Leaders and those who follow them are the people who shape history and pave the way for the world. As such, they always need to be better versions of themselves to adapt to a fast-improving society. The CEO of The Veloz Group, Adam Mendler, joins Paul Higgins to discuss what it means to be a leader and gives amazing tips and strategies on how you can improve yourself. He believes that the greatest way to come up with innovative ideas is to surround yourself with smart people. Adam also talks about the important role of technology when it comes to growing and scaling your business. Plus, learn how personalized communication can do wonders regardless of which medium you choose.
Listen to the podcast here:
A Better Leader: The Power Of Continuous Education With Adam Mendler
Build Live Give. Mentoring With Paul Higgins
Our guest is someone who worked for the largest hedge fund in the world, then worked for Credit Suisse, which is one of the biggest banks in the world and then went into the entertainment industry in LA. You know that’s where a lot of stuff happens. He has a brother who has an idea a minute. My guest knew how he could channel his best ones into valuable businesses. He and his brother now run three successful businesses together. Why read? How to define your superpower to bring you success? What traits make successful leaders in these uncertain times? How to use LinkedIn the right way? Over to Adam Mendler from The Veloz Group and Thirty Minute Mentors.
Welcome, Adam Mendler from The Veloz Group to the show. It’s brilliant to have you on, Adam.
It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m excited to be here with you and with your audience. Thanks for having me on.
I’m doing some research on you. You’ve got such a wonderful background. I can’t wait to dig into that more, but why don’t we start with something that your family or friends know about you that we may not?
I try to be as open a book as I can with everyone. I’m not sure how much readers in Australia know about baseball, but I’m a huge baseball fan. I’m a huge Angels fan. Are you a baseball fan at all or is that a sport that you haven’t gotten that into?
I’m not per se. I was very lucky that my best friend gave me a kidney transplant. He’s a fanatic baseball follower. We would go to a game in LA, but due to COVID, unfortunately, that didn’t happen. He would be much better at answering this question.
I can tell you that anyone who knows me knows how much I love baseball and the Angels. Maybe some readers know that, but I don’t know how much readers down under would know that.
We’ve got a lot of people in the US. We know about it. We know more about baseball than you know about cricket if that makes sense. Our best cricketer was a former captain called Allan Border. He wasn’t a Babe Ruth, but he was pretty well–known. They used to all play baseball in the offseason. In the good old days, there wasn’t offseason. Now they play cricket twelve months of the year. Baseball became popular then. At school, we used to play baseball. You’ve got three businesses that you run from what I’ve done in my research. I’d love to know a little bit about your story, how you got to where you are now?
It’s not only trying new businesses but trying different ideas within your business. Click To Tweet
My background is as an entrepreneur, I started these different businesses while I was in my late twenties prior to becoming an entrepreneur. I worked for some large companies. My first job out of college was working for what was then the largest hedge fund in the world, a company called DE Shaw. After college, I moved to New York and worked on Wall Street for a couple of years. After that, I moved back to LA, which is where I’m from to get my MBA at UCLA. While I was getting my MBA, I worked in the entertainment industry. I worked for William Morris Endeavor, a big talent agency. I worked for a big studio, Universal Pictures.
When I graduated, I went back into finance, working for Credit Suisse, a big international bank. I had all this corporate experience under my belt. By the time I was in my late twenties, I felt like I was ready to do something a little bit different. I was ready to try the entrepreneurial route. It felt like there was ever a moment in my life to try it. My brother and I started The Veloz Group. We named it after the street we grew up on, Veloz Avenue in Tarzana, California. Tarzana is a suburb of LA and the rest is history. We’ve pushed on lots and lots of different ideas over the years. A lot of them have been unsuccessful.
A lot of them have gotten nowhere, but three of the ideas have turned into companies that have had some success. We have an office furniture company called Beverly Hills Chairs. We sell all over the world as well, but specifically within the US. We’re the number one sellers of refurbished Herman Miller Aeron chairs as well as other brand–named office chairs. Chairs that will sell for $1,000 or more brand new will sell for 50% off that or even higher discount. That’s one of our companies. We have another company called Custom Tobacco. You go there and you can create your own fully customized private label cigars in real–time.
