Carl had the opportunity to interview the one and only Alan Newman this week. Alan is a serial entrepreneur, part of a rare breed of risk-takers who start up companies as often as they have new ideas. In Alan’s case, money is not his driver. “If you do things you like doing, the money will come,” he says. Alan’s long list of entrepreneurial ventures began in 1983, when he helped found the burgeoning mail-order Gardener's Supply Company. He then founded the eco-friendly, wildly popular Seventh Generation Inc., a natural cleaning products company. In 1994, as the regional craft beer market emerged, he co-founded Magic Hat Brewing Company and served as CEO for 17 years.
In 2016, Newman became a partner in Higher Ground Music in Burlington Vermont. Currently, he has investments in start-ups in hemp and cannabis, has bought Art Riot (an art/music venue) plus he is also currently working on a new venture in LA– and he's not done yet!
Alan grew up in the Long Island area of New York. His father was a commercial real estate broker, leasing out shopping malls before they were built. Alan says his father would work very hard for 2-3 years, max out his bonuses and then take a couple years off. “In some ways he demonstrated entrepreneurial living to me,” Alan says. A bright, rebellious spirit who rejected authority, he was kicked out of three high schools and two colleges in five years.
Alan says he never wanted to be in “business,” sitting behind a desk and wearing a suit. “I’m frequently only interested in doing things people tell me I can’t do,” he laughs. Carl asks Alan what motivates him now, at the age 75. “I’ve created far more wealth for other people. I continue to work because I need income, though I’m perfectly happy and comfortable. I like working, I need to be active. Building companies is my hobby!”
Alan’s insights on (un)retirement:
“I don’t believe in retirement---it has never dawned on me. I’m having fun!”
“Say YES! I find that I am endlessly curious and I tend to say YES a lot.”
“There are two kinds of people---'expense' people and 'revenue' people. When things get tight, "expense" people look for ways to reduce expenses. I’m a revenue person—I look for ways to generate more revenue.”
"There's something about making something that people want to buy that excites me!"
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.