Braden Pollock Angel Investor, Owner, Founder, and Serial Entrepreneur

Interview on the Jason Hennessey Podcast 12-01-2021 - Episode 7
Braden Pollock

Braden Pollock tells us his favorite Domain and Starbucks names

Today, we’re incredibly grateful to be sitting down with Braden Pollock, someone who Jason credits much of his career to, and someone who he is honored to call a dear friend. Braden drove all the way over or the hill in Los Angeles morning traffic to record today’s show at Hennessey Studios in North Hollywood at the Television Academy.
Braden, although not a lawyer, is a firm manager and a legal online marketing expert. He’s an active domain investor, a well-respected speaker at legal marketing seminars, a husband and a business role model, an angel investor, and what some would call a ‘serial entrepreneur.’
His newest venture is a data-driven ad network based on behavioral analytics to provide better “lead generations” to his long list of clients and domains. Plus, he’s a board member of the nonprofit, Benevolent.net, and a member of the Internet Commerce Association.
After 15 years of knowing him professionally, and also personally, Jason considers him one of the smartest and hardest working guys out there.
Thank you for joining us today on the Jason Hennessey Podcast. Please hit the play button at the top of the page to listen to this week’s engaging episode.

In this Episode

[01:21] Jason and Braden begin with a game of “New Phone Who Dis?” to start the interview. Braden decides to text a brazen question to a woman from his past. They continue the show while they await a response.

[05:17] Jason gives Braden a quick homage for his mentorship and guidance. Braden politely reflects a compliment to Jason, and observes how just one small change can shape your whole trajectory.

[05:53] Jason and Braden go into some background of online marketing and search engine optimization. They recount how they met at an online legal marketing conference, and how they each got involved in the web realm.

[09:32] Jason asks Braden how he met his wife, Lisa Bloom. Braden recollects meeting her at a charity event while she was talking to a married friend of his. He then swooped in, and swept her off her feet.

[12:26] Jason recalls that Braden’s 50th birthday is approaching and asks him if his life is what he has envisioned it to be. Braden lists the reasons he’s very happy with where he’s at.

[14:26] Jason asks Braden if he has kids. Braden tells us about his time serving as a big brother and father figure for many years to a young man who just turned 22 years old. He reflects on his reason for joining the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

[16:35] Braden demonstrates a real estate analogy for the business model of his online company. He explains how he buys virtual land, and as time progresses, the value of that land, or domain, can go up, depending on how much “traffic” passes through it.

[18:22] Jason gives the example of a website with a name such as “sex.com.” Braden informs us that the domain sold for millions of dollars some years ago, and that it certainly has more value today.

[20:01] Jason is curious how Braden started his domain estate business. He recounts being asked for IT support various times by clients because they were the “web guys.” This led to building websites for clients and stocking up on domains, then attending a domain name conference that cemented his interest.

[25:20] Jason mentions that, surprisingly, the majority of banks do not understand this business practice enough to deal loans to potential investors. Braden agrees and gives another example of how a domain investment has the potential to grow.

[26:05] Jason remembers asking Braden about investing in the domain for his name, Hennessey.com, and Braden’s wary response about the cost. Braden updates us that he does own some name domains now, and has recently sold one in the six-figure range.

[28:49] Jason wonders if it’s too late to enter the domain estate market, and if someone could get a good start with an initial $500 investment. Braden says yes, and guides listeners to learn through and enroll in courses like DNAcademy.

[31:29] Jason and Braden play another game: “Never Have I Ever.” We learn if either of them have ever legitimately hated someone in their family, about Jason’s time riding in the trunk of a car, Braden’s tendency to walk into glass doors, plus a few more interesting tidbits.

[37:57] Jason questions the durability of email and its effectiveness as a tool for communicating in the future. Braden argues that email addresses and the domains they’re attached to are still effective in business communication, reaching audiences, and building secure and trustworthy relationships with clients and customers.

[43:05] Jason asks the second part of his email question: “Are future generations going to struggle to learn and use email?” Braden thinks it’ll be easy since they’re already adapting to different communication methods through new and changing apps they use, like TikTok, Snapchat, and other platforms.

[44:23] Jason bets Braden $100 that there will be a new tool or app that people will be primarily communicating with in 10 years. Braden agrees, but doubts the new way will supplant email’s prominence in effective, everyday communication.

[46:18] Jason is interested in what Braden considers his greatest failure. Braden brings up his immigration business that closed down after 9/11, and the upward trajectory it led him on as a result.

[49:16] Jason invites Braden to share a motivational quote that he lives by. Braden introduces us to his “Braden-isms” that he motivates his friends with.

[50:24] Braden reveals his pet peeves, and the keyword that a professional disclosed to him that has a big influence in his daily life.

[51:39] Jason and Braden discuss spirituality, the numbers they frequently encounter, and the meaning of life.

[54:39] Braden suddenly interjects, delivering the news that there is a response to the text he sent at the beginning of the show.

[54:49] Before reading the response to Braden’s text, Jason squeezes in his last question regarding Braden’s drink of choice at Starbucks.

[55:51] Braden is eager to share his “Starbuck’s name” with Jason and the fun he has saying it and spelling it to employees. Jason thanks Braden for introducing him to a new world.

[57:08] Braden reveals the text response to the bold question he sent to an old fling at the beginning of the show.

[57:28] Jason and Braden conclude the interview and will remind each other in 10 years about the $100 bet they placed today.

Transcript

Jason Hennessey: All right. So we’re going to play a game right now.
Braden Pollock: Is this the game where I have to take my pants off? Because I told you I didn’t want to play that game.

That’s a different game for a different podcast, I guess, right? This is from the game “New Phone, Who Dis?” “New Phone, Who Dis?” right?

So, you’re going to give me your phone, find a random person. You could reject the person once and then you’ll have the choice of choosing between this person or the next person that I pick in your contact list.

Then you’re going to pick one of these cards and you have to text them whatever is on these cards. All right. So, the first name is Dave Wyda.

Okay.

[laughs] And let’s go down a little bit further. And the second name is Kelsey Meyer.

I don’t even know who that is.

So do you want to go Dave or Kelsey?

I have to pick between those two?

Yeah.

