Growthpreneurs by Shanee Moret

Private Equity CEO and Tik Tok Influencer Graham Weaver

September 06, 2022 Shanee Moret Season 3 Episode 1
Growthpreneurs by Shanee Moret
Private Equity CEO and Tik Tok Influencer Graham Weaver
Show Notes Transcript

When you think of successful private equity CEO do you also think "charismatic Tik Tok influencer?" Probably not. But that's why I asked Graham Weaver, founder and managing partner of Alpine Investors, a people-driven private equity firm that invests in software and services businesses, to be on the podast. In this episode, Graham shares advice on being successful in business, content creation, and the value of self-mastery as an entrepreneur. 

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I'm here with Graham Weaver. I'm saying your last name, right? Correct. All right, cool. I originally came across Graham because he's a creator on Tik Tok. But he's not just that he's the CEO of all pine investments, right, Graham? Yeah. Alpine investments. Yep. Yeah. And so share a little bit about who you are. Because the reason why I asked you here today is I don't see many CEOs of private equity companies on Tik Tok, sharing and sharing charismatically. So you are like a unicorn. And I think that what you're doing is great, inspirational. And the advice you gave is unmatched. So just, you know, introduce yourself a little bit. Well, thank you so much. Today, I'm super excited to be here. Thanks for reaching out having me on. Yeah, so just to give you a bit of background, I basically started a private equity fund, in my dorm room in business school in about 20 years ago. And I've been running that ever since. And, and then about 10 years ago, I started teaching at Stanford Business School, teaching classes on entrepreneurship. And, and then I also started really having a thread at which we can get into on personal growth that that goes through that class, because that's an important element of it as well. And then I started to realize I was putting so much time 1000s and 1000s of hours into the content for Stanford, and having a blast doing it. And then when the pandemic hit, I started going on Tik Tok and LinkedIn and, and really enjoyed that and said, Hey, I'm gonna put my content out here, because I have the same content, I might as well try to reach a broader audience than you know, a few 100 students a year at Stanford. And it's, it's been really, really fun. And as you know, it can also be very humbling, because people say all kinds of crazy stuff in the comments. But as long as you have a tiny bit of thick skin, which I'm not sure I do, but it's still really it's been a blast. I think you have the skill set, or like, you know, you know, which criticism to take in which criticism to just leave on the table, especially like people, it's lighter on LinkedIn, people on tick tock can be savage, they'll just say, Yeah, I've had people say, You're everything that's wrong with this country, you know, gosh. And one of the first posts I did was basically taking the other side of crypto, you know, saying, Hey, I, I'm not sure that crypto has a lot of intrinsic value. And if it does, I don't think anyone in the world can calculate what it is. I would be really careful. I made some analogies to the.com crash, even the tulip bulb mania, and that got me so much hate, because there's a lot I didn't realize how much energy people have for crypto. So yeah, some of those people were pretty ruthless. Well, that's the original video I saw and it may have gotten you hate, but it got you at least one fan. Because when I watched it, everyone is saying how sure they are everything. And you're the only piece of content that I came across in that time. That was like, we just don't know, like, you can't predict the future and how you, you know, did the analogy and the comparison to the.com list and how it was basically impossible to know who to bet on at that time. And you know, the competitors group, it was just crazy. I was like, Whoa, who is this person? Because they really know what they're talking about. And that actually that post tend not to be very pressured. Because I think that when I posted that crypto, was it like 60,000 or 50,000. And it's come out, you know, it's obviously come down quite a bit. Not that I was I didn't really predict it was crashing, I just said, What the heck are people buying it for? Yeah, it shows that you know what you're talking about. But so you started the this fund in your dorm room? How did you get the idea to start it, like what inspired you to start the fun to begin with? So I show up at business school, and I've worked typically business school students work about four to five years before they show up to schools in between their undergrad and business school. So I, I've worked on Wall Street, and which is another story we can talk about. But I showed up and I sat down in the first year, you take a bunch of core classes, and one of the core classes this this guy gets up in front and he's he's about 25 He's never worked before. He's a PhD like student and he starts reading out of a strategy book and I thought oh, no, what did I do? What am I signed up for? So I thought I want to I want to see during school I want to I want to actually see if I could try to try to buy a business and and and it was a crazy idea. But little by little, you know, started reaching out to companies and found one that was willing to sell and then of course, I had to go raise the money after that. And I didn't have any. And so it was, it was a whole adventure, but we got it done. And that was kind of the beginning of of Alpine. That's