Mind of an Entrepreneur: Jordan Swerdloff

In celebration of the release of the highly anticipated ART-E: The Master Entrepreneur, the sequel to STAY POOR we are going to be bringing you a new series of articles asking some of today’s 10 most innovative lifestyle entrepreneurs to share their thoughts on the concept of entrepreneurship and how they are using the principles in the book to take their businesses or ideas to the next level. From failure to innovation, the world of entrepreneurship is without limits as ideas are nothing more than variations of what the eyes communicate to the brain. Our first entrepreneur, is one that has learned to fail based on experience and now leveraged his learning to grow his second attempt at the same industry into the ultimate wheel company. You’ve heard me saying before how much I admire those that know how to fail, learn and never give up…

Meet Jordan Swerdloff, founder and president of ADV1 Wheels.

In this segment Secret Entourage did not interview people but rather pointed them to a piece of the ART-E book and asked them to share with us their thoughts around how it applied to their business. Clicking each section title will take you back to the original article where you can explore the concept of each trait described. Every successful entrepreneur follows a series of behaviors and traits that are universal regardless of the business…

Learning to fail:

I’m confident in saying that no truly independent successful entrepreneur arrived at their peak before going through years of failure first. There’s no school or book that can teach you how to become successful, the only true lessons are those learned from failure. The early stages of entrepreneurship are so difficult because you’re so naive and inexperienced that you don’t know what you’re looking for in terms of problems, it fools you into thinking that you’re going somewhere when you’re really in the middle of a mental game it’s playing on you, and only after you go through it time after time will you start to understand the hidden problems to avoid. Sure there are teachers who can advise you, books that can explain it better but ultimately there are too many combination of factors that can lead to problems no one can prepare you for. To me that stage isn’t called failure unless you give up, the few who continue to push no matter what, are doing so because there is no other option, and who realize that it’s not failure but instead it’s school. It took me a long time to understand this, and countless failures to even begin to realize that it’s more of a mental game than anything else. Most people give up because their mind is telling them to, it’s finding ways to convince you that the economy is bad or the timing isn’t right or that you’ll try again later. I’ve seen it in my friends over and over again growing up, excitement and motivation to do something huge, resulting in a loss of motivation and eventual failure shortly after. The truly independent entrepreneur however has no other option, a job is only a tool used to learn the inside of the business and the drive to move forward isn’t forced, it’s just life. I can’t speak for everyone and maybe I’m wrong but in my experience and my own personal life this is how it is, you either are or you aren’t. You’re not trained to be this way, it’s just who you are and there is no back up plan except yourself.

The unfortunate truth in my opinion is simple, those who appreciate failure and learn from it by default in order to succeed in the future are entrepreneurs. Those who would go their whole lives struggling without hesitation before having to answer to anyone are entrepreneurs. Those who don’t depend on anyone and aren’t stressed knowing that there is no safety cushion or security other than themselves are entrepreneurs.

Those who aren’t willing to risk everything at the drop of a dime are not, and will never be.

I’m not an expert and again maybe I’m wrong about everything I’m saying, all I can speak for is myself and my own experiences. I continue to fail and I know I have years of struggle ahead of me, but only because of the years of struggle and failure that I’ve experienced without giving up do I know this and am not fooled by my current success, instead I ignore it and continue to push because I know now how easy it can all turn into another failure in the blink of an eye. Without failing 100 times before, ADV.1 would be just another naive dream of owning a successful company, or maybe I am being naive and it’s nothing more than another lesson, I guess we’ll see.

Self motivation:

Even though most would say that I don’t pay much attention to other peoples every day ideas and overall personalities, I actually do. I’m not one to talk much about life or experiences but I’ve always watched closely how people go through dramatic ups and downs in terms of motivation. I can’t explain why but I know that I learn from it and I can see that most people want to motivate themselves so badly in order to break out of their routine that it’s not a natural motivation but more of a forced motivation. Telling yourself to be motivated to do something life changing isn’t real in my opinion, however I understand that most people don’t have anything in particular to naturally motivate them, instead they’ll find something that sounds like a good idea and then attempt to force themselves into it. I’m not sure if this is correct but I believe that it’s A or B, you either try to become motivated or motivation is what gets you up in the morning. I acknowledge that and even though I’ve always been a highly motivated person, I can imagine that it’s not easy for a lot of people who can’t get that drive and I wish there was something I could say to help but I’ve tried a million times to motivate my friends who struggle with it and I see them try over and over again with the same results. Because of that I feel that it’s naturally in you or it’s not unfortunately. Maybe it has to do with how you’re raised, or maybe it’s genetic, I have no idea but for me it’s not really motivation to succeed, but more passion for what I’m doing. I’m not trying to be in the wheel business, I’m just here. I love it and I always have, so it motivates me every day. Sometimes I can’t wait to get to work just so I can start the next project, it’s always been like that for me. I’m thankful to be this way but I really can’t explain what does it.

