Harold Kestenbaum is a Partner and Franchise Attorney at Spadea Lignana, a boutique franchise law firm helping franchisors and franchisees nationwide. With 45 years of unparalleled expertise in franchise law, he has authored “So You Want To Franchise Your Business,” a comprehensive guide to help business owners understand the process of launching a franchise program. Harold has served as Sbarro, Inc.’s franchise and general counsel, as well as the President and Chairman of the Board of Franchiselt Corporation. He is also a supplier for Fransmart and the Owner of HLK PC Law Firm.
Harold earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Richmond School of Law and is a member of the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Section, the Antitrust Section’s Forum Committee on Franchising, and the Subcommittee on Franchising of the American Bar Association’s Corporation Banking and Business Law Section.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Harold Kestenbaum explains how he got started practicing franchise law
- How Harold grew his business and wrote his book So You Want to Franchise Your Business
- Why a home franchise is cost-effective and leads to better growth
- The value of being a mentor to younger generations
- Harold talks about his daily rituals and spending time with his family
- Why you need to have the patience to franchise your brand
- Harold shares how technology is an effective tool to connect with others
In this episode…
Opening your first business comes with many expectations and hopes, so how do you keep the momentum going when you franchise? As a franchise attorney, how can you establish yourself?
Harold Kestenbaum has over 45 years of experience in franchise law and has helped numerous brands break out into the franchise realm. To do this correctly, you must have patience and determination. By following the guidance of a knowledgeable mentor, Harold knows that you can build your credibility and attach yourself to a thriving firm.
In this episode of 15 Minutes, Michael Renfro sits down with Harold Kestenbaum, Partner and Franchise Attorney at Spadea Lignana, to discuss developing franchise brands into enduring enterprises. Harold talks about beginning a career in franchise law, how to create a cost-effective brand with value, and why a daily ritual of patience is the key to success.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Michael Renfro on LinkedIn
- Gladiator Law Marketing
- Harold Kestenbaum on LinkedIn
- So You Want to Franchise Your Business by Harold Kestenbaum
- Spadea Lignana
- Dan Rowe on LinkedIn
- The ABA Forum
- International Franchise Association
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.
To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.
You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.
Michael Renfro 0:13
Hello, everyone, Michael Renfro here I’m the host of 15 Minutes where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This Episode Episode as always, is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing where we deliver tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. In order to have a successful marketing campaign and make sure that you’re getting the best ROI. Your firm does need to have the best website and the best content. Like Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence combined with machine learning, and literally 125 years of combined experience to outperform that competition. To learn more, please go to Gladiator Law Marketing and that’s GladiatorLawMarketing.com. You can also schedule something. And if you go there, you can schedule a free consultation, which includes a full analysis and audit of your site. So, today’s guest is Harold Kestenbaum. He is with us today live as always from his I believe you’re from your home. Are you in the office today?
Harold Kestenbaum 1:20
No, I’m working from home working from home.
Michael Renfro 1:23
So tell us Harold where in the world? Are you? And what do you what practice area? Do you focus mostly on?
Harold Kestenbaum 1:29
I am in Melville, New York, and I specialize in franchise law that for 45 plus years,
Michael Renfro 1:38
45 plus years. So you’ve seen a lot of businesses go and a lot of them make it and I would imagine you’ve probably seen a few not make it along your way as well. Right?
Harold Kestenbaum 1:48
You bet. I’ve seen some very good successes and some a lot many failures, that’s for sure. Right?
Michael Renfro 1:56
So let me ask you this, because that’s a pretty niche area. It’s not just you know, business or one type. It’s very niche to a specific type of individual. How did that how did you get started in that in that, you know, with that focus of franchisors
Harold Kestenbaum 2:12
purely by accident. The third job out of law school was with a small firm in Manhattan. And he was basically a securities attorney. But he had one client that was a public company, but also franchise, right? And he basically said to me, Look, I don’t have time to learn about franchising. I want you to learn about 1977 I couldn’t click on Google. And I actually read books,
Michael Renfro 2:44
as I say, that was sounds like many hours at the local library or the local school that had a legal library of such,
Harold Kestenbaum 2:51
such as Dr. Jeffrey Ryan. So for four years, all I did was learn about what franchising was. I learned, I went to all the seminars that were out there, right, in 1981. You know, I really liked it. I liked dealing with entrepreneurs. I said, go along, and I went out on my own.
