Andrew Thorp King – Failure Rules (330)

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Andrew Thorp King isn’t like many entrepreneurs. He didn’t go to college. He wasn’t born into riches. He isn’t clean-cut or cleanly shaven and, unlike many entrepreneurs, Andy is willing to share the plethora of ways in which he’s screwed up and had to learn on the fly. He’s not the “crush-it guy,” saturating social media today. He’s the “get-crushed-and-get-back-up,” guy we all need to hear from.

Andrew Thorp King is an executive fintech banker, spy novelist, speaker, punk rocker, podcaster,

ex-bodybuilder, cigar lover, and serial entrepreneur. He founded two independent record labels—Thorp Records and Sailor’s Grave Records—and has invested in many spaces, including online lending, fitness, lead generation, and independent music.

Andrew Thorp King is also a serial failure. He has crashed and burned through bankruptcy, divorce,

mortgage default, public assistance, and multiple business failures. But, like a jack-in-the-box after a punch, he pops back up every time, rebuilding his life—informed by failure—with a big smile on his face.

To learn more about Andrew Thorp King, see the links below:

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And now here’s Andrew Thorp King.

Full transcript below

Video With Andrew Thorp King – Failure Rules

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Podcast with Andrew Thorp King. Failure Rules.

Andy King HIH.Episode 330

Mon, Nov 14, 2022 5:51PM • 1:06:31


book, failure, life, people, read, cigar, journey, write, world, divorce, authentic, authenticity, voice, andrew, rules, space, listening, thinking, called, calling


Andy King, Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta  00:00

Hey, Andrew King, Andrew Thorpe King. Welcome to the podcast.

Andy King  00:51

Thank you. Nice to be here. Thanks for having me, Mike. 

Mike Malatesta  00:56

So I usually start these podcasts by asking every guest the same simple question, which is How’d it Happen for you, Andrew. But before I do that, I first want to say something. Sure, I want to, we’re going to talk a lot about your book today. But I just want everybody to know the one thing I hated about your book.

Andy King  01:18

Oh, that’s what we’re looking at. That’s

Mike Malatesta  01:20

Oh, that’s how we’re gonna start. But the one thing I hated about your book was, because of time constraints and some other things, I had to read it as a PDF, and I was very disappointed in the app because your book is so beautifully written. To me it deserves to be read as a physical thing in my hands. And I was not able to do that. And it pissed me off a little bit. And so I want to just say that’s the one thing I hated about your book. Outside of that. I thought it was remarkably well done. And I get a lot of people on here who write books, and I enjoy parts of most of them. But it’s just different when you come across someone who can actually, you know, write a good book, and you have certainly accomplished that with Failure Rules.

Andy King  02:23

I appreciate that, Mike. I was bracing myself there for some more abrasive type of, you know, a hatred. You know, out there, but yeah, that’s it. That’s for you to hey, we’re still good. We’re gonna have a great conversation still.

Mike Malatesta  02:38

Yeah, and that’ll come later because I don’t know that if you’re from Philly, but I know you got Philly roots. That’s all throughout your book and stuff, and I am from the same area. Oh. So you know, who knows, maybe we will get into a little bit of tha, probably not, but just a connection that we have. So everybody before I re-ask Andrew the question, let me tell you a little bit about him. Andrew, Thorp King is an executive FinTech banker, spy novelist, speaker, punk rocker, podcaster, ex-bodybuilder, cigar lover, he’s smoking a cigar as, as we speak, and serial entrepreneur. He founded two independent record labels, Thorp records, and Sailor’s Grave records, and has invested in many spaces, including online lending, fitness, lead generation, and independent music. And here’s the thing you don’t hear in very many bios, Andrew Thorpe King is also a serial failure. He has crashed and burned through bankruptcy, divorce, mortgage default, public assistance, and multiple business failures. But like a Jack-in-the-Box, after a punch, he pops back up every time, rebuilding his life, formed by failure, with a big smile on his face. So with that, Andrew, How’d it happen for you?

Andy King  04:06

How’d it happen? Well, first, let me just finish addressing your initial comments there to remedy the book format issue by getting you a physical copy offline. I think we can make that happen. So how did it happen? Let’s define “it.” I think it would be for me, the biggest, is the production of this book, the conviction I had or the compulsion or almost spiritual calling to write this book. And getting to the point now where eight years after feeling that pull, it comes into existence, and I’m now on the show talking with you about the message of the book, right? So that would be my lead if we’re gonna talk about how it happened at this juncture in my life, so really, it’s kind of a culmination of my journey and the lessons I feel I learned over the first real two decades. Words of adulthood, my 20s and my 30s, as I endeavor to find ways to marry money with meaning, and fight and struggle to interpret what my calling was, and I came to, you know, identify that more, it’s a calling journey with no singular destination, but yet still something that at every touch point, at every consequential decision, I was seeking to make sure I aligned with that. And so it was really kind of understanding, How does that alchemy work? And for me, it was this idea of being in tune with your internal spirit voice, shutting out external voices if they were noisy. It doesn’t necessarily mean you shut out wise counsel, or, you know, wisdom that is around you, right? Certainly not, I thought that in spades, but it was really coming to the realization that it was this notion of an internal spirit voice that we all have inside of us, no matter how we identify or recognize it, that we feel, you know, whether we call it our conscience, or our gut instinct, or follow your heart or whatever, whatever the language we use around it, there’s something inside us that thinks in consequences, decision points. We harken to that. And I believe it’s being in tune with that, and putting the internal life, the inner life, the spiritual life above the internal and the external, that when we do that, that can guide us. And that can help us align with our calling journey path, which is often, as I write about the book, but to your words, I use the most as adjectives to describe, you know, a true calling journey path is tumultuous, and mysterious. It’s beautiful. It’s the path that will bring you down the highest meaning and allow you to actualize your highest conception of value and meaning to the world. But it is often tumultuous, and mysterious.