So I remember who Dave is. He was a club promoter from, I don’t know, more than 15 years ago. So, God knows if he has the same phone or if he would know who I am. And then Kelsey… Kelsey what?

Meyer?

I have no idea who that is. It could have been a girl I met at a club one day, 20 years ago.

I’m going to give you one more here. I’m just going to give you a third option. We’ll break the rules here. All right. The third option is Melanie Vasquez.

Okay. I know who that is.

All right. So you’ve got three options that you can choose from, and you’ve got three cards sitting in front of you with messages that you would have to send.

Should I read them?

Yeah, of course.

Okay. So the first one is, “Nah, brother, you’ve got the wrong guy. I stole this phone from an Applebees last Tuesday.” The next one is, “There is an intruder in my house and he just heard my phone buzz. If I die, tell my mom I love her.” Third one is, “I know you’re still upset about it and I feel bad, but like the past is in the past, you know?”

I will break the rules. You can pick from any one of those three.

Or should you pick?

I like the last one. I like the last one. Let’s do it.

Okay. So this is going out to Melanie.

This is going out to Melanie, and this way it gives us some time-

Sorry, Melanie.

…and we’ll see if she responds. Just think about you being on the receiving end of that.

“I know you’re still upset about it and I feel bad, but like the past is in the past, you know?” Right? There it is.

It’s there, man.

Okay.

When was the last time you texted this person?

It was 2 years ago, and I just sent it, and that was random.

And that was just random.

So I can tell you who Melanie is. Melanie I dated a few times, so we’re going back more than 15 years.

Is that right? Okay. Well, I hope this doesn’t get you into any trouble.

She’s going to come back with, “Say what?”

There’s a podcast. Proof that I made you do this here, all right?

Uh-huh.

All right.

Wait. What’s the likelihood that she comes back and says, “I think you’ve got the wrong person”?

90%, I think.

Or, “What are you talking about?”

She might not even have you in her phone anymore, right?

Oh, you think I’d get deleted just like that?

I think so.

That’s not cool.

I think so. You know what? I was doing a lot of thinking, and-

That’s a great start. It’s about time.

Well, I had to prepare mentally for this podcast, right? Because I’ve known you for 15 years, almost two decades now-

Yeah, I think so.

…and I pay homage. I mean, I don’t think we would be in this studio if we didn’t meet 15 years ago.

And, look. I certainly don’t deserve any credit. I mean, it’s certainly all you, but it’s interesting how one little thing can change the trajectory of your whole life, and your whole career.

Just for the listeners, the story was Braden was one of the early pioneers of let’s just call it “legal marketing,” I guess?

Well, “online legal marketing,” for sure.

It’s interesting how one little thing can change the trajectory of your whole life, and your whole career.

Online legal marketing. Yup. How long have you been in that space for?

17 years.

17 years. Yeah.

I mean, I remember when I first started, people were like, “What do I need a website for?” And I’m like, “Well, first of all, I’m not building you a website. It’s my website. You’re just going to advertise on it.” And they’re like, “What?” They didn’t have any idea what I was talking about.

 

Nobody did, right? So, yeah. Braden had a conference and it was in Atlanta, Georgia, and I wasn’t even invited to the conference.

You were not. You were not.

And I just showed up and I didn’t know I wasn’t invited to the conference. I was in Atlanta. I was working with a guy by the name of Brad Fallon. He had a company called StomperNet, and it taught people about what I do, right? Search engine optimization.

So, yeah. So SEO was pretty new back in those days, and StomperNet was one of the first places where you can kind of learn about this stuff. But the problem was, is that Brad wasn’t keeping up with SEO at the time, and I was this “new kid on the block” that knew all the secrets, because SEO was one of those things where you had to know the new secrets for the month.

And so, he’s like, “Hey, I’m being asked to speak at this lawyer conference tomorrow. I don’t know much about this. Can you come up here and teach them a little bit about SEO?” I’m like, “Dude, I don’t know anything about lawyers.” I’m like, “I was ranking for keywords like “wedding favors” and stuff,” remember?

Right. Right, right, right.

So I got up there and I gave a presentation about how I was able to rank like number 2 on Google for the word “wedding favors,” right? But it was applicable to lawyers because I was very transparent.

Sure. And that, that conference was about legal marketing.

It was.

Actually, it was specifically for DUI lawyers, and so, I brought in different speakers to talk about different things related to legal marketing because we were doing what is now considered lead gen. It wasn’t at the time. It was cooperative advertising online, and so we brought in experts in various fields that were related to marketing.

And I wasn’t one of those.

You were not, but there you were.

And so, I showed up, I got up there, I gave a little presentation, and people like mutual friends, who are now thought leaders, kind of, in the space of legal marketing, like Seth Price, was in the audience taking notes and asking a lot of questions.

And so, that was the genesis of how I got into the world that I’ve been in. That is truly, when you connect all the dots to how we got here, it was that, me being not invited to your conference, that landed us here 15 years later.

Yeah. So my clients, we didn’t offer SEO services. We did start building websites for them, but we really weren’t doing SEO, and eventually we stopped building websites for them too.

So I had told them go ahead and talk to you about SEO, and then you really got deep into it, which I didn’t know because you didn’t call me because you didn’t want me to think that that was taking my clients, which you weren’t.

And then we went to a lawyer’s conference. We’ve been exhibiting at this lawyers’ conference every year, and there you were with a booth. I was like, “Jason, what are you doing here?” And you’re like, “Well, okay. So can we talk for a minute?”

And so, you thought I was going to be upset, which I was not, and I said I would have sent you more people. I didn’t know you were-

Well, that’s who you are, man. You do good for other people, you’re… You’ve been a mentor, not just to me, to a lot of other people.

But anyway, yeah. So as far as those connections, right? When you look back at all the dots of your puzzle and where life took you, how did you meet Lisa? What was the dot that connected you to Lisa Bloom as your wife?

So I had met Lisa actually not long before I met you, and I think she was at that event.

She was. Uh-huh.

Yeah. So because I was in the legal space- so my business partner at the time, we were trying to get him out in the media, and so he was calling every show or we were calling every show to try to get him booked.

And so, he started doing a couple of shows on Court TV, which was in New York. And so, every time he’d get a call, he would just drop everything and fly out to New York, right?

