Be humble and patient.
As one of New York City’s most dedicated, respected and experienced financial services executives, Alexi Harding knows what it takes to not only become successful in his field, but also to shake up the industry with innovative and thought-provoking ideas. With almost 15 years of professional experience in the financial services sector, Alexi is a thought leader in the industry.
Alexi earned his B.A. in political science and economics from Ithaca College in 2002. Eager to get to work in finance, Alexi earned a position at Mutual of Omaha as a registered representative. Through demonstrating his adept skill in the financial services sector, Alexi was awarded the distinguished Chairman’s Council Award and promoted to district sales manager within his first year. During his time as the district sales manager, Alexi earned yet another coveted award: the Field Management Award for his outstanding achievement. Alexi’s talents were too impressive to go unnoticed, and that is why in early 2007, New York Life Insurance Company brought Alexi on board as a partner. During his three-year tenure at the global life insurance company, Alexi redesigned and improved the recruitment strategy for new agents, as well as personally trained a sales team of 400 employees. To add to his long list of honors, Alexi earned both the Leading Partner Award and the Gathering of Eagles Award due to his tremendous success with the company.
Upon leaving the insurance industry, Alexi Harding followed his deep interest in investing and became the director at Clewed, where he handled analysis of potential client marketing strategies, closed new business deals and developed negotiating strategies for M&A transactions, among other things. He left Clewed to found The Opes Group, where he currently acts as senior managing director. In this position, Alexi is responsible for executing effective client sourcing strategies and for developing a host of private investor relationships.
Alexi’s years of experience, skill set and leadership qualities have allowed him to become a prominent figure in the financial services industry. His proven ability to devise, lead and execute multiple high-level strategies is unparalleled and is exactly what has made him so successful today.
When not working, Alexi Harding can be found getting involved in his local community through various charitable organizations as well as staying healthy and fit by running all throughout the great City of New York. He will be running his second New York City marathon this year.
Where did the idea for Opes Group come from?
The idea for the Opes Group came to me one day while I was having a drink with two of my oldest friends at a restaurant called Pastis. We were going over a deal that I am currently working on. I’ll never forget; it was raining, and i said to myself, “There has to be an easier way to run, source and close transactions.” And that’s how the idea was formed.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts at the crack of dawn every morning. I grab a coffee at Starbucks and while there, I begin sending out all of my emails. I do this as early as possible because I want my emails to be the first ones people see when they get to work. Once I’m finished with that, I head over to the gym. After my workout I go to the office, and by then I already have replies to the early morning emails. Once I’ve completed my round of replies, it’s back-to-back meetings, running hard and making it happen.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I begin with the end goal in mind. Then I implement and work backwards.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The rise of non-bank alternatives excites me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Strength. For me, it’s like being John Connor from The Terminator — there is no faith but what we make. That one belief has kept us strong and successful.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be humble and patient.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
There is life out there.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I recommend to trust your own inner voice and listen to it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Global thinking. I have always been a “big picture” kind of guy. Before I hired my first full-time employee, I already envisioned the firm with 10 employees — which is where we are now. I always ran the firm as if it was more than a startup… putting the right systems in place since day one.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Trusting the wrong business partners. I overcame this by hiring proper council to correctly document both shareholder and investors agreements. Having the right advice from qualified individuals as a startup always limits, if not all out prevents, litigation.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Start a concierge banking business for middle-market companies. Provide them with the same service usually reserved for Fortune 100 companies.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spent that much money on company stationery. It made our presentations and meetings look far more professional; we were using manilla folders for a while…way too long.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
My company calendar helps me keep track of my meetings and all my employees, otherwise nothing gets done. We also use it as a mechanism to impose deadlines on deliverables.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Shane. It changed my life…made me stronger.
What is your favorite quote?
“Forward… always forward,” from Marvel Comics hero, Luke Cage.
- Reflection on the evolution of your business as you answer the questions helps one look back at the road to success and appreciate those who followed leadership more.
- Keeping score always helps and could never hurt.
- Becoming an Entrepreneur was the right decision.
- Reward loyalty.
- Take pride in your work, people & company.
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Alexi Harding on Twitter: @Alexi_Harding
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.