Mike Malatesta  06:59

And this voice that you mentioned your 20s and 30s. Is that when you feel like you’ve discovered it, and what was what was going on with you before you discovered it?

Andy King  07:11

Yeah, I mean, I think it was always kind of there, right? I mean, I think, you know, you know, just to just to be you know, outward about it, I do believe in higher power, I believe in divinity. I believe in God, that wasn’t always the case, there were there was a time in my teens, where I felt like I was probably drifting into dark spaces and some unhealthy psychology and behavior. And it was during that time where I felt and heard that voice, and I recognized it as a divine one. And that really, from that point on, it was there was always this need to seek that out, in moments of chaos and moments of, you know, high stakes, decisioning and moments of directional contemplation, whether it be career or marriage, or, or some sort of fondling of an artistic muse, right, whether you know, it’s reading this book, or whatever that might be interpreting signaling and messaging in the world through virtual mentor through reading through music, through podcasts, things that end up shaping me and influencing me and kind of building the fabric of who I am and how I present myself to the world. And that has been, you know, that’s been my formula, you know, throughout life to make sure that I destroy future regret, because that’s what aligning yourself with your calling journey does. If you’re constantly aligned with that, even if it does sometimes forthrightly fling you into tumult, or into chaos or into disarray, inflection points. Ultimately, what it does is allows you to live out your highest usefulness in the world, your most unique purpose in the world, if that’s discoverable. And when you do that, it’s really hard to have regret. At the end of the day, I think those that are, you know, suffocated into a life of mediocrity or any life driven by externals or driven by, you know, kind of what the world might construct for them and impose upon them, that they’re susceptible to sickness in some form or another, whether it’s mental, physical, spiritual, however it manifests because they’re burying something. And they’re burying often because there’s clinging to some notion, real or not of safety. Right. So that’s failure. Rule number two is nothing is safe. You know, failure. Number one is failure purifies, that when you go through this tumultuous, mysterious journey, you’re often going to kind of go through that evil and go through that purification where old thinking dies, new thinking emerges, old ways of being die, new ways of being emerge. It’s the Phoenix must burn to emerge. It’s that imagery that informs that role. I’ll pause there; I said a mouthful.

Mike Malatesta  09:55

Yeah. So there’s a bunch there that I want to get back to the Phoenix thing. Oh, It gets me because you have sort of that TransAm like when I was growing up, that was like the rising Phoenix or some people call it the screaming chicken or whatever that’s incorporated into your book and that’s the Phoenix that you’re talking about, right?

Andy King  10:15

That’s right. Yeah, it’s funny you say TransAm thing. Somebody else pointed that out to me. I never thought of that, to me, like aligned with like, pinstripe, you know, Hot Rod imagery and flames. And yeah, I own a record label sailors grave records that put out a lot of psychobilly bands, which makes punk rock and rockabilly. And so like that hot rod kind of pinstripe thing is part of the aesthetic. So to me, like, that’s where it came from? The TransAm you’re totally right there. I never even picked that up. That’s kind of funny. But yeah, so I mean, that imagery really came to be at a time where I was going through a business divorce, which was rather emotional, rather complex, and had a lot of fallout to it. You know, lots of lots of money on the line, lots a lot of money lost and, and relationships, you know, shattered within the business context. And at the same time, in parallel, I was at the beginning of a divorce path with my ex-wife, my first wife. And I was, you know, processing that pain, figuring out how I was going to leverage that chaos as an idea engine to emerge in the next best version of myself. Right. And my cousin had texted me the lyrics to “Beautiful Pain” by Eminem. I’m not really into rap wasn’t like an Eminem guy. I’m an old punk rocker, hardcore punk rocker. So I listen to music that a lot of people don’t know or wouldn’t know the references. Eminem, you know, at the time, I know, he’s a little dated now. But it was kind of mainstream. But my cousin texted me the lyrics and lyrics struck me, I started listening that song, and there’s Phoenix imagery in that song. And I was beginning to write some of the initial outlines for Failure Rules that then, and that just ended up informing kind of, you know, a big part of the whole book. It’s not original, like, you know, the whole Phoenix, you know, in flames is not original. But it’s just so apropos, I couldn’t not make that a central theme or, or, you know, connected imagery to the book. And so, of course, I have the failure rule soundtrack on Spotify and Apple music everywhere. You can find music and that songs on the soundtrack as a companion piece to the book. 

Mike Malatesta  12:22

Okay, and you mentioned, when you were talking before this notion of knowing who you are, and presenting yourself that way, something like that I think you said, and it made me wonder, like, have you always been able to align both of those in your life, like, knowing who you are, and presenting yourself as who you are? Or has that been something that’s come to you over time?

Andy King  12:52

I think it’s over time. I mean, I’ve always had a strong sense of self, I’ve always had an internal locus of control. I’ve always presented myself in ways that were formed by my own internal convictions, and not driven by external circumstances or expectations, right. But yeah,

Mike Malatesta  13:12

I was just gonna say, even in a cubicle, and you know, I mean, you go through these different times in your life, and I’m wondering, because I, I don’t, I think I do that now. But I don’t I don’t know if I do it all the time. Because I, you know, I’m intimidated by certain situations, or certain people or certain, whatever are my own in, in my own insecurity server, whatever it might be so. So, so, yeah, it always makes me want to want to dig a little bit into how everybody’s sort of managed their way through it or thinks they’ve managed their way through it in life, because

