The Man Behind the Money

Any good political race requires a few basic necessities: a candidate, running platform, and money. When it comes to the money, Cheshire Academy alumnus Brian Goldmeier ’02 has quickly made a name for himself by raising millions of dollars for political candidates. His company, BYG Strategies Inc., is now the go-to resource for fundraising in South Florida. However, that wasn’t his original plan.
Looking back at his time at the Academy, Goldmeier admits that he lacked structure. “My parents sent me to boarding school at the age of 12,” Goldmeier stated. “When I landed at Cheshire Academy, I was very independent.” It wasn’t until he started playing tennis with Coach Chip Boyd that Goldmeier truly found a passion. “I really liked the teamwork and camaraderie of the team. It made me want to go into a profession that dealt with sports,” he reminisced.

When it was time for college, Goldmeier chose a small independent college just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Endicott College was home to just 3,000 undergraduates but gave Goldmeier a major he was interested in exploring called sports management. “I wanted to be a sports agent,” said Goldmeier.

After graduating Endicott, Goldmeier looked to start an internship with a professional sports team. However, none of the teams he approached were hiring at the time. While being a sports agent was still on his mind, he decided start the process of applying to law school. In the midst of taking the LSAT, Goldmeier’s father—who has experience in the political world through his real estate, housing, and development firm and by having a business partner close to the Clintons— suggested he try something in politics.

In 2007, Goldmeier was given the chance to intern with Hillary’s presidential campaign against Barack Obama. Positioned on the New England Finance Team, Goldmeier got his first taste of fundraising by helping to contact people in the area about giving to the campaign.

While not terribly excited about the opportunity, Goldmeier did get a first-hand glimpse at the role of politics in the world. “I really wasn’t very interested in politics, but in 2006 Deval Patrick was running for Governor of Massachusetts and it kind of caught my attention,” he noted. “Normally, I’d pick up a paper and read the sports section and now all of a sudden I was reading the political section.”

Once the Clinton campaign ended in 2008, Goldmeier spotted another political opportunity in New Hampshire that interested him. He ultimately decided to defer from law school and joined the Paul Hodes congressional campaign. However, he felt something was missing. “New Hampshire just wasn’t my cup of tea,” he said. “I’m more of an urban and city guy.”

After the Hodes campaign, Goldmeier discovered an interesting opening in Florida, where he was originally from. “I saw that Alex Sink, the current CFO for the state of Florida, was running for re-election,” he remembered. After moving to Florida, Goldmeier began working on the campaign finance team. “You learn quickly that in politics finance means fundraising. I think it makes us sound more professional to people,” he laughed.

During the re-election campaign, after some political musical chairs, Sink would end up running as the democratic nominee for Governor of Florida. During the campaign, the South Florida Finance Director decided to leave, which put Goldmeier in an interesting situation as the next in charge of the region. While the campaign looked for replacements, Goldmeier saw this as his opportunity. “Building your career is about seeing that moment,” he said. “I said to myself this is my opportunity. Time to sink or swim.”

While the campaign continued to look for a replacement, Goldmeier went to work. “I didn’t sleep,” he said. Goldmeier read business publications, conducted research, and built as many relationships as he could in the area. He constantly attended networking events and arranged meetings for Sink. At the end of the campaign, Goldmeier alone had raised about $7 million of Sink’s $30 million total amount. “Even though Sink ended up losing by nearly a 1% margin,” he said, “I had begun to make a name for myself and on the election night of Sink’s loss a friend came to me with another opportunity.”

Within the next couple days, Goldmeier began having conversations about working as the Finance Director on a new campaign for the current County Commissioner Carlos Giménez, who was considering a 2012 run for Miami-Dade County Mayor. In one of the biggest voter recalls in U.S. history, the current Mayor Carlos Alvarez was ousted in March 2011. Giménez decided to run in the special election for the mayoral position against some steep competition. “We started polling at six points, while our main competitor was in the thirties.” Polling wasn’t the only numbers Goldmeier had to be concerned about. The opponent had the backing of the establishment, which came with more financial backing. However, Goldmeier had managed, against all odds, to raise more than $2 million in the special election and it did the trick. “We won by two points, fifty-one to forty-nine.” Goldmeier smiled.

When asked about what makes him successful at his job, it wasn’t the total amount of money raised that Goldmeier touted. In fact, it was the invaluable contacts he’s created. “My goal is to create relationships,” he said. “The more people and relationships I create, the more I can help others when it comes to fundraising.”

The approach is a bit unconventional for the field and is another reason he can fundraise for both democrat and republican candidates. Goldmeier thinks first about creating relationships and then later decides what may be the best giving plan for that individual, if any at all. “I’m extremely targeted,” he noted. “When it comes to political giving you have to be very strategic. Not everyone is the right person to ask for money for a given campaign.” Depending on the politician’s views, relationships, and office they are running for, Goldmeier will decide who is best to ask for donations. He used an example of not asking someone to support a new athletics stadium if you know the person is into the arts. “Again, you have to be very smart and strategic,” he reiterated. “I may not reach out to you for months, but when I do, I believe it's because this is the right cause or campaign for you to get involved in.”

Another reason Goldmeier is focused on creating these strong partnerships first is because his fundraising doesn’t end at political candidates. “The relationships I’ve created has allowed me to really help Miami, which I truly love,” he mentioned. “I have a number of charities I help fundraise for using my relationships.” Some of those charity organizations include his local United Way as well as celebrity basketball player Alonzo Mourning, who created the Mourning Family Foundation that supports after school programs for inner city youth.”
Goldmeier is also helping with a project called “The Underline.” The goal is to create a 10-mile linear park below Miami’s Metrorail, which will create an open space that will run from the Miami River to Dadeland South Station. The park will give residents a place to support a healthy lifestyle, art, and more.

Goldmeier isn’t just living in the present either when it comes to the relationships he’s creating. He’s actively attending networking events and connecting with the young professionals in the area as well. These individuals, in time, will become the political and societal front-runners in the years to come. “Life is about equity, not just retainers,” he said. “I believe that 15 years down the road all of these relationships will lead to amazing opportunities.” In short, Goldmeier is putting in the time with all of the residents of South Florida as he continues to focus on being a top fundraiser. Whether fundraising for a political campaign, commercial opportunity, or charity organization, he is there to help and has the connections to make it all happen.

At the end of the day, Goldmeier may have raised millions of dollars, but as he continues to support his community and grow relationships it’s evident that he’s so much more than just the man behind the money.
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