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#116 Sam Bronfman (Seagram's and the Bronfman family dynasty)
March 21st, 2020 | E116

What I learned from reading Samuel Bronfman: The Life and Times of Seagram’s Mr. Sam by Michael R. Marrus.


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The story of Sam’s rise to fame and fortune from a hard life on the Canadian frontier is inherently dramatic and yet touches a familiar nerve in a broad spectrum of the population. There is something in Sam’s response to his disappointments that most people recognize in their themselves. [0:01] 

I found out about the Bronfman family on Founders #53 Mike Ovitz when Mike Ovitz brokered a deal that led to Seagram buying MCA Universal for $5.7 billion. [2:58]

Generational Inflection Point: A single individual that changes the trajectory of his entire family for generations to come [3:35] 

Why did his family have to flee Russia? [6:42]

Sam was ashamed of the poverty is family endured and NEVER forgot it [10:45] 

Sam starts running his own hotel at 23 [14:35] 

Sam figures out a new plan to overcome the powerful temperance movement / The good ones know more. — David Ogilvy [18:00] 

The advantages of Sam’s mail order strategy + Copying and improving on his competitors [20:12]

Some people just want it more [22:23]

Sam would tell you to focus on the long term [24:26]

Sam would tell you don’t waste any opportunity and be a learning machine [31:50]

Sam would tell you to learn from the best [35:44]

Sam would tell you to think big and appeal to interest [37:20]

Sam’s view on money / Go First Class [42:04]

After prohibition is lifted Sam goes on a buying spree / Default aggressive [48:53]

Sam does something brilliant: He repositions whiskey as a luxury product [53:02]

Sam’s personal curriculum [57:30]

How Sam’s business survived WWII [59:00]

The company proved to be one of Sam’s shrewdest moves; bought with only $50 million in borrowed cash it was sold [by his heirs] in 1980 for $2.3 billion [1:03:35]

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