Larry Weidel: I am with successful entrepreneur and one of the most well known and well liked people in Aspen, Galen Bright. Galen has weathered many storms in several businesses and has mastered the art of problem solving and keeping his momentum going.
Galen, at one time you created and ran Aspen Luggage. It was your business and so you had to take the initiative in solving your supply and manufacturing problem. Where did you get your ideas for that? Was that part of your schooling or did you look around and see what other companies were doing? How did you figure that out?
Galen Bright: Wow. A lot of it was really just trial and error and try. Learning as you go and certainly some mistakes happening along the way. I remember learning that just-in-time inventory was very important.
You didn’t want to have too much inventory, but you also didn’t want to run out of product. So that applied to the raw materials side of it for manufacturing our brand, but also to the retail side for the product that we purchased from other manufacturers and resold. You’ve got to take care of your customer. They come back and they tell their friends.
LW: You started out as the first one in your family to college and then you wind up in a ski town with your own business. You are not only meeting and selling to celebrities but you’re developing friendships with some really high profile people. All of this came by just doing a good job and offering a great product.
Now this little kid, who was the first one to college from his family, winds up in a ski town with his own business. You’re finding that your influence and network of friends is rapidly expanding just by doing a great job and offering a great product.
Talk about the effect this had on you. These relationships and these interactions had to have had a transformative effect on you in terms of realizing what you’re capable of. No matter what they were in the outside world once they came in to your store. CEOs, business owners, Senators and a lot of famous politicians, they’re all real people coming into your store and just talking. It’s amazing how normal they are in real life.
GB: Being in Aspen, you would definitely see your fair share of celebrities and CEOs. I mean it was on a regular basis where somebody would come in and I didn’t recognize them. My employees would be telling me that’s so and so.
Of course, the really big names I knew but there were some sports celebrities that I had the honor to get to know pretty well and senators. They’re all real people coming in just talking. They’re normal.
LW: Don’t let anybody tell you there’s no secrets, but there’s not just one, there’s millions of secrets in every area of life. But if there’s one main one, it is wherever you want to go, the more time you could spend around or listening to people who are already at the top, the more likely you’re going to pick up the pieces of the puzzle that you’re still missing because greatness is caught and not taught.
You were in a perfect example: a situation where you could just pick up because you were seeing them not on stage, not performing, just interacting in their daily life. And what did you catch from those interactions?
GB: You know I actually don’t think I took as much advantage as I should have. That business was so overall consuming that I learned more now with my real estate business because I think I get a lot closer to my clientele. Having 50 or 100 people a day coming into a store, you get time with them but it’s a transaction that’s kind of short and they’re not spending extended periods of time with you, like they are with a real estate transaction.
I did see a glimpse of like, wow, that’s amazing that that person started this company from nothing. I even remember doing a case study in college on that person. Then I ended up meeting them in the store or on a flight back and forth from Denver to Aspen and thinking what a great opportunity. I’ve read about these people and here they are. They’re real. They’ve worked hard, and they appreciate what they have.
I think that’s one of the biggest things I noticed that they never take anything for granted. It wasn’t just something that they felt they deserved and that’s why they had it. I never got that from anybody that I met in that position.
LW: It’s interesting that’s kind of universal across the board, regardless of what industry they’re in. You know most of them had to work for it and probably made a million mistakes along the way. And so I will tell people a little bit of one celebrity because he’s just been on ESPN with a 10 part series and the most famous athlete in the world, Michael Jordan. And you said, “yeah, one night I came out of the store. I literally bumped into him.”.
GB: I did. Yeah. Amazing guy. He’s huge.
LW: Just walking out of your store, carried a bunch of stuff, probably turned the corner.
GB: Yup. Big cigar in his mouth.
LW.: Let’s talk about what your payoff from all of this dream life because you are your own boss. You weren’t consistent. I’m going to get you back on here. We’re going to talk about phase two, which is the transition to another industry, but let’s just talk real quick about the payoff.It starts with hard work. It ends with a championship. Let's Go! Click To Tweet
In fact, one of the things Jordan would say in the huddle before playoff games is “okay, it starts with hard work. It ends with a championship. Let’s go!” Galen, in your case, it would really be hard to deny that your hard work has paid off and is giving you the lifestyle.
GB: It’s true. I’m very blessed and fortunate. I have a lifestyle that I have that I used to just dream about and visualize. I still work extremely hard, but the fact that we’re here with this in our backyard and then the ability to do travel around the world when we’re not in quarantine is just a blessing. It’s been wonderful.
LW : Absolutely. Well, thanks so much for giving us this glimpse overview of how you launched out and put yourself in position for even bigger and better things. And I’m gonna look forward, Galen, to getting back with you soon, but thanks so much for this.
GB: Thank you, Larry.