GLENN: Tom Scott. Welcome to the program. How are you? Great.
TOM: Thanks for having me.
GLENN: Yeah. So, Tom, you -- let's start -- gas crisis, 1970s?
TOM: Research. You did research.
GLENN: Yeah. Gas crisis in 1970s. You become an entrepreneur. How old were you?
TOM: I think I was ten. When was the gas crisis? '76, I think?
GLENN: Yeah, '73 to '76. Somewhere in that area.
TOM: Yeah. So near my house were the gas lines. And I went and started selling them things, coffee, muffins, and things. Yeah.
GLENN: People can't -- people can't relate to gas lines.
TOM: I know.
GLENN: But this is when we were having an energy crisis. And people -- you could only go if you were -- I think you were on even days. If your license plate was an even number.
GLENN: And so people would line up for hours at gas stations.
TOM: Which I still don't understand why that was. Maybe they could only turn the machine on at a certain time. I don't know. But on Brookville Road -- I lived right on the DC line -- there would this be long line of cars. And I used to sell -- selling food and things.
GLENN: So is that where you -- by the way, I don't think you would be able to do that now without a license. Is that where you got benefit by the entrepreneurial bug?
TOM: You know, I don't know the answer to that. And I'm saying that -- I'm not trying to be cute. But the concept of an entrepreneur is such a modern phenomenon. You know, it's so celebrated and labeled in a way. And I'm not saying it's a bad thing. But I think more than anything else, it was -- I think of it as like the Wild West. It's like the spirit of adventure where you want to go out and be Tom Sawyer for a moment.
GLENN: Yeah, yeah. Isn't that what an entrepreneur is?
TOM: Yeah, I guess so. I guess so. But my point is, I really thought it was just fun. You know, I wasn't thinking, oh, I'm going to get rich. It was more just, this is going to be fun.
GLENN: But, again, isn't that the best entrepreneur? I really believe money is a by-product. It doesn't -- if you focus on money, you're not going to get wealthy. If you focus on doing something that you love, that you enjoy, and you are making somebody else's life easier, you know people are caught in their cars and they want their coffee. And they're hungry. They've been waiting. You were going to have fun serving them something. Money is a by-product.
TOM: I think that's right. I think that's so true.
You know, it's funny. So I do this thing at Brown University. I went to Brown University. And I do a class there every year. And, you know, it used to be a business class. It's now turned into an entrepreneurial class. And people talk about their Series A, their Series B. Kids. And I think to myself -- which I didn't know what any of that was. Because no one knew what any of that was at the time. And I think like, wow, this has gotten so formulaic. That's why I'm kind of -- like the word kind of bums me out because the notion of startup or whatever you want to call it has become so formalized, that --
GLENN: That it's less disruptive.
TOM: Yeah, and I don't want to be that. There's something about that, that I just -- that's not interesting to me. That's not the Wild West. It's this other thing.
GLENN: Right. So you and a friend, college?
GLENN: You start mixing, what is it? Peach juice and water together?
TOM: Yeah. Again, very good.
Similarly, boats in Nantucket Harbor are on hooks, they're on mooring. So they don't have access to the land. So we started a store where we would go around selling them things on a boat. Store on a boat. And one of the things that we sold was juice. And it was a peach juice, the first one. You know, this is in the days -- and I know this is ridiculous and somewhat arbitrary. But Tropicana Pure Premium hadn't happened yet. Right? So juice was bad. Just generally speaking, if you wanted a juice, it tasted badly.
GLENN: Upgrade from Tang, but not much.
TOM: Exactly. That's where we were. So we were making something that was...
TOM: And just way better.
GLENN: Yeah. How did you go from there to the boardroom to PepsiCo, selling for how much?
TOM: I'm not allowed to tell you.
GLENN: A lot.
STU: More or less than $30?
TOM: More. Yeah.
I'll tell you this, the first time someone tried to buy the business, I was on one of those Motorola flip phones. I remember opening it. You know, you can remember certain things in your life. And the guy said, "I want to buy your company." And I said, "I don't want to sell it." And he said -- which was always my line. Because somebody told me, a company is worth four times net. Well, we didn't have much net.
