See: Entrepreneur and investor David Schottenstein spoke against “gray zone” business based on his own experience in a keynote speech at the Chosen Business Conference in Crown Heights. Video
The second annual Chosen Business Conference, an expo that celebrates Lubavitch-owned businesses and supports entrepreneurs in the community, takes place Sunday in Crown Heights.
Organized by Crown Heights Young Entrepreneurs (CHYE), it is billed as the largest and most anticipated local business event of the year with more than 60 booths.
This year’s event is sponsored by David “Duddy” Farkash, founder of RFK Financial in partnership with MassMutual Metro NY, a widely known life insurance agency.
Held at the Beis Rivkah Rose Hall, the fair features a trade fair and networking opportunity with business leaders and investors from across the tri-state.
It opened with an opening address by a serial entrepreneur and activist investor David Schottenstein entitled “There’s Only One CEO…Important Lessons I Learned the Hard Way.” He detailed some of the legal challenges he faced and how he came out of them stronger than ever before.
Schottenstein is the founder and former CEO of Privé Revaux Sunglasses and has started and sold multiple companies and has ownership stakes in numerous successful ventures including OneWheel, Mizzen & Main and his latest venture, 7th Heaven Chocolate Co.
The focus of Schottenstein’s talk was bitachon and why entrepreneurs must cultivate their trust in Hashem. Bitachon enables entrepreneurs to operate in an unerringly ethical and legal way at all times, which will save them from major financial and legal problems.
“The most important message I hope to convey is to always remember that blessings come from Hashem,” Schottenstein told COLlive.com before speaking.
“As frum Jews, and especially as officers of the Rebbe, we take pride in our bitachon. Many of us follow the Rebbe’s directive to thoroughly learn Shaar HaBitachon in Chovos haLevavos. And yet, we too can 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. When you forget that God determines your parnassus, then you create room for making bad decisions. You may think you are being cunning and detour here or there, but it will catch up with you sooner or later. If you remember where your blessings come from, you won’t do things that are even remotely questionable or unethical in business.”
In his speech, Schottenstein spoke candidly about his past struggles and the lessons he learned from them.
“Hashem has determined your parnassah on Rosh Hashana, so doing anything questionable or even what some might call a “grey area” will never help. You will still earn the same amount of money that Hashem allocated for you, so you can stay far, far away from even the slightest hint of anything questionable or unethical. You won’t save or make an extra dollar by doing something that isn’t 100% “kosher”. Not only will you not get more, but it will likely come back to bite you and cause you suffering. Whenever you face consequences, it’s painful for you, your business, and your family. Trust me, I know from experience.”
“Many old business people were taught the value of giving tzedakah, which is extremely important. In fact, I remember a speech I heard from a more experienced businessman when I was starting tzedakah, and that speech had a great impact on me. Since then, I have always made giving tzedakah a priority. But we have to talk more about bitahon. We need to do a better job of teaching the next generation of entrepreneurs that God is in control and that not only will they no longer profit by bending or breaking the rules, but they will potentially pay a terrible price if they ever operate in a way that God does not forgive. By operating from a place of true bitachon and recognizing that Hashem is the source of all, you end up only doing things that you would be happy to see printed on the front page of the New York Times.”
“And finally, and perhaps most importantly, whenever we face difficulties or challenges in life, there are two ways we can respond – you can hide in a hole and be miserable and play the victim, or you can use the challenge to strengthen yourself, your bitachon, your family and your marriage. In my keynote I will talk about how I did it and how you can do it too.”