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How I built the iPhone Life part 1



In the 116th episode, iPhone Life founder Hal Goldstein shares the unlikely story of how a Hewlett Packard software engineer moved to the cornfields of Iowa to start a tech publishing company.

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Sign up for iPhone Life's iPhone Life newsletter and we will send you a tip every day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad. [19659005] This episode is brought to you by Matias. When Apple disconnected the wired keyboard, Matias agreed to provide one of the same value and arguably better quality. Wired Aluminum Keyboards built-in multi-port hub is great for connecting wired mice and other devices, and the Mac-friendly function keys make it easy to transfer. Matias also makes Tenkeyless and RGB keyboards.

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Transcript of episode 116:

Donna Cleveland: Hello, and welcome to the iPhone Life podcast. I'm Donna Cleveland, chief editor of iPhone Life.

David Averbach: I'm David Averbach, CEO and publisher.

Donna Cleveland: And today we have a special guest. We have Hal Goldstein. He is the founder of iPhone Life. Thank you for joining us, Hal.

Hal Goldstein: Oh, that's my pleasure. Believe me.

Donna Cleveland: So today we wanted to take Hal on to tell the story of iPhone Life. He is the author of The Meditating Entrepreneurs. Pardon. Meditating Entrepreneurs-

Hal Goldstein: There it is.

Donna Cleveland: … How to create success from the silence within. And he wrote a book and also worked with many other entrepreneurs to tell the story of the values ​​behind the companies. He has a chapter dedicated to iPhone Life and the companies that came before iPhone Life, before it evolved into iPhone Life. So we wanted him to move on and share his story with you all. We will have a second episode in a couple of weeks where we share how we get into the story, David and I.

David Averbach: Yeah, so this is something a little different. We haven't tried this before. Those of you who have ever listened to how I built this, let's try to emulate that style a little bit because I love that podcast. So this will be the story of how iPhone Life got started and actually the publisher, because we existed long before iPhone Life, how it got started too. There are, as Donna said, two episodes, so if this is your thing, then stick around. If you want to skip it for more iPhone related content, we'll return to our normal content –

Hal Goldstein: No, we'll talk about everything –

David Averbach: We'll talk about iPhone content.

Hal Goldstein: … all kinds … not just iPhones, but all precursors to the iPhone. All the other small devices. The iPhone wasn't really the first.

David Averbach: And we're still going to do our tip of the day and all that.

Donna Cleveland: And part of the fun of this episode is just reading through this chapter that Hal wrote about the company is that, as you can see, the person behind the company, a lot of what we're still doing on the iPhone Life today and the values ​​we have here are because of Hal. So I think it's similar to how I built this. You see how a company became what it is, and usually it's the people behind it that made it what it is.

David Averbach: Absolutely.

Donna Cleveland: I think this will be a lot of fun.

Hal Goldstein: One of the things I'm so happy about how the company has evolved since I quit full time is DNA, integrity and values, are as good or ever they have been. I'm really pleased with you.

David Averbach: We appreciate that.

Donna Cleveland: Glad to hear it.

Donna Cleveland: OK, so let's start by talking about our sponsor.

David Averbach: Yes, absolutely. So our sponsor for today is Matias. Matias has a wide selection of keyboards, and they work for both Mac iPad and iPhone. They have Bluetooth keyboards, but today I'm going to tell you about the wired keyboards. Apple has actually stopped making wired keyboards now, so Matias basically took the ball and ran with it. It's an aluminum keyboard just like Apple used to make. They have mindless. They have those with 10 key. I'm about 10 keys. What about you? Oh, you have a key-free. How do you like it?

Donna Cleveland: I like it. Honestly, it wasn't a choice. With my other keyboard, I spilled water on it, and then I found only one in the office.

David Averbach: Ok. So for those of you who are a little confused, the keyless, it's the numeric keypad. Some have it, others don't. The nice thing is that it's even cheaper than Apple used to make it. That's $ 55 for thinkless, 59 for if you want the 10 keys, for the wired. If you want Bluetooth, you can get it. They are backlit. Really high quality keyboards. We all have them in the office. We love them, so make sure you check it out. We link to it in the show notes at iphonelife.com/podcast.ebrit19659017??Donna Cleveland: And I personally really like having a wired keyboard because the battery dies and just problems with the connection just drive me crazy.

David Averbach: Yes. I agree.

Donna Cleveland: It's one of these, like certain things I like wireless. For a keyboard, I like personal wires.

David Averbach: I agree, but I would say one of the nice things about Matias. I have a Bluetooth keyboard here and the battery lasts for one year.

Donna Cleveland: It's incredible.

David Averbach: So you don't have to worry too much, and that's pretty good.

Donna Cleveland: Right. Okay. Cool.

Hal Goldstein: One of the neat things is now, you take things like wireless keyboards for granted, but it was such a big deal when they first came in the late 90s, early 2000s.

David Averbach: Such a game changer?

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yes.

Donna Cleveland: Yes, that's true.

David Averbach: Even the technology behind Bluetooth. I remember when Bluetooth was just a new technology.

Hal Goldstein: N It was so bad to get connected with Bluetooth.

David Averbach: It never worked. I know. It's still a little painful.

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yes.

