Interview with Tucker Max
Exiting Scribe, Investing in Hard Assets, and Building a Self-Sufficient Homestead with Tucker Max
Today, I’m talking with Tucker Max. By now, you’ve probably heard his name, but just in case, Tucker became a 4x New York Times bestselling author, who sold over 4.5 million books worldwide.
He went on to leverage his success as an author and co-founded Scribe Media, a company that helps you write, publish, and market your book. He’s helped people like David Goggins, Tiffany Haddish, Dan Sullivan, and countless others get their books off the ground.
In today’s episode, you’ll learn:
✅ The story of how he built Scribe into a $21M company before exiting in 2021 – including the hard lessons learned when it comes to structuring a deal with favorable terms.
✅ The value of investing in hard, productive assets – and how Tucker turned a 45 acre ranch into a self-sufficient homestead.
✅ Why money is not the only metric to measure success.
Featured on This Episode: Tucker Max
✅ What he does: Tucker Max has written four New York Times Best Selling books (three that hit #1), which have sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide. He’s credited with being the originator of the literary genre, “fratire,” and is only the fourth writer (along with Malcolm Gladwell, Brene Brown and Michael Lewis) to have three books on the New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller List at one time.
He co-founded Scribe Media, the premier professional publishing company that has helped people like David Goggins, Tiffany Haddish and Dan Sullivan publish their books.
He was nominated to the Time Magazine 100 Most Influential List in 2009.
💬 Words of wisdom: “So much of what we take for granted in the modern world is going to fundamentally change.” – Tucker Max
Key Takeaways with Tucker Max
- Creating a self-sufficient homestead
- Scaling Scribe Media into a $21M business
- Hard lessons in structuring a buyout deal
- Investing in hard, productive assets
- Rural investment opportunities
- Subscription based primary healthcare
The Value of Investing in Hard Productive Assets with Tucker Max
Free Strategy Session
The Lifestyle Investor Insider
Tucker Max Tweetables
- Tucker Max
- Tucker Max on Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram
- Scribe Media (formerly Book in a Box)
- Front Row Dads
- I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell by Tucker Max
- David Goggins
- Dan Sullivan
- Tiffany Haddish
- Zach Obront
- JeVon McCormick
- Pedernales Electric Cooperative
- UltraPersonal Healthcare
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Read the Full Transcript with Tucker Max
Justin Donald: What’s up, Tucker? Glad to have you on the show.
Tucker Max: Thank you for having me.
Justin Donald: Yeah, this is fine. So, we’ve talked about this for a little while. We run in a handful of similar circles with Front Row Dads and with Dripping Springs, the community out there. And for those that are unaware, there’s this incredible community just out west of Austin and just with some amazing people, a lot of friends that are kind of learning how to branch and learning how to grow gardens and have cattle and do all this cool stuff that you have embarked on in this new season of life. And so, I’m excited to talk about that. I’m excited to talk about your entrepreneurial life, but more than anything, it’s just good to have you on the show.
Tucker Max: Thank you, man. Thanks for having me.
Justin Donald: So, I’m curious, what is life like for you right now? This is a different season I feel like than you’ve ever experienced since I’ve known you.
Tucker Max: And then since ever. When I was growing up, my grandmother had a beef cattle ranch in Kentucky, a big one, like 500 head. And so, I didn’t live on it, but I was out there a lot. I think she sold it when I was 12. And so, right about 40 or 35 years, it took me to come back. And I have way less livestock than her and way less land.
But yeah, I sold my company. And we’ve been out here almost two years now. And dude, my life right now is– because my wife’s scaling her company. And I sold mine. I haven’t really started my next thing. And so, my time is fam, like kids. Basically, I take the kids to school, I pick them up. I’m kind of mainly responsible for them.
And then, the ranch, dude, it’s really more of a homestead because we only have two cows and 35 or so, 40 sheep and 40 chickens. And we garden, like you said, and growing all that stuff. And so, my job is that. Dude, like today, before the podcast, I put in a work pen for the sheep, like a head with a head gate so you can, whatever, do a foot trim or whatever you need to do. And then I cut some wood. Some trees went down the other day and I did some fence post stuff. It’s like basically manual labor all day.
Justin Donald: Wow.
Tucker Max: I know, right? And it’s so funny.
Justin Donald: Times have changed.
Tucker Max: Dude, if this was my job, I would put a bullet in my brain, I would hate it. If I was getting paid for this, nothing against it, just me personally. If I had to wake up every day and go do manual labor, I would hate it. But I actually like it because it’s like this is my ranch or my homestead, my family’s homestead, and my kids love this place. And everything we do that makes it better, it’s like it’s yours, right? And not like, your company is yours or whatever, but this isn’t mine in an abstract sense, like those trees are mine.
