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-Hey, Thrivers. It's Paige Taylor, and today on Thrive15.com, a lynda.com alternative, and we're sitting down Clay Clark and Jack Nadel Jack is a decorated World War II veteran, and he's also the founder of Jack Nadel International, one of the top distributors of promotional merchandise in the entire United States.
Today, we'll be talking about becoming an entrepreneur. Are they born or are they made? You will learn about the mindset needed to be an entrepreneur and how to succeed. So if you want to become an entrepreneur, the keep watching.
-Jack, how are you my friend?
-I couldn't be better.
-Hey, I am excited to talk to you about a topic that you know a lot about. You've been an entrepreneur for over six decades, and we're talking about this topic of are entrepreneurs born or made. So I want to start off with a big question. Hopefully this isn't too big of a one to get started with here, but it says, why did you want to be an entrepreneur? I mean, why did you, personally-- why did you want to become an entrepreneur?
-Well, I could not defined at that time what it was I wanted to be.
CLAY CLARK: OK.
-I know I've been very fortunate that I have within me a lot of joy. I enjoy a lot of things-- many things that I enjoy. But to get into the specifics of wanting to become an entrepreneur, I'd say-- I'd start with the fact that who I was.
The realization from an early age-- being brought up in a community which was totally filled with immigrants who are native born-- native stock or anything else-- each coming with different ideas of what this country was like. And you'd be amazed, but the thing that I'm found out is very grateful that I was born in the United States where I have opportunity. Because more than being an entrepreneur, I think I've described myself as an opportunist.
-So do you feel like that one of the reasons why you decided to become an entrepreneur is because you are an innate opportunist or is that a decision that you made?
-No. It's a talent-- it's what's within me-- the desire to-- I guess there's a certain amount of orneriness in me that maybe rebels at stupid orders or as a feel, see I don't really want to do this. And if I really don't want to do it, I just wind up not doing it.
But I found that running my own show-- and I say show to include the whole world, not just business, my personal approach is very entrepreneurial. I believe that I have opinions on certain elements. And those are my opinions, but I'm very strong with them
I remember many times I would come up with a policy, and someone says, they're not going to like that.
I said, it's not my problem. I'm not trying to please the world because anybody that tries to please the world, winds up pleasing nobody.
And so I really was happy with the fact that I'd say the happiest part of my entire career was when I made all the decisions. I'd wake up any time I wanted to. And if they work, great. And if they didn't work, I'd pick myself up and go over the next one.
-What motivated you to become an entrepreneur? Was it this idea that you can control your own destiny? Or what was your big motivation?
-My first motivation is not to be poor.
-OK. All right.
-I always felt that-- I had a very interesting opinion on money from an early age, considering the fact that my family had so little of it. And although I don't think I could describe that way at the time, but that's what I felt. Being able to have enough wealth to give yourself options to do the things that you really want to do.
So the first object-- well is frankly-- to go from rags to riches. That was it, pure and simple.
I liked ice cream sodas. So I wanted to buy an ice cream soda. At that point in my life, I never worried about what my weight was. And I wanted to buy them when I wanted to buy them, and what to have them when I wanted to have them.
-So in your mind, did you kind of arrive when you could buy ice cream sodas whenever you wanted? Was that a first milestone?
-Yeah-- a from. A from of that. A form of that. Let me put it differently. It changes, but it's always the same
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JACK NADEL: I remember, maybe 50 years ago, I had a wonderful friend who could not get over how many hours a day I worked or how hard I work and he would say, why are you working this hard? I said so I don't have to do it when I get older and I don't know whether I'll be able to do it when I get older.
So I want to have the option, at that word I could use the word, option, of going whatever direction made the most sense for me. I have never appreciated that decision more than I do now 50 years later because I have arrived at a healthy age. I'm 91 years old. I can't do everything by myself but I can afford to do the things, most everything I like to do.
I can't play golf anymore. I love golf. I love many, many things. But I can write. I can talk. I can use the latest gadgetry, the latest technology. And I think it was all put there so the idea of earning the money gives me the option to do what I want now. I am not dependent on anybody.
I would hate to be out there as so many of my friends were or are and they have to make a choice between medicine and food. There should never be that kind of choice. You should always be able to get what you need. So the idea of being independent, being self- disciplining, being self-motivating, is really--
-Well this kind of ties into this because what did you get, I mean, if you look back your career. Now obviously, you have your independence now at the age of 91, but you know, obviously, you were 20, you were 30, you were 40, you were 50, and you were really succeeding as an entrepreneur in your early 20's.
JACK NADEL: Right.
