Isaac Wolman of Make It Real opens our eyes to the reality of retail - how it is rapidly changing, and how you can sell your product in its evolving sphere.
Retail has boomed through the years and as it progresses, so do the challenges.
In today’s episode, Meny Hoffman interviews Isaac Wolman, the CEO of Make It Real, about the future of brick-and-mortar business and how the business of retail is changing. Isaac also breaks down the importance of mentorship and networking in retail, and shares what you need to do in order to grow from early-stage growth and being retail ready to scalability.
Finally, Isaac highlights Tribeworks, which is a one-day event for business owners to learn and network from the pros.
Listen to the podcast here:
Download the audio file here.
How To Succeed In Brick-And-Mortar Retail With Isaac Wolman
Our guest for this episode is Isaac Wolman. Isaac is the CEO of a company called Make It Real, a girl’s toy company with sales in multiple countries and license agreements with some of the largest entertainment and fashion brands. Isaac has also founded and continues to oversee multiple nonprofit organizations, including The Jewish Entrepreneur, TribeWorks, Mesila Baltimore and the Relief of Baltimore. In our interview, Isaac and I discussed what the future is of brick-and-mortar. He also discussed how the business of retail is changing and if you have a product that you want to sell into retail, how do you need to prepare yourself?
Also, Isaac breaks down the importance of mentorship, networking and how he sees trends and businesses, what they need to do in order to grow from early-stage growth to scalability. Finally, we discussed the upcoming TribeWorks event where it’s going to be a one-day event for business owners to learn from the pros and network with the rest of us. I’ll be there. I’ll be speaking on the topic of how to hire and maintain superstar employees. I’ll also do in the afternoon a facilitated networking event. If you are shy of networking, never tried to network, this is the place to be. Without further ado, here is my interview.
Isaac, thank you so much for joining me on the Let’s Talk Business show.
It’s my pleasure. It is great to be here.
We have known each other now for quite some time. We’ve been involved in different events and we’ll talk about that. You run a company called Make It Real. It’s a manufacturer and distributors of toys, crafts and accessories. You lead with that a lot about content experience. I want to dive in and give us a little bit of background of what have you done, how did you arrive at this destination, and what do you actually do?
Like most entrepreneurs, everything is a journey. You never end up where you end up right from the beginning. For me, the journey started when I was in yeshiva. I was twenty years old. I was in Ner Israel in Baltimore when I lost my father. My father was diagnosed with cancer. He passed on six months later. I was an only child. He told me that I could either take over the business he was running, which was an arts and crafts distribution company distributing arts and craft products made in Israel or it would just go away because he was a one-man show. He didn’t want me to be forced to take it over, but he wanted to give me that opportunity. I spoke to my rabbi at the time and they told me that it was something that I should do. When I was twenty, I started going for my MBA degree. I started in my dorm room, running the business between second seder and night seder. For three hours a day, I would hook up to a cell phone.
I had gone home, spent a couple of months with my father, learning the business as best as I could in a short period of time. He was sick but he still was able to teach. That’s what it was. We were doing maybe $150,000-$200,000 in revenue a year at the beginning, which for a product business is not very much, but it gave me an entree into the world of business. To be honest with you, I made a huge number of mistakes like everybody does when they get started. From there, it was a journey from one thing to another. I started off distributing crafts. I met somebody at a craft trade show, which at the time was the CEO of a major company called Sandy Lion. He had left that and he made an introduction to me to another large craft company where I started distributing for them. This was all when I was 22 years old. I just got married. It turned out that my wife and I started working together pretty much from when we were engaged and we haven’t stopped since.
My wife and I’ve been working together since then. We distributed for a company called Wookie Entertainment, which is a girls’ arts and crafts company. They ended up buying out our distribution company for what’s called preferred shares, which wasn’t any money. It was preferred shares of the business if they would ever sell or if there was a liquidation, we would get money at some point. Unfortunately, it ended up going bankrupt and we never got anything for it. We probably got something which was even more valuable, which was the experience in the world of toys, arts and crafts. I was acting at the time as the Vice President for the United States and Canada. After the company went bankrupt in 2016, we started our own company called Make It Real.