Everything’s customized, the shape, size, blend, wrapper, filler, flavor, and you can create your own fully customized cigar bands. It’s popular for gifts and events. You think about how hard it is to find the perfect gift for the man in your life. That could be your friend. That could be your husband. That could be your boyfriend, your boss, your dad, your client, you name it. We have a software development company, Veloz Solutions where we work with early–stage to middle-market companies on custom software development. We’ve worked with lots of interesting organizations.
We have a couple of clients in the life insurance space, which has become an interesting niche for us. I do a lot of writings on leadership, on entrepreneurship, on management. My podcast, Thirty Minute Mentors is the newest thing that I’ve been pushing on. Every week I go one–on–one with one of the most successful people in the country for 30 minutes on how they got to the top. More importantly on how listeners can get to the top as well. Thirty Minute Mentors is the latest thing I’ve been doing and something that I’m passionate about. Anyone interested in podcasts, I try to make it accessible. It’s a ton of fun for me. Hopefully as much fun for anyone who tunes in.
I’m going to go through a little bit more of that in the Build section. I don’t interview many people that have a successful working relationship with a sibling. Tell me what role do you play and what role does your brother play? First of all, what’s your brother‘s name?
My brother’s name is Jordan. My brother and I are very different, which is why it’s been able to work. My brother has an idea a minute. He’s a great idea generator. A lot of the ideas are not necessarily good ones, but some of them are. You have to vet things, but you also have to try things in business. Not only trying new businesses but trying different ideas within your business. His skillset revolves around areas of creativity and also around technology. My brother is a genius when it comes to tech. My brother runs the technical side of Veloz Solutions.
He has a very deep background as a CTO. He has run technology for a number of clients we’ve had. Prior to The Veloz Group, we were doing lots of interesting things in the tech space. My background is not in either one of those two things. I am not the guy who’s going to come up with a $1 billion idea. I’m not the guy who’s going to write code or understand lines of code. A key message that I have to audiences that I speak to is at the end of the day, most of us are bad at most things in life. It’s important to recognize what it is you are bad at, but understand what you’re good at. Some of the things that I do well are things that my brother doesn’t do well. We’re able to complement each other. The things that neither of us do well, we’re able to get them done by bringing other people within our organization who excel in those areas.
That’s a brilliant segue into the Build section. You talked about your brother’s strengths, which is fantastic. What about yours? You talked about leadership and entrepreneurship. What do you know about leadership that many may miss?
Paul, we can spend the entire episode talking about leadership. That’s an area that I’m passionate about. Anyone interested in becoming a better leader, step number one, you need to understand who you are. I mentioned in response to your previous question, taking the time to fully understand, what it is you’re bad at, what it is you’re good at, what it is you’re great at. I strongly believe that there’s one thing about each and every one of us that makes us special. We have that one thing that makes us unique, different, and special. It’s our superpower. The more quickly you could figure out what it is about you that makes you special, the more successful you’ll be in business, the more successful you’ll be in life, the more successful you’ll be as a leader.
In order to be a successful leader of any organization, you need to be able to successfully lead your own life. You need to be able to understand who you are. No one’s going to follow you. No one’s going to take orders from you. No one’s going to listen to you if you’re not a person worth listening to. In order to get to that stage, you have to be comfortable in your own skin. You have to truly be able to lead by having a strong sense of right and wrong, and a strong sense of security, stability, and comfort in who you are. That’s step one.
Can you do that by yourself or is it best to do that with the guidance of someone else?
It requires the guidance, not only of someone else but of as many people as you can bring along the journey with you as possible. I implore audiences that I speak to, to bring in as many voices as you can to help you figure out what it is about you that makes you special. Ask your parents, ask your friends, ask your neighbors, ask your colleagues, ask your teachers, ask whoever it is that you know that knows you that can give you an honest objective perspective on you. Ask them, what is it about me that makes me special? What is it about me that makes me different? What is my defining characteristic? What you’ll find is a coalescence around something. That something might be different for you than it is for me.
