Do you want to start a business? In this series you will learn how to find a need and fill that need from Jack Nadel, a successful business man with over six decades of experience in entrepreneurship.Sign Up to Watch
-If you could find and could afford a well qualified psychiatrist or psychologist who has experience and success-- I got to point that our quickly-- who has experience success at this, you could put yourself in his or her hands. But ultimately, you wind up even under their tutelage, you're working it out for yourself.
-Now I want to ask you this. You were in LA-- and for those people who have not seen one of your trainings where you talk about this. You're in LA, and you guys-- you and your brother-- decide to go to the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. And they had very active foreign trade group section there. What made you decide to go to the chamber? What was your idea?
-Because our original idea was not find a need and fill it. Our original idea was get into the export import business because we need trade. We need trade, so that was really--
-That was your big idea.
-That was the big idea. Whether it followed a different pattern after that, and I wound up in the sales promotion business, and he wound up in some kind of chemical business is irrelevant. But this is the way it started off. And one leads to the other. And as I said, my biggest talent-- and we call it that-- is as an opportunist. I see possibilities I didn't see before.
-There's kind of two nuggets in there. I mean one is, you can't steer a parked bus. If the bus is not moving, you can't see new things and run into new things. But then in your case, if you don't have that mindset to spot those opportunities, then you also-- So you got to get moving and spot those opportunities.
-Yeah, and what kind of condition was created? The fact of the export import. That led to domestic trading had nothing to do with shipping to a foreign country. But we found that people were daunted by being in foreign trade. And it didn't daunt me at all.
-Because you'd been over there.
-I was. Not only that, but someone said ask me a question in a class I once gave. He says, I'd love to be in foreign trade. I wouldn't have the foggiest idea of how to fill out an export declaration.
And I say, I been there for 60 years, I don't have a foggiest idea of how to fill out an export declaration either. I mean that wasn't what I did, I was showing merchandise back and forth. They always find somebody to fill out the forms.
-I think we all put caps on our self, we all put lids on our self in some capacity. It's very careful that as an entrepreneur you become aware of those things. If you're not getting into the business because you're afraid of the forms or you're not aware of the forms, or you wouldn't have the foggiest idea, we can't get stuck.
And there's this awesome excerpt from a Harvard Business Review article entitled "The Three Networks You Need." In this article they say, "You need a strategic network because the forces that drive change in your field it will probably come from outside your current world. That means you need some way to discern those forces when they first appear on or over the horizon, not when they arrive at your door. That's the purpose of your network."
I mean, you guys were networking. You guys were out there networking, meeting new people. What would you say--
-All the time.
-What would you say to the entrepreneur or the potential entrepreneur who's saying, I don't like networking, I don't go out much, I kind of stay right here?
-Do exactly what I said at the beginning, start with something you love to do. Because when you do that, you're going to find a lot of other people who love the same things. If I love to travel and I'm travelling, I'm in a nest of people who love to travel. Otherwise, they wouldn't be on that plane or that boat.
-How big of an impact has your network played in your career success?
-I can't say. It's certainly it's played, because I've been able to use them to both of our advantage. As an example, I made a deal once with Pierre Cardin, the great French designer. And I wanted him to design for us a line of writing instruments that looked a little bit different, but had a designer look to it. There were no designer pens yet.
I was wearing a pair of designer jeans. Figured my pants were no different than anybody else's, but I just [INAUDIBLE] that on there, which I did. And wonderful story leading up to it. But I went six months after I made the deal to sign the papers, six months after I started to sign the papers. I read them which is a bad habit.
Well, it said there should be no other name besides Pierre Cardin. Well, that's impossible because we always sell pens for advertising. He says it's always the name. His name would be on it as the designer or the manufacturer or the name of the line. But there'll be another.
Well, for example, the guy says to me who do you-- so I said, oh, Banque Nationale de Paris. He says that's all right. I said, but he could be the local butcher. No, sir. Monsieur, not possible. Not the local butcher, but Pierre Cardin. Not the local butcher.
So I said is Mr. Cardin here? He was. We went to see him. And after the licensing guy explained the whole thing to him in French. And the thing that I kept hearing was the butchers, the butchers, the butcher. And Pierre Cardin looked at me, said Monsieur Nadel, how many pens you sell this way? I said millions. He said OK. That was the deal. That was the deal.
But the story that I started with is we got to be very good friends and at one point, he was doing some very big things. He needed extra cash, and I made a deal with him to actually by the name for certain products. So I was in the licensing business, which I never in my entire life expected to be. I was actually licensing and collecting licensing fees. And that's the greatest business in the world because there's no cost to it.
CLAY CLARK: Yeah.