Justin Donald: It’s more tangible, yeah.
Tucker Max: And those sheep are mine. And what it looks like and what the soil is and how much water we have, with the grass, there’s no HOA that handles this. There’s nobody else either. So, it’s like, I’m either going to have a really crappy homestead or I’m going to have a really nice homestead, and it’s basically completely on me.
Justin Donald: Tucker is the HOA, so.
Tucker Max: Right. I don’t do good. Well, lastly, I lived in Barton Creek in some big McMansion. There was an HOA. And I can tell you at times, I get the HOA letters and I would just throw them away and they’d come, “Hey,” they were very passive/aggressive. It’s like, get the f*ck out of here. It didn’t work. I don’t deal well with busybodies telling me what to do. It’s not good.
Justin Donald: Yeah, I don’t feel like you do well with anyone, let you know what they think you should do.
Tucker Max: No. Well, telling me what you think I should do, fine. Tell me what I have to do, that’s different.
Justin Donald: Now, how many acres do you have? Because you bought a massive property.
Tucker Max: Yeah, I mean, it’s big right here. It’s not that much. We’re in Texas, right? So, I think it’s 45 acres, 45 and a half, something like that. It’s not really that much for Texas, but it’s for one man working without grown kids, it’s a ham. It’s about…
Justin Donald: Yeah, you got young kids.
Tucker Max: Yeah. My kid, like nine, is the oldest, right? And he’s not a big nine-year-old. He’s just a normal little nine-year-old. And so, we just did 100 meat chickens. So, man, dragging those chicken tractors across the pasture where I processed all of them on the ranch myself. My fam, my kids and my wife, helped with 10 of them because they wanted to do it and have the experience. And they’re like, “Okay, dad, have fun. Go do the rest.” Dude, that was rough. It was a lot of work.
Justin Donald: You’ve processed some cattle as well, haven’t you?
Tucker Max: Yes, we did one cow on the ranch, but I hired a mobile butcher because, dude, processing a cow, like a 1,200-pound animal, that is an industrial process. You don’t do that, like, just sharpen your little knife and hoist it. That’s huge. What I do do myself, though, here is I do all of our sheep myself, like I do them.
And then I also hunt. It’s Texas, right? And I’m on a hunting lease out in Llano, which is about an hour from here, a big one. And my buddy is and he invites me all the time, we go out all the time. And I think we got 24 deer last year. And so, I’ve actually gotten to be pretty good at processing small deer. And sheep are considered small game, like 100 to 150 pounds, whereas a cow is 1,200 pounds. It’s a whole different thing.
Justin Donald: Different animal, different world. So, let’s talk about life before this because you, in your earlier years, were an author. You wrote some books and some bestsellers, some huge books. And you eventually transitioned into building a company called Book in a Box.
Tucker Max: Scribe.
Justin Donald: I believe that then transformed to Scribe, right?
Tucker Max: Yeah.
Justin Donald: And so, I’d love to hear some of that earlier story.
Tucker Max: I mean, so let’s see. I started writing when I was about 27, and honestly, I just took the emails, I sent my friends about the dumb, stupid, drunken things I would do and put them on the Internet and they blew up. And I just kind of carried that ball and ran with it and it ended up doing pretty well. And my books, the iconic book that I wrote that everyone knows about or most people know about is called I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. That’s been five or six years in the New York Times bestseller list and sold millions of copies. And then the follow-ups did pretty well.
And then, eventually, you get tired of being a dumb drunk guy in the 20s, right? For me, it carried into my 30s because it was my job. But then eventually, I’m saying, “Ah, enough of this.” And so, I kind of retired from writing about that just because I wasn’t doing it anymore and I didn’t want to. And so, then, when you write a book, you know, you’ve written a book, the question you get all the time is how did you do it? Because everyone wants to write their own books. If they haven’t, they ask you how you did it. And so…
Justin Donald: That’s right.
Tucker Max: I just had tons of people ask me how and then started helping people do it, and then it turned into Scribe. And then that company did 2,000-plus books. We did David Goggins and Dan Sullivan and Tiffany Haddish and a bunch of other huge people. I sold out in 2021 and left and then came out here. And now, dude, my day is cleaning up chickensh*t. Dude, it’s like, I actually did that today too. I had to go get the eggs, 815 eggs. And then we had chicken poop all over them. And it’s like, I got to watch the eggs now.
Justin Donald: It’s a big difference. But the reality is, in your business, you got to clean up some chicken poop as well.
