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Know Your Limitations: A Recipe to Propel You Forward—with Neal Hoffman

By , December 27, 2021

Neal Hoffman, Creator of the Mensch on a Bench, talks with Meny Hoffman and explains why true growth starts with knowing your limitations.

Ever feel like you need to take a few steps back in order to propel yourself forward? This week, I’m excited to bring you Neal Hoffman. You may have heard of him, seen him on Shark Tank, or seen his one-of-a-kind character —Mensch on a Bench— in stores this holiday season. Neal’s creativity and entrepreneurship go unmatched. In our interview, he explains that having awareness of your strengths, limitations, and parameters are the key to true growth. Throughout his journey, he’s been able to turn his ideas into physical products, and how he spends most of his time advising others who want to do the same. He speaks openly about his successes as well as his breaking points along the way. He explains that the best part about hitting rock bottom is that the only place to go is back up, and through creative solutions, anything is possible.  Tune in, and you’ll gain practical tips for getting out of a rut, and start making moves in the direction you want.

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Know Your Limitations: A Recipe to Propel You Forward—with Neal Hoffman

Our guest is Neal Hoffman, the creative marketer, author of five children’s books and the creator of the Mensch on a Bench. The most publicized brand to ever come out of Shark Tank with over four billion media hits. Since Mensch on a Bench had so much success, Neal has been able to start focusing on helping Amazon sellers remove unauthorized 3PL sellers and counterfeiters from the platform.

This is a great interview. We spoke to Neal about how this idea originated, how he took it from idea, from concept to getting it manufactured and how he approached the early media outlets and more importantly, his journey getting up to the Shark Tank, his actual bench and how it’s been affecting his business ever since. This is a great interview. As business owners, leaders, people would have ideas, there’s so much to learn from this episode. Without further ado, here is my interview.

Neal Hoffman, thank you so much for joining me on the show.

Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

We connected a pretty long time ago. I was following what you’re doing. At one point, finally, you said yes and we could get on the show. I think our audience will enjoy this episode. I, myself, is very excited about this episode.

Thank you.

We’ll get right to the story. I think that’s the most important part. What we always like is the entrepreneur behind the business. In this case, you have built a business. For our audience, you’re going to share a little more, but it’s Mensch on a Bench, which is the story of Moshe the Mensch. This is a character and he built a phenomenal business around it. We don’t see this every day. I would love to hear a little bit about the backstory of where this idea originated and ultimately a little bit more about the backstory in general.

I think what people can learn from this is this is the story of how you can go from idea to physical product. I walked through what that looks like and if I can do it, anybody can do it. My background is I am a toy guy. I’m a big kid at heart. I ended up going to the University of Virginia getting my MBA just so I could go to Hasbro toys and get into their management program. I did get in there. I worked on GI Joe, Tonka and on Transformers. My wife moved us to Cincinnati and I left my dream job. I described myself as I was a toy guy without a toy. At that point, I didn’t realize I had lost my true north.

I’m in an interfaith family. My wife is Catholic. I’m Jewish. We’re raising our boys Jewish. We knew that since our second date. Many years ago, Elf on the Shelf was at its peak. Elf on a Shelf is a doll that has come out and families celebrate Christmas. It goes in their home and every day, it goes back to Santa and reports on if the kids were well-behaved or not and comes back in a different position. With the rise of Pinterest and Facebook, moms had made this a competition and were out-doing each other. It was all over the internet and going viral.

Take action and get off your butt. Click To Tweet

My son felt left out. We were at the store and he asked for an Elf on a Shelf and I made a joke and said, “No, you can have a Mensch on a Bench.” I was joking around and I loved it. I loved the name. I was like, “I got something here with the name.” I whipped out my iPhone and did a quick search. Nobody was using it. I went home that night and couldn’t get it out of my head and said, “I got a name but that’s it. What’s its reason for being?” As I look at the struggle and the problem we were solving was as a Jewish parent in an interfaith household, I didn’t have the means to raise my kids as Jewishly as I wanted. I didn’t have the tools. I wrote this story about the Maccabees and the Mensch is meant to be like Forrest Gump. He is there watching the true story unfold but doesn’t impact it.