Michael Renfro 3:10
Well, you know, I just want to bring up too, by the way, just to remind the folks at that time, there was no such thing and nobody ever heard of a freaking webinar. So it was all in seminars, it what do you make no driving and a lot of hotel stays and a lot of other type of things. So right
Harold Kestenbaum 3:26
The internet didn’t exist. None of it existed. The old fashioned read a book. Yep. And obviously you got me. Go ahead. Sorry.
Michael Renfro 3:34
Harold Kestenbaum 3:35
what I did. Yeah,
Michael Renfro 3:36
I was gonna say you obviously you have me beat a little bit. I understand that. But I was still born in 72. And so you know, my entire we saw the beginning of computers, but they were like, in fact, it was all elective all computer courses throughout my entire regular, you know, what is it? What do we call it the first 12 years? Middle School? No, no, the first 12 years up through high school all the way up through high school that you know, any computer course was an elective put it that way any typing was an elective they were never mandatory. And now you know, all those things are literally it’s part of the part of the way life I’m so taking you back even further. Let me ask you that. So before law school, what what gave you the idea of becoming a lawyer, but becoming an
Harold Kestenbaum 4:24
initially I wanted to be a teacher. And somebody told me that those who can do and those who can’t teach? Right, you know, so I said, You know what, let me give it a shot. Oh, I went to law school.
Michael Renfro 4:35
And that was how which law school did you go to, if you don’t mind, the
Harold Kestenbaum 4:38
University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. Nice. Nice. And that was
Michael Renfro 4:43
that was back in the 70s. Then when you graduated 77. Right.
Harold Kestenbaum 4:48
I graduated 75x 75. Gotcha. So
Michael Renfro 4:53
let’s go back there. And I already got a little bit. I don’t want to go back that far. I want to go back to the early days of you going out on your own. So when you first opened up your firm, what were those early days like?
Harold Kestenbaum 5:05
They were difficult. But in 1981, New York State franchise registration law, which really became I mean, that really jump started my practice, because now every company that wanted a franchise in New York had to get registered in New York State. Oh, so it created a brand new business.
Michael Renfro 5:26
Yeah. Why? Why? That is? Perfect timing.
Harold Kestenbaum 5:30
It was very good timing. That’s correct. And one day, you know, in those days, again, there’s no such thing as social media, right? The only way it was
Michael Renfro 5:39
all through the grapevine it was also a grapevine and through your personal networks,
Harold Kestenbaum 5:44
that that and also the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, and the Sunday Times, those are the only places you can find franchises look for trade shows, right, which still exists, but not like it used to be. Right. So one day, I pick up the Wall Street Journal, and I see an ad run by a company close tomorrow, which I knew about this you go to a mall in this borough is right. And the the the the state statute had a provision that if you run an ad, you had to put a legend on the bottom. They didn’t do that. So I wrote a letter to the president of the company. I said, By the way, you ran an ad, it was illegal.
Michael Renfro 6:21
Right, you could get pumped for this in the future.
Harold Kestenbaum 6:24
And I got a call a week later, the president of the company, Mario’s tomorrow would like to meet with you. So I drove out from
Michael Renfro 6:33
That’s a hell of a jumpstart, sir.
Harold Kestenbaum 6:36
So my offices in Manhattan, I drove back to Melville, where I happen to be now. And I met with Marielle and his two brothers, and we had a great conversation. And he said, We don’t like paying by the hour, because that’s what from him and happened to and so they said to me, what could you do for us? So they went out of the room. So I’m thinking, What can I do for them? So they came back in? And they said, What do you think I said, Well, what if I tell you, I will bill you X dollars a month? No matter how much work I do, you’ll never get a bill beyond that. And they said you’re hired so 1982 This is 19 You
Michael Renfro 7:16
came up with a flat fee monthly? That’s correct.
Harold Kestenbaum 7:18
And I said, How about 750 a month now? My Canadian system? 15.
Michael Renfro 7:23
That was yeah, that’s, that’s closer to like, 5000 today.
Harold Kestenbaum 7:27
So So for 750 bucks. I did only a franchise model. And they liked me so much that when we went public, four years later, the SEC saw the board. And I was sitting on the board for 22 years.
Michael Renfro 7:42
I was gonna say is that how you? I mean, I just seems like is that how you ended up getting out to Melville as far as being? Just one day? Okay. I was just curious. Maybe, you know, got so close that you Oh,
Harold Kestenbaum 7:54
no, it was happenstance. I get it. So the representation of viral being on the board open the door? Oh, yeah. To a lot of restaurant clients coming to me. And it just, you know, snowballed after that. And it just kept growing. And then I met a guy back in 92,001. name is Dan Rowe, he had a company called Fransmart. We work we started working together and he brought me a potential client will Five Guys, which in those days had like, what company location, and it became like, the next superstar. So things just continue to grow and grow. And I wrote a book on how to franchise your business.
