Matt Higgins: Hard Work Always Pays Off
- Written By:Bobbi Brown
Matt Higgins is a self-made man and his story is the perfect example of how hard work and tenacity pays off. He grew up in Queens, NY hawking flowers on street corners and working at McDonald’s to help put food on the table for his family. Coming from a single parent household, Matt dropped out of high school to fast-track his graduation by obtaining a GED and enrolling in college at age 16. Out of college, his career was a roller coaster ride that went from newspaper reporter to being the press secretary for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani during 9/11.
Today Matt is CEO and co-founder of RSE Ventures, a private investment firm that incubates and invests in businesses focused in sports, entertainment, food, lifestyle, and technology. He works with everyone from David Chang to the Miami Dolphins. We caught up to talk about hard work, Shark Tank, and his best advice. Listen to the full episode here.
On why you need to know before you make a deal...
I’m a firm believer in therapy for yourself and others, but also in using all the tools at your disposal to figure out what makes a person tick, so you can try to anticipate what might go wrong and have an open conversation. For most of our deals, we’ll bring in an investor psychologist and we’ll spend four hours with a founder to find out what makes them tick.
Everyone’s got issues. If you’re doing a deal and you can’t figure out the issues is, that's when you worry the most. If you can bring them out at the beginning of a relationship, you can refer back. I place a high premium on understanding a person going into those deals.
Money is truly cheap. If you are talented, you can attract money from anyone. But I have so many disaster stories in our portfolio when people took the wrong money. The wrong money usually comes in the form of some seducing you and saying I’m going to bring all this strategic value and they don’t. Or, at its worst, they might derail your entire vision.
Make yourself indispensable and people will notice.
On being on Shark Tank…
As improbable as it was, because I didn’t have the portfolio, I spent almost a year getting to know the people at Sony. I had the most magical conversation with the executive producer and I told the story of dropping out and he said, “You are exactly what this show is about.” There are a lot hurdles to get on the show — executive producer, Sony, ABC — they all had to clear me being on it.
The thing I found challenging, when the lights are on and you’re debating, it’s hard in those early moments to figure it all out. After the first two pitches, I loved it. It was a magical experience being on that show. I’m part of that institution for forever. It made such an impact.
His best advice…
I think that too many people look past a situation or the job they are in to the next step, and don’t realize that the path to that step is to make yourself absolutely indispensable in whatever you are doing right now. Somebody who is honorable, decent and just will notice and will push you along to the next stop in your journey. Just make yourself indispensable and people will notice.