Jay Steinfeld – Author of bestselling book The 4 Principals for Profit and Prosperity
Jay Steinfeld founded and served as CEO of Blinds.com, the world’s leading online retailer of window coverings. Running out of boots in 1996 for just $3,000 from its garage in Bellaire, Texas, Blinds.com was acquired by Home Depot in 2014.
Jay remained its CEO and later joined Home Depot’s online leadership team. After leaving these roles in early 2020, he teaches entrepreneurship at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and has increased his involvement on numerous private company boards and is a public company director. Masonite (NYSE:DOOR). He also supports many charities.
Jay is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Houston Technology Center. Active as an industry speaker on topics such as company culture, core values, how to scale a startup, and disruption, he has published over 100 articles and written a column for Inc. .com.
He also sings in the same quartet of barbers he has been part of for almost 50 years. He lives with his wife, Barbara, in Houston, Texas, and has five children and seven grandchildren whom he proudly calls his seven start-ups.
Jay’s book, “Lead from the Core: The 4 Principles for Profit and Prosperity” is a the wall street journal Bestseller. It was released on November 30, 2021 and is available to buy now at all the usual places, including amazon.
Please tell us more about your book.
Unexpectedly, Steinfeld’s business journey included failed acquisitions, partnerships gone wrong, perpetual self-doubt, family deaths, tight-budget guerrilla marketing, brutal market competition, and its complete disruption of industry leaders, including Amazon and major retailers. . To build something meaningful like Steinfeld, you have to do more than dream. You have to run from the core. Learn Steinfeld’s “4 Es”: continually evolve, experiment without fear of failure, express yourself, and enjoy the ride. And how to bring humanity back to the workplace will help you build a business far beyond anything you could have imagined.
What inspired you to write this book?
After more than 25 years building the business, I knew that one day I would leave. I wanted to make sure that all of my current and future employees knew what made us successful and that they could use those principles to help maintain its dominance. So the book was part of the historical framework, but mostly it was the theories, strategies, tactics, and mindsets I used to build teams, manage stakeholders, and disrupt others before they disrupt us .
What are the main lessons of the book?
Anyone can build a business and a life of consequence by following 4 principles. My 4 Es: 1. Continually evolve 2. Experiment without fear of failure 3. Express yourself and 4. Enjoy the ride. By following these key concepts, the business will automatically improve every day (autonomous excellence) getting worse over time. They do this by taking small but furiously quick calculated chances, getting everyone’s input, and enjoying the results. You will be able to help everyone become better than they ever thought possible. Collaboration and synergy happen automatically, leaving you as a leader the freedom to spend less time and have less pressure to find all the solutions.
Much more on all of this in the attached workbook, which you are free to include in the article.
Which authors have inspired you?
I have a list of the most influential authors in my book.
Here are my book game changers:
• Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl—Putting life into perspective for me, bringing serenity.
• The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt — helped me understand the major contributors to happiness and life satisfaction, with a perspective on how your brain affects this.
• Built to Last by Jim Collins—First book to show how purpose fundamentally affects success.
• Good to Great by Jim Collins—Inspired by my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and mission—and sparked my thirst for non-fiction reading.
• Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson—Gave me hope and optimism that I could market effectively with little money.
• The Five Malfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni — Lots of ideas for overcoming poor management team dynamics. • The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen: Helped me understand why the mindset of the entrepreneur to be disrupted is contrary to that of many business leaders.
• Tell to Win by Peter Guber: taught me how to present ideas and raise funds effectively.
• You are not the person I hired! by Janet Boydell, Barry Deutsch and Brad Remillard – A good discussion on how to hire objectively and ensure you are looking at the right hiring criteria.
A turning point in your life?
The death of my wife, just after I started the business full time.
On August 12, 2002, my wife, Naomi, died of breast cancer at the age of forty-seven. We had been married for twenty-six years, and throughout that time we had been partners in life and in business. Now, left to fend for myself with three kids and a business still in its infancy, I faced a complete reassessment of my life. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure how to define happiness, or even if I could ever be happy again. I often thought about what success meant to me, what made me tick. I had come this far in life never really thinking – at least not deeply – about what really mattered. Essentially, it wasn’t until I found myself on the brink that I asked myself: What are my core values? Through intense soul-searching, what I discovered changed the trajectory of my life, and the trajectories of everyone in my life. In fact, it wasn’t until we understood what those values were – the values that drive my behavior – that we were able to begin to build a business of significance, a business that became the world’s number one line of blinds.
Is there a particular philosophy that you follow?
The 4 E’s.
Also, my definition of success is not having achieved something. Objective not extrinsically motivated. Success for me is be in the process to improve. And help everyone around me get better. When you have this philosophy, you can be successful every day. And even several times a day. Isn’t that a great way to live?
How can youth transform their own future today?
Understand that you don’t need to have all the answers today. And that you don’t even have to “follow your passion”. Just start experiencing everything. Look for ways to influence others. Be as generous as possible with your time, attention, and interest in learning about everything and everyone. Then, if you stay vigilant, you will enjoy every day and then you can choose from many things that you are passionate about.