Andrew Sherman | Building a Supportive Community for Entrepreneurs and Serving in the EO Global General Counsel

Andrew Sherman is a Partner at Brown Rudnick LLP, where he serves as a legal and strategic advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies and founders of rapid growth, emerging businesses in the areas of business planning, corporate finance, M&A, and intellectual property harvesting. In 1988, he took part in the filing of incorporation documents for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). 

Andrew is the author of over 20 books and is an Adjunct Professor of Law in the MBA program at the University of Maryland and at Georgetown Law School.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Andrew Sherman, a Partner at Brown Rudnick LLP, about the founding of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and the value of supporting entrepreneurs. Andrew also discusses the leadership structure at EO, current trends in the M&A landscape, and his books.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • [01:53] Andrew Sherman’s side hustles as a kid
  • [08:17] The entrepreneurial lessons Andrew learned from starting a business at 16
  • [10:43] The value of supporting entrepreneurs 
  • [12:27] The early days of EO and the role Andrew played in incorporating the organization
  • [17:31] Andrew’s thoughts on the decentralized leadership structure at EO
  • [21:20] Current trends in the M&A landscape
  • [28:09] Andrew talks about his upcoming book, his excitement for the entrepreneurial world, and the peers he acknowledges for their support

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now now, your host for the revolution. John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of this show. My guest today is Andrew Sherman. He is a longtime attorney, Professor, author, speaker, if you listen this show before you know I’m involved heavily involved in the EO world, Entrepreneurs Organization, wonderful organization, he actually filed the original incorporation documents as an attorney on behalf of the entity that became EO. So he’s got a long history with the organization and we’re gonna have a lot of fun unpacking that hearing what it was like, in the early days, check out my previous interviews with Verne Harnish, where I also talked to him about that as well. But you’ll enjoy this one, as well. 

And of course, this is brought to you by Rise25, our company where we help companies, b2b companies, get referrals, strategic partnerships and clients with done for you podcasts and content marketing. You can learn all about what we do at All right, Andrew, a pleasure to have you here today. I seriously don’t know how you get it done. You got nearly 30 books that you’ve written. You’re a practicing attorney, a partner in the Washington DC area, you teach in various different MBA programs and for law schools and things like that. We’ll get to all that. But I love asking people about their entrepreneurial endeavors as a kid, lemonade stands, paper routes, all that kind of stuff, because it just teaches a little bit more about you as a person. And I understand you did have a few little side hustles as a young whippersnapper. 

Andrew Sherman 2:13

Yeah, I did a lot of gardening and lawn cutting and lemonade stands. But my favorite story. My grandfather, Bernie, may he rest in peace, he worked in the wholesale fruit and vegetable market in downtown Philadelphia. And every Saturday, he would come by around six in the morning with a couple of baskets of fruit and vegetables that must have just fallen off the truck by accident, I’m not sure exactly how they wound up the trunk of his car. And at seven years old, you tend not to ask. And I would set up a fruit and vegetable stand on living Mill Road and sell until I was out of inventory. The beauty of that business was number one, everyone in the neighborhood knew that I had the freshest fruits and vegetables because they hadn’t even made it to the retail market yet. But I learned an interesting lesson later in life about cost of goods sold. Apparently, you know, towards the end of the day, if I got tired or I was anxious to go play basketball with my friends, I would start discounting pricing. You know, elasticity, of course, had nothing to do with my pricing strategy was how tired how hot was it? You know, how bored was I? And of course, people started learning that if you wait till the end of the day, this seven year old kid will sell you fruits and vegetables that are super fresh price. So I kind of redid the whole economic cycle. But I had fun. It was a lot of entrepreneurial learning experiences as a kid I never even knew the word entrepreneur. People would call me all kinds of names, you know, small business owner and you know pesky kid and you know, kid that needed that, obviously earn some money. But I can tell you a little bit later in life. The first time I even saw the word entrepreneur was in an article that was written about me and my business partner at the time, when I was 17 by the Baltimore Sun, and I had to literally look up the word in the dictionary. I’ve devoted my entire life to representing entrepreneurs and sort of supporting entrepreneurs. But at 17 years old, I had to look the word up in the dictionary. I thought they were calling me something bad. Today, I’m still not sure exactly. But that was a company. I actually started college at 16 and dropped out at 17 to build that business.