It probably will be, but figure that out. It’s important to incorporate as many perspectives as you can. None of us has all the answers. None of us has a monopoly on knowledge. Paul, it’s an important point, not only in the first step of your leadership journey. In every step of your leadership, no matter where you are in this process, it’s extremely important to learn as much as you can, to bring in as much help as you can. That help can be in the form of a mentor, that help can be in the form of a group of mentors. I’m a believer in a concept that I call mini–mentors, which is in contrast to a traditional mentor.
Mini–mentors are people who you might meet with once or once a year or once every now and then instead of a mentor who’s deeply invested in your life. My show Thirty Minute Mentors is an attempt to try to give listeners access to the best network of mentors possible in 30–minute increments. Whether you’re someone who enjoys listening to podcasts or enjoys picking up books or enjoys picking up the phone and talking to people, figure out how you can incorporate as many voices as possible, assuming they’re good voices, assuming the voices that can add value to you into your life and take a step back and listen.
That’s the brilliant part of podcasting is our member moving house how TD supposed to move all my books in the day. Now thanks to the cloud, I can move my knowledge base wherever I go very simply. That’s powerful. What is your superpower? You talked about a great way of discovering it, but how do you articulate your superpower?
Anyone interested in becoming a better leader needs to really understand who they are. Click To Tweet
Something that I’ve discovered over the years is that I’ve been able to connect with all different kinds of people in a deeply authentic way because of my genuine and deep love of people. It’s manifested itself in different forms. When I was a kid, I was friends with people of all ages. I was friends with people of all backgrounds. To this day, it’s the same way. It’s been able to help me with the different businesses that I’ve built. It’s been very helpful for me in being able to build Thirty Minute Mentors. In my personal life, it’s been helpful. It’s something that I’ve discovered at a later age. When I was younger, I didn’t understand that about me.
I didn’t understand that this was something that was unique and that was special. It was something that came easy to me. When I was a kid, I was a guy who was friends with everyone. It didn’t matter how old you are. It didn’t matter what you were interested in. It didn’t matter what. I truly love people and getting to know people. Paul, these podcasts are fun for me because I love talking about leadership. I don’t necessarily enjoy talking about myself. I would much rather talk about you, who you are and understand as much about you as I can, which is why I love my podcast because it’s not about me. It’s about you. Much of the relationship building is about that. You are trying to get to know the person sitting across the table.
That’s a brilliant gift. If I had to articulate one of my superpowers, I want my superpower to be a similar thing. I was taught at a very young age. I had a strange relationship, which I didn’t think was at the time where my grandfather and his twin brother lived with my grandfather’s wife. I thought that was a normal thing. He was always ostracized because no one wants to marry two people. They want to marry one. I spent all my days talking to him as a kid. He had an incredible mind. He taught me the power of that conversation. For a lot of people at the moment, they get bombarded on LinkedIn as a prime example with people not connecting very well. We’re in a COVID time where meeting has turned to virtual. What are some tips on how to best connect with people and understand their stories in this environment?
I appreciate that question because it’s a pet peeve of mine that the LinkedIn cold emailing. I’m not against using LinkedIn for relationship building. On the contrary, I’m all for using LinkedIn for relationship building. The bombardment of cold messages without any sense of who you’re reaching out to and the lack of personalization. It‘s almost like a lack of space, the continual follow up without any regard for the fact that the person across from you has no interest. It’s like, “Give it a rest, guys, please. Enough.” I love LinkedIn. I’m a very active user of LinkedIn. That part of it is frustrating to me. It’s frustrating to everyone on LinkedIn.
I bring this up because if you’re using LinkedIn or if you’re doing any cold outreach, step number one, is personalize your communication as best as possible. If someone reaches out to me and the communication is not at all personalized, my first reaction is going to be to delete or to block them. If someone reaches out to me in a highly personalized way, I’m going to read it. If there’s something there, I’ll probably respond to it. That’s not rocket science, Paul, but it’s something that I wish more people would incorporate into their sales strategies, into their marketing strategies and into their communication in general. Take the time to personalize your communication with other people regardless of the medium that you’re communicating with them on.
