Born as the son of an immigrant father and a mother whose wisdom was beyond parallel, Daniel Gornetzki took to heart the lessons his parents imparted to him at an early age and applied himself in grade school. Through determination and hard work, he was accepted at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx; a specialized New York City public high school known as the premiere science magnet school in the United States.
During his time there, Daniel Gornetzki was inducted into the National Honor Roll, made the varsity tennis and baseball teams, and served as sports editor of the high school’s newspaper. Additionally, he co-founded Random Acts of Kindness, a community service organization wherein students provide personal charitable acts within the high school community and to strangers in need. From 2001 – 2003, Daniel volunteered as a weekend youth basketball coach and mentor for underprivileged children at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center in New York City.
After high school, Daniel was accepted at Northwestern University and ultimately graduated a semester early with a double major of communications and economics. There, he joined the international men’s fraternity, Delta Upsilon, the friendships and connections from which would eventually lead him to work for both the City of New York itself and City University of New York.
At City University of New York, Daniel Gornetzki performed a managerial role in charge of adopting new software and technology for the entire institution, as well as advising any staff and students who needed guidance in using these items. After a few years, he would go on to join the Oracle Corporation as a software salesperson. In 2020, he moved back to New York City, accepting a position at OneStream Software as the director of sales to the federal government.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Truth be told, I never thought that I’d end up where I am in my career. One of my first mentors gave me a valuable lesson, which he himself also experienced; nobody that has gone into sales meant to go into sales, not even the most successful salespeople. It’s something you just fall into. It’s a part of business in which the best of the best have some innate skill that simply shines through. The best salespeople have not necessarily studied for it, either. The nature of sales is that nobody knows who will rise to the top and who won’t last. While there was no definitive idea in my head that I’d end up in sales, I realized early in my career that I was really good at it, and so I decided to pursue it.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Now that I’m responsible for a team of eight, I typically start getting calls at about 7 am for varying reasons. Some are about the deals we’re working on. Others are more operational in nature—hiring and so on. I’m generally on calls for most of the day. When I get a break, I like to walk my dog. I always make sure I have something to do, because I have a hard time doing nothing. My work day usually ends at around 6 or 7 pm. After that, I work out and take another walk with my dog.
How do you bring ideas to life?
That’s a tough question. I think everybody’s got a lot of ideas they would like to act on. Some are more aspirational in nature, some are things you’d just like to do, whether or not they are necessarily achievable. There are certainly ideas I would like to act on and make a reality. In order to do that, though, you really need to put an action plan together.
What’s one trend that excites you?
This sounds a bit contrarian, but I’ve heard from my younger cousins, neighbor kids, and young people in general that they’re getting outside more. They’re playing sports, getting dirty, riding bikes, and so on. They don’t necessarily like to spend time in front of the TV or staring at their smartphones and social media all day. That’s the way I grew up, since we didn’t have smartphones when I was a kid. I don’t think we had cable TV until I was a teenager, either. Overall, I think that’s a really positive trend.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
First thing in the morning, I find a sense of calm with a nice cup of coffee, take a look at my work calendar, and organize my thoughts. It’s my version of meditation. It helps me to prepare my thoughts and ready myself for the day. It helps me get into the mindset to tackle whatever lies ahead.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There’s an endless list of things I would tell my younger self. First, I would tell myself that, as tough as it sounds, you’re not the center of the universe. You need to be more thoughtful and charitable, because I was kind of self-centered and spoiled since I was an only child. If I could tell anything to my college-age self, it’d be that not everyone’s judging you all the time. Learn to trust others.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The New York Knicks and the New York Rangers will both win a championship next year, in 2023.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Call your parents, if you’re fortunate enough to still have them. It’s weird for me to see my parents age and grow older. I’m glad they’re both still healthy, aside from the occasional bump or bruise. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to appreciate that even a few minutes of conversation makes a world of difference to them. I try to call them a few times a week to tell them I love them.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being genuine and honest. People have these preconceived notions that salesmen will do whatever they can to get you to buy their wares, even resorting to deception and lying. I couldn’t disagree more. I try to be honest, upfront, and forthright about everything involved in sales. By doing that, you’ll find that your client retention goes up, and at the end of the day, the clients end up liking you because they trust you to take good care of them and not take them for a ride, which results in business growth.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I hired a good personal friend of mine over a more qualified individual. That was a mistake, because you want the most capable people working for you, as opposed to creating an atmosphere of nepotism in the workplace. It also makes it a lot harder to manage your team. After all, a friend is a friend, and it’s often foolhardy to blend your business life with your personal life. I overcame the situation by letting the individual in question know there is a time and place to be friends and another to maintain a professional relationship. Creating boundaries like that is important.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There are a bevy of amazing ideas out there and amazing people that have capitalized on them. Whatever you do, make sure to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition in some way. While imitation is the ultimate form of flattery, the true path to success is to create something that only you are capable of making so that no one can possibly take it from you.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I made a donation to the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, which is a charitable organization dedicated to helping the families of gold star soldiers and fallen first responders find adequate housing. It was founded by a gentleman who lost his brother on 9/11. He was an off-duty firefighter. I’m also an animal lover, so I give money to charities that find owners for homeless and vulnerable animals, as well. I’ve always had dogs, and it makes me glad to know that they’re being taken care of and given homes.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use my iPhone a lot, but more than that, I use Microsoft Outlook email. Without my email account, I’d have to get on the phone for every little thing, and there’s simply not enough time in the day to do that. So, it’s nice to be on a conference call and simultaneously knock out a few emails.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d say Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. While it’s not specific to sales or any other career per se, it contains valuable life lessons that I think most readers can relate to.
What is your favorite quote?
There’s a football coach named Bill Parcells who said, “Don’t tell me how hard it is, just deliver the baby.” It’s easy to see how applicable that quote can be for anything in life.
- Know and maintain your boundaries in your work, in your personal life, and in everything else.
- Nothing comes easy, but it eventually comes.
- Be genuine and honest with everyone. More often than not, it will work out for the best.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.