Jeff Hoffman is a successful entrepreneur, proven CEO, worldwide motivational speaker, published author, Hollywood film producer, a producer of a Grammy-winning jazz album, and executive producer of an Emmy Award-winning TV show. He has been the founder of multiple startups, has been the CEO of both public and private companies, and has served as a senior executive in many capacities. Jeff has been part of a number of well-known companies, including Priceline.com, uBid.com, ColorJar, and more. In this interview, Jeff shares learned lessons and insights from years of accumulated experience.
Jeff serves on the boards of companies in the US, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses in more than 150 countries. He also serves on the boards of Global Entrepreneurship Week and The Unreasonable Group. He supports the White House, the US State Department, the United Nations, and foreign governments on economic growth initiatives and entrepreneurship.
Jeff is a frequent keynote speaker, having been invited to speak in over 50 countries, on the topics of innovation, entrepreneurship, and business leadership. He is the co-author of the book SCALE, a how-to guide for growing your business. Jeff also teaches innovation workshops to major corporations on a regular basis. Jeff is a featured business expert seen on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, CNN International, Bloomberg News, CNBC, ABC, and NPR, and in publications including Forbes, Inc., Time, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, and more.
Jeff received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the national CEO council for his contributions to the field of entrepreneurship, and he received the Champion of Entrepreneurship Award from JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, and Rising Tide Capital, as well as receiving the George Brown Award for International Cooperation.
Outside of the world of technology, Jeff has produced movies, has produced musical events including concerts, tours, and charity events, and serves on numerous charity and non-profit boards.
Favorite Success Quote
“There is no they.” – Jeff Hoffman
There is no “they”, it’s on us. Jeff shares a story of how he first came to this realization. Take responsibility by taking some solution-oriented action. Instead of complaining about something he immediately takes action and does something about it.
1. The Scarcest Resource In The World Is Human Capital, Not Financial Capital
You can have all the money you want, but if you do not have the right team around you, you will not scale. You must get out of your own way. Find people smarter than yourself, and then trusting them and getting out of their way. Feel excited by people smarter than you, not threatened by them. To find the best people, you have to seek them. Most of the people replying to a job posting are replying to it because they lost theirs. The best people in a single category are receiving offers all the time, they are not seeking jobs. Go to them. Remain curious about your differences, constantly desiring to expand your knowledge base and meeting new people. Say, “.. tell me about YOU. Tell me about YOUR life.” Listen to Jeff’s TED talk on remaining curious through life, and regaining your sense of childlike wonder.
2. Comprehensive Health Requires Resonant Frequency
Jeff shares the story of how he bought his first Ferrari. As a child, he was told he could not own a car like that in his lifetime. He realized at a young age, that an attitude will support your dream, so if you say you cannot or will not, then you are right. Stop letting the rest of the world what you are capable of and what you are not. Jeff eventually purchased the Ferrari, and he decided to drive it over 130 mph. When he hit 130 mph the car went dead silent. When he got up to 140 mph the car started making noise again. He called Ferrari to discuss the car going silent and what went wrong. When he told them what happened they laughed at his story. They explained to Jeff the reason that the Ferrari went silent, was because it is designed to cruise at that speed.
When it hit 130 mph it hit its resonant frequency. That was the speed that every piece of the car was running pristinely smooth. Jeff decided he wanted his life to run at a resonant frequency. Though it is a constant battle to remain in this zone, Jeff repeatedly asks himself a simple question. What combination of factors do I have to have so I am as happy as that car, so I feel like I am exactly where I’m supposed to be in life doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing?”
Right down your “engine of life”. Every aspect of health (all the gears of your engine). Write them all down on a whiteboard. Constantly look at every component of your life’s engine and honestly assess how each area is going. Resonant frequency is much easier to reach this way. When Jeff looked at the different components of his life’s “engine”, he looked at his whole life. Write it down and pay attention to it!
You cannot have it all and you cannot do everything at once. Accept that life is messy, so address the thing that needs the most attention. Work on the things that need the most attention. It is okay that it is a constant juggling act. Be happy with knowing that you are doing the best you can.
3. Pursue Your Passion, But Make Sure It Is
“Can’t wait till Monday!” Jeff shares that it is important to do something you love. Assuming your passion is a truly viable business or productive endeavor, not simply a romantic ideal or idea. If you do not have a value equation, move on, no matter how passionate you are. A value equation is defined by, “would a lot of people in the world pay you more for what you are doing than what it costs you to do it?”
Finding your golden purpose:
- Something you are passionate about doing. Love Doing.
- You must be good at it. Good at doing.
- People must be willing to pay you for it (others have to care outside of yourself). What the world will pay you to do.
If something does not meet those criteria, move on. Keep moving fast. Fail fast. It is not fun to be wrong, but shake it off and try again. There will be something else. Adopt an Ability and Attitude Willing To Fail Fast.
Make the human decision before you make the profit decision.
Building Your Brand
Your brand is the emotional or visceral reaction and response people have when they think about you. What Jeff learned is that behavior becomes your brand. Customers (and people) observe the way you treat people. Be a sincerely respectful person. Care about others, care about your employees, and be candid. Your authenticity, especially with millennials, is hugely valued. If you sincerely show care and respect to everyone equally, whether the janitor or the CEO, it will, in fact, help your business long term (but more importantly it helps you sleep well at night). Treating everyone well will propel you far past people who do things they are subtly ashamed of to achieve economic success.
Your integrity will take you farther than cutting corners ever will. Stay the course.
The Heart Healthy Hustle Round
Heart: What activity do you use to care for and strengthen your internal character?
Jeff enjoys spending time with kids. Especially under-served children. He shares that he goes into inner city schools spending time listening to kids.
Health: How do you maintain your physical health and avoid burn out?
Make a commitment to make time for your personal fitness. Eat well on the road. You just have to make a commitment and keep it. Do not make excuses.
Hustle: What’s your main motivation for doing what you do?
To live his life with no regrets
“The Park Bench Paradigm”
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self to do and not do – Why?
“Listen to the right people.”
Explained: we get our advice from proximity, not relevance. Proximity meaning those around us. Just because someone loves you, this does not warrant taking their advice. Do not take their advice if it is not the right advice. Find advice and people who are relevant to your future, in addition to those who are around you every day.
Connect with Jeff Hoffman
Socially connect with Jeff on Linkedin
Jeff Hoffman on Twitter: @Speakerjeff
Jeff’s Email: Jeff@jeffhoffman.com