WHEN: Today, Wednesday, August 28, 2019
WHERE: CNBC's "Power Lunch"
The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Shaquille O'Neal and Steady Co-Founder and CEO Adam Roseman on CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F 2PM – 3PM) today, Wednesday, August 28. The following is a link to video from the interview on CNBC.com: https://www.cnbc.com/video/2019/08/28/shaq-invest-in-companies-that-can-change-lives.html.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
MELISSA LEE: Well, let's get straight to it. Shall we? Shaquille O'Neal. Here's here. He's in the house. He's right next to me, in fact. He is best known for his days as an NBA legend, but since hanging it up, he's become an all-star in the business world. One of Shaq's latest partnerships is Steady – an app built for the exploding gig economy connecting workers to jobs and financial advice. Joining us now is Shaquille O'Neal. He's an ad advisor to Steady. And also with us, Adam Roseman, Steady's CEO. Gentleman, welcome to you both. Great to have you here in the house.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Nice to be here
ADAM ROSEMAN: Thank you.
MELISSA LEE: How did this come about? Because I know you have in the past called up founders of companies that you like. Who called whom?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Well, I met Adam in Atlanta. And he said, Shaq, I want to have a conversation with you about the gig economy. And I was like, What does that mean? And he explained to me what it was. And it took me back to my childhood where my mom and dad both had to work extra jobs for extra income. So, he said, Shaq, how would you like to start an app that will help people get a sustainable income? I said that is something I'd be very interested in. Because, you know, a lot of people talk about me being an all-star investor. I don't want to sit up in here and act like I'm the smartest guy in the world. I heard the great Jeff Bezos say if you invest in stuff that's going to change people's lives, most of the time you will win. So this right here will definitely change people's lives. You know, it's about 70 million people that you know have to have gigs for that extra income. I was a part of the research. I went out and met many families. Met a lot of people. A lot do have jobs, but they want to take on a gig or two to take on an extra car loan or buy something special, or you know, do something special. So, it's definitely something that needs to be done. So, when I met with Adam and his team, I think they're doing a beautiful job. And I told him, I said, listen, there are other people more like me, not like you. What I meant, I'm smart but I'm lazy smart. When I go to an app, I want to be boom, boom, boom, and I'm there. I told him and his team, if you want to do an app for me, make sure the app is, you know, very, very easy and very smooth. And I'm assured -- it's easy and anybody can use it.
KELLY EVANS: Adam, how does it work? So does it connect you to Uber and to Task Rabbit and a million other things? And what is it telling you about the economy right now?
ADAM ROSEMAN: Sure. So, Steady's focus provides a platform that actually services the worker. Right? If you look at Uber, if you look at Lyft , if you look at Door Dash -- their end customer is the person who is booking that service. There is nothing out there today that helps the user figure out what is best for them.
KELLY EVANS: Kind of put it all in one place.
ADAM ROSEMAN: Put it all in one place. Right? And with the advancement of technology, the worker is consistently disadvantaged. There is not a technology platform that has been funded that has gone public that doesn't disadvantage the worker today. And so, what Steady is trying to do is to create a platform that utilizes technology and the collaboration of the data set –
KELLY EVANS: -- to give power—
ADAM ROSEMAN: Exactly. To give the power back to the worker.
KELLY EVANS: Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. And so far is it telling you that, you know, get a quick macro-read – can you tell us anything about the economy?
ADAM ROSEMAN: Yeah. I mean, it's frightening. Right? The latest statistic published by the National Bureau of Economic Research is that 43% of Americans have more than one source of income. We're in this record low unemployment environment. We have the prospect of that changing on the horizon. We have automation, where these workers, which are hourly workers, make up the largest share of the vulnerable workers who are going to be most susceptible to losing jobs. And you have the continued uberization of enterprises, right? Where businesses are better matching labor supply with demand, shrinking the number of available work hours for these folks. So, I'm very frightened in terms of what this has to bring.
MELISSA LEE: So the trend is your friend, in terms of the demographics trends and the need for people to work. How do you see this investment paying off? I mean, you are known also for calling up the Founder of ring, because you liked the product so much, you installed it yourself. You called them up. It ends up being bought out for a big payout. Is this the same you think?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I learned early that when I stop thinking about the payouts, I will always be successful. We talked about this before the cameras were rolling, but when I first came in I lost a lot of money in the get rich quick schemes. Right? So, then I'm just listening to people.
KELLY EVANS: What was the worst investment you ever made?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: On paper.
