Intrepreneur and former Street SmartsSM author Jeff Shavitz owns four companies. LexCharge maintains his strong ties with the payments industry, providing transaction processing for law firms. His other ventures, TrafficJamming LLC, Clickit Golf Inc. and Jack Daly Training, have expanded his influence into new spheres.
In this interview, Shavitz discusses how he maintains a healthy work-life balance, how he became a best-selling author on Amazon and how success is not always defined by the amount of money you have.
I try to have an outline the night before of what I want to get done the next day. I also work really hard from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and don't check emails or phone calls. I just aim to do real work and be extremely productive. If I can work hard for three or four hours, then the rest of the day is fun; it's just making phone calls.
And really, what's hard about what we do for work? We just sit on the phone and at our computers. It's not that difficult. It's not like we're farmers; that's real labor. If I can focus just for a couple of hours to divide and conquer and then collaborate with good management teams, that is what makes it work.
Not by money. I think money is a scorecard you can use in life to say you want to make a certain amount of dollars to signify that you're relatively successful in your business career. But I have a great wife and three great kids. I think success is much more important on your family side. I know a lot of very financially rich people who are miserable.
When I was at Lehman in 1988, I worked 80 to 100 hours a week and got into business school. I decided that I didn't want to be a corporate person; I wanted to be my own person and be an entrepreneur. Having a finance degree was a good background. Through a family friend, I heard of the payments industry, which I was unfamiliar with. I did homework for about a year or so and hired some consultants to teach me the business. I then founded an ISO called Charge Card Systems Inc.
I think the biggest challenge is that entrepreneurs work in their business but not on their business. Most business owners come in and put out fires every day, but they don't have a strategic vision. They may say they do, but they really don't. They are living in the moment.
Many small business owners are also scared to invest in the right talent to grow their company. They often don't even do the proper assessments to see if the person is right for a particular job. An employee might be a great person but may be in the wrong job within the company, causing that person to fail. An assessment test could have easily shown that the person should have been, say, in marketing instead of accounting.
In everything I'm involved in, I always want to be a part of the leadership. The Green Sheet is the trade journal of the payment processing industry, and I want to be a leader, contribute, give back and learn from the community. I want to meet other high-achieving people, share my thoughts and learn from others. I find that very meaningful.
As a way of also giving back, I became the author of Street SmartsSM, the twice-monthly column that shares insights and receives feedback from the payments community. It was a great experience.
I am not a writer by background. My daughter attends the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. She's in the undergraduate business program. When she was applying a few years ago, she needed help with her essays. When she said she needed help with the writing, I started putting my thoughts down and discovered there was a book here.
A lot of my friends have asked me how I went from being in big corporate America to being a small-business owner. That became the topic of my first book, which I wrote in about a year. I didn't write every day. I wrote for maybe an hour a week. Then the concept got picked up by a publisher based in California's Silicon Valley.
When the book came out, I was fortunate. It hit No. 1 and became a bestseller in the entrepreneur and business management category on Amazon. The book did well, and then I started getting a little bit of a following. People started calling and emailing me and sharing their thoughts. I have written four other books since then about business.
I have three children. My middle child is a junior in high school, and we wrote a book called Mom and Dad – I Promise I'll Get into College. It's 140 thoughts, 70 by me and 70 by my daughter, about the college experience. That book hit No. 2 on the Amazon charts and is a best seller. I was happy for my daughter. She's smart, and it was a good experience for her.
Through the books, I have become a contributing writer to Entrepreneur magazine. I write for them on a monthly basis. I also write for a magazine called the The Business Journals, which has 60 magazine affiliations. It's funny how things happen. You do something just for the fun of it, and things open up.
My friend Jack Daly is 68 years old and lives in San Diego. I consider him to be the best sales trainer in the world right now. He is like the Tony Robbins of salespeople. He and I wrote a book together that is coming out in a month, and we have launched a sales training program that is actually one of my businesses right now. It's a membership program. The website is JackDalyTraining.com, and we have taken all his content – the books, the articles – and are introducing it to salespeople all over the world.
For TrafficJamming, my theme is that although it's a very competitive world, it's very hard for customers to find good companies. So, if you can create a tribe of followers, you will be very successful. I look at the whole big world and say all I need is a tiny fraction of people that I relate to and who relate to me. If I can establish relationships with those people, I can become a successful businessperson. I am striving to create a connection with small to midsize business owners through TrafficJamming and create valuable services so they can create growth with their company.
With Clickit Golf, golfers are crazy about golf, and we want to take that passion about golf and make our website the go-to marketplace for golfers. We want to become the Kayak of golf, so when golfers want to find the weather, purchase a round of golf, get tournament scores or buy golf equipment, Clickit is available for their needs. Clickit creates a national brand that resonates with golfers, and we want to add personality to the site and become their go-to place.
I just bought a rowing machine and have become addicted to indoor rowing. What were you like at age 10?
I needed braces very badly, and I was trying to ask out a 12-year-old girl.
Coaching my children in sports is a big part of it. Being with my wife. My biggest challenge right now is – why did we get a second dog? It's a lot of work having two dogs.
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