In this edition Entrepreneur, Author & TV host Jack Nadel, tells us how he overcame his biggest challenge, how he dealt with a bitter rival, what he learned from World War 2 and his top 3 tips for success.
Paul: I’d heard Jack’s name from time to time over the years, but only got to know him and his work recently. I’m delighted I did. His 70 years of experience as an Entrepreneur (every single one of them profitable) gives his advice and opinion real weight. Like gold.
He’s founded, acquired, and operated more than a dozen companies worldwide. Produced hundreds of new products, thousands of jobs, and millions of dollars in profits.
As the founder of Jack Nadel International, he created a global company selling specialty advertising products. And he’s written a number of books throughout his career. All aimed at helping entrepreneurs achieve success while retaining their integrity.
Oah, and he used to have his own TV show interviewing some of America’s brightest entrepreneurs! When it comes to business, he’s been there, done it, written the book and printed the T-shirt. Over to Jack…
What was the biggest challenge you faced as an entrepreneur?
Jack: Of all the challenges we have as entrepreneurs, perhaps the biggest one is whether or not to actually start a new business.
At the age of 29, I was an independent contractor working solely for one distributor in the advertising specialty field. At the time, the business consisted of calendars, advertising novelties, and business gifts.
I felt stymied by the company’s fear of moving into any other areas of business. I had gone as far as I could go without making dramatic changes.
Since I was the biggest producer, the distributor made me an offer to buy into their firm. Although they had a good reputation, I knew that it was a limited opportunity unless a dramatic change was made in their basic business plan.
After a week of discussion, the reality set in that my ideas and theirs were incompatible.
I made the decision that the only way to fulfill my vision was to start a new company. I considered our business as an advertising medium, competing with all other advertising like newspapers, TV and radio.
Jack saw opportunity and could not resist the challenge…
Jack: I never questioned the fact that I was doing the best thing for my future and the security of my family. I was willing to take the gamble and borrowed $10,000 (in 1953 when $10,000 would be the equivalent of $100,000 today).
I assessed my immediate needs: to find an office space. In those days working out of the home was considered sub-standard. My wife and I became the two sole employees.
She had a solid background in office management and possessed great skills in typing and shorthand. I had achieved some success and recognition as one of the top sales people in my field.
We started by renting a tiny office, bought a used partner’s desk, and brought a typewriter from home.
I would be the only sales person to start until we got some business going. Then I would gradually hire more sales people after I had set a base with my own business.
Sixty years ago, there were no women in the sales and the executive end of the specialty marketing business. It was a good business decision to bring women into the mix.
It also helped that I am an optimist at heart. During those early years I never doubted that success would come. I simply had too much energy and enthusiasm to fail.
Today, the company that we built – Jack Nadel International – is the gold standard for Promotional Products and Advertising with 20 offices around the world.
The greatest obstacle was yet to come…
Jack: The company I’d formerly worked with was very bitter and attempted to cut me off from suppliers.
They threatened to withdraw their business from anyone who sold to me. This is strictly illegal today.
But actually, this challenge was a blessing in disguise.
I had to create new promotions and seek other suppliers that were uniquely qualified to fulfil our needs.
My presentations were always fresh, because they were motivated by “Ideas That Mean Business.” This was the philosophy behind my company.
Prior to building my company, the thinking was that the promotional products that carried company imprints (T-Shirts, pens, mugs, etc.) were the primary marketing vehicle. But we knew that it really was the promotional IDEAS that created the business and insured continuity and profits.
This simple but dramatic change in thinking enabled us to render a greater service to all of our clients and helped to elevate our profile in the sales promotion community.
Over time our company became an industry leader, and I was voted into the Hall of Fame of our industries trade association.
Seven decades of learning…
Jack: Since these initial experiences, I have founded, acquired, and operated more than a dozen companies. The standards set in the early days have contributed to everything that came afterward, and finally to the contents of my most recent book, The Evolution of An Entrepreneur.
I can attribute some of my lifetime success to the experiences of my youth during the Great Depression. I helped support my family by scrambling to find a variety of sales and delivery jobs, and these experiences later paid many dividends.
Expanding horizons after the war…
Jack: In addition, my willingness to head out into the global marketplace developed from my military experience during World War Two.
After the war, I saw firsthand that the world had opened up and there were countless opportunities to explore with the right targeted thinking to evaluate them.
The process I developed around using “targeted thinking” continues to help guide me today, and it is something I pass on to the next generation of entrepreneurs in my book and on my website.
Jack’s Top Three Tips For Entrepreneurs…
Jack: I’d like to share three specific tips with your readers from the nearly 70 years of my career as an entrepreneur that I think are particularly useful for those venturing into entrepreneurship…
Jack’s Top Tip 1: Confidence breeds success, and success breeds confidence.
Inexperienced business people in movies are sometimes told, “Fake it until you make it.” While this makes for witty dialogue, there’s also an element of truth to it.
Customers, employees, and colleagues are attracted to confidence. The trick, of course, is to deliver on your confidence, which will in turn inspire more confidence in you.
This is exactly the kind of positive, self-reinforcing cycle that good businesses depend on for growth. The first steps in business are scary, but it gets easier as you grow.
Being successful at one stage of business equips you mentally and financially to take the next leap.
Jack’s Top Tip 2: The harder I work, the luckier I get.
With all due respect to lottery winners, good luck is sometimes described as the intersection of opportunity and effort.
The idea here is simple: People are often “lucky” because they work hard to put themselves in the right place at the right time and then take advantage of the opportunities that show up.
If it seems like good luck comes from the outside, that’s only coincidence. In reality, it’s usually more about persevering, keeping your eyes open for good opportunities, and planning carefully.
Good reputations aren’t created by magic; they are earned. This isn’t to say that some people aren’t really lucky, but even a lottery winner has to buy a ticket.
Jack’s Top Tip 3: The trip to success should be as much fun as arriving at the destination.
No one ever said success was easy. Often, the road to monetary success is stressful and difficult, with frequent setbacks and obstacles. That’s why it’s especially important to enjoy every minute of the journey, particularly your achievements and accomplishments, no matter how small.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor and look for positive lessons in the challenges you encounter. None of us knows how long we have in the game of life, so if you aren’t enjoying the process of earning your success, you might be on the wrong path.
Never postpone enjoyment in your life by working for the promise of success. I can honestly say that I have never spent a boring day in pursuing my career. More importantly, I have enjoyed those hours of uncertainty between creating and executing a deal.
One of the secrets to enjoying what you do is to recognize the humor in every situation. And true enrichment comes from the friendships formed along the way.
It’s really important to note here that no matter what you believe about entrepreneurs, whether they are born or made, all entrepreneurs have to evolve on their journey toward greater prosperity and success.
Even the most successful entrepreneurs you can think of have evolved through the course of their career.
Paul: There you have it. Fundamentals. Trust your ability to develop a better way. Develop an optimistic outlook and broaden your horizons. I can’t help but think that while Jack took advantage of the world opening up after World War Two, the Internet has compounded that opportunity ten fold.
We have never before had so many resources and so many opportunities to connect with individuals and markets who believe what we believe.
How can you take advantage of these resources today to move your business forward?
More resources for Entrepreneurs from Jack Nadel
A five-step thought process for entrepreneurs and those wishing to dive into business deals. It provides a clear and consistent framework for sound business development.
50 of Jack’s Tips for surviving and thriving in business.
Jack’s website, articles and archive interviews from his TV show for Entrepreneurs.