Brad Johnson: Welcome to another episode of Do Business Do Life. Really excited to have Leore Avidar with us today. How are you, Leore?
Leore Avidar: Doing good, man. Pumped to be on the show.
Brad Johnson: Did I get the last name right? I’m self-conscious, man.
Leore Avidar: No, you got it. You killed it.
Brad Johnson: I nailed it. Awesome. Well, really excited today. So, for you advisors out there listening in or watching in have really gotten to know one of the companies that Leore runs really closely here over the last couple of years, Alt or Alt.xyz, and really Leore do it justice but honestly, it fed my sports card addiction, it fed my investing addiction, and it was really probably the best way I can describe it, it was almost as if like the old school Beckett Price Guides that those of you that collected cards back in the day, it was as if it went in a time warp and like caught up to the rest of the world where really it aggregates sports card prices, pulls in all of the details from auction houses. They have a platform where you can buy and sell sports cards. And so, I believe, Leore, how you like to explain it, it’s you want Alt to be the homepage of the hobby. Is that fair?
Leore Avidar: Yeah. I mean, I want to build a modern marketplace for people to buy and sell alternative assets and I wanted to start with trading cards. And yet to do that, you have to be the home page or the hobby. You have to be the place that everyone is. It has to be the trusted source where people are going to every single day to buy and sell and just educate themselves on how much a card is worth or to get a little bit more information on a card. So, that’s the current mission of the company.
Brad Johnson: Well, let’s go into you have a really cool story, sports card story, but I’m going to just share a piece of mine. So, grew up in the 80s, the heyday as it’s now affectionately known as the Junk Wax Era of the hobby. And so, for those that are, you know, I’m 42 as we record this, it was the day of Beckett Sports Card Guides, sports card shows in all the local malls. And I remember the elusive 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Junior card that everybody was after and staring through the glass case looking at that thing. So, probably from the age of about 6 or 7 until probably 13 or 14, I was addicted to sports cards, probably primarily baseball, little football, a little basketball. But then basically, grew up, got into sports, got into business, forgot about it. And then I think like many out there, COVID hits, no sports on TV, stuck in your home. I venture down to my basement, get the old cards out. I’ve got three kids now, two boys, 13 and almost 12. And that became a dad thing where we would look through like my old sports heroes and then their new ones. And we just started getting into it. And then I venture onto eBay and I see like this thing is booming, like sports cards are skyrocketing. And it pulled me right back in.
And today’s sports card market is much more complex. So many more variations and variables than the sports cards that I grew up with. But it really married my interest in sports, my interest in investing, just market dynamics, economics. And that’s how I found Alt. You all had an early launch. I found it on a website, opted in, and then downloaded the app. And I will say, and it’s not because you’re on here, Leore. It is the tool I use most in the sports card marketplace. And what I really started to get into is higher-end cards, more investment-grade cards. And so, I know you have a cool story where I think you turn like a small amount of money 10K, 20K, 30K into a pretty substantial amount of money. So, I thought that could maybe be a good way to kick it off is you share your version of that and then how that eventually turned into the company, one of the companies you’re running today.
Leore Avidar: Yeah. I think I guess the important context that I always try to share with people is that I started my career on Wall Street as a trader, and I always traded exotic derivatives, mortgage-backed securities, so a lot of complex stuff on Wall Street. And one of my specialties was pricing things, right? I really learned how to take when there’s an illiquid asset, go and figure out how to get the comps, and how to basically triangulate pricing. And so, I started my career on Wall Street and then fast forward almost five years later, I was already out on the West Coast starting. I was already in the middle of starting my first venture-backed company. And my parents actually moved from Chicago to Colorado. And I had a box of cards and, at home, they’re like, “Well, what do you want us to do with it?” I was like, “Send it over. Let me see. I missed them. Let’s see what’s going on.”
Brad Johnson: I missed them.
Leore Avidar: Yeah. It’s similar to people with COVID story but it happened four years early. And so, I got a bunch of the cards and I don’t know about you but I had never tried grading before. I always felt like it was this big thing. And, obviously, I knew the Beckett Price Guides and getting something graded. It felt like this ordeal. And for some reason I was like, “I want to try it. I want to see what happens.” And so, I remember two things happened. One thing, the first is I was like I’m going to not only get some of my old cards graded. I didn’t have anything crazy. I think the best card I had was like a Dennis Rodman card or something like that. But I also was like, you know what, I remember wanting this Kobe Bryant card. Like, Kobe Bryant was my guy growing up. I collected basketball cards. And so, I went on eBay to buy a certain product. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, the 1996 E-X2000. There was just this one Kobe Bryant card that I really wanted. So, I bought the box. I remember it was like $350, just two cards, 24 packs, 48 cards. And I got the Kobe Bryant card. So, I was like, okay, I’ll send the Kobe Bryant card. It’s brand new. It’s got to get the perfect grade and a couple of my old ones, right? And so, I sent it in and then I realized, “Oh, my God, this is the easiest process ever.” Like, it was $7 back then.
Brad Johnson: Wow.
Leore Avidar: I just have to send it into the mail and then like, call it, two weeks later, I got the cards back and some of them graded perfect. The Kobe Bryant card actually got, I remember, a PSA 6. And so…
Brad Johnson: Ouch.
Leore Avidar: Yeah. I was like, okay, just because I buy it fresh out of the pack doesn’t mean that it’s going to grade perfectly. And so, there was just a lot of like I love you mentioned market dynamics. I really started getting interested in the market dynamics. My other company is in printing so I was really interested in how the printers were manufacturing the cards. And so, that kind of started off the journey. I would say the next part that I started getting into was I looked at I wanted to know what my PSA 6 was worth, and I went online to eBay and I saw that a PSA 10 was worth like, you know, 20 times more. And so, I started then buying a lot of boxes, looking for the cards to try to get the really great cards and then setting…
Brad Johnson: What was a PSA 10 worth, just out of curiosity, at that time?
Leore Avidar: Back then it was worth around $1,500 and a PSA 9 was worth around $50. And I didn’t know that this particular set was impossible to get in a PSA 10. That was not known to me.
Brad Johnson: So, Leore, before we go too far down this path because I promise there are many listeners out there, we’re talking Latin to them right now, PSA 6, PSA 10. Can you break down just grading in general what that is? Because that was also something I had to figure out when I got back into cards.
Leore Avidar: Yeah. So, just like you have S&P and Moody’s who are grading stocks and giving them some sort of like or generally bonds, sorry, like numerical grade. So, in the card market, we have a couple of different grading agencies with different grading standards who are generally grading cards between on a scale of 1 to 10, and that’s based on the card condition. So, they’re looking at the corners, they’re looking at the edges, they’re looking at the centering of the card, and they’re looking at the surface, generally kind of the four main predictors of the card condition. And then based on those elements, they’ll rate the card between one and ten. And so, there’s a couple of different grading companies. There are kind of I’d say two main prominent ones, PSA and Beckett, and then obviously some up-and-comers as well.
Brad Johnson: And the other thing that really quickly you figure out once you start to understand this is the population count of a card and going back to the Junk Wax Era where we all thought we were getting the ’89 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr card, and that was going to be worth millions someday, what we didn’t know at the time, where there were millions of them being printed, oversupplied. So, the other side of that is just like with a stock, a publicly traded stock, you can see the volume that it’s traded at. Now, you can almost see the volume of the sports cards, like at what level it was produced. So, that Kobe Bryant, a PSA 10 had to be fairly scarce. You remember the population count?