Every day he wakes up. I can’t believe that the candles or the oil are still lit. He introduces a new Jewish concept and he’s at the Great Temple for eight nights. He introduces latkes, gilt, prayers and gift-giving so parents can celebrate Hanukkah with their kids in a more meaningful way. As I’m sure you’re aware of this, the secret of Hanukkah and where it’s different than Christmas. Christmas is a single large event.

That morning is a big deal. Where Hanukkah, it’s eight nights and you repeat the same thing for eight nights in a row. It’s hard to make each of those eight nights special and it can become quick. The idea was how do we add five more minutes of Hanukkah at night? Whether it’s another game of dreidel or latkes but somehow, we want to create these magical family moments. That’s the inspiration behind Mensch.

What I ended up doing was I wrote the book. My wife kicked my butt. He told me to get off my button, do something. I trademarked the name. I did all the legal work myself for $275. I went on USPTO, the government website. Somebody else tried to trademark the same name two days later. Taking action and getting off your butt is one of my big themes. I then went to Kickstarter and decided because many years ago, we bought our first big house.

We didn’t have the disposable income to go buy $15,000 in dolls. I went on Kickstarter and I didn’t even have a prototype. I went on there with a logo that I got made for $200 and my passion and my story. We ended up raising $22,000 and that was enough to do the first production run, illustrate the book, print it and do all the packaging.

I wanted the product to come in the package because I wanted retailers like Bed Bath, Target and Michaels to see this and want it in-store next to Elf on a Shelf. We could’ve made this easy and made the dolls but we’d made a whole kit, where it was a book, a doll and a bench that we’re all in there. Through Kickstarter, we had sold 300. I did my own PR at that point. I sent out those 300. I sent out a handful to some news outlets.

I hustled and tried to get the word out. The first domino fell and it was a small domino. I can trace this whole thing. It was a Facebook page in my hometown of Marblehead, Massachusetts. I had emailed the guy and asked him, “Could you please post about this new product I did? My mom reads your site. It would make her proud.”

He took that exact email and posted it. The whole thing about my mom too, I was totally embarrassed. Somebody in my hometown read that who worked for CBS Boston and wrote a little blog article on it that morning. They’d picked up some of my catchphrases. The catchphrases are, “Adding Funukkah to Hanukkah. The only Jewish IP since the Old Testament. Having elf envy.”

That got shared hundreds of times that morning. I had 700 dolls in the basement. I was worried we were not going to sell them. They sold out in a matter of days. We made the Today Show, The View, the New York Post. It was everywhere and we sold out. We pre-sold another thousand. All of a sudden, I had sold $100,000 in goods in a matter of days. I knew that I had something. That’s the origin story.

LTB 97 | Know Your Limitations
Know Your Limitations: What we’re selling is a lifestyle and a tradition.

 

I want to chime in a couple of things for our audience. There’s a saying that I at least say a lot. People on the show probably have heard this from me many times, which is none of your business is an idea. Not every idea is a business. It is in the execution. You could sell the simplest product and ultimately, if you have proper execution, you do a lot of sales or you might have this amazing idea but you’re not executing it.

Nobody’s buying it and it’s sitting on your shelf. In this case, it took this idea out of its need, which is another important business factor, figure out the pain points or the need of the product before coming up with this idea. You’re showing that by taking action and running with this, then ultimately, success follows. A question for you, how much of it was your background in the toy category or loving the toy part or at one point, it’s not even connected to that?

It was a combination. I think having a background in toys was helpful because I had a network that could help me find a factory in China, help me with my packaging, guide me through some PR channels. It helped on that end. I knew what I was doing from a brand management standpoint. I wasn’t spending more money and I had some basics, but it was a few things as well. It was the right time, the right place with the right idea.

