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January 27, 2014

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Born for Business: How Marc Ostrofsky Went From a Lemonade Stand to the New York Times Best Seller List

By Ron Jackson 

With the release of his best selling book Get Rich Click! The Ultimate Guide to Making Money on the Internet in May 2011, veteran domain investor/developer Marc Ostrofsky gave the domain industry a prominent place in the mainstream media spotlight (including recognition  on national TV) - and it's not the first time he's done that. 12 years ago Ostrofsky almost single handedly created a frenzy of interest in domain names when he sold Business.com in a deal valued at $7.5 million - a new world record at the time (and one that was documented by the Guinness Book of World Records). 

While Ostrofsky's name has been synonymous with domains for more than a decade, domains are just the latest chapter in a much bigger entrepreneurial success story that hasn't been told in its entirety until now.  

Ostrofsky was born in Los Angeles where his dad was a professor at UCLA. One of Marc's earliest memories are of an especially entertaining guy who was his  grandfather's 

Marc Ostrofsky

best friend. Those two were always around the house and Marc was told  grandpa's pal was his uncle Moe. "Uncle Moe was very funny," Ostrofsky recalled. "He taught me to be creative at a different level. Later, after we moved to Houston, Texas when I was 7, I learned Uncle Moe was Moe Howard of The Three Stooges. That also explained why my middle name is Howard!. I have a letter that I've never shown anyone that Moe wrote to me when I was in 3rd grade in which he told me about his  life in show business."

Above: The Three Stooges with Moe 
Howard
, Marc's "Uncle Moe,"  in the middle.

Right: Letter, signed "Uncle Moe," 
that Howard sent to Ostrofsky 
when Marc was in 3rd grade.

Whether it was Moe Howard's influence, the creativity Marc said he inherited from his mother or some other innate quality, Ostrofsky has marched to a different drummer for as long as he can remember. "I always was able to think outside of the box - how to think creatively, do things differently," Ostrofsky said. "I took these qualities and applied them to business. I was always looking ahead, planning, learning as much as I could about any product, service or idea that I was working on."

"At 5, I ran my own lemonade stand. That’s the way to learn business as a kid! It’s the reason I was a major donor to “Lemonade Day” which teaches kids about entrepreneurship. At 7 I did some work for a neighbor, I think I cleaned his car, and he paid me $10. That was it! I was RICH!!!," Ostrofsky laughed.

Shortly before that his dad had given him $5 - a seemingly huge amount that made a big impression on him until he made twice as much doing that off job for the neighbor. "I learned right then that I could get more money from others and from work than I could from my dad," Ostrofsky said. 

"I started a car waxing business and that was the beginning. I loved to work, to make money - to find “the next big thing” and make money from that.  Figure out where to buy it wholesale and where to sell it for the highest price and pocket the spread. It’s just the entrepreneur in me and I seemed to always do it well. I'd find the next thing to make money, the next idea. 

Ostrofsky (circled) in a class 
photo from elementary school.

Ostrofsky's Entrepreneurial Instincts Blossom in the Lone State State

Ostrofsky's family moved to Houston so his dad could take a new job teaching Business and Logistics at the University of Houston. His father's expertise in those subjects had an impact on young Marc. "That's where I got my sense, good or bad, for over planning each and every step for each business I started. It is much less expensive to learn about the good and more importantly the bad – before it happens.  Learn on someone else’s experience and try to apply the good to your situation and know about the bad – just in case."

Ostrofsky (circled) with fraternity 
brothers
at the University of Texas

When it came time to head off to college, Marc decided to enroll at the University of Texas in Austin. " At UT I learned more about business and started to learn about girls as well," Ostrofsky recalled. "What I learned then and there was that I had to be better in business as it was expensive to hang with the girls! They liked “stuff” and now with a loving wife and five daughters, it was a lesson I learned all too well!," Ostrofsky smiled.

