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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 28, 2015 • Issue 15:09:02

Street SmartsSM

Breaking the ice in the MLS Forum

By Jeffrey I. Shavitz
TrafficJamming LLC

I used a different approach with this Street SmartsSM article than with my previous articles; it may even be different than the approaches used by prior Street Smarts authors since the inception of this column in The Green Sheet. I didn't ask members of GS Online's MLS Forum questions about, or request feedback on, a specific issue in the payments industry. Instead, I suggested we have some fun and answer "icebreaker questions" so we could learn more about each other and share a different type of information with The Green Sheet audience.

The idea came to me recently when I was at a dinner party and was asked some icebreaker questions, which immediately made our dinner party that much more fun and enabled people to really get to know each other better. Following are questions asked at the party that I adapted slightly for payment professionals:

  1. What is the one goal (personal or professional) that you would like to accomplish in your life?
  2. If you were an ice-cream flavor, which one would you be and why?
  3. What's the ideal dream job for you (of course, if you weren't in the payments industry)?
  4. Are you a morning or night person?
  5. Tell us a unique or quirky habit of yours.
  6. Please fill in the blank: If I could be anybody besides myself, I would be ______ .
  7. How late is late?
  8. If money were no object, where would you like to vacation?
  9. What is your business goal in your life? Do you think you will achieve it?

After posting these questions on the MLS Forum, I received numerous responses. Plus, readers offered additional questions with corresponding answers. And some forum members posted questions they use to break the ice with prospects instead of answering questions about themselves. Following is a portion of the responses received. The text of posts is excerpted below members' usernames. I hope you enjoy the fun reading. More answers will follow in The Green Sheet's Oct. 12, 2015, issue, and I'll return to payment-related issues in this column thereafter.

Benjamin Abel

They haven't made an ice cream yet with the perfect flavor to dole me out pint by pint, so instead I think I'll direct my attention to No. 3. While I doubt many readers will be too interested in living vicariously through my employment daydreams, that question is a really interesting one to me.

3. What's the ideal dream job for you (of course, if you weren't in the payments industry)?

Honestly if I wasn't in this industry, and money/education was not an obstacle, there are one of two things I'd love to do:

  1. Animal-based work in a foundation, sanctuary or something of that sort. Humans are pretty interesting, but the animal world is unbelievable when you learn about the manners of adaption and survival that have been perfected over an incredible amount of time. In the real world I doubt I have the educational discipline to get a couple of masters degrees and really do it right, but I'd love to spend my time learning about that kind of stuff and would love to have a job like this.
  2. Do broad scale social research and experiments to better understand how people and the human mind works. Think the type of things Robert Cialdini references in Influence. What would make someone let you make photocopies before them or more likely to put a huge sign in their front yard? Really interesting stuff but not the best way to make an income, and in the real world, I don't have an interest in being a career academic living grant to grant.

Bonus answer: I wouldn't count this necessarily up there with a real dream job, but I would like to do some teaching as well. In my role now I'm a trainer, but I think doing side work teaching passionate students would be an incredibly rewarding experience. As it is, I love seeing people I've trained be successful, and I think it would be something enjoyable on a larger scale (working with a whole class). My mother was a high school teacher, and it was something she was really passionate about and really enjoyed (most of the time). The other side of that, though, is from everyone I do know working in educational fields, dealing with the bureaucracy is truly suffocating at times, but since we're talking about the ideal, romanticized version of these jobs, we can gloss over those details for now.

Also as an aside I want to answer: 7. How late is late?

  • Early is on time
  • On time is late
  • Late is unacceptable


I always ask people – how was their day at a networking event. Ask what they do for a living and who is a good referral source for you.

If I know someone they should meet, I ask them if they know so and so. Networking is a good way to meet people and get and give referrals.


1. What is the one goal (personal or professional) that you would like to accomplish in your life?

  • Professional – to have a significant impact on the industry and have a significant network of highly respected industry vets.
  • Personal – there's too many: go climbing in Yosemite, win a few awards for the beers I brew, play on the main stage at Grey Fox, own a couple of properties, etc.

3. What's the ideal dream job for you (of course, if you weren't in the payments industry)?

If not in this industry and the money wasn't a huge deal, teaching and playing music full time and/or running a successful brewpub where I brew beer on site.

