30: Rich Barton On Global Entrepreneurship – From Waiting On Tables To Pitching Expedia To Bill Gates

December 29, 2017

FYS 30 | Global Entrepreneurship

Because his parents set an important example about work ethics, Rich Barton became focused on work and businesses and grew up doing odds and ends jobs like being an ice cream truck driver and a waiter. Even in college, he started an exterior house painting company. After graduating in college, Rich started working for Microsoft at a time the internet was just about to make a boom. He knew the connectivity to information that the internet offered was going to change the world; not just entertainment but global entrepreneurship like shopping and travel. Learn why failing to win makes you creative and how his constant setting of big goals for himself led to pitching Expedia to Bill Gates.

I’m so stoked because we’ve got a rock star of a guest on. Not that all of the other ones aren’t but this guy, talk about achievement, his name is Rich Barton. Rich Barton is the Founder of Expedia and also the Founder of Zillow, another one that’s gone crazy. In addition to all of that, he is on the Board of Netflix, Artsy, Nextdoor and a bunch of other ones. What a spectacular life this guy has had. His adversity so to speak, it’s all relevant to who you’re talking to and what their situation is but certainly, building these different companies is not easy, but he did it and he has done it and continues to do it. It was very fun to talk with him, very engaging, very warm guy, very smart. Bottom line is I learned a lot and I just get really jacked up talking to these types of guys. Rich Barton is on the pod. As always, go and rate and review. If you want to find out any more info on what I’m up to, you can go to MarkPattisonNFL.com. We appreciate love with going into iTunes and it really helps out in terms of overall exposure. With that, let’s get on to Rich.

As always, go in, rate and review on iTunes, Finding Your Summit. If you want to find out any more info on me, you can find me at MarkPattisonNFL.com. The podcast has continued to grow and I’m very appreciative of that. Without further ado, let’s talk to Charles, The Captain.

Listen to the podcast here:

Rich Barton On Global Entrepreneurship – From Waiting On Tables To Pitching Expedia To Bill Gates 

I’m very privileged to have a guy I met at our common buddy’s house Tom Owens. His name is Rich Barton. Rich, how are you doing?

I’m doing great, Mark. Thanks for having me on.

I was really intrigued and for those who don’t know who Rich is, Rich has had quite a resume in terms of accomplishment. In the past, he was a former Microsoft guy, Founder of Expedia, Founder of Zillow, on the Board of many companies, Netflix to name a few. Let’s start back Rich with I want to try to track and trace where this whole entrepreneurial spirit came on your end. You grew up on the East Coast, I believe, right?

I did. I went to high school in Connecticut outside of New York City, a New York City suburb.

Growing up, were you doing odds and ends jobs? Were you the guy coming up with some popcorn stand that you wanted to blow out and franchise? Where did that thing kick in?

I was always focused on work and businesses. I started caddying before I was legal to work and then I was an ice cream man driving the ice cream truck around the neighborhood. I waited tables. I did a lot of jobs and then finally, when I was in college, I started an exterior house painting company and have my own painting company. Doing that, I knew that I didn’t want to go work for another College Pro painters like in a franchised operation in the area. I knew I didn’t want somebody else making a bunch of money off my sweat. I figured I could do it myself. At that point, I pretty much knew I have the entrepreneurial bug.

Did you have any mentors from the standpoint of paving the way? My grandfather was a big mentor for me. He owned restaurants and hotels in Seattle and it really paved the way for me, the vision board of where I wanted to go in my life. Was that present in your life or did you pick that up from other people along the way?

My family was really not full of entrepreneurs. My dad was a really successful man in the gray suit and brief case riding the train to a big corporate job guy, a guy out of the 50s and 60s, super successful at that. He and my mother both set a fine example of work ethic and the importance of family. In my family at least, I didn’t have an entrepreneurial mentor. I was in a closeted way, a rebellious kid. I was a pretty good kid. I didn’t get in too much trouble. I thought I was smarter than most people and I didn’t like people telling me what to do. I wanted to stick it to the man.

