Written in partnership with Victorious PR
The classic novel is a tale we know well. In the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund Dantès overcomes much adversity to become a wealthy man with the means to enact a dizzyingly clever entanglement of revenge. Conversely, our protagonist today went through pain and suffering throughout his early life, but instead of becoming rich and jaded, he has become a man of knowledge, meaningful wealth, and integrity.
The Count of Monte Crypto’s definition of success is not judged by wealth; to him, whose name is Dustin Plantholt, wealth isn’t that important. The more meaningful metric is, ‘What do people say about you when your back is turned?’
On his website, we can find what people say about him. The carousel is overflowing with phrases such as “…One of the most extraordinary and visionary leaders I’ve encountered…” and “Dustin’s mission as a moderator is to make others shine,” and “…strong humanitarian values and his unique capacity to connect individuals and businesses across the globe…”
We sat down with The Count to get to know him on a deeper level: What matters to The Count, how did he get to where he is today, and why does everything he does seem to come so easily to him? Find out all, and more, below.
Classic Fairytale: The Count of Monte Crypto
Now a world-class crypto and metaverse advisor to the rich and famous, with a blackbook that includes astronaut Buzz Aldrin and a stamp-filled passport to boot, The Count is getting ready to host his next big event, the Forbes Monaco Power Women’s Summit, on December 1st of this year.
So how did The Count get to this status, a known crypto expert and connector, coveted to host events worldwide? The path, like Edmund’s, was not easy.
“I wasn’t born The Count,” he said. “I wasn’t born part of the ‘lucky sperm club.’ I wasn’t born to a situation where I had the perfect household or the perfect living conditions. When I was 18 months old, my mother left the family. She went to another relationship. My father was left to take care of my sister and myself. He was a dysfunctional dad who came from trauma.”
After his mother had left the family, his father started selling drugs, guns and stealing cars for a one-percenters Motorcycle Club, as his way of financially supporting the family. Which landed his father in trouble with the law, causing Plantholt and his sister to be sent to Foster Care during their father’s incarcerations. That was until he was five years old, when Plantholt’s father was sentenced to prison for 16 years, his punishment for more serious crimes. Plantholts sister, who later passed away in 2014 from a heroin overdose, and The Count quickly realized that life is tough, it is hard, and no one was ever going to ‘hand it to him.’ But, he says, that also became his fuel.
“The purpose of your life is to find your gift, develop it, and ultimately give it away,” The Count said. “I was a learner. I was someone that would ask questions of wise men and wise women. Along the way, the universe conspired and wanted to get me to where I am today. It wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t easy. It was everything and anything.”
The Count’s journey to his current career required him to have a cookbook of sorts, one with recipes and contacts that make up his livelihood.
“When you have a cookbook, you’ll succeed. Because the people in your cookbook will be mentors to you. Anyone you meet has the capacity to be your mentor in some way,” he said. “I’ve met some amazing leaders, women and people from different cultures, and the mindset is simple: Integrity. Across the board it is integrity.”
The Count went on to create a podcast in 2019, Life’s Tough, You Can Be Tougher. Guests that have been featured on the show include Queen Diambi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Orson Scott Card, Richard Weise, Wyclef Jean, Roger Ver, Tim Draper, Jerry Springer, and more.
Life’s Tough opened more doors for The Count, ushering in his latest amateur calling of film producer. He has now produced two documentaries about explorers and cryptocurrency.
He now helps many nonprofits, including the March of Dimes, to enter the Metaverse and figure out how they fit in, making sure they are not hoodwinked in the process.
Inside Look: Day in The Life of The Count
They say ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown,’ and The Count’s responsibilities are no different. He must always do his due diligence and ask many questions of someone before introducing them to his A-list rolodex.
“That comes with its own set of challenges,” he said. “People, especially in this industry, are a mirage. Businesses are a mirage. Once you start to ask questions, it’s like with everything, time reveals itself and who people are. Many people will make lots of extravagant claims, and I will question them on the specifics.”
We asked The Count if he could share any anecdotes about outlandish claims people have made and how he handles finding out the truth, and we were rewarded with a great story:
“Recently, I was with somebody who said he knew a major celebrity, like they were best friends. So I said, ‘Great, pick up the phone and call him!’ and he froze. He said they hadn’t talked in seven years. That’s the problem. People will make bold claims.”
In The Count’s world, though, people know that when he says something, they can count on him. His mentors include pro boxer Evander Holyfield; The Count can get Holyfield on the line if asked, and that is not something to be ho-hum about. The Count does what he does well because he is able to connect people to artists and celebrities who are curious about cryptocurrency
“People that I work with just want to know how they fit into the crypto space,” The Count explained. “They want to pick the brains of others that might have that missing dot or that missing puzzle piece. That is where I come in.”
He gets to know his clients in a distinctive way as part of his process. Starting with asking them about their personal life, he questions his contacts about their personal and business relationships to figure out in which community they need to be involved.
