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Last Update: Thursday October 1, 2020

Key Idea: Hire People Who Have Done What You Want to Do

Brent Beck went from working in the Sundance Lodge gift shop and scouting the country to find American crafted items that fit into the image of the lodge, to catalog buyer. 

Key Question:


This is a spin on the old adage, "Don't try to reinvent the wheel."

Why is this so hard to do?

A: Most of us start out with very little money and use our own blood, sweat and tears to build the business. By the time we can afford to hire top talent, we have turned ourselves into top talent.

Though, in a way, this was the case with Robert Redford, he obviously recognized that he couldn't do everything. Yet, when he bought the Provo site, he didn't have much cash so he slowly developed the film festival and the lodge. He used his name and personal energy to establish those enterprises so when it seemed as if the time was right to extend the Sundance brand, he had the cash but not the time to find somebody like Harry.

Mr. Redford found Harry by telling his own attorney that he was interested in finding someone with catalog experience to develop one to sell the same products through the mail that were being sold in the gift shop at the lodge.

Lucky for Mr. Redford that his attorney knew about the success Harry Rosenthal had created with his catalog, Right Start. It just makes you want to sing, "It's a small world after all." This is a great example of how important it is that we tell our goals to others who might know how to help us achieve them. This is networking at its finest. Great networkers take time to make friends in all areas then they are not shy about asking for help. Also, they are happy to offer help when asked.

In addition to not having enough money to attract top talent, some business owners might not think people like Harry Rosenthal would come to work for us. Why would a brilliant Yale graduate leave his own dream to work on yours? We say, if you have a great idea, some cash and you are able to tell your story in a compelling way, you can probably recruit anyone you choose to go after.

Think about it

Are you happy with your leadership team? Where is the weak link? Who could you hire who could teach and inspire you?

Clip from: Sundance Catalog

Meet Harry Rosenthal (above) and Brent Beck

Provo Canyon and Salt Lake City, Utah: In this episode of the show, we go into a pristine part of the Rocky Mountains, a place Robert Redford loved and wanted to preserve. To sustain that dream and help pay for it all, he turned to Brent Beck and Harry Rosenthal to implement an idea he had for a catalog business. Brent knew the products. Harry knew direct mail. But, unlike most of us, these three had a fast start for this business -- they were leveraging the Robert Redford brand.

Business is not easy for any of us. When Redford applied for his initial loan from a bank, he was rejected just like the rest of us.  He turned to investors, bought the land  to preserve it from housing developers, and began thinking of how to turn it into a business. That was in the late '60's.

Even celebrities were once "less than famous" and had to crawl, scrap,  risk... take a flying leap, just like the rest of us.

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...

Sundance Catalog

Jessica Basin, Sr. Marketing Manager, Robert Redford, founder

3865 West 2400 South
Salt Lake City (and Provo), UT 84120

Visit our web site:

Office: 801-975-5238

Business Classification:
Catalog, direct mail

Year Founded: 1989

Hire People Who Have Done What You Want to Do

HATTIE: How did you get to Sundance?

HARRY: Sundance found me. Actually, I'd never hear of Sundance. And I was, as I said, thinking of getting back into practicing law. And because Robert Redford's lawyer in Los Angeles had, at one point, been in the same law firm as I had, even though we'd been in at different times, we had a lot of friends in common and we knew about each other.

He knew that Sundance was thinking of starting a mail order catalog. And, lo and behold, he found out that someone that he knew a great deal about had just done a successful catalog start-up, and so they contacted me, forwarded my name to some of Redford's people out here in Utah, and then they contacted me to ask about what it would take to start a mail-order catalog for Sundance. And they already had an idea in their mind of what the mail-order catalog might be like, what the business was like. And this idea was not firmly grounded in the reality of the catalog as a business.

I figured I was never going to hear from them again because, essentially, I had said to them, `This isn't going to work,' and sent them back to Utah. They came back again and wanted to have another meeting, and we discussed it again, and finally asked me if I would work as a consultant and write a business plan. And I wasn't doing anything at the time, and I said, `Well, yes, I can do this for you, but I don't want to take your money unless you understand what you're getting into and are prepared to go forward with it.'

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