One weekend he was heading out there and he had asked me if I wanted to go, and I’m like, “Nah, I’m busy,” and I was like, “Yeah. I don’t have time,” and then like a day later, I was like, “You know what? Actually, I could use a couple of days off,” and so I told him, “Yeah, I’m going to go after all.”

So we went and they had invited us to this benefit for the homeless. It was ”Coats for the Homeless” or something like that. And so, we go to a store and we buy a bunch of hoodies and go to this event. It was a bunch of Court TV people there.

So we’re at a bar and with a music event space, and I see my old partner talking to Lisa. So I walked up to him and I said, “You’re married.” And I turned to her and I said, “I’m Braden.” That was my opening line.

I love it.

So I was obviously flirting because there’s this pretty blonde, right?

Sure.

And she very quickly says, “I have a boyfriend,” and I look around and I said, “Well, where is he?” And she said, “He’s in London.” And I said, “Well, is he moving here to New York?” And she said, “No.” I said, “Are you moving to London?” “No.” I said, “So what’s the end game?” And this is literally in the first like 3 minutes of the conversation. And she goes-

Who are you again?

“I don’t know what the endgame is. That’s a very good question. No one has asked me that.” And I said, “Do you want to dance?” And then we did.

I walked up to him and I said, ‘You’re married.’ And I turned to her and I said, ‘I’m Braden.’

Interesting.

And 2 weeks later, she broke up with him.

Wow. So if you think back, if you didn’t go, right? If you didn’t decide to go, right?

Trajectory.

Where would your life be?

And I almost didn’t go on that little trip. We just went for the weekend.

And so, I met her and then we started emailing and phone calls, and one thing led to another, and that was 13 and a half years ago.

Wow. Amazing story. So you have a milestone birthday coming up here.

The big 5-0.

The big 5-0, right?

It’s halftime at life. Hopefully less. Let’s see how technology keeps up with the longevity space. I’m shooting for 120, just FYI.

You’re one of the few people that I know that might shoot for that.

Yeah. Diet and exercise, right?

See? Is this where you envisioned your world would be?

Yeah. I always thought I would kind of roll with it, and I never kind of anticipated, “This is exactly the way life is going to be.” I knew I was going to be in business for myself, because I always wanted to do that ever since I was a little kid and mostly have not worked for somebody else.

I anticipated that I would probably be married someday, right? And from a young age, I was kind of focused on money, so-

Me too.

We’re fortunate enough to have a comfortable life, and that’s good. Can I buy an island? No, but I mean I could have- I certainly could have retired many years ago, but I like working, so I’m going to keep doing that.

Yeah. I think if you’re looking up at the scoreboard in life at halftime, it’s… Keeping score in my mind is health, wealth, and happiness, right?

Right.

Life is good. I plan on it staying that way.

And I think you’re scoring really high in health, scoring high in wealth, and to me it appears just scoring well in happiness too, so-

I’m fortunate that, knock on wood. [knocks] I’m in a great relationship. I love my wife. I’m pretty sure that she likes me too. I mean, she’s there every day. I wake up and she’s still there. She hasn’t left. We have a good relationship and we travel a lot, and life is good. I plan on it staying that way.

 

So you never had kids?

Not that I’m aware of. I mean, I-

But you’ve been an influence on kids.

Yeah. So I joined Big Brothers of America just after Lisa and I got together and we got serious. When this question came up about: “Do I really want kids, or am I good the way I am?” That’s when I thought I’ll join the Big Brothers program, because that will give me a little taste.

And so, I started hanging out with Daniel when he was 9, and he just turned 22. When he was 12, he ended up moving in with us for 6 months. And then when he was 15, he then moved back in with us permanently until he was- Well, permanently until he was 19 and went off to college.

And so, now he lives on his own, but I see him all the time. I have now gotten him into domain investing full-time.

Wow.

So I’ve brought him into my world.

But he’s got the support of Braden with years and years of experience and maybe capital too, right?

He’s got a little bit of a backstage pass-

He sure does.

Because I have introduced him to a lot of people. He hasn’t even been to a conference yet. It’s going to blow his mind. I’ve been able to introduce him to people.

So I had him go through a course called DNAcademy, which teaches you everything you need to know about how to buy, how to value, which wasn’t around when I started, but it’s a really, really great resource. So he’s been through that, he’s read the eBooks, he’s talked to people that can help him, and I wanted him to start working with somebody to really get hands-on experience doing outbound sales.

And so, I set him up with Kate Buckley at Buckley Media to intern. Kate’s great. She’s one of the best brokers in the world, and she sells just primarily 7-figure domains. And so, he’s been interning with her and loves it.

Wow.

And she loves him and she even told me, “I don’t want to give him back.”

So, domaining. All right. Let’s talk a little bit about domaining because to me, if you walked into a Starbucks, right? That’s kind of the litmus test. There is usually nobody in there that knows what SEO is or what I do for a living, right?

Right. Or what good coffee tastes like.

Or what good coffee tastes like, right? You’re not one of our official sponsors yet, all right? Tell me a little bit about what is domain investing?

So a domain as opposed to a website. So you work on websites, right? I like to compare it to real estate. So a domain is like a piece of raw land. It is the address. It is not going to go anywhere, right?

The parcel, yeah.

It’s just the parcel of land and it is where it is, and it will only increase in value as more and more cars drive down the road and- passing it, and it requires virtually no maintenance, right?

And the better part of town you’re in, the higher the value. A short, one-word ,com is Park Avenue. Right? But if you have a four-word “.whatever,” that’s out in the middle of the desert. Okay?

The website is what is built on that land. That website can be a little shanty. It could be a 100-story skyscraper, and it requires maintenance. It can be any size and it can disappear, but the constant is the address. The domain can’t go anywhere.

So a website can go; a business, a domain name cannot go out of business, so I invest in land.

A short, one-word .com is Park Avenue.

Virtual land.

Right.

Got it.

And I focus primarily on the Park Avenues of the world. Right? The Beverly Hills address. Now, at 15 years later, that’s what I’m focused on.

And it’s a good analogy, right? That land just can’t be recreated.

Just like land, real estate just goes up in value. I mean, there are peaks and valleys, but pick any area where you live or that you know of and look at the pricing from 50 years ago, right? It’s going to be a lot cheaper. Maybe 2 years ago, because there was the peaks and valleys and there’s bubbles and stuff, but for the most part, real estate just goes up.

