With only a couple weeks until the The Winning Edge 2014 conference, Bottom Line Marketing Group is abuzz with activity. Amidst the excitement of plans and preparations, we seized the opportunity to speak with one of our much-anticipated presenters, Ira Zlotowitz, to get a feel for what we can expect at the conference.
Bottom Line Marketing Group (BLMG): Mr. Zlotowitz, as President of Eastern Union Funding, you have received much recognition for your achievements, including placement on Crain’s New York Business’s “Forty-under-40”. Was there one particular person who has influenced and inspired you on your way to success?
Zlotowitz: My father, Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, has had the greatest impact on my career. He built the most successful and world-renowned Jewish publishing company-ArtScroll, which has revolutionized the way everyone learns and davens. Behind the scenes, I have seen how his company has developed into one of highest quality and professionalism. There are individual staff members who have been there for over thirty years, helping the company build success on a mutual plane of trust and confidence. In conversations with my father, we discuss the importance of constantly innovating to help employees keep the same enthusiasm they have for work throughout their career as they had during the first week of their employment, as well as maintaining a feeling of job security. My father has taught me that it is worth investing in people: the benefits of relationships and loyalty stretch far into the long term.
BLMG: What has been the biggest challenge of your career thus far? How did you overcome it?
Zlotowitz: At age 25, I opened up my own business. As a young startup, I had to break into a market that is relationship-based and had an incumbent that held a very big share of the market. I had to get over those initial hurdles to the point where I could establish and build relationships and win over clients. My success was, and continues to be, based on a combination of hishtadlus and mazel!
BLMG: Recently, your firm has been ranked as one of the nation’s fastest growing firms. The rapid growth must be a challenge as well. How do you deal with that?
Zlotowitz: Yes-it is a challenge. Dealing with rapid growth in a market that constantly changes requires different talents at different times. It helps that we have some very good investments: people who we saw as having potential to grow and adapt with the company. It is important to create a work environment where employees are willing to step up to the plate and get more involved as the company grows, rather than have a “why should I take on more work?” attitude.
There is an idea, the Peter Principle, which states that if an employee is promoted based on his current performance, he will be promoted until he has reached his highest level of competency. If promoted further, he will reach his level of incompetency-the point at which he can no longer perform the work assigned. Someone may have the skill set for a particular task, but if assigned to another higher or unrelated task based on past success, he is likely to fail for lack of ability.
Recognizing this principle, we were careful in our employee selection. We made sure to surround ourselves with skilled individuals. If you invest properly in your employees, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, when new needs arise, you can partner people up, making use of their combined skills. If you have the mindset that you are investing in your employees, you will help cultivate their skills and end up with an amazing staff.
BLMG: At the conference, you will be presenting “Double Your Staff’s Production, Triple Your Profits!” Can we have a bit of a sneak peek?
Zlotowitz: The main thrust is how to find the strengths and weaknesses in your employees and use that information for the growth of your company. The key to that lies in viewing an employee as an investment rather than an expense. That is, an employer would do well to note the potential in his employee and nurture that employee to the point where he is willing and able to output his best. Even if the process takes a while, the employer will ultimately benefit. Conversely, an employer may view an employee as an expense-and therefore as being more easily dispensable. With this attitude, the employee will not feel motivated to grow. His work may even be mediocre. The quality and efficiency of an employee’s work is directly proportional to how he is viewed and thereby treated.
BLMG: At 19, you created an incentive program for junior high school boys to encourage learning. Do you believe in incentives for employees?
Zlotowitz: Absolutely! Incentives work to motivate and are part of investing in an employee. If an employer communicates that he appreciates his employee’s work, and is willing to compensate for improved quality and efficiency, the employee’s productivity is far more likely to flourish. It all comes back to viewing employees as investments rather than expenses. If a couple dollars more will ensure exceptional work, isn’t that worth it?
BLMG: You have a lot to offer our attendees. What do you personally hope to gain from The Winning Edge 2014?
I am approaching the conference with a very specific goal in mind: to inspire at least one business owner-even just one-who will take a few points from the conference and implement them to make changes in his company to help it grow. With that, he will be able to earn more and pay his employees more. As a result of the growth of his company, he will be able to help more frum people get jobs. If I can accomplish that, I will feel that I have gained from this conference.
BLMG: Thank you, Mr. Zlotowitz. We look forward to hearing more from you at the conference!
To register for the conference visit: www.winningedge2014.com or call 718-412-3508.