Just a renegade out there “I’m going to do it my way or the highway.”

In a very constrained New Canaan, Connecticut way. The playground that I was playing in was not a place luckily for me, that I could get in too much trouble, which was a huge advantage for me relative to a lot of young people. If you’re born in the wrong color or the wrong place, you don’t have that safe place to explore rebelliousness.

FYS 30 | Global Entrepreneurship

Global Entrepreneurship: If you’re born in the wrong color or the wrong place, you don’t have that safe place to explore rebelliousness.

I do appreciate that. The more I travel around the world, the more I see that beyond just the US. Now, you do your formative years on the East Coast in Connecticut and then you get admitted into Stanford. What choices did you have in terms of pursuing your collegiate career?

I have some choices. I’ve gotten into some other schools early on the East Coast and the Stanford application, I’ve never been out there. I’ve never seen it. I think I wanted to be an engineer though and I knew it was a great engineering school. I applied and my parents said, “If you get in, then we’ll buy a ticket for you to go take a look at it.” I got in and I went and took a look at it and it was two-feet of snow in Connecticut and freezing and the same at the other schools that I was looking at. I went out to Stanford and there were women and men and kids playing volleyball in the middle of the campus. I walked around and I remember thinking, “This is a little bit different world here.” It was something that was exciting to me.

Stanford is such a great spot. I travelled with UCLA football team and served in a mentorship for them and just so you’re up there every two years and that campus is spread out. I played there a number of different times way back in the day. You just feel like your IQ points jumps up a few notches when you’re standing on the campus.

Mark, did you go to UCLA after growing up in Seattle?

No, I actually went to the University of Washington.

I was going to riff on saying for me at least, I don’t know if rebellious is really the right word probably not, but I was definitely seeking new lands to explore. For me, getting far away from everything I knew and putting myself in a totally different situation and seeing how I did seemed exciting to me. I was drawn to that. Some people aren’t really drawn to that. I bet a lot of your podcast listeners here based on what you’ve done in your life and what you like to talk about are in fact drawn to that and that’s definitely me.

The guys that go to Stanford, obviously you have to have a high IQ to get in, you passed all the different tests, but it seems like there’s been so many incredible companies born out of the Stanford historic past. What is it? Is there something different about that to other schools across the states? Do they breed that? Is there a community that you are involved with that you just mindshare?

I think a lot of people know this but Stanford is, I would call it the beating heart of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial tech ecosystem and it goes way back. It goes back to HP and Intel and Fairchild semiconductor and then goes right through young founders who are students who founded Yahoo and Google. My co-founder of Zillow Group, Lloyd Frink, was with me at Stanford. Peter Thiel who did PayPal and several others was in my class in Stanford. Reid Hoffman was in my class at Stanford, he founded LinkedIn.

It would be easy to look at that correlation and say, “It must be because of Stanford that this is happening.” I certainly give credit to Stanford but it’s more of this ecosystem and this network of people and money and talent that all mix together in a way that reinforce each other. What it does is it creates this fertile soil where startups can grow and thrive. It’s a feedback system. The more growth and thriving and death and composting that happens, the more growth material is there. It just keeps getting better down there. I can’t imagine what would stop that from going, but I would say poor public policy and poor government actually could end up breaking that cycle of success. Here in Seattle, a place you know well, we’re doing really well at creating an ecosystem that’s much younger but growing along the same path and the same way with some incredible companies that have been founded here in Seattle like Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia and Zillow and many others.

I always call Seattle the center of the universe. People always try calling out, throw out those names around and they have a hard time competing with other companies who have done the same thing in a different city.

In a per capita basis, this must be the most business-successful city in the county if not the world. Costco as well and Boeing. It’s really quite a phenomenal entrepreneurial story out here. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we’re at the Northwest corner of the country on the frontier and it’s a bunch of frontiers’ people that settled out there.