amazing. So you got the idea to buy business. And then they're like, yeah, we'll sell and then you went and got the money. Yeah. So the when he got the money part was hard. And the way that I went and got the money was it was almost all debt. So I had all these bank meetings. And then I had like asset backed loans. I had the seller had a loan, like what's called seller paper that he took some of the purchase price in a loan, and then, and then I had subordinated debt. So it was a lot of debt. And then the equity was really small. It was a couple $100,000. And I didn't have that either. So I had some friends and family, and then my contribution I put on my credit cards back then you could you could literally you would literally get these things in the mail that would say, you know, write yourself a check for $50,000 and pay no interest for a year. And I was like, okay, so that was that was how I funded my equity, which by the way, I highly don't recommend to any of your listeners. So that is not investment advice. That is just happened to be how I started. Yeah, that's not any financial advice. But it goes to show like how you were just willing to make it happen. And, you know, in the back conversation, you were talking about grit, and we're talking about on entrepreneurship. And you teach an entrepreneurship class at Stanford, right? I do. Yes. So my question because it's, for me, I kind of became an accidental entrepreneur, right? It just happened accidentally. And it's definitely been highs, lows, challenges and emotional journey of personal growth really, right and personal excellence. And so do you believe that you can really become an entrepreneur in the classroom? Like, just from what you've seen? Yeah, it's a good question. I mean, there's this, I think there's this premise that entrepreneurs are born not made, you know, that you you either have it or you don't, and I don't, I don't believe that. I mean, I have just, we've invested in over 300 companies, and I've gotten to meet all these different entrepreneurs, and they're very different. And the thing that you have to be this six foot three charismatic person is just not true. You know, there's, like Graham, there's all kinds of different different entrepreneurs, and, and then what so what can be taught in the classroom are like, just some fundamental frameworks, around hiring, firing, selling, more, you know, marketing, bills, building, building a team, things like that those things can be taught, I think there are some best practices. But you know, what, the other thing that can be taught that I tried to do is I tried to bring in a whole bunch of different guests that are doing all kinds of different things. And some of them started a business with with nothing, some of them bought a company, some of them, you know, had very little background, some of them had known they want to do it their whole life. And the idea is that the students can see themselves in several of the guests and realize, hey, you know, this person doesn't have superpowers, they, you know, very much like you and me, they just kind of started, you know, they just got after it and, and then the students could maybe dispel some of the myths about being an entrepreneur. So even though I'm not going to teach, you know, you're not going to start your business in my class, per se, but, but if I can, if I can get entrepreneurs to realize that the bar is probably lower than they think that they're actually capable of doing it, and they can, they can kind of overcome some of that fear, then, you know, it's a big win. So it's kind of like the mindset and I totally, I totally see, like the benefit of that, because I think that I would have gotten results faster had I had those, like, mindset principles taught but like, if you have to learn something the hard way, it takes longer, right? So when do you know that a student is? Do you ever know that your student a student will leave the class and probably be a successful entrepreneur? Like what have been some indicators? Well, you know, the students don't show up to class. No, they don't, they're probably not really starting it full time then. But But, but like, when the students enter Stanford, they write an essay and it says, you know, what matters to me most and why, and most of them in my class have their goal is to start a business or to buy a company or be a leader. That's what they tell me at the beginning of class that they want to do. And, and then my job is to really work with them on there. Like really spelling that out what let's get clear about what that thing is that you want to do. And then let's, here's the most important part. Let's talk about what's going to get in the way of that, you know, what are your fears? What are you worried about? What's the worst case How do we work backwards to make the worst case a little better? Something you could live with? How do you how do we give you some, some runway. And that's I spent a lot of time in the class doing that, so that students can kind of see themselves see a path to being an entrepreneur, because a lot of them, a lot of them just don't see that. So. So that's a lot of what we spend time on in class. Awesome. And as an investor, you come across a lot of founders. And I know that there has to be a weight to the founder. So let's just say that you want to you see a business, it's in a great market has a great business model. How significant is the founder and your decision to invest in that business? So I'm going to, it's funny, there's kind of two parts of that question like, I'll answer I'll, I'll say this, I'll and I'll put your