Michael Renfro 8:40
Yeah, I know you did. I was gonna ask you, what is the title that since we’re here, it’s cool. So
Harold Kestenbaum 8:45
“So You Want to Franchise Your Business” and it’s on Amazon? In a second printing, I wish they asked me to do a third, but they haven’t. That’s okay.
Michael Renfro 8:55
All right. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed. It’ll happen and my just, you know, you never know when it’s
Harold Kestenbaum 9:01
done. It’s done well, for me, you know, when people say, you know, what do you know about prints? Must Read my book.
Michael Renfro 9:09
You can’t get it. Honestly, Harold as a salesman, you know, and I know that most attorneys get this. I feel like attorneys are nothing more than some of the highest paid salespeople on the planet. And, you know, when you have whenever you have a tool that you can literally say, you know, somebody asked me like, why don’t you read my book on my master fullness of that specific topic? And then you know, you tell me, that’s pretty good. I like
Harold Kestenbaum 9:33
that. It’s a great marketing tool. You’re 100% right. It’s lovely. Yeah.
Michael Renfro 9:38
Do you think that that’s what gave you that you know, you talked about those things so there’s the borrow and then there’s say the name of them against something done find out
Harold Kestenbaum 9:49
what was it five guys?
Michael Renfro 9:51
Oh, five guys. Five Guys. Okay, five guys. Okay, so five guys, obviously another I get that’s a big home run. And then the book which one of those do you think gave you The most traction and produce the most results for you.
Harold Kestenbaum 10:03
I you know, being on the bliss of borrow meant a lot, you know, public company did very well and sold out the private equity. That and the book the book, you know meant a lot. I was
Michael Renfro 10:15
gonna say that I bet the book is on your top, it’s not your top definitely tied with it just gonna
Harold Kestenbaum 10:20
try to update you know, when somebody asks what’s your experience, but you know, I’ve been doing a push by Vsauce road book.
Michael Renfro 10:26
When did you write the book? By the way? What year did that come out? 2008 2008. Okay, thank you. Sorry.
Harold Kestenbaum 10:32
You know that that sets you apart from just any?
Michael Renfro 10:38
That’s not just an asterix? That’s more of a you know, what do we say? When you have something really good for your resume? There’s something there. It’s a trophy. It really is more of a trophy. You know, versus a just an asterix, though.
Harold Kestenbaum 10:50
No, no, that is very, it serves this purpose quite well. I’m pleased. You know, I used to Detroit this, I bring the book with me to trade shows. It really, you know, oh, you wrote a book? Yeah, I wrote a book. It worked out really well. Was it brain marketing? Have you have you considered
Michael Renfro 11:07
writing another one? And I only asked, because I’m sure that in 15 years, a lot of what has been? Or is that what you’re hoping will be a third print that you’ll be able
Harold Kestenbaum 11:16
to? You know what I’ve thought about? Second book, I just haven’t had the time, you know, people think are you required to know, it’s going to be 73 next week, but I’m not required. And I work as hard as I did 10 years ago. Right. So I mean, I really would like to write another book is a sequel to that book. You know, like, what do you do now that you’re a franchise? You know, once you’ve done it?
Michael Renfro 11:43
Oh, yeah, that would be a great follow up. Because I’m assuming you still take care of them all the way through? Yeah, exactly.
Harold Kestenbaum 11:50
And I’ve seen good, the bad and the ugly. And I’ve certainly read another book based on just on that.
Michael Renfro 11:56
So that’s why I mean, I kind of I don’t get me wrong, but there’s plenty of stuff you could do other than just a revision of that book.
Harold Kestenbaum 12:04
Oh, sure. Whoo. Whoo. Who do
Michael Renfro 12:07
you think that? Are you? There may not be one, but what would you say would be the I hear a restaurant? So I’m guessing that is, but would you say that your number one still, as far as an industry focus or a vertical would be restaurants?