Virtual real estate, the same thing, but a much, much faster clip because it’s- The internet’s only been around for about 35 years, right? Maximum, right? The first domain was registered in, I think, ’86 or something like that.

So when you think about the land, let’s just say “Sex.com,” right? Three-letter word. When somebody registers “Sex.org” or “Sex.net,” is it an assumption that they’re trying to kind of squeeze into the backyard of that oceanfront property? Or- if the .com is the actual oceanfront property?

Yeah. So it’s a different neighborhood.

It’s a different neighborhood?

Right. So you’re still building that, I don’t know, 6,000 square-foot house or whatever you want to build on it, but you’re just not in that same neighborhood. You’re not oceanfront. Maybe you’re a block away or a mile away or 20 miles away.

Got it.

Coincidentally, I own Sex.co. “Sex.com” sold many years ago for about $13 million, and it would be much more than that now. Okay? Much more. And so, it sold a couple of times very quickly, and then it’s been developed ever since.

Mm-hmm. How did you get into this world? Who introduced you to it and what was your first domain you bought? Do you remember?

Well, in prior businesses, I had some domains. But back then I would type it into my browser, and if it was taken, then I’m like, “Oh, well I guess it’s not available,” right? I didn’t understand at the time that there was an aftermarket, and the aftermarket really wasn’t that developed. This is back in the ’90s.

But when I started Legal Brand Marketing, which is my legal lead gen company, 17 years ago, we had our directories. And then as we started building websites for our clients, because they would come to us and say, “Hey look, you’re, you’re my web guy, so can you build me…” We weren’t their web guy, right? But it didn’t matter. We were their only-

They called you when their computer couldn’t turn on either, right?

We got calls. This is a true story. Somebody wasn’t getting his emails and we were… We checked and we’re like, “No. Emails are going through.” “No, definitely not getting emails, texts, or phone calls.” Cannot figure out why he’s not getting his emails because it looks totally fine on our end.

He got a new phone. He took it out of the box and turned it on and his emails weren’t coming in, and he blamed us because-

You’re the web guys.

Because we’re the “web guys.” He didn’t know he had to set up his phone to receive his email.

So we started building websites for our clients and we would just- You register a domain name for them, and they were $7 dollars. We’re charging, whatever it was, $4 grand for a website, and so I didn’t care about the $7 bucks. And we might register a couple of them and you try to sell them a couple websites, or, “Here’s three domain names. Which one do you like better?” That sort of thing.

So over time, when there’s canceled orders or extra domains that we had purchased- I had a couple of hundred domain names, and a friend of mine, he was the sales manager for “.tv.”

So it’s a country code.

It is, yeah. Tuvalu.

And so, I said, “Hey, you know about these domains. I got a couple hundred of these names. Is there anything I can do with them? Any way I can monetize them?” And he says, “Yeah, park them.”

I said, “What the heck is parking?” Which is a way to place ads. So somebody types it in and there’s ads that come up from-

That’s when there was type-in before search engines.

Right. So, he tells me what it is and then how I can sign up for it and then tells me that there’s a conference coming up. I’m like, “There’s a conference? A domain name conference? You’re kidding me.”

So I go to this conference, everyone is in the domain name business. These people are buying and selling air, and I was smitten. I’m like, “This is awesome. I want to get into this business,” because I knew legal. I understood legal domain names.

I started acquiring domains that I thought had good value, and I ended up getting a couple of thousand, and they were selling, but there was a lot of margin because I could register a name for seven or eight dollars back then, and sell it for two, three, four, five thousand dollars. And so, I didn’t need to sell that many to make money doing it.

Now, especially today, you need to have a big inventory and ask for a big spread, right? So to buy a name and resell it for 10 times what I paid is not uncommon, but that doesn’t mean that people who are doing that are making a killing, because it depends on how much inventory they have, right? Because they have all the acquisition costs and then the holding costs in their portfolio.

And so, I did that for years and I was the legal guy. I really got into the domain space, the investment community. I was really focused on legal names, and every time I would see a domain sell on the wholesale market, I’d think, “Oh. That was a good deal, but I’m the legal guy,” and so I just stayed away from it.

Everybody was really talking about where they’re going to plant their flag. “What is the best new extension that’s going to come out? Where should we invest our money?” And the general consensus was, “Well, ‘.com’ is king, so it’s never going to affect the short .com, but you ‘.guru’ is going to be good or ‘.whatever’ is going to be good.”

These people are buying and selling air, and I was smitten.

And so, I was thinking about, “Where am I going to plant my flag? What am I going to invest in?” And that’s when I decided to focus on one-word .coms, and I had income from my various other business ventures, so I could afford to take that leap, and so I did and it’s been years-

Sure. And you’ve accumulated a nice portfolio. And it’s interesting because Ron, a mutual friend that writes about domain sales, you’re on his newsletter once every couple months with a big sale. I remember I saw-

“Q.” Q-

Q.org. Got it.

Yeah. For $500,000.

$500,000.

And I’m selling “z.org” right now.

[chuckles] It’s crazy to think about. Most people can’t fathom that. And in fact, I don’t even think banks understand that. Banks don’t…

Banks don’t.

…lend on that, right?

There are lenders, so there are financial institutions that understand domains that will lend on it, but banks, they just don’t. They don’t get it.

And it’s interesting if you wanted to borrow or raise money related to domain, the domain will never go out of business. I mean, I just bought a name this week that cost me $450,000. That domain is liquid. I can always sell that name. I could turn it right now to other investors and maybe even make a few points on it.

But in 3 years, let’s say I need to liquidate it, it’s worth more in 3 years. It’s gone up in value. I can wholesale it for more than I paid.

It’s interesting because I remember calling you, because I do that often when I need advice professionally and personally.

Maybe I should start charging.

You should. And so, I’m like, “Hey, Braden. I’ve got an opportunity to buy my last name, Hennessey.com,” right? With the E-Y. If you didn’t put the E in, you’d get the cognac, right?

And I’m surprised they never bought that domain name just for the heck of it.

Defensive.

