Episode 073: Staying Committed to Your Vision With David Koretz

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Josh Kace & David Koretz SlantShack Jerky

Josh Kace & David Koretz

David Koretz, the CEO/COO of SlantShack Jerky, admits starting a sustainable beef jerky business isn’t as lucrative as starting an online business. He says he deals with the constant challenges of working in the food industry because of his commitment to his company’s vision and passion for the product.

Almost five years ago, nine Columbia University graduates assembled in the apartment of Josh Kace, the founder of SlantShack, to start making homemade beef jerky has a communal activity to stay in touch with each other.  What was once a hobby is now a business generating revenues of almost $1 million. Their beef jerky is sold in speciality shops across the country, as well as regionally in WholeFoods.

Around three years ago, David decided to leave his job as a research associate at Cornerstone Research to work full time on SlantShack. He enjoyed his work, but wanted to make a lasting impact. He was interested in pursuing opportunities in sustainable agriculture or green energy. SlantShack seemed the like the perfect opportunity.

Key UnStuckable Takeaway

Let your commitment to your vision guide your work ethic! 

Before you start a side business or start working for yourself full time, stop and ask, “Why am I doing this?”

It’s important to understand your motivation and how long you are willing to commit yourself to your vision before you see any measurable results.

When David committed to working on SlantShack Jerky full time, he knew the commitment would be longer than a year. He also knew he was in it because of his passion for the product and his vision for creating a sustainable food company.

Quick Action to Get Unstuck

Write down your vision for yourself or your business.

Think of this exercise as your mission statement. When someone asks you how you deal with all of the challenges of taking on your goal, you will respond by stating your vision. It will also serve as a source of long-term motivation as you respond to short-term challenges. Get started right now:

1. Write down your vision statement. Why you are doing what you are doing and how you are going to do it.

2. Make a few copies of your mission statement, so you can post it in places you will regularly see it. Maybe your bathroom mirror, your office or even your car.

3. When you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, read your vision out loud to yourself.

UnStuckable Quotes From David

“Food is not a billion dollar business as a startup.” 

 “We weren’t looking to take any shortcuts, we were doing this out of passion for our product.”

“You have to ask yourself why are you doing it and is it worth it all.”

“There is a large mission we believe in that keeps driving us each day.” 

“The more you can communicate what it is you are trying to do, the more people you can get behind you and their role in helping get you there.”

“Someone who is UnStuckable has a desire to succeed.”

“You have to understand your larger goal, but be able to enjoy the day to day at the same time.”

“Acknowledging weakness helps me fight through the moments when I’m feeling stuck.”

More Habits & Actions

  • David and his friends started selling jerky in a few farmer’s markets in New York City to see if people would pay for it. At the time they were still making it out of the founder’s apartment with no USDA approval.
  • The jump from hobby to business was a much larger commitment for David and his friends because of the stringent USDA guidelines, but that didn’t deter them!
  • One of the key strengths of starting their business was a large group of partners (there were 9 guys) with specialized roles.
  • Found a farm in Vermont to partner with as their beef supplier on a Yahoo! group.
  • Mentions in magazines like New York Magazine and Maxim about their jerky provided them with momentum and helped legitimize their business.
  • Each year David assesses whether or not the business is going in the direction he wants it to go to gauge his ongoing commitment to it.
  • The key to effective partnerships is communication and the ability to clearly communicate your vision.
  • David prefers in-person meetings above all other form of communications.
  • He reads industry publications he doesn’t agree with to broaden his perspective and to stay on top of trends.

Alternative Perspectives

  • You can be passionate about your work, business or job, but it doesn’t mean you are going to like it every day or every task you need to accomplish.
  • A year after starting a business you will either know if you want to make a long-term commitment to the business or chalk it up as a failure.
  • If you can, develop relationships in person first, then move onto the phone and then email (in that order) to maintain the relationship.
  • David’s long-term vision for his business helps prevent him from taking short cuts and a reduction in standards in the short term .

Resources

David Koretz on LinkedIn

SlantShack Jerky 

Gary Hirshberg speaks at Columbia Business School

Stirring It Up by  Gary Hirshberg

Start With Why by Simon Sinek 

Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz

Mark Bittman

Questions & Feedback

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