The fact that Elf on a Shelf had made, it was the counterpoint to Elf on the Shelf. At any other point, that idea doesn’t necessarily work. It was the humor with which we went after it. The name Mensch on a Bench worked. There were three or four other competitors but none of them had that catchiness. I think it was the authenticity. Going out there with the messaging of, “I’m a Jewish dad. I’m trying to do this for my family,” and I mean it. You can tell I mean it and I love this.

At this point, the company is no longer profitable. I will still do it. I wrote a book for Passover called The AfikoMensch. I knew it wasn’t going to be profitable. I knew I would spend more money on illustrations and printing than I would ever get back from selling them. I didn’t care because it was the right thing to do. The Jewish community can sense that and hear that and wants to support that in a way that they may not if a company like Hasbro came out with this and it was another item in their line.

Also, we’ll get to the Shark Tank experience. I remember that when we came on the show and you spoke from the heart. Sometimes you see those shows where it’s very scripted and ultimately, the only reason why I’m in the areas either want to get sales or I want to get a partner. I think the feel-good and that’s why you, in my opinion, get some of those sharks interested in the business. There’s another point that I want to hear your opinion on with this journey, how you saw it play out.

There’s a lot of branding. We’re a branding agency by on the core. It’s what we do with Ptex. The name is phenomenal. It’s a play of Elf on the Shelf but the word Mensch has the definition, which is the intensity and being there in the world making the world a better place. You could only do that with a bunch of Mensches around. How much did that end up playing out in the process? People say, “I want to buy it. I don’t know if I need it or don’t need it but it’s cute. It gives me that feel-good approach,” versus the necessity of, “I must have this product.”

That’s interesting. It is a want, not a need, for sure. As we’ve gone forward, Mensch teaches the story of Hanukkah but some of our spinoffs, like the Mitzvah Moose. Mitzvah means good deed where it encourages kids to do good deeds and when they do, they get to light the candles on their moose. We’re trying to push these positive Jewish values and so are the families.

We’re selling a doll but what we’re selling is a lifestyle and a tradition and a way of living. That I think, is what people buy into. The doll is cute but there are plenty of people who get the Mensch doll and the Bubbe doll, which has the voice of my aunt in it. We got the Mitzvah Moose and the newest one is the zebra, which is called The Only Jew in the Jungle, which is about my son being the only Jewish kid in his class in Ohio. People relate to that and that’s what’s pushing it.

The nice thing about getting to your breaking point is you know where it is. Click To Tweet

I want to get to the growth of the brand and we’ll go to the Shark Tank then post Shark Tank. I want to ask you first one question, which is, at which point did you realize that this is not a hobby, this is a business? At which point in the journey and how much into the process? Walk us through to the point where you started thinking about getting on the Shark Tank.

It has gone full 360 for me now. Where it started off, I was working a full-time job. The CEO had told me he didn’t want me to do any side projects. When I got picked up by the Today Show and people at work had heard me on NPR and it was getting out. I had to go to the CEO and say, “I know you said no side projects but how do you feel about Jewish dolls?”

In terms of the journey, I kept my job until Shark Tank. When I got the investment, I left. Over the past years, since then, I’ve realized I can run Mensch on a Bench in an hour or two a day. It’s gone from a full-time job to a hobby again. I do all this consulting and other entrepreneurship work that I love doing but during its ramp up, it needed me.

I realized that after I filmed Shark Tank. I had $750,000 in purchase orders in hand. I was going to lunch and taking calls on my lunch. I was not seeing kids and I was stressed out. I remember talking to my wife saying, “The whole reason I’m doing this is to better the family. I’m saying one thing in public but I’m not living it. I don’t like how that feels. I think it’s time.”

The other thing I’ve learned through this is I was pretty close to my breaking point. The nice thing about getting to your breaking point is you know where it is. Now, when something goes wrong, I’m like, “That’s a bad day. We lost a hundred thousand dollars. This is terrible. How are we going to fix it?” I’m not at my breaking point. I’ve been there and we’re not even close. It makes you stronger. I ended up applying for Shark Tank.

If we could get there, the reason why you want to apply is for the investment or for the exposure or for the partnership because obviously, there are always different reasons why somebody would want to go there.