Tucker Max: But only metaphorical, bro.
Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s right.
Tucker Max: Actually, the funny thing is it’s harder to deal with real chicken crap or metaphorical. I think metaphorical is actually harder. It smells better. Like real chicken poop, it definitely smells worse. But chickens are so easy to deal with, and they’re so predictable and their poop’s annoying, but then you just wash it off and you’re done with it. It’s like, chickens don’t sue you. Chickens don’t file complaints. They don’t write terrible things on Glassdoor or whatever. They just poop on their eggs, and then that’s it.
Justin Donald: So, let’s talk about some of the highs and lows of really starting Scribe and having this company scale into the monstrosity that it became because it started with just one book. And I think, you, I believe, enjoyed writing, for at least that season. That was enjoyable, therapeutic.
Tucker Max: Yeah, I like writing my own stuff. I didn’t really like doing writing stuff for other people, which it was a blessing because what it did is it forced us very early on. It would have been easy for me to start kind of a ghostwriting boutique firm that was like mainly me and a couple of other people, which maybe, in certain ways, would have been better because it depends.
So, Scribe basically helped people write and publish and market their books, right? So, it’s a high end– it’s pretty expensive. It’s anywhere from– right now, they charge 45 to 150 grand or something. So, it’s pretty expensive, it’s a high-touch, high-end service company, like an agency. And so, it’s not great margins. It’s 15 to 25-ish percent depending on various factors. And so, the question for an agency like that is do you keep it small and highly profitable boutique or do you scale it, right? Because you can’t really be in that middle.
If you’re in the 5 to the 10 million range for a company like Scribe, you get crushed because you’re below, in the 4 to 8 million range, for sure. You’re not big enough that you need much process. You can have very low overhead, relatively low process. You can run that company with 20 or less people, not including freelancers. And so, you can essentially keep the whole company in your head and you can do a lot of the work yourself. And you can actually probably have 30% margins on a business like that, maybe even 40%, depending on how much you do it yourself, etc. And so, it’s never going to get big.
But let’s say you’re making 5 million a year and you’re taking home a million a year or a million and a half, that’s pretty solid, right? Maybe even two, if you’re lucky, in good years. That’s pretty good. That’s a solid living. But Zach and I, and then eventually, we hired a CEO, JeVon, we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to scale it, right? And so, man, scaling was the worst, like scaling a high-touch customer service company with the deals with high-end people, people like you who are very successful and have a lot of money is really hard. Dude, it’s really hard.
Now, the good thing was, bro, I got a multi-year masterclass in the psychology of sales. Psychology of sales is easy. The psychology of customer service is extremely understudied and we really went deep and I got very good at that because you have to, especially when you’re doing books which are very identity driven and very emotional. If you don’t really nail that with people, they get very upset, and so much of what they’re buying is not what they say they’re buying, right?
If you buy concrete, you don’t have any emotion around concrete. That’s just a transactional sale. And even some services are transactional, like massage to some extent. There’s not a big emotional element. It’s like, are they a good masseuse or not? There’s some customer service stuff, but for the most part, it’s a functional thing. What we’re doing is so much about the deep emotional experience that the author brings in, understanding that, and most of the time, they don’t even know a lot of times what that is ahead of time and what that’s going to be.
And so, learning all of that and figuring out a process that works at scale with that was so hard, Justin. And I understand why no one had really built a big company in this space before because the amount of intelligence and ability and effort you have to put in, we built what ended up being about a $50 to $60 million company. Bro, if I put that same amount of effort into software, it would have been a $500 million company, right? And so, it was one of those things. It was like, man, I learned so much and this was amazing.
But dude, I’m not getting paid what my ability and my effort in most sectors of this economy would output. If I’ve been in finance or software or even engineering, or at this point, like manufacturing, and it was a little frustrating, man, but it’s like one of those things where it’s like, all right, whatever. That’s my journey. I have a nice ranch here. I don’t have a G4, but I have a beautiful ranch and great kids. And so, I’m not that upset by it. And so, that experience is pretty good. And the exit experience of getting out was great.
The problem came after. Like, when the people who bought it from us and then took over destroyed it and that sucks and that was very unfun to see. But that just happens with companies sometimes. When it’s out of your control, there’s nothing you can do.
Justin Donald: Yeah. When you’re acquiring a business, I think most people underestimate the importance of the people running it, the original founders or some of the key people. And those that don’t, they recognize that they want to put some sort of an earnout in place so that you have to stick around for a year or two or four. And in your instance, though, you really got to walk away immediately, right? Or pretty close to that?