Andy King  13:53

we’ve already touched on something that I have wrestled with very directly and intentionally lately. You know, so I write the book, obviously, the subtitle, the book, the book is failure rules, exclamation book, subtitle, the five rules of failure, and they’ll hold the book up here for your readers. For your viewers. Right now. The subtitle is “Five Rules of Failure for Entrepreneurs, Creatives and Authentics.” I mean, that’s not even really a word; I kind of made that up, and a habit as a defined term in the book, authentics. And I define it in a very kind of loose way, where it’s a spectrum, where you’re constantly trying to figure out what that means to you at any given inflection point in your development and the evolution of yourself. Because again, old thinking has to die. So new thinking has to emerge. So your old authentic self might not be the same as your new one. But I think we know when we’re not being authentic, right, right. The difference I think, between stretching yourself, and allowing versatility into the integration of your evolving authentic self. There’s a difference between that and a true pure drift from your authentic self where you just know that you’re not asserting yourself in the way that you want to be. sort of yourself, given who you are inside. And so I think that’s, you know, it’s not a clear thing all the time. But I think it’s something we ought to pay attention to on a wrestle with, and figure out ways to be as authentic as possible, even as we’re evolving our authentic self as we stretch ourselves and challenge ourselves in new settings and new situations, new experiences, right? And then we basically build on that authentic self through that. But very intentionally, I actually do a video about this on my YouTube channel, that kind of goes into a deep dive on that, but you’re touching on a very real and important question about trying to judge your own authenticity, you know, manifest oil.

Mike Malatesta  15:42

Yeah. And it, it’s a real struggle for me, I go, so I appreciate your perspective on it. And I. Now, especially and maybe not now, especially, but it seems like authenticity, vulnerability, are sort of words that everybody tries to use now to just to describe, describe or define themselves, because that’s what is selling right now. Yeah, so this, I saw, I love the way that you created the word authentics. I just, I really, and that you define it, which by the way, he’s got a glossary of terms in his book, which you rarely see that in a non-sort of science, Booker academic book, it was really, that’s really cool to bear. So again, a nice like, idea for a book. But yeah, that whole, that being authentic, in the way that it is defined is a challenge. And even now, like it’s a challenge for some of the reasons I mentioned, at least for me, but also now I think it’s a real challenge, because it’s what you’re supposed people are now saying, the fact that someone has to say you should be authentic tells you that there’s a problem, right? Like, though, yeah, like the world, the world? I don’t know, it almost is beat you down as it beats down authenticity, because it wants you to be something that it wants you to be, right. 

Andy King  17:18

Yeah, well, I do tie it in the book pretty closely to the other two terms, that I just spoke about at the beginning of the show here, internal spirit voice and calling journey. Right. So to me, authenticity is mostly measured against how closely you’re listening to your internal spirit voice, which guide you on how to live out your most maximized unique purpose in the world. And then how closely you’re actually following through on that, to follow the mysterious steps of your calling journey. And so to me, all three of those things are in alignment. And if you’re listening to your internal spirit voice, which again, for me, is a divine thing. And then of acting on that with boldness, the best I can with my limitations as a human being to interpret those type of things. And I’m acting on them in the world to follow my path, my calling journey, that’s when I feel authentic. It’s when I’m resisting that when I’m muting my internal spirit voice, when I’m afraid to take bold steps in my calling journey, because of, you know, because it might not be safe. It’s those are the moments when I feel inauthentic. So I think that’s where authenticity, authenticity, for me, really, is defined and crystallized and shines the brightest.

Mike Malatesta  18:39

And this this internal spirit voice, you said, everyone has it? And I believe you. I’m in that camp. I’m wondering what in your experience, how many people? What percentage of people are the, you know, in your experience, how many people can tell you what their internal spirit voice is? And how many act upon it the way you appear to have acted upon yours?

Andy King  19:08

Well, I think it’s rare. I mean, I think there’s nothing in the world that I think is very rare, which is part of the reason I write this book. I mean, it is curated for a very certain special type of person that’s in touch with these types of things, or wants to be so I mean, I use a variety of examples and case studies in the book. I’ll talk about two right now. One is Steven Pressfield, the well-known author of The War of Art and many other books, prominent thinker and, you know, he tells a story about how he would, you know, work in advertising, save up a bunch of money, and then burn his savings you have to for years, just to go write a book with no promise of anything on the other side and it seemed crazy, and he go to quit his job and his bosses would kind of try to lure him there with the with the you know, the dangling character of, you know, perks and increased salary and all that, but he had stick inside that he knew he would feel sick inside if he didn’t do it, even though it seemed crazy and there was intervals where he was homeless and, you know, live out of his car and one of his marriages blew up because he was listening to some eternal spirit voice. But in the end over the long arc of time, you can see that there was a reason he listened to it. And that that was right. And then had he not done that he probably would have live like Thoreau said, you know, a life of quiet desperation that would have happened. That’s when he would have been inauthentic. But he chose the authentic path by listening to that voice inside. Second example I would give would be the lead singer of the Seminole punk rock band Black Flag, Henry Rollins. He was, you know, working in an ice cream shop and Georgetown was, you know, I guess, assistant manager or something like that. Obviously, not a high paying job, but this was in the 80s. And he was doing the workaday thing. But he had this, this, just this hunger, this fire for the punk rock scene, and the authenticity of that music and the wall vigor of that music. And he went to go see a black flag play in New York one night and had an impromptu guest appearance on stage where he went up and sang with them. Turned out they asked him to join the band. And he without hesitation, listen to an internal spirit voice jettison the petty stay check of the job, embrace punk rock pop poverty, gotten the van and totally black flag. Back in the 80s. no email, no GPS, you know, no, meet the tour packages. It was raw. I mean, they were living off dog food at certain points. But he was embracing his calling journey, long arc of time. He is where he is. Now he did a Grammy for reading his book, getting the van. He’s been in many movies. He was such anarchy was the voice of fat man on a cartoon. He’s a voice actor. He’s an author, speaker. He was following that calling journey. That’s a tumultuous, mysterious calling journey. You don’t know where it’s gonna lead. You don’t know whether you’ll have to eat that proverbial dog food or not. But had he not taken that? If he was like, the manager of three Haagen Dazs right now, I don’t know if the world would be getting what they’re supposed to get. And I think he’d be sick in some way, shape or form.