As you were navigating your way through college, did you have a plan that, “I want to become this,” or were you just going through and you’re going to take it as it approached, your senior year, you graduate and then off you go?

I wasn’t playing football at Stanford so I wasn’t your size although that would have been fun. My dad was an engineer. He was a mechanical engineer at Duke. I always idolize my dad, I still do. I figured I wanted to be an engineer and I was good at the engineering kinds of things. While I knew I wanted to get an engineering degree, on the one hand, I also knew I wanted to have my own business. I had that suspicion as I said before. I went into it in the school with a plan to get an engineering degree, but to get one and take other classes that enabled me to learn about what it would take to be my own entrepreneur as well. In hindsight, it sounds crystal clear; our paths seemed very well thought out. It’s certainly not that well thought out while you’re going through it but I did have always planned to put those two set of tools in my toolbox in college.

In 1991, you began working for Microsoft. I assume you were recruited as many people were back in the day and you were brought up there. What group did you start working for?

I was product manager of MS-DOS 5.0.

That’s a word like a dinosaur, right?

There will be a small percentage of your listeners who didn’t know what that product is. It’s an operating system product. It was an interesting one for the main reason that it was the first time Microsoft decided to sell a retail upgrade of the operating system. I’m not sure that means anything to you but maybe it does. Basically before that, any time a new operating system came out, you had to buy a new computer to get it or you had to tear down all the software on your computer to try to install the new operating system yourself and then rebuild the whole thing, which wasn’t really very workable. We figured, “There are enough computers out there now running the last version of DOS. If we can get even 10% of them to buy an upgrade for $50, we’d have the biggest retail software product of all time because of so many computers out there.” That was the strategy going into the DOS 5.0 upgrade and it worked out even better than we anticipated. It was by far the biggest selling retail piece of software of all time probably by a factor of five or ten when we released it in 1991.

How did the whole Expedia thing come up within Microsoft? A lot of people don’t know the story from the standpoint of it was literally born out with inside the structure of Microsoft. It wasn’t something that incubated on the outside and Gates funded or something. This was actually a Microsoft company. Where did you come up with the initiative to approach Bill Gates and the others about this idea of doing the travel online?

This is probably 1994, and I had changed groups from the operating systems group over to the consumer division. I was working on consumer-oriented software products. You might remember Encarta as a multimedia CD-ROM encyclopedia. Encarta put Encyclopædia Britannica out of business, and then Wikipedia later put Encarta out of business. There is a great example of technology disruption right there. This was back in the day when Encarta-like things were happening. I was in the consumer division and I became quite enamored of the internet. The worldwide web hadn’t happened yet so there was no Netscape, there was no Mosaic. There wasn’t any web-browsing but the internet did exist as a communication protocol.

There were interesting things happening on the internet in the form of online services. You may remember AOL and CompuServe and Prodigy. That’s the environment I was in. I was pretty fascinated by the internet. I thought the internet was more interesting than the computer. I saw the computer as a productivity device and I saw the internet as a potentially life-changing entertainment and practical almost shopping tool. It’s obvious in hindsight and it actually was pretty obvious at that time too, honestly. Anybody who used AOL could actually figure out that this connectivity thing was going to change everything. I was part of that and there were not a lot of us into this thing at that point.

FYS 30 | Global Entrepreneurship

Global Entrepreneurship: I saw the computer as a productivity device and I saw the internet as a potentially life-changing entertainment and practical shopping tool.

One of the ideas in the consumer division was to do an Encarta version, a travel guide version of Encarta. Imagine a whole library of travel guides, multimedia CD-ROMs. I was put in charge among the other projects of that project. As I looked at it, I was like, “This could be cool but I don’t think we could sell many of them because travel guides are most useful when you’re traveling and there were no smart phones then. You weren’t going tote around your multimedia CD-ROM when you’re in Paris and break it out and figure out what to do and where to go in Paris. That’s impractical. I did think that an internet connected device to help you plan and purchase travel was really interesting. You remember this because we are about the same age. Before Expedia came along, booking an airline ticket and finding a hotel was a really, really painful process. Call the travel agent, you wrote down stuff, you heard the keyboard clicking. You knew she was using a computer. I was a busy business traveler and maybe I’m a little control-oriented, but I remember wanting to jump through the phone, turn the screen my way and do it myself. I knew I could do a better job.

