Rich Benoit is a remarkably funny guy. He creates content for a YouTube channel called Rich Rebuilds. This features his adventures rebuilding and repairing cars.
His automotive saga took off in 2016. At the time Rich “needed” to own a Tesla, but Teslas were $100,000 new and $70,000 used. He was too cheap to buy one.
So he found a Model S sitting in a field in New Jersey on a website that sold wrecked cars. It was damaged by salt water–which is a terrible condition for any car much less an electric one.
So what did he do?
He bought it for $14,000 in order to rebuild it in his garage. Of course. His first step was to run a dehumidifier for three days.
At this point, let me tell you a small detail: he had no training in car repair. He was an IT support guy. Oh, also, only Tesla-certified shops can buy parts.
The rest is history as he documented the process and shared his story online. To put it mildly, he has a love-hate relationship with Tesla because of Tesla’s, shall I say, reluctance to embrace any right-to-repair sensibilities.
Benoit is doing quite well as a YouTube creator, and he also has repair shops called “The Electrified Garage” in New Hampshire and Florida.
I would say that he is the wittiest person I’ve had on my podcast. Actually, he and Margaret Atwood are tied, and that’s saying A LOT for both of them.
You might be offended by parts of our conversation, but I promise you it’s never boring. Did you get that joke? Underneath the humor lies a remarkable story of curiosity, perseverance, and ingenuity.
Get ready to laugh with Rich Renoit of Rich Rebuilds on Remarkable People:
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Kawasaki Benoit Cleaned Up
I'm Guy Kawasaki. I can't even do the intro without laughing because this episode is so funny. Let's try that again. I'm Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People. Today's episode's remarkable guest is Richard Benoit. He is a remarkably funny guy as you will soon hear.
He creates content for YouTube channel called Rich Rebuilds. This features his adventures rebuilding and repairing cars. His automotive saga really took off in 2016. At the time Rich, quote on quote, needed to own a Tesla. But Teslas were a hundred thousand dollars new and seventy thousand dollars used. He was too cheap to pay these prices.
So he found a Model S sitting in a field in New Jersey on a website that sold wrecked cars. It was damaged by salt water, which is a terrible condition for any car, much less an electric one. So what did he do? He bought it for fourteen thousand dollars and planned to rebuild it in his garage. Of course.
His first step was to run a dehumidifier for three days. At this point, let me tell you a small detail. He had no training in car repair. He was an IT support guy. Oh, also, only Tesla certified shops can buy parts.
The rest is history as he documented the process and shared his story online. To put it mildly, he has a love-hate relationship with Tesla because of Tesla's, shall I say, reluctance to embrace any right- to- repair sensibilities.
Benoit is doing quite well as a YouTube creator, and he also has repair shops called The Electrified Garage in New Hampshire and Florida.
I would say he is the wittiest person I've had on my podcast. Actually, he and Margaret Atwood are tied, and that's saying a lot for both of them.
You may be offended by parts of our conversation, but I promise you it's never boring. Tell me, did you get that joke? I hope you got that joke.
Underneath the humor lies a remarkable story of curiosity, perseverance, and ingenuity. I'm Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People. And now here's the witty, remarkable, funny, and maybe a little nutso, Richard Benoit.
Guy Kawasaki: This is a funny factoid, but you are the first black man on my podcast.
Rich Benoit: I know I was. That's why I was, I was so excited. I'm just joking, I didn’t know that.
Guy Kawasaki: No, no. I’ve had a… One of my best friends, but I've had many black women.
Rich Benoit: You know what’s funny? Now no one could say, “Oh wow, that guy's racist.” You know? Now it's like, “No, no, no, no, no, I’ve had Richard Benoit on there.”
Guy Kawasaki: One of my best friends, but I’ve had many black women.
Rich Benoit: Many?
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah. Many, many.
Rich Benoit: I don't know. I mean, well, that's the thing I use, so this, this is about influential people, right? It's inspirational people.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah.
Rich Benoit: And I guess, I don't know, maybe black women just really like being on your show.
Guy Kawasaki: I figure I'll start with you, and then I'll call up Barack and say “Barack listen, Richard was on so...”
Rich Benoit: That's, that's what it is. It's when you, there's safety in numbers. So when someone looks at your, your, your, your overall profile and they say, "Okay, let's see how many black guys? Zero." But now, now they have me. It's like the flood gates have opened.
Guy Kawasaki: Now there's going to be one more black man than there is any Republican.
Rich Benoit: Yeah. I think what you do is cool. What really blew my mind. So you, you did a TED talk.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah. Yeah.
Rich Benoit: How did you, I know you're supposed to be asking me questions, this a two-way conversation?
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah.
Rich Benoit: Is this the two-way conversation?
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah, whatever you want.
Rich Benoit: Okay. I wasn't sure if this would be like, you dig up some, some old internet records of mine to publicly shame me,
Guy Kawasaki: That time you went on a double date with Cuomo?
Rich Benoit: Yeah. So, so you were on a TED talk and I, TED talks always inspire me because I feel like that's the best of the best and the smartest of the smartest and the brightest of the brightest people, as well as people that can articulate themselves very well.
Guy Kawasaki: I hate to burst your bubble, but okay keep going.
Rich Benoit: No, no. I mean, that's what it, that's what it seems like. If you're on a stage that, you know, people are talking and you're like, “Wow, that must be a really smart guy.” So, how did you get into that? Why did you, how were you recommended? Does, does it some guy named Ted calls you, "Hey, what's up man?"
Guy Kawasaki: Well, so first of all, it's kind of like Teslas: there's the S and there's a 3 and there's the X. Okay. So the TEDx talk happens all over the…I mean there could be TEDx of, Framingham, there could be TEDx of, whatever, Milpitas, and then there's TED. And TED is the one that two thousand people go to and, Jeff Bezos is sitting next to Bill Gates, so I haven't done that one, but…
Rich Benoit: TEDx is like, it's like for kids.
Guy Kawasaki: It’s like the NBA G league or whatever, the B league. Yeah. Yeah. It's where Jeremy Lin plays after the Knicks.
Rich Benoit: Oh, it's like JV.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah, exactly. It's the farm club.
Rich Benoit: Whenever I see someone that that's done a TED talk, I'm like, “Wow, I need to listen to this person.” But honestly, now that I know full disclosure, that it's really only like TEDx, I'm probably going to cut this short,
Guy Kawasaki: I'm gonna talk fast, then.
Rich Benoit: We could wrap this up, that'd be it.
Guy Kawasaki: Thank you for being a guest, I really appreciate you taking out the time this Friday night. Even made you get a headphone.
Rich Benoit: Yeah. Let me get my headphones.
Guy Kawasaki: I'm going to get Sony to sponsor this. That's an MX3 or MX4, right?
Rich Benoit: MX3.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah.
Rich Benoit: Yeah, I'm on a budget. I couldn't do the 4s yet.
Guy Kawasaki: I don't think that I've uncovered that you had any education or training in mechanics or electrical engineering or anything like that, so how did this come to be?
Rich Benoit: You know what's funny is that I thought you were going to say, “Rich, you have no formal education at all.”