Donna Cleveland: It's a lot better than it used to be, but okay. So we have a couple of things we want to cover before we go into our main topic. Our daily tip for this week is how to share a wi-fi password with an iPhone nearby. This is a feature that came out last year with iOS 12 that … Have you used so much?

David Averbach: I love this feature. Yes.

Hal Goldstein: No, but I want to know, especially in my home, I'd love to do that.

David Averbach: Yes.

Donna Cleveland: Yeah. So it's really nice if you visit somewhere and many times people have the really long wi-fi passwords because they never changed them. What you can do is, as long as you are connected to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your devices, if you go to connect to the Wi-Fi network, the other person connected before will get a small popup saying : "Do you want to share your wi-fi password?" You just press OK and it will automatically fill in the other person's phone.

Hal Goldstein: Oh, nothing.

Donna Cleveland: And they're logged in.

David Averbach: Yeah, so when you say I must both be connected to wi-fi, of course, this person is trying to connect to wi-fi.

Donna Cleveland: Oh, sorry.

David Averbach: But what you do is if you walk into someone's home, or you're in a coffee shop, or whatever, you go into the settings on wi-fi, and when you pull up the little menu which shows you what to connect, it will appear on the other person's call and say, "Menus to share?"

Donna Cleveland: Sorry. Yes, wi-fi enabled.

David Averbach: Oh, ok.

Donna Cleveland: So you wanted the Wi-Fi on so you could find the network to try to connect to. But yes.

David Averbach: My only complaint about this, I'm going to add a bonus complaint since I don't think we have one this week, is that I wish you could pre-determine it. I wish the person who has the wi-fi password could just send it to the other person because it's a bit, when you go to share it, the person is already trying to connect and I think a lot of people are already trying to find out the password when they connect. It would be nice if I, like the one with Wi-Fi already, can just pre-order it and send it to them before they ever get to the Wi-Fi connection stage. Does that make sense?

Donna Cleveland: Yeah. That would be nice. But still, it's a feature I'm glad they added.

David Averbach: Yes.

Donna Cleveland: Super easy to use.

David Averbach: And that's very nice because it happened to me the other day. We were all at a coffee shop and I didn't remember the password, but I had connected to it. My phone was connected to it at that time, and then I could share the password with the person who was actually Sarah.

Donna Cleveland: Okay.

David Averbach: I could share my password with Sarah without even knowing my password. It is very useful in that regard as well.

Donna Cleveland: Yeah. So this is part of the Daily Tips newsletter. If you haven't already signed up, visit iphonelife.com/dailytips, and this is our free offer that teaches you something cool you can do with your phone in just under a minute a day. It's really painless, free, which is always good, and it's a great way to get to know our company. So go to iphonelife.com/dailytips if you haven't already signed up.

Donna Cleveland: I also want to take a moment to tell you about our premium subscription, which is iPhone Life Insider, and it's our full education service that helps you get the most out of your iOS devices. I highly recommend it. You get a complete library of video guides. We have one of the latest versions of iOS, one on iPad, Apple Watch, iPhone 10, all these different things that will really help you get the most out of your devices. You get a full archive of iPhone Life Magazine, and it includes the full archive of the digital version of iPhone Life Magazine. That means you can read our magazine on any of our iOS devices or on your desktop computer. We also have an Ask an Editor feature where you can ask personal technological questions and we will help guide you to solutions to all the annoying technological problems you have. And of course, you get the daily tip and video version of the daily tip, so you can follow your device with a video review. So if you go to iphonelife.com/podcastdiscount, you can get a $ 5 discount on a yearly subscription to iPhone Life Insider, and it's a special discount just for podcast listeners.

David Averbach: And this episode, if you're an Insider, our special inside content is going to be that we talk about our favorite Apple gear. We're going to get a little deeper into that.

Donna Cleveland: Yeah. Oh, I forgot to mention that as part of your Insider subscription, you get premium content, and you also get no ads with the podcast.

David Averbach: And a little of what's to come, after this two-episode we share We Do It, we're going to dive deep into iOS 13 and the new phone. We're going to have it … September. We have another Rumor Roundup episode after that, and then we get the phone message. Then of course iOS 13 comes out, and with that you have to come back with a whole new operating system. So it's always time, as you know who has been around for a while, we release a guide the day iOS 13 comes out that tells you everything you need to know. So make sure you subscribe in advance, what is it?

Donna Cleveland: Iphonelife.com/podcastdiscount. Tu 19199197 David Averbach: There you go.

Donna Cleveland: Thanks.

Donna Cleveland: Let's start talking about the story of iPhone Life with Hal.

Hal Goldstein: Ok.

Donna Cleveland: So I wanted to start by asking you, this is only early in your career, in your book you talked about how you landed a job that might seem out of work, as a professor of social work, and you talked about the unconventional the way you landed this job. I wanted to see if you could tell us about it and how the same principle has helped you later in your career on iPhone Life.

Hal Goldstein: OK. So I actually have an interesting background. I have three master's degrees in mind, body and spirit. In mind, information science, and at heart, I say, social work and spirit, from Maharishi International University here in Fairfield, Iowa. And then, in the first few days, I had social work degree, and I was broke. I have always loved teaching, which is why I decided to teach social work, even though I only had one year of counseling experience. So I got this interview in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and they really liked me. They flew me down, and so on. And I became friends with these two people who were … I wanted to work with and so they could get a clue what was going on. They said, "They are not going to offer you the job because you have no experience."

