What Biggie Smalls’ Accountant Taught Me About Life
Let me put you up on some game real quick. You see the old white guy on the left? That’s Bert Padell. He was Biggie’s accountant.
“The more I smoke, the smaller the Phillie gets,
Room 112, where the players dwell. And, stash more cash than Bert Padell, inhale,
Make you feel good like Tony Toni Tone (*feels good*).”
-112 feat. Biggie Smalls & Mase “Only You” (1996)
Remember this song by 112 feat. B.I.G. and Mase, “Only You?” In Biggie’s first verse he said, “Room 112 where the players dwell. And, stash more cash than Bert Padell, inhale.” Bert Padell was his accountant, I bet you didn’t know that? Apparently, they had a pretty tight bond.
Do’t believe me? Here, you can see it on Rap Genius (aka Genius) in the annotation.
In 2010, I was helping build a little startup called Progenex (the company has since gone on to become the title sponsor of the Reebok Crossfit Games, and the number one sports nutrition product product across the entire sport of Crossfit, but that’s another post). We were in an aggressive capital raise, to launch and scale the business. I flew out to NY to track down some “big money players” with the team. I met a long, odd list of interesting people during that trip (for instance, during one of our meetings I was led into a high security building, with an eye scanner that gave me access to the elevator, that then shot me up to a penthouse floor where I met a man that was allegedly related to Bugsy Siegel. During another meeting I met the entire Chicago Bears football team, and another I met Luol Dang from the Bulls at a coffee shop). But, none of those stood out to me as much as Bert Padell.
Bert Padell was Biggie Smalls’ accountant. However, that’s just one client on a long list of a high profiled roster. Referred to and known as “Accountant to the Stars,” Bert’s client list is like a Who’s Who of every popular celebrity and athlete since the mid 1900's. Including every player on the NY Yankees since like the 1930’s, to Madonna, Robert DeNiro, Alicia Keys, Ja Rule, Faith Evans, Run DMC, Diddy, Wycleff Jean, Russell Simmons, Lou Panella, Carl Banks, Mary J. Blidge, Toni Braxton and the list goes on and on.
I remember walking into Bert’s Manhattan penthouse office and being utterly amazed. His office looked like a museum of celebrity memorabilia. Before sitting and discussing business he gave us a tour of his penthouse museum. He showed us Babe Ruth’s original signed contract with the Boston Red Sox. He showed us a baseball display of endless Joe Dimaggio baseballs, and explained that he had signed Joe Dimaggio’s signature so many times (seeing as he was his accountant), that his version of the signature was more authenticated than Joe’s. He showed us pictures with every relevant celebrity and athlete since as far back as the 1930's; from the Rat Pack to Madonna, all the way up to Britney Spears. There were gold records signed by anyone and everyone in the music business, baseballs, posters, jerseys, all sorts of movie memorabilia. It was very impressive and showed us the vast range of high profiled clientele Bert was accustomed to dealing with.
We had our meeting, and before leaving I remember turning to Bert and asking him a question. I was 25 at the time, and intrigued by what I considered to be his “wild success.” I asked him, “if there was one piece of advice you could give me about having a successful career, what would it be Bert?” I’ll never forget what he said. He told me to:
“Figure out what you love kid, and do it forever.”
He then passed me a signed copy of his latest book, and we left. I haven’t seen him since then, but his advice has always stuck with me. “Figure out what you love, and do it forever.” It’s great advice, not just for business but for life. Building a successful business from the ground up isn’t easy, and it takes hard work. He started off as the towel boy for the NY Yankees and over an entire lifetime became “Accountant to the Stars.” I guess when you figure out what you love, it’s easy to do it forever. Maybe the hard part is figuring out what you love?
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