And I -- he said, "You don't want to hear the number?" I said, "All right. Tell me the number." And he told me the number, and I thought --
PAT: I would have sold -- I really want to sell my company.
GLENN: What was the number?
TOM: I have no idea, it was probably more than 100 times what I thought it was worth.
GLENN: Wow. Wow.
TOM: Yeah, no, it was staggering. I had no clue. And, again, back to what I was saying before.
GLENN: You weren't doing it for that.
TOM: Well, people talk about exits. And I'm not trying to sound holier-than-thou. I just didn't know. I was clueless.
GLENN: Yeah. Yeah. So you sell it. Then what happens to your life? When you were up at the top, you're making, you know, Nantucket Nectars. Everybody in the country knows it. And who were you at that time? Who had you turned into, from the kid that just wanted to go have fun selling muffins, to that guy? Who were you?
TOM: You know, I thought it was silly to the end. It's juice. Like, I mean, really, what are we talking about here? It's silly. It's almost -- it's a child's toy in a way. Right?
But you -- I started getting praise like crazy, you know. And this is at the very beginning of dot-com. So entrepreneurs are hot.
And I always -- I'm just a person who feels slightly less than. It's just how I go through life. Which I'm -- I'm not alone in that. We all sort of like -- we have some degree of self-hatred. And maybe I'm wrong. But I know there are a lot of us.
TOM: Well, if you get praised enough times -- I mean, who is the most praised human in modern history? Michael Jackson.
GLENN: I would say Jesus.
TOM: I mean, modern history. Really modern. Really modern.
TOM: And look what happens.
TOM: Now, I'm not -- but just look at the way he looked at the end of his life. There's something about praise that is not very healthy. And Michael Jackson is not alone, by the way. And I'm not comparing myself to Michael Jackson. But I became somebody who didn't know where my center was.
You know, the normal oppositional forces that we all sort of go through life with are healthy. They're there for a reason. And I think when they come out of whack, they come out of whack. So I was out of whack, is the long story short. And, like, raising money in the year 2000, when you're 34 years old and you've just sold a business, it's pretty easy.
STU: When did you -- was that phone call on the Motorola flip phone the moment you knew you actually had something. Or was the business successful before that?
TOM: You know, I think the Motorola flip phone moment was a moment of, you know, having some sense of value that was dream like. You know.
Almost everything in my life has been so incremental that it's been hard for me to sort of identify moments. And in a way, if you think about it, like the -- my recognition of the value of the company was not incremental. It was not. Not in my kind of brain or in my kind of soul.
But maybe that's why it was so disruptive in a sense, you know.
GLENN: So I -- I have been rich. I have been poor. The problems of being rich are just bigger. I mean, don't get me wrong, being rich doesn't suck. But the problems are just the same, they're just bigger.
But -- but money can be very corrosive to a soul. Fame is the -- I think it's battery acid on people. I wouldn't wish real fame on anybody.
At what point did you -- at what point did you hit bottom, from such a high?
TOM: You know, for me, it was -- it happened more than once.
When you get that far out of whack, you're going to have problems in your relationships. You're going to have problems just sort of navigate through life. And if you think about it, you know, if you're off course by .1-degree and you're headed to Spain, you could end up to wherever. Right?
TOM: So I think I had points where I recognized I was off course more than once. But, you know, one is I took a company through bankruptcy. I had also struggled with, you know, alcohol. Drugs and alcohol, probably around 2005 or so. And we -- I took the company into bankruptcy in 2012. What's important is I left the business in 2007, but I went back to take it through bankruptcy. And if you've never been through bankruptcy, it is almost exactly like -- and I know I'm being a little dramatic here. But what are the things called? Buzzards?
TOM: What are those birds? Yeah. You know, they are alive and healthy. And they feed on a carcass. And in that sense, if you would take the drama out of it, that would make sense. If you're the carcass, it is dramatic.
Now, let me just say this, so you asked the question. They're laying out the case for the judge. And the judge has to sort of make choices that I think are in the best interest of whatever remains of this thing that was in bankruptcy.
GLENN: You sold for PepsiCo for a lot of money.
TOM: Oh, yeah. Sorry.
GLENN: Did you lose all of that money?
TOM: No, no, no. A lot of it.