Hal Goldstein: And then my cousin, this is back when I was in my late hippy days, late 20s, and my cousin was going to college. I was in the Chicago area, and then she drove me down. She was going to Arizona, and then I stopped in Las Cruces, walked into the professor's office and said, "I'm here. I'm ready. I know you don't have any. School starts next week," and he was just shocked because he had not offered me the job. There was something wrong. And I said, "Well, I'm at this motel, and if you decide to hire me, it will be good, and it will be good for everyone." And the next day I got the call and got the job.

David Averbach: Wow.

Donna Cleveland: Yes, I love … I mean it shows the kind of tenacity you had.

Hal Goldstein: Yes, and that's what it took to start this business because I basically didn't know anything about publishing. I really didn't know anything about the business and I had worked at Hewlett-Packard before. Should I go into this or –

Donna Cleveland: Yes, yes. We can get to that in an instant because it was later that you worked at HP, right?

Hal Goldstein: Yes.

Donna Cleveland: After this job?

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Donna Cleveland: Yeah, so when did your love for tech start because you ended up at HP a little later. What drew you to become a software engineer? What started your love for tech, which is such a big part of iPhone Life.

David Averbach: Yeah. Yeah, it's funny. I always loved math when I went to school. I loved recreational math. And so people have always said, "You should think about computer science." So practically, I didn't want to be a social worker, it turned out, so I went back to computer science at the University of Illinois. I got this degree and ended up working for Hewlett-Packard. I like gizmos, but that's when I was actually at Hewlett-Packard when I really fell in love with the whole idea of ​​a PC. They were just on their way out with the first one at that time. We called PC Compatible Computer which was like a desk that you could have for yourself. I mean, now we take this so much for granted.

Donna Cleveland: I know.

David Averbach: But back in the 70's, I mean, think of having your own computer, and it could do all the power we can do now. And then it really excited. And what I really got turned on was that they came with the first laptop. It was the first laptop, called HP Portable, in fact finally Portable Plus, where it was like, again, it was nine pounds, which sounded like [

Hal Goldstein: It's that easy.

Donna Cleveland: Because I mean, how much are they now?

Hal Goldstein: I know, for you, but for us it was fantastic. You can take this thing anywhere, and it was based … and HP was so ahead of its time. They had built-in solid-state storage, which nobody did, and in the 80s and 90s, people stopped doing it with the mechanical hard drive.

David Averbach: Yeah, it's incredible. It's full circle now.

Hal Goldstein: Yes, it has come full circle, but they had the idea right away, because it was the calculator division that created the first laptop, the HP calculator division. And then, I just … I could do my spreadsheets and write and play games. I mean, I was just amazing. You know? And even later, communicate with others on CompuServe, which was the network.

David Averbach: Wow. Do you do it

Donna Cleveland: At that time, not many people had computers, right?

Hal Goldstein: No, no.

Donna Cleveland: You were an early adopter.

Hal Goldstein: I wanted to go to an airport and people would just stare at me because I had my laptop and did the jobs that everyone does, and nobody had.

David Averbach: Yes, yes. Wow. Do you remember … for the record it's about two kilos, computers are about two kilos now.

Donna Cleveland: Ok.

David Averbach: Do you remember the specifications of this computer? How much RAM? How much storage?

Hal Goldstein: Oh, that was it –

David Averbach: I know.

Hal Goldstein: The orders of magnitude smaller, and it seemed enormous.

David Averbach: Yes. Yeah. Yes.

Hal Goldstein: No, I don't remember because it was 64K. I do not know. I remember that kind of thing. ROMs that were 128 a K. I think we're talking K.

David Averbach: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No, I mean-

Hal Goldstein: We're not talking about megabytes.

David Averbach: I had, in my head … in my head I was going to scale to megabytes, but you're absolutely right. It was kilobytes.

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yes.

Donna Cleveland: Didn't you say you had a printer that weighed 70 pounds?

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yeah, so when I came to Fairfield, Hewlett-Packard had this most … it was a great company. It was today's Apple in the 70's and 80's, and it was actually in the 80's, & # 39; 81, & # 39; 82, & # 39; 83, & # 39; 84 when I worked for HP.

David Averbach: Ok.

Hal Goldstein: And when I left Hewlett-Packard, they had this amazing program for buying employees, and I bought this laptop I was talking about, and Portable Plus, and the very first LaserJet printer, which was 70 pound. [19659017] David Averbach: A little less portable.

Donna Cleveland: How did you even transport this to Fairfield?

Hal Goldstein: I guess it was just in the back of our car because I can't remember. I actually honeymooned, my honeymoon left Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, California, and moved into this goddamn place with farms and pigs and condos, and Fairfield, Iowa.

Donna Cleveland: But you were from-

David Averbach: Midwest.

Donna Cleveland: … who is not where we live.

Hal Goldstein: Yes, I was from the Chicago area. Yes, yes, yes. And then our honeymoon drove from Fairfield … I mean, from Palo Alto, California to Fairfield, Iowa.