Leore Avidar: I don’t. I want to say less than four in the world. You know, I didn’t start using population counts until later on. My big thing was I would, you know, I learned I tried to reverse engineer what the grading companies were looking at so that when I was looking at a card that I bought on eBay or through a friend or just from opening up a pack of cards, and then I would calculate my expected value. So, when I got back into cards, I looked at it differently than when I was a kid because I started looking at it in my trading lens. Like, I actually have like four different strategies that I use. Kind of my famous I turned around $15,000 into probably north of $10 million at the peak of the market trading cards. And it was mainly from just four strategies just based on math because I felt like, you know, I’m a math guy, I’m a very logical guy, and I just saw a simple arbitrage and I loved cards, so I would just do that as a way to fund my personal collection. I didn’t go into it being like, “This is an awesome way to make money.” I was like, “Well, I want to afford some of these amazing cards that I wasn’t able to afford when I was a kid. How can I fund it? How can I make some money to get them?”
And yeah, I had a couple of different strategies. Like, I would say like the grading strategy was a really great one. I was generally making it run like I remember like 40% every time I would grade a card and they would grade a PSA 9 and then if they graded a PSA 10, I was making like 10X on my money, which was crazy back then. I did a lot of cross-grading, which is taking one company like it’s in a Beckett holder. You actually physically crack it out, right? And then you send it to another grading company hoping that there’s some like arbitrage in the standards. And so, that worked out really well, especially this one, when there’s population arbitrage, if there is a very rare card and it doesn’t exist in one company and people maybe prefer that company. So, I did a lot of that. And then I started going after the rare stuff. So, that’s when I learned about population. I was like, “Well, the population is only limited by the serial numbers of the cards.” So, if I find a card that there’s only five of it in the world in the first place, population can’t be more than five, right? So, I really started going after all the rare Kobe Bryant cards. That was kind of like my big thing in 2017, 2018. I was like, “I want to corner the Kobe Bryant market. I want to get all the best cards. I want to have the biggest Kobe Bryant collection in the world.”
And so, all of these things that you can do in the stock world, I was like, “Wait a second, I can do the exact same thing here.” And not only that, but I have the upside if I predict the player correctly. And I was like, what better player? Kobe Bryant, right? Like, I always equate buying cards to just investing in the players’ equity. And Kobe Bryant was a blue-chip player, you know what I mean? There is no doubt in my mind that he was – I was already buying Kobe Bryant when people were arguing whether he was number one or number two. So, I was like, okay, my downside is probably fairly limited but if my upside, I think 2016-2017 were probably his last years of playing, it was like, great, there’s not much downside from here. Nowadays, if I’m buying, some of these younger players, you can get caught in a situation where they’re not, you know, Zion is a really great example. I mean, his cards were so hot and then he gets injured or has a brand reputation hit, his cards plummet. So, I love that element of figuring out who do I bet on and what are the elements and predictors of a I don’t say player success on the court. It’s their brand success on and off the court, right?
Brad Johnson: Yes. There’s a mystique element too, like sometimes you’ll have players that have insane stats. Basketball is a good example. A lot of the big men like Shaq, for example. I mean, an absolute monster but his cards although they’ve started to decline comparative to a Jordan or Kobe, they’re a fraction of the price. And then the other thing that you made me think of is you look at Kobe, he played in L.A., look at the size of that market and that fan base, which also drives demand, where you’ve got like, I’m a Kansas City guy, Patrick Mahomes is my guy. So, I’ve really started to go in that direction with my personal collection. You know, Mahomes has kind of eclipsed just the Kansas City fan base because he’s started to become, you know, seen on the national scene. But Kansas City will never have the demand in L.A. or in New York has, population-wise. There’s just so many fun dynamics like that when you really start to dive in.
Leore Avidar: Yeah. And the reason I like it, it’s very similar to the stock market. I try to really like if you really take a step back, there is a set of elements that obviously control the price of the stock. And a majority of stocks don’t pay dividends. There’s no cash flow. When people buy Tesla, they’re betting on Elon Musk. They’re betting on the future. It’s no different than betting on Giannis. It’s Elon versus Giannis. One comes in a stock certificate and one you get a really cool card. And you have to predict demand. And so, there’s a lot of elements, I think, in the card market and what affects players on and off the court that are really interesting dynamics. So, like the market that the player plays in really affects their demand. Are they liked by the international population? Like, if you have international demand, obviously, you have a much more lucrative card. How you act off the court? Like, I’ve learned this, like players who are quiet off the court, unfortunately, are not achieving this other brand recognition that maybe somebody else does. And so, there are so many different elements and so many different ways to speculate, which is what we all do on a daily basis on different asset classes. And for somebody who loves sports and stocks, it’s like the perfect marriage of an asset. And I think everybody in this space is that invested like combining that investment professional sports-related thing. And so, it creates this awesome way of meeting people and also just a great market in the first place.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. And as a dad now, it’s such a cool thing. So, Dallas Card Show, I’m sure you’ve been a time or two at this point. And so, that’s an easy one for us. It’s the second biggest behind the national agenda you’re getting ready to head out to here shortly. So, the National’s the biggest one that happens every year in the US. The Dallas Card Show’s every couple of months like 700 tables. It’s insane. But now as a dad, one of my fondest memories, Nash, my middle son, their trade shows and their trade night’s insane like people are there until 4 in the morning, out in the lobby just trading cards. My son gets his Pokemon collection out and I’ve got another buddy, Keith, and his son, Trey, and Aiden, and they’re sitting there. I’ll never forget this moment. There’s this lady. She’s probably 40 and my son’s doing a deal with her, like for a $90 Pokemon card. And he sold this 40-year-old lady her first trading card ever, and he’s pulling up Alt. He’s checking his prices, checking the comps. And he’s like, “Yeah, I can take 90 for that one.” And he’s doing a deal and he’s like 11 at the time. And I’m like, “This is his introduction into how economics work, how business works, and he’s having fun doing it.” And it’s just like the coolest entry in the business for kids, too. And so, that’s also what pulled me back in is just creating these memories with my boys. And my daughter’s not into it yet but maybe she will be someday.
Leore Avidar: Yeah. It’s a version of the modern-day lemonade stand. Like, it’s like an intro. It’s a 1-of-1 getting into business. You know, I laugh. I say one of the best parts of my job is that I get to negotiate with 11 and 12-year-olds, right?
Brad Johnson: Yes.
Leore Avidar: You know what I mean? Like, a typical weekend for me, and I’m not joking, is I will get a call usually from somebody like you, he’s like, “My kid wants to give you some feedback on your app.” And then they’re like, “Can I put him on the phone?” And I love getting feedback. They’re customers at the end of the day. And sometimes it’s like, “Well, I see that you guys have this. How can I negotiate?” They’re literally like they’re using the app. They want to get feedback on it. They try to get negotiation advice and sometimes they’re like, “I heard you have this card. Can we make a deal on it?” And they’re trying their negotiation skills. You got to give them their respect. They’re either coming in that’s like, “Well, you know, the old value says it’s worth $100 but I think $80 is a really fair price if I were to buy it from you right now.”
Brad Johnson: Man, Leore, I’m telling you, it blew me away. There’s a kid. He actually has created a brand for himself. I’m sure you’ve connected with him. He’s known as the kid in a suit. The guy literally is at the Dallas Card Show in a full suit.
Leore Avidar: Yeah.