GLENN: You lost a lot of it. And you lost all the investment of anything that you had done in this new company.
TOM: Yeah. In this new venture which was called Plum TV. And when you're in the bankruptcy court, they lay out all the facts.
TOM: And if you're hearing all the facts laid out, you're thinking, who is this guy? Me.
And then so finally the judge says -- and I had suffered a lot through this. This was very painful personally, painful legally, painful -- financially painful. And then the judge says -- and this is going to sound goofy, but the judge says, "Who is Thomas W. Scott?" Which is me, right? And I thought, "That's a really good question." You know, and I know that sounds corny. But I'm being literal. I had a moment of clarity where I thought, "That's a great question." And all I can do right now --
GLENN: Did you raise your hand where you're like, you know, Judge, that's a good question. It might be that guy. Because I don't want it to be this guy.
TOM: Right. But I stood up, and I thought -- and here's the thing, people have been through a lot worse tragedy than this. And I want to just say, that's, of course, true, right?
But all I could do at that point was go in the direction out, which is just do the next right thing, keep doing the next right thing. And so I did. I stood up. And I started to sort of speak and share the story. And I think there was a moment probably five or ten minutes after I was on the stand, where I felt that the judge had connected with me. Because the judge's job is to essentially preserve whatever value is left here.
TOM: And I got to say -- so MF Global was in bankruptcy when we were there. And hostess was in bankruptcy when they were there. And those were high profile --
GLENN: That was the end of the Twinkie.
TOM: That was the end of the Twinkie. But it's back.
STU: They've got Cotton Candy Twinkies.
TOM: Well, and it's back because I actually think our bankruptcy system is pretty good.
GLENN: I do too.
GLENN: I mean, debtor prison was pretty good. But our bankruptcy system is probably a tad bit better.
So, you know, it was sort of -- for me, that was a major turning point and just sort of understanding like what real -- what does value mean, you know.
GLENN: Okay. So let's play a little game. We'll play truth or dare. And my dare is that you will tell us how much you sold Nantucket Nectars for, if you don't answer true. I'll start: Truth, I fired a guy for bringing me the wrong kind of pen at the height of my alcoholism and height of my -- my being a really bad guy.
TOM: Did you say pen or pin?
GLENN: Pen. P-E-N.
TOM: Pen. Okay. I'm going to have to say true.
GLENN: Okay. Yeah, that's truth. Now, truth or dare for you: What was -- what was -- who was the worst -- describe your worst moment. And I'm leading to some place because you're not this guy now.
And you are -- you have done some remarkable things since this time. And so I want people to get a sense of, here's a guy who has been at the -- you know, been at the bottom, selling muffins. Went to the top.
Went back to the bottom. Not just financially. But also spiritually and everything else.
And I want to show you the climb out and what he's doing now.
GLENN: So you think about that. And you can either give us the truth on that, or you can tell me how much you sold the company for.
TOM: Am I supposed to give the worst, or just a story of significance?
GLENN: Just a story of significance that shows how deep --
TOM: What an ass I was?
STU: And just to reset for the audience, just four dudes playing Truth or Dare on the radio. No big deal. No big deal. Don't think about it.
GLENN: Wow. That's weird.
GLENN: All right. Just four guys sitting around, playing truth or dare with Tom Scott. Cofounder of Nantucket Nectars and has gone on to do some pretty amazing things. We were just talking about the bottom of his life because he's doing some really incredible things that I want to talk to. But we've got about three minutes. And then I want to get to the good stuff.
GLENN: The bottom.
TOM: The bottom.
GLENN: Where you were saying, man, I'm a horrible human being.
TOM: You know, I'm going to say something that's at that may sound like it's a little unfair. But it's --
GLENN: But I was never as bad as you guys.
TOM: No. I might have been worse in many ways. But to me, you know, bipolar and depression is a big issue, right? I'm not making light of it.
GLENN: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: I was really depressed. I suffered from major depression. And when you were talking about it, I thought, what I found in my depression, which I'm not going to -- I'm not diagnosing everyone else.
GLENN: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: Is that I was incredibly -- I was so self-centered, as to be completely depressed.
And I, in my case, am ashamed of that. I'm ashamed of how self-centered I had become. So when I think of the worst of me -- because it's not money. And it's -- you know, I did embarrassing things. I didn't fire someone for the pen. But I did lots of stupid things.