Another thing is you’ve got video on that. You’ve got an ID video in LinkedIn. You can use great platforms. We use a platform called Dubb. There are many ways that you can personalize it now. That’s one step. What something else that you build relationships well on LinkedIn by doing?
My number one is personalized. Tip number two is add real value to people. Don’t try to immediately sell people. That’s as big a turnoff as there is, instead of trying immediately sell someone on something. That’s another way for me to delete your message and not me, but for anyone. It’s like, “I don’t know who you are. Why are you selling me?” Instead of trying to extract value, offer some value. I don’t mean fake value. I have lots of people and I’m sure you do, Paul. I’m sure all of your readers do who will send these generic emails, their automated emails saying, “Here’s a link to this free book that I wrote.”
They’re not offering any value. What they’re doing is they’re promoting themselves. That’s fine. I get that. I’m promoting my podcast. I understand none of us are above this, but that’s not adding value. You’re not adding value to me by offering me a free copy of your book. What you’re doing is promoting yourself. If you want to build a genuine relationship with someone, step number one is to personalize your communication. Step number two is to figure out a way to offer real value to that person, not to try to extract value from it.
That’s where a podcast is a fantastic way of adding value. I often genuinely like you want to hear people’s great stories. LinkedIn is an excellent way of finding new people to tell their stories so that you’re adding value to them. I’ve listened to your podcast. You’ve got some amazing people on. How do you get access to such amazing people to get on your podcast?
It’s along the lines of everything we’ve spoken about. This is the best advice I can give. It’s advice that I give to people when I speak on the topic, whether it’s speaking audiences or speaking one-on-one on the topic of hiring, on the topic of recruiting. It’s important to try to create something that people want to be a part of. When I was building out The Veloz Group, one of the things that I was focused on was trying to create a culture, a brand and an experience that people would want to be a part of. The Veloz Group was a company that no one had ever heard of because it didn’t exist before. That’s why no one heard of it. There was nothing to have heard of. Right away, we were able to attract the best talent in the country without any funding and any marketing budget.
A big reason why was this philosophy that if you build it, they will come. It doesn’t work in eCommerce. It doesn’t work when you have an office furniture company. If you build it, they won’t come unless you drive hard marketing. You have that paid search and lots of other things. When you’re building a business, when you have a podcast, if you can create something that people will want to be a part of, you will attract good people to be a part of it. I’ve been able to do that with The Veloz Group. I’ve been able to do that with Thirty Minute Mentors. People are attracted to what we’re doing. They’re attracted to the idea that you can come on to Thirty Minute Mentors, spend 30 minutes going one-on-one talking about how you got to the top, and how anyone listening to this podcast can get to the top as well. Sharing practical, tangible advice on how to become more successful personally, how to become more successful professionally, and how to become a better leader.
When you’re someone who is extremely successful, there are a number of different ways that you can make a difference. People can make a difference by giving money to charity. People can make a difference by donating their time through mentorship. For 30 minutes you can come on to a national audience and make a real difference in people’s lives. That appeals to people. My guests are people who love mentoring. They love mentorship. They love the idea that they can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. That’s what makes Thirty Minute Mentors what it is.
You’ve interviewed lots of people, very successful from sport, from corporate, from entertainment. This question is a little generic. When you link back to what you know about leadership and the people you’ve interviewed, give us some of your wise words around how to be successful. You’ve seen people that are hugely successful. You met a lot of people that aren’t. What do you see as some of the key differences?
First and foremost, when I’m asked this question, the first thing that I try to tell people, given that I’ve interviewed hundreds of leaders across disciplines, military leaders, leaders of Fortune 500 companies, leaders of tech startups that have turned into a billion-dollar household name companies, leaders of sports teams, leaders in every discipline, the core principles of effective leadership are universal. It doesn’t matter what organization you’re leading. It doesn’t matter what field you’re in. The same principles apply. What are those principles? What does it take to get to the top? What do you need to do to be successful? Here are a few.