Because I had the relationships and this company had gone bankrupt, I went to all of my customers and I said, “Give me five months. I’m going to hire three people. We’re going to come up with a line to try to fill some of the holes in the market that we left after we had gone bankrupt. Give me an opportunity. I always play it up. My wife and I are going to be doing this together. This is going to be for our family.” We had the opportunity to bring some products into the market almost immediately in spring 2017. Beginning spring in 2017, we sold our first product in Make It Real. I also went to Disney at the time, who was one of our licensed stores with Style Me Up, and Wookie Entertainment, the company I’d worked for before.The number one thing you need to know when bringing your product to a retailer is that you have to be valuable to that retailer. Click To Tweet
I said, “You don’t have anybody in this space now. Give me a shot. Give me one year. Let me show you what I can do.” They gave us the opportunity. In 2017, it was a slow and steady growth. We now have operations in four countries. We have offices in Manchester in the UK and in Baltimore, Maryland where I live. We have a design office in Montreal. We have a manufacturing office in Ningbo, China. We manufacture toys under our own, Make It Real. We also work with Disney, Juicy Couture, Swarovski, which is the famous crystal company, Nickelodeon and some others to manufacture products in conjunction with them as a licensee. We work with retailers in the United States, Canada and in dozens of other countries around the world through our Manchester office. That’s where we are now.
That’s a fascinating story. I love it when people share the beginning of their journey. A lot of entrepreneurs like to say, “I learned from my failures. I learned from my mistakes. I learned from experience.” At the end of the day, it is your resilience. You want to be able to be successful. Automatically, the first thing you turn to is to see what have you learned in order to be able to grow. I very much appreciate that you knew where you were and which relationships you had. You were looking for the next big thing where you can enter, but as far as the product line, I know that on your website, MakeItRealPlay.com, there’s a lot of interaction. You’ve tried to develop this experience, it’s not just a toy, but it’s a toy with experience. Share with us a little bit about what was the thought process behind it.
It’s an interesting thing. I’ll give you my stump speech on the world of retail, which I think is relevant. It leads to your question. It’s a funny thing because it used to be that there were tiers and there still are, but it’s a very changing world that we live in. We used to be that there were tiers. I would have a brand that I wanted to manufacture under so I would go to the people in China. They would sell me the product under my brand. They would use my packaging, my designs and all of that. That’s one layer of mark up. I would take the product and perhaps I would go to a distributor who sells in Canada, in the United States or some other part of the world. There’s mark up number two. Mark up number three, the distributor would go to a retailer like Walmart, Target, Amazon or to any retailer that you know and say, “I’m going to sell you this nice brand.” That’s layer number four. Amazon, Target or Walmart is going to sell it to the consumer. That’s layer number five.
You have five layers of mark up in between when the product gets manufactured and when the product gets sold to the consumer. In 2019, not only can Walmart go directly to our factory, which they do, but a consumer can go directly to my factory on AliExpress or Alibaba. What you have now is this crazy world that we live in where if you’re in the products manufacturing business, your consumer can cut out all five layers directly in 30 seconds by going directly to a website. I have a lot to say about it in terms of why I think it’s not a great system in the sense that there are millions of products that are flowing into the market that are legitimately dangerous, copies, knockoffs and all of that. That doesn’t even matter, whether or not we think that’s a good thing or not. The world has changed and the distribution has flattened.
When you talk about product experiences and when it comes down to a company like us, we say, “What’s our justification for existing? Why do we exist? What’s the purpose? How do we differentiate ourselves so that we don’t lose all of those consumers? Forget our retailers going to our factories. Our consumers can go to our factories. What do we do to make ourselves stand out?” That’s where you get to the answer to your question, which is you want to create a legitimate differentiation for your brand for consumers. That’s the goal. At the end of the day, you have to do that in 2019 or you have no right to exist. It becomes, “What’s the difference?”