question slightly differently, which is, how important is the management team to the success of the business? In my view, it's the single most important thing. The the the leader and leadership team, for me is the single most important investment decision we make. So much so that we built our whole firm around that single premise. So we, we bring in our own management teams, we train them from right out of MBA programs. And like that, that's the fundamental foundation of our whole investment strategy. And I think that that's something that a lot of investors really underweight because it doesn't fit nicely in a spreadsheet. You can't run data analyses on it. It is somewhat subjective, although we try to make it as scientific as we can. But but a lot of people say, Yeah, you know, management's important. Yeah, it sounds important that that if you actually look at what they do, where they spend their time, you know, they're focused on all the financial metrics, but for us, I think it's the single most important thing. So what what are some indicators that you're dealing with a great team? Like, how do you how do you vet that? Yeah, good question. So I think one of the things that we believe to be true that not that many people agree with us on is that the attributes of someone matter more than their experience. So experience is kind of obvious, okay, we're going to invest in a company that, you know, is a healthcare company in the software business and this software field. And so then we need someone who's been in software for 20 years, and they've run healthcare software company that's kind of experienced, that's again, that's what most when most people would be looking for that CEO, that's what they would be looking for, what we what we believe is that the attributes of someone are actually way more important. So who someone is is more important than what they've done. So we're going to be looking for things like, do they have grit? You know, and have they demonstrated persistence in their life? Are they people who have emotional intelligence? Is this someone that you could see, you know, that would inspire followership? Is this someone that people would want to go work for? Those are really our most important criteria. And we've found over time, that those criteria are way more correlated to successful leaders then than the experience, they start below the person with experience. So they're going to start off in the first year, they're going to be worse, because there's a big learning curve, but then after probably a year, certainly after 18 months or two years, they just pass that experience person who may not have those attributes. And then they just keep going from there. So that's kind of how we assess leadership. Yeah, so their value, their initial values, their attributes, and like, as their skill sets catch up, they just their value compounds, kind of like as a synergy. Yeah, that you can you can teach someone, the health care business, it's hard to teach them grit, it's hard to teach them the will to win. It's hard to teach those kinds of things. So we want to find people that score really high on those attributes, and then they can learn the business itself over time. I think that's incredible for you know, you know, founders and their teams to even listen to because I think that, especially when they're looking for investment, a lot of the other firms are so financially driven that they're, they really don't highlight their team. So what advice could you give a founder and their team when they're looking for an investment to kind of differentiate as a team? You know, I read I read this book a long time ago, when I was raising Alpine and I was having no success at all. You know, I had, I had very little track record and I was trying to promote my little dorm room track record that was like my pitch. And this book said, People buy the salesperson, not the product. And I remember thinking, Whoa, so in my case, the product was effectively was my track record, which really wasn't that impressive. And then the salesperson was me. And so I really shifted to kind of start to sell more of myself meaning like, here's my vision, here's how I'm gonna approach it. Here's some ways of approach challenges I've had in my life in the past. And that was how I was able to get the first fundraise. And that's something we actually teach in my class is like, okay, let's say you are raising money for venture fund a venture for venture investment in your company, let's actually talk about how you sell yourself. And we have this process where you make a list of, we call it an offense deck, which here's the key things you want to be hitting about yourself. And we have a defense deck, which is like, here's the reasons they're not going to invest, that you've got to, like, present and actually be on your front foot about those. And, and I think, I think it's okay for the defense deck is the thing that probably entrepreneurs miss, they forget that they actually want to talk about the reasons why someone's not going to invest. Because if they don't talk about it in the meeting, then they're just going to get the phone call and says, Hey, we didn't invest because you didn't have experience. Instead, what I want people to do is say, I know, you're probably thinking, you don't want to invest, because you don't have experience. Let me tell you why. That's not a way you should overcome that. And then they get to put their spin on it rather than have that happen, you know, behind closed doors. Yeah. Because if they don't mention it at all, it could also maybe in your perception be that they