Tucker Max: Well, I did. I was sort of. So, I kind of half got out in December of ‘21. And then, for the next year, I help them run their coaching program because I was still kind of like, I would lead the workshops and stuff. That was 2022. December 2022, I basically sold all my equity, although I think we signed January of ’23. So, I was fully out. I owned nothing, I had no role in the company, I did nothing, right?
So, that wasn’t technically an earnout, but it kind of operated that way. The problem for me, and this is a whole different discussion, I don’t know if you want to get into, was the buyout was over two years, right? And so, I didn’t get all of my money before the company essentially went– not essentially, I think it actually did go bankrupt. It did. The bank put it in receivership. And there’s someone who bought it now and they’re trying to turn it around like a whole different entity. And I think they’re doing a pretty solid job. We’ll see what happens.
But I’m not going to end up getting all of the money that– all of the buy price. I’m one of those pro football players who signed a $100 million deal. But then it gets cut before because that’s just like, how much did you actually get because you didn’t get the full thing, like my deal wasn’t guaranteed. But that happens, though.
Justin Donald: When you did have an exit though, I would assume, just based on what I know that you had a pretty good multiple, right? The acquiring company, they were pretty aggressive in purchasing this, purchasing Scribe.
Tucker Max: Yeah. We had a good valuation. I mean, the year that Zach and I left, we did $21 million top line.
Justin Donald: Wow. That’s incredible.
Tucker Max: And that sort of business was amazing. And so, we got a decent buy price, but I mean, like I said, it’s an unguaranteed contract in football. If the company doesn’t survive and they don’t pay, doesn’t matter, right? So, it’s sort of the same thing.
Justin Donald: So, how did they structure it? You don’t have to give exact amounts, but percentage wise, did they give you– was this like half now or half later? Was this every month, you got…
Tucker Max: No, let’s see, I got 10% or 15% up front and then the rest was in four installments over two years. So, it was not horrible, but the company had to survive. And so, the old CEO who kind of took over with the new PE guys, they did really kind of a breathtaking job driving it into bankruptcy that quickly. There’s probably some embezzlement that went on. There’s a ton of lawsuits going on right now between that crew, and almost, I would bet there’s going to be some criminal stuff at least pursued. I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere or not because I’m not sure, I don’t know the details that much.
It was one of those things, man, where it was like, I had to decide. Was I going to make the next two or three or four years of my life trying to get justice out of this? Or was I just going to let it go and move on? And that was a deep decision for me. I decided I was just going to let it go. Zach, my co-founder, is spending a little bit more time in it, and the people who bought it are suing the CEO. And all of a sudden, they’re enmeshed. They’re going after each other.
Justin Donald: That sounds brutal.
Tucker Max: But thankfully, I’m not involved in that, man. I’m not named in any lawsuits. I’m not suing anybody. I didn’t wrong anyone. And the people that wronged me, I felt it was far more worth it for me to forgive them emotionally and let go of that and move on than it was to engage in that fight. There are some fights are definitely worth it. But what was I going to get? $2, $3 million, $4 million, $5 million, $6 million at best. It’s just like that’s not worth it. It wasn’t worth the aggravation for me.
Thankfully, I’m in a financial place and I have enough success where I didn’t have to do that. I’m in a place where– I mean, it sucks. It’s not a fun thing, but I’m able to make that choice and I’m able to decide, you know what? I’m going to focus on my family and I can make more money later. I’m still a young dude. I’ve got a ton of opportunity. So, I was lucky enough to let that go, to make that choice.
Justin Donald: Well, I think it’s a brilliant way of doing it if you have the ability to do that because it casts this huge mental cloud that’s just horrible. If you’ve been involved in any lawsuits, it is just the worst. So, if you can avoid it in any way, shape, or form, and by the way, I’ve also done the same thing where I’ve just walked away where people have owed me money, but in some instances, it just makes sense to walk away and save that mental space, not have to drain the mental bank account every day thinking about it because it is taxing.
Tucker Max: It is. It is. I’ve been in lawsuits. I’ve had fights, I mean, major ones, some for my freedom, not criminal, but more civil stuff. But it felt like it wasn’t, but it felt like a fight for my life. And it was like, those were ones I kind of couldn’t avoid. Or it’s like, okay, am I going to stand up for myself here or not? This was one where I had the opportunity and I had enough money that I had the ability to choose to let this go, right? And I felt like, yeah, I’m with you, man. I’m sure there’s a number at which I would not have. But it wasn’t the number that was on the table, so.
Justin Donald: Well, on the flip side, your exit timing was impeccable and you got a great multiple. And so, you have a lot of things in your favor on that and it is nice just to kind of wash your hands of something and move on.