His time at Texas paid other dividends as well. "I realized I loved marketing so I started the first “American Marketing Association” for students at the University of Texas. We called it AMA-UT. I was VP, then President of the group," Ostrofsky said. "To raise money, I called a local beer distributor and he gave me $1,000 for a “sponsorship” of one of our events. Wow…that was serious money and I got it via a phone call? I guess that was the impetus for my making money in the trade show business with 

sponsorships. There were clients, there were exhibitors, but those sponsorships, THAT was where most of the income (profits that is) came from the serious money was!"

"While my friends and fraternity brothers partied, I wanted to get going on the money making thing.  So I got a real estate license and made great money on the weekends selling condos to parents of college students. I knew the kids wanted their own place and a microwave oven while the parents wanted a great financial opportunity and a safe place for their kids to live. I knew the lingo and made money selling real estate when I was a junior and senior at Texas," Ostrofsky said.

Ostrofsky often found inspiration for making money in places others overlooked. "The Rubik’s Cube craze hit while I was in college," Ostrofsky recalled. "While I was visiting my former high school, a teacher introduced me to a young man that was not a good student but had this amazing talent. He could solve the Rubik’s Cube in 25 seconds! If not a world record, it was darn close. He turned that thing so fast you could not see his hands moving - it was shocking actually. Here I am a big shot in college and I’m sitting in the cafeteria of my former high school learning how he did this. He had figured out his own mathematical “formula” to solve that brain teaser that only required 3 moves. That was so easy for him to do, he could look away and solve the cube in 30-60 seconds."

Ostrofsky learned the "trick" and took that new talent back to Austin where he showed it to his 

best friend.  "We took it to the University and wound up teaching a class called “how to solve the Rubik’s Cube in under 60 seconds." It was just an after hours non credit class for fun but Ostrofsky used his marketing skills to turned it into something bigger. "My friend and I went to the major wire services -  Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) and they jumped on the  story. It ran across the wires worldwide getting us thousands of “hits” and a slew of letters sent to us from across the globe.  That taught me the power of the media," Ostrofsky declared.

Dell Computer Founder Michael Dell
(Photo: Dell.com)

During his college years Ostrofsky also crossed paths with a fellow student who would go on to become of America's most successful entrepreneurs ever. "I placed the little bit of money I had made with a family friend who was our family's stock broker in Houston. Brokers worked with partners and his was a nice lady named Lorainne Dell. One day when I called my broker, Mrs. Dell answered. She asked me if I would be interested in working for her son to help him with marketing. He had started a computer building business in his dorm room at UT. I told her I knew her son Michael but wouldn't work for a kid that was two years younger than I was because I would look silly to my fraternity brothers! I tell folks if I had been his Marketing Director, Michael Dell (of Dell Computer fame) might be a bum on the streets of Austin these days!," Ostrofsky laughed.  

When Ostrofsky graduated he scored another marketing coup, one that landed him in a national magazine. "Newsweek Magazine ran a story about the many entrepreneurial businesses I had started and operated while in college," Ostrofsky said. "I had five different business 

cards and that was the photo that ran with the story in Newsweek. Thanks to the publicity, I had a lot of job offers when I graduated but turned all of them down because I really wanted to do my own thing," Ostrofsky said.   

Upheaval in the Telecom Industry Gives Ostrofsky His First BIG Payday  

It didn't take him long to find the opportunity he was looking for. "Telecom deregulation had just happened," Ostrofsky said. "I was walking down the street and met a guy hawking "DISCOUNT LONG DISTANCE SERVICE" on the street. The cards he was handing out claimed the service saved the user 50-70% off of AT&T's prices. I asked him "do you actually get paid for giving this to me?  and he said yes, I get 25% of the third month's bill plus $5 for every card I give away. OMG! I had found what I wanted - a serious gold mine!" Ostrofsky exclaimed.

With his interest piqued, Ostrofsky headed to Dallas to visit the company's headquarters. "It was a start up that was reselling Sprint service at the time. It was real and it worked!," Ostofsky said. "I made so much money so fast, they made me the sales manager of this firm and I opened up the Houston market."