haven't even thought of this potential objection and blind spots. So why are they if they talk about it's like, oh, this person is self aware. And they understand that we're probably thinking this. Yeah, my line, I said, you're probably you're probably thinking that I'm a 25 year old who's not? Who's only bought to, to label printing companies in my dorm room, and why would you invest? And I heard that people are thinking, yeah, that is exactly what I had. So you gain a little credibility just by like, naming the elephant in the room sometimes. I love it. No, that's, it's a really powerful tip for everyone listening, I love that tip. What would you say to kind of shifting gears a little, a little bit to the small business owner, they've had, you know, steady growth, maybe 1520 years, they really are experts in what it is that they do. And personally, I think this is a pandemic, that they're not sharing what they know, and kind of helping others and selling themselves on social media, whether it be LinkedIn, tick, tock, they want to, but maybe they're a little bit hesitant. I think that you've led the way, especially like your professor at Stanford, your you know, a lot of private equity firm CEOs are not on the creating content, like, what helped you start in terms of just taking content seriously, and what advice would you give to someone in that position? Well, first, I would say I completely 100% Understand the hesitation. So I remember this, another lecturer at Stanford named David Dodson. He and I decided we were going to David's been teaching, I don't know, 20 years, he and I did say, we're going to make these videos for how to hire, we are gonna make these hiring videos. So Stanford takes this stuff really seriously. They have a whole continuing education. So they have like a producer. And, you know, they have a whole team and they have like, I mean, hair and makeup. prompters they do they tell prompt the whole thing, lighting and the whole thing. So we go down there, and we do our whole thing. It takes like two days. And then they're like, Okay, yeah, we'll send you the videos, we get it back. And it was horrendous. It was so bad. We were like, it was like, we speak in front of classrooms all the time. And I don't get nervous at all, but you'd like put a camera in front of us. We just rose, we were so bad. And so we went we had to like scrap it and start all over. My point is it is weird. I don't know why. But something happens. If you put a camera on that, like some people just wig out. And I think most people do. And I did for sure. And then even like, like when I started posting on social media, it was the same thing. It was very, like mechanical and like I was just conscious of this, this video on all the time and stuff. And it's like anything, you just you just kind of get over that pretty quickly. Just like the first time I ever taught in front of students. I was so nervous. I was so horrible. But you know, there's this expression, the only ability way out is through. So just start you know, put up five videos and by video six, you'll kind of forget that there's a camera. And so that would be kind of part one of my advice. And then part two is like just remember what your message is, you know, what's the thing that you believe to be true that maybe not that many people agree with you on? That's the famous kind of Peter Thiel question. And and then what is it? You know, what is your message that you think the world would be better if they knew? And, and you and you should feel really proud of that message and feel really, really good about sharing it. If you you know, if you have something like that, that that you that you really believe with all your soul, which I do so, you know, I share it at Stanford and I've enjoyed so far at least sharing it on social media. Yeah, I love again, I love your content, love your videos. Have you been really like, did you expect your videos to do so? So well? Like, have you like, what are the positive things that you've experienced that you really didn't expect? That kind of came from all of this? You know, people, you know, it's so funny. Like, I started putting up videos that I thought were amazing. And they would get like, they don't know where views. Yeah, exactly. And then I put up a video that was, uh, it was, it was crazy. This, I was on a walk with my wife, we were walking the dog and my buddy called, and we had just sold a company. And I was the conversation I was gonna have with him was, hey, you invest in this company. 20 years ago, you probably don't remember you put in 10 grand, I'm about to send you a check for $825,000. And this is a high school buddy, who is restaurant, I think went out of business during COVID. And this was a conversation and so my wife recorded that conversation. And I put that up. And that that one did really well. But but still wasn't like, okay, and then and then I have a couple of crypto ones. And then and then it just started kind of spiraling. And and so the in terms of what what that's done, I think it's been, I think it's been pretty. I think it's been good for my company, because like we have we have like 22 summer interns, for example, this summer. And three years ago, people were like, Hey, I'm in Alpine this is kind of a cool place. Amazing. I never heard of it before, you know what, what the heck's this and like this year, and it's not because of my blogs, but but just because of a lot of things. You know, it felt more like our brand had made some headway and had some progress. And I think people were a little bit more excited to be there. And so it, I definitely see it in