Brad Johnson: And he’s walking around. I mean, I think he’s got like $100,000, $200,000 worth of cards. And these kids, it is insane. I met this one kid. He couldn’t have been more than ten. He traded up. He traded up. And his goal was he wanted the ’87 Fleer, the Michael Jordan rookie that’s like an iconic card. And he had traded up to a PSA 5 or 6 that was at least a few thousand dollars from nothing. And it was all from doing deals and doing trades similar to sounds like when you jump back in and you started just seeing the opportunity and the market dynamics and just once you start to figure out it is very similar to the stock market. And like you mentioned, kind of Kobe being blue chip back to Zion, there are so many similarities where it’s like, “Oh, this is like a seed-level investment if you’re investing in a rookie.” Like, he could go to 10X, 20X, 100X, or he could go to nothing or you got like the small cap, the guy that had like the first good year or two, like Ja Morant, skyrocketed and now you see the off-court behavior. He’s gone the other way. And so, there’s just so many of these dynamics of like, do I want to bet on a Tom Brady that’s like that is a blue chip? It’s going to incrementally grow up over time but you’ve already missed the big jump, right? And so, it’s so fun and it’s, yeah, we won’t… Yeah, go ahead.
Leore Avidar: I was going to say I build my portfolio very similar to how I think about my stock portfolio, like I do an 80/20 type rule, 80% are I call it Goats Hall of Famers. And generally, the prices will at least increase in the rate of inflation. They’re stores of value over the long run and so that’s kind of how I think about the assets. And then there’s nothing better than speculating, right? So, I have 20% of my portfolio, like I’m betting on just up-and-comers, right? Anthony Edwards, Jonathan Kuminga on the Warriors. I’ll try to find people that I think…
Brad Johnson: Are you all basketball or do you diversify among sports?
Leore Avidar: My analysis has showed me that I can make the most money on basketball and the reason is, is that part of at least my strategy and, again, everyone has different strategies. I’m generally a long-term holder on cards. Like, I don’t wheel and deal too much and I think about one way that demand is created is whenever they’re on TV, you can think about the number of times an announcer is going to say that person’s name. It’s sheer demand equivalent. So, the average basketball player has a longer career than the average football player. There are more primetime games and more people are watching it. More people are hearing the name. There’s just more demand. The only people in the NFL that have that long of a career are quarterbacks. So, I’ll buy quarterbacks in the NFL, but I generally will do it once they hit their career accolades. So, like Mahomes, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning. I just bought a crazy card. It was Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Steve Young, all four of them, all their autographs on the card and a piece of the shield of their jersey. So, four shields.
Brad Johnson: Wow, that is a crazy card.
Leore Avidar: Back and forth, and it’s a 1-of-1. So, all Hall of Famers. Like, I’m not…
Brad Johnson: Okay. So, I’m assuming this was at the time where they were game worn or no on the jersey?
Leore Avidar: I think it is game worn. I have to read the back of the card to double check but all the autographs are on the card and again, they’re Hall of Famers. So, I don’t have any directional risk like they’re not getting injured tomorrow, right?
Brad Johnson: Yeah.
Leore Avidar: I speculated a lot last year like I bought Zach Wilson. I mean talk about losing 90% on something. I just lost it all. So, it’s just very hard in football. Like, you have 16 games. I don’t know if I have the formula. I think other people are much better at predicting and scouting than I am. So, I try to just stick to like my strategies that work through and through.
Brad Johnson: So, a couple just phrases to make sure the audience understand. So, game worn on a… So, what year? You probably know this history. At what year did they start taking jerseys and then putting them onto cards? Because at first, it was autographs was kind of the first alteration. I think that was late 90s, maybe, no, early 90s I think is what I remember there. And then they started taking pieces of jersey and memorabilia and putting them into the card. And then at some point, they started serial numbering cards where they would only make a set amount. So, when you say 1-of-1, it means that was the only card of that type ever made. So, it’s like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, you know, the equivalent of that in sports cards. So, maybe a little history there could be helpful.
Leore Avidar: Yeah. So, basically, I mean, you brought up the Junk Wax Era. So, technically, the Junk Wax Era ended in 1996. That was the first year of serial numbered cards. That was when the card manufacturing companies introduced real scarcity. And on the back of the card or on the front of the card, it would literally say, “Limited to,” and it would actually give you a serial number. So, if it was limited to 500, they would say, you know, “007 out of 500.” So, you knew how many existed and you knew which one was yours. So, it actually gave a unique identifier to every single card. So, all that started in 1996, which also happened to be Kobe Bryant’s rookie year. So, that created a lot of popularity amongst cards. And I think between this one I’m not going to quote myself. I have a feeling that 1999, maybe even 1998 was the first year that they started inserting jerseys into either Upper Deck or SP, and then it became a lot more pronounced in 2003 when they released Exquisite. And that became a base set where everything had, basically, it was not game used, it was player worn but that’s when they really started it, and that was LeBron’s year. So, both LeBron and Kobe had new products come out that really, I would say, like set the industry on fire.
Brad Johnson: So, I want to give a little more context here that we haven’t hit yet because this blew my mind when I kind of jumped back in during COVID. So, number one, the scarcity that created scarcity with the serial numbered card and then there were parallels where they would say, “Oh, this is a gold, so it’s out of ten.” And the other thing you just touched there was there became different levels of products. So, back in my day, there was the Topps baseball card. I remember the ’87 Topps with the wood frame. That was like the first year I jumped in. Topps had one product, I guess there was Topps traded, right? Which was basically like the rookies from that year. And then when I got back in, I’m like, “Whoa, what’s going on here?” Because there was Panini, which was like Topps, and then there were all of these different levels of sets and cards where you would go all the way up to the very top, which was like the flawless, the national treasures, which were super scarce cards with autos included, with jerseys included. But these, I mean, at the time I was looking at them $2,000 or $3,000 a box for like five cards.
And so, I was like, “Whoa, this is a whole different game than I grew up with.” And then where my mind was really blown, which I think a lot of this happened during COVID, you started seeing seven-figure card sales. So, there was like a Tom Brady’s like a super scarce rookie card. There was a LeBron, but these were literally cards that were not the Mickey Mantle’s, the Babe Ruth’s that were almost 100 years old. These were cards that had been manufactured within the first the last five, ten years going for seven figures. And that’s where I realized the investment grade opportunity, this is not just like the cards I used to collect as a kid anymore. So, I’d love to hear just like your thought, your speaking to that because I believe you guys also have a private fund now where you’re actually going out and buying these grail-level cards of goats that are seven-figure type of cards. So, I want financial advisors out there to realize this is not going out buying $10, $50, $100, $200 cards. There are like high-level investments when it comes to cards these days.
Leore Avidar: We have the largest fund in the world. It’s a $25 million fund that invested in basically like high-end sports cards with the goal of, obviously, like making money and returning it on our investment. I started the fund in the first place is this category is not correlated to the S&P so it’s a great way to diversify your portfolio. So, we started it in June 2020. Actually, we bought the most expensive card in the public market back then. It was LeBron James, his rookie card. It sold for $1.8 million. It was a record at that time. And, yeah, I believe over the course of the next 30 years that this asset class is basically going to be this is our generation’s version of art, right? Art is a store of culture. That’s kind of how I think about it. Yeah, it’s a store of stories of that time and it’s told in different ways. And I think we’re living in a generation where sports is a big part of our culture. It’s why the Mickey Mantle is so expensive or a Babe Ruth card is so expensive. These are figures of our history that are very important and relevant to society. And so, why wouldn’t a LeBron James card or a Michael Jordan card or a Steph Curry card or a Giannis card be worth that amount in 30, 40 years? And so, that’s kind of the bet that I’ve been making.
The second part that I’ve studied a lot on asset classes, particularly collectibles, is that they really started gaining value 25 years after the fact. And it’s this really unique phenomenon. And a lot of people ask me, like, “Why 25 years?” It generally becomes like most people when they start collecting things at the age, as you mentioned, at 6 to 13, and then 25 years later when they’re in their thirties and forties, well, they have discretionary income for the first time in their life and, well, what do they want to spend their money on, that thing when they were a kid that they couldn’t get but made them really happy. It’s happiness. We’re all trying to figure out like it’s joy, right, and joy bottled up into something. You’re remembering that story of that moment, that moment with your dad or your mom or your friend at that local card store, seeing that card, and now it’s a moment for you to say, “Wow. I’ve made it in my life. I want to go and get that.” And so, you see this in all asset classes that after 25 years, they really start getting a lot of value because of that nostalgia effect. And so, 1996, first year of true scarcity.