This is something that we touched on a little bit. Number one is every single person who I’ve had on my show has told me either on the air or off the air in some form, how important the concept of lifelong learning is to them. I can’t tell you the number of guests that I’ve interviewed, who have told me how much value they’ve gotten by listening to other podcasts interviews that I’ve done. The first few times, I’ve heard that I was shocked because I thought these were the most successful people in the country. Why would they tell me other than to be kind and flattering? Why would they tell me that they’re listening to these other podcast interviews and learning a lot from them? These guys are the most successful people. Why are they telling me that they’re learning so much from my podcast when they’re already so successful? What I’ve come to learn is that’s exactly the point. The reason why they’re so successful is because of this commitment to learn, this commitment to grow no matter how successful you are, no matter where you are in your journey, you never know enough.
You should never be satisfied with your level of knowledge. You should never be satisfied with where you are in so far as how much you know. Unfortunately, we have leaders who have a tendency to get set in their ways and that can become a major problem. It’s having the flexibility of mind, being able to adapt, being able to pivot, being able to change with the winds of change. These are things that no matter where you are, whether you’re a leader of a business, or whether you’re someone graduating from college and trying to figure out how to get a job in the midst of the worst crisis we faced in our lifetimes, these are principles that you need to be successful in your life.
If you can create something that people will want to be a part of, you will attract really good people to be a part of it. Click To Tweet
Having a commitment to become better, to learn more, to grow, to evolve, to develop, and having a mindset that embraces change that is open to flexibility, these are important variables to success. Caring for other people, not living life for yourself, understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around you and recognizing that we’re all in this together. If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught us is we are all in this together. Leaders understand that because to be a great leader, the first thing you recognize is leadership isn’t about me. It’s about you. It’s about taking one plus one and making it three. It’s about empowering those around you to allow them to become their best selves. That’s how you become successful, Paul, by looking out for others.
We will move on to the next section. Before we do that, I would like to show you how to get 3 to 5 new clients a month on LinkedIn by spending 30 minutes even if you don’t know where to start or have limited marketing funds. As Adam said, in a way that you inspire people, create relationships and connections, not those messages that Adam will block or delete. Go to BLGClick.com and watch a prerecorded free master class for the sales machine. You’ll learn the three steps, the secret formula, 10x reviews, seven killer elements to get 50 likes and 20 comments on every post. Most importantly, the people you want and the scripts to get 80% response rate. Many of the activities that are happening on LinkedIn can be done by a virtual assistant. If you don’t have one and like to learn more, go to BuildLiveGive.com/va. The next section is the Live section, Adam. What are some daily habits that help you to be hugely successful?
It’s important to work out every day. It’s important to eat right. It’s important to get a good night’s sleep. Those are pretty basic things. If you don’t follow those basic things, you don’t feel well. You don’t get the most out of your day. You’re not productive. When I don’t get a good night’s sleep, my energy level is not the same the next day. My level of productivity is not the same the next day. When I don’t work out, I don’t have the same amount of energy. In turn, I don’t have the same level of productivity. You are what you eat. Meditation is an important thing to bring into your life in some capacity, even if it’s meditating for a minute a day. Some people will meditate for much longer. Those are some basics. I can walk you through my daily routine if you want. We can take this question in whatever direction you want, but those are core principles for me that everyone should follow.
When I did some work with Franklin Covey as a facilitator, they talked about the five energy drivers, and I think you summed them up well. It’s eat, move, sleep, relax, and connect. You showed us how to connect early on. We’ll move to the next section, which is the Give section, what charity or community are you passionate about, and why?
There are a number of charities that I love. I always feel uncomfortable plugging one particular charity over another. It’s important for everyone to be as charitable as possible however they can be, in whatever way they can be, whether it is by giving money, time, and talent. It‘s important to have a mindset around giving back.
All the proceeds of my book called Build Live Give, a portion of my total revenue go to a cause that I’m passionate about. It’s called the Purple House and you can go to PurpleHouse.org.au to find out more. The last section is the Rapid-Fire section. I’ll ask you some questions and get some rapid-fire responses. What are your top three personal effectiveness tips?