Mike Malatesta  22:08

You know, you have a lot of references to people that I also follow in your book, which is weird, in a good way. And Steven Pressfield, for example, I just read today his Wednesday writing email, I read that. Yeah. And he’s talking about the Odysseus writer, I think it was Odysseus. But, I’ve heard him speak, many times. In fact, I’m doing a speech, like a little TED Talk-ish thing for my CEO group about writing a book and I’m referencing Pressfield several times about resistance and putting your ass where your heart wants to be. But I’ve heard him speak and I wonder, because he didn’t just burn his job. Following that he burned his whole life. 

Andy King  23:05

Like, yeah, Ricky burns his whole wide lens in the friendship order doing

Mike Malatesta  23:09

multiple times. In this pursuit of writing a book that he couldn’t put his just couldn’t put his ass in the seat to do, although he wanted to do. But I wonder, like, when I hear him talk now, I think to myself, that guy’s still haunted by when he burned to get where he is. Legend of Bagger Vance, I think is his most famous book for people who don’t know Steven Pressfield. But anyway, it just made me made me think that you not only you might not get past it, even though it gets you where you want to be like there’s you know, to become authentic. Sometimes you really got to you can hurt people.

Andy King  24:00

And not intentionally usually, no, no, no, no unintentional kind of collateral damage.

Mike Malatesta  24:06

But when he looks back on it, it’s like, Holy shit, that was a lot of collateral damage that I did to those people.

Andy King  24:12

Or that anyway, occurred to those people because he was probably unaware of what he was doing. I mean, whatever. Okay, that was,

Mike Malatesta  24:20

yeah, you can Yeah, I mean, couch it however you want. Yeah.

Andy King  24:23

But that’s true. I mean, I have the same hauntings in my life. I mean, I wrote this book. I mean, you read it, right? There’s, there’s a very vulnerable moments I, I crashed through bankruptcy, divorce, you know, panic attacks, falling on public assistance, a strange meant for my son for a period of time. There’s all kinds of these things. And the reality is they can be traced back to me falling those promptings inside to follow my calling journey. They are connected to my entrepreneurial efforts. They are connected to my artistic efforts. They’re connected to my authentic way of being that doesn’t really align real well in the expectation. scenes with normal nine to five life and frankly even for family life, right? It’s a tough, hard reality that I have to find ways to reconcile all the time. I have a great relationship now with my, my current wife and all my children and all of that. But, you know, hence the tumultuous and the mysterious, it’s not.

Mike Malatesta  25:23

Yeah, and hence the journey towards wabi sabi.

Andy King  25:27

That’s right. Right, the journey towards wabi sabi. Yeah, which is my favorite definition of wabi sabi is, rocker David Ross Stephanie’s mission, which is perfect, because it’s a little fucked up. It’s funny, the perfection of imperfection, you know, and again, none of this is this self-indulgent, willful chasing after chaos and failure, for the sake of it, and for the thrill of it, like you want to avoid all of this stuff as much as possible. And you see their calling journey, right. Number four is failure prevention. Like, you know, the, the unspoken failure rule is try to avoid it as much as possible. And then you have to dispel that one out, right,

Mike Malatesta  26:08

thank you. Thank you for saying that, though. Because this, this, this failure thing is, like, like authenticity, and like, you know, it’s really become something that people want to. It used to be something that people would run from, right, yeah, you know, now it’s embraced. But I still don’t think it’s changed very much in the in that you don’t want to fail.

Andy King  26:35

And, you know, we fight against it, and you creatively challenge it, ultimately accept it, then fine, find a way to use it, allow it to shape you and grow you, hopefully into something where you’re actually gaining from harm, like missing to lead talks about anti fragile, but you do not want to go after it, you want to avoid it. You want to think strategically. Failure rule number four is build your thing. One thing to dependency thing one is that scaffolding that undergirding in your life, building those kind of low meaning safety belts and suspenders and might be able to support you as much as possible and stabilize way. So you can then have some room and freedom and flexibility to go on that off road adventuring, artistically, creatively entrepreneurially and minimize the damage the failures or the downside or allow that the wait time to incubate. Right? Yeah, but Right. You know, and I didn’t do that well, early in my life. So that was one of the lessons, you know, and that was how that rule came about. Because now I think about that very intentionally. And it goes along with what you’re saying this whole idea of failure porn, like we don’t worship at the twisted altar of self-indulgent failure, makes no sense. But we still need to study failure, we need to, you know, we need to, you know, accept it, we need to anticipate it, we need to know that it usually travels pretty closely with difficult pursuits. And we need to find ways to maximize and optimize it, and integrate it into, you know, a highlight of our story, if we handle it correctly. I mean, I think of like, Jack Nicholson in the department when he’s playing Irish gangster Whitey Bulger, and, you know, he’s like, I’m an artist, you give me anything, I’ll get something out of it. That’s how we got to view failure. You know, you don’t want it, but you throw that at me. I’m an artist, I’m gonna get something out of it, no matter what it is

Mike Malatesta  28:30

one of my favorite movies until the end with the little rat things, I thought that was kind of messed it up there at the end. So do you mind if we dig a little bit into this business divorce that you mentioned? Sure, can we get into because I really, like that’s a failure that a lot of the listeners can connect with, I can connect with that. But I’d love to get the details, I love to connect with the details of it as much as you’re willing to share about how you got into it. Because you know, it’s funny, most business failures, start between two people who would go to the end of the world for each other, let’s say, or three people or whatever, at one time, and they end up somewhere, you know, 180 degrees from that down the road. I don’t know what yours was. But those are, that’s how I’ve gotten into some of the ones I am. And I just really love to learn from what you experienced.