"During that time, I attended a telecom industry trade show and learned about the pay telephone industry. Seemed like a smart market – a pay telephone just sat there, day after day, taking  a lot of quarters and making a lot of money with very little expense. So while I planned to get into that business, I gathered so much information about the market that folks asked if they could buy my information because I had done all of the legwork for six months, had all of the info and could save them time and money if I could or would share it. That taught me about the value of information."

That in turn sent Ostrofsky down a new entrepreneurial path. "It led me to start a 

Ostrofsky (right) with another 
well-known Texan, former U.S. 
President George W. Bush

trade magazine called Private Pay Phone News. That quickly morphed into a full fledged magazine (PayPhone Magazine) which led me to start several magazines, research reports and trade shows, all in the deregulated telcom markets," Ostrofsky said. "Buyers needed information about sellers and sellers needed information about buyers and the guy in the middle (me) made the first money and often a lot of money supplying information about the market to all of the players in that market. In 12 years, I sold those two firms for almost $50 Million and never looked back."

Ostrofsky's Sister Points Him to the Opportunity of a Lifetime - Domain Names

As successful as he turned out to be, Ostrofsky said the real brain in the family was a sibling who also happened to be the person who led him to domains. "My older sister Keri was the smart one," Ostrofsky said. She was really “book” smart - top 10 in her graduating class, Stanford MBA and Harvard PhD. She went on to become a college professor where I went to school - the University of Texas. When I went to visit her in 1994 to speak to her class about Entrepreneurship, she showed me this new thing she was researching called “The Internet.” After a few moments, the first thing I asked her was “how do you get one of those names?," Ostrofsky recalled.

"I went home and started buying domain names – I think it was $70 for two years to register each name. I thought and thought and came to realize that the four best names in my world were in the newspaper each day - news, weather, sports and business. The first three were 

already being used by firms with sites devoted to those topics. The fourth, Business.com, was owned by Business Systems International, a firm in the UK that sold business telephone systems. I 
contacted the owner and over a two-week period, we agreed I could but the domain for $75,000. The day before the purchase, he bumped the price to $150,000. I went to my dad for advice and he said “do you have the $150k?”  My business was successful so yes, I had it in the bank. He said “which is better for you, to have the money in the bank or to own that name?”

Business.com - Sold for $150,000, Then $7.5 Million, Then $345 Million - Here's the Full Story Straight from the Horse's Mouth

You already know that Ostofsky wound up buying the domain, but you don't know the background on why it was worth $150,000 to him at a time (1994) when domain names were still an unknown quantity in the business world. Ostrofsky explained. "I was the owner of a firm I founded that owned magazines and trade shows in the deregulated telecom space. After learning about domain names I started another firm called iNAMES.com to register domain names for clients that needed to protect their brand outside of the U.S. I went to my very close personal 
friend and fraternity brother from UT, Pinky Brand (a heck of a nice guy who now runs sales for .Mobi) and said “Pinky, why don’t you come join me at this firm I have started - it’s really an interesting concept.  I’m busy with my publishing firm but we can get a small staff together and you can run this firm in some extra space in my office."

"Pinky came onboard and our first three clients were, and I’m not kidding you, McDonalds, Harley Davidson and AOL! The goal of the firm was to register their domain names in foreign countries so cyber squatters could not take those names," Ostrofsky said.

"We were looking for ways to get the word out about iNames.com and I was just about to buy Business.com. So I though "why not marry the two concepts?" So we dropped a press release saying iNames.com represented “an unidentified buyer” in the purchase of the domain name Business.com from the firm in Europe. That buyer was me. We paid $150,000, the most money 

Ostrofsky and long time friend 
Pinky Brand (right) at the 2008 
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in Las Vegas. 

ever paid for a single domain name at that time – just the URL, no website, no income stream, no database - nothing but the URL. The purchase price of $150,000 created a media frenzy - they went nuts with one headline reading “A Fool and his Money were just parted," Ostrofsky smiled.