Donna Cleveland: Yeah, I wanted to ask you, so you worked at HP for a few years. [19659017] Hal Goldstein: For three years, yes.

Donna Cleveland: You decided to move to Fairfield, Iowa because this meditation project happened here.

Hal Goldstein: Right.

Donna Cleveland: So what made you take that leap, considering that –

Hal Goldstein: Craziness.

Donna Cleveland: … you said, many people, you built this wonderful career in California.

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yeah. You know, I had-

Donna Cleveland: What gave you-

Hal Goldstein: It's so funny. My family, I had done hippie stuff. I had been a social worker, and finally I had this job, the prestigious job. I was making good money, and just this notion of … I had started practicing the Transcendental Meditation program, and it really made a big difference in my life. This promise that perhaps if a whole bunch of people came together and meditated, we could actually create an influence of peace in the world. And so, the kind of idealism I've always had, and along with so many of these others, that I ended up writing about in this book, hundreds, in fact, thousands of people moved to Fairfield, Iowa. This was before the internet, and to be part of this world peace project, and to grow individually, personally and develop ourselves. Your mother, I was at school with.

David Averbach: Yes.

Hal Goldstein: And your dad, I was with him, and it's an amazing community, actually, because it's like this huge family that's been here for 40 years.

David Averbach: And then your book, we come back to iPhone Life and how you got started, but your book basically profiles all the people who came here.

Hal Goldstein: Yeah, so what happened was that most of us didn't have farms. I mean, basically it was agriculture and production.

Donna Cleveland: Right.

Hal Goldstein: It was the base and it was just 10,000 people. It was before the internet and there was no work for us. So if we wanted to stay here, we were almost forced to start our own businesses.

Donna Cleveland: Right.

Hal Goldstein: And hundreds of people started their businesses, and they were some incredible businesses. I mean, a business was sold for $ 350 million. Another went public.

Donna Cleveland: It's pretty incredible.

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yeah. I mean, your father's business.

Donna Cleveland: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Hal Goldstein: It's just business that … these beautiful businesses of stained glass. The first infomercials were done here. In fact, for good or for bad, we invented the term infomercial, it is true, in Fairfield, Iowa. And then it was all these incredible companies that just came from nothing. That was the driving force in the book. I only, almost by chance, took 15, but I could write about your dad, for example, instead of the 15 I chose, and I just talked.

Hal Goldstein: I teach a course at Maharishi University of Management, where I have these entrepreneurs who come in and talk. In fact, you come in every year.

David Averbach: We come every year. Yes.

Hal Goldstein: Every year I talk to the class and then I transcribe a video and transcribe them all. Then I made this book.

Donna Cleveland: So you made this decision to move to Fairfield, and like you said, all these wonderful things happened here when people moved here. But it was a really big leap of faith because you had a lot going for you in California. I guess I'm just wondering, did you –

Hal Goldstein: It was like showing up in Las Cruces.

Donna Cleveland: Yeah. Did

Hal Goldstein: I just trusted my gut, which felt right inside, and just went.

Donna Cleveland: Have you ever regretted it or doubted it? Or was it something you just felt strongly about?

Hal Goldstein: No. Somehow we only knew my wife and I. Some of these things, just like starting our business, it just somehow … it made no rational sense that we could create a magazine company, a publishing company here when I knew nothing about it. I just knew it was the right thing to do.

Donna Cleveland: Yeah. Let's fast forward. You've been in Fairfield for a while. It sounds like you fought the lab, like what are you doing here?

Hal Goldstein: Yes.

David Averbach: Not a farmer.

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yeah. I was-

Donna Cleveland: How did you come up with the idea for

Hal Goldstein: Yeah, yeah. Well, I was a computer-

Donna Cleveland: … the newsletter?

Hal Goldstein: I was actually a computer salesman for a computer [crosstalk 00:20:32] from Ottumwa, Iowa, and I wasn't happy. So anyway, since I was a software engineer and I had 70 pounds of LaserJet, this 9-kilo laptop had and they didn't communicate with each other, and even though they were from HP. I couldn't do all the great fonts and stuff, and so I wrote a software driver so I could get the two to do what I wanted on LaserJet with the laptop.

Donna Cleveland: Right.

Hal Goldstein: And then I thought, "How should I sell this? I mean, how many people in the world have a LaserJet and a laptop, and how on earth would I ever be able to reach them?"

Donna Cleveland: Just before the internet.

Hal Goldstein: Yeah, yeah. Yes, and then came the idea, "Well, why don't I do a magazine," or a newsletter back then, I called it, "for people with this laptop?" I love this laptop. I knew it was all these people who wanted to … there were professionals, really ahead of the curve people who had bought the laptop, but really didn't know how to really make the most of it. The idea just came. I'll do this newsletter.

Donna Cleveland: Sounds like the first idea we had today, still, and getting the most out of your device, even if it isn't.

Hal Goldstein: Yes, it's the same … We published the first issue in 1985, December 1985. It's the same magazine. I hate to say this. I know, as wonderful as you are, it's much better done, Donna, thank you, but it's the same. That's how. Software and equipment make your system work better, and there are user stories. That's where we're always very user-centric when we did the magazine.

David Averbach: Well, and I think the other thing at the heart of it is its enthusiasts.

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yes.

