Real estate investor, speaker and consultant turns author


Todd Buchholz is a cross between King Midas and a Renaissance man. Virtually every venture he tries develops into stunning success.

His most recent accomplishment is a publishing trifecta, including the May 15 release of his first work of fiction, “The Castro Gene.” “New Ideas from Dead Economists,” a revised and updated edition of his first book, and “New Ideas from Dead CEOs,” hit bookstores April 6 and May 1, respectively.

What makes Buchholz’s accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that he is not a full-time writer. He is the founder and manager of Two Oceans Fund, a company that invests in Central American real estate, a corporate speaker, private consultant, contributing editor at Worth magazine and television commentator.

His business diversity is reflected in his past career credits, which include serving as the White House director of economic policy, award-winning Harvard teacher, managing director of the $15 billion Tiger hedge fund and co-producer of the Tony-award winning stage show “Jersey Boys.”

“I’ve always found that the more I had to do, the more productive I was,” he said.

Buchholz’s idea of productivity is writing and releasing three books within six weeks for three different publishers. Working around his day job and family responsibilities - his wife Debby is general manager of the La Jolla Playhouse, and his daughters are 14, 7 and 6 - he revamped “Dead Economists” while completing “Dead CEOs” and “The Castro Gene.” Although his career affords some flexibility in carving out time to write, he learned to take advantage of travel time, working on airplanes or in hotels.

“I’m able to process information and write quickly when I need to,” he said.

“New Ideas from Dead CEOs” (HarperCollins) was written to highlight ideas from business leaders that can be applied to today’s world. Authored to appeal to a wide audience of readers, Buchholz described the book as containing fun, interesting, inspiring stories about CEOs that played a role in the development of the 20th century.

One secret Buchholz reveals in the book is why Ray Kroc and McDonald’s succeeded in the competitive world of fast-food franchises. Instead of making money off of his franchisees, Kroc aimed to make himself a millionaire only after they had succeeded first.

“He was not a pig at the trough,” Buchholz said. “Instead of focusing on greed and money, he was focusing on passion. That makes the difference in success.”

Buchholz said the “New Ideas” series started with “New Ideas from Dead Economists,” (Plume), authored while he was still a grad student. Named a classic by the American Economic Association and published in 15 languages, he updated and revised the book for re-release on April 6. After the fictional vignettes that open each chapter were recognized by BusinessWeek magazine as “weirdly gripping,” Buchholz began toying with the idea of writing fiction. It was anything but easy.

“As a result of writing this book, if I was ever a snob about fiction, I’ve lost that snobbery,” he said. “Anyone who can hold a reader’s interest for more than a few pages is extraordinarily special.”

Eschewing all-nighters and creative angst, Buchholz relied on outlining the story plot and self-discipline to get “The Castro Gene” (Oceanview Publishing) completed. He admitted that the fluidity of fiction was harder than nonfiction, where his subject matter could be divided and conquered.

“When you’re writing fiction, you’ve got to write this whole architecture that has to have integrity,” he said.

Set against the political and economic backdrop of Washington, D.C. and Havana, “The Castro Gene” ties together contemporary intrigue with the Vegas Rat Pack days. One of the books’ high points comes in an unexpected and astounding theory about the Kennedy assassination.

Buchholz admitted writing a novel was overall a positive experience, although it was “more fun having finished it,” and he’d willingly produce another book.

“I’d like the public to rise up and demand it,” he quipped.

Having tried nonfiction and now fiction, Buchholz is tackling another genre; he’s working on a comedy screenplay. Ambition and writing talent run in the family, as daughter Victoria has one-upped her dad in getting a play staged. “Lockdown,” a play about five students caught together in a poetry class during a school crisis, debuted at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach on June 4 as one of three student-written, student-directed, one-act plays.

With an international investment company to manage, in demand as one of the foremost economic and political commentators in the country, a busy family to keep up with, books in three different sections of the bookstore and numerous projects in the works, Buchholz is open to whatever opportunity comes around the corner.

“Frankly, that’s the way my life works,” he said. “I try to find the relationships between different places and things and so on. My mind kind of brings disparate things together.”

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