Of course it was Ostrofsky who would have the last laugh. Fast forward to 1999 when Ostrofsky was planning to launch a magazine about doing business on the Internet on Business.com. "I received a phone call from Jake Winebaum, an executive that had worked at Disney and had left to partner with Sky Dayton, the founder of Earthlink, to form their internet incubator called eCompanies.com in Los Angeles. They were popping out internet firm after internet firm," Ostrofsky said. "I had sold my publishing and trade show firm less than a month before Jake called and the sale of my firm created a tax bill that was more than my income had been for the previous 20 years - combined! I had not started Business.com magazine yet so I had the domain just sitting there."

"After Winebaum's call I contacted his competitor who I knew and discussed the sale of Business.com to Jake. The competitor said “I’ll give you $2 Million if you’ll sell it to me.”  By the end of the week, in one 24 hour period, I sold Business.com to Winebaum for $7.5 Million and sold eBusiness.com to his competitor for $10 Million (a sale we did not tell the media about). Jake on the other hand, wanted to release the info to the media about his purchase of Business.com because he knew it would get him a ton of free PR about his companies."

Ostrosky reflected on the role the purchase and sale of Business.com played in creating a new industry. "I think the purchase of Business.com for $150,000 got the attention of those I will call “leaders” and they started buying up domain names from 1994 -1999. The sale of Business.com for $7.5 Million in 1999 and landing in the Guinness Book of World Records was the real benchmark that got the attention of the rest of the world which realized that there was a real serious industry here. A gold rush for sure! One could buy a domain at that time for $35 a year and sell it for millions?! I told the media the same thing I said five years earlier - that “Domain Names are Internet Real Estate,” Ostrofsky said.

Over the years there has been some debate about how the Business.com sale at $7.5 million was structured - was the deal really worth that much in cash or was it mostly stock that would later deflate when the .com bubble burst? Obviously, Ostrofsky is one person who knows all of the details and he shared them with us. 

"At the time of the sale, I had just sold my other company so I sure didn’t need the cash much less the tax burden. I knew about a business concept known as “put rights”. My tax issues for that 

calendar year were big enough to say the least, so I asked if I could buy into the company as they were going to build a search engine called Business.com. The “put right” allowed me to keep the cash or get stock anytime I wanted to over the next three years," Ostrofsky said. It gave me the luxury to see how the firm would be doing - a kind of "free look" before I Invested. At the end of three years, I decided to hedge my bet and took part cash and part stock - approximately 3% ownership of Business.com. It was a good deal as we sold Business.com in 2007 for $345 Million," Ostrofsky noted about the blockbuster sale of what by then had become a well developed business. 

Ostrofsky Re-Invests His Earnings to Build a New Internet Empire

While I a lot of people would have taken such a windfall and ridden off into to the sunset, perhaps to play golf or buy their own private island, Ostrofsky, whom the Houston Chronicle aptly described as a "technology wildcatter," kept seeking out new opportunities and today he operates a sizeable portfolio of profitable web based businesses. Here's a summary of those with his comments on each: 

SummerCamps.com: "I bought this domain from a doctor in Philadelphia whose son had created a very crude site. It had much more potential than what was on the site. I gave it to the woman who used to help run and operate my publishing firm and we paid for the purchase of the domain in 2.5 years. It is the #1 site on  

most search engines for the terms "Summer Camps" and is meant for parents to find the right summer camp for their children.  It just throws off cash each year but if the right buyer came along, I’d sell it.  

eTickets.com and e-Tickets.com: "I own those and simply point the traffic to a third party that runs a ticket site and sends me 10% of the profits each month.  I don’t do a thing but get that money each month.   

CuffLinks.com: "Ravi Ratan, my partner, founded and runs the site. I became his partner after I had such a good experience with his firm. I had the money and experience in building firms and he is a great operator.  The firm has doubled since I got involved and today we do over $5 Million a year and CuffLinks.com is the largest seller of cuff links on the market today. We sell retail on the site and wholesale to most major department stores in the U.S. As I teach folks, "Online - The Riches are in the Niches."  

Blinds.com: "This is the best of the success stories. The founder and CEO of the firm is Jay Steinfeld. Jay and I partnered up when we met in Houston and decided to raise money to build the firm and buy the Blinds.com domain name.  