David Averbach: We're writing for the people who are passionate about learning how to get more out of it. That origin has been there from the beginning. Now, of course, a lot more people have iPhones, so we have a lot of enthusiasts, but it's still the same thing.

Hal Goldstein: Yes. Yes.

Donna Cleveland: So what was it like, because if you said you didn't have any publishing experience, you didn't really know how to start the company, how did that go for you

Hal Goldstein: Well, two things that happened that made it work. First I had sent out this mailing with all these tips and tricks. Oh, I'd get … Hewlett-Packard, bless them, they had this really wonderful philosophy, and they really helped start Silicon Valley because when people would leave their company, instead of making it hard for them, they said , "Well, if it doesn't work out, come back, and we'll work with you." And so many of these people started their own companies, mostly in Silicon Valley. So, I was starting my own company, and they let me have the registration cards of these people who bought the portable. And so, with that, I studied all the direct mailing pieces I could get my hand on, and found the ones that it would appeal to me, and ended up creating a direct-mailing piece. I included a whole bunch of tips and tricks. And so I get this phone call, or not a phone call, letter back with four pages of thick, double-sided, typed, remember, tips and tricks. Well, maybe he did it with his … I don't remember how he didn't, but anyway. I think he used his think jet, and anyway.

Hal Goldstein: And the guy's from Ankeny, Iowa.

Donna Cleveland: Oh, wow.

Hal Goldstein: I & # 39; m thinking, "My gosh. How could you be from Ankeny, Iowa?" He says, "This is great. Another Iowan is doing it, but I think I know this stuff. I don't need it." I immediately got on the phone, called him up, and I said, "How do you like to write for us?" And he said, "Sure." And I said, "Oh, but I can't pay you." And so, "Sure." And so, actually, he wrote to me for 15 years, every single issue for what we continued to do.

David Averbach: Wow.

Hal Goldstein: And then other people started calling in, and, I mean, it was just me answering the phone when people wanted to subscribe to this newsletter. We'd start talking about how they used it, and they got this piece of software to work and everything. And I said, "Great. Why don't you write it up? But I can't pay you." And so that's how we started, for many years, I mean, one of the changes you guys did was make the content a little more professional in terms of well-written.

Donna Cleveland:          Started paying our writers.

David Averbach:            Yeah, we do pay our writers now, I'll have you know.

Hal Goldstein:               Yes. Yes.

David Averbach:            It was a big moment. I remember. It was very controversial when we decided to pay our writers.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Donna Cleveland:          Everyone on the editorial staff felt more strongly about it. We were like, "We have to pay."

David Averbach:            Less controversial on the editorial staff.

Hal Goldstein:               But in my defense, we got these doctors and lawyers and folks that actually were able to leverage the fact that they were writing for the computer publication to create their own consulting companies and so on. So a lot of people really benefited from being able to write for us.

David Averbach:            Oh, absolutely.

Donna Cleveland:          Right.

Hal Goldstein:               And through the many years, until you guys took over, really, we had even our blog site was all just volunteer writers and so on.

David Averbach:            Yeah, our motto used to be for users, by users.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah. Yeah.

Donna Cleveland:          So once you sent that direct mailing, and you had subscribers?

Hal Goldstein:               Well, let me just tell you one thing that was amazing.

Donna Cleveland:          Okay.

Hal Goldstein:               I didn't know. When I say I didn't know anything about business, I didn't know anything about business, and I didn't realize that a one or 2% response would have been really good. But I only had 2,000 names, and one or 2% response wouldn't have done anything.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah.

Hal Goldstein:               20% of the people I mailed to sent me $55 for this non-existent magazine in the middle of Iowa.

David Averbach:            That's incredible.

Donna Cleveland:          That's amazing.

David Averbach:            I mean, this is the part of the story that I always … just my jaw drops because you're absolutely right. One, 2%, that would have been a great success story.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah.

David Averbach:            Except that it wouldn't have been because you wouldn't have gotten started.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, what do you attribute that to? Just that you found the right people? Of just that was the right time to be doing direct mailings? At that point in time, it was more effective than it is?

Hal Goldstein:               Yes, it's all of it. It's just luck. No, it was the right people. I mean, Hewlett-Packard had these … I think Apple enthusiasts were sometimes, Hewlett-Packard enthusiasts were really … I mean, Hewlett-Packard was known for high price but high quality.

David Averbach:            Gotcha.

Hal Goldstein:               And they just created the greatest pieces of equipment, and it was just the right timing, and it was just good fortune. I happen to think … I think having the meditation and the actual being in this community with this purpose actually had an influence, too. Because it wasn't just me that had these crazy, ridiculous, miraculous things happen. You just read this book, and you'll see all the things that happened that shouldn't have happened and made no sense of happening.

Donna Cleveland:          So, when you got this 20% response rate, then-

Hal Goldstein:               Then I started cashing checks because we were almost out of money.

Donna Cleveland:          So what? How did you go about creating your first issue?

Hal Goldstein:               So, I had gotten all the articles between myself and other people, got them, but the problem was I really didn't know the actual layout and printing and all that stuff. So, a good friend of mine, George Foster, he was an artist. I mean, he was a painting artist, and he decided, to survive, he'd better become a graphic artist. And so I said, "Hey, George, I've got to create this newsletter. I've got to send it out to people. How do I do that? Can you do that for me?" And George said, "Sure. I can do that." And of course, George had no clue how to do that.