So, 25 years comes out to around 2021. Combine that with COVID and low-interest rates, combining that with gambling becoming legal and this is a way of betting on players, it’s actually investing in players, you just created a perfect marketplace and it’s not like this, it’s not like NFTs where this market just popped up overnight. This market has been around for, I mean, first cards were made in the 1800s. So, it’s a very mature market. And so, yeah, I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. I think with the investments that people are putting into this space, I only think that it’s getting bigger. So, there’s just a lot of reasons to invest in it right now.
Brad Johnson: All of what you said, 100% nostalgia, guilty right here. Rickey Henderson was my guy growing up. I had a 1982 Topps, two years after his rookie year, and I still had it. It was in the basement box, just like the one your parents sent you. And so, I go get that thing out. By the way, I just got it back. It got a PSA 8. Not bad.
Leore Avidar: Pretty good.
Brad Johnson: Not worth any. It’s sort of like $50. It’s worth nothing but a 10 would be worth a lot. But what was one of the first cards I bought? I went to the 1980 Rickey Henderson, The rookie card I could never afford as a kid, understood the grading process. So, one of my grail cards I now have is it’s actually an SGC 10. So, there’s a population of 8 and it’s $40,000, $50,000 card, somewhere in there, give or take. But what’s crazy is that store of value you just talked about, the store of happiness, I love the definition there. It’s so true. I’ve converted at least five of my buddies that are about my age into card junkies because same thing. They grew up in my era. They were going to the sports card shows. They had their old box of cards. Now, they’re getting back into it with the kids. So, I had that 25-year increment. The other thing is it’s like a generational thing to where now the kids and they can go repeat those memories, it’s the same reason all the cartoons from my era are back on TV and they’re movies now, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All they’re doing is going through these nostalgia cycles. And of course, what are all the parents doing? They’re going and getting their kids in to what brought them joy as a kid because they want to share that happiness with their children.
But I do think when you put an investment lens over top of that, it just makes sense once you start to see these cycles and how they repeat. What details on the LeBron rookie just so because there’s the difference from when I was a kid, there were like three Rickey Henderson rookies. That was like Topps, Donruss, Fleer, right? Because those were the three card makers. Today, there are thousands of rookie cards, rookie card, by the way, being their first issued card as a professional player. So, now, you probably know. I mean, how many hundreds of different variations of a LeBron rookie are there?
Leore Avidar: Yeah. There’s probably like if I had to guess less than 2,000 or something like that but I think not all are held equal or not all have the same…
Brad Johnson: So, can you speak to what makes that LeBron the million-dollar LeBron versus here’s a bunch of LeBrons that are like $100 LeBrons? Like, why does that one matter more than others?
Leore Avidar: Yeah. So, basically, the elements that make a specific card more in demand than another demand so first is the manufacturer of the card. There are different brands of manufactured cards, and every brand had different product. So, you had some high-end products. So, when you bought the pack, it would cost I think $3,000 or something like that. And then there were the low-end one where you could buy a pack for 299. So, the first is the manufacturer. So, in this case, it is the manufacturer that was the most expensive. It was the highest-end product. It literally came in like this wooden case and I think you got like probably seven cards in it and you’re paying thousands of dollars. So, very expensive. Not everyone could be able to afford it. So, that’s number one. The second part is…
Brad Johnson: Was that one, on the LeBron, was that the Exquisite?
Leore Avidar: Yeah.
Brad Johnson: Okay. Exquisite.
Leore Avidar: Exquisite. So, it was the best brand. And then the second part within that brand, they have different parallels as you kind of described, different rarities of different sets. So, in this particular one, there was the base one which they made 99 of, and then they made a really unique one that was just out of 23. So, it was a patch of his jersey and an autograph. So, they call them the Rookie Patch Autos. It was kind of the rarest rookie card that you can get. So, you can either get the 99 version or the 23 version. So, already very few people are getting these because it’s very hard to get them within the boxes. So, this one is the rare parallel, which is the out of 23. There is no other rare parallel out there. The patch, which a lot of people care about, they talk about how many colors are in it. So, it’s generally like it’s either completely white one, two, or three, or four. So, there’s three colors on the patch, so it makes it a really rare patch. And then there’s the grading element so the card is graded by Beckett as a BGS 9.5, which is the highest grade that you can get in that card. And there’s only two of in the world. So, you’re talking about the best brand in the rarest form and the highest grade in the lowest pop of the best player. And so, it really is the best of the best of the best.
Brad Johnson: And let’s now go to you mentioned the S&P 500 so, obviously, pretty much everybody listening to this show will know what that is because there probably have a lot of assets they manage sitting in that index right now. And when you look at what I would call the high-end collectible markets for sports cards, fine wine, cars, watches, art you mentioned earlier. What I see Alt doing is with the invention of the Internet, you’re democratizing access to the information. So, you’ve got Warren Buffett, obviously, I think obviously the most famous investor on the planet alive today, I remember reading a story about him and back in the day of 60s, 70s, he would go to the library. He would check out these volumes of information that was the company financials, and he would have to sit there and literally sift through like I’m picturing like in a little like dark corner of a library, the company information to see where are the inefficiencies, where are the opportunities as me as an investor, where I can buy it at a price less than what it’s worth? And I just take that the internet was invented, now, you’ve got all of that information with the click of a button on the internet. I see the same dynamic in cards, although it’s been slower to get there because it was a very opaque marketplace.
You were doing the same thing in a Beckett Price Guide. You had to go to these local like swap meets or card shops and negotiate, just like stocks were traded back in the pit in the day. Now, the Internet has made this accessible, and now you’re aggregating all these auction prices, not just eBay, but other notable ones, Goldin, and so forth. And so, now you brought it up to today’s speed, and now you can really do some really cool things where you can start to price these. And so, I want to go back to performance-based. If we looked at what’s called the high-end sports card market, if you’ve got a definition for that, I’d love to hear it. But if we lay that side by side with the S&P 500 and just here’s, historically, the average returns over extended amounts of time, how does the sports card market compare to that on the high-end card side?
Leore Avidar: Yeah. I think the high-end is probably a little bit more stable than the rest of the market. I think honestly, the last two years there’s definitely been a ton of volatility, just like there has been in any asset class but it’s all about predicting the right player. And so, the high end of the market, there’s not really an index right now, so there’s not really anything that I can directionally quote. But what I can tell you is that if you get your player right, you can outperform the market by a magnitude. If you get the player wrong, obviously, you’re going to get crushed. Like, I was just checking this morning Elly De La Cruz. It’s like, you know, I don’t follow baseball probably as much as you do but he’s on a tear right now. I think I saw his cards up 83% in the last 90 days.
Brad Johnson: Wow.
Leore Avidar: So, I mean, that doesn’t happen in the stock market, you know what I mean? But if you predicted him correctly, like you’re obviously doing very well. On the flip side, as you mentioned, Ja Morant, you’re probably not doing so hot. So, the high end of the market is a little bit more stable for Hall of Famers. So, if we’re looking at Tom Brady cards, we’re looking at Michael Jordan cards, I do think that those are a little bit more stable. The market is probably from the peak. It is down probably around the 40% but over the long run, I do think that probably the growth is somewhere in the teens.