I’m a fan of Shark Tank. Right when I had the idea, I was like, “This is Shark Tankable. I want to go on Shark Tank.” I’m a marketer and that is the ultimate test of, do I have the wherewithal? I wanted to see if I was good enough. I wanted a partner. I didn’t need a partner but I wanted it and I wanted the exposure. I knew that in order to ride this rocket ship, I needed to fuel this. I was going viral via social but I knew Shark Tank takes it to another level. I ended up getting through the producers, flying out there, getting ready to go on the show. I tell people, “I was the most prepared person to ever walk out to Shark Tank.”

I’d watched every single episode. I had read each of their books. When I gave them their Mensches and The Mensch on a Bench book, I personalized something to each of the sharks in their book about how they personally impacted me with some story of how it led back to them. When I went in there, they knew I wasn’t a quirky guy. I know I’m short, fuzzy, pudgy, funny and I could be seen as a joke. I’m coming on with a Jewish toy. Who wants Jewish toys? They didn’t know that at the time.

My goal was to prove that I had a legitimate business before they laughed it off the stage. When I presented, I made it maybe the rules of Shark Tank are, “You walk out there. You’ve never met the Sharks before. It’s all real. You stand on your mark and it takes about 60 seconds for them to shuffle the cameras to get right in front of you. It’s the 60 seconds of silence and you’re not allowed to talk to the Sharks.” You’re standing in front of them, staring at each of them and smiling but it’s awkward.

LTB 97 | Know Your Limitations
Know Your Limitations: You were given 90 seconds to do your initial pitch and the sharks are not supposed to interrupt you for any reason.

 

You were given 90 seconds to do your initial pitch and they are not supposed to interrupt you for any reason. You get to the end then it’s open season. They can ask any questions in any order and it’s a free for. I made it about 10 seconds into my pitch and I said, “The Mensch of a Bench,” and Mark Cuban started laughing. They interrupted me and Barbara’s first question was, “Is this offensive?”

Right off the bat, I was on the defense. It was tough in there. What is nice is because I got a deal and the way they edited it, they made me look good but the truth is, the first half-hour I was getting beat up. They had to stop the filming because they had to give me a napkin because I was sweating so much. I considered turning around and walking out.

It was going badly. Instead of that, I ended up saying, “I’m going to take back control,” because I had lost control. What you don’t realize is when they edit it together, the questions are in a sensible order. How big is your business? How’d you get into this? In reality, they throw out questions all at once and without any true order to them.

I thought about walking out and instead, when Lori asked me a question, I said, “Lori, do you mind if I stop and tell you how I created the idea, how we got to this point, then I’ll answer your question about retail.” I feel like I haven’t done a good job of that. In that, I mentioned that I was former Hasbro, then the tone of the conversation changed.

It was like, “You’re in this business. You know what you’re doing.” They looked at the numbers. We were profitable. I talked with my wife ahead of time. It looks spontaneous on TV but I did have my wife’s approval that, “We’re going to give up 10% of the company.” I thought my deal was very fair, going in $150,000 for 10%.

Based on the numbers, I took what a typical valuation was and discounted it because I didn’t want to have that fight with the Sharks. The Sharks don’t care. They came out and said, “We’re going to give you that amount for 30%. I counted to 15% but I will take out the risk for you. I will guarantee your payback. If I have to put up my house for sale to pay you back your $150,000, I will do that.” My wife had said, “Yes, we can do that. I see where the business is. It’s profitable. We’re not going to lose their money. We’re not taking a terrible risk.” That’s what I did. I ended up getting two offers, one from Barbara, one from Robert and Lori. I went with Robert and Lori. I’m glad I did.

We are still together many years later. They have very different skill sets. I talked to them for different reasons. First of all, they’re not in my day-to-day business. On those relatively small businesses, I specialized. They don’t want to run a Jewish toy business. We meet twice a year and I’ll tell them, “Here are the plans. Here’s what we’re doing.”