Like so many entrepreneurs, the idea stemmed from frustration, some real-world experience that frustrated you. That was my frustration. I wanted control. I wanted to see everything myself and I knew that in the connected world where everybody had a PC connected to the internet, regular people were going to be able to do that and take that control. That was the genesis. The first product review I had for travel version of Encarta, I had it with Bill Gates. The company was still pretty small at the time. I went into the regular annual product review. I said, “Bill, I know that you really like Encarta and you really like this travel guide idea. I know it’s something you are interested in but it’s a tiny business, it’s a stupid business. However, what we can do is if we connect people to travel booking, we could build the largest seller of travel in the world if you let me.” He said yes, and that’s how Expedia started.

What was that like pitching Bill?

I guess it was intimidating. I was pretty young, I was 25 or 26 and I’m sure I was intimidated. When I arrived at the company, I’ve had maybe 3,000 people so I had enough exposure to Bill and Steve and the senior leadership at Microsoft that I didn’t lack for confidence either I guess, but I’ve had enough exposure to be comfortable. I wasn’t nervous to the point where I couldn’t speak. I’m sure it was stressful and I was pitching what I thought was a big idea. Luckily, he thought it too. I tried the logic. I did want to have my own company. I did actually try to talk him into funding me on the outside arguing that it wasn’t really going to be a Microsoft software business. It was going to be a travel business. He understood that logic and he saw some merit to it but he said, “Just start it inside the company and if it makes sense, we’ll think about spinning it up.”

That must have been a fun ride to actually take that ideation and go pitch it. They’re behind you. There’s not that many companies it seemed like in those days that they were rolling out big companies within the company. Like you said, it didn’t fall the exact structure of what Microsoft was all about.

It didn’t. It was a little different. Now when I talk about it to business school class is I call it intrapreneuring. Being an entrepreneur in a big company. I think a lot of people are sitting inside the big companies in frustrated way caused by the bureaucracy feeling like they’re not supported and they can’t do anything and wanting to start their own thing. My argument is, “You can do it right where you are. You can hoist the pirate flag a little bit, no need to be obnoxious. Have a big idea, draw a team of really good people to you and make it happen inside.

Another guy, a co-worker with you, a partner in crime, Richard Bangs is a guy I had on the podcast. Just a great guy and he’s really turned a travel career with all of his videos.

He founded Mountain Travel Sobek. He is one of the first real adventurer that I met face to face.

Just a total pioneer of going down hundreds of unchartered territories of river rafting. You take Expedia, you blow it up, it goes public, you spin it out, and you are the CEO of Expedia for a number of years and then you decide to step away. Why was that?

It was a transaction situation. As we grew Expedia inside of Microsoft and it was pretty successful though the web was small. My last couple of years there, I worked for Steve Ballmer directly and I asked him for $100 million to spend on TV advertising. This was in 1999. I don’t think Microsoft Corporation as a whole spent $100 million in TV advertising. He said, “We don’t do that. Get out of here.” I said, “Maybe we should spin it out because the whole world is going public.” This was 1999, Pets.com went public in 1999 and I’m like, “We can spin this out. We can take it public because the public markets will give me a $100 million.” He is like, “All right. Let’s give it a shot.” Steve and Bill and Greg Maffei who was CFO at that time were super supportive of me doing that and that was quite an experience. I was 32 years old, we had a team of 150 people, and we carved it out of Microsoft and do an IPO. We moved out to television advertising and the grander marketing plan worked really well against the better product. We kept growing and we went from half the size of the number one player to twice the size within eighteen months. That worked out well.