Guy Kawasaki: Is that true?
Rich Benoit: Which is partially true. So, with what I do with, with working on Teslas and stuff, I don't have any formal education, engineering background, none, none of that stuff.
I'm just a person that just said, you know what? I was really driven by how cheap I was, and, money was a factor. I said, “You know what, I got to figure this thing out.” So I just got kind of scrappy, and I just used the process of elimination, and I just started doing some stuff.
Guy Kawasaki: So, so what were you doing at the time in your day job?
Rich Benoit: At my day job, man, I was, I was an IT, IT manager. So, my career trajectory was call over the help desk person. Like I crawl under desks and I'm like, "Hey, I'm going to plug this in for you. Have you tried rebooting your computer?" And that slowly progressed to an IT manager role where I told other people to ask if they plugged their computer in.
Guy Kawasaki: And this was at Reebok or something? Or some large company?
Rich Benoit: No it was at a...where was it? It was at this artificial intelligence company that I worked at, I don't want to say their name; like they're a great company, but they're not paying for an ad at all.
Guy Kawasaki: Are you still there?
Rich Benoit: No, no, no. So I left my day job about a year ago, year and change ago to, to be a full-time a YouTube personality as they say, air quotes.
Guy Kawasaki: You're like Jeremy Clarkson meets Mike Rowe meets Herbie Hancock.
Rich Benoit: I could see that.
Guy Kawasaki: I thought about that a long time.
Rich Benoit: That's really good. I'm, I'm used to being called the, the Dr. Frankenstein of Teslas, which I do not like that.
Guy Kawasaki: That's negative. That's a negative.
Rich Benoit: Yeah, right? It's not a good thing and people keep saying that, "Oh, you're like the Dr. Frankenstein..." Please don't call me that.
Guy Kawasaki: No, not at all,
Rich Benoit: But it was a good, it was a good sound bite.
Guy Kawasaki: That's true.
Rich Benoit: When I was doing an interview, someone was saying…
Guy Kawasaki: For TEDx.
Rich Benoit: Yeah exactly, right? TEDx. I didn't even answer the phone. Oh gosh, no, no, no, no. I’m not answering that. No, we, uh, he's like, “Oh yeah, you consider yourself, dare I say, "The Dr. Frankenstein of Teslas." And I was just like, "Yeah, I guess you could say that." And ever since I said, "Yeah, you can say that." It's been all over the world. Type in of Dr. Frankenstein, it's all over the place.
Guy Kawasaki: Hey, it got you a million followers on YouTube, so…
Rich Benoit: It did. I am forever grateful.
Guy Kawasaki: Yup. Yup. So I, I need to ask you if you are the East coast largest user of baking soda and rice?
Rich Benoit: You know, you know, it's interesting, here's a fun factoid for you.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay.
Rich Benoit: So I don't, I don’t work on Teslas anymore. Surprise!
Guy Kawasaki: Only Sprinters? Only Sprinters for your homeless assistant?
Rich Benoit: Let me, let me tell you a story.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay.
Rich Benoit: Do you like stories? So I was kind of pushed out of the Tesla nest in a sense because I had different ideas about Tesla...
Guy Kawasaki: To put it mildly,
Rich Benoit: To put it, to put it mildly. I didn't stroke... listen I'm not an ego stroker. And, and what kind of car do you drive?
Guy Kawasaki: I have two Metrises and a Cayenne.
Rich Benoit: Oh wait, wait, wait. Toyota Matrix? Like a Matrix?
Guy Kawasaki: No, Metris. The Mercedes-Benz full-size van.
Rich Benoit: Oh, okay. Metris. A Mercedes full size van. What do you have? Like a, like a choir?
Guy Kawasaki: No, no, no. They're a set up for surfing and camping.
Rich Benoit: Wait a minute. Are you, are you a van lifer?
Guy Kawasaki: No, I don't…I've slept in it one night. I don't, you know,
Rich Benoit: You’re not about that life?
Guy Kawasaki: No, no, no. I'm about looking, I'm a pretender.
Rich Benoit: Okay, so you're about looking the part?
Guy Kawasaki: I got my racks, you know. I got my toilet. I got my gas.
Rich Benoit: Well, they're not, they’re not cheap, those things, man.
Guy Kawasaki: Nope. Nope.
Rich Benoit: So as you, as you know, I'm building one now for my homeless assistant and they're, they're not interested. Okay. Back to that separately. So I, I have varying ideas about, about Tesla now. I don't, I'm one of the few people that doesn't stroke their ego.
You get a lot of people like, “Oh my gosh, this is so great. They're perfect. It's the best company in the world. I can't believe I even considered buying anything else. Why are you buying anything that's powered by gas? You're hurting the environment. Don't you care about your children?”
And I think one day I exploded, and I said, "Guys, shut up. It's, it's not, it's not that serious. It's not that big of a deal.” And you know, I'm, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm not sure if buying a $100,000 car to save the environment is the thing that that's the, is that the answer?
I don't know. It just doesn't seem like it, but don't, don't get me wrong, they're great, they're great cars and everything, but it's the... the cars by themselves are awesome, but you're not buying into the cars. You're buying into the cult family. It's almost like finding like a really pretty girl. Like she really, really pretty, really smart down-to-earth, but her family's crazy and you get thinking yourself, no big deal, whatever, I'm just spending time with her.
But when you marry her, you're really married to her family. Well, that's what I did. So when I bought a Tesla, I'm really buying into all these like, psychopaths.
Guy Kawasaki: I could draw a parallel with Apple. So I think you could love Apple's products, but hate the company. I mean that's, right? I mean, same thing, right?
I mean, in a sense, Tesla feels about the right to repair the way Apple does. You can't open up an Apple and do anything. All you can do is buy more dongles.
Rich Benoit: Yeah. At $100 a pop.
Guy Kawasaki: Exactly, so when you started off this path, was it a right to repair evangelists? Was it about sustainability? Was it the intellectual challenge, or you just wanted to shove it to the man?
Rich Benoit: It was none of that. No, none of that.
Guy Kawasaki: What?
Rich Benoit: It was cheap. I wanted a nice car. That's what it was. I mean,
Guy Kawasaki: You can lie.
Rich Benoit: It grew into those things. It grew into those things. I probably should have lied for that, but it was, it was along the lines of, listen. I really like these cars. I mean, a Tesla's an awesome car. I knew I wanted one, and they were just too much damn money.
So I found a cheap one, rebuilt it, and it was only after that I started realizing that Tesla's business practices really didn't line up with what I was used to. For example, if I wanted a part, they were like, "Hey, your car has been in a wreck, and we don't really deal with that kind of stuff. So you're kind of on your own...go to the, go, go to whatever trash can you got these parts from and, and, and just do it again."
Guy Kawasaki: And to what do you ascribe that perspective of Tesla?
Rich Benoit: You know, my first impression of Tesla was that they were very green company focused on sustainability. It was a great angle to play and say, “Hey, you know what, we're all about green, saving the earth, no need to focus on gas cars, electricity is the future, cut down on emissions and our carbon footprint.”