John Corcoran 4:35

I want to hear about it. But first I want to hear why do you think your grandfather did that? You think he when bought this or somehow came about this these boxes and deliberately did he see something in you and he deliberately gave you these two because he knew that you would go out and sell it or why do you think

Andrew Sherman 4:53

I think you know we grew up very modestly. I came from a family of modest means and this was a way for my grandfather to give me a gift every Saturday, because he knew I would turn around and I, you know, I wouldn’t eat any of my inventory, I would, I would sell it at the best prices I could get. And that gave me a little change in my pocket for the weekend. You know, we had one of those dollar movies up the street and a candy store next to the movie theater. And, you know, if you would, if you aren’t even $1.25, you could you could go to a movie and get 25 cents worth a penny candy, and be a very happy eight year old. And that that was a big beer of self fruit and vegetables in the morning and, and go to the movies in the afternoon. And, and oh, courtesy of my fruit stand. So yeah, I’m very grateful for his generosity. And let’s just say for putting the risk that he took every Saturday when those things accidentally fell into his truck.

John Corcoran 5:58

The it’s amazing how many people credit some story like you just told to really developing who they are as as an adult for for a lifetime. So that’s why I love asking about that. But

Andrew Sherman 6:12

so tell me about this, I just want to I just want to violently agree with you. I think that we there’s two aspects of this. Number one, we don’t give ourselves enough credit as to how our childhood lifetime experiences shape us as adults. But number two, as a parent now of a 33 year old and a 31 year old, and as a grandparent of a 20 month old, you know, I’m trying to reinforce those lessons to my children. And hopefully one day to my grandson that these experiences do do shape but there’s a my my son moved up to New York with a very cool job with his wife and, and son. And there’s this picture of my grandson on a New York City bus just reading his book, like he was 35 years old and reading the Wall Street Journal. And, you know, not every kid at 20 months, rides a city bus in New York and reads a book peacefully. So, you know, I hope that that shapes, you know who he is as a person, even if he may not remember, you know, riding on the bus and reading.

John Corcoran 7:18

Yeah, I have four kids, my oldest is 12. And we’ve done a couple of different, you know, lemonade stands, or coffee stands or donut stands outside of like, you know, local soccer practices and soccer games and stuff like that. And it’s just their eyes light up, they learned so much from it,

Andrew Sherman 7:33

don’t stop doing it. It’s, I think it’s very good experience for them. And, you know, I’ve always been a believer that I can hand you $1 But it will never mean as much as if you make that dollar. It’s It’s the classic, you know, give a man a fish. He eats for a day, Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime. And I just I can’t reinforce that strongly enough. And it’s not just me. I mean, I’ve interacted with 1000s of entrepreneurs. I’ve been blessed in my career over 35 years, every single entrepreneur of any success, and not just quantitative success, qualitative success, I think would agree with the last five minutes of our conversation. Yeah.

John Corcoran 8:17

So tell me about the business you had at 1617 years old.

Andrew Sherman 8:22

So I, my family split up when I was 16. My mother and sisters moved out to California and apparently weren’t kind of neighbors to where you grew up. Yeah, it was kind of a cool coincidence. And I was working various jobs. One of my jobs was a maintenance man at night for tennis club. I was cleaning and mopping and vacuuming the courts. And I got to know the tennis pro there. And I was also teaching fitness classes and we combine the tennis lesson with a fitness class to start a business called aerobic tennis, aerobic tennis started growing in the late 70s. We spoke it to us opens, we were on the cover of several magazines and media. And eventually the business grew so fast. We started franchising, and I dropped out of college. And I still remember walking up the hill of the school I went to and thinking I’m never going to be in class ever again. And a couple of years later, we had very big economic problems as a country interest rates in Brisbane 18%. I started going back to school at night, and of course on the law school. So that was a very trying time of my life. I was running in circles that were way bigger than my age. But I definitely learned over that two and a half year period a real genuine and authentic appreciation for just how hard entrepreneurship is and how we lawyers, accountants, consultants, advisors to the E ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship, shame on you, if you don’t, you know, take the time to walk a mile in the entrepreneur shoes, shame on you, if you’ve never, you know, had a Thursday night where you’re sweating, whether payroll will get cleared the next morning. You know, a big part of representing entrepreneurs, is having empathy for entrepreneurs, and empathy comes from your own experiences. So, I know you went through that when you were practicing law, and now you’re an entrepreneur, and I think that’s fantastic. You know, it’s, it’s a critical piece. Many entrepreneurs, the technical things that they need, are relatively easy, but the emotional and psychological things that they need are pretty complex.

John Corcoran 10:44

Yeah, it’s a great way of putting it. And I think that, you know, generally there are a lot of entrepreneurs who shy away or avoid working with attorneys, because obviously, it’s not inexpensive. But there’s like, kind of unquantifiable help, that can help that can come from just that kind of wisdom.