Try to keep it as rapid as possible, I gave you them, get a good night’s sleep, work out every day, and eat right. That’s how you live an effective lifestyle. That’s how you have the best energy every day.
What technology is essential to running your business?
I don’t know that I would call it a technology per se, but I couldn’t live without the Google Suite. That’s a set of tools that I’m in every day, many hours a day between email, Google Docs and Google Calendar. I’m a big fan of what they do. They make technology easy for people like me.
If you’re running a style of business like we are, which is non-corporate entrepreneurship, Google is your best friend. What is your best source of finding new ideas? I know you spoke about essential learning and podcasting, but is there any other way that you find new ideas?
The best source of ideas are people. At the end of the day, if you want better ideas, surround yourself with smart people. No one person has a monopoly on ideas. I certainly know. Within my business, whenever we want to try to get good ideas for our businesses, we try to bring in smart people and ask them.
The last question is the big one and I’ll leave it to the end for that reason. What impact do you want to leave on the world?
My goal is to try to make as much of a positive impact as I can in the lives of others to whatever extent I can. Anyone reading, if you listen to my podcast and that makes you a better leader, if that makes you more successful, great. If you come and hear me speak by coming to your company and give a talk, and that helps you become a better leader, great. If you buy from my company, you buy one of our office chairs and you’re able to live a more productive and healthier life because you’re now sitting in a better chair that you can afford, great. I’m trying to add value to people’s lives and as many people’s lives as I can.
I know this is a little bit off-script, but you’re in the office chair business. It’s more in making people work comfortably. We’re hopefully on the other side of COVID at some point, what do you think the changes will be to where someone had their chair in an office in a building versus at home?
The trend around remote work is real. People will continue to work from home even after there’s a vaccine. I do think that there will be a return to the office. I don’t think that every single business is going to work from home forever. I do think that the workforce will increasingly become remote. The way that translates to companies like ours is we need to be prepared to cater to both the traditional office environment, to companies that have physical locations, as well as to individuals looking to furnish their home offices. I can tell you my own setup, which is what is going to be how most people are going to operate going forward.
I spent some time in my office. I spent some time at my home office. That’s how a lot of companies are going to start thinking about things. On a going-forward basis, for businesses like mine, we play an important part in making sure that when you are working from home, you’re as productive as possible. You’re as comfortable as possible. Regardless of where you’re working from, Paul, I didn’t put this as one of my top three productivity tips, buy Herman Miller chair or buy a Steelcase chair, but people are understanding more and more the importance of the physical setup around them. They don’t need me to sell them on it, they’re coming to us because they get it.
The best source of ideas is people. At the end of the day, if you want better ideas, surround yourself with smart people. Click To Tweet
Deloitte as an example has made sure that the setup at office is exactly the same as the set up at home. There are many people. My wife is a classic example. She’s still got a poor chair. I keep saying to her, “Have a standup desk, have a chair because we don’t know how long you’re going to be at home, but your home should be comfortable. It shouldn’t be temporary.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s been brilliant talking to you. You’ve had huge success with The Veloz Group. You can find out more from Adam, but most importantly, some of the amazing guests he has on the ThirtyMinuteMentors.com. Adam, thanks for sharing your wisdom on the show.
Paul, thanks for having me. This was a lot of fun. Thank you to all of your readers who took the time to read. This was awesome.
I enjoyed that interview with Adam. I know it was a little bit longer. I could have asked him a lot more questions, a huge amount of wisdom. I’d love to know from you, what is your biggest takeaway from Adam? Please share on your socials, mentioning Adam in particular on LinkedIn, given that he gave many great tips on that platform. If you believe someone you know would benefit from the show, please share it. You can learn the three steps to find and convert your ideal clients on LinkedIn in a free prerecorded master class at BLGClick.com. Please take action to build your business and lifestyle. Stay well.
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- Custom Tobacco
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- Build Live Give
About Adam Mendler
Adam is the CEO of The Veloz Group, where he co-founded and oversees ventures across a wide variety of industries.
Adam is also a nationally acclaimed thought leader, writer, and speaker on topics including leadership, entrepreneurship, and management, and is an avid backgammon player.
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