Harold Kestenbaum 12:21
I’d say 60% of my practice over the years is there’s a book
Michael Renfro 12:26
that, you know, don’t mess with all the other stuff. Do you want to franchise your restaurant? Like, that’s
Harold Kestenbaum 12:32
what I’ve put? I mean, I’ve done many different ones. I’ve done chiropractors, and Oh, yeah. You know, it runs the gamut on cleaning all over the place. But restaurants, predominantly, we
Michael Renfro 12:48
know that home cleaning, sorry, that just, that’s cool. Because isn’t that almost 100% home base that not only the company but every employer every franchisee is or franchisor is is home, but home
Harold Kestenbaum 12:59
base is very popular. You know, what in this economy and even in 2008 homebase was really great, because it costs less to get in, you don’t have to find a location. It works out very well. Home Based franchises do very well.
Michael Renfro 13:15
Yeah, it’s funny, because the company I work for, we’ve been around will be 10 years and January. And from day one, they were remote. So it was kind of funny, when the whole world was kind of how do you say, stumbling as well as scrambling to be from home? We were like, it’s really not that hard, folks, you just you just need to know what you do. It’s actually it’s simpler than having to worry about get in the car by traffic to have to have breakfast at some point between there and work. I mean, there’s just like, my day is so much more relaxed.
Harold Kestenbaum 13:46
And mentally, it’s changed me. Because at one point, I was thinking maybe I would slow down. But when I started working from home, that allowed you to do that. It was like an injection of energy. I mean, I get up in the morning, I come down to my office where I am now and go anywhere.
Michael Renfro 14:09
I never lost weight ever. I was 275 At my heaviest and I worked jobs where I had to go into work at a desk and I got up from that desk and was very active. I was always the Pacer as a salesperson. It wasn’t until I fully went working from home that I actually ended up losing like 75 pounds. I got a standing desk. I mean that had something to do with it. But it was a lot easier to change all the habits of drinking water all day versus Coke, cutting out a lot of the coffee like all those little things that you take for granted that are just there and so it’s not it’s not as easy to quit them when you’re you know, when everybody else is still having a cigarette or everybody else is still having you know, you
Harold Kestenbaum 14:51
go out to lunch, you know restaurants need a lot of Oh, absolutely. I
Michael Renfro 14:57
yeah, there’s more money saved by the way. Oh, that’s right. lunch money that I say dry cleaning. Oh, yeah, exactly. It’s it, the lives really go, quite frankly, haircuts. I got one the other day you saw me before, but I let my hair go a lot more now when I’m at home like why, you know, it doesn’t really bother me so,
Harold Kestenbaum 15:18
So up until 2020 19. I was basically a solo with with a pretty big staff. And then I was at a trade show. In 2019. I met two guys who also did franchising. They’re not in their lives longer than I was, am. And I knew who they were. And we got to talk and they asked me how long you do this for. So I don’t know. But you know, at some point in time, I’m going to slow down, please, and we should talk. So I had a consultant working with me on transitioning into senior lawyer. So we wound up making a deal in May of 2019, where I’m working my practice with their practice. And they’re out there in Philly, I’m in New York worked out great, great, great guys and firm is worked out great at Ileana, and I’m a partner and I love what I do now. Well I do marketing don’t do the paperwork anymore.
Michael Renfro 16:15
Oh, you’re the you know for lack of a better you’re the I don’t want to say spokesman although that is it. But the Rainmaker. Well, not even you can say rant, but you’re the poster child, like literally because they can, you know, like, look at who we have that is going to look at any franchisor. No, up No, whatever. There’s so many words that I could use for but I know you get what I’m saying
Harold Kestenbaum 16:40
they were only doing this for like, eight years. I was doing it
Michael Renfro 16:45
for 30 Plus, right? You’d already been in it for a year or feel free to chase.
Harold Kestenbaum 16:49
I mean, I had an instant credibility to affirm that was just starting to grow, and probably would have taken years to get where they are now. That was a result of me being there for three years. Well,
Michael Renfro 17:03
I you know, I always had to say, my biggest thing in life, quite frankly, Harold is fr E H, F AR, everything happens for a reason. And to me when I every time I talk to one of you folks, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a man woman, old young, not always attorneys to I talked to people who are in the law industry, right but aren’t actually an attorney. And it’s funny because you hear it every time he talked to me, like everything has lined up for you. And it wasn’t like you sat there and plan that stuff out to work out the way that it did. It’s lined up because you know, it sounds like you have been true to your to yourself and true to the to the practice, which I think is important. And with that, let me ask you what, being true to the practice and starting your own practice before you partnered, what would you say was the biggest challenge that you learned to overcome in
Harold Kestenbaum 17:55
that? You know, one of the things that as a solo, managing the office, and managing a staff of one to five paralegals and doing the work, it kind of spreads us very thinly. Right. And that was always a challenge for me over the years. You know, since the merger, I don’t have that responsibility anymore. Right? It’s quite a relief, actually.