Yeah. And so, I called you up. I’m like, “Hey, I got the opportunity to buy this domain name.” You’re like, “How much do they want?” And I’m like, “They want $50,000 for it.” You’re like, “Whoa.” I’m like, “But I think I can get it for $30,000,” and you’re like, “That’s still expensive for a surname. I wouldn’t do it.”

And then I posted something on Facebook a couple hours later, “I bought my last name.” I didn’t listen to you, but it was so important to have my last name, Jason@hennessey.com.

I agree. I can tell you, I have a bunch of four- and five-letter first names that I paid six figures each for them.

Interesting.

As a matter of fact, I just got an offer last week for “Jake.com.” I got a $350,000 offer.

That’s a good one. First name, Yup. Do you own “Josh.com” for our engineer over there, right?

Somebody owns it.

I know “Jason.com,” they wanted to sell me that, and then somebody just recently bought that.

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. For $350,000, I believe.

Interesting. As far as the pricing of a domain, it still seems like it’s just the wild, wild West, right? There’s no real appraisal service per se, right?

Well, yes and no. I was just listening to a podcast on the way here called “My First Million,” and the founder of HubSpot was on, and says, “I-” He was listing the domains he had, and he’s like, “Yeah. I’ve got “Birminghamalabama.com”, which is a seven-figure name. I lived there for a while.” Birmingham, Alabama is no at seven-figure name. “Alabama.com” is not a seven-figure name, but there are some more objective criteria that you can look at.

So if you’ve got a four-letter or five-letter single syllable, kind of empty-vessel domain, probably seven figures, if not maybe high six figures.

Got it.

Right? If you’ve got just a category killer, phenomenal name, like “Voice.com” sold for $30 million plus commission, but “Voice,” it’s just such a fantastic word. All of the technology is moving to voice now, right? So-

Let’s just say I’ve got $500 and I want to enter into this new world that Braden Pollock is so famous in, right? If you had to do it all over again, right? You had $500 bucks or there’s a young kid that’s just getting started, do you tell him to just take that $500 and go out to dinner with his family? He can’t do it? Or is there still a way to get into this game?

There absolutely is a way. I know people that have just gotten into it that are making money. It’s never too late because this- The pie keeps growing, right? More and more people are building websites. They’re buying domain names.

I mean, you’ve got a studio here that’s only for social media, and your whole SEO company is based on websites, right? And I’m sure you build websites for your clients.

So there’s always a demand for domains. You would say, “Well, allocate some funds towards SEO.” And I would say, “Allocate some funds towards the domain too,” right? Because that will give you a kickstart. So if somebody had say, $500 bucks, first thing is go take DNAcademy.com.

Get the education.

Get the education, because you will blow more than that buying crappy domains, because you don’t know what you’re doing, right? So you’re going to start typing in ideas and you’re going to sit down with a glass of wine at night, and you’re going to go on GoDaddy and you’re going to start typing stuff in. You’re going to be like, “Oh, that makes sense. That could be a blah, blah, blah.”

Well, no, because if it was a good name, somebody already would have registered it. The chances are no one’s ever registered that name before and for 35 of years nobody has ever wanted it, and now you think because you came up with the idea, someone is going to not only want the name, but want to pay you more?

Got it.

I happen to have a, it’s an affiliate code, except that I don’t make any money from it. I asked the founder to, instead of giving me an affiliate fee, use it as a discount.

Oh, nice.

So “DNAcademy,” like domain name, DNAcademy.com/braden.” B-R-A-D-E-N, and that provides about 25% off whatever plan that yet you get, and so it’s $300 or $400, and it is a massive course. This is not something you’re going to do in two hours. It will take you weeks to go through it.

You’ll save more money getting the experience first, than in registering a bunch of domain names that nobody is going to want, that you’re going to let expire next year.

Yeah. I think that’s really sound advice, right? You could never do yourself a disservice by investing in yourself, right?

In education.

Education…

For sure.

…is so important, right? And they don’t teach domain investing in college, right? They don’t teach SEO in college, right? It’s all of these random…

Right.

…things. So we’re going to play a game right now. So this is a different game.

Never have I ever.”

“Never have I ever.” You’ve heard of this one before.

I have.

So you have-

It’s the game of poor life decisions.

It is. You have three passes. I think there’s 10 cards each, and I will go first this time. So I read the card, and I could either pass or answer it.

How we win is the first one to answer five true answers.

Yeah. Well, I don’t care what people think of me, so there’s that.

All right. “Legit hated a family member”?

I don’t know if you want to answer that.

I’ll answer it. I’ll say I don’t hate anybody in my life, right? I always give people the benefit of the doubt. I think hate is a very strong word, and so I’ve disliked people in my family, but I don’t think I’ve ever hated anybody in my family.

So is that even an answer?

Of course that’s an answer.

It sounded like a dodge to me. Okay. So mine is “pretended not to see an elderly person, so I wouldn’t have to give up my seat”? I’m the other way around. I’m the guy that’s like, “Hey, can I give you my seat?”

Oh, me too.

I mean, I wouldn’t do that, so I’m the guy that gives up my seat.

And I’m the guy that yells at my kids to make sure they give up their seat whenever they see that stuff too, so now they are trained for the rest of their life to be respectful. “Gone home with a stripper”?

As I recall, you were a DJ in Las Vegas…

I was a DJ. Yeah.

…so you must have gone home with a stripper.

Did I ever go home with a stripper? I’m going to pass on this one.

Because you’re married now? Okay.

I was 17 once, 18.

I would have answered that question. “Had my boss tell me that my work sucks”? I don’t think I’ve ever been told my work sucks. I have certainly been fired from a lot of jobs. So in a way, I guess that was my boss telling me that my work sucks.

There.

I’ve probably been fired from more jobs than I’ve even had. I got fired constantly. I was not the guy to work for other people, and I would let them know that.

I’ve probably been fired from more jobs than I’ve even had.

You knew it.

I would do a good job, and then somebody would tell me what to do, and I’m like, “Are you kidding? You’re telling me what to do?”

“I’m out of here.” Yeah. “Ridden in a closed trunk of a car”? I did do that.

So I had a car and somebody- As a kid, I was 17 years old, and somebody broke into the car, and they put a hole in the key, right? Where you open it, and so you just push a button and the key, the trunk opens, right?