tangible ways like that. And then. And then it is fun to just engage with all people in the comments and see, see what reactions that they've had as well. Yeah, and to and to learn what people want to learn, especially as a professor, like through all of their questions, you want to talk about that, like I saw the demand for maybe a future book for you, just everyone was asking you for one. So just kind of that real time, feedback is powerful. I think you nailed it to say you're learning what people want to learn. I mean, I, I take probably, like in my in a given quarter, I probably teach 200 to 100 to 200 students, depending on what quarter it is. And I probably go to Coffee with 50 of them over that maybe 60 of them during that time. And that's when I learned what the content is that they need. You know, that's when they say, Hey, here's the issue I'm having, here's what I'm not figuring out, here's the fears I have, here's why. I'm not going to go start this company, you know, here's this argument, I'm getting in with my former boss, all this kind of stuff. And then that that is really good, because it helps me kind of figure out here's, here's where this cohort of people is right now. And I got to kind of meet them there. And that you're exactly right. Shinae that's exactly what happens on on social media, too. You start to see what's going on with with folks. And and a lot of it is like, it's a lot of the same stuff people saying, you know, I I'm really not happy with my job Adel, and I'm looking for something more something better that and there's just so much demand for a path that's this just different than than what they're doing now. Yeah. And it really goes to show like how people really mean mentors, they mean, just a quick snippet of advice, and you never know how you can influence that person's decision making in a positive way. Right. And in your tick tock lives, I see so many people asking about like personal growth questions mindset. How do they get motivated? And I know that you've written a lot of blogs about personal excellence, self mastery, self discovery. When did that journey really start for you? Um, it started really, when I was really young, I used to, I used to mow lawns in Perrysburg, Ohio during the summers and it was hot. And I got a Sony Walkman. And probably most people who are listening don't even know what that is. But it was a little radio thing, right? Yeah, yeah. You put cassette tapes and it was kind of like have an iPod, you know, but 30 years ago, and, and I started listening to these personal grow, they were called, like self help tapes back then. And this one. I mean, a lot of them were amazing. But this one author named Brian Tracy, he, he would talk a lot about setting goals. And he was so passionate about setting goals. And I started really doing that. And then it was just like, bang, how immediate and how impactful that was to set goals. So that was kind of my beginning. And then I've been trying to work on things around personal development ever since. And the other big one that I had was I started using an executive coach in 2009. And that was a great catalyst for just having a little bit more perspective, carving out an hour a week, to think to decide what is it that you want out of life out of this year out of this week, out of this quarter out of this conversation, whatever that is, but what's your intention, and then getting clear on that, and then and then kind of holding accountability to that intention. So for example, if I say, I would say, okay, you know, one of my goals for my, my students this year is I really want you know, I really want to connect with him, or I want to, I want to go to more coffees with them and have more one on one time, and then actually like, mapping that out having a path to making all that come true. So those are the two kind of catalysts that set me off on this journey. But you know, that I really think that the personal journey is the real journey. You know, we express that journey through starting a company through selling things through meeting other people through conquering challenges and things like that, but but at the end of the day, you know, we're really on a quest, to, you know, with ourselves is the biggest quest we're on and, and it's the most fun quest, and it's the hardest quest, and it's, and it's the one that I probably have the most energy for, too. But people don't realize that's the real quest. It's always like, they think they're on this quest that something out there, you know, as soon as my boss does this, or my significant other does this, they don't realize that they're actually ultimately trying to just conquer themselves. Yeah, I think I think I couldn't have said it better. I mean, it is the the journey, like it's the thing. And it's true, like even the challenge of starting a business growing it, that's just a byproduct of that thing in that process. And seeing if you can get better day after day after day and get back up when you don't get better when you make certain decisions that can backtrack you how have like for the people that are aware of that, but who sometimes kind of go arrive when like, you know, they take a little left curve? How do you bounce back? How do they not like wallow and you know, punish themselves too much? How do they just get back on track after they lose momentum? Because that's hard? Yeah, I think I think that the first part of that is just realizing that that's totally normal. Like, realizing losing momentum is totally normal. Having setbacks is normal, it having failures is normal. Like, I think that, like, that's the first