Here’s the speed dating version of getting to know Fred: boy motorcycle racer, adult AdMan (no, it was nothing like Mad Men), Internet Titan (for 30 seconds I was worth $40Million), serial entrepreneur (some things are hard to shake), founding CEO of the most successful cleantech incubator in the world, and amateur writer (pretty obvious).
Along the way, I raced on the banks of Daytona and didn’t get killed, worked on Madison Avenue long enough to know better, somehow met The Right Woman the second time around, went to more universities than a classroom full of kids before persuading NYU to fork over a diploma, was the only guy I knew who took two briefcases to work every day — and I mean every day — and have always been a rabid fan of going fast in/on anything with wheels.
Here’s a list of the moves-I-wish-I-hadn’t made…
- Picking Berkeley over Harvard. It was pretty much downhill from there as bookish-nerd discovers sex, drugs and rock & roll. Have never recovered.
- Pounding on the table to the Executive Committee of a Really Big Ad Agency proclaiming that, “Interactive TV is the future! We need to invest more to stay competitive…” at almost the exact moment that every major media company from Time Warner to Sony were stopping all work on ITV technologies.
- Not taking the job at Microsoft. For obvious reasons. Not taking the job at IBM, again for obvious reasons.
- Not selling the aforementioned stock during the 30 seconds it was worth $40M. Still wouldn’t change the experience of shopping for a vacation place in Jackson Hole.
- Buying two Pontiac Fiero’s. One would have been enough.
- Selling Emma, our ’63 Jaguar MkII. Karen still hasn’t forgiven me.
- Not telling my Mom and Dad that I loved them dearly every-day-they-were-alive. Don’t make the same mistake.
Here’s a list of the things I’m most proud of..
- Walking into the right New York bar and finding the Love of My Life. Sometimes you just get lucky.
- Somehow keeping Karen, Lotus, Lilly, Squirt and Bogart fed and housed all these years during thick and thin. There have been lots of both, as my curriculum vitae includes Teamster, motorcycle dealer, unemployed adman, Internet pioneer, Entrepreneur in Residence, management consultant and nonprofit CEO. I wouldn’t change any of it.
- Having the guts and (yes) vision to see The New Media Age was coming and to somehow transform myself from being an Old Media Guy to being a New Media Guy. Ditto for convincing much of Los Angeles they needed to build a huge green economy.
- Building a small company, Full Moon, that even today some people remember as being the best place they worked.
- Surviving my various motorcycle escapades: winning 70+ races and numerous club championships, racing two legendary killer bikes — the Kawasaki Z1 and Yamaha TZ750 — and not getting killed or maimed, riding a bike for four days in Kathmandu’s traffic, and somehow getting over the Andes on a dirt road crammed with Dakar competitors.
- Co-founding the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and taking it from a bus repair garage to a state of the art 60,000 sq. facility that houses one of the world’s leading incubation programs.
- “Letting” Karen talk me into our first touring motorcycle and then taking motorcycle trips to…Alaska, most of the Western US, all of Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Vietnam, Nepal, Morocco, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Luxemburg, Croatia, Slovenia, Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Isle of Man, Monaco, and Bosnia.
My mantra is do good, have fun, and make money. At an age well-past the sell-by date, I run a global company doing exactly what I want – trying to make the world a better place. I’ve started companies and non-profits that achieved varying levels of success in the marketplace, but provided a unique, rewarding, and fun place to work that people still talk about 10, 20 or 30 years later. We have homes in Mexico and New Mexico. My wife and I just spent two-months on a motorcycle riding around Europe. I set my own agenda every day. I am happy.