Tucker Max: It is nice to be in a position I can make that choice. I really like. That is definitely one of those, like it’s weird to lose millions of dollars and feel like it was a blessing. One, I’m blessed enough that that can happen and I’m still okay, right? And to be so appreciative and grateful of it, man, I’m in such a good spot that this– this is still a body blow, man. This is not a rounding error in my net worth. This is a part. This is a big part of it, right? But I can survive it.
And then, also, man, I’ve learned so many lessons from this, I think big ones and important ones. I would like to have learned those lessons. I would like to have paid a lot less for those lessons, but I didn’t. It wasn’t a crippling amount. It’s not like, I had to sell everything I own and we had to move, whatever, some crappy apartment in some horrible city. I mean, it was all things considered, man. I came out of this. I came out of a really bad situation really good.
Justin Donald: Yeah, I agree. I think you handled it well and you handled it with class. And you’re even open to talk about it. You’re an open book, so to say, about everything. And I love that about you. I’m curious, though, you now have probably more cash that you’re sitting on or that you have at your disposal than you’ve ever had in your life. We’re in a weird economic time. The past few years have been naughty. The coming few years, who knows what’s going to happen. So, I’m curious your thoughts on what you’re doing. And we’ve talked about this a little bit, but I mean, this is a fun conversation. What do you invest in now when it’s so uncertain?
Tucker Max: I have a very different perspective on this than most people. And so, I’m not going to try and convince you this is the right perspective. I’m just going to tell you what I’m doing. And that’s it, right? And if I had way more money, I wouldn’t make fundamentally different decisions. I make a lot of other decisions, right? But almost all of my focus right now and for the immediate future, meaning at least the next two years, is I invest in hard, productive assets only.
So, let me be super clear what that means. So, like land, very specifically, I don’t mean like in a real estate sense, like I’m going to buy some raw land and develop it. I mean, that’s cool. That’s a great business. It’s not a business I know I’ve ever been involved in.
When I say a productive land, I mean this 45 acres that I live on right now, we have our own water supply. We have two. We have owned water, meaning like we have a well, and then we also have a massive rainwater collection system that will last us a year and a half if it hasn’t rained for two and a half months or whatever. But we’re testing our system and it’s doing great.
So, I have my own water. We have our own food. We have enough sheep and chickens now. We’re essentially self-replicating. We have cows. We don’t have a bull. We don’t have a cow-calf operation, but we have essentially all the food we could ever eat, right? We can grow. We’re not that great at growing stuff yet, but good enough. So, we’re water independent, we’re food independent. We’re basically energy independent. And we are on the grid, of course. There’s no such thing as off grid. People who think they’re off grid, I’m like, “Bro, what are you doing? You have three power couplers break?” And they’re like, “What?” I’m like, “Right, you’re on China’s grid.” You’re on a grid, you just don’t realize it. You’re on a different– you’re on a manufacturing grid.
So, we’re on Pedernales Coop, which is pretty solid. And then we have generators, buried propane tanks that we have months of that. And then we have a good backup solar system that can run all the essentials essentially indefinitely, right? And so, regardless of what happens in terms of supply chain breakdowns, in terms of societal upheaval or whatever, we’re really, really well put together here, and not just like, oh, I’ve got a bunch of dry food. No, no, no, dry food’s fantastic, but that runs out. Our sheep aren’t going to run out. Now, literally, as long as the grass keeps growing, then we’re good for meat, right?
And then also, all the accouterments that you need to run a really effective homestead. There’s a lot of implements, both power tools which are super nice, but then also the non-power backups. It’s really great to have a skid steer, but then also you need a shovel in cases, it isn’t working or whatever, you have fuel issues. So, when I say productive hard assets, I mean, first, survival productive hard assets.
Now, on top of that, the next layer of investments for me are things like how do I– and I have not gone deep into this yet, I have not started a lot, but I’m looking at what are the businesses that I think are going to be easy to set up and do really well in a very chaotic world and food production is going to become extremely local for at least– people who have money and ability are already doing it, but I think it’s going to accelerate rapidly. Almost all things are going to bifurcate, right? The Soyjaks who live in the pods and eat the bugs are going to be centralized, where they’re like they’re just going to be eating factory goo.
Those of us who figure it out, like you did, and the Elrod’s are going to buy some land and raise some of their own food and then get as much as they can from their neighbors or from people that they know. And so, thinking about like, what I mean, and I mean very literally, butchers, meat processors, things like that, those businesses are either pretty easy to buy right now or pretty easy to start. And most of the people running them are either old or decades behind in terms of just basic modern business processes, which in certain ways is good, right? But in other ways, there’s a lot of improvements that could be made without becoming too stupidly spreadsheet brained.