Robert gets in at a very high level and will say, “What are the margins? What’s the expansion plan? What are the new partnerships?” He comes in at that CEO-type level. Lori is more of an inventor. She’ll come in and say, “Show me these new products. Have you thought about this? What if we did this to this product?” She’ll get into the actual product line and spur me to think about it in new and different ways.

It’s been a good partnership. Within the years, they got all of their money back. Now, when I send them money every year, it’s pure profit. I have a nice relationship with both of them. I’ll tell you, Lori went above and beyond. My son had his bar mitzvah, the one who inspired Mensch on a Bench. She sent him this card and this incredible gift that she did not have to do. It made me feel good that I had picked the right partner.

It’s better to learn from many little failures than one big failure. Click To Tweet

This is a fascinating story. I posted on LinkedIn, which I use the platform a lot. I wrote every overnight success is years in the making. I posted about social media shows only the wins. What about the failures that happened in the process? I had like 80 people commenting on their failure story that led them to what they’re doing now.

In your case, people see that episode and they see you walk out with a deal and so on and so forth but it’s hard work. It’s the pressure and being there. Like you said, owning the conversation and not letting you be torn down. In particular, those moguls are sharks. They could bite. Sometimes you see it on the episodes and probably many times, you don’t see it like you shared.

I’m happy you’re sharing it because I think people have to understand reading to this show and every business owner. Not every stumbling block is a reason to quit. This is the nature of business. If you’re in it, you’re in it for the long run. You got to find those detours and you got to be able to stay strong and overcome those challenges. I very much appreciate the way you explained the story. That’s why I wanted to hear the whole story. Let me ask you a couple of follow-up questions on this episode.

My point of view is to try and keep it to lots of little failures instead of big failures. I know you can’t always do that but I’ll use the example. I’m looking at my wall where I have a dozen Mensch items that we’ve made and put out. In the first year or second year, I decided, “I’m going to put out menorahs and dreidels because everybody uses menorahs and dreidels.”

I put matches on them. It turns out nobody wanted that. In year two, I failed. I didn’t understand my market. Thankfully, I short-shipped those. I didn’t make very many, so they did end up selling through for the most part and came back the next year with the Ask Bubbe doll and said, “Maybe my niche is characters.” That did well.

That year I launched two items. I had a Bubbe and a Hannah doll. If you look at year three, only one of those made it to year three. The Hannah doll that we made that didn’t make it to year three we still sold out. We were still profitable. I would call it a failure because it wasn’t a huge hit but it was still profitable and still worked, lots of little failures. I have a whole shelf of my wall of failure of all these product ideas I have and prototypes and whatnot that didn’t make it.

Like a lot of people, there’s a notion out there to never call it a failure. Call it learning moments. I say, “Call it what it is but still learn from it.” The episode aired and you got a ton of traction. You got those partners and hopefully, the diligence period worked out for you, as far as getting the deal that you mentioned. You have those two partners. How much did that add to the overall success of where the business went from there on?

It’s impossible to tell because in the first year, we had Kickstarter and we did that $100,000 in sales. The second year, right after Shark Tank, we did like $1 million in sales. You can’t parse out any individual element other than to say Shark Tank was a major driver of that. We had to that product before we officially got on Shark Tank. I made that bet. We made a million dollars in product. If we didn’t air on Shark Tank, we probably would not have sold through. The retailers would have been unhappy and they would not have carried our items the next year.

We would have been a one-hit-wonder and done. Because of Shark Tank, we were not. Now, a lot of my business is managing to make sure I don’t make too much. I always make too little and let everybody sell out and let people want more because the only way to kill a toy brand is to over ship it. We’ve decreased since our peak at Shark Tank but we’re still a healthy brand and managing it effectively.

LTB 97 | Know Your Limitations
Know Your Limitations: Third-party sellers often sell counterfeit or expired products.

 

You mentioned before that to date, you are less involved and you can run this company for a couple of hours. Talk to us a little bit about that. Is that because you have your product lineup set up and you have your distribution channels or are other people running this? Tell us a little bit about that and I want to hear a little more about what you’re focusing on the rest of your fund.