Michael Renfro 18:26
Yeah, being the poster boy is a lot less stressful, I would imagine because you really didn’t need to talk when somebody wants to, you know, if they want to pick your brain or just talk to the legend, if you will. And I mean that true. I mean, like, you almost have as many years as I’ve been walking this earth. So, you know, I’m 50 and you’ve been doing this 45 And you’ve been an attorney for almost 50. So, you know, born in 72. So, you know,
Harold Kestenbaum 18:55
I think that I think that’s awesome. Yeah, I 72 I was in law school. Yeah. Yeah.
Michael Renfro 19:01
What would you say? I’m guessing this is the book. But I just want to get confirmation. Is that your proudest moment? Your number one career highlight? I
Harold Kestenbaum 19:09
think so. You know, not everybody writes footnote. Look, I’m not I’m not a novelist. Like, I’m not like, you know, like, they write a book a year. So writing a book, and it was a huge practicing war at the same time. It was a challenge. And I had a great yeah. And yeah, that’s probably the best, my greatest. I would agree.
Michael Renfro 19:31
I only thought that maybe this merger might have been a close one because it sounds like it has given you everything that you’ve wanted freedom wise, and then the same notoriety that you already had, in fact, to me by being there, just quite frankly, and I’m sure that these guys get it too. But you’re more of a Keynote or a trophy by being a part of this company than being just a solo guy. Yeah.
Harold Kestenbaum 19:56
Become a mentor to them, which right really appreciate You know, they need a questionnaire. Yo, man, I don’t mind. That’s fine.
Michael Renfro 20:05
I’m already an old man today. I mean, I came to terms with that when my I got four boys and my youngest one is eight. I just kept going don’t ask me why I wanted to stop, but I’m remarried. So she wanted.
Harold Kestenbaum 20:19
Okay. Five grandsons. I know what it’s like.
Michael Renfro 20:23
Those are coming, man be quiet. Stop those. What are some of your daily rituals that you find most important? You know, like, and I’m talking about just a typical day, a typical Herald day, what would you say is something that you have to do?
Harold Kestenbaum 20:37
What’s interesting is, even when I was going into the office, every day, I’d be up like five or 530. I get up at 530 now, but now I go downstairs and workout. I’m on my computer. I mean, I’m working and I’m working out I might have a gym, you office that I’m sitting in Oregon as a gym, and part of it is my office. Right? Exactly. I’ve got that on the other side of the computer. And so it’s great I can I can I want the pandemic, we stopped going to the gym, right when we’re doing it at home. So I was like, so useless. Terrific. So I go upstairs, I breakfast, take a shower, I’m back on my computer. I don’t have to get in my car. I don’t have to light traffic up to do any of that. It’s wonderful. You know, people don’t Oh, sorry. Go ahead. No, it’s actually terrific. people joke about it. But quite frankly, one of the biggest
Michael Renfro 21:29
benefits is that I don’t have to worry about how I’m dressed. If I’m so if I’m, you know, so comfortable that I just want to sit around and some boxers and a T shirt or just boxers or whatever. You know, as long as I’m not on a visual call, it doesn’t matter. Because you know, and I used to be the one by the way that when we went to the office, I couldn’t stand sales positions, sales positions, mind you, Attorney is a different thing, Harold and I get that. But as a salesman one day would want to make me wear a tie or a suit. I’m like, I don’t need, in fact, I told him, I’m like, You’re honestly not looking at this from a psychological standpoint. If you want your salesman to be at his best or her best, let them drop dress as comfortably be as comfortable as they can. Because they’re going to feel good about themselves as, as best they can. And that’s going to come out on the phone or on the floor. However, you know, your sales is but you know, having them all, you know, duct up in a penguin suit, just to make phone calls all day. I never understood the logic. And I agree,
Harold Kestenbaum 22:26
you know, and the pandemic also changed everybody’s minds. Yes,
Michael Renfro 22:32
it literally smacked everybody with the realities of what actually works now. And it’s
Harold Kestenbaum 22:37
cheaper. Oh, absolutely. You can’t even
Michael Renfro 22:40
you can’t even touch the overhead. It doesn’t matter. If you’re paying per seat, you’re still going to pay less per employee if they’re doing it from their seat at home. And my gosh, we get to really bang the government here, Harold, because everybody gets that space to ride off on taxes now at home
Harold Kestenbaum 22:58
legitimately. That’s right. That’s right. I mean, I only wear a suit when I go to a wedding or bar mitzvah.