And so, I’ve been looking at those very, very closely and trying to figure out, what do I need to learn and where can I bring expertise into those areas? That is actually where almost all of my money is because I think we’re reaching a point where– and I mean, it might take five years or six years and I’m concerned there’s going to be at least a few incidents and they may not be long term, but we’re like, if you can’t get it within 10 or 20 miles, you’re not getting it, right? And so, what does a world look like that maybe isn’t like that forever? But what happens when the international supply– we’ve already seen it. We’ve already seen it not really break.
Justin Donald: Yeah, round one.
Tucker Max: We’ve seen major– and I don’t think it’s going to get better, man. The world’s not going to collapse. We’re not kind of anarchy, like Walking Dead, nothing like that. But I think so much of what we take for granted in the modern world, a lot of is going to fundamentally change and a lot of the high energy inputs are going to have to be sourced locally. And so, almost all of the way I’m thinking and the money I’m saving is going to be spent and invested in. How do you capitalize on that?
And first, how you make it possible because it’s not even about, look, I don’t think there’s any world where building a meat processor is going to be the highest financial return I can get. Maybe it’s possible, but for someone like me or you who’s very smart and able to access almost any capital market and any investment, building a meat processor is never going to be the highest profit thing, but it’s definitely a financial profit. But I think, I’m starting to look around, what are the other measures of return that I want to put in my calculations, beside just CapEx or whatever.
Justin Donald: Yeah, well, you buy it right and you’re likely not going to lose money. You should be able to cash flow something and you get the utility out of it because you’re going to use it anyway. And if you’re going to use it, then for sure there are other people in the community that are going to use it. So, it makes tons of sense.
And this gets back to, I’ve been talking about this forever, but just mom-and-pop businesses, mom-and-pop real estate. Who are the baby boomers? What are they selling that has value that they don’t even recognize has value that they’re just going to shut down because their kids don’t want it? So, it’s literally just going to go goodbye unless someone comes in to buy it. And there are tons of these small businesses out there, tons of them. So, I love it.
Tucker Max: Most people are looking for those– I totally agree with you, but they’re looking for those opportunities in cities. And there’s plenty in cities, like nothing against that. In my opinion, most cities– and I mean major cities, most cities are already becoming very dangerous. I think they’re going to get way more dangerous, like 1970s did. Most people aren’t old enough. I’m barely old enough to remember how dangerous New York City was in the ‘70s. The old people remember, the boomers remember. I think most major cities are going to get like that. Not all, but most.
And to me, the opportunities, huge opportunities are rural. I don’t mean getting off the grid and living off the land. I mean, finding a town like Dripping is 5,000 people or finding towns of the– although Dripping is a little bit in the orbit of Austin, so it’s not like, you go to Fredericksburg, it’s 15,000, 20,000 people and it’s its own town, right? And there’s a ton of opportunity there to bring, like a lot of more sophisticated sort of business practices.
But again, the problem is not, like when people hear that, a lot of them think like private equity, like, oh, we can optimize here and here. No, no, no, no, stop. Stop spreadsheet braining. How do you do it? That’s when I say like, if I were to build the meat processor, I understand why Smithfield became evil. Why the meat processing business? There’s only four major meat processors, right? Dude, the story is crazy, man. There’s only four major meat processors right now.
This is really an example of how evil that business. I mean, you’ve seen all the videos of the industrial farming system and the industrial meat system and how horrible it is. If all meat came from the industrial meat system, I would probably be vegan. I understand why someone would watch one of those videos and be vegan. That’s not the only option for meat. You can come out to my ranch and you can meet your sheep and you can actually dispatch it, you can kill it, you can skin it, you can treat it with all the reverence in the world, like that’s a fundamentally different way to deal with meat.
But long, long story short, Smithfield built this huge pork production facility. I mean, like a multistory factory, hundreds of thousand square feet. And the price of pork in North Carolina went from something like $0.60 a pound to $0.02 a pound. They drove all the independent pork producers out of business, and then essentially set up a fiefdom for pork producers. If you’re going to raise pork, dude, it’s so horrible.
And so, of course, they have to feed them literal garbage. And it makes sense because if you’re looking at meat, it makes sense from a spreadsheet brain. If you’re looking at it as dollars only, everything Smithfield does makes sense. But that’s not the only way to evaluate business, right? There are other things that matter. Money matters, but so does health and nutrition, so does the esthetics, so does the humanity of it, so does your connection to it, all that sort of stuff, especially with food, like the touchy-feely stuff with food is often very, very backed up by science.