GLENN: See, for me, that is the same thing as being self-centered. That was how self-centered I was.
TOM: Well, and that's where -- you were talking earlier about the gas lines. It is service.
GLENN: Notice he's avoiding --
TOM: Am I avoiding it? Well, to be depressed on the couch is sad and embarrassing.
TOM: But I wouldn't even want to tell you the lowest --
TOM: And I'm not trying to avoid it.
GLENN: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: I don't want to tell you because I don't want the problem that comes with that.
GLENN: Yeah. Okay. So you're wiped out.
What's the first thing you do to turn your life around?
TOM: You know, it is surrender for me. And so what do I mean by that? At some point, it became clear to me that I am wrong.
GLENN: Yes. Like, I am off track. And whatever I think is meaningless.
And so people kept -- you know, I -- I wanted to take drugs and alcohol out of my life. I wanted to live a happy life. And at some point, someone -- and I know who the guy is -- got through to me and said, you got to surrender. And I kind of thought, well, what does that mean? My father is a marine. My brother is a marine.
GLENN: Yeah, if you don't surrender --
TOM: Yeah, my whole life is gutted out. That was my father's line. Always. Still is. Gut it out.
You know, surrender and gut it out: They're the opposite. But I -- someone said, put this image in your head. Picture the most -- the strongest soldier on earth putting his sword down and saying, I'm fighting for the wrong side. And that image stayed with me. And I thought like, okay.
GLENN: Okay. So now what is he doing now? You're going to love this, when we come back.
GLENN: We're with Tom Scott. Cofounder of Nantucket Nectars. And about five years ago, started something called the Nantucket Project.
And has -- you've gone back to school. You're going to Yale Divinity School. And you've really changed your life. And you're looking to find the things that -- that change people, heal people. Explain. Because you're meeting all kinds of great people right now.
TOM: Hmm. You know, we say we're about what matters most. And on Fridays, we have our company meeting. And we will, all right. What mattered most?
And people share that week. Now, you'll always get to love and family and community. You can always get there.
TOM: But sometimes it's certain technological things or sometimes it's political things. Tends not to be frankly that often, but it happens.
And if you start going through that exercise -- you know, I was listening earlier, the college kids and the socialism thing you were talking about.
TOM: And part of my reaction was, what you're dealing with there is, you know -- so people say we live in an age of information overload. The truth is, information are those things that inform. They're not informing anymore.
TOM: There's so much of it that it really is disinformation. So it's -- the level of noise is so high that most people in our generation, it was hard for us to identify this world that we live in, certainly vis-à-vis the world that we grew up in.
So in the midst of all that -- you know, my own desire to start the Nantucket Project came from this sense of lostness that I think the media really makes worse. I have no -- you know, Fox and CNN, they should do whatever they want to do.
TOM: Which I'm all for. But I also think that the net is very unhealthy. And drama sells. And drama is, in its essence, kind of a lie. Not always. But generally speaking, drama is a lie.
So you get so far off course. And so, long story short, from my point of view, the Nantucket Project was an attempt to tell the stories that matter most in a form that's useful most. Like, that's kind of the idea.
GLENN: So you've been meeting some really interesting people. And, you know, where I wanted to get you the last half-hour was to the point of saying, I surrender.
GLENN: Because people don't look at that -- they look at it like the way you did. I'm fighting -- you know, I'm fighting. I'm fighting. I'm never going to surrender. I'm right.
And then they don't understand the power of laying that sword down actually makes you much more powerful. And not trying to win. But saying, I surrender. I'm not playing this game anymore. Because this game is wrong.
GLENN: We talk about oppression a lot in our society. And everybody is oppressed on something.
And nobody wants to surrender because they think that you're giving the other side that was wrong a pass.
GLENN: You are spending time in Rwanda with one of the greatest men alive today. And I don't know how many people know about him. The president of Rwanda is remarkable. We know Rwanda for the genocide. How much was it in a year?
TOM: Almost a million.
GLENN: Almost a million people killed. Just slaughtered in the streets, in a year.
TOM: In 90 days.
GLENN: Yeah, in 90 days. I thought it was a year.