First thing, product branding and packaging. If you ever have gone shopping at the Canton Fair, Hong Kong Fair or one of these fairs, you’ll see that factories who manufacture themselves, in general, the products are not great and the packaging is awful. That’s number one. You want to have nice packaging. You want to have a nice product. The product you develop, you have to choose the right quality, the right components, the right beads, in my case. In some cases, the right designs and all of that. That’s a differentiator. Another differentiator is a license. They can’t be selling licenses on AliExpress. They’ll get shut down if they don’t have the rights to sell them. The factories don’t. That’s number three. Number four is the experience. What experience are you providing to the consumer along with your product, which will make them go and search for your brand in particular?
A great example is we’re partnered with somebody like Disney. We’re doing Frozen 2 products. That’s one thing when we are talking about a license. They experienced the movie. They experienced the license. They want to buy the product tied to it. That’s number one. There’s a company that we’re working with now called GoldieBlox. You may or may not have heard of them, but they’ve been around for years now. Their idea is bringing science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and that whole experience to girls through content. They have 200 million views on their channel. They came to us and said, “You create products based on the videos that we’ve done on YouTube. You create products and bring the consumer experience from online to the world of products.” We’ve done that and it’s been going well. We were featured on Ellen. It’s an interesting dynamic trying to marry the world of consumer experience with consumer products because it doesn’t always work. It’s not a simple marriage, but you’re 100% right. If brands are not providing any level of consumer experience online or with videos, they’re going to get eaten. At the end of the day, how much do people need your product, your brand, your widget or whatever it is that you’re making?
For everybody out there in business in general, the experience became such a huge factor regardless of what you offer because even if you’re in the service business, there’s always a new kid on the block that maybe even has better skills than you. Maybe they can copy the experience you’re providing for your clients. Back to the product, when you ask somebody on the line of waiting all night for an iPhone, nobody will tell you, “The reason why I’m standing here is that I read one of the reviews that the lens has X, Y, Z pixels.” Nobody will tell you that. It comes down to, “How they make me feel? How do I connect to their brand?” Then you become unstoppable. I bet you that it works both ways. It’s on the consumer side, but it ties in directly to the retailer as well. Now, they have an interest in carrying your line, correct?
100%. That’s the biggest challenge for brick-and-mortar retailers now. It’s a cliché already to say that brick-and-mortar has a problem. There’s no question about it. With that being said, 85% of purchases in the United States are still made at brick-and-mortar stores. What’s the difference between the ones that are successful and the ones that are closing down? We saw 19,000 doors closed this year. The answer is, which are the ones that are going to want to make you get out of your house on a Saturday or Sunday morning and go shopping on the biggest shopping days of the week? When people have time, are they going to sit at home in their pajamas and shop on Amazon because they can buy the Keurig coffee maker from Amazon as easily as they can buy it from a Bed Bath and Beyond? Are you providing a genuinely delightful shopping experience for that consumer?
A great example of that in my industry is Toys“R”Us. There are a lot of reasons why Toys“R”Us went out of business. It again needs its own episode. With that being said, one of the things that were challenging was their sales legitimately declined. There was a direct correlation to Amazon’s toy business increasing. What you have now is Toys“R”Us is opening its first store under the new iteration of Tru Kids Brands. It’s going to be called Toys“R”Us. It’s going to be in New Jersey. We’ve been working with them. We have twelve feet of product in the store, but that’s not the core. The core is that there’s going to be a huge theater inside every single store. Every hour on the hour, they’re going to be having a kids’ play day with a different one of the brands in the store offering kids and their mothers’ free product to sit in the theater and play with.
I read a post about an event of Gary Vaynerchuk. He said that he predicts the next big thing will be beautiful coffee shops and bookstores combined. You will have this experience while you’re reading and buying a book and drinking a fresh hot coffee. Obviously, we see where this is going to go if somebody will run with the idea. What’s the message behind it is exactly what you just said that brick-and-mortar, the more experience you could bring to it, this will give livelihood for new brands and new categories to be developed. It’s not an existing Toys“R”Us coming back, the whole business is re-imagined. I’ve written an article about Best Buy. They have also been able to reposition their stores based on almost like showrooms for that same reason.