Then there came a time when because we are a public company, if somebody wants to come and buy you, you have to listen. We had a very well-known media mogul named Barry Diller who had a big interactive media company called IAC, Interactive Corp. In 2002 or 2003, he made a huge offer to buy the company. It was an offer that as a public company, we couldn’t say no to. At that point, we went private and we were purchased by IAC. That was when I decided to move on and do some other things.

At that point, I’m putting words into your mouth, but did you take a year sabbatical?

I did. I took a year off and my wife, she is an OB-GYN and she had to clean up her patient backlog and we took a sabbatical. We moved our three little kids and ourselves to Italy for a year.

What was that like?

Super fun.

What part of Italy did you go to?

We lived in Florence. Those people know how to live. They really do. They got their priorities right.

Just a great art community as well.

Art, food and cycling. Our mutual friend, Tom Owens, he talks about the culture of the table incessantly at times. I believe it and they’ve got that right.

You take a year off and now it’s time to get back to reality so to speak.

I was hoping to find my inner artist or poet. It was a good learning experience. I did all those things. I took art class. I took up road biking and met a bunch of Italian guys. It was fun. I did discover that I derive a lot of jollies from creating companies and businesses and running them.

I’ll tell you something from my standpoint and I saw this happen with my grandfather in particular. He was the one that was very entrepreneurial, but I will never, ever, ever retire. If people want to retire, that’s cool but just for me, it just keeps the motor going. It keeps the brain fresh. It keep you energize. It gives you reason to get out of bed every morning. Retirement sounds great but once you head in that direction, I’m not saying that you’re retired, but you just want to get things going again and you’re still young. You’ve got a lot of ideas. Is this where the idea of Zillow came up?

[Tweet “The happiness equation = something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.”]

That’s right. I totally agree with you. I don’t necessarily put it in terms of retiring but I think the happiness equation is something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for. Any one of those three likes of the happiness equation, any one of them is not working, you’re not happy. Working for me is the something to do and I personally really enjoy it. My wife’s dad had some health issues and we moved back to the States and we happen to be shopping for a new house because we were moving back and our family had grown. It was during that shopping for a new house experience that I had another one of these, in hindsight, very obvious head slapping experiences being very frustrated trying to find basic information about shopping for a home. What are the past transactions? What are the comparables? What are the pictures? What’s the address? What’s the listing? What’s the price?

The year was probably 2004 or 2005. The web had been around for ten years at that point and I couldn’t believe that the web hadn’t democratized access to information about real estate. My partner, Lloyd Frink, and I, he was in the same situation. He was post Expedia and shopping for a home. We were sharing an office and we had this experience together and we were like, “This has got to change,” and that’s where Zillow was born.

It’s incredible and so many of the great ideas or the ideas that just have fine tuned improvement. You didn’t invent the real estate market obviously. If you went to a real estate office, you could get a lot of that information. Going back to getting it on a ground scale, you could be researching in Sun Valley, Idaho to some place in Florence to Seattle. You can get that real-time info of exactly comps and what houses are for sale and everything else is right under your nose. You just did the obvious and exposed it.

Power to the people, we call that.

That’s what happened. The name of this podcast is called Finding Your Summit and I think it’s relative to everybody’s situation. Some people I’ve talked to they have no arms and legs and climbed up these crazy mountains. There was obviously a lot of adversity they’d have to come over. I think there’s also another segment in terms of taking a company from zero to just the idea, how are you going to fund it, moving people through human resources, all the things that play into it. There’s one thing I found that I think you came with which just really falls in line with what I think we’re talking about, which is you came up with this quote called, “To create a great environment where failing to achieve is okay.” Whether you came up with that or not, I’m going to claim that was yours. I assume that you would endorse that. There’s just so many companies that have people running scared going to different directions if they’re not aligned with CEO all the way down in terms of the way they view the world to make that company great.