We bought that name, closed down two retail stores Jay had started and began to build the business online and spend money on a new technology called "Pay Per Click."  Over the last five years, we did a few buy outs and have grown that firm to where we will hit $80 Million in 2011. Jay is the best business operator I have ever met - he really “gets it” and has done a fabulous job building out the infrastructure." 

Two Book Sites: "I now operate a site for my book which has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for five weeks. Get Rich Click! teaches hundreds of ways folks are making money online especially in the domain name field. We operate www.GetRichClick.com for that book and I am about to launch www.WordOfMouse.com for my upcoming second book on ways to use the internet in Marketing, Advertising, Sales, PR and Customer Service."  

"Finally, I still own a host of fantastic names," Ostrofsky noted. "I want to find firms that have a good track record in building out domain names into profitable websites and partner with them to build out some of my other “internet real estate” including: Consulting.com, Photographer.com, MutualFunds.com, HeartDisease.com, BeautyProducts.com, TechToys.com, Bachelor.com, .net and .org, Psychologists.com, Cars.info, CosmeticSurgery.net and 300 others. If your firm has a track record building out websites or you can put a deal together to do this, we are all ears! Contact Drake@RazorMediaGroup.com.

iREIT: How an Innovative Idea Went Wrong

The formation of Internet REIT (iREIT) was another important chapter in the Ostrofsky story though that company hit a major pothole along the way. The company was the first to have some real heavyweights from the mainstream business world (including Starbucks founder Howard Schultz and Texas tycoon Ross Perot) backing a major domain project. They got off to a fast start but then came a widely publicized lawsuit filed against iREIT by Verizon.

Ostrofsky recounted what happened. "I had learned about “rolling up” several small companies into a larger firm," 

Ostrofsky said. "We had done this with Blinds.com and I had seen it done many other times.  I realized that you could own a $10 domain name that could generate $20 a year.  Now that wasn't exciting for one name but what if you could put several hundred thousand names under one roof? I met Bob Martin n Houston - a very young guy but smart as a whip with a degree from Harvard. He spoke “investment banker” and these guys loved him. We raised many, many millions of dollars to launch that firm."
"After the fundraising, I wasn't involved in any day to day activities at the company. I just showed  up at the quarterly board meetings while Bob ran the place. We bought up a lot of domain portfolios along the way, creating a "roll up" of sorts. I think we had 375,000 domain names at our peak.  When we would buy a portfolio, it would often have names in that portfolio that we could not keep because it may have been porn related, had trademark issues, personal names or some other reason. One portfolio we bought had 75 or so names in it with the word “Verizon” in them. A few weeks after our purchase of that one portfolio, we were sued for owning their trademarked name "Verizon", Ostrofsky said.

"We offered to give them the names for free but the lawyer wanted to make an example out of us because we were one of the big boys in the market and had a lot of cash. So they filed suit against the firm just to make a point. That was the beginning of the end. The lawsuit was settled after almost two 

Former iREIT CEO Bob Martin

years but the board decided it was not the game they wanted to play any longer and had seen enough. The firm sold most of the assets and for all intent and purposes, shut down the day to day operating side of the business. The firm is still in existence today and holds some great "internet real estate" in it's portfolio. The assets are managed by the former president of the firm, Mr. Bob Hurtte," Ostrofsky said.

In recent years Ostrofsky was involved in another highly publicized legal battle, but this time he and his partners, Albert and Lesli Angel, were the ones on offense. It all started when a domain thief named Daniel Goncalves stole one of their domains - P2P.com - and sold it on Ebay for $121,000 to former NBA player Mark Madsen. Though no domain thief had ever been sent to jail before, this criminal picked the wrong targets. Ostrofsky and the Angels spent years tracking him down and getting law enforcement and judicial officials to realize the gravity of the crime and hold Goncalves accountable. Just last week (July 22, 2011) their long quest for justice finally paid off when Goncalves, in a precedent setting case,  was sentenced to five years in prison.