Best Buy’s showrooms have beautiful products, product trends, right product. Number two, their customer services is extraordinary. Number three, they’re willing to price match Amazon. Why would I not go to Best Buy?
Let’s talk about retail in general. We deal a lot with product brands in general. We have Ptex, we have a lot of them. They may be primarily started on Amazon or eCommerce websites. Eventually, as they grow, they want to enter the retail space. Everybody’s running after those same 20, 30, 50, 100, whatever, retailers from big box to specialty stores. You deal with those people. What would you say is the misconception that people have before entering retail or while having those meetings? What could they do to prepare themselves to potentially be retail-ready?
It’s such a good question. I spoke at the JCON Conference for Amazon sellers. I gave a presentation on people who want to take their products from Amazon and bring it to retail. Hopefully, at the TribeWorks, we’re going to have a panel on that as well because it’s important. There are many people who want to do that and it’s really challenging. It’s a long answer to do it properly, but there are a lot of angles to take. The number one thing that you need to know if you’re bringing your product to a retailer is that you have to be valuable to that retailer. If you’re coming in, you have one product and you’re trying to replace a product that’s already on the shelves, there is almost no chance that they’ll even take your call. It’s very simple.
Number one, retailers don’t want products. They want companies. They want lines. They want brands. Unless the product has revolutionized a way to make coffee or you’ve revolutionized something, the chances that you’re going to take a product from you is very slim. It’s for the simple reason that in order to set up a vendor, get financial approval and get sign off from the CFO of a company, for them to add you as a vendor and to go through the credit checks, it’s a significant process and they have to really want to do it. You have to present yourself as a company, not a product. Retailers don’t want products.
Number two, you have to be valuable to the buyer. If you’re just approaching a buyer and you’re almost asking them to do you a favor because you want them to give you money as it were, forget it. Buyers will get 100 cold calls a day. It’s how you can be valuable to that buyer. Whether you have the meeting or you’re trying to get the meeting, you have two feet right now of product that is more or less duplicative. Let’s say you’re selling notebooks or coffee tumblers. You have products that are duplicative. You can say, “I think that I can get you and add 30% to 40% to your revenue by putting this-and-this within this space because it’s incremental value. I’m willing to pay to have you markdown this other company that’s in the space right now. I’m willing to offer you a free test of products. I’m willing to guarantee the sales for six months if you want a meeting.” That’s a reasonably good way to start. “Why am I valuable? I’ll make it completely pain-free for you. I’ll make sure that you don’t look stupid.”
How do buyers get fired? Buyers get fired by putting a product on the shelf that doesn’t sell or never makes it to the shelf because they chose a vendor that wasn’t reliable. You have to be an absolute rock-solid, reliable partner for your buyers. That’s the reason why you see many licenses on the shelf, whether it’s in toys, bedding, craft or kid. You see licenses on the shelf, why? It’s very simple. Buyers are not going to get fired for putting a frozen product on the shelf even if it doesn’t work. The sure way for a buyer to get fired is not to put a frozen product on the shelf, choose something else that was a bigger risk, then have that fail and have to explain why it didn’t work. You have to absolutely be as risk-free and as pain-free for your buyers as possible. There’s a lot more to say, but that’s a start.
You’re saying that the more prepared you are to show value for the buyer, the more chances that they should be able to take that risk.Starting a business is not simply a matter of saying, “I'm going to start a business.” You also need financial backing. Click To Tweet
Also, make it risk-free and say, “If it doesn’t work, I’ll help you get out of it.” You have to have enough confidence in your product that you know that that’s not going to happen. If you sell jewelry and you’re ranked in the top 3 to 500 on Amazon, you have a pretty good idea that the market likes your product already. If you have no idea whether or not the market wants your product, you’re taking a huge risk by approaching a major.
Is there a place and a time where you would say this brand is not ready for even approaching retail?