Brad Johnson: And one of the things I’ve seen, and you can probably put a lot more context around this than me. So, let’s go, just trying to think of a card that would maybe be a good one, a player people know. Let’s just go Patrick Mahomes, just because that’s my hometown guy. And obviously, his rookie year was 2017. So, now, there’s, I feel like, thousands of variations of his rookie cards. And you’ve got what I would call the lower tier. You could probably pick up a Mahomes’ rookie card for 25, 50, maybe 75 bucks on the low end. And then all the way up to, actually, I believe Mahomes had a seven-figure sale too, the high-end cards.
Leore Avidar: $4.2 million is the record for a Patrick Mahomes’ card.
Brad Johnson: And was that National Treasures? What was the…
Leore Avidar: National Treasure Shield, yeah.
Brad Johnson: So, the patch had the NFL shield on it, which is a sought after, just like the logo man is on the NBA side. And so, if you look at a player like that, if we’re making the comparison to stocks, he’s not a Tom Brady with seven championships where his goat status is locked in. I mean there’s like the Ben Roethlisbergers of the world that won two Super Bowls early and then fell off from there. So, he’s established but there’s still a lot of career in front of him, injury, a lot of things could happen.
If we look at the high-end market, but you go to almost retired or Hall of Fame players, I feel like that’s where it stabilizes, unless it’s an O.J. Simpson scenario where he does something insane after he’s done. That’s a pretty locked-in value there. If we look at this through a fund manager lens, the $25 million fund now, are you allocating heavily towards established careers, Hall of Fame, goat-level players, super scarce cards? Or is there any speculation piece of that, like a Patrick Mahomes sort of card that still has a lot of career left in front of them?
Leore Avidar: Yeah, So, it’s 80/20, so same kind of strategy. So, we have Peyton Manning’s best card. We have Drew Brees’ best card. We have one Mahomes’ card, right? We speculated, we bought Josh Allen’s best card. And we’re up 500% on Josh Allen. We bought Joey Burrow’s best card, right? So, yeah, 80/20 is probably, I would say, kind of the formula for us.
Brad Johnson: Cool. Cool. Okay, so there’s a ton of stuff we haven’t got into, Leore. We haven’t got into any of the scaling business stuff. You’re actually running two companies at the same time, so I want to get there. But before we jump off the collectibles, what’s happening at Alt, anything that we should touch on there before we move to maybe business building and some of the stuff you’re doing with your other company?
Leore Avidar: I think probably the only really interesting thing that we didn’t talk about was this concept of the Alt value. One of the things when we talked about how there’s a lot of arbitrage to be made in opaque markets, there’s a lot of information asymmetry or information arbitrage, I think Warren Buffett is a primary use case of how he made his money is by being able to find information that others didn’t have. It’s probably why he was able to do a lot better than net better. He used to do a lot better than he does today because of that inventory.
Brad Johnson: For sure.
Leore Avidar: Right now, that information is pretty democratized, to be quite honest, in the stock market, right? So, everyone’s trying to figure out how do they get an edge. So, when you’re on the marketplace side, our goal is actually to democratize all the information to make it a really fair playing field, because, especially a lot of people on this call maybe haven’t bought in a card before. And so, we want to make it really easy for them to figure out how much is this worth, how much should I buy it. Is this a good card? And so, a lot of the effort that we do is actually providing the values, so that people don’t have to dig for this information in different pockets of the Internet. And so, we spend a lot of our R&D budget on just the data science, the machine learning on being able to create a dynamic price guide so that people can know, “Hey, how much do I pay for this card?”
Brad Johnson: That’s actually how I started using Alt. So, just some intel for you, and I think a lot of people have found Alt just simply, it’s been the most holistic view of accurate pricing, because you can go to eBay, which I believe is still the biggest marketplace for cards currently, but you only have eBay historical sales and then you only have them for a set amount of time and they fall off. You started aggregating and pulling from all these sources where it was, if we could rewind back to the 80s, it was like you were pulling from all the card shows and card shops and aggregating the prices. Well, now, the high-end cards are at auction on the Internet somehow. So, I love that. That’s been huge.
The other piece of that, getting into the investment side, illiquid assets, the not-so-fun thing about them is you can have a card worth $100,000, but it’s sitting there in a display case, or actually, I store most of my high-end cards with you, you have a professional vaulting service that maybe we get into that because that has to be interesting. But you now actually offer a loan service where let’s say I’ve got a portfolio of $500,000 worth of sports cards, you will actually create some liquidity. And you have to obviously be able to price the cards to be able to do that. So, let’s go into the loan product and how that came to be. I think a lot of advisors would find that interesting.
Leore Avidar: Yeah. So, for me, any asset that’s a legitimate asset, somebody has to be able to take it as collateral and be able to offer a loan or some type of liquidity product against it, right? So, we do have an asset-backed product. So, if you do have that $100,000 card or $100,000 portfolio, we have a dynamic lending product that will figure out what loan-to-value we are comfortable giving based on the collateral that you have. And we look at the underlying player’s risks, pricing history to come up with basically an LTV for your basket. And then, based on that, we create, it’s probably two clicks and you can basically– it’s a line of credit, essentially.
Brad Johnson: I mean, if you can share, don’t share anything that shouldn’t be public, but what’s a standard loan-to-value with sports cards?
Leore Avidar: Yeah, I think it depends on, again, the players. If you’re having a basket of Hall of Famers, it’s very different than a basket of risky and speculative players. So, it’ll be anywhere between 15% and call it 30%, 33%.
Brad Johnson: Cool. And so, basically, Alt, the company, that’s your collateral for the loan. You probably have multimillions of dollars stored, I would think, in your vault right now. So, let’s go to that because I think that’s also super interesting. I look at it, it’s almost like a wine cellar for sports cards. You ship them off. They’re in a secured facility. So, let’s talk about that because I entrust you all with a decent amount of sports cards of my own. Let’s talk about the actual storage facility. How did that come to be? How hard was that to get up and running?
Leore Avidar: So, I model everything around how I see the modern-day brokerage houses for stocks function. And custody, they all act as your primary custodian. You don’t even think about it. It’s like, where is my stuff? You have a digital stock certificate. So, we act as your custodian as well. We have a bank-grade vault. We don’t disclose the location. And yeah, we keep your cards very safe. We digitize them, we archive them. And so, basically, you can still interact with them, you can still trade them, you can still sell them, you can still take a loan against them. But it’s basically, instead of you’re going and putting them in your local bank safety deposit box, you’re sending it to a professional company and we’re going to keep it pretty safe for you.
Brad Johnson: And really, there’s so many analogies and similarities between the stock market. Like, you log on to a Fidelity account. I’ve got this many shares. Here’s the historical pricing of it. Same thing. I’d pull up the card. You guys do an incredible job digitizing it because I’ve got an app where you could see the front, you could see the back. Alt, you guys, obviously, will have the graded cards. And so, now, if I’ve got a PSA 10, which would be PSA’s version of a perfect day Gem Mint card, I can now scroll down, I can see the historical pricing based on auctions, I can see the pop count or the population count and PSA slabs and BGS. SGC, coming anytime soon?
Leore Avidar: Soon.
Brad Johnson: Soon. Okay, good, that will be helpful. But you can really see a population count. Such a cool, intuitive product. And there’s a lot of very established companies out there that are great companies back at PWCC. But what you all nailed is the intuitive user experience where there’s other companies that do similar things, vaulting cards, auctions, all that, but where you all have nailed it, and I just want to give you a compliment is the UI and the user experience. So, there’s a lot of groups out there just clunky, it’s not intuitive. And so, continue to keep taking the feedback from the 11 and 12-year-olds, I guess. This is what I could tell you.