GLENN: Imagine what that bloodbath was like.
Okay. So now they have a new president. And they're trying to heal from this. Tell me your experience with him.
TOM: Yeah. You know, we're making a film about them right now. And we had a meeting a few weeks ago where we viewed the film. And it's very hard for us to consider.
So, basically, what happened is you've got Paul Kagame, who brought peace through strength, arms effectively, in the beginning. And he sort of reluctantly agreed to be the leader. Which, in my heart, believe to be the case. In other words, he was a reluctant leader. And in the end, part of what he did that was brilliant, I would argue magnanimous, is he set up these trials. And the juries were made up of the families of the victims.
GLENN: You couldn't get a harsher jury.
TOM: Exactly. So I murdered your sister, you and your family were going to judge me as jury.
TOM: Now, what I was asked to do was to stand up and say -- to be very straightforward, I killed the following people in the following ways. And if you the jury, the family, believed this person and felt they held true remorse, it's up to you what happens next.
Ninety percent of the people were let go. Right?
GLENN: Think of this.
GLENN: Think of this. You're standing -- you slaughter -- brutally raped and killed somebody.
GLENN: You're standing in front of their family. You have to say, I did all of those things. I own up to all of it. I'm really sorry. Here's why I'm sorry. Here's how I'm sorry. And then they have to say -- because the -- it's death penalty, isn't it?
TOM: I don't think it was death penalty. And it may have been in some cases. And I don't know for sure.
GLENN: Okay. All right. But the other is you're free. Ninety percent.
TOM: Right. Were set free.
GLENN: How does that happen?
TOM: Well, and you think about it -- which I'm not saying is wrong. But we as Americans, you know, a jury of the victim's family, no way, that would never work. Well, who is to say that? I mean, look at what's going on in Rwanda now. It's growing at 9 percent. Incredible peace amongst these former enemies. You know, they've got a democratically elected government that is a majority women run, in part for practical reasons, by the way.
GLENN: Yeah, they killed a lot of men.
TOM: They killed a lot of men. But it's amazing. It's a miraculous story. And I think when I tell -- the thing about this story is people -- it bothers me, because I do it. When people hear it as an African story. This is a human story. These are human beings. And I firmly believe we are all capable of, both sides of this equation -- and it so much depends on the circumstances.
But this is a beautiful story. And so like what's our role in this? Part of what we try to do is, don't make it seem distant. Don't make it seem African. It is African, of course. But this is who we are. I mean, a lot of what you guys were speaking about earlier, it is the nature of the way humans behave. And in the end, you know, forgiveness in Rwanda is so much more important than Snapchat.
GLENN: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. What?
TOM: And that's -- and listen, I am very sympathetic. In today's world, to sort out priorities -- you know, in our day, there were 1,000 of them. Today, there's a million of them.
TOM: So what do you put at the top? Like how do you sort of populate the top? That's -- that's what we're trying to do.
And when you really get the sense of Paul Kagame, or the sense of Rwanda, it's staggering.
GLENN: Who are the most incredible people you have met who have -- who have shown this kind of turnaround? Who have shown this kind of openness, turning point? I don't know what you would call it.
TOM: Yeah. So I was in San Quentin prison not -- I was visiting about a year ago. A little less.
And I met a guy named Chris Schumacher. And he was in a program in the prison. He was a crystal meth addict who had a sentence of 25 years to life for murder. And he -- he was working in a program -- long story short. I won't bore you with the details. But when I met him, I thought, God, this guy has a clarity that is amazing. We had a long conversation. And he, you know -- he owns up to the crime. He doesn't remember committing it because he was so tweaked out.
TOM: But the guy impressed me on such a level.
So at the end of the conversation, I said to him -- I said, so you're going to go back to your cell now. You seem like one of the happiest people I've ever met. Are you happy in your cell when you go back each night?
And he said, "Absolutely. Every night."
Now, you think about that. Picture me on the couch, right? With my million-dollar problems all depressed. And this guy is back in his cell.
So I'm relating -- how does that relate to Paul Kagame? He said the most difficult thing he ever had to do in his life was to forgive himself. And that may sound simple, and we may think that's easy. I think that's as hard a thing to do as there is --
GLENN: I think it's hard -- I think it's much harder than forgiving others.
