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Frank Hurtte: Self-made Billionaire

I am a self-made Billionaire. 
Really – this isn’t some hair-brained scheme to get you to invest in Dinars (the official currency of Iraq) or to send away for Matthew Lesko’s latest book.   But…It’s true and it’s the story of my life – and I want it to be your story too.

So what’s up with this self-made billionaire stuff?  As I prepared for a presentation on technology for a national association of knowledge-based distributors, I started to reminisce.  A quick trip down winding roads of memory followed.  What was my first flash with technology?  Then it came to me - the summer of 1963.  I was marching down the brick-paved sidewalk of Market Street in Taylorville, Illinois.  Clutched in my hot sweaty little eight-year old hands rested my most treasured possession – a brand spanking new Montgomery Wards One Transistor Radio. 

I was a made man.  Armed with this fine piece of Japanese Technology - the world was my oyster.  I could tune into KXOK radio in St. Louis where top-40 Rock and Roll ruled.  I was free!  No longer dependant on my family, I could listen to what I wanted – any time I wanted.  Or at least within reason, after all eight-year olds do have bed times.  The point is I was free as a bird and “rich as Rockefeller”.

Then I flashed four decades forward.  I had just looked over a presentation from Cornell.  The number of transistors produced annually per person (world-wide) had unceremoniously crossed over the billion (1,000 million) point. Why hadn’t this little bit of history been heralded from every roof-top?  Why didn’t 60 Minutes cover the event?  I decided to create my own grassroots celebration.  Somehow nobody seemed all that excited.  But, I am a self-made Billionaire.   And, it has affected my life.

Living like a billionaire
Let me get this techno-turd out of my pocket: two words – computer memory.  In 1972 when Taylorville High swung open the rusty gates and released me to the general population, computer memory was going for around $111,000 per Megabyte.  Let’s do the calculation:  My little office here in the high-rolling Hollywood Hills of Iowa, uses about 1,000 Gigabytes of memory.  That equals roughly 1 Million Megabytes.  Take 1 Million Megabytes times $111,000 per Megabyte and you end up with roughly $111 Billion worth of memory.  Yes sir – definitely a Billionaire here.

Calling everybody
Today I use something like 2,500 minutes of phone time a month.  I call everybody.  My client in Pennsylvania, my college roommate in Pasadena and my colleague in Canada all get calls on a regular basis.  But it wasn’t always that way.   Back when I was a kid my family lived in Galveston, Texas.  My grandparents lived in Illinois.  We had a monthly, five minute call to my grandparents – and it cost a bundle.  Back then a long distance call would run over $20 bucks for just a few minutes.  Here’s a thought for you:  in the 1920’s a three minute long distance call from New York to Los Angeles cost $20.70.  The average worker made less than 25 cents an hour.  By 1984 the cost had shrunk to just seventeen cents a minute.  For the sake of my argument let’s use the 1924 cost in our calculations.  I make about $207,000 in long distance calls a year which seems like a billionaire lifestyle to me. 

Free is the new cost of nearly everything
If you are a Billionaire everything seems free.  And free is the new cost of just about everything. 
Here are a few Free Things every business person should know about:
Free Conference Calling
Using I can link together groups of people for important phone conferences.  It works just the same as the billed services – only thing is it’s free.
Free Web-meetings
I enjoy free web-meetings with friend, clients and others.  I can share applications, review PowerPoint’s, brainstorm on notes from meetings – anything.  And the cost is free.  Go to for details.
Free directory information
If I am driving down the road and need to look up the number of a client, restaurant or meeting facility, I can get the phone number for free.  Google’s 1-800-Goog411 provides you with directory information by name or category.  And, they connect us to the business for free.
Free Tutorials on everything
I used to learn everything the hard way.  Last week the headlight for my Chrysler conked out.  I stopped by the local garage and they couldn’t get me in to fix it.  I needed to leave in the pre-dawn hours of the next morning.  I went to and searched for a tutorial on fixing my car.  There it was; a step by step video showing how to replace the bulb.  There are lessons on how to do everything from playing the English Concertina to programming an American PLC.  And, once more it was free.

Well, OK I don’t have mega bucks in the bank.  Am I living like a Billionaire?  You bet!  And you should be too.  Every distributor, manufacturer, agent and target driven salesperson needs to tap into the good things technology has to offer.

If you have an idea or suggestion for living the good life for free, send it to us here at River Heights Consulting.  We are compiling a list of things everyone needs to know about.  Free, No Charge, or nearly free – we want your thoughts.


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