And there used to be an Alpine system and bass, but I grew up in New York, right? And so, you wake up one morning, your trunk’s been broken into, all your gear was stolen.

So as a joke, my friend’s like, “Let’s drive around. I’ll play the music and you’ll be in the trunk and you’ll be the bass,” right? So just kind of hit the trunk as we’re driving.

And so, he would be driving and I’d be in the trunk, sweating. I don’t know why I was doing this or agreed to it, but I did ride in a closed trunk of a car.

So you were a smart kid, and your friends were pretty bright too.

All right, my question. “Peed in the snow”? I mean, who has not peed in the snow? You have not been to the snow if you haven’t peed in the snow.

If you haven’t peed in the snow. Yeah.

“Pretended to put money on a bill with a big group of people, but didn’t.” Yeah. So I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I’m usually the one that grabs the bill.

Now, but what about when you were a kid?

No, I don’t think I ever did it as a kid either. I don’t think so. But nowadays, you know how the bill comes around and you’re out with a group of 10 people and it’s $300?

And there has to be the one person that takes the accountability of getting the bill and is like, “All right, you owe $40. You owe $30. You owe us $10,” right? And that’s usually me. I’m usually the accountant.

The treasurer?

I’m the treasurer of the table.

I’ve played dinner treasurer a lot too.

Uh-huh. Yup. That’s usually my role there.

Okay. My question. Have I “ever walked into a glass door”? Oh, yeah. Sure, I have. I’ve never busted my nose, but I have certainly bounced my forehead off of a glass door.

It’s funny. Just 2 weeks ago, we had Scott Shrum, our president, we were in here testing out the equipment, and he just walked right into the glass door right behind you.

Well, that was part of the test. It was testing the equipment and the fixture.

And the- He was probably doing that.

Yeah, that’s solid.”

Four to three. “Spent the night in jail”? I can confidently say no. I’ve never been to jail.

Neither have I. Have I ever hopped a subway turnstile? I have not. I would.

You would?

Just for fun, but I grew up in LA and we don’t have turnstiles here. And by the time I started going to New York, I would just pay, so I haven’t.

So Braden is our winner. He’s got five, I’ve got four.

And prizes?

And prizes. We’ve got some snacks.

Oh.

Awesome. Well, I’m glad I didn’t have to answer “had my parents walk in on having sex-”

Or some of these other ones that I’ve got here.

Right, right.

That almost happened to me.

“Had a fake ID taken by a bouncer”?

“Been so hungover, I couldn’t get out of bed until dinner”? Never been hungover. “Hooked up with a bartender for free drinks.” No, but I’ve probably hooked up with a bartender. “Had more than one speeding ticket in a day”? I don’t think so.

You would remember that one.

“Heard my parents having sex”? Definitely not. “Tried to light a fart”? Probably.

Pass.

Oh, no. I wouldn’t pass. I probably did. I mean, we can try now? And-

“We can try now.” All right. Back to business here.

I have a question for you. The reason why I bought “Hennessey,” part of the reason was so that I could have Jason@hennessey.com. Right? My email. It’s an important part of domains. Nowadays, take my kids for instance-

No, keep your kids.

They don’t communicate via email and they don’t even set up their voicemail, right? The way in which they communicate is instantaneously through Snapchat or DM, right?

Sure.

So how long do you think email has? Even Andrew, one of our apprentices here, said, “The only reason why I set up an email was because I got this job,” right?. And what is he? Maybe 19 years old? He’s 22, okay.

Yeah. Daniel as well. Same thing.

Yeah. So what do you think about the future of email? How much longer do we have?

So this is a good question. So kids, they don’t have email because they’re communicating with their friends. They’re not communicating out in the real world with other professionals, but once they [kids] get a job and they have to start communicating with other professionals, they need an email.

Unless you’re on Instagram and you’re active on Instagram and there might be just a different platform.

Right. But do you want to rely on a platform and then go out of business? Right? Because who is checking their MySpace account? Who is checking their Friendster DMs? Right?

And also, these platforms, they get big and then they shrink and then somebody else comes in and crushes them. And Facebook is huge, but are kids on Facebook now? Not really.

Facebook is huge, but are kids on Facebook now? Not really.

No. Definitely not on Facebook.

And so, if you and I were relying on Facebook Messenger, we wouldn’t be able to communicate with the next generation.

But let’s back up a minute and what’s broader than email? Email is based on a domain. A domain typically has a website attached to it. A website is the calling card, the internet calling card, for a business.

So if domains were to go away, how are you going to advertise your business, right? What are you going to put on the billboard or the TV commercial or a radio spot or a podcast spot or et cetera, et cetera, right? How are you going to advertise that business without the internet?

Are you going to advertise your Facebook page? Are you going to advertise a page on a platform that you do not control? Are you going to send somebody to your Amazon shop as opposed to your own website? No, right?

There’s always going to be websites and there’s always going to be emails attached to those websites. So for domains to go down, the whole internet would have to change- websites would have to change, the whole email system would have to change. And that’s not happening, at least, no time soon.

In the last 35 years, it has only gotten more and more important, particularly over the last year and a half since COVID. I mean, it’s just ramped up. The internet, websites, and domains has matured 10 years, a decade, in the last year.

True. Right.

And an example I like to use was last year, Pepsi. PepsiCo launched Snacks.com because restaurants are closed and markets are closed and bars, and a lot of their distribution had shut down, so they needed “D2C”, direct-to-consumer.

And so, they launched a website to sell their Fritos and their Doritos and their Pepsi products directly to people. So, you can now go on that site and you can order from them, and they chose “Snacks.com” because of course it’s “Snacks.com.” What else would it be? Right? Because what do they sell? Snacks. And you’re talking about a multi-billion dollar company, and they’re going to get the best domain that they can.

And I always say that domains are budget-driven, and if you have a multi-billion dollar company that’s marketing a massive campaign and that kind of initiative, the price of the domain doesn’t matter. The price of the website doesn’t matter. Right? You’ve got clients with six-figure monthly budgets, right? They should not be skimping on the domain name.

You’re talking about a multi-billion dollar company, and they’re going to get the best domain that they can.

I see your point, and I agree. It’s because it’s the world that we grew up in and we know, right?

You think of a company like Coca-Cola, right? How else are they going to send out a memo to thousands of employees, right? You can’t just put up a pamphlet, right?