Michael Renfro 23:08
Here’s a fun one. So what I’m looking for is like a quirk or strange habit. Something that most even a hobby. Something that most people that know Harold don’t know
Harold Kestenbaum 23:17
about. You know, it’s funny. One of the questions you have what would I have done if I didn’t go into law? I really wanted to be I really wanted to be a sports agent. So I’m really into sports. And I watched I mean,
Michael Renfro 23:33
if you want to represent them, right, filmmaker?
Harold Kestenbaum 23:37
That’s right. And right now I even have Princeton’s cup on TV. Oh, I’m watching you. So it’s really it’s great. I love it.
Michael Renfro 23:48
So there was a major golf going on. Trust me it would be on right now too because it is Thursday, which means it’s day one day one of the President’s coffee. Well, yeah, but i My father said the same thing to me. He gave me crap and I was like dad, you know, I’ve gotten to the point where I really just have time for the majors anymore. If I try
Harold Kestenbaum 24:06
to do anything with the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup I enjoy I like Mac
Michael Renfro 24:10
Yeah, I might get the President I might start giving the President’s cup of tried my favorite other my obviously the riders I do love that it’s every two years. But I’m also a big fan of the champion play the Players Championship. That one I really feel like they should just go ahead and call it truly the fifth major because to the to the guys playing. It’s probably more important to some of them than some of the majors they play it quite frankly. And I think you’re I think the President cup if I’m not mistaken. Correct me if I’m wrong. But hasn’t that become quite dear like the Ryder Cup to the guys playing like in the sense that they really want to win that they do one of the ones they circle every year?
Harold Kestenbaum 24:48
Yeah, they do. And you know, it’s the opposite year of the Ryder Cup. So
Michael Renfro 24:53
every two years I didn’t know that it was every two years. Yeah, yeah, I did not even know okay, that I’m gonna put it on them. You. You are my dad, you sold me. You got me. But
Harold Kestenbaum 25:04
other than that, that really, you know, I love playing with my grandsons, you know? Five, ranging from 15 down to six months. Oh my goodness. The range. Oh yeah, that’s a
Michael Renfro 25:23
I have a friend that’s his baby girl is about to be a year and a half. And it’s funny. It’s his first girl. And I even said to him, I was like, Man, I know everybody says this man. But really, really listen to me. cherish them do not let these moments while they’re young, slip away, because one day, they’re not going to live there anymore. And you’re not going to see him. And you’re going to be worried about them. And you’re going to think about these. Maybe everybody does the same thing. And you can’t regret it. But everybody does the same thing. I wish I’d spent more time with my kids. Yeah, so absolutely. I get it. How many kids do you have total?
Harold Kestenbaum 25:57
Just boy, boy and girl. My daughter has three sons. My son has two. Yeah, I
Michael Renfro 26:04
have to share this with you only because you have the five. I was oldest of five. And the four below me. We’re all sisters. So the good Lord literally said, You know what, you’re going to have nothing boy. So I got twin boys right out of the gate. Then from the second marriage, I got two more boys. And now I actually have a fifth one that calls me father for the last four or five years. That’s one of their best friends. They moved from Florida to Colorado with us as a family and lived with us. So right now as it is I’ve got five boys of my own. They call me that God did not give me a little girl though, quite frankly, if you knew my past, and you would know why God was like, Hey, you don’t need to have you just need to be a dad I would have I’d be in jail right now if I had had a little girl. Here’s an easy one. Where where are you from? Where do you originally grow up? And what was it like? And I really actually want to hear this one because you’ve got some time in the game.
Harold Kestenbaum 26:59
I was born I was born in the Bronx. I was really raised in Queens. We spent most of my life in Queens. And then we got married. We lived in Virginia, and then we moved to Queens and then we moved to Long Island and lived in Jericho for almost 30 years.
Michael Renfro 27:18
But you were born in and 52 so 4949 Sorry, I was thinking of my added you to my mom’s age. My father is a year younger than you 48 Or a year older than you. What was it? Like? How long did you stay in Queens before you left as a child?
Harold Kestenbaum 27:33
I we lived in Queens from 1968 until I got married. Yeah, I got married, which is 1973.
Michael Renfro 27:44
Wow, what was that? Honestly, you saw a lot of excuse my French but you saw a lot of really crazy shit go down living there at that time in New York.