It’s a one-man company. I don’t have any help. If you think about it, when I was at Hasbro, I was in charge of 100 different items a year and brought them through the design stage and the packaging stage, pricing, pitch it to retail and get it out there. Now, with Mensch, I would like to do one new item a year. People go to the store. They look for the newest thing.

They’re excited. I have my process in place. I have my prototype or I have my design team. I have my packaging team. I have my meetings with the retailers. I have my production setup. I send a couple of emails to keep it going but I don’t need to be sitting around all day saying, “What’s the next Mensch item? What am I going to do? What’s the next X, Y and Z?”

It has become a lifestyle business. Unfortunately and I’ve tried for many years, I can’t find a way to grow it bigger than it is. There are only many Jews and they only want so much tchotchke. I don’t think our company would keep the authenticity if I went into other specialty toys. If I wanted to do a Spanish version or an Islamic version. It doesn’t feel as authentic to me.

Instead of forcing it, I spend my time on various entrepreneurial activities. I’ll tell you what the most fun thing is and what I’ve learned as an entrepreneur. I say yes to everything. Anyone that wants me to speak at their company, guest lecture, consult on their business and say, “Help them with manufacturing.” I don’t care what it is. I say yes, like now. I didn’t know you before this. You reached out and said, “How about an interview?” I was like, “Sure.”

Wasn’t it because we’re both Hoffman’s?

It was. At first, I thought it was a cousin, but I find that mentality opened many doors for different business opportunities. I love that entrepreneurial early-stage life cycle. If you’re entrepreneurial and you’re smart, you find ways to make money that are win-win. You’re not trying to take advantage of people. You’re saying, “That’s a great item. I can help you get that into Walmart. If I do, how about you pay me 10%?” “Great. All right. Let’s do it.” Stuff like that, I enjoy doing, working with early-stage entrepreneurs.

This is such a valuable lesson, which is you got to know at which point you don’t want to expand. This is what you mentioned because this business has such an important story behind it which makes it what it is. If you deviate from that, you’re at the mercy of maybe losing everything that you built. Knowing that and knowing where to draw the line, I think it’s a very valuable lesson for our audience and everybody out there.

Sometimes you want to run too quickly or you want to expand because you see success in one way and you want to mimic it but you got to know. You have to stay true to who you are, why do you exist and why did you start this in the first place. Thank you for sharing that. Tell us a little bit more. What do you focus on? How does a day in your life look like? What’s happening?

The only way to kill a toy brand is to overship it. Click To Tweet

At any given time, I take on a couple of consulting projects. I also help people with manufacturing. I have a lot of people who are making toys who call and say, “Can you guide me?” Some of those people pay me, some of those I enjoy. For example, there’s a girl who got bullied. Her seatmate pulled the seat out from under her.

She fell, hit her head and had damage. Now, she runs an anti-bullying campaign where she’s selling these cute dolls with cookies. I like helping her. It makes me feel good about myself. I spend time on stuff like that. Sometimes I have new ideas. For example, in 2020, I launched Primary Pals. They were plush dolls around the primary, the election season.

The thinking was for these candidates, they have such hardcore supporters for a limited amount of time. I can work in small production runs. Why don’t I do dolls of all of them and try and sell them? I had Mayor Pete in the Street, Bernie on a Journey, Courageous Kamala Harris, Ridin’ with Biden and tried to take that Mensch model and replay it.

As we talked about little failures, it was. It was a little failure. We made money. It was profitable. We sold out but it didn’t cause that for a viral sensation that I wanted. As I say, “The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.” We ended up putting that on the side but things like that. I’ll still chase down new ideas but it’s about doing it in an intelligent way and not taking these giant bets and betting the farm.

I’ve seen some of the stuff online that you are also consulting or helping people on the Amazon front. Are you selling Mensch on a Bench on Amazon directly and that’s where you got your experience. Tell us a little bit about the Amazon journey.

I’m working with a company called POTOO. What happened was POTOO started as third-party sellers like a decade ago. They realized that there was a lot of nefarious activity happening among these third-party sellers. They created a company that was designed to go after these third-party sellers that were hijacking listings or selling products that they didn’t get legally through the supply chain.

