As a part of my series about people who made the journey from an addict to an entrepreneur, I had the pleasure to interview Philip Scheinfeld.
Since his entry into real estate in 2013, Philip Scheinfeld has shown his clients nothing but enthusiasm and dedication. Philip tirelessly searches New York City for his buyers to find the best home to meet their needs. As a real estate pro, he puts his clients first and prioritizes their specific goals. Having grown up on the Upper East Side, Philip offers insider advice on the greatest restaurants, shopping and events in their areas of interest. When working with sellers, Philip is equally well versed in terms of current pricing and innovative marketing, to ensure that their properties command the highest possible return.
Philip’s tenacity allows him to achieve results that surpass client expectations. “I am always negotiating with people for the benefit of both parties. I did my first rental within a week and sold my first apartment in my second month in the business. Ever since, I’ve handled numerous purchases, exclusives, and new developments. Now with the backing of Compass, I am beyond well-equipped to service every type of client and real estate need.”
Philip graduated from Pace University with a Bachelor’s in Business Management. Prior to real estate, Philip worked in finance, affording him a relevant knowledge to understanding the current market. Philip joined Compass after working with a Top 10 producing team at Douglas Elliman.
In his spare time, Philip takes an interest in real estate development, staying up to date on new projects around the city. Personally, he likes to box, exercise and play sports. He sits on the board of the Jade Condominium where he currently resides with his mini Shetland Sheep dog Howie.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you describe your childhood for us?
I was incredibly lucky to have an amazing childhood. My parents have a wonderful marriage and both did everything in their power to make sure I had all the tools I needed to succeed and provided me with a lot of support. I was diagnosed with ADD at a young age and a large part of that manifests in heightened energy levels, so a lot of my time as a kid was spent with tutors and therapists as well as a speech pathologist for a lisp I had when I was younger. My mom was my best friend as a child and without her support, I would not be as successful as I am today. As I got older, I spent more time with my father who ingrained his strong work ethic in me. He gave me the confidence that no matter what learning challenges I had, I could be successful through dedication, hard work and long hours. I always felt incredibly loved by my parents and am very grateful for that.
Can you share with us how were you initially introduced to your addiction? What drew you to the addiction you had?
I was initially introduced to my addiction by a group of friends in high school; however, it really started for me at a young age. I grew up with an addictive personality and latched onto most things very strongly and found myself fully committed to everything I did. When I went to high school, those traits carried on when I started partying, drinking and doing drugs. Once I started, it was nearly impossible to stop for me. The biggest aspect that drew me into my addiction was a desire to fit in and be accepted by my peers. Before high school, I had always been against doing drugs, but I eventually felt that those sentiments ostracized me from my peers since most people were starting to experiment at that age. When I started drinking and doing drugs, I finally felt that I had real and strong friendships, which ultimately led to my downfall.
What do you think you were really masking or running from in the first place?
I think it was a desire to be accepted and liked by my peers because I didn’t feel like I was a part of the ‘popular’ or ‘cool’ kids, especially because I was against drugs and partying for the longest time. When one of my friends who I sought acceptance and recognition from told me they liked me better and thought I was more fun when I was drunk, I felt that I had a new outlet or way to become a part of a group of people I wanted as friends. Before I knew it, I was addicted and couldn’t stop.
Can you share what the lowest point in your addiction and life was?
Everyone’s rock bottom is different whether it’s living under a bridge with nothing or losing relationships with friends and family, but for me, it was consistent destructive behavior. I was kicked off my college lacrosse team for fighting my captain, kicked out of my dorm room for spray painting the walls and overall making my parents lose trust in me. The feeling of disappointing them was my rock bottom moment.
Can you tell us the story about how were you able to overcome your addiction?
It was actually a very standard morning, but I woke up one day and just felt sick of living the way I was. I went home and told my mom that I needed help and to go to rehab. In that moment, I didn’t even want to be sober or stop using drugs, but I knew I needed to get away from the lifestyle in order to stop my destructive behavior, be successful and earn back the trust of loved ones. My environment and the people surrounded myself with was detrimental to my well being, and I knew that if I found a way out of it, I would figure things out. Two days later, I was admitted to rehab in Florida for 8 months.
How did you reconcile within yourself and to others the pain that addiction caused to you and them?
I spent a lot of time forgiving myself for the things I had done. Once I was able to forgive myself and stop blaming myself for my actions, I was able to move on to start making amends to my family and friends. I worked the steps of AA, got a sponsor and began the process of amends and seeking forgiveness. Certain situations took longer and required hard work, but at the end of the day, my true friends understood and were able to forgive me. Of course, there were people who my actions affected more deeply that they were not able to forgive me, but in life, you can’t expect or receive acceptance from everyone and I had to focus on moving on from that.
When you stopped your addiction, what did you do to fill in all the newfound time you had?
I replaced my addiction with food, working out and working on projects I was passionate about. I also went back to college at Pace University where I finally was able to complete my undergraduate degree. I started developing a social network business with some friends and spent nearly 100 hours a week on this venture. I set up meetings with VC firms for capital, but last minute decided not to continue the project so I could pursue and focus my full attention on my college degree. After I stopped working on the app, I needed to seek out a new career and began working in real estate. Once I did my first deal, I was hooked.
What positive habits have you incorporated into your life post addiction to keep you on the right path?
I see a therapist once a week and religiously work out. I find that when I am in good physical shape and focus on healthy habits, I am much happier mentally. I also prioritize healthy meals and nutrition, avoiding foods like pasta and pizza, except for the occasional splurge at Emilios Ballato.
Can you tell us a story about how your entrepreneurial journey started?
I had the entrepreneurial bug at an early age. I remember having a lemonade and cookie stand outside my parent’s apartment when I was around ten years old and I loved it! The most fulfilling part for me was interacting with so many different people. I realized that being outgoing and showing someone a product while working to sell them on it was more exciting to me than the money, which is how I feel about my current career in real estate.
What character traits have you transferred from your addiction to your entrepreneurship. Please share both the positive and negative.
My persistence is one of the strongest characteristics I have transferred into a positive from my addiction. During my addiction, if I wanted something, I made it happen. That level of dedication has continued in my sober life and I have seen that I can accomplish anything that I put my mind to, which has given me confidence. Being sober for almost nine years takes a lot of consistent discipline and persistence and that has created a more positive environment for me. A negative trait is my patience. I don’t have a lot of patience or ability to wait, which is also attributed to my ADD. When something needs to be done, I want it done now.
Can you share three pieces of advice that you would give to the entrepreneur who is struggling with some sort of addiction but ashamed to speak about it or get help?
It is very hard for someone to get help if they don’t realize they need it or aren’t dedicated to making a change to their life. You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. So I think the biggest first step is to recognize and accept the change you want to make to your life. If someone is struggling with an addiction but they are ashamed to speak up about it, I would encourage them to reach out to an individual in their life that they trust and deeply cares about their wellbeing. A family member or a best friend, and if they can’t go to them, then they should go online and find an anonymous helpline for addiction. They can also reach out to me and I will gladly provide insight and support.