Leore Avidar: Yeah, we have a lot to go. We have a lot to do. I mean, it’s a journey. We’re only three years in at the moment.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, we’ve got a bunch of financial advisors listening and watching in. I didn’t realize this until we were prepping for this conversation. Say, you’re CEO of two companies. And so, we’ve talked about Alt or Alt.xyz. Alt.xyz for those that want to go check out the website. But also, the second company, so the company you founded first is a direct mail company. And so, let’s talk about that. I believe the name of that one is Lob. Is that L-O-B?
Leore Avidar: Yeah. So, Lob is a venture-backed company. It’s a modern platform that allows enterprises to automate their direct mail. So, if you think about any large financial institution who is trying to market and they want to use direct mail, they don’t want to go to the post office or they don’t want to interact with the printer, they want to be able to go and integrate their– maybe, it’s their internal software. They just want a nice UI where they can run a large-scale marketing campaign. So, you can go on to Lob, you can tell us all the addresses that you have that you want to send it to. You can create a very complex direct mail piece. When I say direct mail, people generally think of that Bed Bath & Beyond 20% coupon. That’s their old way of doing things. It’s not personalized, right?
As an example, one of the campaigns that I think recently we did or that someone did through the platform, Target was trying to do a campaign to get people to go into the local store. So, they know your address, they know where the local Target store is. They generated directions from Google Maps. And so, every single person had unique directions on how to get from their house to the local Target store, right?
Brad Johnson: That’s crazy.
Leore Avidar: So, obviously, that’s going to drive a lot more ROI than you are, “Hey, come to Target, you get 20% off, figure out where you actually go and do this.” So, we work with a lot of companies who are trying to generate demand for their business, whether it’s acquisition, retention, sometimes it’s compliance mailings. And we do all kind of the software for that.
So, yeah, I’ve been doing that since 2013. It’s a very large-scale business. We did over $100 million last year. The business is on pace to go public in the course of the next two to three years. So, it’s a pretty large enterprise. And it’s been my baby for 10-plus years. And I wouldn’t have started Alt if it weren’t for my passion for cards and business. And I live and breathe business every single day. It’s my favorite thing to do. I love learning. I tell people my first dream was to be in the NBA, but I’m not 6’6. You look like you’re probably taller than me.
So, for me, I wanted to be the best at what I do. And that’s in business. It’s building a really successful company, right? And so, that’s my NBA, and it’s something that I can compete against myself. I can push myself like it’s not– unlike, a basketball game, when I win in building a company, no one else loses. And so, I love business, I love competing in business. And I want to build a lot of value for the world and for the customers that I’m selling into.
Brad Johnson: I love the abundance mindset. The people I want to surround myself with, it’s not the zero-sum game. For me to win, you have to lose like politics. That’s why politics gets so ugly. There’s only one winner and the other one has to lose. To your point on business, a successful business can make others’ lives better.
I want to tell a story. I wasn’t planning on this but had a good chat with your Chief of Staff, Meredith, yesterday, and we were kind of prepping for this conversation. And somehow, we got into the conversation of how she became your Chief of Staff. And I think this just speaks to your approach because she was talking about your love for business and the fact you’re running two companies at once. And she said, “Well, yeah, I want to start my own business someday. I want to be a CEO.”
And I think you guys connected at a dinner party or something. And she said, “I got to know Leore. He loves business, He loves to learn.” And you said, “Well, if you want to be a CEO, just come be my Chief of Staff for a couple of years. You’ll get CEO Training 101, then go start your business.” And you have to have an abundance mindset for that conversation to happen because, unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of business owners, it’s almost like when you join my company, I want to shackle you to the desk and I don’t want you to leave. If you leave, that takes away from what we’re building.
And I think that’s complete BS. It’s like everybody has a season in life. If somebody at Triad spends two or three years here and then goes somewhere else and builds the business of their dreams, like, great, we had them for a season in their life. They were a contributor, they learned, and then go build something awesome, and that said so much about you before we actually technically met. And so, share that with me because that has to be one of the secrets to how you’ve scaled two businesses very quickly.
Leore Avidar: Yeah, I mean, it starts with you have to be people-oriented, right? You have to understand people deeply and you can’t be selfish. And so, a person who comes and works with me, I want to understand their motivation, right? How can I make them successful in their career? Because that’s going to motivate them for whatever time that they are with me and my company to help me create value. Because it’s a trade, everything is a trade. And so, if you know what somebody else is looking to do, you can get the most out of them.
And so, at least for me, the people that I like to hire is people who are really curious and very entrepreneurial and that does mean that they’re going to start a business one day, right? And instead of me thinking, “Oh, man, they’re going to be leaving in two years and I’m going to have to go and hire another person,” well, I flip it around and say, “Awesome, I’m going to go help them start their business. I can then go invest in their business.” They can be successful. And that’s just another way that I can also be successful, right?
So, if you invest in people in the long run, again, it’s that mindset of abundance. They can be very successful and you can be part of their journey too. So, I’ve had a lot of employees who have started businesses, some even more successful than mine. And I’ve gotten to teach them and start their journey and I’m along for the ride as well, right? And it creates this ecosystem, and that just compounds over time.
So, I always think about business, it’s not a discrete game. It’s not like, everything that you do affects things later on. And so, whenever, again, going back to hiring somebody, it’s not that one time that they’re going to be working for you, right? It could be, it’s that one first impression that can compound both from a reputational perspective, they might go talk to somebody and say, “Man, I learned a lot just from being at that company. And it propelled me in my career when I want to go and when I went on to work for another company,” or “I learned so much at that company and I was able to start my own business and the CEO then gave me the confidence and that invested in my business too.”
So, yeah, that’s just my approach. I want to build an ecosystem. I want people to have the same chance that I had. I want them to make the same mistakes that I had. A lot of people, I tell this quite openly, but Lob was my third business and Alt is my fourth. That means that the first two did not make it, right? But I had to go through those chances and I wouldn’t change anything for the world. And I love what I do. I want somebody else to go and have that same experience. And so, I’m always encouraging people to start companies, probably too much, like just start the company. You’ll fail, but it’s a good learning. It’s usually the third or the fourth one that works out, right?
Brad Johnson: Yeah.
Leore Avidar: But you got to love business to do that. So, I think I attract a lot of people who are excited about that and I want those people to come under my wing and I have a lot of patience to teach them.
Brad Johnson: Well, you nailed something that’s definitely core to what I believe too, Leore, and it’s there’s compound interest, obviously. You grew up in finance. You know how that works. I grew up in finance. I know how that works. Some call it the Eighth Wonder of the World. I think what a lot of people forget is compound relationships, and when you invest into relationships early and then to people, how that can exponentially impact you.
One of my favorite quotes from Cameron Herold, he came on the podcast and he said, “Your network is your net worth.” And I love that, not from a financial aspect, which obviously, can help there too, but from a relational aspect of how awesome is it, like Meredith, very intelligent. Obviously, that was quick. And I’m like, this girl is going places. And how cool is that going to be 10 years from now, where she tells the story on a podcast someday of her time at your company and what she learned and how that fueled her company, whatever that came to be down the road, like that’s the stuff that fires me up is investing into others. So, I just love that approach. Any additional thoughts on just scaling, acquiring great talent, thoughts around that?
Leore Avidar: Well, I think you can’t be successful without hiring great talent. I spend more than 50% of my time recruiting people and talking to my talents and coaching them. It’s by far the most important responsibility that a CEO has outside of setting the right culture and then creating the right long-term vision for the company. So, I always say, in the most purest form, the CEO’s job is to hire amazing talent, create a really strong culture, and to set people on that vision. And that’s the recipe for success, right? But if you don’t get the people part right, you can’t get anything right. So, it’s so important to do that.