Hal Goldstein:               The actual, I'm not exaggerating here, the actual first issue, it took us three and a half days and nights … We didn't sleep. I mean, we just crashed for an hour or two on occasion … to produce the first issue because back then it wasn't creating a PDF. It was these boards, and you had to have special type with a special machine.

David Averbach:            And did you buy all that equipment?

Hal Goldstein:               No, no, no. There's another fellow, Ron Flora, who had this typesetter machine, and I had already entered all the information in the computer. You couldn't even transfer it, so he had to re-enter all that information for the first issue. George would spec the fonts. He's print off these white sheets of glossy paper with the type, and then he'd paste it on the board. Then he'd come to me and say, "Isn't this great? And you're not going to have any corrections, are you?" Anybody who knows me, I always have corrections. I always want to change things, and so poor George is actually, literally, going in the wastebasket, finding Js that would substitute for the Ts and going back to the typesetter. He'd print out this thing so it would fit into this little spot, and this is one of the reasons why it took three and a half days and nights.

Donna Cleveland:          Wow.

Hal Goldstein:               And so then we sent the first issue out, and that was the first issue.

David Averbach:            And as an aside, George kept doing the covers of the magazines. He probably did layout for all of it for a while, right?

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah. Oh, yeah. He laid it out for about four or five years.

David Averbach:            Yeah, and he, up until 2012, 2013, did the covers of the magazines, ended up having a career doing book covers.

Hal Goldstein:               Yes. Yes.

David Averbach:            So this got George's career going, too.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, it's pretty wild. I feel like one question I wanted to ask you is technology changes so fast, and so it's a challenging industry to get into in a lot of ways because you have to be really able to adapt. How did you, as HP started coming out with different devices, and then how did you manage to adapt and survive?

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah. Well, not only did … it was two things the changes. The technology of publishing changed it constantly.

David Averbach:            Oh, yeah.

Hal Goldstein:               And the things that we were writing about changed, and so the favorite or niche that we happened to be in. One of the things that we did, we've always done, that was very unique and everybody would always ask, "Why are you doing that?" We only covered one platform at a time. People would say, "Well, why don't you …" probably you get the question, "Why don't you cover all phones?"

David Averbach:            Oh, yeah.

Hal Goldstein:               And so we always felt let's go deep into something. Let's not just be a buyer's guide. Let's really show people how to use these machines. And so, what happened was around 1990, Hewlett-Packard, I had sort of made buddies, and they called me up. "Don't tell anybody I said this, but we're going to stop making this laptop that you've been writing about for-"

Donna Cleveland:          Oh, no.

Hal Goldstein:               … for five years, and we're going to create this new handheld-size, actually iPhone-sized, little clamshell Palmtop. It turned out to be something called the HP 200LX Palmtop. "I'm sorry. I don't know what you're going to do." And to me, it was really good news because instead of people having to buy a three to $4,000 laptop, they were going to buy a $700 Palmtop."

Donna Cleveland:          More accessible to people.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah, and we would get a lot more customers. Hewlett-Packard liked us a lot. They really liked the quality of what we were doing. One of the things that we had managed … the big, big, big, big deal for us was that every time somebody bought an HP laptop, there was a brochure about us for a free issue, and so they were willing, in some conversations, to do the same thing for their new Palmtop. And so we grew from 2,000 subscribers to 20,000 subscribers.

David Averbach:            Wow.

Donna Cleveland:          Wow.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah. Yeah, and we had also, I don't want to get into it too much, but we actually ended up having a business buying and sel ling those laptops, those big … because people, they'd come out. Hewlett-Packard would come out with this another $3,000 laptop that was so much better than the other one, and people had been ahead of the curve had already bought this first laptop. So, we ended up buying and selling those laptops as part of our business. We'd buy them back from our customers and then resell them. And so that was a business that actually helped sustain the magazine in a lot of ways.

Donna Cleveland:          You also mentioned that you, something about selling software?

Hal Goldstein:               Yes. Yes. Yes. So people-

Donna Cleveland:          Did you have … was the magazine or the newsletter enough to make a living off of?

Hal Goldstein:               No, no, no, no, no. We used the newsletter, actually, more as a vehicle to … although that was the heart of what we did, the heart and soul of what we did, people would call us and say, "I got this great piece of software to work on … I got this great word processor or this great spelling checker to work on the HP laptop or later the HP Palmtop." And then we'd write it up in the magazine, but a lot of the people didn't want to go through all the headaches. So we'd create a little package with that software, with the add-on discs and instructions so it was easily for them to install it.

David Averbach:            Oh, wow.

Hal Goldstein:               And so we ended up creating … we had apps. I mean, at one point, we had 25, 30 people that were working for us doing different things.

Donna Cleveland:          Interesting.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah. So I wanted to hear a little bit just about the values that you establish while doing the business and then hear about how Microsoft came into the picture and how … We'll end with the near demise of the company before we start the next episode. We'll still leave you with a-

Hal Goldstein:               This is going to be a cliffhanger.

Donna Cleveland:          … cliff hanger. Yeah.