And so, the lambs that come off of my ranch, you can do the tests on the meat and see how much healthier, how many more minerals, how much more nutrition you get out of those lambs. And so, running those old businesses very efficiently in a modern way, but instead of spreadsheet braining them, thinking like a human. Like, how do we run a meat processor that is very efficient, but at the same time, understands like why grass-fed is important, why high mineral count is important, why killing the animals in a humane, stress-free way is important, why knowing the farmer is important, etc., etc.?
You got to be able to tell that story to consumers and they’ve got to be able to pay for that, right? If I want a pork that was treated humanely and it lived a great life, I don’t get to pay Smithfield prices. That’s just not how it works. If I want pork for a dollar a pound, I got to buy from Smithfield. If I want it for $4 a pound, I can buy from Acorn Farms in Iowa that basically treat their pigs like kings, but I got to pay $5 a pound.
Justin Donald: That’s right.
Tucker Max: And they got to tell the story, right? And so, when I say, what have I been investing in, those are the business I’ve been looking at, and the world I’ve been looking at and thinking, how do I bring all of the sophistication to that world without– but we keep all of the heart and the meaning and the importance of it. Does that make sense?
Justin Donald: Totally. Totally. And when you think also about other businesses that could be good, and we could talk about like a canning facility or we could talk about ammo facility, or like there’s tons of these different businesses that could make a lot of sense. But one that I think is near and dear to you is your wife Veronica’s business in healthcare, right? So, let’s talk UltraPersonal Healthcare for a second because this is going to become more and more prevalent this way of doing it. But even just kind of the pivot that’s happening, we saw it in COVID where telemedicine started becoming more of a thing, and health in general started becoming more commoditized and more like a monthly subscription, kind of like SaaS type or MMR type of platform. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
Tucker Max: Yeah. So, my wife is a nurse practitioner. And so, it’s funny because she graduated from Stanford with a 3.97 in biochemistry. So, she easily could have gone to med school, but she wanted a family. And if you want to be a doctor as a woman, not as a dude, it’s a little different, but as a woman, if you want to be a doctor and have a bunch of kids, it’s not impossible, but it’s really hard because you’re not finishing med school in residency until you’re in your 30s, right? And then it’s like, you can’t really have kids as a– you can, but having kids as a resident, you’re not going to be a good mom. So, she’s like, “Okay, how can I basically be a doctor but not have to go through all that school and residency and horrible stuff?” She’s like, “Oh, nurse practitioner.”
A nurse practitioner is essentially a high-level nurse. They can write prescriptions, they can do basically everything a doctor can do. And so, she decided to do that. And so, she was out practicing by 25 or something, 26, instead of 35 or 36. And then she realized, like most people who deal with the medical system, how screwed up it was and how anti-human it is and a horrible insurance is, and all the incentives are screwed up.
And it’s funny, we’ve had our first kid. So, when she was pregnant, she was like, “I want to do homebirth.” And that was before I knew anything about this stuff. And I’m like, “Those are weirdos. Those are weird hippies who live in the woods. Why would you do a homebirth?” And she goes, “I’ve worked in hospitals. I will not go into a hospital unless my option is go there or die.” And she’s like, “We’re going to explore homebirth because people have been doing homebirths for thousands of years and they’re really great.” Turns out they’re amazing. All four of our kids were homebirths. Midwives are like saints on earth, I think now. Now, that I’ve been there and experienced it.
But anyway, kind of like what I was talking about with brick-and-mortar physical productive asset businesses, and she’s like, “How can I make healthcare something that’s amazing, that actually is–” And she came upon a primary care, like subscription primary care, where you pay a monthly fee, and then that way, you don’t have to pay for appointments. You’re just paying whatever, hundred-something dollars a month and you can text your provider, you can call them, you can Zoom them, you can go in any time you want with any question, everything’s covered, right?
And that way, you take hour-long appointments with your patients. You have one provider and they know your history every time you come in. So, you don’t have to talk to a new person. That is weird conversations. They help you on long-term goals. And it’s not just about sick care. Because she wanted like, “I don’t want to just treat people who are sick and they have a lifestyle that makes them continually sick and they don’t change that. I want to help people become healthy.”
And becoming healthy is about how you eat, how you sleep, how much time you spend outside, how much exercise you have, your mental health, your relationships. It’s that whole package. And so, she started her direct primary care. And now, she’s got hundreds, maybe thousands of patients, whatever it is. And it’s like they all love her, and every day, she gets up and she gets to treat people the way she wants to treat them and the way they want to be treated, the way she would want to be treated as a patient, which is human-to-human connection, human-to-human interaction. She actually cares about them. She can show them they care. She can spend time with each of them, help them work through all their problems, and then help them prevent getting sick, instead of like, “Oh, when you get sick, come in, I’ll give you a pill.” It’s like, “How do we stop you from getting sick? And then how do we help you feel the best possible way?” I mean, it seems so obvious when you say it.