Sure. You have to understand what goes into supplying a retailer. Let’s take a major because that’s the exciting one. Nobody’s talking about supplying the corner store in Borough Park, which is fine. That’s a lot easier and it’s a good place to get started. A lot of times, the people who are coming to these types of presentations are trying to figure out, “I’ve sold $2 million to $3 million on Amazon. Why can’t I sell my product to Walmart and Target?” At the end of the day, what it comes down to is that there are multi-faceted layers in selling to these retailers. It’s not enough for you to say, “I’ve sold it on Amazon.” Here’s what goes into selling a retailer.
Let’s say Walmart and Target like your product. You had a great sales meeting. They believe in it and they trust the Amazon experience and all of that. You get set up as a vendor and you’re able to get through all of those hurdles. They give you a purchase order. They’ll give you 90 to 120 days to ship a purchase order of $1.5 million. For any reason, they can cancel that purchase order. They can find the smallest little thing to cancel. As a company, do you have the financial wherewithal to suffer that type of setback? Walmart has put hundreds, if not thousands of businesses out of business by doing this. That’s why for the record, one of the questions that every retailer will ask you for your vendor setup forms is what percentage of your business are we going to be?
If you say, you’re going to be 50% of my business, they won’t take you because they don’t want to be responsible for you going out of business by them canceling a purchase order. Target canceled the purchase order on us. They canceled six purchase orders on us for spring, which were within the cancellation window. They’re allowed to do that contractually. There’s absolutely nothing that we can do about it. We have to try to find somebody else to take that product. Number one, financially, do you have the wherewithal?
Number two, do you have the operational infrastructure to manage that business? Do you have factories in China? Can your factories pass the audits? Are you going to be able to pass the tests? Can you pass the surprise inspection? Are you going to be able to ship on time? Do you have warehouses to ship domestically? What is your operational capacity? If you’re shipping to Amazon, it’s not simple, but it’s relatively straight forward once you have the hang of it. Playing in the arena with large retailers is a completely different animal. There are people who have departments just to manage the EDI, to manage the labeling, to manage the operational infrastructure. It’s not a simple thing. It’s not a small thing. It’s a really big deal.
I feel that sometimes people would run their Amazon business even making a few million dollars almost like a hobby. The second you start having conversations with those big-box retailers, you’ve got to be set up as a professional business. That’s what people need to hear. With time constraints, we can’t go into all details, but I felt that I’ve had the opportunity to speak to you to touch a little bit about the fundamentals. I want to shift the conversation. I know that you cofounded The Jewish Entrepreneur organization or TJE, which is a mentoring program. I have the privilege to be a volunteer, maybe not as much as I should have here and there. I had a call with somebody that needed some advice. You were able to give back a lot to the community with different projects on top of that. You have developed a process where those people being mentored have to create those milestones and update you on how they’re doing. What would you say are the common trends where you find early-stage businesses are facing and hitting a roadblock?
Let’s talk about The Jewish Entrepreneur. We founded that several years ago with the idea that 50% of businesses fail in the first five years. Businesses with mentoring and with proper guidance have an 80% success rate. The goal was, in our community, this is a whole conversation to itself, but we see a very significant trend towards entrepreneurship. I’m sure you see the same thing on the ground as we are. You’ve been out in the forefront of that with Let’s Talk Business for years. We see a huge trend towards entrepreneurship for a lot of reasons. One of the things that we’re trying to do with TJE, with God’s help, in the last several years, we’ve mentored 1,300 to 1,400 business owners.
We have 270 active mentors in every different field. It sounds funny to say this, but the vast majority of our businesses are in the inception. They’re in the early stage and 25% of our businesses have $250,000 in revenue or more, but the vast majority have less than that. With God’s help, they’ve grown very significantly since we track-mentee revenue growth. There’s a lot of significant growth that we’ve seen to well over $1 million for many of our businesses. With that being said, in the businesses that are in the inception, many times we’re getting a call and somebody will say, “Do you think this is a good idea? This is what I’m doing.”