Andy King  29:26

So it was a very interesting situation. There was kind of this kind of a dichotomy of two business partners that were involved in this venture. I was at a time in my life where I just was not making enough money to support my family, you know, adequately, I was not finding a way I was not finding any nine-to-five job with a salary that could that could, that could do that. And that was the case for my 20s and 30s. So mostly, I rarely held down a job working for somebody else. It was mostly entrepreneur pursuits, running record labels, financial planning, that I got and online lending on the gym, those type of things, many of them overlapping at one time, right a portfolio pursuits mentality. At the time, I was in a partnership for an online lending company, I, we had purchased a fitness center. We were running that we had the operations right next to each other, the Office for one was next to the gym. We even had some employees working at both facilities. I mean, there was days where literally, like, in my gym doing a leg press with somebody from the lending company would come over and ask me a question about an underwriting package. And so it was like that kind of like, you know, synergy. And I was also finishing my first spy novel and doing stuff with my record labels, I had a lot going on. But my partner had gotten into trouble in the mortgage industry, in 2008 crisis as a mortgage, you know, running mortgages, and all the ninja loans and all that. And he ended up having to go to federal prison. And there I was left kind of having a run all the businesses without him, there was a capital deficit, I took one another investor than another, the investor, frankly, was a relative. So that made it all the more complicated, which is, you know, a role that many people say you shouldn’t do. But these were the circumstances that really were one of my only options at the time. And, you know, being in that space at that time, it was quickly being it was very, it was quickly being regulated in very ways that you could not anticipate. And the business began faltering for a number of reasons, we had a concentration risk that we were working to address but couldn’t address quickly enough in the portfolio. You know, there was just changing regulations, all kinds of things, and it ended up losing a lot of money, right, and both losing it. And so at a certain point, there was all kinds of issues between the partner and I, I decided to walk away, he continued on with another partner, and ultimately, it still failed. But he kept going, I walked away, it was right before operation choke point, which was a DOJ effort to kind of extra congressionally regulate the online lending industry. And, you know, at the time, I had other income sources, but that was probably my core income. So it was a big hiccup. You know, there’s still assets and what have you, so I was going to be okay short term. And it was really in that failure space of the emotional baggage of the business divorce. And that then coupled with a fast follow of a personal marital divorce, I found myself at one point, no office to go to by day, no home to go to by night, I was living in a hotel room. And it was in that failure space that I decided to leverage the leverage chaos as an idea engine. And, you know, five things were born there. In that space, I began a lead generation company. Well, first, I started doing consulting, that, that became a lead generation company proper with some partners, which was very lucrative. I finished my first spy novel, I reinvested in my record labels to release some records. I started my job as a FinTech banker, and now 10 years into that, a few promotions. And that’s been a great, amazing kind of anchor in my work life tapestry. And then, in that time, I also really began writing failure rules. So it was like in that empty space, I saw it as an opportunity. What else can I build in these ashes of failure? And five very fruitful things emerged with different timelines and priorities and success measures. But it was all in that space of that business divorce in that marital divorce. That’s probably a roundabout answer, specifically in the business divorce. What questions do you have that might be useful to your listeners?

Mike Malatesta  33:57

Well, I guess one of the things that I’m curious about is you say you walked away. And I wonder what that means. Because when you’re involved in a business as an owner, it’s hard to walk away. And I did read that that you walked away and  I’m thinking to myself, How did you walk away? How did you feel?

Andy King  34:19

Yeah. Well, I was a minority partner. Yeah. But I also had the salary as CEO. So I really walked away from the CEO position and my shares, then I ended up, you know, selling them back, right. So that was the walk away, but the shares were not worth much at that point because of the declining of the business. Right. So I walked away in the sense that I found working with that partner irreconcilable at the time, and I was not able to stay in the fight in any meaningful way. Because the salary that was being imposed upon me was not tenable. And was not discussed in a way that was productive or creative. And it was something I had to do.

Mike Malatesta  35:14

So that was sort of the last straw kind of thing where your majority partner or whatever said, take her leave it, Andrew, basically. And you were like, leave it, I guess. Yes.

Andy King  35:24

Pretty much. Yeah. Okay. I really wasn’t. And that was kind of it, there wasn’t any real creative way of approaching it. And that could have been a number of things that that could have been done. But there was not a communication template there. That was workable. Yeah, let’s put it that way.

Mike Malatesta  35:43

Okay, fair enough. And in that was, you know, as you mentioned, followed by this divorce breakup of your marriage. And then you said, you know, five things came out of that. And what I was thinking to myself is, okay, is there something missing between the five things that came out of it, and those couple of bad things that happen like in, in my life, and in my book, I have a similar, it’s not similar, circumstantially, but similar feeling about 10 years into my first business, and I refer to this place I dropped into as a valley of uncertainty where, you know, me and entrepreneurs, and people in general, they drop into this space, when they just don’t know where to turn. And in that, in that valley, they’re sort of waiting for somebody to come along and just tell them, that’s going to be okay, and reach their hand down in there and pull them up and say, here’s what you have to do. Was there someone that came along? And did you? Did you find yourself in a valley like that or something? And, and did someone or someone’s come along and help you find these five new paths that grew out of this? Sort of? To meet us?

Andy King  36:59

Yeah. It wasn’t someone like in the flesh, necessarily, but okay. You know, there was a song by this band, hate breed, this metal band that I’m really into, called divinity of purpose, that ended up being a defined term in the book, and was really that song talking about the pain of discipline is less than that of regrets, you know, I held my feet to edge, I forget the exact words, but essentially, it was a divinity of purpose, bringing you out of that kind of gutter state. And it was like, the strength of that music, combined with my internal spirit voice, you know, and a sense of divine strength that, you know, three things fell into line ideas. You know, I wrapped up my idea engine in the face of chaos, action, I came up with a plan to pursue in five of those threads that I mentioned. And then it was the faith to, to pursue them and to maintain enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is like is like the currency of entrepreneurial entrepreneurs and artists to me and creatives. You know, I think of the quote from Winston Churchill, success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. That quote has sustained me, it’s my enthusiasm to find that those areas of micro momentum that are positive no matter how micro how small, in times of chaos and devastation that power me through the brutalities of failure in the valleys of darkness, right. And that was kind of the mentality was when I was in that space.

