I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Silverstein, the owner and founder of The Peached Tortilla, a growing hospitality brand in Austin, Texas. Mr. Silverstein started The Peached Tortilla as a lone food truck in 2010. Since then, he has expanded his hospitality empire, growing the business into three brick and mortar locations, a 7,000+ square foot event space, full service catering company and multiple food trucks. Mr. Silverstein has been recognized in publications such as Kiplinger’s for his ability to start small and scale a food truck operation into a multi-million dollar business. He was recently named one of Plate magazine’s “30 up- and-coming chefs and was also named one of FSR Magazine’s Rising Stars.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get to be where you are right now?
Mr. Silverstein was born in Tokyo, Japan where he lived for the first eleven years of his life. He then moved stateside to Atlanta, Georgia. After high school, he completed his undergraduate education at Washington University in St. Louis where he majored in Finance and Marketing. After undergrad, he pursued a law degree at Washington University and stayed in St. Louis to practice law at a mid-size firm for three years as a litigator. Early on in his legal career, he realized he wanted to become an entrepreneur and marry his interests of business and food. In 2010, he left his career as a lawyer and moved to Austin, Texas to start his food truck business, The Peached Tortilla.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How did this quality help you overcome obstacles on the path of becoming an influential and inspiring leader?
I would say I am more of an extrovert than an introvert. I believe I possess qualities of both; however, I am an extrovert when I need to be. When you own your business and have employees, you are kind of forced to be in a position to lead and inspire. Everyone looks at you to have the answer, and you have to prepared. It’s impossible for me to grow a business in hospitality without having managers that believe in my vision and believe in my ability to execute on that vision. I also have to set the culture for the company and lead by example. I wasn’t aware that any of this was part of my job until about one or two years into the business.
What does it mean to be mentally-strong in the hyper-competitive world of running a business or an organization?
Being mentally strong is everything. When you are a business owner, there is a tendency to feel alone. After all, who would understand the position you are in? You’re the only owner and founder of your company. You have to be willing to live with that lonely feeling. You have to be steadfast in your decision-making and not let the lows drag you down. I lost a lot of money in the food truck business early on and lived off of savings for 3 years. I did not take a paycheck until year 3 of the business, and it was marginal at best. I had to be mentally steadfast in my goal of growing the business, no matter how difficult it was going to be. Mental toughness is one of the foundations of a successful entrepreneur.
A lot of people in the business world feel as if talking about mental health makes them appear weak. How do you feel about showing mental strength and setting an example of what it takes to have the strong mental stamina to succeed?
I’m proud of my mental strength. I talk about it quite a bit and make it a point on some of my social media posts. I talk about failure, and how my fear of failure is always there. It eats at me and it is something I have had to overcome. While I don’t embrace failure, I have overcome my fear of it. Being an entrepreneur takes a tremendous amount of strain on you mentally. You’re always on, 24/7. You have to figure out a way to make it balance just right in your head. It’s not easy.
Is there a particular person, a book, or place of wisdom that has inspired you to become a successful and mentally-strong leader?
I watch a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk. While he’s over the top sometimes, I like his message of “going for it” and making the most of your life when you are young. He preaches being mentally-strong and not worrying about what other people think of you. He is always talking about failure and not being afraid of it. I think his persona is very mentally tough. He’s a hustler. I like that.
Can you give us 5 tips on maintaining strong mental health stamina to succeed in the modern business world? Tell us a little about why each point matters.
What does it means to be mentally-strong in the age of information and technology?
I love Instagram but it’s not the greatest thing for me either. People tend to only post successes on Instagram, so it makes you think you’re behind the pack on everything. You have to use social media these days to stay competitive and relevant, but try and put it into perspective. Know that people are only posting their “highs” of the day.
Can an imbalance in private life cause a mentally-strong leader to deviate away from the path of success? Why? How to alleviate this problem?
Absolutely, you have to have balance. Your foundation is your home, so make sure that is right first. Everyone’s outlook on what they want out of their private life is different. Just make sure you are living the life you want to live outside of work.
What works best to maintain strong mental stamina as a leader? Yoga? Meditation? Listening to music? Something else?
Your diet, working out, decompressing. Do the things that make you happy outside of work, but also maintain your health and body.
Building a strong leadership position requires intense interaction with other people. These professional interactions can be both positive and negative, depending on the kinds of people we interact with to achieve our goals. What is the better choice to make to achieve greatness: learn to interact with toxic acquaintances to ‘get to the top,’ or choose to be a loner and do all the grunt work individually without dealing with the toxicity of others?
You can’t hide from toxicity. In business you have to embrace the uncomfortable and difficult conversations. If you run from them, you won’t be successful. You’ll just keep running. If you don’t have to deal with toxic people then don’t obviously. But if they stand in your way of success, deal with them and move on.
In 2019, what will be the best way to recharge energy?
Perspective. Putting things into perspective always helps. I always need to take about ten steps back and look at what I have achieved to make me feel better about where I’m trying to go.
If the readers of this interview series would like to read more about you, how they can reach out?
I’m on LinkedIn and on Instagram (@projectpeached). They can email me at [email protected]