Thursday, February 17, 2011

$150 K Sock Puppet

Photo by Stephen Brashear

A $150 K sock puppet? Who has heard of such a thing? Nick Hanauer has. He owns one. It’s the last vestige of a company called He keeps it on his desk as a reminder to invest intelligently, instead of getting excited and wrapped up in what is currently popular. “Whoever thought of an online pet food store? That’s just a stupid idea,” said Hanauer shaking his head.

Not all of Hanauer’s investments were the flop was. In fact, hardly any of them were. From investing to founding, he is one of the most successful entrepreneurs since the 1980’s, when he co-founded his first company: Museum Quality Framing Company.

Yesterday morning, Hanauer joined us at the Harbor Club for the Puget Sound Business Journal Live breakfast. Several Harbor Club members sat at the Harbor Club table and throughout the room. They joined hundreds of businesswomen and men waiting to hear from Hanauer what the next big thing is. The reality is, Hanauer didn’t know. He said:

If you can talk about the next big thing, it’s too late. The next big thing is going to be in the cracks of what you think the next big thing is. Most people are going to think it’s a stupid idea. But, when I have an idea most people think is crazy, that’s when I know I’m on the right track.

So, Hanauer couldn’t point to the next bubbling crack. However, he did point to the heat behind the bubble. For him, what separates businesses which succeed from those which fail are two things: hard work and teamwork. He’s a teamwork kind of guy who doesn’t believe in the self-made man. “All businesses I worked with closely have succeeded because the people who worked there worked together and worked hard,” Hanauer said.

No, Hanauer did not give us a clear-cut path to lucrative investing. Was the breakfast a flop? Not at all. His two ingredient recipe, hard work and teamwork, is a simple breakdown of how to position your investments for success. Just look at Hanauer’s track record – with the exception of his sock puppet of course.

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