Mike Malatesta  38:31

Okay. And I do appreciate you putting I think that was in the book, because I have it written here that quote from Churchill, I have a lot of Churchill quotes, but I did not have that. One. And when I read that, I was like, Holy crap. That’s a good one, right? Because if you’re, you’re optimistic and enthusiastic, you can take a lot of pain. Because you can get rid of it quickly. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt you metabolize it. Yeah, metabolize it. Yeah, that’s a great way to put it, metabolize it and then use it as you know, use that to build muscle, right metabolize it build muscle. You mentioned faith, and I watched a one of your many YouTube videos about what you call your core operating system. And I’m intrigued me a lot not and by the way, well done on the I don’t know who helps you with your videos or whatever, but your videos that that one, especially that I watched was, that was high quality video really nicely done. So can you talk to talk to me more about your core operating system and what that actually means to you?

Andy King  39:41

Yeah, so for me, I mean, I really, it’s for me, it’s the framework of Christianity. Okay. So I would say categorize it more contemplative Christianity. So it’s like, I’m not a churchgoer. I probably wouldn’t fit the bill for like, you know, the image of like a good prayer. As I smoke, I drink, I curse a lot, and I’m covered in tattoos and love rock and roll. So probably doesn’t really track real well. But it still goes back to that eternal spirit voice. It’s the dimension of God within, you know, it’s realizing like for me, like I think of religion as a technology in some ways, like if I look at the world religions, what problem is it going to solve for me? And for me, the biggest problem is, you know, what is the chasm between my imperfection and the notion of some perfect divinity. And Christianity allows framework to reconcile that chasm. So that works for me. In the video, though, I don’t just talk about those who embrace you know, Christian faith. And we talk about my friend John Joseph, who wrote the foreword it was a Hari Krishna, and how that’s his core operating system and what that’s done for him to get him out of street violence and homelessness and drug addiction. And, you know, help him heal from abuse when he was younger. For foster parents, I talk about Gigi Butler, the cupcake entrepreneur, she is a Christian. So that’s her core operating system. And I talked about Tim Ferriss and how stoicism buttresses his life and gives him that compass even though it’s a non-faith, tradition and stoicism so I still think that there’s lots of value and wisdom to be taken from a variety of faith expressions, but for me, it would be the framework of Christianity.

Mike Malatesta  41:19

Okay. And you mentioned Ryan Holiday in your book, too, who wrote a book called The Daily Stoic” amongst probably 20 others. 

Andy King  41:32

I got a signed copy. Okay, I visited his bookstore. Oh, you did this? Yeah. All right. He wasn’t there. But I dropped off some copies of failure rolls and I was told they would they would get to his hands. But yeah, he is one of the best thinkers of our time, I think and one of the most introspective and astute writers of our time.

Mike Malatesta  41:56

So I want to I want his book cause called the purple something. Peach pump I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s got to kind of go by right. Yeah, his bookstore. Oh, yeah.

Andy King  42:09

It’s a painted porch.

Mike Malatesta  42:11

Okay, well, I guess I’ll go to James Altucher first because like I said, you have you know, Pressfield. You talk a lot about Lemmy from Motorhead; I first got introduced to Motorhead when I was working at Fritz’s gas station in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

Andy King  42:41

More in my neck of the woods. 

Mike Malatesta  42:43

Yeah, I grew up in Havertown.

Andy King  42:44

I graduated from Hartford High School. 

Mike Malatesta  42:47

Oh, you did? I went to St. Denis. Yeah, I live like 300 feet from Haverford High School. My mom still lives there. Okay. Yeah, that’s where I graduated from. Okay, cool. My dad graduated from there. But you mentioned a lot of people, as I said earlier, that I follow or that I’m fans of, including some of the ones you just mentioned, but James Archer, he’s, I’d like to get your sense about him. You mentioned his book, choose yourself as having had a tremendous impact on you. I think it was one of the books. You talked about, you know, walking on the beach, and, you know, when you were deciding or figuring out or when it came to you to write this book, I think there were like, John, Joseph and Lemmy. And then there was two books after seeing one of them. And then there was Churchill, and I can’t remember all this. And I’m just curious, what is it maybe more than just his book? What is it about Altucher that makes you follow him because he’s a weird cat. 

Andy King  44:08

Yeah, that’s why I’m okay with the curiosity and the Unashamed Enos of just putting it all out there almost vomiting on the page in some way. But somehow, it’s very useful, instructive and beautiful, and gives you some transparency into a way of thinking, his ability to get up after he fails. I mean, you know, made a ton of money, lost it all made a ton of money, lost it all, you know, his relationships up and down. I mean, I think he’s on his third marriage right now. But the beauty of his curiosity, the, the critical thinking he has in terms of analyzing his journey, and you know, the whole the whole like, he talks about an idea machine I talked about leveraging chaos as an idea engine, but they’re very akin mindsets, like him with his weight or pad and running. Today, yeah, even if they suck, it’s just the exercise getting that brain working like I do that I got a cigar box full of just sticking out with random ideas from like, last five years. I haven’t even looked at that box in a while, but it’s just exercising that muscle. You know, it’s and it’s him talking about how this aligns with your need as well as other book, you know, only is better than best the idea of like, intersecting ideas to create something new. You don’t have to be the best at something. But if you’re the only, you know, like putting two ideas together coming up with something wildly new, like, you know, like the Irish punk band, Dropkick Murphys who mix traditional Irish instrumentation with punk rock. Yeah, they might not be the best punk band, but one of the best Irish punk bands because it’s like they’re having this alchemy of something new, right? And to create their own space. Yeah, and those type of things, you know, it’s it just the idea of he really wasn’t one, his book gave me a lot of strength to process a lot of the failures, let’s go through and figure out or identify a lot of light and new possible ways forward, particularly in the information age, the democratized information age. I mean, while there’s still plenty of digital gatekeepers, you know, I think net net, you know, there’s a lot less gatekeeping now we have more access as creatives and entrepreneurs to to start fresh and to come up with new things and to communicate and to start podcasts like this and yeah, write books and, and get them out to the world. And I just think we’re living in a very amazing age in terms of the ability to create distribute art and start businesses.