Justin Donald: It does. It totally does.
Tucker Max: But it’s one of those things that most people, you’re brought up in the doctor centered, insurance-centered universe, which is so screwed up and so anti-human. I mean, I understand why the healthcare system is so screwed up because if it’s insurance-based, they only get paid for what they can code, and prevention, there’s no code for prevention.
Justin Donald: Right.
Tucker Max: There’s only code for treating an illness.
Justin Donald: That’s right.
Tucker Max: It’s horrible. It’s a horrible system.
Justin Donald: It’s backwards.
Tucker Max: Yes.
Justin Donald: The incentives are totally misaligned. And we just had this crazy experience with my wife’s dad where he was not even treated. I mean, you had said inhumane, I mean, it goes so many levels beyond just inhumane. It was mind-boggling to us and we had never seen that side of it before.
So, I’m excited about what Veronica is doing. We’re clients. And by the way, she was a game changer for me because I got this crazy ear infection on my way home from Portugal. So, this flight, in altitude, my ear feels like it’s about to blow up. I land, I reach out to her, and she gets everything resolved real quick because I got another trip coming up on Lake Powell, leaving on a houseboat/yacht thing on Lake Powell. So, I’m going to be in water again. So, she totally solved my issue really fast and…
Tucker Max: No, but think about that for a second, dude. It’s obvious, this is how healthcare should work. You have a problem, you reach out directly – text, phone, whatever. You get an answer right away. They send in the script, like, whatever. I’m sure you got some medicine. So, sending the script, right? You get it that day or the next day, whereas if you had most doctors, you’d be super lucky to get an appointment within a week. It’d probably take two or three weeks. Then you go in, they would do the same thing she can do over Zoom or whatever, text or whatever, and be obnoxious about it. Probably, you get 10 minutes, 15 minutes. If it’s a bigger problem, then well, we’ve got to do this. And if it doesn’t work, you got to schedule another appointment. It’s a horrible system. Horrible.
Justin Donald: It totally is.
Tucker Max: Right. It’s built for insurance. It’s not built for the patients. And well, that’s what happens when insurance is paying and the patient isn’t. So, that’s the big difference. Because you are paying Veronica directly, she has to make sure she does a really good job serving you, not serving Humana.
Justin Donald: That’s right. That’s right.
Tucker Max: And this is just so basic.
Justin Donald: I love it. Well, it’s a brilliant model, and I’m so glad she’s doing it. So glad that you’ve got the time and space to be able to give her the ability to do this. And what a fun time, what a great conversation. We got a chance to share here. I just thank you for really just saying things as they are. I appreciate that about you.
Tucker Max: My pleasure, man. My pleasure. And I’m going to have quite a few lands to sell if you’re looking to buy.
Justin Donald: Sounds good.
Tucker Max: We’ve got 30 pregnant ewes. So, in the fall, if you want some land, man.
Justin Donald: I love it.
Tucker Max: And if you want to bring your wife and daughter out, you don’t have to, but literally, you can come on here, you guys can kill it or I’ll kill it in front of you. You guys can help skin it, like process it. We can do it. Or you can just pay for it, either way.
Justin Donald: I love it. I think the whole process is amazing. I think that’d be a very educational way of doing it. So, that’s awesome. And I’ve seen the videos with you and your kids. Hey, I just think it’s amazing. This total life transition that you’ve been able to do and do so successfully and with such great joy and then you share it with your community is awesome.
Tucker Max: Yeah, it’s not bad. I like it.
Justin Donald: Well, cool. If anyone wants to learn more about you, where should they go?
Tucker Max: Just go to the website, TuckerMax.com, or I’m on all social. My social media is just pictures of my kids or pictures of the homestead. That’s it. It’s not that interesting unless you’re like– if you’re on homestead, Instagram, then it’s interesting. Otherwise, that’s all it is.
Justin Donald: I love it. Well, I’m going to wrap up today the way I wrap up every episode, and that’s with a question for our audience. What is one step you can take today towards financial freedom and living the life that you desire on your terms, not by default, but by design? And Tucker’s doing a great job of that. He’s living life on his terms. He’s created a plan. He’s been able to execute that plan. So, what can you take from this episode to move towards that in your life? Thanks. And we’ll catch you next week.