I thought that's what they were about. And the more I realize it, is at the end of the day, they are a company. They do have to answer to shareholders. And even though the idea of sustainability and saving the earth is great to help people buy more cars. I'll say it. I mean, yeah, it's just true. They are a company, if they're not selling cars, they're not happy.
Guy Kawasaki: Do you think that their philosophy is, "We're trying to protect our customers from doing stupid things that endanger them?" Or do you think it's because we want to force people to buy new cars and scrap their old one? Is it profit or is it looking out for the best interest of their customer?
Rich Benoit: I would say a for-profit. Yes, absolutely. Because if you think about it, I have data that'll have a listing of all of the prior wrecked Teslas that were ever sold on insurance. So I have that number. It's a very small number of cars.
It's not even like 10,000 cars, and the likelihood of you even driving past a Tesla, and it being a rebuilt one is almost slim to none because there's so few of the cars on the road. They'll play it, in the thinly guised, in the thinly guised excuse of, “We're trying to protect you cause this psycho doesn't know what he's doing, and you don't want your cars to blow up.”
In reality, the cars have no problem blowing up on their own off the showroom floor, but they're like, "Hey, listen, we're trying to protect you." And every time a Tesla blows up, it looks bad, but in reality, they want you to buy another car. They just simply do.
Guy Kawasaki: Now objectively, do you think Teslas catch fire more often than other cars? Or it was just that the microscope is always on Tesla, so anytime a Tesla catches fire, it's a news story. But if, if a Ford F-150 caught on fire, nobody cares.
Rich Benoit: Exactly. If a Ford F-150 catches on fire, no one cares. And it happens every single day, all day long. If I Google search Ford F-150 on fire, I'll find like a million results.
You're right. Tesla is under a big microscope and when something bad does happen to one, it makes the news. It's like, "See, this is why you shouldn't get an electric car ‘cause it's going to catch fire," and all this stuff not realizing full well ... if you think about a gas car, that when you're in your gas car, literally three feet in front of you, there are tiny little explosions going at multiple times per second with literal gasoline being dumped on those explosions.
And then two feet behind you, there's a giant suitcase full of a combustible liquid that could explode whenever it feels like it. People don't really realize those things as they're driving their cars, and when I explain it to my kids, even they have a hard time thinking to themselves, “Why would you drive a gas car? This could blow up at any time, just drive electric. It makes more sense.”
But to answer your question, they don't blow up any more than anyone else. If you think of the data, there's about a million Teslas on the road, and in terms of exploding percentages, it's lower on average then its gas counterpart. So far.
Guy Kawasaki: So, you arguably may be the best qualified person in the world to objectively discuss the quality of Tesla manufacturing and parts ‘cause you've taken apart more than anybody else in the world, probably. So do you open them up and say, "Oh my God, this is like duct tape holding this car together?” Or do you say, "Oh my God, it's the greatest thing ever?”
Rich Benoit: I would say that I'm probably not the most qualified person. There's people that actually do that for a living.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay, but they can't talk.
Rich Benoit: Yeah, well, uh. Yeah, people do for a living that, disassemble the cars, and they analyze each component, and figure out what the overall quality of each one is. In the beginning when Tesla first started, I swear some of those cars were held today with wood screws from Home Depot ‘cause I have an earlier vehicle. I have an earlier car from 2012, and the build quality was a lot different back then. Since 2012, they've come leaps and bounds.
I've taken apart several things from Tesla, but you have to understand that in the earlier cars, not all the parts were Tesla parts. So the steering rack, that's Mercedes and Land Rover. So they take a lot of individual components from other manufacturers and kind of put them on their own. Like the window switches, those are Mercedes, the steering column, the switches, the turn signal stalks, that's all Mercedes type stuff.
So they're almost like sticking their hands in various parts bins to assemble their own vehicle. But honestly, the biggest problem that they had as of late are more so rushing the cars to production.
So like off the showroom floor. Sorry off the assembly line, you'll have minor paint issues. You'll have door alignment issues. And what they'll do is, they'll send them out, and they'll know that ten cars are bad, but if only four of them come back. Yeah, maybe it's not that bad.
Guy Kawasaki: It's statistics. Yeah. It's like insurance. It's the probability, right?
Rich Benoit: Right. And then you have some Tesla owners that are saying to themselves, "I don't care what the build quality. I don't care that I just spent a hundred grand on this car. This build quality doesn't bother me because I'd never owned a Mercedes before." But, but on the other hand, you'll have people that will nitpick and say this, "I just took a digital caliper all over the car and this door is four millimeters off, and this can't be." So everyone is different.
Guy Kawasaki: You just mentioned Mercedes and you're working on a Mercedes Sprinter, which arguably might not be representative of Mercedes, Mercedes, but, how would you stack up a Mercedes versus a Tesla today? Two cars right off the line.
Rich Benoit: In terms of what, because of build quality? I mean, Mercedes takes the cake. It's a luxury manufacturer and they've been doing it for a long time. You know, there's a lot of things that were Mercedes wouldn't get past the quality assurance check. A lot of the Tesla cars would have got sent back if they were sold through Mercedes.
They hold their, post-purchase inspection, or pardon, pre-purchase inspection, to a higher standard than Tesla does because remember: the guys that work for the shop are all former Tesla employees. So they know exactly what happens the second those cars come off that semi and they go into processing to go to the new owners. It's a very different experience.
Guy Kawasaki: And, when you hear stories that Apple's going to have a car, I don't know about you, but I laugh. What's your reaction?
Rich Benoit: I have to give Tesla a lot of credit because if it weren't for them, a lot of these manufacturers wouldn't even bother. I mean, Apple, the only reason why Apple is like, “I want to get a piece of this pie” is because they have endless money, and they know electric cars are hot, so they want to get into the mix too.
But yeah, it's funny. Everyone wants to get a car. I don't think they realize just how hard it is. They might want to stick to phones.
Guy Kawasaki: I was, I was a Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador, so I, you know, I kind of know what goes into a car, and a car, a computer for crashes, you reboot. If a car crashes, you die, and you're not in the wind and the rain and the sleet in the snow and driven by an idiot who has other idiots coming at them at a hundred miles an hour, driving through potholes.
That's not how you use a MacBook Air. And I swear if, if Apple made an electric car, it would not work with the standard charger unless you bought a $2,000 dongle, right?
Rich Benoit: I mean, I'm dying to see what their price point is, because, because Apple is a premium product and brand. You're not finding an Apple product much less than a thousand bucks. If you think about it, I mean, have,
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah, that’s the dongle.
Rich Benoit: The dongle is $1,000, but I'm curious to see how they're going to price point this car, because it's going to be... it's an electric car, so by default, it's not going to be inexpensive.
Guy Kawasaki: Right.
Rich Benoit: And who they're going to market it to…like, is it, are you marketing it towards people that just hate Tesla products that much, they refuse to buy one and they're waiting for the manufacturer to come out, I don't know who they're selling it to.
Guy Kawasaki: You and Marques are going to get the first two in America, I promise. And if it's an Apple electric car, you know, it's going to be a great car till about 2:00 PM and then it dies.
