05 Nov November 5, 2019 – Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford, Free Financial Self Shlomo Freund and NFIB Brad Close
Jonathan Reckford – CEO of Habitat for Humanity and Author of Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World
One of the virtues I focus on is kindness. How do we walk around with awareness of the people around us and, in those small and large steps,
help others. The cumulative affect of that can have an extraordinary impact. That’s really the story of Habitat for Humanity.
Jonathan T.M. Reckford is chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International, a global housing organization that, since 1976, has helped more than 22 million people build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Following his tenure as executive pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church near Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jonathan was appointed CEO of Habitat for Humanity International in 2005. He serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Duke Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Urban Steering Committee for the World Economic Forum. He was named the most influential nonprofit leader in America in 2017 by The NonProfit Times. He graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where he was a Morehead Scholar. He was also the recipient of a Henry Luce Scholarship, which enabled him to do marketing work for the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee and coach the Korean rowing team in preparation for the 1988 Olympics. He earned his Master of Business Administration degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business before spending much of his career in the for-profit sector, including executive and managerial positions at Goldman Sachs, Marriott, The Walt Disney Co., and Best Buy.
Shlomo Freund – Fouder of Free Financial Self – Founder of AppinChina – Founder of Startup Noodle – Read interview highlights here
It wasn’t easy getting my first client, because I needed to find my
ideal audience. It wasn’t simple… Over time I realized that people
I spoke with were people like me.
Schlomo Freud has built global cross-border companies as an entrepreneur for the past 15 years. With his new company, he’s taking this experience and combining it with personal finance, helping entrepreneurs realize their financial goals and reach financial freedom. Schlomo is a former contributer to Forbes. He now writes for born2invest and China Radio International English, which is an official media outlet of the Chinese government. Schlomo moved and managed 110+ Android apps (and counting!) to the Chinese market with over 740M users @AppinChina.
Brad Close – Senior Vice President for Public Policy at NFIB
This new Small Business database would searchable by any
law enforcement agency in the country without any subpoena.
That’s a huge concern.
Brad Close is the National Federation of Small Business Senior Vice President for Public Policy. He oversees multiple departments and entities, including federal and state Government Relations, the Political and Grassroots Departments, the NFIB Research Center, and the organization’s political and nonprofit fundraising operations. He is one of several Sr. Vice Presidents reporting directly to the CEO and President, setting policies for the organization, developing strategy, and managing multiple teams of personnel. Before his promotion to Sr. Vice President in 2014, Brad served as Vice President in charge the organization’s House and Senate lobbying teams. In addition, he coordinated legislative, political, and grassroots strategies. He served previously as Manager of Legislative Affairs in the US House of Representatives. Prior to joining NFIB he spent eleven years working in the House of Representatives for Congressmen Henry Hyde and Tom Ewing of Illinois and serving as a subcommittee staff director on the House Small Business Committee.
Highlights from Shlomo’s Interview
I’m in the backyard of my home. It’s a nice area. We’re not always here. We’re traveling. We’re basically living the flexible lifestyle, and when we’re in Israel, this is the view from my office right here.
Paying the bills is split between my wife and myself. My wife goes for more of the ongoing things and I’m going for more of the entrepreneurial things. We can live on her income alone. So when there are spikes, the more the better, and this is how we manage it. We split our time with homeschooling also, so we half-and-half with the teaching our daughter. She’s three and nine months.
My wife and I met through a mutual friend; it happens to my many, many people. I guess it’s a part of luck or fortune. I’m very fortunate to be with her, and I’m very glad about that. I think it’s important to mention that part of the reason that we’re together is because flexibility was important for me. And when I realized that she’s also the flexible kind of person, I didn’t propose at that very moment, but I decided that she’s a keeper.
I’ve downsized over the past few years, realizing that you need to focus. I have my company in China, I did a podcast, I had other ventures, I have my current company. And then slowly it became that I decided to focus only on the current company, which is free financial sales. I also have a company in China with a partner that is managing it there. And that works great. I’m now focusing only on one business, and I’m very happy about it. It’s something that I’m very, very passionate about. It’s important for me.
I was all over the place like many, many entrepreneurs. You know, there’s something new and then you want to try it. And then I’ll get a little bit with this, a little bit with this, and then two years in it’s like nothing happened. So I don’t do that anymore. I weigh things before I jump into them.
The company is called AppInChina. What we do is help foreign apps distribute and promote their apps in the Chinese market. Because the market is very, very different. They need a way to operate there in that local market. Most of the customers are only in English; the app is supposed to be in Chinese, of course. And if there would be an English app, we would work with the team. But basically, our recommendation is make it in Chinese, and then we’ll go for it. But all the clients are foreign, not local Chinese.
We are not selling for our clients, we’re just distributing for them. We do the operation for them. They have their own numbers and sales and stuff like that. We don’t have data on this. But we have a very wide range of apps, from very small ones to multinationals and corporates. I’d say 98% of them are non-game apps, because the game app market in China is a total different ball game, which is much more complicated than the non-game apps.
They care less about costs, but they’re still not throwing away money. It’s complicated, because sometimes if you have some kind of a revenue share agreement, then because they’re large, they wouldn’t agree to that. It’s a negotiation at the end of the day. But we get something that’s good for all sides, potentially.
The first step for that is going for the distribution, because Google Play’s blocked in China, and you have 400 other Google Plays in China, so go deal with us. We are working with the largest 20 stores, and we have different packages that start from around $5,000 a year. That would be the initial cost. If the app is successful out of China, there’s a good chance it will be successful in China, if nobody knows you out of China. It might not work in China, it’s not going to be smooth. Only the distribution part can take around a month or even two. Sometimes some of the stores reject you, some of the stores will say you need to make changes. And then you go through iterations. Again, it depends on the name that you have in the market for a successful app. For successful apps, it can be quite fast.