KELLY EVANS: Paper, itself.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Yeah. I had a, you know, paper company. He said he had all these deals with all the schools, and all the government, and this and that. And you know, it turned out to be a scam. But you know, I'm listening to all these brilliant people talk. Bill Gates, a friend of mine. Rest in peace was Roger Enrico, a former CEO of Pepsi. Me and him, when I had a deal with Pepsi, he would tell me about his strategies. But once I started, again, investing in things that are going to change people's lives, it worked. For example, Ring – I got involved with Ring because this was the first time in my life that I stopped being a spoiled brat. What I mean by that is I used to live in neighborhoods where security right around, front gate, so in Atlanta, I lived in a regular neighborhood amongst the people. 30 acres. And I wanted--
MELISSA LEE: 30 acres amongst the people.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: My next door neighbor has 50 acres.
MELISSA LEE: Oh, small town on the block I guess.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I called up this security firm and said let me get a few cameras. 50,000. I'm not going to pay that. Another one, 30,000. Not going to pay that. So, I said let me just go to Best Buy. So I was getting TVs, and I saw this little Ring camera thing. I saw it had doorbell cams and floor light cams. And it worked perfectly.
KELLY EVANS: For a couple hundred bucks, probably.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Exactly, so all the other cameras that I have in my house – they are not connected to my phone. And I paid a lot of money for that. So I was like, this is brilliant. So, I bought a few more. And I probably equipped my whole house for about $2,000, like 10 to 15 cameras. So, I went to a conference in Vegas, I met with Jamie. And I said, Jamie, I don't think a lot of people know and understand about this technology. I want to invest in your company and I want help get the word out.
KELLY EVANS: You know, one thing people also don't understand about you is after you put – sort of piece together all of these investments, what do you call the annual conference where you bring everybody together?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: The Shaq Summit.
KELLY EVANS: And you say to them, Tell me, how can I help you? What do you need from me? I mean, there is a real strategy behind all this.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Yes, because if you – from a marketing standpoint, if you look at what I'm doing, I'm all over the place. But the only way to bring people together is to bring people together. So I have all my people at once. We're going to drive this commercial. We're going to do this. How can I help you? So, it's like a team. So, even though I'm working with 10 different companies, we're all working together. I figured I can do something with Steady, Steady can do something with Ring. We're all on the same team. And I learned that, you know, from winning championships. If you got people that's all over the place, you'll never win. So, I do a Shaq Summit every year. Two, three days. Everybody knows what we're doing and we all stay together.
MELISSA LEE: You are you the pitchman for a lot of different products, but the key theme is that you actually like every single thing that you enforce.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I have to like the product. I have to understand it. I really have to believe in it. My father was a drill sergeant. And one thing he taught was honor and respect. And I wouldn't be able to shake Adam's hand if I didn't, you know, believe in his product. I believe in this product. I believe in this company. I wanted to invest. I wanted to become a partner. My mother said something that was profound to me when I retired. She said, baby I love you. You did everything I asked you to do. You went back to school, you won a championship. You're a class act. So, now for the rest of the years on this earth what are you going to do lift up other people? People have always been lifting you, and praising you, what are you going to do to lift somebody else's spirits? So, I heard her say that. Jeff Bezos said that, I think this right now will definitely help people have a sustainable income. I always get messed up with her work.
KELLY EVANS: The right phrase. But. you do a lot of stuff that gives you a pulse on what is happening with people just out there I mean across the countries right now. Anything you can tell us about, their all these headlines about the problems with the U.S. and a recession is looming and run for the hills and hide. I mean, what--
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I want to be the guy that when you see my face, you see my face in a commercial, you see me walking around, hopefully I can bring a smile to your face. That's what I want to be. I don't want to talk politics. I don't want to talk to investors. I don't want to take get rich. I don't want to appear like I'm an expert. You know, another quote that I read is one from Dwight D. Eisenhower, the greatest leaders are the ones that hire people smarter than them. So, when I met a guy like Adam, this company I could never do by myself. Adam and his team are very brilliant, very smart. And I love to be a part of – with people that are very smart.
KELLY EVANS: The other thing I think people don't understand is it's traditionally been hard for the NBA's big man to be the promotional guru. Right? You know, in football it's the quarterback. In the NBA, the center position practically doesn't exist anymore. So, you really had to have a strong enough personality you can overcome that kind of inherent bias towards the Michael Jordans of the world.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: That's the same thing my marketing professor told me when I had to deliver a project in college. Actually, I failed that class. He said, Shaq, you are a funny guy and all that but the comment of the NBA, is big guys just don't sell. So I went back to my room and was just sort of down. I saw a commercial that ran nine times. Spuds MacKenzie. It just kept running.
KELLY EVANS: The dog with the --
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: The dog. So, I didn't think anything of it. I went to the gas station. This guy got cups, he got hats.