Rich Benoit: Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah. I really, it will be fascinating to see what they come up with and how it looks. Because there's a lot, there's competition now. There's real competition.
Guy Kawasaki: Someday, twenty years from now and Apple is the leading car manufacturer, they're going to dig up archives of this podcast, “See these two dumb asses in 2021?”
Rich Benoit: Yeah, no I have before, I'll probably work for them. You know, I have the foresight now.
Guy Kawasaki: You know, what would have happened to you, the arc of your life, if you called up Tesla and said, "Yeah, I need this part." And they said, "Yeah, no problem. What's your VISA number?" I mean, the fact is that they said no, and they stonewalled you, that's what sets you off on this path, right?
Rich Benoit: You know, what, if they sold me parts, my sentiment toward them would be better, but I think I'd still be in a similar position because I'd still be working on them. They would just be a lot easier to work with. And people like the struggle, they like the fight, they like the drama, which I think is why a lot more people may have tuned in. But I'd probably still be doing the same thing.
Guy Kawasaki: Do you think that there's any manufacturer that handles parts and right-to-repair well?
Rich Benoit: That's a very good question. For the most part, everyone that I've been dealing with so far has had a pretty high willingness to sell me parts. It's the first time I've ever been stonewalled by someone because they didn't like the way the car was. I have a BMW and when I go to BMW for parts, they're just like, "What's the VIN number?"
We don't, we don't care what the car is doing. We don't care if it's on fire. We don't care if it's underwater, currently., We just want to sell you this part and get you the hell out of our door.
Guy Kawasaki: What if you wanted to buy the little plastic thing that covered the bolt? I loved that phone call.
This is Guy during the editing phase. I thought I'd better explain this story a little bit more too. So Rich tried to buy a little plastic part that covered a bolt in a Tesla. And he couldn't do it. That's how hard it was, and is, to buy a part for a Tesla.
Rich Benoit: Listen, that was, that was, that's... I replay that in my head sometimes, it's so traumatic that they said, "Hey, why do you want this?" It was like, but you know what? That video was taken such a long time ago. People weren't really buying parts for Teslas and installing things themselves because this was back when, I think it was before the Model 3 came out.
So the Teslas were at a higher price point, your average Tesla owner didn't want to deal with that stuff. A lot of them weren't, aren't car enthusiasts. They're just like, “Hey, I just bought this a $100,000 car, and I want to go to my yacht club and show off to my friends a little bit and then take my model wife back home, and then I'm going to go see my model girlfriend later on.”
So that that's, that's what they were reserved for. But now with the Model 3 advent... it's…
Guy Kawasaki: Okay.
Rich Benoit: it's more likely now because the cars are different price point, and people might be more likely to work on them themselves.
Guy Kawasaki: So, in one of the videos after all this bullshit from Tesla, did they really come to the opening of your garage or, or was that a parody? I couldn't tell.
Rich Benoit: They came.
Guy Kawasaki: They really came? How do they have the chutzpah to come?
Rich Benoit: I have pictures of them up at the event. It's kind of funny, you know, it's…there's two different things. There's Tesla corporate, and then there's Tesla local. The local Tesla, boys, boys, and girls, they're great. Tesla, corporate it's a little bit different.
They don't really like people go into shows and like Tesla representing themselves at various events, but it was great. They came, the sales team came, they gave, they probably had between five and seven people from Tesla there. And they brought a whole bunch of cars too, for people to test drive.
So it's, Why are you being, why do you have so much animosity when we can help each other? They literally came to the event to sell cars and I had no problem with it. So what's, what's the big deal, corporate?
Guy Kawasaki: To draw another parallel with Apple that, you know, if you walk into any given Apple store, the genius and the salespeople and the manager are very nice, cooperative people, but you know, you knock on Cupertino's door and say, "Hey, I want to..." that's a very different experience.
So what has been the general reaction of the Tesla community? Are you the antichrist or are you Christ?
Rich Benoit: Yeah, no. You know, someone had a really interesting quote. They said, “Either you die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain,” and I'm living long enough to see myself become a villain.
Guy Kawasaki: So now you're a villain in the Tesla community?
Rich Benoit: Well, yeah, because at first it was, it was, “Hey, I'm doing my thing.” It was cute and funny. But as I realized more and more about the company that I didn't like, I started voicing my opinions. And people really didn't like that that much like, “Well, why are you being so negative? Teslas done so much for you.”
And when I'm like, “Like what?” And then they run away. ‘Cause they have no, they have no answer for that. You can't say it anything bad about the Tesla because it's, everything about them is perfect. Perfect company. Elon's perfect. He's done so much for our environment. He's sending us all to space.
He's building cool cars. He's digging tunnels. So a lot of the nerds have someone to look up to. So when some rough around the edges, random black guy, that, that claims to know what he's talking about, starts talking slick about their, their commander and chief, they don't like it.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah.
Rich Benoit: Yeah. So, but other than that, no, it's, it's not that serious. It's, I did, I did a lot of Tesla stuff and, I started a company, The Electrified Garage, that services and repairs electric vehicles, and we're doing fine. And I really kind of got bored of Tesla stuff, but mostly because the fanboys were kind of getting to be too much, but Tesla only makes what, like four cars? Model 3, X, Y, and S and whatever ones are coming out in the future, after we've done everything with them, what else was there to do?
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah.
Rich Benoit: So I decided to make the switch to work on other stuff, too.
Guy Kawasaki: And yet, aren't you making a V8 Tesla, the ICE T? Okay. So now explain that one....
Let me interject a little bit of information here. ICE T obviously is a pun on the rapper, but ICE stands for internal combustion engine. So ICE T is internal combustion engine Tesla. I keep telling you, Rich is a funny guy.
Rich Benoit: You, know, ICE T was, is an interesting thing because I love Teslas. A fun fact is that I still personally own like five of them. And even my daughter drives one.
So I love the company, love the cars, but honestly, they do get terribly boring. Don't get me wrong. They're good looking, but after a while, it's like, okay, I get it. They also have to look the same. If you own a shop that they come in and out of, they get kind of old after a while.
So I said to myself, what can I do that's different? What can I do with the Tesla that hasn't been done? Because my thing has always been doing things with Tesla that hasn't been done. I, we, I’ve switched batteries, motors, upgraded the car, made them faster when people haven't really been doing that.
So I said, "What's the next step? What's the next thing that no one has done that could be cool?” And I said, "You know what? I have another salvage Tesla. The car was underwater. It needs a motor, it needs a battery, it needs the majority of the internal electronics. It needs everything. And if I wanted to fix that car, Tesla's not going to sell me a single part.
So, what if there was a manufacturer that would sell me parts, and that manufacturer is General Motors? I got a V8, and I could walk into any store, any, any you name it, Auto Zone or Pep Boys or whatever. And I could say, "I need these parts for my engine," and they will happily sell me anything.
So it was more to like, kind of like tongue in cheek and prove a point to say, "Hey, listen, if you won't help me fix this car, I'm going to find someone else that will."
Guy Kawasaki: And how far is it from being finished?