I would say another part of my leadership that at least I do is I’m very authentically me all the time, which gives people permission to be authentically themselves. Yeah, I’m bashful to just be myself. I’m very comfortable in my own skin. And so, if it means it’s a nice day and it’s 90 degrees out and I’m wearing a tank top on a call, like I don’t need to dress up professionally, I’m going to just show up and I’m going to feel comfortable and I’m going to do me, right? And I think it breeds a really great culture. And I just find that it removes a lot of this– when I worked on Wall Street, I had to wear a suit. I had to follow all these rules. And I always would ask myself, “Why? No one here is comfortable. It’s not like we want to wear a suit,” right?
And so, I rid myself of all of these things that maybe are taking away from me making smart decisions, having impactful conversations, or doing the work that I need to. And so, I try to remove all the bullsh*t, right? And so, that’s just one of the things that’s really important for me. I want to have fun during the day. I want to work. I don’t want to think through all that. Anything that’s bullsh*t or politics just doesn’t work at any of my companies.
Brad Johnson: Truth. Love that. Love that. I feel very much the same way. I think one of the greatest compliments you can get as a leader is that you’re authentic because I spent some time in corporate America. And to your point, I also grew up, I remember as soon as I got into finance, I had to go spend like, I don’t know, more money than I had at the time on three or four nice suits. And it was like this pretender game, where it was like, I got to dress the part to be able to fit in.
And as I have just matured in this space, I’ve just gone more like, I want to wear the Jordan 1s to the office someday. I wear the Jordan 1s because they’re comfortable, they’re me. And I’ve just found, to your point, people respect that. And I like this dude, just like who he is. Like, long hair, that’s not cool in the circle of finance. And you know what? I’m like, “I don’t care. I’m just going to do me,” to your point. And so, yeah, man.
Leore Avidar: It doesn’t affect your job. It doesn’t affect. People shouldn’t care about that, you know what I mean? And not only that but then they see you, I wanted to wear my Jordan 1s too today, right? Like, yeah, I’m going to do that tomorrow. And I think that’s where it gets people excited. They’re like, “Man, I respect him.” I think that was a great point.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, let’s go back to talent acquisition. We’re very fortunate at Triad. We’re working with the upper echelon, the top 1% of independent financial advisors. And one of the biggest hurdles I see get in the way, they’re great salespeople, they’re great at inspiration and motivation, they’re hard chargers. You work next to a lot of Wall Street people. It’s just like the type-A personalities. They’re going to go get– you’re right, they’re problem solvers. That’s really tough to slow down and translate that when you have to pour into a team, delegate to a team.
So, how do you start? Like, maybe we start at the very beginning. You’ve talked a lot about culture and vision. How do you go headhunt great talent? Are you hopping on LinkedIn? Are you working your warm network? What are some places you’ve found where you can find great talent? And then, maybe just walk us through that process of like, here’s how I bring them into the company, the interview process, get them into our culture. What’s that look like?
Leore Avidar: So, the crazy part is I’ve learned, you can find talent everywhere. There’s not a recipe. I’ve hired 11 people from putting job postings on Craigslist, right? And so, people are looking for jobs everywhere. I think here’s I would say some of my interview success, or again, this is not a steadfast rule because what I’m looking for might be completely different than somebody else. I do not care what college you have gone to, like I don’t think I read any resumes. When people come in interview with me, I very much care about how your brain operates, right?
And so, the first and foremost, I need to find people that are compatible with my working style. And so, that’s something that I’ve had to be really honest with myself on and what works and what doesn’t work. So, the first one I’m always looking for, I need to work with logical people. I’m a very logical person. When I communicate, I need to see a linear fashion of thinking so that I can understand what they are planning to do from the strategy that I have built so that I can basically, in my mind, draw out and see if the expected value of the decisions that they’re making are going to produce positive impact for the company.
So, when I’m interviewing somebody, I’m asking a lot of questions on numbers, on their goals, the decisions that they made. What did they think? What was the impact of that? What was the actual impact of that? And I’ll go over and over and over again because what I’m trying to do, there’s this really great book called Thinking in Bets. I’m trying to see if the decisions that they’re making beforehand, whatever they think the impact is, over time, that they’re generally right. because that shows a logical pattern of thinking, right?
So, that first and foremost is a criteria that you will not be able to work at any of my companies if you’re not a logical thinker because we won’t get along. If you come to me and say, “Well, I want to do this because I think it’s the right thing,” I’m like, “Well, how are you going to know if you’re right? How are we going to scale that? How are we going to reproduce that? How do you know how much budget you need to spend for that?” “I just know.” Wouldn’t work in my world.
So, I care a lot about just people being very logical. We talked about people being authentic. It’s important to me that I don’t have to feel like I’m pretending or that you’re pretending. We’re both professionals here. We came because we geek out on business, right? And so, I think, being authentic is feeling comfortable in your own skin. It’s being self-aware. It’s being both a good communicator and a good listener. So, I would say all of those things where I kind of get wrapped into one.
And then the last one I would say is grit and resourcefulness. I like people who can unblock themselves. I’m good. If I don’t know something, I have the tools that I need to do to go and find the answer. I don’t need to go to somebody always and say, “How do I do this?” Ever since the Internet got created, there’s Google, there’s ChatGPT, with those two things, you can find the answer to almost everything. And so, I like people who are generally resourceful and can unblock themselves because they can move at a pace that’s faster than anybody else. So, those are generally my three buckets. I don’t think you need to check for hundred different things. I think if you have those three things, I’ll give you a chance.
Brad Johnson: Love it. Let’s talk about self-awareness. As a leader, I’ve just found it’s one of the most important things to develop. And I think some people naturally tend to have a little more of it. Some people are completely oblivious, and there’s nothing more painful in my world than being around somebody that’s completely not self-aware. And so, I would love to hear your journey of self-awareness. Are you the type of guy where you have a team? And I know, some people call it radical transparency of like, hey, at any point in time in this meeting, if you want to call us out, it’s kind of like, I heard it said one time, we want people that disagree nicely in our company and kind of hash ideas out.
Let’s go to self-awareness and then how that translates to communication with inside of your companies. How have you developed that, yourself, your team? What are your thoughts there?
Leore Avidar: Yeah, well, man, I do not know how to teach self-awareness. I do think that is something that if you have it, you have it. And if you don’t have it, I don’t really know how you– like you’re asking me about my journey of self-awareness, I don’t know where that comes from. I think maybe it comes from making a lot of mistakes or being wrong or some sort of scenario where you thought maybe you were the best at something and then you got that culture shock or that moment of realization, you’re like, “Oh, wow, I’m not.”
So, I think awareness maybe comes with perspective, just me as I’m talking through it. So, I mean, the way I check self-awareness is, again, I just go and ask them what their weaknesses are. And I find that I know my real weaknesses. You know what I mean? My real weaknesses, not the ones that I’m just going to say, I’m a perfectionist or things like that. If someone can articulately tell me something that they’re truly working on and I can see that it’s a real pain, that shows me that real self-awareness. It’s the ability and it’s the vulnerability to be able to share it, articulate it, and for it to be real, if that makes sense.
Brad Johnson: It makes a lot of sense, yeah.
Leore Avidar: And it’s hard. And I think you have to have a level of perspective and vulnerability to be able to do it. It took me a long time for me to be like, you know what? I move very quickly and I can overlook things sometimes because I have a need for being the first to finish something, right? And so, being able to share like, okay, how has that negatively impacted decisions that I’ve made or experiences that I’ve been through? And to share that and to talk through, like, okay, this person understands how they’re showing up every single day, there’s good self-awareness there.