David Averbach:            Yeah.

Donna Cleveland:          Of how the company was saved from the ashes. But, so, you talk about how at one point you had a pivotal moment in the company where you could have gone way or the other, and you chose the more honorable way.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah. Yeah, that's actually probably my proudest moment was that. This was very back at the beginning, and we had done this great 20% response rate from registration cards, but people now and people then never mailed in their registration cards, so we couldn't get enough registration cards to really have a sustainable business. And this was before we started buying and selling those equipment and the apps and everything, and so I had friends back at Hewlett-Packard who were in support because I actually helped out my last month or so in HP technical support. I was friendly with the guy who was the general manager of that division. I called him up, and I said, "Listen, I've got this great magazine." And he said, "Oh, yeah, I know about it. I love it. It's great." And I said, "Well, let's get it to all your people who are calling support." And he said, "You know, Hal, I'd really like to help you out, but we have this particular policy where we can't give out the names and addresses of the people who call in support."

Hal Goldstein:               And so I said … I started talking to some of my friends that worked there. I think, now that I remember, I was actually, physically in the building. I went back to San Francisco, or it was Cupertino, and visited them. I was talking to one of the guys who used to work with me and told him the situation. Then I got back to Fairfield, and I get this huge unmarked envelope of, this is the old day with the printouts and everything. And there's every page is … 9,000 names of HP portable users who would all benefit from our magazine, at least knowing about it. And the thing was that HP would have benefited because when you have enthusiastic, knowledgeable customers, they're better customers. I mean, just like the people who subscribe to iPhone Life, Apple benefits from it.

Hal Goldstein:               And so, it was like … and then I'd be able to employ more people, which was part of my mission here in Fairfield because I wanted people to be part of this World Peace Project. So it was like this win/win/win thing. Everybody won, but we got these names from not in a very good way. My wife and I talked about it, and actually, I give credit to my wife. I don't know if I would have had the fortitude as much as she did, but she said, "You know, we can't do this. You don't want to start this business based on a lack of integrity." And I didn't. And so we created … We had this little two-bedroom house, and we had this burn thing, burn barrel. We lit a fire, and we just page by page, we did it in a ceremony, we burned. We put the pages in the incinerator, and we destroyed all those names.

David Averbach:            Wow.

Hal Goldstein:               And we didn't think we'd have a business, and we had a little bit of, "Did we really do the right thing?"

David Averbach:            I know. You should have just thrown it all in. Each page, that sounds hard.

Hal Goldstein:               But then these opportunities with the used handhelds and the apps and all this other just came about. But that was the thing that I really feel like set the foundation for this company, and I'm so pleased with you guys, in terms of having that same sense of integrity and doing what's right, and also being customer-centric, which was always a big, big part about what we were doing.

David Averbach:            Well, and that's the other thing I wanted to say, that in terms of Hal's values and something that he's always excelled at is just you hear it throughout this entire story. I had a friend here. I had a friend there. You're one of the best networkers I've ever met, and to this day, because I'll still go in and take some customer service call here and there, and everyone knows you. People are like, "Oh, I talked to Hal 20 years ago." And it's like everyone at HP, everyone, all of the customers. You had this way.

Hal Goldstein:               Some of your advertisers, vendors.

David Averbach:            Yeah, our advertisers, our vendors, you had this way of befriending everyone, and it's due to the integrity that really started the business.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah, that and an inclusive attitude. One of my philosophies for when we did HP and then when we did Microsoft-based support, was that we wanted to support everybody, even if it didn't seem to be in our best interest. So, we would even … we'd have other websites, and we'd have a place for them on our website, and people who didn't advertise, we'd have a place for them on our website. Our magazine, I made friends with our magazine rivals and invited them to do stuff with us. And so, I always had this, our fundamental goal was to make the ecosystem everybody benefit from our existence.

David Averbach:            Yeah.

Hal Goldstein:               Yes.

David Averbach:            Absolutely.

Donna Cleveland:          That's pretty amazing.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, you mentioned in your book, too, that you had something up on your wall, like your three main values, that you said would be an embarrassment if you weren't living by them, so you had it up on the wall. What were they and why?

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah, so I had bliss, knowledge, and do right. And bliss meant we should be … the environment of the people who work for us should be happy, and our customers should be happy. Knowledge, we're a teaching company. We want our employees to learn, and we want to teach our customers. And do right is that integrity. We just always do what we know is right, even ahead of gains, and so that was part of a core philosophy. I'd have it big up on my wall because it's easy to talk right now, but when you're in the day-to-day battles and things aren't going right, it's so easy to cut corners.

Hal Goldstein:               One of the things that … I think you guys do the better job then I did with those three. I really do, especially the joy that's in this company and the camaraderie that when I come to the meetings once a week. It just feels really good.

Donna Cleveland:          Well, before we wrap up this episode, I think you should-

Hal Goldstein:               Take you to the edge?

David Averbach:            Yeah.

Donna Cleveland:          Take us to the edge. Yeah. Yeah, tell us what happened next.

Hal Goldstein:               All right, so Hewlett-Packard, even though people loved this HP Palmtop, and believe it or not, today, this is a 1992 unit, we still have a side business buying and selling and repairing these HP 200LX Palmtops.