Also, you’ll be amazed, not all apps are for revenue. Let’s say we have clients with different Bluetooth devices and they need to operate their device. That would be with the app, or some kind of catalogs and things like that. So it’s not always about the numbers. Sometimes we need a way to download the app, and it could be several thousand people important for that company. That happens a lot with copyrights, by the way.
Let’s be completely frank here, I haven’t spoken with my team for a few weeks now, so I’m very hands off. My partner runs the company. I haven’t heard any bad things happening because of the things happening in Hong Kong. The thing is, this week it’s the Golden Week, it’s the National week of China, so they’re probably going to speak next week. Nothing really changes things. Chinese people would still download apps and mobile. That’s okay. That’s fine. I don’t have any real estate investments in Hong Kong. I’m not working there. I don’t own hotels, and I can’t afford hotels. So that’s okay. All right.
Basically, I had a chat on my website, and whoever came into the website and started the chat and started a customer discovery with them. In parallel, I managed to get one or two media coverage and local websites in China in English. And then they went to the website, and then I started chatting with them. This is how I got the first clients basically. It’s just discovering what works, what they really want, negotiation, and eventually signing. These are the first clients. We’ve come a long way since 2013. It’s not that like that anymore.
A bit after we spoke for the first time, I moved to China for three years. I didn’t know it would be three years, and I didn’t know I was going to build a company there. But eventually, as an entrepreneur, I always find different things to do. And with advice from a friend, I decided to jump into this market. Concerning employees, I started with a freelancer who helped me upload to the different platform, to different quote “stores” in China. But now we have a full time team, it’s eight or nine people. They’re part of them are in China, part of them are in in Mexico, but it’s a it’s also partially a remote company. So people are moving around.
I help people eliminate money as a source of stress and gain clarity and confidence in their future of finances. People these days sometimes go for money for the sake of having it. They’re working to get more and more of it, while my approach is aligning your desired lifestyle with your finances. Just measure how much you want, or work on what you really want in life, and then make those finances align together. It’s not money for making money. It’s money for making your life better and the way that you really want it. This is what I help people build.
The first step is really understanding where you’re heading. Not next year, I’m talking about 20, 30 years from now. What do you want to have then? What is your goal? This is the first step. If you don’t have anywhere to go, you can keep going with the narration forever. No use of that. That makes people not confident in where they’re at right now, because they don’t know where they’re heading. Then collect all your financial data and understand where you are in the process.
So you’re starting from point A, B’s your goal, where are you in that position from A to B? Getting all this information together will help you to figure out if you are on your way, and how far you are along the way. Then the third one is making a plan, meaning optimizing, and realizing that maybe some things you just can’t have, and that’s okay. Or maybe have a plan for building another business or making other investments. But how do you make these two things align, your goal and your finances? This is, in a ballpark, the process.
It’s not an easy thing to change your behavior. There is no silver bullet. It will be a process. You say, “Okay, these are the things that I think I can give away; I don’t really need them.” It’s a process of realizing what you really need at the end of the day. There isn’t a lot that you really need.
It’s not only about decreasing your spending, because part of what people are not using are smart investments. If you’re looking at a very simple formula of compound interest over 30 years, even if you’re saving very little, that’s a lot of money in 30 years. So if you have a goal like your children’s college in 20 years, let’s say you just had your baby. If you plan for that, knowing that will be X amount in 20 years, you can start saving now and investing for this. It’s not waiting for year 19 when suddenly you need $100,000. That shouldn’t happen. Okay, so when you’re getting ready for this or you’re getting a lot of money from that compounding interest over time, that can save a lot of money. Therefore, the stress levels are much, much lower. Planning towards that will take those stress levels down.
It wasn’t easy getting my first client, because I needed to find my ideal audience. It wasn’t simple. I started my venture AppInChina about two years ago, and my partner took over the company and started managing it. Meaning I had time, and I decided I wanted to do something of passion, which is personal finance, and help people live happier lives. So I decided that I’m going to build that. But I had my blurry concept about entrepreneurship. This is what I want to do, this is a real passion of mine. Let’s do it as a business. Why not? And over time, I realized that people I spoke with and people around me are people like me. These were would-be entrepreneurs, but not starting entrepreneurs. They would be people that have a business already working for several years, so they have some money in. I also realized that many of my potential clients are expats just like me. I was an expat, so this is also something that I decided to focus on, marketing wise. It’s a better thing to just speak to that audience.
It’s a developing process. The first clients were pilot clients that I had taken for free to learn about the process that I am going through with people. I saw that was helpful for them. And through that, I developed it more and more. And I have a more improved and built-up program for other people. But that was a process, building this this service properly.
It’s never going to be perfect. You can always improve, and I’m sure I will evolve over time. But the things that come up the most are simple. A simple compelling message I just said before, I help people eliminate money as a source of stress and gain clarity and confidence in their future finances. Why use that? Because in my conversations with potential clients, I have a whole process of how to do those evaluation calls. These are things that come up. These are words that they use, so this is what I use, and this is how I get their attention to speak with me.
You can find me on FreeFinancialSelf.com/schoolforstartups. This is a special tool that I made for your listeners which will help them to make the first steps towards their financial freedom. It basically will help them to know how much they’re worth. That would be to know where they are in the process. But as I mentioned before, that’s one thing. You can go and download that there, and you can get in touch. You can also find me on Instagram on FreeFinancialSelf and what I do on Facebook, my name on LinkedIn, my name on Twitter would be FreeFinancialSF. I think you’ve got it all.