Rich Benoit: I'll tell you…a little advice for you. Converting a car from gas to electric is very easy. From electric back to gas is extraordinarily difficult.
Guy Kawasaki: Why is that?
Rich Benoit: So it's…there's a lot more systems, and there's a lot more things to think about because what the, with an electric car, the basic components are as, as such, it's a battery. You have the motor, you have the controller to tell the battery how much power to give the motor.
The kind of three very basic and simple components and they're easy to package and configure. You could have like a big motor, a small motor, and you could stick the battery somewhere in the car. When you're talking about an internal combustion engine, you have to think about the massive size of the engine.
You have to think about the fuel tank, the fuel pump, where to put the fuel tank, and you also have to think about how to get rid of the gases, the poisonous gases. You have to have an exhaust system routing. It's, it's, it's a lot, and not only that, but you have to figure out how to integrate the systems together.
So you have a gas engine in a car that was originally made to be electric, mixing those two together when the Tesla’s looking for a speed signal from an electric motor and not a gas engine... it's, it's, it's definitely a daunting task, but I love it. Because it's just, it's just different. No one, no one's doing it. So why not just do it?
Guy Kawasaki: Another interjection of a bit of information. The term LS swap refers to swapping out engines. It comes from the LS series of Chevy engines. People would get these Chevy engines and swap them into other internal combustion engine cars.
Of course in the context that we're using it here, we're referring to the process of taking out the gas engine and putting in an electric motor, which is not exactly an LS swap, but the concept is the same swapping. Let's just say, the source of power.
Guy Kawasaki: Why don't you become the LS swap of electric to gas? Bring in, you're bring in your El Camino, bring in your Mustang, bring in your Challenger, and we'll convert it. Isn't there a business there?
Rich Benoit: What do you mean, convert to electric?
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah.
Rich Benoit: There's a huge business there, but people think that they want electric stuff. They really think they do, but a lot of them have never lived with an electric car.
Guy Kawasaki: And what's it like?
Rich Benoit: So when you have a powerful car, let's just say a Corvette, for example, right?
I'll be like, you should convert your Corvette, whatever. They don't realize that in order for that Corvette to have the kind of acceleration and the overall crazy experience that Teslas have, you have to spend $50,000, $75,000, $100,000, and people aren't willing to do that.
So, you know, right now the, the Corvette, my probably Corvette probably goes 0 to 60 in let's just say like three seconds, three point something seconds. And I'm perfectly happy with it, and the car's paid off and I drive it fine. Let's just say I have the crazy idea that I want to make it electric. I have to rip everything out. The Corvette a lot smaller than a standard Tesla sedan, so I have to figure out, “How do I reconfigure the batteries in the car where I still have reasonable storage space?”
Right? And I have to think about how I can position the motor and how much more weight am I going to add, because thinking about it, an engine, and transmission, and gas tank don't weigh much compared to an actual battery pack.
You know, the battery pack in the Tesla Model S is damn near eleven, twelve hundred pounds by itself, just for the battery. So you're adding all that weight, and then you realize, “Wait a minute, where am I going to charge my Corvette? I thought I could just go on twisty back roads. It turns out there's no EV charging on top of this mountain.”
So people think they want them, but like they realize, “Hey, you're not going to get the same range you do now from your gas tank.” It's going to be a lot more challenging.
Guy Kawasaki: Can I just, as an aside, ask you, what the hell does your wife say about all this? Cause...
Rich Benoit: She doesn't care.
Guy Kawasaki: She doesn't…can I interview her? I just want independent confirmation.
Rich Benoit: Honestly there's a couple of times where I've, I've come out of the basement and I've literally told her, I found a cure for cancer.
And she's like "Oh yeah that's pretty cool." But you know what I mean? Like there's like the stuff I work on, I think she's just so numb to it. And she has all the time and she's like, “That's, that's just what my husband does.”
Guy Kawasaki: What does she do?
Rich Benoit: She's a schoolteacher. Yeah. So, so she doesn't really have time for my crap. So she, she, she's, she's mostly focused on her kids. And the more I could stay out of her way, the better off everyone is. So yeah, but no, she really doesn't, she doesn't really... she knows what I do is cool, but in terms of caring about it on a daily basis, it's just like, “No, that's my husband's job.” It's like, it's like anyone having a job, you know, let's just say two people are married and your husband is, an astrophysicist, you know?
So, so what? Yeah. Cool. You’re astrophysicist, that's cool. What's for dinner tonight? You know? It's and, and, and you, you have to listen to your husband come home every day about how difficult being an astrophysicist is. And after you hear it for a while, you're kind of desensitized.
So for her, she's like, “Yeah, my husband takes junk cars. And makes one junk car out of two jumps. So what?”
Guy Kawasaki: Oh God, I'm going to date myself. You're too young maybe to know what Sanford and Son? Yeah. That's you. Yeah. Not to be racist or anything.
Rich Benoit: No, no, you're not racist at all. You know, it kind of is like that. Yeah. I, if it's I consider it more recycling and upcycling, I was, I remember I was in school when I was a kid. You had a little jingle that goes recycle, reduce, reuse.
And I got that in my head. I'm like, why are we throwing stuff away? As, in this society…we're such a, we’re such a rich society. I get that. But there's people that don't have anything, and we just throw stuff away like it's no one's business.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah. That's so true. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Rich Benoit: It's, it's almost sad.
Guy Kawasaki: I have to ask you what you think of the Porsche Taycan.
Rich Benoit: Love it.
Guy Kawasaki: You love it? Yeah?
Rich Benoit: Yeah. I want one I, I'm, I, it was in the market to get one, and then I saw the price, and I was no longer in the market.
Guy Kawasaki: Are you just going to wait for one that gets flooded and...?
Rich Benoit: Well, no, to be fair, they introduced the cheaper rear-wheel drive one.
Guy Kawasaki: Right for like $85,000 or something, right?
Rich Benoit: Yeah. It's like, yes. I think eighty, yeah eighty something like that, so, which is, which is enticing, but at the same time, it is also $80,000.
Guy Kawasaki: But is it, you know, with its three-hundred-mile range, is that good enough? I mean, where, where for Americans does the range, anxiety trail off?
Rich Benoit: People are funny. People want all the range in the world, not realizing that the cars they drive now don't have the same range that they're looking for in a car.
You know what I mean? Like, Oh, I want five-hundred-miles range. You drive a car now that does not get five hundred miles of the range. So people are, will continuously make excuses for why they don't want to buy an electric car yet. "Well, I'm not ready yet because it doesn't have one thousand miles of range." And then when they do get a thousand miles of range, they'll be like, "Well, I don't want to pay that kind of money for it."
You know? But, but the, the the Taycan’s great. A lot of people say, you know, the Taycan, it's not as good as the Tesla Model S, but I am so sick of looking at Teslas right now. Anything, anything looks good.
Guy Kawasaki: Has Porsche sent you one?
Rich Benoit: No, they haven't. No one ever talks to me.