Get Rich Click! How a Five-Year-Old Book Idea Landed Ostrofsky on the New York Times Best Seller List and May Turn Him Into a Multimedia Star

Over five years ago Ostrofsky told me about plans to write a book encapsulating the knowledge he had acquired along the way. He even had the title nailed down – Get Rich Click! As I noted earlier, the book became a reality this year. Ostrofsky told us about the long journey from the original concept, through the execution of the project and finally the realization of the dream in 2011.

"When I put my mind on something, it usually gets done," Ostrofsky said. "I took that long because I was learning about the book publishing industry, starting a new company, writing, editing and making sure Get Rich Click! was exactly what I say it is on the cover of the book - The Ultimate Guide to Making Money on the Internet! You won’t find too many folks that have opened this book and read a few pages that are not in total agreement with that statement. It’s a very well researched book about how many folks make money. There is chapter after chapter about people of all ages that make $10,000 a week to $1 Million a month. Most started with little or no money."

"My ultimate goal is to write many business  books and I wanted to make certain I made a great first impression. After a very long journey, it culminated in Get Rich Click! becoming a New York Times Bestseller which is a tremendous honor and thrill. In addition, it made #1 on other best seller lists including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve also had the privilege of being on ABC-TV's hit talk show The View twice and that was fantastic!," Ostrofsky said.

Get Rich Click! Author Marc Ostrofsky on ABC-TV's The View (June 9, 2011)
(L to R in the photo above): Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Marc Ostrofsky
Sherri Shepherd, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Barbara Walters.

"I also learned in the five years that to really make it in the book business, you need great testimonials for your book. So I reached out to my friends and racked up one of the most impressive lists ever for a business book including testimonials from: Steve Wozniak (Co-Founder of Apple Computer), Jack Canfield (Co-Author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series - the #1 book series ever - selling over 150 million copies), Steven Covey (author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), David Bach and Brian Tracy.

The book has brought Ostrofsky a flood of media attention and that attention in turn has opened up even more doors as his polished TV performances made it clear he could successfully navigate all media platforms whether they are print or electronic. Ostrofsky talked about how that has impacted his life and how he plans to capitalize on those new opportunities going forward.

Ostrofsky and former CBS News Anchor Katie Couric

"Maybe it’s my Uncle Moe. Maybe it’s my uncle that ran a division of CBS for 35 years. Maybe it’s all ego, but I love television. I am comfortable doing it and I’ve been told I’m good at it. They had me on The View twice and I did ABC National News.  I did a lot of local TV.  I did Time Magazine’s Time.com. PR is a big part of the process - nothing online seems to get anything close to the immediate traffic produced by TV. But over time, the internet is coming on strong and I think creating a massive online following is the real long term play because, as we all know, the ‘riches are in the niches," Ostrofsky emphasized again.

"I’m working towards a TV show ala Suze Orman meets Donny Deutsch with Entrepreneurship and Small Business topics coupled with Consumer 

Technologies, Internet, Tech Toys and the convergence of these with Mobile. I'd also like to run my small business where I am authoring a new book every two years, doing a few speaking gigs each month from now on and managing my portfolio. Consulting others in business also seems to be a bigger part of my time," Ostrofsky added. 

Home is Where the Heart Is

We've been talking solely about business but despite being a dyed in the wool entrepreneur, Ostrofsky says there is one thing that is more important to him. "I have a great family - a loving wife, five daughters, two dogs and a lovely home. That’s what life is all about for me. I’m the type of guy that likes a stable home – although with a wife and five girls, stability is a relative term now isn’t it?," Ostrofsky smiled. "But coming home, seeing my dogs, knowing there is some sort of structure in my life, knowing I’m sleeping in my own bed, going to dinner with friends and seeing my family – THAT speaks to my core and it isn’t always about thinking “where is the bigger better deal."

 Marc Ostrofsky, new bride Beverle and five daughters 
on their wedding day, June 29, 2008 in Aspen, Colorado.

Ostrofsky even finds a little time of a few other pastimes that give him a break from the business world. "My true passion is Photography - that's why I bought Photographer.com," Ostrofsky said.