Choosing the right team:

Without the right team, ADV.1 would not be nearly the success it has been. I’m very particular about who represents the company and who controls important aspects of the day to day operation. As your company becomes busier and busier, you simply can’t do everything and the time comes when you need to start hiring employees in order to grow. Your time is much better spent dealing with important issues and progressing the company than throwing out the trash and running around town wasting time. My original intention was to keep the company small, minimal overhead and low staff however as we began to get busy my day was less productive since I was dealing with issues that should be handled by someone else. I look at the day in a different way than most, it’s all about efficiency and choosing what tasks to do in order to have the most productive day possible within the 10-12 hours spent working. The tasks that are best left to someone else I simply delegate and by the end of the day, everything is done and I was as productive as humanly possible with no wasted time or energy.

Choosing the staff who you feel comfortable handling these tasks and representing the company is a tough decision, one I leave to my gut. I try to never hire anyone who didn’t come recommended from someone or who I didn’t know personally first of all, as the most important thing before anything else in my opinion is trust. If there’s any doubt, any feeling that you can’t trust the person 100% it’s a no go to me. Once past that factor, there’s a million things that need to be clear based on whatever your individual business needs are. I treat my staff like partners, not employees and I don’t think of them as employees. I make sure that they’re rewarded as we progress and improve, they’re paid well, and that they’re happy. Unhappy employees aren’t beneficial to anyone, they’re not happy with their job which equates to everything they do. Underpaid employees in my opinion actually cost the company more than what you’re saving as they’re unhappy, unmotivated and lead to a higher turnover rate, increased training and decreased output. Just put yourself in any employees shoes, would you work your hardest and stay loyal to your company if there’s no reward? Because of these methods that I’ve learned from my pops, someone who’s literally had hundreds of employees come and go, my team is passionate, motivated and trustworthy. ADV.1 provides real customer service, from people who really do care and real product quality from experienced techs who love what they do and love making our company better and better, it’s because of them that we have the flawless reputation that we do and it’s because of them that I’m able to focus on designing the wheel industry every day.

Passion vs emotion:

Making the right choices and decisions isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sometimes what you feel is the right way isn’t so and could lead you into an unforeseen problem. I base my decisions on 2 things, first my gut feeling, second my researched, analyzed projection based on experience and facts & not emotion. Emotion will excite you, and can bring an idea to the table however it can lead you in the wrong direction if you don’t plan your decision carefully by taking the black and white facts into consideration and leaving the emotion out of it for a minute while you calculate your decision. Any major decision that can affect your business in any way needs to be carefully thought out before finalizing, you can’t be impulsive with these things, instead each needs to be treated like a chess game. Use the emotion to bring new ideas, use the black and white facts to act upon them.

Power of execution:

The most commonly used term at ADV.1 is MIH, make it happen. What I mean when I say MIH is get it done, don’t ask questions, don’t talk about it just do it and move on to the next task. Those who simply do and don’t spend their day talking, asking, and thinking are the ones who succeed. I see a lot of people come up with ideas and never do them, talk about plans but never follow through with them & generally just dream of what they want to do instead of doing it. Everyone is different and I can’t speak for anyone else but my advice is to dive into it and make it a point to follow through with whatever it is if you started it. Don’t even bring it up if you’re not going to do it, and don’t talk about it just MIH. I make it a point to never say I’m going to do something without following through, and to never talk about doing something unless I’m really going to do it. There’s no excuse to not MIH except your own lack of execution and not following through isn’t going to get you anywhere.

If you haven’t done so yet, make sure to check out this amazing video showcasing the success of ADV1 and a look at the new wheel industry but more importantly how that one idea reshaped the industry.