-You give them your name, and they give you 10%, or 5%, or 2%, whatever the case may be. So there was a connection. The connection was made. Something happened two years later that I would never have predicted as part of this--
-But you were in the game. You were in the room, you were in the game, you were in the deal.
-I was able to make a lot of money with it. But just keeping your eyes open and saying, every down stroke has an upstroke. Sure, there's a down stroke. They couldn't buy navy blue material for uniforms for the the Chinese army. Kuomintang, they called it. And finding the solution and selling it opened up all kinds of doors.
-Just to set the stage for that so that people get the background on that. Basically, you guys went to the Chamber of Commerce for LA, and they're publishing this weekly bulletin about inquiries of countries that need supplies. And you find out the Chinese are needing navy blue woolen material.
-And you and your brother. Is this you and your brother at this time?
-My brother and I.
-And you guys are crazy enough to say, well, let's take all the olive green surplus material.
-Oh, no, we didn't say. We had to go around the world a couple times.
CLAY CLARK: To get it?
-How do we get it? Who's got it? We called the distributors, called jobbers, called merchandise people.
-But you found a problem.
-No such thing, because we had, there's no new-- Well, wait a minute. Now we get something that says the Army is selling surplus army olive drab.
-So what it did take was a kind of mind--
- --which put the two together and said, let's buy the olive drab. Let's go to a chemical company, have them dye it navy. Let's sell it to the Chinese. That worked.
-You have your antenna up. As an entrepreneur, you're looking--
-Always, always, always.
- --for needs. You're always-- they're up there. You're looking for them. Once you find them, then you have to be solution-oriented. Not just stating problems, now you have to look for solutions.
-First there has to be a problem.
-Now, Jack, this is the point that really blows my mind. Because in your book, it says, "With our feet to the fire we needed to produce, in the course of the deal we figured out how to buy, how to sell, and how to finance a transaction." So you guys are figuring out how to buy, how to sell, how to finance. So many people keep going to school, and going to school, and reading books, and hoping they get to know everything before they get started. You just had to hop in.
-For us, it was so much fun.
-So much fun!
-You find a nontraditional way of doing something that solves the problem that exists at the time. And several very large deals happened in just that manner.
-I just want to make sure we're getting this, so the Thrivers can distill this. If you have an idea-- because if you found a problem, if you found a need and now you go, OK, I want to solve it, you don't even necessarily have to know how you're going to solve it. You just have to start by finding the need, and then you kind of start with the tools that you have. I think you have a quote you like to say is, "Use what you have to get what you want." You want to get-- right?
-Right. Right. Sometimes it's a circuitous route to get to the solution, or sometimes you'll start on it and start one way, and it doesn't work. And you go another way until you find an open door. But it's somewhere along the way-- this is not a tried, tested, true solution, but to me there's an answer to almost everything.
-How long did it take for you and Saul to feel comfortable with selling? I mean, you found this deal at the Chamber. I mean, how many other people go to the Chamber a lot? They all saw the same release you saw, they all saw the same problem you saw. You saw the need, you decided to fill it. But how long did it take you, where you felt comfortable selling?
-I think we were born that way.
CLAY CLARK: Really?
-Yeah. Never felt uncomfortable trying to sell something. And he certainly didn't-- he was a master salesman.
-For somebody out there who's afraid-- because I've trained a lot of salespeople. I know you have, too.
-Let me, let me-- yeah. I don't mean to interrupt you.
-Oh, sure, no.
-But just to-- this is a very interesting idea, because people sell in many different ways. And when someone asks me how you teach somebody to sell-- somebody who's reluctant, someone hesitant, someone has his grabbing of his heart before he goes in to meet somebody new-- is you do it.
-You learn by doing.
-Just by doing. Just by doing. How do I shoot that basket? Stand there and fire! How do I hit the ball? Swing the bat!
-Ready, fire, aim. You endorse this method.
-Absolutely. You're going, even by accident--
- --you're going to find a way. And you find the key.
-Can I ask you if you endorse a little theory I have here? Because I've worked with a lot of entrepreneurs, and I feel like one thing that I do and most of the Thrive-- all of the Thrive mentors we've interviewed so far do-- they kind of look at the worst case scenario. Sometimes, they look at the best, they kind of look at the worst. They sort of get comfortable, eyes wide open, knowing if everything goes to hell and it falls apart, this is the worst case scenario. And they kind of work against that, knowing that they're comfortable with the worst case scenario.
-And they can live with it.
-Yeah. I mean, is that kind of how you get where you get to a point where you can deal with the worst case, and then now you've got that solved you can focus on solutions?
-Oh, sure. Long time ago, I came up with a saying, which was to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
CLAY CLARK: Mm-hmm.
-Then you've taken the whole area under consideration.
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