David Schottenstein Openly Regrets “Horrible” Business Decision

See: Entrepreneur and investor David Schottenstein spoke out against “gray area” business dealings based on his own experience in a keynote address at the Select Business Conference in Crown Heights. Video

The second annual Select Business Conference, an expo that celebrates Lubavitch-owned businesses and supports community entrepreneurs, took place in Crown Heights on Sunday.

Organized by Crown Heights Young Entrepreneurs (CHYE), it is billed as the largest and most anticipated local business event of the year with over 60 booths.

Sponsoring this year’s event is David “Duddy” Farkash, founded RFK Financial in Partnership with MassMutual Metro NY, a widely recognized life insurance agency.

Held at the Beis Rivkah Rose Hall, the expo features a trade show and a networking opportunity with business leaders and investors from around the Tri-State Area.

It opened with a keynote address by the serial entrepreneur and activist investor David Schottenstein titled, “There Was A CEO… Important Lessons I Learned The Hard Way.” He detailed some of the legal challenges he faced and how he came out of it stronger than ever.

Schottenstein is the founder and former CEO of Privé Revaux sunglasses and has started and sold several companies and has ownership interests in several successful businesses including OneWheel, Mizzen & Main and his latest venture , 7th Heaven Chocolate Co.

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The focus of Schottenstein’s talk was bitachon and why business people should cultivate their trust in Hashem. Bitachon allows traders to operate at all times in an unfailing ethical and legal manner, saving them a lot of financial and legal trouble.

“The most important message I hope to get out there is to always remember that blessings come from Hashem,” Schottenstein told COLlive.com before the speech.

“As from the Jewish people, and especially as chassidim of the Rebbe, we pride ourselves on our bitachon. Many of us follow the Rebbe’s directive to learn deeply Shaar HaBitachon in Chovos haLevavos. And yet we can also fail if we are not careful. It is not enough to know that Hashem is in charge – that Hashem is the CEO.

“You have to internalize it. It’s easy to lose focus. If you forget that God has determined your destiny, that is making room for you to make bad decisions. You may think you are smartly cutting a corner here or there but it will catch up with you sooner or later. When you remember where your blessings come from, you won’t do things that are too questionable or not good for business.

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In his speech, Schottenstein spoke candidly about his own past struggles and the lessons he learned from them.

“Hashem determines your parnasah on Rosh Hashana, so doing anything questionable or even what some call a “gray area” will not help at all. You will still make the same amount of money that Hashem has set aside for you to enable you to stay far, far away from even the slightest trace of anything questionable or unethical. You cannot save or earn extra dollars by doing something that is not 100 % ‘kosher.’ Not only will you not earn more, but it will likely come back and bite you and cause you to suffer. Any time you face the consequences, it will be painful for you, your business, and your family. Trust me, I know from experience.”

“Many people in the frum businessmen were taught about the value of giving tzedakah, which is very important. In fact, I remember a speech I heard from a more experienced businessman when I started about tzedakah and that speech had a great impact on me. Since then, I have always made it a priority to give tzedakah. But we need to talk more about bitachon. We need to do a better job of teaching the next generation of businessmen that God is in control and that not only can they not make more money by bending or breaking the rules, but they may pay a terrible price if they do business in a way that God does not allow. By operating from a place of true respect and recognition of Hashem as the source of all that you have done and the things you feel comfortable printing on the front page of the New York Times.

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“And finally, and perhaps most importantly, whenever we face difficulties or challenges in life there are two ways we can respond – you can crawl into a hole and be miserable and be a victim or you can use the challenge to strengthen yourself, your partner, your family, and your marriage. In my keynote, I’ll talk about how I did that and how you can do it too. “

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