Invest in all of your stakeholders — Surround yourself with people who value what you admire and who will help you achieve your goals — including your employees, partners, vendors and clients.
As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joseph Ladin.
Mr. Joseph Ladin is the CEO of SFLMaven Corporation, an online provider of premium, high-end luxury jewelry and goods, which he founded in 2003. He is a highly accomplished, results-driven entrepreneur with more than 18 years of e-commerce experience, including extensive work in luxury goods sales and service. Mr. Ladin graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in sociology and business.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
After graduating from the University of Florida, I knew I wanted to get into a luxury market space but wasn’t sure exactly which path to take. The summer after graduation, I had the opportunity to work on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea and that experience really helped shape my future. I remember being in Cannes and going to Cartier and Bulgari for one of our guests and realized how connected the entire luxury market is. All of it goes hand-in-hand and is completely interrelated. It intrigued me and I started to look more into the luxury jewelry market and began selling antiques.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
I think one of the hardest things I’ve faced is keeping the excitement alive year after year. When you first start doing anything, it’s really easy to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm but in business, it’s a long-term journey. Creating a strategic business plan was key to our success.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
My key focus has been to always stay positive, keep a fresh approach and grow and adjust as the industry evolves. Having realistic expectations helps as well, knowing that in business, like the ocean, the tide rolls in and out. I understand that not every single can day be my best day ever, and that helps me throughout this journey.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
SFLMaven is doing incredibly well. This year, I took the company public, which was a huge milestone moment in my career and something I’m very proud of. As an eBay store, all of our transactions have public customer feedback for the world to see, making us incredibly transparent. That is pretty much unheard of in the luxury fine jewelry category of online shopping. Focusing on our customers, delivering what they wanted and not taking things personally has been instrumental to the success and growth of SFLMaven.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Something that makes us different is we consistently have very unique pieces of jewelry sold via weekly auctions that all end on the same night. Our customers know that, like clockwork, every Thursday night a new collection of 250 pieces will be in our no reserve auction which brings a lot of excitement.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Slow and steady wins the race. Keep working on your goals every day and over time, you will achieve them.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
The person who helped guide me the most was definitely my mother. She was always so nurturing and, in my childhood, really let me have the creative freedom to dare to be different. I still carry that with me and you can see elements of that shine through in my business.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I definitely believe in karma and I know many people have supported me through the years. Donating to my local community via various charities grants me the chance to do my part. I would also say that success has allowed me to be able to prioritize my family and raise my children. Being able to be a hands-on father and bring my children up with good values is what I hope will be one of my greatest achievements.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. There is no instruction manual — As a Founder, you’re the ultimate visionary for the company’s growth. It’s wonderful because you have creative freedom, but it comes with a high bar of responsibility and expectations. Stay committed, set realistic goals and go for them.
2. Technology is going to evolve — Just in our international shipping department alone, technology has advanced and you have to evolve with it or you’ll be left behind. Take the necessary steps to keep your team current on how to run at peak performance.
3. Invest in all of your stakeholders — Surround yourself with people who value what you admire and who will help you achieve your goals — including your employees, partners, vendors and clients.
4. Be a great listener — This is a skill that has served me well. I believe it’s important to take the time to listen to your customers’ feedback and listen to suggestions from staff. Incorporating the little tweaks that come from those conversations over time adds up to positive results.
5. Continue learning and honing your skills — This is one you’ll thank yourself. Your industry over time is going to change. Grow with it.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
Being a business owner carries a lot of weight, spanning across the board of responsibilities. I find that living a healthy lifestyle keeps me on track and is essential for me to be able to perform at this high level. When I decided to make eating healthy and scheduling weekly exercise, I noticed a significant positive increase in how I felt, which makes decision-making much more manageable. Stay hydrated during the day, ease up on the caffeine and eat a solid lunch.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It would have to be a Cycling Youth Group. Being active and living a healthy lifestyle has benefited me so much in my adult years that I wish if I could go back in time, that someone would have gotten me involved in it in my own youth.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!