4. Are you a morning or night person?

Used to be only a night person – but these days, I think I get about five hours of sleep a night. So both?

7. How late is late?

I agree with Benjamin – from my NYC days:

  • 10 minutes early is on time
  • On time is 10 minutes late
  • 10 minutes late it's time to find a new client

Though in California, I find 10 minutes late is closer to 10 minutes early, ha ha.

9. What is your business goal in your life? and Do you think you will achieve it?

To have a significant impact on the industry and to enjoy my job. Right now, I enjoy my job. Just need to make that significant impact.


Just need to make that significant impact.

Bang your head against the wall.


What is my ideal dream job?

  1. Rock star
  2. PGA pro (can't have nearly as much fun as a rock star but still get to travel the world w/excellent compensation)


My name is Anthony, and I have an appointment to meet with you about XYZ.

This works around 40 percent of the time. The percentage goes up the more qualified the appointment. Better list, scrubbing the list to make it more qualified, better calling software and more training for the appointment setter improve the appointments and increase the numbers.

Ladera Business Solutions

  1. Personal, to see my four kids have a healthy and productive life. Professional, to see my associates have a healthy and productive life.
  2. Vanilla, plain but always good.
  3. Baseball coach.
  4. Night person, four to five hours of sleep, going to bed about 2 or 3 a.m.
  5. Always call people "kid" when I can't remember their name.
  6. Ben Franklin.
  7. Late is on time.
  8. World cruise.
  9. Build something I am proud of that helps a lot of people be successful.


  1. I want to compete in the 2016 Ironman Triathlon in Tempe, Ariz. I need to shave off 50 pounds and find a swim instructor, but this is a big goal I'm looking forward to accomplishing.
  2. If anyone is from India , or is familiar with the culture, you'll appreciate this flavor: Paan! I love Paan.
  3. If it had to be in another industry, I'd be a truck driver. I get to make money by traveling across the country. I'd love that. I've driven cross country in my Porsche Panamera twice and five times in my Dodge Charger within the past six years. We live in one beautiful country.
  4. I eat with my pinky sticking out. Whether it's a hamburger, sushi, French fries or a dry aged steak. It's a habit I never noticed until an ex mentioned it. I think it came from not wanting my fingers to get dirty as a child.
  5. If I could be anybody besides myself, I would be my son Terence Van Horn Jr. He's about 17 months. Why not start life over with the same name in a different body?
  6. Late is late when you don't call me ahead of time to inform me of your tardiness.
  7. If money were no object, I'd vacation in the Al-Burj hotel in Dubai for about a week, then the following week I'd be in Ireland. After spending time there, I'd spend about a month in Germany. I have a client in Arizona who has a nice Indian restaurant there. After eating Indian food for a month in Deutschland, I'd spend a month is Switzerland, and I'd come back to NYC and post a serious foodie blog.
  8. I have multiple business goals. Many have to do with generating income across multiple industries. I believe I'll accomplish this as long as I continue to look for excellent people who are on fire with life, learning and working hard to achieve their personal goals.

Bonus: I could eat Indian food every day for the rest of my life. I love spicy curry chicken. I also love my juicer. My favorite juice comes from cucumbers!

Till next time

I look forward to posting further answers from my fellow payment professionals in the next issue. Although these questions can be asked at any dinner party, it is helpful to ask deep and introspective questions to ensure that you are leading down a path for your own personal and professional journey of success.

end of article

Jeffrey I. Shavitz is Chief Executive Officer of TrafficJamming LLC, which is a virtual business group for entrepreneurs and small business owners to help grow a company's sales (traffic = customers in his language). His experience in payments includes co-founding Charge Card Systems Inc., which was sold to Card Connect in 2012; Alternative Merchant Processing, dedicated to high-risk merchant processing; and Charge Card Funding, involved in the cash advance space. Jeff has published four books: Size Doesn't Matter — Why Small Business is Big Business, which became an Amazon No. 1 top release in both the business and entrepreneur categories; Small Business Aha Messages; The Power of Residual Income – You Can Bank on It!, and Networking – Get Connected. He can be contacted at 800-878-4100 or jeff@trafficjamming.com; his websites are www.jeffshavitz.com and www.trafficjamming.com.

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