Guy Kawasaki: Like, no, seriously, if I were Porsche. I would send you one in a second. I would cross my fingers and cross my toes cross every part of my body I could, but to think of, you know, Dr. Frankenstein of Tesla loves a Taycan. I mean, how much better can it get than that?
Rich Benoit: That happens. That's a slap in the face. So Elon Musk.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah.
Rich Benoit: This is how funny he is, I love Elon Musk. Bill Gates. He makes a decent money for himself and he's doing okay. He was in the market for an electric car. And when you say electric car, everyone first thinks Tesla.
Guy Kawasaki: Right?
Rich Benoit: He bought a Taycan. Oh, he did? Yes. Bill Gates drives a Taycan. And when, in, when interviewed, when Elon, when someone asked Elon, "Hey, Elon, what do you think about Bill Gates getting a Taycan?” He said, "I've always found our conversations very underwhelming."
Like there's got to be, there’s got to be something else you could say, but it just, it just, it just goes to show it's like, a lot of people take it personally. You know? if I, so I, I have a company that builds electric cars, and if someone went someplace else to get their car fixed and serviced, or someone chose not to go with me for some reason, I'd say, "Okay, cool." You know what I mean? It is what it is. They chose it for different reasons. There's different ways you could say things, but to say, you know what, “I've always found our conversations, underwhelming.”
It's almost like it's not personal, you know? He just likes the way the Taycan looks, it's a very good-looking car. I think it's very refreshing, it's good looking, it has the prestige of a Porsche, and I remember I went to an electric car meetup. And just to let you know, I don’t know if you’ve been to an electric car meetup before, it looks like a Tesla parking lot. It’s literally a Tesla parking lot.
Guy Kawasaki: Not any Bolts in there?
Rich Benoit: There's, there's hardly any Bolts. There's no Nissan Leaf because they can't make it. A Nissan Leaf has like four miles of range, unless it's four miles near your house downhill. If we, exactly, unless you're being towed, all the Nissan Leafs are towed there. So, I went to a meet, and the, it's a sea of Teslas, which I get, I just get nauseous.
if I want to see a whole bunch of Teslas I would just go to a Tesla service center and a Taycan showed up. Everyone flocked to the Taycan because the Taycan's the alpha. Everyone's so sick of seeing these like, like, honestly, it's-- okay. I'm going to go into a rant now. Now I'm going to get upset.
Guy Kawasaki: Go for it man.
Rich Benoit: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but they’re, but they're like cockroaches. I called it the California Camry. They’re everywhere. They're literally everywhere. And the cars, the cars are great. They're absolutely great cars. I will never take that away from them, but if I see another one, I'm going to get sick because they're like cockroaches, they're everywhere.
So I pride myself in being a little bit different, not like following the trend of the norm and I'm seeing, the more Teslas I see show up, I'm just like, I think it's time for me to switch. So it's, it's refreshing. Well, not being well, you know, another Tesla on the road, I don't know. I'm just complaining. I'm just so sick of seeing them. I'm sorry.
Guy Kawasaki: But the greatest video ever will be when you go to that electric car meetup in your V8 Tesla. Heads will explode.
Rich Benoit: As much as they hate gas powered cars, as much as the fact that gasoline infuriates them, even though everything that they see and touch around them is delivered to them by gasoline, how do you think the Teslas get to the service center?
Guy Kawasaki: On the back of a truck.
Rich Benoit: On the back of a diesel truck. And they still hate them. They don't want to admit it. And if you look carefully, all the Tesla PR shots, when you have all those Model 3s being delivered, if you look at the angle, the diesel truck pulling all those cars is always cut off.
They won't be like, “Oh, wow. How are these cars being delivered? I have no idea if... they must just emerge.” But so, yeah, as much as they hate, as much as they hate what I'm doing, as much as they hate the V8 Tesla, if a V8 Tesla shows up to a Tesla car show, it's the only thing they're going to be talking about.
It's true because it's, because it's different. It's because this, this, when you buy a Tesla, it's unfortunate that not a lot of people tend to modify them. It's like a small group because with a Tesla, all you could do is change the tires, change the wheels, brakes, and wrap the car. You're not making it any faster because very few people go into the software aspect of things.
Whereas my background is all turbo four cylinder, turbo eight cylinder, for seduction cars that you want to make faster and mod. So when you go to a Tesla car show, you will see three of the same exact car. The only difference with those cars is the color of the skin of the owner. Maybe you'll have one black guy, maybe you'll have two Asian guys. That's the only discerning difference between them.
Guy Kawasaki: Oh my God. A more serious question, do you think battery technology is about to take a huge leap so it would not be wise to buy an electric car right now?
Rich Benoit: Everyone keeps saying that. You know what? I'm going to say something about that right now. I don't like that term where it's like, "Oh, you should wait and do it later" because the technology for these batteries is advancing so fast. It's not even funny.
So I bought a Model X, I want to say like two years ago and that car is instantly outdated. However, if I waited to get one now, in two years the car will be outdated just as fast. So battery technology is advancing so fast, I mean the best time to buy a car is now. Just buy the damn car.
Dude. Life is short and I'm constantly reminded of that every day how, how short and precious life is. Why are you waiting? What are you waiting for? You could die tomorrow. Just buy the damn car.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. I'm going to tell my wife that tonight.
Rich Benoit: Yeah. Tell her that. Just buy the damn car.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. So I have some quick questions for you, I'm going to let you go soon, okay? So quick question, let's for the sake of this discussion saying, you know, money and that kind of stuff, doesn't matter. It's just, what does your heart tell you? So a Taycan Turbo S or Model S Plaid.
Rich Benoit: Oh, damn you did it. Model S Plaid.
Guy Kawasaki: Really? After all, yeah? Why?
Rich Benoit: Woah, woah, woah, who's, who's buying it?
Guy Kawasaki: You.
Rich Benoit: Oh, well, hold on. Hold on.
Guy Kawasaki: Well, who’d you think was buying it?
Rich Benoit: No, the, the, the, the top of the line Taycan is damn near $200,000.
Guy Kawasaki: I'm saying money doesn't matter.
Rich Benoit: Money doesn't matter? Mm, I'd still, still may be the, maybe the Plaid.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah?
Rich Benoit: Maybe. However, hold on one second. Hold on. Give me, give me, give me twenty seconds. I'm pulling up a photo of a Turbo, okay. Turbo S. Dude, it's a gorgeous car.
Guy Kawasaki: I know.
Rich Benoit: Here's my problem. So I'm allowed to change my mind right? I changed my mind officially from the Plaid to the Taycan because I have a Model S now, and it's a pretty quick car. Me buying a Plaid Model S for $150,000, I am not getting that much different of an experience compared to the Tesla that I have now.
If I'm going to spend that kind of coin, I'd rather spend it on going out of left field, so I probably, I'd probably go to the Turbo S. Fun fact. I said this before, but it went nowhere. The record for the Cannonball EV run is held not by a Tesla. You can remember Tesla like, “Look at our Supercharging network…”
We could get to the United States, across United States in, in, in a matter of no time at all. Even with the scandals around its short range, the Taycan has officially beat the Tesla coast to coast. You can get a Taycan faster from coast to coast that you can the Tesla, which is the supercharging king.
