Sammy Hagar, “”You don’t have to know what you are doing to be successful”

In the latest Reuters’ “Life Lessons” series, Sammy Hagar talks about his rise from poverty to building a tequila/cantina empire, all while nurturing a Hall of Fame music career. Some excerpts from the interview follow.

Q: What was the money situation like in your early days?

Hagar: We were dirt-ass poor. My mom was basically raising four kids on her own, so things were tough. But it made me grateful for every bit of success I got. And I always wanted more. It drove me to say, ‘I’ll never be poor again.’ That almost became a problem, because I wondered when I was ever going to stop working so hard.

Q: Your ventures outside music started in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Why did you set roots down there?

Hagar: I had bought a little house, and eventually I decided to open up a bar. I became hip to really good tequila, with 100 percent agave, because at that time in America, there really wasn’t any. I just thought, ‘I’ll build a cantina, and have all these wonderful tequilas you’ve never heard of.’ And then I started making my own.

Q: What did that teach you about the business side of things?

Hagar: “You don’t have to know what you are doing to be successful.

“Sometimes passion, wanting something different and breaking the rules is the shortest route to success. If you get one idea that makes you excited, and you put your heart and soul into it – there is no stopping that.

“I ended up being around $250,000 in and sold for around $100 million because the tequila was making $7 million to $8 million a year. Then the cantina starting making $3 million to $4 million a year, and now it’s well beyond that.”

Q: Your split from Van Halen in 1996 was a little acrimonious, so what did you learn from that experience?

Hagar: “Ha! Well, I guess things didn’t work out so well at the end, but I can’t say anything bad about Van Halen. I had a long run as part of one of the top bands in the world, having the best times you could ever imagine. And in retrospect, it really helped me with my own business goals. Looking back in life, it really makes you believe in God, because you can see that every step happened for a reason. It’s like somebody planned it.”

Read the entire interview a this location.