For the second part that you were talking about more on the communication side, stylistically, I like people who are comfortable disagreeing with me. I naturally communicate in a way that sounds like I know things, right? I don’t know everything. I can tell you that right away. And so, I need to surround myself with people who can say, “Hey, Leore, you’re missing. You have a blind spot here,” or “I don’t know if you’ve thought about this.” And so, I like that approach. I know some people don’t like it. I feel very comfortable. I take feedback really well. So, if we’re having a strategic meeting and I’m actively soliciting feedback for people to tell me, what am I missing here? How can we be doing this differently?
I’m sizing the impact this way based on this map, which one of my assumptions is wrong, right? But I don’t think that would work if I wasn’t able to take feedback. And so, again, if you’re good at taking feedback, I think that approach really works really well. If you’re not good at taking feedback, I don’t think you can get people to challenge yourself. And if you can’t take feedback, it’s very hard to be a leader.
Brad Johnson: Well, yeah, I remember one time in a meeting, I’d seen this happen a few times. One time I was observing a meeting, and I forget, some topic was thrown out and Timmer had the guts to step out and say, “Hey, this was something that happened. I think we can level up here.” And what I saw transpire right after that was the founder, the leader basically criticized them, kind of undressed them in front of the group.
And what I saw happened there was like immediately, they put their head down and then they’re like, you just knew they were never going to speak up again because their voice was not welcome. And it’s the old “praise in public, criticize in private.” And I’ve seen so many leaders back to the self-awareness, they do this and they don’t even realize it’s happening. And then they wonder why their team isn’t behind them, doesn’t speak up, doesn’t add ideas because every time they do, they just get shot down. So, you have thoughts on that?
Leore Avidar: Yeah, it’s very hard. I mean, listen, I’ve also been the one who has probably done that early in my career and made those mistakes. And I probably still catch myself. I’m, again, not a perfect person. There will be times where I’m very passionate about an idea and I’m interjecting or I’m overspeaking on somebody. But it’s important to catch yourself in those moments and either give them space to talk.
So, again, I just want to make sure that people know that I care about them and I’m listening to them and I do want to hear it, right? It doesn’t always mean that I’m going to take their idea and just run with it, but I want to know that I respect their voice. People want to be heard, right? They come to companies because they want to make an impact and that they’re intelligent beings who want to share their perspectives.
And if I don’t believe that, then I either have the wrong person because I just don’t trust them or respect their opinion. But by nature, you need to hire people that are more intelligent than you. Otherwise, kind of going back to hiring, one of the qualities that I look for is I need to leave the call learning something from that person. And it can be anything. It doesn’t have to be about business, it’s just about something because I want to know that this person is better at me than something, right? Because every person has that in them, you just have to find what that is.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, so much wisdom there. And what I love is the vulnerability to be able to just admit it. You mentioned it a little earlier. We kind of glanced over it. But self-awareness is vulnerability as well, to where you’re able to admit in front of people like, I don’t have it all figured out. I’ve got this flaw, I made this mistake. And what I found when you do it, it’s kind of a Brene Brown, she got vulnerability, like a thing. It’s amazing how much that attracts people to you when you show your flaws and you’re willing to admit them. And I’ve heard a lot about it just in our conversation today.
Well, let’s go to, I know we’re at the end of our time and you’ve got two companies going here. So, I just want to say thanks, Leore. It’s been really fun. I’m super sad I can’t go hang out at the National with you. But please, give us a little preview of your time at the National and maybe explain to people what the National is that have no clue what that is, but that spread around the corner for you.
Leore Avidar: Yeah, I think you gave a really good overview before, but it’s at least the card market version of the pit, right? So, we’re all live trading, we’re all going to Chicago together. It’s the biggest card show of the year. We are showing up big this year. We’re creating a pop-up museum. So, we’re bringing the world’s most expensive cards. We’re bringing the LeBron James’ card that I mentioned that we bought for $1.8 million. We’re bringing a Giannis’ best rookie card. It’s a one of one that we bought for also $1.8 million and we’re up a lot on. And then we’re bringing Steph Curry’s rookie card, also one of one that we bought for north of $5 million which is probably the most expensive modern card, and a whole slew of other assets.
And then we’re bringing cold, hard cash for anyone who wants to sell something on our exchange. So, one of our products is we do give cash advances, and so, we’re just pumped to really push liquidity and really show people this is a real asset. And we’re willing to give you cold, hard cash right now if you can sign something to our next auction.
So, yeah, I’m pumped and pumped to just go around, buy some cards myself. Before the show starts, I go and look at all the dealer’s inventory and I see if I can find something that I like. And then once the show starts, I’m in work mode. I want to talk to customers. I want people to get excited about their platform. I want to hear their feedback. I want to go talk to the 12-year-olds, maybe some 11. And I do some trades with them. I just have some fun, you know what I mean? Invest in the future of the hobby.
Brad Johnson: Any big cards you have your eye on, where if you find it, that’s going to be at the top of your list?
Leore Avidar: These days, I’m just looking for something that gets me really excited. It’s that nostalgia feel, like I don’t have a lot of football cards. And then I saw the Dan Marino, Steve Young, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre of Cardinals, like, I got to have it. So, I’m just looking for cards that just get me really juiced up and excited, you know what I mean? So, it’s not a specific player, per se, but yeah, just something that’s going to bring some great memories.
Brad Johnson: Well, I’m going to challenge you. So, here’s my investment advice. Bet on Mahomes. He’s got Andy Reid. He’s got a good core around him. He’s young. I feel like he’s not the Josh Allen that’s going to– I love Josh Allen, by the way, but Josh Allen plays reckless a bit. Mahomes fixes spots. I think he’s pretty smart, slides when he should, runs out of bounds when he should. So, I would trot out at least one high-quality Mahomes to the collection I have.
Leore Avidar: Yeah. I need one. Man, I would love– if there is a Mahomes/Brady autographed card, that would be amazing.
Brad Johnson: I have one, my man. It’s in my Alt vault. We can talk about it.
Leore Avidar: Ooh, okay, I got to see it.
Brad Johnson: Well, as we close here, this is the Do Business, Do Life podcast. We’ve talked a lot of business here, but I also know just from talking with Meredith yesterday, you also enjoy life and you live it passionately. I would love to hear Leore’s definition of what Do Business, Do Life means to you.
Leore Avidar: Yeah, I think for me, it’s just, I only do things that make me happy. I really live by that. Every single day, I want to wake up and I want to be really happy with what I’m doing and where I’m spending my time on, right? And that’s business, that’s the people that I’m with, the activities that I’m doing. I want to be happy and I want to be selfish in that manner, to be quite honest. I get to choose what I do every single day. And I think a lot of people don’t realize that they have that choice in life. And so, to me, there’s no way to do it other than being happy.
I wrote a blog post probably seven years ago right now about running to work. I want that joy every single day. When I’m going to something, I want that skip in my step, right? And the moment that I don’t have it, that’s when my self-awareness alert goes off and says, “Are you sure you should be doing this right now?” So, that’s probably the most important thing for me.
Brad Johnson: I love that. One of the reasons I made a big change three years ago was looking through that lens for sure. We’ll add that. Is the blog post still live?
Leore Avidar: It probably is. Yeah, it’s on the Lob website and it’s called Running to Work.
Brad Johnson: We’ll find it. We’ll add it to the show notes. It’ll probably be fun to get a look back seven years ago what Leore was thinking, so. Well, my man, this has been awesome. Just knowing our shared interest in sports cards and investing, I’m sure our paths will cross here in person here in the near future. So, thanks so much for spending the time to share here with the audience here today. Just so much good stuff. So, thanks so much, Leore, for hopping on the show.
Leore Avidar: Yeah, thanks for putting this on.
Brad Johnson: All right, my man. Till next time.