 million and it did this and this and this.” Your common sense is irrational to them. They’re never ever, ever, ever going to change their mind about it. So I always just tell people to block and delete. They just delete from the earth. You never hear from them again.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, I totally agree with you. I’m very active on Twitter. I would say that it’s a small percentage, but every once in a while there’s somebody that comes in there and, oftentimes, I don’t necessarily see it coming. I’m just trying to have a conversation, bring them into our community, ask a question, or answer a question that they have. And it’s really interesting. Like I said, it’s very rare. But I also think that there’s a power of a community and a trust that your audience is building up with you, too, that I now find I don’t even ask for help along the way, but there’s a whole lot of people and they don’t necessarily work for Hint that are coming in and being like, “Hey, get out of here.”
Right. And it’s just like in real life, and I’m sure it’s the same thing. It’s like, “Look if you don’t want to be here, if you’re being negative, go away.”
Dan Fleyshman: Unfollow them is right there.
Kara Goldin: I mean it sort of gives me hope for humanity in a way that they’ve never met me in person yet they’re like, “She’s nice, she’s cool, she’s just doing her thing.” Whatever. So I think it’s great. So let’s talk about passion and some of the… I’m really focused right now on a clean water initiative that I’m going to be hopefully launching in Congress actually this spring to clean up our water supply. And it ends up that only, much to my surprise, I learned last year that only 30 states actually test for lead in water. And of those states, 30 out of 50 states test for lead in water. And of those states, there are no repercussions if they don’t actually, even those 30 actually don’t test.
And so many people are saying that a lot of the problems with the water supply has to do with the pipes. And so it’s too expensive to fix the pipes. So people just start ignoring the issue. And so the average consumer thinks that somebody’s watching. The EPA is watching. We saw what happened in Flint, Michigan, and then Detroit is really bad. And then most recently Newark. And so I’m actually working with some Congresspeople and hoping to draft a bill by the end of this month that will actually take this to Congress to make mandatory testing in all 50 states. And we’re going to start with schools. And if they don’t actually test for a lead in schools, then they could actually get education funds held back, which is exciting. It’s a little scary and we’ll see what happens with this current administration and how far we can get it.
I’ve learned a ton about water along the way. And my focus has been on helping people to drink better tasting water with no sugar, no sweeteners in it. But through that process, I’ve learned a lot about lead and PFAS and arsenic and lots of stuff that is in the water that we remove before bottling our product. So I really believe that entrepreneurs stumble, in my case, stumble into finding problems that are kind of bigger problems beyond even your company. And I think that people should actually jump in and try and fix a problem. So this is what you have done in my mind with Model Citizen Fund. Tell us a little bit about that.
Dan Fleyshman: So eight years ago I realized that I couldn’t go raise billions of dollars and that’s not me. So I wanted to figure out something that I could have a true cause and effect and people could see it right away. And so I started to focus on homelessness. So I spent five months interviewing homeless people in different cities: San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Riverside, just random towns on the West coast. And I would ask them first if I could film them, otherwise, if they didn’t, that’s fine. And I didn’t post any of it. I just wanted to film so I can analyze. And I had a group of friends that would just go through and say, “Okay, what do they keep asking for?”
And so that’s how we came up with the 150 items that go into our backpacks. The backpack itself was a big deal for them because they were often getting plastic bags or trash bags or brown paper bags that would fade away. And so they just didn’t have a good carrying case. So the backpack was the main focus for us. And so it’s about half food and water out of the 150 items. And then about a third of it’s cleaning supplies for their hands. Again, these are things that are not going to change their lives forever. There are some items inside that they could actually utilize full-time. There are sleeping bags, poncho, watch, some things that will last them a lot longer.
And then certain things to help them keep moving afterwards. There are books, prepaid debit cards. I want to add cell phones, like prepaid cell phones at some point. It’s all self-funded. So people are allowed to donate, but it’s 100% charity, meaning I cover all staff, all overhead, all marketing, all expenses, forever; the last eight years and for the next, as long as I’m alive.
So we will always be a 100% charity, which was a big focus for me. And I really don’t ask via social ever people to donate. I ask them to replicate. You don’t need me to make a backpack with 150 items inside. You can make a bag in your hometown with 30 items or 40 items, 200 items, whatever you want. I just want people to do the same thing I’m doing in their towns anywhere in the world. To make a bag with 10 items or 30 or 50.
Kara Goldin: Have you seen people do that?
Dan Fleyshman: Oh yeah.
Kara Goldin: That’s awesome. So you started…
Dan Fleyshman: A mini-movement.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, I mean that’s amazing.
Dan Fleyshman: I tried to do it so they can see how easy it is. What I’m doing is not rocket science. I’m just able to get those 150 items really, really inexpensive, because our warehouse, they’re the largest supplier, small goods in America. That’s how I found them. And since then I’ve said I do all my business through them. Everything’s been great. But it all started with me going to them eight years ago saying, “Hey, you’re the largest supplier of small goods in America. I need all the small goods you got to give to the homeless people.”
And so I didn’t realize that the number one most requested items is socks. The number two most requested item wasn’t even on our list of 150 items, is duct tape. All of these military events, all these homeless people kept saying duct tape. Wasn’t even in our radar. And it’s just what they fixed. It’s how they fix their clothes. How they fix their stuff. How they fix their bags. It’s just there that little fixer upper. It’s their little magic.
Kara Goldin: So who makes duck tape?
Dan Fleyshman: I don’t know. I don’t even know the brand.