GLENN: Because you live with yourself. You look at yourself every day.
TOM: And in his case, we're talking about murder. He took a person's life.
GLENN: So I want to introduce you to somebody today since you're here in town. I just had dinner with a guy who is remarkable. I talked about him off air a couple of days ago. We have to have him on the air. He's a guy who lives right around here. He's in prison for around 37 years. Thirty-six and a half years, something like that. Wrongly accused for murder. Set up by the prosecutors. They said, plead guilty, and we'll get you ten years.
Instead, he pleaded guilty, and he got life in prison. No chance of parole. He's in for 37 years. He got out -- he went in 1977. Got out in 2012.
And he is the most peaceful, decent guy you've -- you've ever met. I mean, remarkable man. Remarkable man.
And I don't know how -- I mean, I kept looking for some bitterness. How do you -- how do you not feel horrible? I mean, how do you not hold feelings? He said, I just didn't. He said, I was -- that was my -- that was where I was. And I had to deal with it. And move on. And stay alive. And stay positive. And it's an amazing story.
TOM: You know, I think if this is the same guy. And you and I talked about this earlier. There was a time -- and I hope it's the same person -- where he was plotting to kill the prosecutor, the detectives. And then sort of later forgave --
GLENN: See, I hadn't heard that part of it, but maybe.
PAT: That would be your inclinings, right?
TOM: Of course. Of course.
PAT: That would be the tendency for a lot of us. A lot of us. Is to exact revenge.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh -- he got out. I said to him, what was the most shocking thing?
He said: Two things. He said, when I got into a car, he said, last time I was in a car was 1977. He said, getting into a car today is like --
PAT: Had they changed in that amount of time?
GLENN: He said, it was like a spaceship to me.
PAT: Internet. What about the internet?
GLENN: He said the other thing that had really changed was the culture. He said, there's no respect anymore. No respect for elders.
GLENN: He said nobody has ever had to really pay a price for anything. He said, so there's no respect for anything.
He said that's -- that was shocking to him.
GLENN: Tom, it's great to have you here. Thank you so much.
TOM: Thank you, guys.
GLENN: How can people follow you?
TOM: Check out the Nantucket Project. Nantucketproject.com. Some of our films are there.
GLENN: When does the film come out about Rwanda? And it's a short, right?
TOM: Later this year. It will be a short. So Paul Kagame is coming to our gathering in the fall in September. We'll keep shooting. What we tend to do is our films are always a work in progress. And to the extent that we can gather others around the topic. The guy I mentioned from San Quentin will be there. There's sort of a number of people we're talking to about forgiveness in a general sense. That will all end up in the film. There's a guy in Virginia Commonwealth, who has sort of the -- you know, there's the five stages of despair. Is it despair?
GLENN: Yeah, of grief.
TOM: Grief. Grief. There's a similar thing for forgiveness that is so powerful. And, anyway, we'll be introducing that and incorporating it in the film.
GLENN: Can I ask you a question? May I say what you asked me?
TOM: Yeah. I don't remember what it was.
STU: That's a terrible question.
GLENN: You asked me to go. How do I fit in with the guy in Rwanda and the guy from prison?
TOM: Because I think in the end -- when I was listening to what you guys were talking about on the show here -- I was born in 1966. And I can -- as best I know, not that many people at the age of seven or eight can see the president leave office. So you're new in the game, and boom, the president is out. So now you're born in the cynical generation, right?
GLENN: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: And so let's just keep saying that it keeps going and going until the last election. I think the most patriotic thing we could do right now, regardless of your political beliefs, is to find a way to become one place again. And I think the fact that you guys are doing that is so interesting. And, you know, you could argue that there's not a good business model around that. I don't care what your argument is.
PAT: You could make that argument.
GLENN: You could.
PAT: We have.
GLENN: And, in fact, it's been made 1,000 times. Yeah.
TOM: Well, that's just not good enough. And it's also what makes that true?
You know, the business model after ten years for Pixar was a disaster.
TOM: Okay. Those are normal things. The business model working quickly is not necessarily a sign of goodness or success.
GLENN: It's great to be with you. And to see you again. Thanks for sharing on the air.