What’s terrifying is that starting a business is not simply a matter of, “I’m going to start a business. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll shut it down and it will all be good.” Many times, in order to start a business, you need financial backing. It’s very rare that you can get a business off the ground by completely bootstrapping and every dollar of sales you plow back in without having to raise any money or spend your own money. The vast majority of people that are starting businesses in our community are either putting in, let’s say their wedding money if they’re young, they’re borrowing from their in-laws or from their brother-in-law or friends and family the same way it works everywhere else in the world.
At the end of the day, you have somebody coming and saying, “I want to start a business. I’m going to borrow money. I’m going to do this.” One of the things that’s terrifying is that very often, you can probably do this as well, you can look at the business and you go, “Please don’t do that. Please don’t spend that money. That’s probably not a good investment. That’s probably not going to work.” I mentor, but I don’t run it full-time. I started it and I’m the chairman, but we see many people that come in and I get to mentor, as you do occasionally, but not as much as I should. Somebody will come and they’ll say, “I borrowed money from my mother-in-law to start. I’m opening a mold for this toy.” I’m going, “Please don’t do that.” That’s going to make a lot of very uncomfortable Pesach sedarim for the next few years.
The problem with that is I have it almost on a daily basis, but sometimes, some of them turned out to work out. I thought, “Why should I hold it back?”
At the end of the day, you want people to have the best percentage chance to be successful. What we do is anybody who comes in the door, we’ll ask them to do a little bit of homework and provide us with, “What market research did you do? Where are you holding? How much money have you raised? Do you have a P&L? Do you have a forecast cashflow that’ll get you through twelve months?” If they don’t, we’ll set them up with somebody who can help them get there. Usually, we’re not going to take up our mentor’s time. Our mentors are like you, people who are successful and don’t have a whole lot of time to give pro bono. We will not match somebody with a mentor if they’re not ready to get started. Very often, they’ll come back and say, “I don’t have the money to get through the next three months.” Then it’s like, “Let’s take a step back. Is this something you want to be doing?” We look at it as a success if people don’t go ahead with their idea and save the money. Maybe the next idea is the one that’s going to be the winner. You never know.
There’s something that I teach a lot and I speak about when I speak at events and even our own leaders’ forum, which is that it’s relatively easy to grow a business, where you have the hardship is managing the growth. Sometimes the early-stage businesses have that first percentage of growth. They get very excited, but not realizing that right after it comes to managing the growth. When you start hiring, that’s where the resources have to come into play, which, if you want to get to the next level, this is what it will cost you to do financially and from a resource perspective. Sometimes that’s where they hit the roadblock in my opinion.
You have an event coming up, TribeWorks. I very much enjoyed the last event. Tell us a little bit about the event.
TribeWorks started when I was getting involved in The Jewish Entrepreneur. It’s obviously non-for-profit and we want to help as many people as possible. What we did was we went to a number of different organizations that are out there in the community, providing these types of services and we said, “Let us be your mentoring resource. You give interest-free loans. Send your guys to us, if they need any help, if you need a mentor.” What I ended up finding was that there are many different organizations and are in various communities that do different things. We have EPI, which is based out of Lakewood, which provides interest-free loans of up to $50,000. They provide educational classes. We have the Exceed Network for the Syrian community. We have Crown Heights Young Entrepreneurs for the Chabad community.
Every different community has an organization and they’re all doing great things. What we did was we got everybody in a room. I said, “Everybody’s doing nice things. Why don’t we do it in such a way that anybody who’s a client of any one particular organization should be able to have access to the services of all of the organizations? There are many great organizations out there that are doing good things, trying to help businesses and trying to give businesses a leg up.” What we did was we said, “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to launch it with a convention.” It was called TribeWorks. That was the name that we gave to this loosely affiliated umbrella organization. What we did last year, we had an event and we brought people together. You pioneered this concept with the LTB conventions of previous years. We brought successful people together in a room and we said, “Let’s give people the opportunity to hear and interact with these people.”