David Averbach:            Oh my gosh. Wow.

Hal Goldstein:               Because they were these DOS computers that solved a certain kind of problem that still hasn't been solved today with other … and they're double-A batteries. But, anyway, I became friends with the head of the division, Hewlett-Packard moved from Corvallis, Oregon, where the computer division, to Singapore. One of the neat things was I got to travel a lot to Singapore and through Asia, but I became friendly with him. He said, "You know, the Palmtops just not making it. We're going to go with Microsoft because Microsoft figured it out with the desktop and having an operating system where all the different players could be part of it. We're going to do the same for handhelds." And so, the idea was there'd be a Windows equivalent for handheld computers, for Palmtops, for what soon were to be smartphones.

Hal Goldstein:               And so they introduced me to Microsoft, and to make a very long story short, we started doing a magazine about Microsoft Pocket PCs and smartphones and Pocket PCs. We jumped to a whole new company, not only new technology but a whole new company. That's a huge thing because we're this little player, and we're all of a sudden, hooking our wagon and have to understand the culture and to be able to … so on. And again, this is a whole other thing, and it's in the book. I'm not going to go into it, but we ended up having a magazine called Smartphone and Pocket PC for a number of years, from 2000 too … actually, from 1999 to 2008, that would support the Microsoft users of these devices.

Hal Goldstein:               And then the internet was coming into be, and just one real thing that we did that I'm so proud of was that we did something every year. This was before they had app stores and before they had a lot of reviews. It was when software cost 80 bucks or 60 bucks for an app.

David Averbach:            Wow.

Hal Goldstein:               And there was no way to review it. People didn't know, and so we started these software awards. Every year, we'd have more apps. It got to be a huge, huge thing, but we involved everybody. We involved other webmasters. We involved Microsoft. We involved app developers, and everybody would be voting. We developed this system where people would vote for the best software.

David Averbach:            Wow.

Hal Goldstein:               And we'd get customer feedback and a whole infrastructure dedicated for judges who voted. Anyway, so we did that. We're going along pretty good, and it's 2006, and things are all right. 2007, and then this guy Steve Jobs gets on the stage and says, "We've got the be-all and the end-all." Most of us who'd been in the industry forever. And here was the thing, everybody from the '90s were saying these things were going to be ubiquitous. Everybody's going to have one of these smart device-

Donna Cleveland:          Smartphones. Yeah.

Hal Goldstein:               … smart devices. At the time, they weren't phones, but they're smart devices.

Donna Cleveland:          Right.

Hal Goldstein:               And everybody knew it, but nobody seemed to be able to pull it off. By the mid-2000 people were actually giving up.

David Averbach:            Yeah, like 3D TVs. Now we've all given up on 3D TVs.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, and then this guy Steve Jobs comes up and says, "Yeah, we've got this great new device. It's the best thing in the world. Yes, you can't remove the battery. There's no stylus." 100 things that were not in the way people thought about what-

David Averbach:            And keyboard.

Hal Goldstein:               No keyboards. Right. Thank you. Yes, all these things that we just knew had to be in these weren't in. There was no App Store at the time, so you couldn't even install apps. And so we just yawned a little bit, and we kept going. And the iPhone started taking the world by storm. Then 2008 comes, and 2008, as you may recall was not a good year economically. So here we are, we're supporting … and people just stopped buying Microsoft devices. They just stopped, and they started iPhones. And so the economy is collapsing, our market is collapsing, and from a company of 15, 20 people, I keep having … and I never wanted to let anybody go. I was very … I was just was very people-oriented. We got down to almost nobody, and tune in next week to see what happens.

Donna Cleveland:          Okay.

David Averbach:            Real quick before … because it's actually two weeks.

Hal Goldstein:               Oh, tune in, in two weeks.

David Averbach:            We're going to make people wait. How do people get your book?

Hal Goldstein:               Okay, so go to Amazon.

David Averbach:            Okay.

Hal Goldstein:               That's the easiest way.

Donna Cleveland:          Meditating Entrepreneurs. We'll have a link in our show notes if you go to iphonelife.com/podcast.

Hal Goldstein:               And I have to say, the fun part, it's available in print, ebook, but all the entrepreneurs read their stories, almost all of them. We have another Meditating Entrepreneur that's one of the most well-known voice, Jeffrey Hedquist, voice people in town, and so he helped.

Donna Cleveland:          Yeah, he's great.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah, we did it at his studios, and he read some of the introductions and conclusions and a few of the entrepreneurs who didn't read theirs. So, the audiobook is great, and so is the whole thing. And it's inspiring. It's not about meditation. That's the groundwork. I mean, it is about meditation in the sense that it's underneath the surface, but it's really about what it takes to start a business from nothing.

David Averbach:            Mm-hmm (affirmative). So we'll link to it at iphonelife.com/podcast. We have a question of the week, which is how did you discover iPhone Life? How did you come into this? Did you come back way back in the HP days? We have people who still say they've been around since the 80s. Or did you come into it from iPhone Life? Let us know. Send us an email, podcast@iphonelife.com. We'd love to hear from you.

Donna Cleveland:          Yes, and so we will resume the story next episode, and thank you so much for joining us.

Hal Goldstein:               Yeah.


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