Mike Malatesta  46:31

It’s funny with every time I feel like I’ve got Altucher figured out, he comes up with some new area of expertise. You know, he’s a chess master, for those of you who don’t know, you should follow James Altucher listen to his podcast. He’s got books like “Choose Yourself.” He’s like a 52-year-old guy, but he’s like a little boy savant living in a 52-year-old man’s body and with a man’s worth of experience. Yeah, the guy just has so much natural curiosity and experiences just anyway really, really interesting and provocative.

Andy King  47:24

Yeah, he lived in Airbnb for Yeah, two years Yeah, only had like a backpack that was it and then eventually surmises that, wow, that was an interesting experiment, but I’m gonna go back to living in a home and, but it was it was, it was still instructive. It’s still formative, it still taught him a lot, you know, and documenting that journey. And, you know, those type of little off-road experiments that he broadcast.

Mike Malatesta  47:49

Talk about a Pressfield moment. Like, I’m just gonna get rid of all my possessions and I’m just gonna live in an Airbnb. He’s just going to move around, live in Airbnb-ease. And think and write my waiter pad, right, my notepad.

Andy King  48:04

I just had a conversation with another guy right about in the book, Joshua Coburn, I don’t remember the section on him. But you know, he and his wife, I think they only had the backpacks and their kids, they just had a backpack, they moved to Nicaragua. Two, three years ago, I don’t know exactly when he’s a digital marketer. So you could still work remotely there. But they just kind of started moved to Nicaragua. serendipitously want to get once they get there. Turns out there’s just opportunity in the cigar industry, he ends up buying a cigar brand. The factory is right there in Nicaragua. And he has owns dissident cigars and runs that now with his wife. And just thinking about like, something inside them told him he needed to move to Nicaragua. He didn’t exactly know why they sold almost everything up there to the kids. And boom, opportunity was there. It’s like, those type of stories that to me show that somebody is paying attention to that voice inside with the cuteness.

Mike Malatesta  49:07

So let me piggyback on that. Because for those of you haven’t yet read Andrew’s book, the way that it’s structured, chapter-wise, is there’s a quote, followed by a lesson, followed by a story of someone like the person he just mentioned, followed by a real story from his life that parallels to it. That’s a fair way to say how it’s structured?

Andy King  49:37

Exactly right. That’s the structure, and each chapter and lesson connects two roles up to an overarching rule, which is parts of the book. So there’s five parts of the book connected. So tthe five parts of the chapters collapse underneath with their own sub-lessons. And you’re right, the structure of each chapter is it ties to the role as some sort of case study, personal example and some sort of, you know, just description on the lesson itself and how it connects to the world.

Mike Malatesta  50:05

So where I’m going with this is how did you decide or choose the other people’s stories?  How did you choose them because there’s a lot of chapters in this in this book, I don’t know how many, but there’s a lot and so it’s that’s a lot of thinking that goes into that, and I’m curious how you how did you decide on the structure, you know, the quote, the lesson and then the story. I get how your you got your stories, but how did you choose? Like the cupcake ladies or? Or you know, there’s so many of them in there, how did you choose which ones to to use?

Andy King  50:58

It was kind of organic, I mean, there was some strategy to it and that I wanted it to be diverse from a variety of entrepreneurial spaces, but I also wanted to really make sure that my personality interests and interests were also, you know, weighted in a proportionate way. So, my love of punk music, cigars, tattoos, that’s the route, right? So there’s people from those spaces whether it’s Sailor Jerry, Godfather, traditional tattooing, different, you know, punk artists Lemmy, from Motorhead, Henry Rollins, whoever else, you know, that stuff’s in there. So there’s these niches and you know, people disregard space. But then it was like, I wanted a wide cross section, just to show the different stories on how people found their way and unorthodox career paths, or artistic pursuits. And most of them are just stories that either really touched me and struck me and spoke to me and other books I’ve read, or people that I followed, that I really admired the way that you admire or admire, but you fall off the chair, and I learned. And so it was just like, a lot, it was natural, because these are the people that I don’t know, that were already guiding me through so many decisions, that their wisdom was already informing me so much. And so this really is a book of my virtual mentors. You know, in those, in many times my life, like, that’s where I turn, I don’t really turn to my peers, or people who just happened to be geographically around me or happen to be in my family, because I may love them all. But that doesn’t mean they’re actually equipped to speak to my circumstances with the right type of unique wisdom. It’s a large world out there and that’s why we have books that’s why we have artists, that’s why we have music, because we can then access curated distilled wisdom and messaging that might be uniquely you know, applicable to us.

Mike Malatesta  52:48

Right? Okay. You make it sound easy. I know that’s not easy. So you got these  from reading books, listening to podcasts, maybe you heard about the person or heard about their story or something? Another thing we have in common is a degree in English. I have an English degree, you have an English degree. So it makes me think now just to ask you about your reading habits. What are your reading habits, and why is reading important? I’m assuming it is important to you; why is reading important to you?

Andy King  53:20

Um, just the written word, especially reading texts, not just listening to audiobooks, which a lot of people do, I’m selling more audiobooks than I am physical books it looks like, but just the idea that you can pause, go back, reread something, grab another nuance out of it. Meditate on the application in your own life, figure out how that can be animated in your own life. Even fiction, I’m an I’m a fiction writer, and I look read a lot of spy novels, even just, you know, thinking about the heroism or the hero’s journey and those stories, and the character the character nuances and personality nuances and how they can inform ideas on how to live a rich creative life. All those things animate my real life. So like, unlike Ryan Holiday, who says, you know, when the morning when the day I’m the opposite. I’m a night owl. For me. I wait till like nine o’clock or so everybody’s in bed, the world shuts out. I pour a bourbon flavored cigar and I slipstream into my creative space. And then writing comes easy. Then reading, I read a lot and I snack. I’ll have like a stack of 10 books next to me, right next to my ashtray. And I’ll read a chapter from each and I try to switch them up so that they’re wildly diverse, which really forces me to have like a creative, like, you know, shock almost just like switching up your workouts or switching up a diet abruptly. I do that with the book. So I’ll read a chapter of a spy novel and chapter of like, you know, like a business development book, and then the chapter of like a biography. And I just tried to shock them up and it takes me forever to finish the book because I’m always reading ten or more at a time. So, but that keeps my creative juices flowing and gives me that kind of a cross section of inputs. 