MELISSA LEE: Doesn't even have any lines in the commercial.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: He had everything. So then I went back and watched the commercial. And I was like, why do people like this dog? Because he was funny. I said I'm funny. So, if I ever get on TV I just have to show my personality. I think people just like to laugh and they just like to smile.
MELISSA LEE: What are you seeing in the economy across your businesses. I mean, you have 17 Auntie Annie's franchises? You've got Big Chicken. You've got a whole bunch – a Krispy Kreme franchise in Atlanta.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: My method in dealing with businesses is I never worry about the problem. I worry about the solution. So, again I have a lot of people that are smarter than me. So, you know when it's time to make a move, we make a move. When it's time to sit and just try to wait things out, we just sit and wait thing out. But again, I'm trying to make an investment on things that make people happy. When I was in the gym business, people like working out. When I was in the fast food business, before, Five Guys, everybody likes burgers, everybody likes new things. Now I'm on the board of Papa John's. And you know, we just want to continue to make people happy. But, again I'm not this expert and I do this -- like everything I touch is gold. It's not the case. I've failed many times.
KELLY EVANS: What's the biggest money mistake you've made?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: A lot. Again, when I was younger. Hey, give me a million, and in about three years, it will be 10 million. Deals like that I would take every time. Give me 10 million. Investments in this company. Boom, boom, boom. Four years, it will be worth 300 million. You can get me like that. From like 19 to 26, anybody could come to my office, tell me that deal and I would take it right away. No research, no due diligence. If I get your million now, boom, boom, boom, in a couple years, it will be a couple million. I'll do that deal. Because I was trying – but you know, once I stopped focusing on that, I started paying attention and looking at things, I became a little bit more successful.
MELISSA LEE: You are also investing in stocks, aren't you?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: A little bit.
MELISSA LEE: What's your favorite stock right now?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Well, I'm investing in all the big ones. Like I will always go with the big ones. I won't go with the new ones. I will wait them out. So, I'm Apple, Starbucks, stuff like that.
MELISSA LEE: Do you have the same philosophy? You have to like the product in order to buy the stock?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Yes, I do. I do.
KELLY EVANS: Do you make the calls on those trades or somebody else?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Well, I have a couple guys that work for me. A guy named Ken Gunsberger, Lester Knispel, Jeff Azoff. So, I have a couple guys who are smarter than me, you know, saying: This is doing this, this doing this, why don't you wait on that, we should wait on that. So again, it's about a team.
KELLY EVANS: Sure. So, can we talk basketball for a second?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Of course.
KELLY EVANS: So you have this fascinating dynamic with these super teams. The Lakers are going be so much fun to watch this year -- see if they can pull it off. It's changed a lot since you were there. Is it changing for the better, is it changing for the better for the worse? Do the players have too much power? Is there collusion by the agents bringing these guys together?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I think it's so much pressure on the guys to win. When I was coming up, there was only a couple media outlets. And that was it. But now, every phone is also a media outlet. There's so much pressure on the guys to win, and I think it's so much easier if you get a guy or two that can help you out.
KELLY EVANS: But what happens to all the other teams? I mean, what happens to the value of some – I mean, you are a Sacramento Kings guy, they're not really in the mix right now.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: No, we're not in the mix. And it kind of devalues the competition aspect. I mean, when I was coming up the stories I always like to see is: Okay. Magic beat bird. So, I don't have to wait 300 days to see if it would change. So, it's different. To each his own. But, I don't really like it. I like competition. I just want these guys to compete. They're getting paid a lot of money. So, if you get paid a lot of money, if you have to compete against somebody that's on your level, I think it will be a better game for the fans. But, like we said, a lot of teams will struggle. And hopefully they can keep their fan base.
KELLY EVANS: So who are you pulling for this year? Who is going to be --
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Sacramento Kings.
KELLY EVANS: Alright, let me phrase it differently. Which game are you definitely not going to want to miss? Because the Pelicans, that could be –
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I'm a fan of Golden State because I think they play basketball the right way. Houston is going to be very interesting with Harden and Westbrook. Clippers and Lakers. A lot of teams are great. I'm interested to see what Toronto can do without Kawhi. But, other than that, teams – they just have, I hate to say, they just have regular players.
KELLY EVANS: Just regular players. Just boring old NBA.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I don't want to use the word boring. Just, you know, regular guys.
MELISSA LEE: It's been a pleasure. We hope to see you on CNBC a lot more.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Yes, ma'am.
MELISSA LEE: It's been great.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Thank you for having us.
MELISSA LEE: Shaquille O'Neal and Adam Roseman.
KELLY EVANS: Thank you both.
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