As a business consultant and founding partner, can you share what you do day-to-day?
Each day allows for a new business opportunity. Whether ensuring that all project deliverables are prepared on time and to clients' expectations or carving out entirely new approaches towards objectives set by high-performing startups backed by experienced founders. No task is too great or too small when working with clients and earning their trust to perform at the highest professional level.
What makes you want to get up for the 8am meeting?
A high-impact morning routine is at the core of most successful leaders. It is also when I do my best thinking. There’s a running joke that I have with my team that ‘Monday is my favorite day.’ It grants me a sneak preview into a world of hardworking, passionate individuals who are making an impact.
Every morning brings an inspiring new opportunity to hear about how a venture firm or early-stage startup looking to improve the world around us. It’s a small window into the future driven by brilliant minds, entrepreneurial expertise, and disruptors with unique insight into a world of possibilities – at our fingertips.
That’s certainly something worth waking up for if you ask me.
Tell me about a couple projects you have worked on in the last month.
If the show “Shark Tank” didn’t already exist, I would have given Mark Burnett a run for his money. My project portfolio is vast and diverse with companies ranging from small startups to well established businesses worldwide.
I recently worked with a medical device startup, raising a “Series C” round whose mission is to improve clinical outcomes of endovascular treatment for patients suffering from strokes. This is certainly not the easiest concept to grasp. However, after analyzing data and performance, it shows that technology has the power to impact and save lives. Say no more.
Another industry where I’ve seen a ton of growth is Web 3.0, as newly emerging “Metapreneurs” are fully dedicated to expanding in this verse. One startup I was involved with created a hyper realistic community of like-minded “Metapreneurs” building, exploring and managing wealth through a gamified, immersive, and online experience. Wow, what a mouthful but also a very fortunate position to engage with leaders in such an emerging space.
No matter the industry, there’s always an opportunity to think differently and more openly about your surroundings – and the functionality of those surroundings. Web3 is challenging us to do just that. It’s the California Gold Rush 2.0!
What would surprise people about the work you do daily?
My work is not just about critical thinking, researching, elevating or executing client contracts, crunching numbers, or being detail-oriented as much as it requires the ability to listen, as well as a good deal of patience and a sense of humor.
When working with thought-provoking individuals who have big ideas and even bigger personalities, I respect those challenging the status quo. Blood, sweat, and tears have been shed, but also a degree of financial sacrifice. Active listening and asking the right questions allow both sides to think more critically and productively about the business narrative.
Tell us about your career journey.
How did you get from high school to your current role?
I always wanted to be a major-league baseball player. Growing up in Washington, D.C. I spent my childhood years idolizing Cal Ripken, otherwise known as “The Iron Man,” for not missing a game in 13 years. I thought that if I could maintain that level of hard work and dedication while also making money swinging a bat, I’d be set for life. Thankfully, for the Baltimore Orioles, that plan didn’t pan out. Instead, it forced me to reevaluate and set my sights on new horizons.
Not only did moving to New York City to attend Columbia University allow me to do just that, but also it provided some caveats. Early in my career, I learned that your twenties were about taking chances, so I tested the market. From theater acting to real estate, and food trucks to co-working spaces, I did it all. The tech bubble was booming, and everyone had an idea for an App. Despite my culinary aspirations or popcorn performance, I decided it was time to trade it all and get involved in tech.
Through my very own startup experience and the launch of my newly minted tech-storage business, “StoreMe,” I found myself in a unique position assisting rising trailblazers with aspiring ideas looking to compete in this industry. Around the same time, other well-established companies reached out seeking guidance and support surrounding new ways to accelerate their tech-driven businesses to level the playing field. Before I knew it, “135 Madison” was rapidly growing and striving towards a very competitive edge in the early stage consulting space.
What was it that made you choose this career?
I wouldn’t say I have ever chosen a career per se. My work is constantly evolving. We live in a modern era where you can have multiple careers, and successful careers at that, within a short time frame.
Overall, I am very fortunate that I’ve earned the opportunity to work within a network of tremendously smart, thought-provoking, diverse, and talented individuals who are in various stages and phases of their professional careers.
From brainstorming sessions looking to penetrate “thermospheric layers via the latest jetpack, solar powered Neon scooter” to your neighborhood’s favorite “‘brick and mortar’ Nitro-brew coffee shop,” my career goal is to work with the biggest, brightest thinkers in our orbit.
Was there an A-ha moment that made you confident this was the career for you?
I get at least 3-4 “A-ha” moments on average per day! It’s a constant reminder that I am where I need to be. I am reminded of the value of my own business experience to those on the startup journey!
Looking back at your career journey.
Were there any expectations you had that have ended up completely differing from reality, either in a good or bad way?
There are no guarantees in life. I’ve learned through experience that everything can change within the blink of an eye. It is important to focus on the positives and maintain a clear and present outlook, striving to make each day better than the last.
What experience has helped you the most in your career?
Failure, of course. Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” I always think back to that whenever I experience a hurdle in my career. Getting married has helped me in many ways, which was an unexpected curveball and one lucky home run!
Do you have a mentor or role model? How have they helped you in your career?
My grandfather, Josef Korbel, is my source of resilience. He was our patriarch who fled Nazi persecution during Hitler’s regime and invasion of the Czechoslovakia, only then to flee again Czechoslovakia to America following the Communist takeover.
It wasn’t until high school that I discovered my grandparent’s Jewish heritage and learned about our immigrant past. As you can imagine, this created some household discrepancies but also allowed us to embrace a beautiful new religion. This is a personal story.
Ultimately, the name and legacy of Josef Korbel live on in “championing democracy and diplomacy” at Denver University’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, a school that he founded. Among his mentees are his daughter, Madeleine Albright, and his student, Condoleezza Rice, both former Secretaries of State.
What did you study in college and how does that relate to the work you do in your current job?
I received my BA in Political Science from Columbia and my Masters in Business from George Washington, but my parents are really the ones responsible for giving me the key to unlocking my skill sets to success early on.
We’ve all heard the Latin phrase, “scientia est potentia” or “with knowledge comes power.” My father encouraged my brother and me to read everything we could get our greasy, grimy, adolescent hands on; meanwhile, my mother would perfect our writing. This is still a work in progress!
Our dinner table was home to political discourse, analytical discussions, lots of humor, and good food, of course, but not nearly complete without the eccentric opinion of the occasional academic or business leader stopping by.
What advice do you have for someone interested in taking a similar path?
Read everything. Gain as much business experience as you can. Work for great companies. Build solid relationships. Ask questions. Start a company. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Be vulnerable. Find success in failure. Learn from others' mistakes. Laugh. Stay healthy.
What one thing or accomplishment makes you the most proud?
I successfully founded three profitable companies. “StoreMe,” “Blender,” and “135 Madison” are all products of hard work as well as teamwork. I wouldn’t have had this level of success if it wasn’t for the people around me, and for that, I am deeply grateful. I also am very proud of the “135 Madison” mentorship program launching in 2023, where we are partnering with major universities and colleges worldwide to help students earn a living while also gaining a great deal of work experience.
However, my biggest accomplishment is still on the horizon, and it gives me a lot to look forward to. There are many teachings left to offer that will make each day more inspiring, challenging, exciting, and meaningful than the last.
Until then, I leave you a proud and humble man at the mercy of my puppy – ready to show me who’s boss at any minute.
Do you have a quote that you can share? Anything that inspires you? A quote you have hanging up on a wall? Is there a quote that motivates you?
“If you want anything done, ask a busy person to do it.”