Or people that are their mailing list, right?

Agreed. Email marketing, right? Yeah. All of that.

And how are we going to know that it’s them? Because it’s “Coke.com.” Because if you got an email…

Fraudulence, right? Phishing exercises.

…from “Coke.it” or some- or “Coke-soda.guru,” you’re going to be like, “Pfft. This is-”

True.

Right? “I don’t trust this,” but who’s got “Coke.com”?

That is true, I guess. So then the second part of that question is: there’s going to have to be a big and new learning curve for these younger generations that are coming up that are not accustomed to kind of communicating in the way in which we communicate, because I seriously mean that.

My kids have email, right? It’s a Gmail address. They don’t ever check it.

They don’t. They don’t.

They just use it when you go to Old Navy and they say, “What’s your email address?” Right? So you save 5% or whatever, and they haven’t even set up their voicemail.

But it’s a very, very short learning curve, because they already have a computer in their pocket, they already know how to use apps. So if they’re opening Snapchat to send a message, hey, now they just open their Gmail, or whatever email client they use, and send a message. So it’s a pretty short learning curve for them because they already know structurally, “This is just a different app.”

And by the way, 5 years ago, they weren’t using Snapchat, right? And maybe now they’re also sending messages on TikTok. I don’t even know if you can use TikTok to send messages, but-

Because we don’t know the way in which they communicate.

Because I’m turning 50, right? So there’s already multiple platforms that they’re using and this would just be another one, and they’re used to adopting a new platform to send messages anyway.

Well, I’m willing to bet you $100 we’ll come back in 10 years for your 60th birthday.

Okay. Which $100 won’t be worth that much…

Probably won’t.

…by then.

Right? And I’ll email you my $100, but I’m willing to bet $100 that there might be a new way that we’re communicating in 10 years.

Oh, I agree. There will be a new way, but will it supplant email? And I think it will not because of all of these things we just discussed, but there will certainly be the next voice message or whatever it is, right?

And people are always looking for new ways, particularly to communicate and to connect, so there will be. The question is how big will it be?

People are always looking for new ways, particularly to communicate and to connect.

And we’re the same way, right? My company, your company, we’re on Slack. We were on Skype before that, but it’s really interesting because if somebody really wants to get my attention, email is the worst way to do it. And it’s probably for you too, right?

The quickest way to get my attention is to text me, right? And I even say that on my voicemail. “Hey, for a quicker response, text me,” right?

Me too.

And because it’s just so quick. It’s like, “Bam.” It’s instantaneous, right? They got my attention, right? Whereas email, I’ve missed some very important emails and I’m sure you have too, so-

I don’t miss email and I don’t miss text. I mean, sometimes it might take me a minute to get to it, but what I miss is when someone sends me a DM on IG or Twitter or something-

You miss all that because you’re not hanging out on those platforms, right?

Yeah. I mean, I will get them eventually, but I’ve certainly had lots of people DM me on Instagram, but I’m not hanging out on Instagram, right? I mean, I’ll check it and I’ll doom scroll for a little while, but I’m not- That’s not where I’m communicating with people.

Got it. So one of the mottos that I try to live by is being 1% better every day and failing, but failing forward. What do you think has been your greatest- It sounds like an oxymoron, right? Your greatest failure?

There’s been a lot of little failures. I mentioned getting fired from lots of jobs. Were those failures? I mean, at the time they certainly seemed like it, but every failure creates an opportunity. Look, I’ve had businesses that have gone under.

I had an immigration services business. I had it for a long time. I did really well with it. I bought my first house. I employed a bunch of people. And it was 9/11 that kind of did us in, so people stopped coming to the US. They were not interested in coming to the US, and it was an immigration business.

I had 30 people or something like that. We would slowly start laying people off because the business had diminished, and finally- I don’t know how many people were left at the end, seven. And with tears in my eyes, I had to tell everyone we were shutting down, and I had already run up my credit cards. I was doing everything I could to try to push through.

Every failure creates an opportunity.

Wow.

And I really saw that as a failure. After that, I had to do something new and I started looking around and I went to lunch with a friend of mine who said- I said, “So what have you been doing lately?” He was doing worker’s comp insurance. He was a lawyer and- Or worker’s comp claims, and he said, “I started doing DUI defense,” and he started telling me about that. I was like, “Hmm.”

And I went back to my office by myself. I had this office, all these desks, right? Nobody there, and I sat down and I typed in “DUI lawyer” and there was no national brand. And I thought, “Huh. I could put together a national brand and get all these lawyers to kind of pay me.”

What year was this?

This was 2004.

Four. Okay.

So 17 years later, I still own this business, and it’s led into a number of other companies, some of which I’ve since sold, and domains, and all these other things that I do and angel investing and I’ve made a really good living from that pivot.

If I had continued with the immigration business, who knows where I’d be, because I wouldn’t have found-. I wouldn’t have had that lunch, and I wouldn’t have discovered there was no national DUI defense brand. And so, that sent me on a different path. It changed the trajectory. So…

Got it.

…that failure, or it certainly felt like a failure, brought in this amazing opportunity that has forever changed my life.

Got it. What is one quote, a motivational quote, that comes to mind that you try to live your life by?

I’ve got so many. My friends call them “Braden-isms.” “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.”

I like it.

That’s one. I also like: “Begin with the end in mind.” Another one, people always seek advice and mentorship all over the place, and you really have to question the sources, so you need to get advice from the right place.

I have this expression I made up as a teenager and I still say it: “The poor man always has financial advice.” Just because someone is giving you advice, it doesn’t mean they have any idea what they’re talking about.

There it is.

So there’s a few of them.

So one of the things that we’re going to do with these quotes is going to turn them into T-shirts and then sell them on my website. There you go. See, I’m going to make money off of this.

No one has ever said, “The poor man has been-” I mean, I made that one up-

Just because someone is giving you advice, it doesn’t mean they have any idea what they’re talking about.

I like it.

…a long time ago.

Biggest pet peeve?

I have several pet peeves, like messiness and lack of organization, but I’ll tell you my keyword.

So everybody has a keyword. It’s their gift and their curse, it’s yin and yang, and mine is knowing. And there was somebody that was an expert in this years ago that asked me a bunch of questions and told me what my keyword is, and it’s knowing.