Guy Kawasaki: By minutes or by hours?
Rich Benoit: Hours.
Guy Kawasaki: Really? Wow.
Rich Benoit: I mean, even if it was seconds, it doesn't matter because Tesla prides itself on how fast the cars could charge, but for a brand-new manufacturer that supposedly has no idea what they're doing, that's not that bad.
Guy Kawasaki: Well, but Porsche has been making cars for a lot longer than Tesla.
Rich Benoit: Not electric cars.
Guy Kawasaki: No. Yeah, that's true. But I mean, as far as making the door gaps, all three millimeters.
Rich Benoit: They're good at that. Yeah. But no, it's, it's, it's.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay.
Rich Benoit: You know, the technology is advancing.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. Next quick question. And we're going to go out of the electric car phase just into cars, all right? So, stick shift sports car.
Rich Benoit: Stick-shift sports car.
Whew, man. I would, see, now I got this whole Porsche thing stuck in my head. Oh man. That's so automatic, you know, what's sad? There's so many cars that are, that are manual now. No, sorry, that are automatic now. It's, it's sad. You know what car I really liked that I wish it was manual? The Alfa Romeo 4C. It's a really cool compact, tiny car, and I've driven it, and the raw feeling you get is fantastic, but it's automatic. But to answer your question, man…
Guy Kawasaki: Well then how about a Miata?
Rich Benoit: Oh gosh. That's not it, don't do this to me. Miatas are great, but I'd probably go for a 911 Turbo.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. Not a GT3, Turbo?
Rich Benoit: I'd go for the Turbo. Yeah., the GT3 that's too rich for my blood, but I'd probably go to the Turbo because the Turbos you can upgrade.
Guy Kawasaki: Oh God. Okay
Rich Benoit: I know. I'm crazy.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. Hot hatch?
Rich Benoit: Hot hatchback. Oh, my gosh, what hatchbacks are out there still?
Guy Kawasaki: Civic R. There's a Golf GTI and Golf R.
Rich Benoit: I would say Golf R. Big fan of them and they can be made extremely fast.
Guy Kawasaki: Oh my God. I'm seeing a trend.
Rich Benoit: I know. I know. Listen, I loved modifying cars, man. I, it, there's very few cars that I leave as is.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. God forbid, what if he had to buy a truck?
Rich Benoit: So fun fact, I own several trucks.
Guy Kawasaki: Oh really?
Rich Benoit: Yes. I own a GMC Sierra Duramax diesel. I own a military Humvee, a hummer, you know, like a military one with a thing. I own a Toyota Tacoma pickup and I also own a SHERP. I don’t know if you know what a SHERP is or not.
Guy Kawasaki: Never heard of them.
Rich Benoit: A SHERP is, gosh. You have, you have to look it up. It's the most bizarre looking thing that…
Guy Kawasaki: Is it made in Russia?
Rich Benoit: Of course it is.
Guy Kawasaki: No, seriously.
Rich Benoit: Ukraine. Yeah, I have a SHERP. It's, it's a, it's an amphibious tank.
Guy Kawasaki: Oh, okay.
Rich Benoit: So it goes, off-road.
Guy Kawasaki: Is it six wheels, eight wheels? Twelve?
Rich Benoit: I only have the four wheel one. I couldn't afford the twelve wheel one. So I had one of those too, but I love, I love everything.
It's not just, not just EVs. And so back to the point where I say before, so I recently kind of stopped doing EV stuff and now I'm just doing my own thing.
Guy Kawasaki: Last car. God really, forbid minivan.
Rich Benoit: I think a Sienna.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah? Because, because it’s a hybrid?
Rich Benoit: It has, I think this all wheel, I think it has an all-wheel drive option, which I like.
I remember a while back, I was looking for a minivan and, yeah, the designs are kind of cool. A lot of people diss the minivans and say, “Oh, they’re crap,” but I'll tell you right now, there's very few things that you can use to haul people and things.
So if you have no people to haul, you could fold all the seats down and you could, you could make a Home Depot run. It's, it’s like a pickup truck. Yeah, yeah they're great. I wouldn't drive one, but they're great.
I have questions for you. How do you, how do you, how do you like make money and stuff?
Guy Kawasaki: You mean in the podcast or in life?
Rich Benoit: What is it general, how do you cut it? How do you, how do you make your money? Cause I know you're, you're, you're a venture capital. You're, you're a big deal.
Guy Kawasaki: No, I'm not, I'm not as big as Joe Rogan. So, you know, I sell advertising and sponsorship for this podcast, but I also, I'm chief evangelist of a company called Canva, which makes an online graphic design service. And that company is rocking.
It has tens of millions of monthly active users. So that's where the money is but podcasting for me is just like a passion that I hope will turn into something that's financially viable.
So this podcast has had two sets of guests that, I'll tell you who they are first. One is Sheila Nazarian, and she had a show on Netflix, and Sid and Shea Magee also had a show on Netflix and I kid you not, I think that you should have a show on Netflix. I think it would be fantastic.
Rich Benoit: Really you think so?
Guy Kawasaki: I really do. Like making, you know, watching you make the Sprinter and, or making the V8 Tesla, which is an oxymoron in most people's minds, that would be utterly fantastic. And taking them through your garage and showing them off.
Rich Benoit: I'll tell you something. I pride myself in not answering to anyone, you know, so I wake up in the morning, what am I going to do? And I'm just like, you know what, whatever, I don't have to do anything today because I'm my own boss. And then the next day I freak out because I did nothing the day before.
But I, if I could have a show where I dictate all the content, and I don't have to really answer or clean up my act for anyone, I would do it in a heartbeat. But it's hard to find because like, sometimes I wanna, I wanna, I wanna be, a pig,
Guy Kawasaki: Well, Jeremy Clarkson, certainly isn't a milk toast kind of guy, so, all right. Okay. And then the last thing I have to tell you,
Rich Benoit: Go for it.
Guy Kawasaki: Is that, I don't know if you care, but I found a typo in one of your videos. Are you an OCD kind of guy who that...?
Rich Benoit: No! An OCD guy? Get out of here...
Guy Kawasaki: No, you don't care? Then I won't tell you.
Rich Benoit: No, tell me what it is.
Guy Kawasaki: So in the video called “How Tesla Rewarded Me For Telling the Truth,” at the nine minute mark, you spell "it's "i-t-s" and it should be "it apostrophe s."
Rich Benoit: Man, you know, I'm going to take down that whole video. Thank you for telling me that. No, I, I pride myself in just not even caring.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. Well then you don't have to do, I just..
Rich Benoit: Actually, you don't have to look very hard to find many, many errors in my videos.
Guy Kawasaki: Your videos are very well done. I mean, they're raw, but they are they're very well done. So…
Rich Benoit: I really appreciate that.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah, you should be on TED
Rich Benoit: TEDx? So what are you thinking?
Guy Kawasaki: No, I think, if you did care, I would tell you because...
Rich Benoit: No.
Guy Kawasaki: The big leagues.
Rich Benoit: What would I talk about? My journey? This is my journey.