You were there. We had Dean Noam Wasserman was there and we had a number of great people. It was a successful event. We don’t charge a lot of money to come. It’s like $85. Nobody is making money. The goal is to get all of the organizations and their clients, if you will, into a room. Let people interact and hear positive speeches and interact and meet interesting people. It was a success. In 2019, we brought everybody back together with a whole bunch more. What we have going is on December 10th, it’s called TribeWorks 2.0. It’s overwhelming because when we ask them to speak, we were looking for a keynote speaker. I reached out to five people and I wasn’t expecting three of them to say yes. Usually, it takes twenty to get one. A lot of people said yes, they really wanted to participate.
We have Jason Feifer, who’s the Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine. You can come and hear him speak. You can actually sit with him and pitch for the opportunity to have your business featured in Entrepreneur Magazine or online, which reaches millions of people. We have Tim Brown, who is the former President of Chobani and currently the CEO of Upfield Foods, which is a multibillion-dollar company. They’re the largest plant-based food manufacturing company in the world. We have Tal Ben Shahar, who was the teacher of Harvard’s most popular course in history, which was How To Be Happy. It’s about how to generate a positive spirit through your company. He’s an unbelievably talented speaker and a Harvard graduate himself. On top of that, you’re going to be speaking there. You’re going to be running one of the things that I’m most excited about, which is a one-on-one lightning networking. If you want to talk about that. I’m not going to talk about that.
I’ll chime in on that. First of all, in the session, I’ll be speaking about how to hire and maintain superstar employees. The reason I speak about this is many times, you have this great vision, great idea in your business. You finally bring in people, but you bring in the wrong people not to be able to get to the next level. As soon as you know your vision and where you want to go and what type of people to bring in, even if you’re an early-stage company, even to know when to start hiring. I’ll be speaking about that.
In the second session, which is facilitated networking, I love that as well because many times, we get together in events and you’ll speak to people afterward. The people that are great networkers. They’ll tell you, “I forgot about the content. I loved all the speakers, but I made a connection with one single person that I feel that for that alone, that paid to sit there all day long.” A lot of people get through those networking events. They are either shy. They don’t have to start a conversation. They don’t know what to do. I started doing this to a lot of different events where I facilitate networking. I give you the exact questions to ask and I put you in front of a bunch of people. I guarantee you within the 30 to 40 minutes, you’ll have 10 to 15 great conversations and you’re taking notes which of those people could be beneficial for you long-term. Sometimes it’s not about who you know, it’s about who they know.
When you connect to a person, it’s not about that person. Maybe they’re a potential client or not. Maybe they know of as a potential client. If I’m in construction and I need to meet developers, you’re not only going to conferences to meet developers. You’re going to meet the plumber because the plumber is also dealing with developers. I’m very excited about it. There is so much to cover with you. I think we can get to bring you back again on the show. I want to tell our audience to learn more about TribeWorks and all the in the organization of TJE and even to learn a little bit more about your company. You could go to TribeWorks’ website directly. Let’s close with four rapid-fire questions. What’s a book that changed your life?
There are many. One of the best books I read was Bad Blood. I wouldn’t say that it changed my life, but it certainly changed my perspective on business.
What’s a piece of advice you got that you’ll never forget?
Be kind because it’s a small world and everything comes back.
Is there anything you wish you could go back and do differently?
Probably travel a little bit less and spend a little bit more time at home. That’s something I could do for the future also, for sure.
What’s still on your bucket list to achieve?
Mentor another few thousand people.
Isaac, thank you so much for joining us. In the name of our readers, we will forever be grateful for sharing some of your time with us.
I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you so much.
It’s my pleasure.
- Make It Real
- The Jewish Entrepreneur
- TribeWorks 2.0
- Bad Blood
About Isaac Wolman
Isaac Wolman is the CEO of Make it Real, a girls toy company with sales in multiple countries and license agreements with some of the large entertainment and fashion brands.
Isaac has founded and continues to oversee multiple non-profit organizations, including Tribeworks, The Jewish Entrepreneur, Mesila Baltimore, and Relief of Baltimore.