And so, I like to know things. I’m no brainiac. I know this because my wife can remind me every time I talk to her, she’s way smarter than I am, but I like to know things.

And so, when someone like an employee comes to me and they ask me a question, you’re like, “Why don’t you know this? Go figure this out.” It drives me crazy if they don’t know something or they don’t know what they’re talking about, and it drives me nuts if I can’t figure out a problem.

If I don’t understand a thing, I want to know what it is, so I’m going to go on YouTube and figure it out. I’m going to google it. I’m going to try to learn it.

If I don’t understand a thing, I want to know what it is.

That’s interesting.

And my wife is always telling me to put my phone down because I’m always like, “Let me figure that out. Let me get an answer to that question.”

I’d like to figure out what my keyword is. Are there any weird signals in life that might be spiritual?

I’ll just kind of give you an example. For me, the number 1-2-7 follows me everywhere, right? It’s the most bizarre thing, right? It’s my birthday, I worked on a radio station, Star 102.7. It’s the first three digits of my- I’m not going to say. My social security number, right?

It’s all good, right? But it’s just this weird number that follows me everywhere.

We all figured out your password, by the way.

Yeah, you have. Right? And so, I was talking to somebody recently, and randomly, I didn’t even tell him about 127. He’s like, “Yeah. I’ve got this weird thing. This number 5-1-2 follows me everywhere,” and I’m like, “Really?” He’s like, “Yeah. It’s the strangest thing.”

And he goes, “Every time I see that number, I say, ‘Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord.’” Right? That’s kind of his thing, right? He’s spiritual.

And mine is, I don’t know if it’s spiritual or what, but it’s just this weird signal that I don’t know how to read into it. Is there anything in your life that’s kind of strange that you question?

I question a lot of things and I find a lot of things strange. I do have a number. Everybody has a number.

I question a lot of things and I find a lot of things strange.

Okay. What’s your number?

Seven.

Your number is seven.

Yeah. It’s the key to the universe. God, I don’t know. I like to think that there are no coincidences, and the Malcolm Gladwells of the world, the social scientists, say there aren’t. There’s a reason behind everything.

And so, when something just happens, I kind of look at it with that eye like, “Okay, this wasn’t a coincidence. What does it mean? How did it happen?” I don’t know if that exactly answers your question, but it’s something that kind of gives me pause.

Yeah. Somebody once said that sometimes, you know, everything happens for a reason. I’m a big believer in that too, but sometimes by you not getting that job, there are reasons for that. Right?

And when you can actually see the power of why that happened, why it didn’t go the way you want it-

I guess, doesn’t Garth Brooks have a song? Like, “Thank you for all of my unanswered prayers“?

I think so. Yeah.

It’s a pretty powerful statement when you think about it.

Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Did it happen for a reason or did you then find a reason for that to happen?

Yeah.

Right?

But I don’t think the human brain kind of can even comprehend that. It goes so, so deep that I don’t even think even me or you or some of the smartest people in the world can really comprehend the meaning of life, I guess.

Well, that’s why we still have one God left.

Yeah. Last question. So-

And then I’ll read the text, the reply.

Oh, did you get it back? Okay.

Yeah, yeah. She responded.

All right. All right. Just, last question. So you walk into a Starbucks, what’s your drink of choice? Because you’re a healthy guy, man.

Well, if I’m walking into a Starbucks. So I have two.

I already know your feelings about Starbucks. You revealed that to us a little earlier, but yeah. But what’s your drink of choice?

There’s better coffee, but I have two. So one is an oat milk latte with- a venti, so I get the big one, with one pump of hazelnut, and one pump of vanilla.

Oh. You put sugar in your body?

Yeah, but I just get two pumps in a big- They put in, I think, five with that size, so this is just two, so it’s not nearly as sweet. And the other one is a matcha latte.

Okay. I’ll have to try that.

And also I get it less sweet because I don’t like it too sweet, but those are my two go-to drinks, and yeah, there’s sugar in it.

Got it. And then the last reveal here. So who did we text earlier?

You wanna guess my Starbucks name?

Oh, I didn’t know you- I’m just “Jason.” I’m Jason. You’ve got a Starbucks name?

Doesn’t everybody?

Is that a thing?

Everybody’s got a Starbucks name.

I didn’t even know that’s a thing. Is that a thing for you?

Really?

No. You’ve got a Starbucks name.

No kidding.

What’s your Starbucks name?

“Libutika.”

“Libutika.”

No, Libutika.

How do you spell that?

I don’t know. L-I-B-tika? This is what I do. They go, “Libtika?” And I go, say, “No. Libutika,” which means nothing. So they laugh and they say, “How do you spell it?” And I’m like, “L-I-Tika?”

[laughs]

“‘Butika’? I don’t know.”

I love it, man.

Yeah, that’s my Starbucks name. I met a guy that was a waiter just a couple days ago. His name was Cy, C-Y, Creamer. I was like, “That must be your Starbucks name, right?”

And he said, “That’s my real name”?

So it sounds like soy creamer, Cy Creamer? And he said, “No. That’s my real name.” I’m like, “Well, Cy is short for Cyrus?” He’s like, “No, that’s my-” That was his full, actual real name.

You just introduced me to a whole new world, man, and I thank you for that…

You’re welcome. You’ve got to have a Starbucks name.

…because I’m going to have so much fun now. Yeah. And you’re loyal to your Starbucks name?

No, no. For sure.

Okay. I will come up with a Starbucks name.

Okay. So you want to do the big reveal?

Yeah. So who did we text again?

We texted Melanie Vasquez. She wrote, “I think this message might have been meant for someone else.” Exactly what I-

[laughs] You predicted it. We’ve got to take a picture of that for proof.

Is text okay, or do you want me to send it to your Snapchat?

Text is perfect. Just don’t email it to me.

Well, Braden, man, I really appreciate you coming down to North Hollywood here, Hennessey Studios inside the Television Academy where I’m paying for that statement place.

Yeah. It is nice. It’s a very nice studio.

Thank you, buddy. I appreciate it. And you’ll be back in 10 years and we’ll be talking about email again.

With a $100 bill.

Yes. With a $100 bill. Thank you my friend.

Thank you.

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