Guy Kawasaki: Yoga, yoga and the black man. Yeah, black man's yoga.
Rich Benoit: No, I should do that. Hey, what's it like being black in America and owning a Tesla? I actually made a video called Black Tesla owners.
It, it was, well received, it was well received video. It's just showing that like there's no, there were hardly at the time of the recording, there were hardly any black Tesla owners. And when there were, they'd reach out to me and they say, "Hey, someone thought I was you."
Guy Kawasaki: So this is like Morgan Freeman called you?
Rich Benoit: Yeah, yeah. Pretty much like Marquez
Guy Kawasaki: Kanye called you. Kanye said, “Hey bro.”
Rich Benoit: Yeah. Hey, you're that guy, you know, so that's probably the reason why I stopped doing, doing Tesla stuff. Because whenever people would see a black guy in a Tesla, “Hey, that's Rich. That’s him, that's the guy.”
And it happens a lot, even a couple of my buddies that are out in California, they're black. And they're like, “Dude, everyone thinks we're you.” They see a black guy, that's like, that's, that's the guy, that’s the guy. So I stopped, so I stopped driving one.
Guy Kawasaki: So black Tesla owner's lives matter?
Rich Benoit: Yeah, they do. They do
Guy Kawasaki: Well, I'm, I'm proud to have interviewed you. So…
Rich Benoit: Honestly, this is, you always remember your first. So I, I’m really your first, like African-American male guest?
Guy Kawasaki: You really are, and it's not on purpose.
Rich Benoit: You won't forget this.
Guy Kawasaki: Thank you so much. And I will need your address. I'm going to send you one of these remarkable tablets, which…
Rich Benoit: That is crazy. Like at first, I was like, you know, what's in this for me? I'm joking. The tablet's cool. That's pretty cool.
Guy Kawasaki: I'm going to send you one. Just email me your address, okay?
Rich Benoit: I'm going to send you my address. Yeah. I want one of those tablets. So you just like write stuff; it's like paper, but not really.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah. And it's, it has this pencil and this pencil, unlike the iPad pencil, doesn't have to be charged. So you don't need to worry about this. And it feels like you're writing on paper, not on an iPad. So…
Rich Benoit: I, I want that.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah. You'll probably open it up and make it color.
Rich Benoit: Yeah, I'll open it. I'll be like, “Wow, this is pretty cool.” I’ll use it, I take notes a lot. I have, I have, I have like Post-it notes literally everywhere.
Guy Kawasaki: See the beauty of this is that, all your notes will be in one place. You know, you don't have to wonder which notepad. Oh, shit, I forgot to ask you when my one. Okay. I promise you the last question.
Rich Benoit: Dude, I have all the time in the world, ask away.
Guy Kawasaki: Part of the pitch of the, this tablet is that its single purpose for taking notes. It's not like an iPad, you check email, social media and you get all defocused. So one of the questions we'd like to ask our guests is, is so where do you do your best and deepest thinking?
Rich Benoit: In the morning, in bed. When I, when I wake up in the morning, all of the ideas that I had the night before manifest, and I immediately grab my phone and I just start writing different ideas down.
Guy Kawasaki: Now you'll grab your tablet and write ideas now.
Rich Benoit: Right.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. Rich, thank you so much. This has been, nah, man, I just it's been a blast. It's been a blast. All right. Thank you. And send me your address. I'll send it out this weekend.
Rich Benoit: I will, I will send you my address and I am excited to receive my, my token of appreciation from you. I'm going to start doing that. I'm going to start convincing people to come on my show by offering them gifts.
Guy Kawasaki: Well, I offered you the gift after you agreed.
Rich Benoit: I'm joking. I'm joking.,
Guy Kawasaki: But hey, I am dead serious. You should have a Netflix show. I'm telling you, you are perfect for Netflix.
Rich Benoit: You really think so?
Guy Kawasaki: I really do. I really do. I would watch your show.
Rich Benoit: That, that, that means a lot. And you know, what's funny? I think, I should, I should go and play, play the race card and say, "Hey Netflix, hey, how many people of color do you have on your shows?"
Guy Kawasaki: That's true
Rich Benoit: More than half? Okay. Never mind.
Guy Kawasaki: That's not true. That's not true.
Rich Benoit: You know, but yeah, I think it'd be cool too. As long as they allow me to retain most of the creative control, I would do it. I would do it in a heartbeat, but what's the difference between that and what I do now? I have my own show now.
Guy Kawasaki: Five million dollars.
Rich Benoit: They're not going to pay me that. They're not going to pay me, they won't care.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay, so settle for two and a half.
Rich Benoit: Yeah. Yeah. I'll do, I'll get, I guess I'll settle for two and a half, whatever.
Guy Kawasaki: You know, I’ll ask my former, guests who have Netflix shows how they got them. Maybe, seriously.
Rich Benoit: I want to know I'm dying to know how much… ‘Cause you hear like, “Oh, you got that Netflix money.”
Cause if you think about it, Chappelle's on there. Chris Rock, all the big names are getting paid. It's a, “Hey, I'm black too. I'm kind of funny.”
Guy Kawasaki: But they're on there as entertainers. You have this, electrification, cars, lots of people love cars. Mike Rowe is doing all the dirty jobs.
Rich Benoit: That was a great show by the way.
Guy Kawasaki: That was a great show. Yeah. I love that show. Okay.
Rich Benoit: All right.
Guy Kawasaki: All right. Thank you so much.
Rich Benoit: Thank you for having me on your show. I really appreciate it. And what I'm going to do is when I do my TED talk, I'm going to shout you out. I don't know about this TEDx stuff.
Guy Kawasaki: He realized what talent I had before anybody else. Actually, you were on Joe Rogan's show before mine, but that's okay.
Rich Benoit: You should have called me. You didn't call me first.
Guy Kawasaki: I didn't know who you were.
Rich Benoit: I would have skipped his. I would have skipped Joe Rogan and been on this show.
Well, there you have it. Rich Benoit, the Dr. Frankenstein of Tesla, although he hates that description. And it is no longer accurate. But so what? It's a great positioning statement. I hope you learned about ingenuity, perseverance, love of cars.
If you're a Tesla owner or a TEDx speaker, you're probably offended. But I just want you to know: some of my closest friends are Tesla owners. In fact, a member of my family is a Tesla owner.
If by chance you work for Porsche, take a piece of advice from me: send Rich a Taycan. And frankly, you should send me a Taycan too. I'm not buying a Tesla.
And as far as TEDx, I've spoken to many TEDxes and had a great time. But I have never been invited to TED, the big leagues. So, I'm making fun of myself too.
If by chance you work for Netflix, you really should make a Netflix series with Rich. I've sent Reed two emails, so I tried.
Anyway. That's Rich Benoit. Rich Rebuilds on YouTube. The Electric Garage if you want to get your Tesla repaired .
I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is the Remarkable People podcast. Speaking of remarkable and funny people, my thanks to Jeff Sieh and Peg Fitzpatrick. I hope none of this blows back on them. All the best to you. Mahalo and aloha.
Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.