I ended up having a problem where on Mensch, there were a bunch of third-party sellers selling it. What happened was I had a distributor. He had a No-Amazon agreement with me but still sold to people who sold on Amazon. There was one store in Connecticut right by New York City. I thought it was a high Jewish area. It slipped by me that they bought 2,000 units and they then put them all on Amazon.

I had played out Amazon appropriately and said, “We could sell 5,000 units there. I’m going to make 4,500. We’re going to sell out. It’s going to be good.” These guys had 2,000. Now, there was a supply of 6,500 and a demand of 5,000. The only thing we could compete on was the price. If we lowered our price, then Target, Bed Bath and Michaels, we’re going to come back to me and be like, “Why is Amazon below us? We need to match it. We want markdown money.” The whole house of cards was going to fall because of this one Amazon seller.

I brought it to the company POTOO. They solved my problem. I saw them as the future and I signed on with them. As they’ve grown, they have gone from helping brands like Mensch on a Bench to helping giant companies like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson with their major brands. What happens is with these third-party sellers, they’re either selling, sometimes counterfeit product, sometimes the part that got illegally or expired. It drops the average price point.

LTB 97 | Know Your Limitations
Know Your Limitations: Say yes to everything.

 

If you’re selling a thousand pieces a day and the price has dropped a dollar on that item, there’s $350,000 in lost value. We’ll go out there and I’ll help companies turn that around, get that dollar back and right their ship. It’s one of those things I love doing because we’re helping the good guys. I was in that situation. I know what it feels like to feel out of control. You’ve done all this work on this item, then someone else has come in and taken control of it.

I love to go back to Mensch on a Bench with the final question on that. This is definitely a product that brings families together and closer. You probably, throughout the years, got a ton of feedback from actual customers. What is the most rewarding story outside of your own family that you could share with our audiences?

There are a few. I get emails from people who are like, “I’m on a fixed income. Can you put one aside for me?” Whenever I get those, I send those people free Mensch because I can. That’s why I’m doing this. I’d like to send out free stuff. There’s one family in New Jersey that has a son with special needs. In year one, they couldn’t afford a Mensch.

I sent them a Mensch and some t-shirts and sweatshirts. The kid went nuts for it. Every year, I send them a gift box and every year, I get pictures of how they’re doing. The son now went to college and they’re so thankful to be part of the journey. I like having that impact on people’s lives. As I say, “Do a business where your mom can be proud of you and your kids can be proud of you.” That’s what I enjoy about Mensch.

Let’s close with the four rapid-fire questions. Number one, a book to change your life.

The Bible.

Number two. A piece of advice you’ve got that you’ll never forget.

It’s my wife saying, “Neal, get off your ass and do something about it.”

Number three, anything you wish you could go back and do differently?

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No, I ended up here. I’m happy with it.

At least 50% of the guests say that. You’re at least 5 of the 50%. Number four and final question. What’s still on your bucket list to achieve?

I’ll tell you for Mensch, we’ve done so much. I got to go to the White House twice for the White House Hanukkah party. I got to throw out the first pitch at the Mets game and the Red Sox game for Jewish Heritage Night. I’ve done some incredible things. I want to figure out how to get a Mensch into space.

Neal, thank you so much for joining us. I know your time is valuable. That is why, in the name of our audience, we will forever be grateful for sharing some of your time with us.

Thank you. As I said, I say yes to everything. If your audience wants to reach out, I’m an easy guy to find. I’m happy to talk to anybody about anything.

That’s so nice of you.

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About Neal Hoffman

Creative Marketer, 5x Children’s Book Author and creator of the Mensch on a Bench, the most publicized brand to ever come out of Shark Tank with over 4 billion media hits. Mensch on a Bench has become a part of pop culture as the mascot of Team Israels WBC Team and partnerships with organizations ranging from El Al Airlines to the Boston Red Sox. Neal is also an Amazon expert with a focus on removing unauthorized 3P sellers and counterfeiters from the platform.

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman

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