“Sometimes the crypto world might not be the right fit, and I want to discover that from the outset,” he said. “If you are somebody that doesn’t have the assets to watch the market go down 12%, as has recently happened, or 50% depending on the coin, I would suggest a good talk with your financial advisor instead.”
The Count provides common sense that might not be universal. He encourages his clients to become hyper vigilant. Those who approach him are billionaires, millionaires, even thousandaires, owners of small or mid-sized companies, those who do not trust the crypto space.
“I understand though! Why should they trust it?” he commented. “The earliest adopters of technology are the bad people. The earliest adopters that came in are the scammers or the rug pull artists. I am of the belief that failure leaves clues, yes, but so does success. Are you a knower or a learner? People that come to me are learners. They might have succeeded in their vocation, could be a titan of their industry, but they do not know my world. I teach them the rules, as long as they are legal, moral, and ethical. I am convinced at this stage in my career that ethics, well, they swing in the wind for some. I am working to combat that trend.”
When it comes to the metaverse, The Count looks at it the same way he looks at our physical world. Whether one finds entertainment, TV, friends, community clubs, assets, or gaming to be the most important, the metaverse will offer it.
“When I was a kid, I joined a ‘Hercules and Xena Warrior Princess’ website,” The Count laughed. “It was horrible, such low quality. And look at the internet now, how vast and sophisticated it is. ‘Metaverse’ will be the most important 9-letter word of this decade. It will evolve and grow just like that, from all of us using and shaping it as a collective.”
Integrity is Number One
Integrity is defined as ‘the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.’ More often than not, integrity requires bravery, even in business. You must be able to pivot, to have the courage not to take on clients who do not align with your values or who you know you cannot serve at the highest level. That must come before profits, and The Count agrees.
Many people who create companies do so based upon their personal motives. According to The Count, clarity of motive needs to be determined early on.
“As one of my mentors Robert Grant said, ‘If you’re starting a business just to make a lot of money, you won’t succeed,’” he explained. “If you’re starting with purpose — and I have the belief that we have an obligation to leave this world far better than we found it — if you do that, people will come to you and the universe will conspire for you to succeed.
“I believe in the Freemason idea that we can come together, put politics aside, put religion aside, and focus on what matters: To leave a world better for our heirs. We are the heirs to what we receive from our moms, dads, aunts, uncles, neighbors. When you treat your life as if your heirs are going to learn from you, then you might behave a little differently.”
Beginner’s Luck: Advice from The Count to You
We asked The Count to impart some wisdom for readers. Here are the nuggets he wished to share:
“First, what do you want?” he said. “People go their whole lives not knowing who they are. When you know what you want, you know what to go look for. If you say, ‘Alright, I want to take my $10,000 marketing budget and I want a return of investment that is 50x or 20x,’ my response would be, ‘Wonderful. The Metaverse can be a great opportunity for your business.’ If you’re a nonprofit and you’re trying to figure out how you fit in, NFTs could be a great opportunity to explore. Knowing what you want, defining that, and creating your roadmap is step one.”
Beyond that, The Count tells us not to be afraid of the metaverse and to embrace its potential rather than its current state.
“Don’t judge it by some ugly looking avatar,” he said. “Become part of it. Do baby steps. When you’re doing your research, bring your curious friends with you. Start a club! I think it’s time that like minded professionals and individuals whose morals and ethics match each other can come to a judgment-free place. That’s how it begins. You must be in a judgment free zone.”
The Count defines ‘baby steps’ quite clearly, in fact, when it comes to the metaverse: Find some inexpensive land. You can buy metaverse land through companies like Aftermath Island, Full Transparency, or Alpha Verse. Then, start to collect NFTs that are important to you, such as a collection that supports a local nonprofit or a favorite artist that comes out with a limited edition.
“Not all NFTs are garbage,” he said. “There are a lot that are, but there are entities that can give you IP ownership in, say, a TV series.”
Be cautious about flash-in-the-pan and hype style coins. Don’t go on YouTube and get sucked in by token videos that promise you life-changing returns. It is unlikely to happen.
“It’s like if a casino machine says you can have a $5 million jackpot so you go all in,” he said. “No one would do that. And I would suggest not doing the same thing when it comes to entering the crypto space. That goes for businesses and metaverse companies alike. There’s a word in Hindi, ‘jugaad,’ that means, ‘if you lack resources, be resourceful.’”
What’s Next for The Count?
The Count wants to create a club, The Monte Crypto Club, which will pull together some of the greatest minds in the world, artists who want to perform together, think tanks, and leaders — ultimately even hosting a debate in the metaverse.
It’s time that we eliminate borders. We still have rules and boundaries, and The Count is not an anarchist. He does believe in government, in rules, and in paying taxes.
“If you don’t believe in those things, all those amenities that you love having? Well they go away very quickly,” he said.
How true. The Count additionally has a platform launching called Cripterns, a place for interns entering the crypto space.
So, what is next for The Count of Monte Crypto? We will have to wait and find out… There are a lot of new things coming, and we are watching his career with great interest.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!