As you were speaking, I’m thinking I’ve always been into sports myself, a couple of my kids are good athletes. I have a senior in high school, Will, who is a soccer player. I think the same holds for a coach and a team with players. If there’s a coach, which Will had a coach a couple of years ago, who was so imposing and so fear-inducing that the kids were afraid to be creative and they’re afraid to fail. When the players are afraid to fail, they’re not being creative. They’re not trying new things. They’re not taking chances because they think they’re going to get pulled off and yelled at or whatever. I think that same thing holds in business. As soon as he got a coach that let him be creative, he really blossomed. I feel that the same way about growing a company.

So fail to win, in the context of what you’re talking about. I had a high school coach when I was playing football at Roosevelt in Seattle. He just basically let me go do whatever I want to do within the structure of, “Stay within the lines, but you can do whatever you want within those lines.” It just gives you all the confidence in the world. If you screw up or whatever, you know you’re not going to get yanked. Over time, it just breeds confidence. I’ve always said, “Make your weakest link the strongest and you’ll have a strong team.” You can’t go unless everybody is pulling and you need to give confidence to everybody on that team. That’s a great way to do it and there are not too many coaches who get that because the outcome of winning is too important beyond the development of the individual.

I actually think our coach here in Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll, is a great example of a guy who’s fostered a very collegial support. These guys want to play for him. He may not be the smartest coach, he may not have actually the most talented individual players, he may not, but they’re a team. They’re creative and they have their own personalities and the coach supports that.

There’s another acronym that I found that I think you invented and by the way, I’m going to credit you too with the inventor or the founder of the happiness factor. The three factors you mentioned. I love that. I’m in internal search for happiness and what that means. There’s another one acronym that you came up with called BHAG. Let’s talk about that.

I didn’t invent that. A guy named Jim Collins, he wrote Good to Great; Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I think nobody ever achieved greatness by aiming low. You’ve got to aim high in order to achieve great things. I believe that Big Hairy Audacious Goals in many instances are self-fulfilling. JFK in 1961, “My dream is to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth within this decade.” At the time, he issued that challenge to the country. It was a ludicrous notion. It was audacious. It was nutty and that was the initial reaction. The next day and the next week and the next month, smart people around the country sat down and thought, “If we were going to try to do that, what would we have to do in order to make that real?” Then some people started to believe that it could be done and then the very best people in the country who could come work on this were attracted to this Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Then in fact, it happened and it happened two years before the end of the decade. These things are somewhat self-fulfilling.

[Tweet “Nobody ever achieved greatness by aiming low. You’ve got to aim high.”]

I think we’re getting a little bit of that with this guy Elon Musk who is just an unbelievably inspirational guy who says we’re going to colonize Mars by 2050. We’re going to have a giant colony on Mars by 2050. We’re going have these three football field-size rockets full of people in gear that we’re sending up regularly to Mars. Is that ludicrous? I don’t know. It sounds crazy to me but a lot of people are beginning to believe it’s possible and there are a huge number of people working on it now. In business, this is the same thing. With Expedia we said, “We want to be largest seller of travel in the world by helping everyone everywhere making take better trips.” When I said that, when we founded Expedia, it was ludicrous because we were just this tiny little nothing inside of Microsoft and the travel industry was huge. Today, Expedia is the largest seller of travel in the world. These things happen. They can happen. I tell people to take big swings, set big goals.

How do you bring that down? That’s like a mission statement almost, “We’re going to become the largest online travel retail in the world.” How do you break that down to your individual employees?

Communicating something that captures their imagination and gets their heart pumping is enough. That’s what you have to do. As you’re attracting people to your expedition, climbing a mountain or building a company or putting a man on the moon, if you have something that’s inspirational, “Can you close your eyes? We’re going to stand on the top of K2. We’re going to hoist that flag and we’re going to be there. We’re going to capture that moment. Can you imagine what’s it going to feel like?” People can close their eyes and they can imagine that and then you get great people on your journey. All that you need to do is to paint a beautiful good dream, and in my case, I really like these business dreams that have to do with empowering the little guy. They are storming the best deal kinds of business ideas, where it’s giving people like my mom and my sisters and our friends the power to do something they couldn’t have done before. Be it in real estate or in travel or I’ve got a job startup called Glassdoor that it’s the same kind of transparency play on the jobs market and then others. People say, “That’s good,” but regular people should have that information. They should be in charge. They should be able to make those decisions themselves. They get motivated and inspired by that. That draws great people to the program and then great people figure it out.