Harold Kestenbaum 27:53
Well, then the Vietnam war was going on. I mean, I went to Queens College, and we marched on the expressway long expressway, and we shut it down. I mean, I haven’t, you know fairly long hair at the time and much different. You know, I wouldn’t exactly say it was a hippie, but I was pretty liberal guy. And it was it was different those days. I had a high number so I didn’t get trapped. My
Michael Renfro 28:23
My father was already in the Navy. So I think at the time he ended up going to Naval or not Naval Academy, but some he went into something which kept him out of active service. But and same with my uncle. But how to get into the Navy, the Coast Guard. No, they were both Navy. I was gonna tell you what the real kicker is that my grandfather, Captain John Norton Renfro was one of the few survivors of the USS California at Pearl Harbor. Oh, really? Wow. And yeah, he ended up becoming a captain himself. And by the time his two boys were in, I know what happened. He did not want his boys to go and even though they were serving and all that, he’s a captain. He has the strings and the ability I’m just telling you. Instead, my father ended up doing the picture right here of the old man. Check that out. He was one of the original guys in the deep sea. With the big helmets. He was. He was a guinea pig. Basically, Harold, he was my father was a guinea pig because that was all new technology for them. When they were doing it, and you know, like he told me just recently his. So you’re not supposed to go past 120 with scuba, I believe it’s 120. And he did a dive in his first year down to 150 is his what do they call them? Oh, we’re not Captain But Sergeant. There’s a word for it. That I’m missing because it’s a navy thing but the guy above him was like, This is what we’re gonna do Mr. Renfro and we’re not supposed to go past 120 But we got to do it. And sure enough, he did. And one of the greatest story I can share from my father, just sorry, I know I went off but he got to be involved in a salvage, not rescue because everybody died. It was a it was Nixon’s chopper. And Nixon had just been dropped off when this thing went down killing all four passengers on board, really, but he Yeah, but he had to go. And it was kept secret. One of the things he had to do at the time was swear to secrecy. They had to scratch all the Presidential logos and off chopper so it could be transported after they got it out of the it was crazy. He just told that story recently. I was like, wow, Pappy, I didn’t even know I did. It’s pretty cool. So, college Wise, who do you think you respect the most in the industry? Who would you call a mentor? What would you say? There’s the
Harold Kestenbaum 30:54
networking. Very close friend, Ken. His name is Ned Levitt. What? Not 30 years? Who? A mentor for me over the over the years and a very close friend. We’ve been good. We’ve been, you know, colleagues for 30 years. And he’s, he’s a good friend. And I consider him to be more than a mentor then. Yep.
Michael Renfro 31:16
Sure. Was there. Is there one piece of advice that has has stuck with you from him over the years?
Harold Kestenbaum 31:25
You know what, there’s a lot.
Michael Renfro 31:29
These are never easy questions on this one. It’s
Harold Kestenbaum 31:31
not an easy question.
Michael Renfro 31:33
I’ve been doing it. If you want to name a couple of bills for three, if you feel free, man, I’d love
Harold Kestenbaum 31:38
to have patience. Because a lot of these companies are franchised. They want to do things to try to rein them in. And then you got to have some patience, because a lot of times they want to just roll up and do whatever they want to do. And you got it. They don’t really know. Yeah, they don’t really know. They don’t have a clue. So yeah, that’s very important. In my practice, over the years, you’ve got to do that. Because I think that’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. And they think they could sell 100 franchises in a week, and they can’t, they gotta understand what the reality is.
Michael Renfro 32:11
Right? What is that going? Are you? Let’s talk about the delivery of that.
Harold Kestenbaum 32:16
Go slow, you know, you’re gonna go slow you Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know, crawl before you can run? Yes.
Michael Renfro 32:24
I 100% agree with that. It’s funny, because I had I did two interviews today. And Gina Campanelli, is the other woman I was talking to. And she’s young. She’s in I think, in her 30s is what I want to say, maybe mid 30s. But she’s a yeah, she’s a business. She does businesses, but she also she specializes in startups in the health industry in the health field. And it’s funny, because I was going to say we were talking about how, when you start a business, it’s literally creating a new entity. It’s it’s people don’t take that for granted. But it is a new person, really, it’s why it gets a same number of digits. That, you know, our social security number is when we start a business because you’re literally starting something that’s treated in the eyes of the law as an end zone entity. And when you do franchise now, that entity is having children.
Harold Kestenbaum 33:22
That’s basically true. You’re correct. Yeah.
