Entrepreneurial Lessons From a SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR


Guest Teacher: David Wachs @DavidBWachs 

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Welcome to the ten minute MBA. I'm your host. Got Declaring on the ten minute MBA. I give you tool, strategies, tactics, techniques that you can use to start, scale, grow or x Your Business. Today we are having a repeat guest lecturer, David Wax. David is the founder and CEO of handwritten. He was the founder of sell it. Before he exited that business, never had to work again, but he doubled down on something that he found a pain point for in the market. We're going to speak about some of the entrepreneurial lessons. Being a x entrepreneur, being successful twice. That is very rare. It's considering entrepreneurs usually have a ninety five plus percent fail rate. So these are some lessons for people that are just getting started, that are starting their first business. David has done it multiple times. Hopefully you can learn something from him. Let's jump right into it. So obviously don't be afraid to pivot. That would be which I know... was pretty obvious, but with with sell it, pivoting out a real estate and into Abercromby and fetch and you know that type of thing was a big a big change for handwritting. What it was is we kind of switched our whole focus and it was always I always wanted to be business in a focus, but when we started this the tagline was quality cards, your words and pen and ink, because it was much more consumer focused with these bespoke letterpress cards and everything like that. Now it's quality cards or, sorry, your words and pen and ink. You know, we want to put the words and pen and ink front and center and it's more business. You know, you can go on our website create your own card with your logo on it. So it's nice, but it's not letterpress. So we pivoted. They're slightly a long time ago I had the opportunity to do dinner. This is always the humble brag. I did dinner with Conan O'Brien and what he said was always get in over your head, and that is like the advice...

...that I've taken with me for twenty years. You know, you can't, you can't grow if you don't, if you don't try to overextend yourself and do things that you didn't think you're was possible. So that is that's been, you know, something I thought about for the last twenty some odd years, and you know, I think it's your universally applicable other things, you know, making sure and I think it's gotten even worse today from a generation perspective. Worse better, you know what I ever, how you look at this from a generational perspective, people are very sensitive now, and I think a lot of this is covid too, but being very cognizant of your team, the happiness of your team. You know, I used to be a grinder and I'd grind my team pretty hard. Now I kind of Bite my...

...tongue as as my team plans another game and another outing and Blah, blah, blah. You know, it's like it's a lot of that. But having a team that's having fun is so important just to keep the wheels moving because because they know come Thanksgiving and come Christmas they're not going to be having fun. They're going to be in this office work in their tails off getting all the notes out the door that come with those that cyclical period. So, you know, it's again that work hard, play hard, but it's so important to stay so focused on that. We have tools that we use to kind of do customer satisfaction. Employees at surveys and we're constantly taking a pulse on that. You know, when I sold my last company, the owners did like a whole survey on me with my employees, and most people really liked it, liked me rather, and I'm friends with a lot of...

...them to this day and they reach out to me on Linkedin saying, you know, you change my life, you help me, help focus me in a career path. But they are like one or two that had some very harsh words for me, and that you know, I've taken that to heart and I've really tried to adjust myself so I'm not seen in those ways, which is hard, you know, as the hard driving entrepreneur you're always trying to, you know, move the move the ball forward and everything else. But it's one of the reasons I have a private office. Like I'm not the HR person, I'm not a salesperson always on the phone. I mean I am on podcast and stuff. So it makes it does make sense for me to have an office. But one of either one of the reasons I have an office is because I know my energy and pacts people and so I'm trying to protect them from that energy. So you know. So so that's one thing I've learned is that I need to be very, very cognizant of my face, because everybody's face is public property, right like when you walk...

...into a space, people see it and they get positive or negative energy based off that public property. So as the head of the company, you have to be especially cognizant of that, and so I always try to come into a lap around the office, you know, try to be super bubbly David Wax, even though inside I want to you know, maybe I'm not so bubbly. A million stresser. Yeah, there's a million and things out on your mind. Yeah, yeah, so that's that's a real big one. Getting real technical and you know, feel free to tell me to shut up. The for us what it was crazy. You know, no technology. I think anybody in sales needs to know technology, whether that's duck soup, Bonjuro, handwritten, obviously course. Why wouldn't you want to use that? Zappier, which is critical, I think you know learning Zapier and what it can do. It is revolutionized our business. If I didn't work for handwritten, I'd want to work for Zappier. Just being an evangelist, I think Zappier is the coolest thing ever. You know, being in any job these...

...days, you have to have a tech inclination and understand the tools that can make you a more effective salesperson, because coming in, knocking on somebody's door, calling somebody over and over again, you know, isn't gonna that's not how people interact anymore. So you have to have a you have to know how your customer wants to interact. So learning about technology, and for us what that meant was learning about additive and subtractive manufacturing, because now we're building these robots. When we started they were all made of metal, and then I brought in people that taught me how to d print thumb, and then we went too far and d printing, and now we DPRINT, we laser cut, and I mean I could just talk to you about modern manufacturing techniques for all day long and that was out of my be went into it and you figured it out. You gotta figured it out. We figured it out. You. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I I love surrounding myself with people with the figure it out gene, as I call it. You know,... director of operations, if you you know, at first glance, they might not, you might not go wow, that person looks like they have the figure it out gene. She probably has the figure it out gene more than anybody else I've ever met, you know, and trying to find those people that have that figure out gene and put them to work on your team. It's like the greatest thing. You know. You don't need to. It's great up smart people in your team, but a lot of smart team people will give up if they don't figure it out right away. But if you have somebody that just will not quit, those are the best people to have on your team and I'm super lucky to have those people on the team. anyways, that's it for today. I hope you got some great entrepreneurial lessons and inspiration from David. Remember any business question to have. Don't worry, I got you. This has been another ten minute MBA. Have a great day. I'll see you tomorrow. I.

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