kind of gift I could give people is just say, It's okay, you know, like, yeah, you know, you, you have this thing that you're going to whatever you're going to work out every morning, or you're going to create a video every, every day, or whatever it is you can you and you're not doing that, like, you know, okay, that's fine. You know, you're not you're exactly that's called you and everyone else in the world who do you know, has that happened? So I think that that's kind of part one is just, it's that, that that's totally normal. And then part two would be, okay, let's kind of reset what is the, what is the thing that you are really excited about that you're trying to get done, and let's try to simplify it, you know, let's not have 10 goals, you know, let's have one. And even within that one goal, let's make sure that the thing that you're holding yourself to is something you're going to do so you can start to build a track record of success. I see more companies, more entrepreneurs, more founders fail, because they have too many priorities versus versus too few. That I mean, in fact, when I sit on a board, I've been on 5060 boards in the last 20 years and probably more than that even I always trying to get them to take 10 priorities and come back to two or one or three. And and, and so part of the people who are getting off track to go back to your original question is, have they really figured out what the one thing is that they're going to hold themselves to? Like, you know, just just keep it simple, like, I'm going to work out, you know, three times a week. That's the thing I'm going to do right now. And I'm just going to make sure I get that done. And then when you when that becomes a habit, and you have had success with that, and it's become kind of part of your identity, that I'm someone who works out three times a week, you know, then pick another one and then pick another one. But, but also, you know, keep it simple, keep it small, keep it limited to one or two. And also realize if you if you get off track a little bit, it's totally fine and totally normal. Yeah, I love that. For the founders that are tracking fives have been 25 things, how, what's the process that they can start to use to like, limit that to one or two? I mean, I say, here's a couple of different questions I have, you know, if you could, if you could only achieve one thing this year, but you knew you would get it done? And you would get it done really well. What would that be? question I always ask myself, you know, what can I and only I do that if done well have the biggest impact on Alpine. And then on the stuff to get off the list. You know, what, what is, you know, what is it? It's if it's okay, if it gets, you know, done 80%? Well, I can give to someone else? Or more importantly, what doesn't need to get done right now or need to get done at all, let alone get done? Well. And it's it's hard. The hardest part is is that is the taking stuff off the list. It really is. We I remember. So clearly, like, probably 15 years ago, we used to go up to Napa, and we'd run out this big house on this hill, we'd have this off site with at the time at Alpine we only had like 12 people, maybe not even that maybe 10 people. And we would do all this planning. And we'd have the whole, you know, the whole downstairs would be covered with all these sheets with all these goals and all this stuff. And one year, one year, one of my partners, this guy, Mike Duran said, hey, you know, we've been coming here now for six years, and we have all this fun, and we talk about these big things. And nothing happens. Like we're not this isn't going to help us at all. Like it just like, look at this stuff. We said last year, like we didn't do any of what's happening here. Yeah, he's like, um, you know, come on. And so he wrote down 1234. And he drew a line, and we had like, 20 things. And he's like, we're not leaving, like, Forget creating more ideas, we're not leaving, until we're all aligned on what these four things are. And importantly, that we're aligned that things five through 26 are not happening, you know, and that was the that was actually, the conversation. Like, that was the thing that we needed to rent a house and talk about, it was not creating more stuff, it was like, we need to draw that line, and drop numbers five through 26. So it is not easy. It's it's it's not like number five was a great idea. Like, I wish we did number five, it would have been really cool. But but we had to give ourselves permission to like, crush one through four. So that next year, maybe we'll get to, you know, five and six and seven. I love that. And I love that you're you're sharing these like stories in between, because sometimes founders feel like they're the only ones going through that. And every company as you grow has to go through that they have to just become more and more focused on the things that matter most and don't matter. How did you do that for alpine even after that, like as you've grown from your college dorm room, right? Like, from just an idea to where you are today? When did you really know that you were going to make it? And how did you get through the hard times. Um, so just a little bit of history of Alpine. I say we were but it was really me who made these mistakes. We lost money on five of our first aid deals, and we lost money on our first fund entirely. Which by the way, is horrible. Like, like, I was just gonna say that's not average. No, that's not below average. And I would highly recommend not launching an investment firm and then promptly losing money on your first fund and five year per se deals. So