Michael Renfro 33:26
It, it truly isn’t what I find, you know, how I say it. Just like being a parent, not every parent is going to be a great one. And not every parent is going to be a horrible one. Period, some of them are going to really get what they’re what they have to do. And some of them are just going to do it without a care in the world with all caution to the wind, and be like, Hey, I’m going to be a parent. So I imagine you probably deal with both scenarios on both ends of the spectrum.
Harold Kestenbaum 33:57
All the time. Yeah.
Michael Renfro 34:00
What’s your what’s your favorite podcast? Or do you have one?
Harold Kestenbaum 34:04
I know, I don’t
Michael Renfro 34:05
really don’t mind. What about favorite? I know you probably have maybe two or three of these, actually. But what’s your favorite conference? And my question to you is, is it legal? Or is it franchise related? Because I imagine you will.
Harold Kestenbaum 34:23
Franchise one is the ABA Forum, which is every year in the fall. And the other is the International Franchise Association Convention, which is in February, those years only to ever go.
Michael Renfro 34:36
But I bet you at this point probably don’t miss them. Do
Harold Kestenbaum 34:39
I have well because we would call a pandemic. I haven’t gone to either one of them. But I will say I’m going to do one in Las Vegas in February. Nice. So here’
Michael Renfro 34:51
the last question and what you do throughout the day. What do you think would be your number one tool and if it’s a piece of so software that’s fine. What would you say? Is the the one tool that you really need to do your day? Well?
Harold Kestenbaum 35:05
Easy answer is my computer. But but in the last few years, Zoom has been really important. And
Michael Renfro 35:16
flew, what’s the word? I want to say detrimental, really. I mean, I can’t imagine what folks would have done without zoom.
Harold Kestenbaum 35:26
I mean, I’m meeting people who I would never have met in person before. When I was practicing, absolutely national we do I do a lot of international work. Someone zoom was great. I was with somebody in Great Britain today. I was with somebody from from Norway a few months ago, it seemed amazing. Zoom has really been able to do that.
Michael Renfro 35:49
It’s kind of funny, because I just having this conversation with a colleague. And he’s he’s much younger fella. He’s like 2728. But he even said it to me first. It’s amazing how Microsoft really dropped the ball there when they own Skype. Because Zoom is nothing more than Skype. Except they didn’t take the opportunity to go, Hey, almost all of you already have this installed. You got it like 10 years ago,
Harold Kestenbaum 36:14
you made it very difficult. I never use cycles to harm you know
Michael Renfro 36:18
how much they paid for that. That Bumble F $26 billion. Harold, they paid for Skype? And they have not I promise you gotten their return on?
Harold Kestenbaum 36:29
No, they have. There’s no way. No way. What’s funny
Michael Renfro 36:33
is to have their two of their worst purchases, because they also know LinkedIn was 26. I’m sorry, LinkedIn was 26 billion, which I don’t believe that is a good purchase. But they I think that they, again, are dropping the ball. I think it was eight and a half billion that they paid for Skype back in, like 2007 or something like that. But still still they have not they have never, they tried to package it and put it with their office, which didn’t make sense, because you have teams, which does the same thing. So I get the Office Suite. And now I gotta pick. Do I want Microsoft Teams? or Skype? I think most people are gonna go with teams, because they just got a Microsoft product. So why wouldn’t you go with the inherent one, you know? So it’s kind of funny. Well, listen, Harold, I’ve really appreciated talking to you. I had a great conversation. I wish you all well, I’m very impressed with what you did and what you have done and what you clearly still have left India from talking to you. I can’t imagine you’re going to quit before you’re 80, bro. Well,
Harold Kestenbaum 37:35
as long as I’m healthy, I’m gonna keep doing it. And I appreciate it. I really enjoyed the conversation.
Michael Renfro 37:40
Me too. I will say this, I feel like you as long as these work. And this works. And I can still see or at least here, you know, quite frankly, I I can’t imagine retirement. I really don’t. And maybe that’s just a different day or different sight mindset. But I see retired folks who are truly retired. They’re always unhappy. Work is part of what keeps us out of our head. You know,
Harold Kestenbaum 38:06
I would go nice. Oh my god. Yeah,
Michael Renfro 38:10
I would if you took the words, I would literally go nuts. So thanks a lot for being here. Have a wonderful week. Have a better weekend. And maybe we’ll come back and revisit you again in a year or two.
Harold Kestenbaum 38:20
You have to do that. Thank you, Mike.
Michael Renfro 38:23
Thanks a lot. He’ll have a great day.
Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.