Mike Malatesta  55:03

And do you keep your books?

Andy King  55:06

I do. And I’ve got way too many books just all over the place. It’s a problem because I don’t like ebooks. It’s a problem.

Mike Malatesta  55:12

Why as you know, I hate PDFs or ebooks.

Andy King  55:18

I don’t like looking at screens unless I have to; I have to a lot. So when I don’t have to, I don’t want to.

Mike Malatesta  55:24

This is like, you know, just a softball of a question, so you can tell me that you don’t want to answer it. But when you wrote the book, or whatnot, even when you wrote it when you made that decision on that beach I think it was, yeah, how to write the book. What did you want? Like, I know you worked with Scribe, and they make you go through this process of defining your avatar and you know, all the stuff? But when you were on that beach, Andrew, and you said, Yeah, I’m gonna do this, what? What did you want? What did you want to accomplish?

Andy King  56:04

I wasn’t really thinking of accomplishment. I wasn’t really thinking of what might boomerang back to me. And that sounds very pious, but that’s the truth. I just knew that I had this stuff burning inside me, like Rocky talks about I got something in the basement, you know, there was this rumbling inside me. And I just knew I had to like, get it out, organize it and put it out into the world. And hope that it would be useful to others, it just was like this divinity of purpose. To go back to that phrase was just, I was convicted, I have to do this. I don’t know how long it’s gonna take. I don’t know what it looks like in the end. I don’t know how it will do commercially or anything like that. But I just had to do it. And so over many life changes, other ventures, all kinds of things, took seven or so years to write another year or so to edit and follow through bit by bit piece by piece.

Mike Malatesta  56:54

And I don’t think I can let you get out of here without asking you about. So it’s one thing to write about failures. It’s another thing to write about vices and you write about your Trinity of vices. And you mentioned this cigar several times bourbon got thrown in there once or twice. So

Andy King  57:13

right now I’m drinking Irish whiskey this

Mike Malatesta  57:19

so alcohol, nicotine and caffeine you should have remind me of Lemmy because he would. I think he would carry around a container with him at all times. So what is this this trinity of vices Help me Help me understand what that’s all about. And why? Yeah,

Andy King  57:37

well, I’ll go back to Churchill. You know, I get more out of alcohol than it gets out of me. I control it doesn’t control me. You know, I rarely get like drunk, right? I’ll slow sip. Two or three bourbons watered down over the course of five, six hours with food and whatnot. Right? Yeah, and smoking cigar. So I’m gonna enjoy or not Avenger. Cigars. I’m two to three a day. Just to just life without cigars is like dry toast. To me. It’s just the aromatic pleasure helps me cognitively. I love the flavor. I love the nuances between cigars. I love the art on the cigar bands. I love the culture, cigar lounges meet the best people. And it’s just, it’s just such a great enhancement in my life. And, you know, when I’m working or writing or thinking, and I got a cigar in my hand, nothing feels like work. It just everything just, there’s just okay. This is a flow between, you know, the device and the virtue of the art. They go together for me,

Mike Malatesta  58:35

you know, it’s a component of your internal spirit. All right.

Andy King  58:38

And you know, in caffeine in the morning, like, I definitely see coffee is one of my favorite brands. And, you know, I’m probably four or five cups of black coffee a day. Okay, but then I also balanced I work out a lot. I drink a lot of liquid IV. You know, I drink my Choco greens in the morning and the protein shakes and all of that. So, you know, it seems extreme, but I think I have some extreme balances too. I mean, I go to gym three days a week I hike a lot swim a lot cycle a lot. You know,

Mike Malatesta  59:07

I’m not pointing it out. Because I think that the paternity advices is a bad thing. I’m pointing it out because you the way that you put it together just intrigued me like most people aren’t, it’s easier for people to talk about their failures than their real things that they consider vices.

Andy King  59:23

I just don’t say these to be our failures. These are beautiful accents and elixirs that enhance my life in many ways. As long as I control them, they don’t control me.

Mike Malatesta  59:31

Yeah, well, yeah, you’re right. You’re right. But anyway, thank you for being willing to talk about your quote unquote vices as well as your failures and your successes. So I do thank you very, very much for coming on the show today. It’s been an honor to get to know you. reading your book was an honor although it sucked reading it the way I did. It just super well done. So if you want to read A great book. And it’s not you know, it’s called failure rules. But believe me, there’s a lot in there about not it’s not about failing, it’s about recovering from failing. So “Failure Rules  – the Five Rules of Failure for Entrepreneurs, Creatives and Authentics.” 

Andy King  1:00:29

Amazon is where you find it; they’ve got audio book, ebook, hardcover, paperback, I mean Books a Million, Barnes and Noble, wherever you buy books online.

Mike Malatesta  1:00:36

And his website,, no e on Thorp. subscribe to his YouTube channel. As I mentioned, he does a lot of cool stuff there. Andrew, is there something you want to leave us with before we before we bust out the outro on this thing?

Andy King  1:00:53

No,, I mean, you put it in the right places. Instagram is where I’m most active at Andrew Thorpe King, no e on the end of Thorpe. Also, if you go to my website, there’s a great sign up for a free mini course farewells mini course. And there’s a great merchandise e-store there too, with all its own fire supply club company, which is a merchandise line I started that is a companion to the book, too.

Mike Malatesta  1:01:14

All right. Sounds good. Thanks so much for coming on the show. Like it

Andy King  1:01:17

was a pleasure. Thank you so much for your thoughtful questions.

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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