Kara Goldin: Is it 3M?
Dan Fleyshman: Yeah, probably.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So 3M, if you’re listening, donate a lot of duct tape. That’s awesome.
Dan Fleyshman: So, yeah, so we have a roll of duct tape in every bag. And then certain brands will send us stuff in and out, but mostly, out of the 150 items, I’m just buying them at super, super wholesale prices.
Kara Goldin: That’s great.
Dan Fleyshman: And then so what happens is we go give it out in San Diego, LA, Vegas, all of our West Coast cities, but then we’ll ship it to women abuse shelters, teen abuse shelters, and orphanages around the world.
Kara Goldin: I love it.
Dan Fleyshman: Yeah. We try to keep it very simple and straight forward. We can ship it in backpacks to their homes or their offices. They can go give it out with their staff. Or just tell us a city or town or just let us go do it ourselves.
Kara Goldin: Have you heard back from people that have received these backpacks?
Dan Fleyshman: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
Kara Goldin: I bet. And how great does that make you-
Dan Fleyshman: I love seeing it, like three weeks later or three months later or a year later, just seeing them with the backpack.
Kara Goldin: I love it.
Dan Fleyshman: I want to actually figure out a color for the backpack to make a brand from it so that it’s easier for everybody to recognize. They go, “Oh, there’s the Model Citizen backpacks.”
Kara Goldin: I love it. That’s super great. So what’s one thing you love to talk about but people never ask you?
Dan Fleyshman: Gosh, I think it’s also just why I do all my stuff for free. Like all my events are free. All my charities. My big focus is like it’s 100% charity. My events are 100% free. Me charging for my events, the difference wouldn’t change my life. And so I don’t want people to go to my events based on a hundred dollars ticket price or 500 bucks or 1000 bucks. I want them to go to learn network, et cetera. Well, that starts to really make the people around me wonder, “You’re spending six figures a year to keep these events free. You’re spending six figures a year to keep your charity free. This is going to start to compound a lot the more and more and more events you do. What are you going to do at scale?” I’m always going to keep those parts of my life free no matter how expensive it is because I know stuff happens from it.
I don’t have an exact ROI. I don’t have an ask. There’s no sponsors, no ticket sales, there’s no…
Kara Goldin: The more you’re out there, the more you’re giving back.
Dan Fleyshman: I know stuff’s happening.
Kara Goldin: Totally. I agree.
Dan Fleyshman: Whether it happens for me or not, I don’t really care. I know stuff is going to happen around me in my world, but I’ve seen so many companies get funded from my events. I’ve seen so many people their life changes or they get so excited about going out and giving out backpacks. I see so many people meet and ended up dating, getting married from my events, or business married, they invest in their company and they become business married for years. So many things happen from them that, to me, it’s worth the expense and the efforts and the time to throw all these events and deal with this charity stuff because I just know so much stuff happens and I think the butterfly effect is what I care about. I think that people replicating all this stuff is what I care about.
Kara Goldin: I think that the more you get out there too, and you talk about these things and people absorb it. You’re helping so many people. So that’s amazing. So what would you tell your 17-year-old self now? The person who’s like getting in the car, going down to San Diego. I’m sure you had some scary times. You had some great times too, but…
Dan Fleyshman: Sign contracts with everyone, including your mom.
Kara Goldin: Interesting.
Dan Fleyshman: And when I say contract, I’m not going to see my mom. She’s one of… Not one of, she is my biggest fan and supporter. But the point is making just a memorandum of understanding or a scope of work. So if your mom, when you’re 14 says, “Okay, go do these chores.” And in your mind, you think, “If I go do these chores, she’s going to give me 20 bucks.” But there’s no clarity on it or when it’s going to happen. So I’m the little 14-year-old boy. I go do my chores. Friday comes around. I’m hoping for 20 bucks. She doesn’t hand it to me. I don’t ask her. Monday comes around three days later. I now resent her. She didn’t give me 20 bucks. She would have, she just didn’t know. She didn’t know that’s what-
Kara Goldin: So understand the expectations in there. I think that’s really, really awesome. So I always ask two other questions. So what’s your favorite Hint flavor?
Dan Fleyshman: Well, I like this.
Kara Goldin: The pineapple?
Dan Fleyshman: Yeah, the pineapple one.
Kara Goldin: Awesome. Yeah, that’s great. And what makes you unstoppable?
Dan Fleyshman: I’m relentless. I work day and night. I don’t mind failure. I’m not ashamed of anything. I expect failure because I try to do so many things. So how can you stop me if I’m not?
Kara Goldin: I think you’re fearless too. You don’t have this idea of I can’t go into the clothing industry, because I’ve never been in clothing, or fashion, or whatever, or beverages, or influencers. I mean, you’re appreciating and embracing the journey, which I think is awesome. Super, super great. So where do people find you?
Dan Fleyshman: So all my social media is all the same. It’s just @danfleyshman. And that’s an important thing that your social media accounts for your business or personal should always be the same social media handle. So it’s easier for people to find you.
Kara Goldin: Agreed. Absolutely agree. So where are you most active on?
Dan Fleyshman: Instagram is my home base. I make most of my content for Instagram and then I repurpose it on the different platforms.
Kara Goldin: On the other things. That’s awesome. Great. Very cool.
Dan Fleyshman: My pleasure.
Kara Goldin: Well, thanks so much, Dan.
Dan Fleyshman: Thank you for having me. It’s great.
Kara Goldin: Thanks.
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