that's how we started. It wasn't great. And then as we started clawing our way out, we just got like smacked by the great recession. We were very poorly positioned in oh eight, like we didn't have a new fund. A lot of our businesses were cyclical and not doing that. Well. So we as we started kind of clawing our way out of for first fad fund, you know, then and we had a decent you know, we were making some headway, then we got hit by the recession. So we, you know, so now at this point, we're, uh, 10 years into starting Alpine and I'm still not even sure Alpine is gonna make it you know, at this point, because we didn't we hadn't raised a new fund and it would it would subsequently would take us five years between funds to get our next one launched. And I think I think that around this time, I was talking to a mentor of mine. And he, he basically gave me the speech that I'm kind of giving right now, which is, hey, this is normal, like this is part of the journey. And he actually sent me Abraham Lincoln's biography, which I read to students in a very condensed form, like all the failures that he went through. And it's, it's unbelievable, but at some point in in Lincoln's life, and at some point in, in a lot of your life, as you go through these things, you start to realize you're gonna get up, and you start to have this confidence that, okay, this happened, and I'm just going to keep going. And after failure, number six or seven, for Lincoln, he realized he was pretty much unstoppable. And he was just going to keep going. And I think that happens happened for me, too. At some point, after 10 years of overcoming these things, I was like, hey, nothing's going to, you know, like, I've learned about myself that I can get up the next time, and I can get up the next time. And I think it just kind of shifted my mindset a little bit. But the biggest message I could give to people that are starting a business or thinking about it is number one, it's normal to have setbacks, it's normal for it to take a long time, it will take longer than you think, a lot longer, it will not be a linear path, it'll you'll have ups and downs. And, and that you have to you have to kind of give yourself runway for that to play out. And, yes, you need financial runway. But more important is like your emotional runway, where you're like, prepared to continue on as long as it's going to take so that that that that's probably the probably the single most important correlated factor to entrepreneurs who make it or don't, I love that. And so talking about that emotional runway, I feel like it's it's so important to, you know, be with the right partner, because they're gonna be there along the whole journey, right? Both business partner and personal partner, also, like just having a mentor in your corner, what else would you advise people to do or have that has helped you kind of have that emotional resilience and runway through the hard times? I think you just said a number of them. I mean, I think having a partner or people surrounded, that you're surrounded by who are in the trenches with you helps are like giving up is not an option. Graham continued. Yeah, it was great, because I, I did a lot of stuff wrong at Alpine. But one thing I did, right was I had a few partners who are still with me today that I got, right. And, you know, there's this expression that a problem shared is a problem have, and you know, it would be like I was having a really tough time with something and one of my partners would pull me up and advice versus, you know, sometimes it was me who needed to pull them up. And that was that, that is the reason that we were able to survive. And if you don't have that, you can, you can find that in some other ways. And you mentioned, you know, having mentors, people around you coaches can can help with that. And your mentors can be, they can come from all different realms. And they sometimes they you have a mentor who you just need that one specific part of your journey. And sometimes you have mentors that can be with you through a long period. But having having people that you can really share stuff without consequence, is super helpful. So it just takes a little bit of the stress out of out of building a business. Yeah. And like you said, they help pull you up, maybe when you don't have the strength to maybe get up on your own or when you're doubting things. Right. So I think that that's, that's so important. Other than that, really, what are the looking I know, you can't share the details. But looking back on the best investments that you've ever done, let's say that there's some entrepreneurs that may want to invest more, maybe one invest for the first time. What are kind of some things that the best investments you've made have had in common? First and foremost, I'd say is they had the best management teams. And we figured that out about 12 years ago that that was the most highly correlated factor. We weren't even looking for that. We were looking for purchase price, industry growth rate, return on tangible invested capital, all the stuff that you read about, that's what we were looking for. And we actually found something we weren't looking for, which is actually it was the quality of the CEO every time so that that was by far the most correlated to the successful investments. And then I think it's like, there's this awesome quote by Charlie Munger, and he says, The first rule of compounding is never Honor interrupted unnecessarily. And so like, what what that has meant for us is, you know, cut your weeds and water your flowers. So if you have a good company and a good management team