-If you look back, what did you get out of being an entrepreneur, or some of the fruits that you got out of all this hard work you put into it?
JACK NADEL: I came out of the Air Force. I had been in danger. I had been under discipline. I had been, I don't know what I hated worse, shooting at or I'll be shot at, as much as being told what I have to wear today. Because they posted the uniform of the day. You had the food of the day. Everybody ate the same thing. I don't have the same tastes everybody else has.
So the freedom of being able to make your own choices, to me, was really big and then something that I've learned along the way is the act of being successful was fun. I mean I really enjoyed it. It was like going to a good show and getting the right ending. It was just fabulous.
So there was nothing that I did. As a matter of fact, I think I must have made a few enemies along the way. They would get irritated because I sort of put a funny twist on everything.
Like when the, I think I mentioned, when the tide in government told me I was breaking the law, and I said I didn't think it was against the law to lose money. So this was just a little touch of humor, but it eased any of the, there was no pain. There was no pain.
OK, you can't be a, a guy who goes, how are we going to get to go somewhere? Wait a minute, we can't go. We just can't go when we want to. Singer Sewing Machine down the street tried to leave and the workers came in and sat there and they lost millions of dollars while they were there. They couldn't do anything. Let's steal our own company. And the fact just broke me out if I started to laugh.
-Uh, I actually went to the, and hired, French longshoremen and--
- --trucks and--
-Let me ask you this. Because you, as I look around here, you live in Santa Barbara. It is just beautiful. You know, you've got kind of like the-- I know you don't care, but we live in a kind of a celebrity world where people go, oh my gosh, I can't believe your neighbor's this person or that person. Beautiful mountain view right by the ocean. In terms of, because I definitely agree you've enjoyed the freedom and the fun, and that's what-- in my mind-- matters the most, but you've also been able to enjoy some awesome homes and some great restaurants and some unbelievable...
-I can't even express it. You started to do it. I've travelled around the world and if I had my choice of anywhere to live, it would be right here, under the circumstances that I do live. So my choice I would have made then is what I am living at, what I am living now. But that also came with a wonderful journey.
-And to me, the journey has to be as much fun, or more fun, than the destination. And I remember the first time I went to France. And as a matter of fact, this is the time of year that they have the French film festival. And I was there in the middle of the French film festival. I knew a lot of people there. I was able to go to a few of the functions. I met some of the people. I met movie, I couldn't believe it. I said, here I am, sitting on the Croisette, having a brandy, and I'm just a poor kid from the Bronx.
-Well, you did some other stuff that blows my mind, too. I mean there's countless things, and in your book, "The Evolution of an Entrepreneur," people can get a better idea of some of those. But President Reagan asked to be part of a task force to go over to Japan and talk to these guys about the trade imbalance, and figure out how we could work together.
-That was one of the great surprises which I, to this day, do not understand. I don't know where he found me. I was not active in any Reagan campaign. The closest thing that I can come to it is I did meet his manager when he was an actor, and played golf with him. We had some fun together. And I said, you mean this guy really wants to be governor of California? And he said, don't underestimate him. He's smart.
-Well you made, your company made, your promotional company made shirts for the movie "Jaws." You launched the D.A.R.E. Campaign with all their promotional items. I mean, there's just a, your career has been so rich with different accounts and projects you've worked on. I mean it's--
-I can't begin to tell you. Sure, innovating, making t-shirts for "Jaws." But it was more of a charge starting a complete program for D.A.R.E., which is the Drug Abuse Resistance Education. And starting an entire promotional campaign, which included t-shirts and uniforms and caps and all kinds of things, and found a way that part of the money went to D.A.R.E. to support their activities. So first, I saw the physical evidence. Hey, that's my shirt he's wearing.
-You know? And I saw the fruits of the labor. That the kids that were dope addicts, who were having a tough time, were being brought into a healthy circumstance with sporting activities or with socialization, and with the disappearance of gangs and stuff like that. That was very, very, very good for me.
-Looking back on it, did you feel like that, did your career come up to your expectations? Did your evolution as an entrepreneur, did your journey meet your expectations?
-I never had expectations so I can't tell you that.
-I could not have defined, I expect to do this, I expect to work with a nonprofit that's helping kids. That was never a, like-- People would say, did you feel like your company that you started, just you and your wife, would become this big or this active or this well known? No, of course I didn't. I had no idea. However, on the broader scale, I never questioned the fact that I would be successful. I didn't know what course it would take.
-It wasn't laid out. If you're a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer, you know where you're going. When you're an entrepreneur, you say, here I am, world.
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