James Lambridis is the Founder and CEO of DebtMD, the platform that connects people with the professional help they need to become debt-free. Upon graduating college, James worked in the debt relief industry, advising clients on their best option(s) for becoming debt-free. When he is not helping people regain their financial freedom, you can find James reading, playing basketball, and traveling to his native Greek island of Karpathos. He devotes much of his time to assisting Greek organizations, both domestic and abroad. James has a degree in Finance from Penn State University and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Where did the idea for DebtMD come from?
Before launching DebtMD, I worked in the debt relief industry for five years, advising people on their best option for becoming debt-free from credit cards, medical bills, and student loans. After speaking to people in debt every day for five years, I began to realize that there was a serious problem when it came to finding a solution. These people were stressed out, under time constraints, and misinformed as to what their best option was to pay off their debt. This made me wonder how I could improve their situation and make it easier for them to find a solution, and that is when the idea for DebtMD was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Wake up (not too early), getting good sleep is key. Monitor our users, and base every decision on them. Who are they? What are they interested in? What do they ultimately want? For any business, your primary focus should ALWAYS be your customer. In other words, don’t base decisions off of what you personally would prefer. This is a major mistake many business leaders make. You have to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and go from there. This idea, called empathy, is a lost art.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Not to sound cliche, but just do it. The first iteration of whatever you’re trying to build will never be perfect, and that’s OK. You have to start somewhere. Build what you envision, and try to improve upon it each and every day.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Being in the financial space, I find the ease at which we can now transfer money fascinating. While security/privacy is and always will be a major issue, I do think that it’s great that more people have access to money now more than ever.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Make a list of critical tasks the night before. For me, I usually list 3-5 important action items that I want to focus on for the next day. This serves as a guide to not get sidetracked on trivial matters and allows me to be much more productive.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stop looking at what everyone else is doing. You should be in competition with one person and one person only…yourself. If you can be better than you were yesterday, that is a victory in itself.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Social media, while a great networking tool, is deteriorating society. It makes people more narcissistic, short sighted, and always seeking instant gratification. In addition, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others with the increased visibility due to social media.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be the best you can be. This can apply to every facet of life. If you were better than you were yesterday, whether it has to do with your relationships, fitness, or career, you have accomplished something.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Always ask for feedback. Find people you can trust and whose opinions you value, and always ask them for their thoughts. Nobody, including yourself, has all the answers, and that’s fine. Ask, listen, and improve.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Thinking “if you build it, they will come”. This is a lie. Marketing is everything, and if people don’t know about your product, service, or brand, you’ll never gain traction. Money must be continuously invested in marketing initiatives in order to move the needle.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Not sure if this exists, but we need an application that gives you live updates on wait times at cafes, bars, and restaurants. You can call it “Streamlines”. (No, I do not have that trademarked, so feel free to use it)
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spent $100 on a tomahawk steak. There is a quote from the movie “Autumn in New York”. “Food is the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes. If you are going to splurge on something, why not food?
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google Analytics; a must for anyone who has a website. See who your users are, where they came from, and what their interests and goals are. You can then tailor your site according to what your prospective customers want.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I am going to go in a different direction here. Most people usually recommend business books. I’m going to go with a children’s book. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It teaches you an invaluable lesson about the willingness to give, and for the person on the receiving end to appreciate what they receive.
What is your favorite quote?
Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” quote is my favorite. If you are the one “in the arena”, don’t worry about what those who are outside of it are saying. In the end, if you fail while trying to accomplish something big, it still beats sitting on the sidelines.
- Be better than you were yesterday
- It’s OK to ask for help and/or feedback
- If you build it, they still don’t have to come.
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.