that you really like, like, give them more resources, more people more money more time. And mostly don't sell it, you know, keep keep going with that business. Because what what most people do is, in my business, in private equity, we have to raise a new fund every few years. And so like, if I if I want to go raise my next fund, the easiest thing for me to do is sell my best companies, and then give money back and show these great realized returns. And, and then go raise more money. But that's actually the dumbest thing I could do. Because my, those are the ones I'm supposed to, you know, those are the flowers that I want to be watering. And I think having that mindset for us has been a complete game changer. And we're and as time goes on, more and more of our businesses are those flowers. And so I think that's, that's something that I think a lot of people miss is they want to you know, there's this expression, which is like, it's, what is it? I'm not gonna get it right. But something like pigs get fat Hogs get slaughtered or so like, in other words, don't be too greedy with your good investment, sell it before you lose money on it. And I think that's the worst investment advice I've ever I've ever heard. You want to be super. You want you want to get you want to give, you want to give more energy, money and resources to your best things and hold them for longer. I love that. And you know, it just goes to show like your character and just the way that you think and I'm not surprised that this success that that you you have what other kind of final words Graham, would you share with the entrepreneur, especially during this time, maybe they're getting a little bit afraid all of this recession talk, you know, just what inspirational advice can you give, so that they maybe do more stay focused, even when people may be in a state of panic, or fear a lot of the people that I coach, and a lot of people who respond in the comments in on my posts and things. And probably a lot of your listeners too are, are like either they've just started something and they're not sure if it could be like a full time thing, or they're don't love their job they have right now and they're thinking about starting something they're kind of in that period. And what I would say is, this is going back to our comment about how the journey is internal. The first the first piece of advice I would have is whatever you fear, and whatever you worry about, like actually write that down, take the time to get that out of your head. And you could do that with you could do that just on paper, or you could do that with a friend or a coach or someone just be like, here's why what I'm worried about in starting a business, I'm worried I'm gonna not be able to pay the rent, I'm worried I'm gonna fail, I'm worried that no one's gonna buy my product, I'm gonna worry that I can't fund it, I won't be able to raise money, whatever that is write it all down. The reason for that is that when those fears are floating around in your head, they have all this power over you. And they're actually dictating a lot of your life, but you're not even aware of it. As soon as you write all that stuff down, you can now use your conscious mind to start dealing with that. And those just become like to do items. You know, for example, I can't raise money, okay? That just becomes a, let's make a plan to raise money, or no one's gonna buy my product becomes how would I design a rapid prototype, or get customer feedback as quickly as possible to prove out these assumptions, those are things that we're really good at, we can do those things. And I'm not saying it's easy, but they're all challenges that we can tackle. The challenge that most people never even get to tackling is that they float around in their head and they just they stay paralyzed. So that would be kind of my biggest advice be like, ask yourself the question, if you didn't fear failure, what would you want to do? And then ask yourself, what are all those fears that are keeping me from doing that? Write those down, then start just checking in knocking those things down. And you'll realize that you'll be able to overcome all those things. You just just have to you just have to get them out of your subconscious. I love it. Thank you so much for just being here with us today. Graham, I know how valuable your time is working. Anyone who maybe wants to read some of your blogs or just watch your content, where can they find more of you and reach out to you? Well, first off, thanks so much for having me. This has been a blast and I'm a huge fan of yours and you're doing an amazing job. So congratulations on everything that you've built. It's super impressive and in Inspiring. So thank you for having me. And I have a blog, which is Grant weaver.com. And then I'm on Tiktok, and Instagram and LinkedIn as just my name Graham Weaver. So you can find me on all those as well. Yeah. And if you're listening, we're going to tag him on LinkedIn. And I'll include your tic tock and your blog just so people can easily you know, watch your content. I highly recommend watching his content. It's probably some of the most thorough and thought provoking content out there. It's every single time I see one of your videos, you just take a perspective that I would have never thought of right? And it's just it's always a champion, just like this is my favorite creator. And so again, thank you so much for your time. We could have probably spoken for three hours. But thank you so much for being here. I appreciate I loved every minute. Thanks so much, and I really appreciate you having me. Have a great day.