Photo by Marc Ostrofsky 

"I also love to play golf.  I love to travel – Italy is as good as it gets for me. I work out and swim. I was always into sports – like racquetball, but as I get older, the athletic ability is like my hair – as I get older, it’s seems to be going away!"

"I also love to teach. My dad was a professor. My sister was a professor. I think I just have it in my DNA. But first, I had to make money and prove something works – and then teach it. So I always get involved with a project, company or idea so I can say I actually did it and that is where Get Rich Click! came from. My own companies played in many of these games, then I set 
out and researched for years how others make money online. Maybe that’s why we hit the New York Times Bestseller list  - because the data in that book is real. I’ve done it and show how so many others have done it. This stuff really does work - just read the book!," Ostrofsky said (with his marketing hat firmly back in place).

Along those same lines, Ostrofsky emphasized the importance of surrounding yourself with smart people that you can learn from. "The old saying is true - you are the average of the five people you hang out with. So I set out to meet with, learn from and hang out with the smartest people in the world. Presidents, actors, businessmen like Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch or Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Even Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, Tony Hseih from Zappos or Jeff Bezos from Amazon.com. I have met and learned from all of them. I've even been to a few of their private homes," Ostrofsky said.

Ostrofsky with Donald Trump

Ostrofsky certainly has his fair share of celebrity friends. Another is actor/comedian Robin Williams. Marc shared an anecdote about how they met. "I was gambling in Las Vegas with a woman next to me who had a fat wad of $100 bills," Ostrofsky recalled. "Robin Williams walks up and says "how you doin' honey?"  Turns out the woman is his wife. I asked him why he was in Las Vegas and he said, and I quote, "I'm here to entertain for IBM but I feel like Gandhi in a meat market!" 

"I told him I had just finished playing $5 Texas Holdem with Bill Gates - and I pointed to the Microsoft founder at the poker table about 20 yards from us at the Mirage Hotel. Robin said "Wow...I've actually never met him myself." About two minutes later Gates got up and walked by. I said "Bill come here...let me introduce you to Robin Williams."  They both became like little kids, they were so happy to meet each other. Williams and I became friends at that moment so when he was in Houston for a show, Bev and I went down to his hotel and had dinner with him after his show.

Marc & Bev Ostrofsky with Robin Williams in Houston (March 2009)

Final Words of Wisdom

Asked for any parting advice he would like to share, Ostrofsky added, "You cannot do it all yourself." If you do, you are limited in how big you or your firm can become. I hire great people and pay them well and learned to try my best to stay out of their way. The internet and technology allow you to automate so much, outsource, dropship, etc. but you need smart people around you to keep you on your toes and take the ball and run with it. So I live by these main points in my business life:

1. KNOW WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW. Most folks know they don't know how to be a CPA or a lawyer.  But do you know that you really don't know how to create the best SEO for a website or manage or grow a firm to the size you want it to become? You must know what you don't know and learn to ask the right questions or you will never get the right answers.

2. HIRE YOUR WEAKNESSES. If you are not a CPA, hire the best one you can afford. If you are not a lawyer, hire the best one you can afford. If you are not good at running, growing and managing a company, hire great people so that firm can grow and you are free to concentrate on other things.

3. LEARN MORE, EARN MORE™  That is a Trademarked term we use in our firm and in the book to help people truly understand the game especially in the internet world. The more you learn, the more you read, the more conferences you attend the more you learn - the more you earn! It's so very true - these days more than ever!

Ostrofsky with U.S. 
President Barack Obama

4. HIRE SLOW. FIRE FAST. I used to do it the other way around but learned this is the only way to run a good business.

5. AUTOMATE.  OUTSOURCE.  DROPSHIP. Three words every successful firm must know well to make it in these competitive times.

With that Ostrofsky was off in search of his next business adventure, leaving both aspiring entrepreneurs and  the already accomplished ones in our audience to further benefit from the kind of wisdom that only comes with experience. We appreciate him taking the time to share it with us.  

  *****   

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