Where do you find time with running the CEO of Zillow?

I’m not CEO of Zillow anymore. I was for the first five or six years. Since we went public, a really awesome guy who was with me at Expedia and was the entrepreneurial hotwire, he’s been the CEO since just before we went public. I’m the Executive Chairman.

Point is still the same, you’re also the Founder of another company called Trover which was acquired by Expedia, so I’m sure you’re not as involved in that company, but venture partner in Benchmark and Board of Directors in Netflix and in RealSelf and Nextdoor and Artsy and a bunch of stuff. How do you divide your attention in terms of giving these different companies value?

FYS 30 | Global Entrepreneurship

Global Entrepreneurship: Communicating something that captures their imagination and gets their heart pumping is enough.

I would say about half my time in my office is in inside of Zillow group, which has become a big public company now and doing really well. That’s about half my time and the rest is divided amongst those companies you mentioned and a couple others I’m not running any of these other companies. I’m a Board Director and an investor. I would say that my role at this point in my career and probably has been for a while is that I’m the coach. I work with CEOs and the leaders of these companies on the stuff that is important to the company and important to them. I coach them through when they need help.

The last thing I found that was pretty interesting, and I’m just asking what this means actually. You’re appointed on the Barack Obama Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship Board or group. I’m not sure what that was but how did that all happen?

Penny Pritzker who was the Secretary of Commerce approached me in the Obama administration, during the second term. She approached me and a few other entrepreneurs and asked us if we would help represent the United States in developing parts of the world that were just at the beginning of building entrepreneurial economies. There was a little bit of a focus on trying to export American style capitalism to poorer and maybe some Muslim countries. There was a bit of a policy agenda that underlay it. The vision was that a tech entrepreneur could be the tip of the freedom spirit. That’s a grand way of putting it. A group of us said yes and we got involved with that. We would go different places in the world and give speeches and meet with people and get entrepreneurs fired up and talk about what it takes to build an ecosystem like we have here in Seattle to build startups. That was a few years that I did that. It was a really fun few years. As the new administration came in, the program was ended. It sounds grander than it was. It wasn’t a huge chunk of my time but I did give a few speeches and I had a lot of fun with that.

Finally, what’s the next big idea? Do you have that brewing right now or you’re just sitting tight as you sit over as the mother bird, the coach, overall these companies that you’re invested in?

In my flock are companies of all different sizes. Netflix is the biggest where I’ve been on the Board for maybe fifteen years to much smaller startups. The more recent one that I’ve become heavily involved with is called Artsy. It’s in New York City and we’re building a digital marketplace for fine art globally. Every couple of years, I’ll have something new to the mix whether or not I start it or it’s an entrepreneur that I found and put some money behind. It depends. Probably it’s more of the latter these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if something else, my ever expanding group of creative people doesn’t come up with something new.

I’m very grateful to our common buddy, Thomas Owens, for putting this together. It was fun to get caught up with you and some of the other guys that were at the table that night. I wish you all the best of luck into the future. Your career has been amazing and you’ve worked at it. Like all these things, you just don’t wake up and all these great things happen. You’ve got to put the hard work in and you’ve done that. Congratulations to you.

Thanks a lot, Mark.

Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for listening to the Finding Your Summit podcast. We are so glad to have you on to this journey. If you enjoyed the show, please tell a friend, share it on iTunes, spread it to the planet. We’re looking to broadcast this to every person that is out there because as you know everybody has their own summit that they’re going after. If you’re looking to follow my journey, you can find that through my social links on MarkPattisonNFL.com. Until the next podcast, just remember clear your eyes, full heart and remember it takes a little more to make a champion for something to happen. Thank you.  

Resources Mentioned in This Episode: