Adam Mendler utilizes his professional, entrepreneurial and managerial background in his capacity as Chief Executive Officer of The Veloz Group. Under Adam’s leadership, The Veloz Group launched and continues to operate three technology-driven businesses. Follow him @adammendler.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
I have always admired great baseball players. My favorite of all time is Tim Salmon, and my favorite active player is Mike Trout, arguably the best player of my lifetime. I am regularly blown away watching Andrelton Simmons. But my heroes are my parents. They gave me life and continue to give me more than I could ask for without any real asks in return. They are truly kind, caring and giving to everyone, not just their oldest son. They embody a level of selflessness I can only dream of attaining.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
When I was in college at USC, the president of the university at the time, Steven Sample, spoke to one of my classes about a book he had recently written on leadership. He told us, “In your lifetimes, you will have five to six different careers. Not jobs, but careers.”
While I was initially dismissive of advice that I thought was outlandish, I came to realize that not only was he completely right, but his underlying point — in order to succeed in business, you need to develop a broad-based skill set that isn’t specific to a single profession — was incredibly profound. I am in my 30s and have had at least six careers already, potentially way more than six depending on how you define “career.” As the founder of businesses in three different industries with projects spanning countless others, I laugh at the thought that I ridiculed arguably the best advice I ever received.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Like every other entrepreneur, I have made way too many mistakes along the way to list, and each one has served as an invaluable learning experience.
With that said, our biggest mistake was trying to do way too much at once, which led to the absence of focus needed for any business to thrive. When we launched The Veloz Group, my business partner and I excitedly began exploring virtually every different business idea we had at the time and decided to try pushing on a number of them simultaneously, instead of focusing on one at a time.
We had a big vision of building lots of different companies quickly, which was great, but overly ambitious. We learned the hard way that in order to execute effectively, given each person’s limited time, energy and ability to focus, we had to dial back and hone in on the two businesses that were most viable. The importance of focus is universal; it is a struggle for every entrepreneur given all there is to do and the limited amount of time to do it, but without focus, nothing will get done well.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I wake up early every morning and kick off my work day right away, jumping from my bed to my laptop. I usually spend the first hour of each day pounding through emails, catching up on open items and reading the news. I love kicking the day off productively, and usually hit the gym once I complete my initial burst of work. The downside is that by the time night time hits, I am ready to fall asleep.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
You get what you pay for. There is a temptation to cut every corner financially given the need to make every dollar go as far as possible. The risk you run in being overly conservative with your money is that you don’t spend enough to bring in the right people or pay for the right services. It is important to spend wisely and carefully but to spend when necessary.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Hire someone. Business is a team sport and the stronger your team, the stronger your business. Great leaders set the tone and empower others. Start growing your team so you can have more good people to empower.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I am in a CEO peer advisory group that consists of alumni of my MBA program at UCLA that meets monthly and serves as a unique forum to solicit ideas and feedback, share vulnerabilities and improve our businesses and lives. Each month, we assess our levels of happiness and stress on a scale of 1-10. A defining characteristic of our group is that our happiness scores are usually pretty high, but our stress scores are always high too. I will know I have finally succeeded in my business when my happiness score is high and my stress score is low, and I’m able to sustain both consistently.