Everything life throws at you is for a reason. Learn from it and move on.
Jay Hart is from a small town in Illinois called Catlin. Catlin’s population has held steady at 2100 people for the past 40 years. Although small geographically, it’s large enthusiasm for the simpler things in life is profound. Quiet and unassuming is the perfect description for Catlin, Illinois. Jay Hart attended a Danville Community College in the next town over called Danville, Danville was known for a few famous people, none other than Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Van Dyke and Gene Hackman.
After completing his Associates Degree Jay decided it was time to move to a larger city and branch out. Jay landed in West Palm Beach, Fl where he began his Law Enforcement career. Although being a police officer was never on his list of careers Jay was lucky enough to have a brother who was already a police officer in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. He was asked by his brother one night if he wanted to do a “ride-along” on duty on the night shift. This was the night that changed Jay’s life. Jay was hooked from that night forward and was determined that would be his life’s career. Never looking back Jay was hired by one of the largest Sheriff’s Departments in the country. His career spanned 30 years reaching the level of Captain. He started off as a road patrol deputy earning himself the Deputy of the Month award 5 separate times. From there he went into work undercover in the Narcotics unit, Vice unit, Colombian money laundering unit as well as gambling and racketeering. Skipping the rank of Sergeant, he was promoted directly to Lieutenant. Jay had been teaching leadership in the private sector so the newly elected Sheriff decided it was time for Jay to put those leadership skills to work by teaching all Sgts, Lt’s, Captains and Majors some leadership skills. Although extremely hesitant to take the position due to skipping a rank, Jay took on the challenge and met the demands of being a Lieutenant head on. Following his 6-month stint of teaching nearly 250 personnel within the agency, Jay was asked to report to one of the largest districts in the agency where nearly 100 deputies were assigned. Jay’s task at hand was to schedule all training, vacations, and school. As Jay was taking care of all the districts day-to-day operations for the next several years his career was about ready to change again.
Just as Jay was becoming comfortable with the leap over the Sergeants position as a Lieutenant, the Sheriff had bigger plans for him. After only 2 years as a Lieutenant, Jay was promoted to Captain. Having gone from deputy to Captain (District Commander) within a short 24-month period was overwhelming for Jay but he proved yet again he was up to the challenge.
Jay’s last assignment was in a district that was one of the wealthiest towns in South Florida. Some of its part time residents included, Mayor Bloomberg, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Gates and Billy Joel.
During Jay’s tenure as Captain (District Commander) he was also the Chairman of 2 very important committees to the Sheriff. The first being Chairman of the Awards Committee and the second being the Chairman of the Law Enforcement Committee. Both of these assignments involved public speaking. Although Jay was deathly afraid to speak in front of the public he knew this was something he would have to overcome. Now Jay is perfectly fine in front of an audience.
Once Jay reached his 30th year in Law Enforcement it was time for him to move on and continue to build two companies; Gold Shield Industries, LLC and MCALERT.NET.
During the past couple of years, Gold Shield Industries, LLC has grown into a security company for the rich and famous. Without revealing his client list, he’s proud to have a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and an owner of a Hockey Team to name just a few. Having nearly 30 retired and current police officers that work for him, he has a well-diversified team of professionals. Jay’s other business is MCALERT.NET. This business was created out of the need for better communication in gated communities, as well as cities, towns, sports teams and schools. Having been in business for nearly 12 years, Jay has spread this internet company across the country reaching New York, California, Florida and Minnesota.
Where did the idea for MCALERT.NET come from?
MCALERT.NET was born from the realization that there was very little communication within gated communities other than the monthly newsletters. Having watched on many occasions’ communities passing rumors around about crime that was or was not occurring in their neighborhood, I just thought why not create a mechanism that speaks to everyone instantaneously. I was able to locate a programmer and tell him my thoughts and what my goals were and within 12 short months MCALERT.NET was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts at 7am. After my morning routine, I head to the computer to look at the activity on my website. I typically look at the back end to see how things are running and if I need to make any adjustments. I review any messages and respond accordingly. From there I go to the gym for a few hours to get my body and mind in sync. I make a few cold calls to expand MCALERT and make communities safer and more efficient.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Typically, I will bring an idea to life by seeing if there is a need for what I am thinking. Once I have determined there is a need, I start my research. I ask myself several questions: am I first to market or am I too late? How practical is the product I am thinking of bringing to the marketplace? How can I make it, who is my test market, how much capital will I need to bring this to fruition? From the time I came up with MCALERT until I had my first customer the time frame was well over 1 year.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I think the biggest trend that excites me now is alternative fuel. I think it’s just a matter of time before we see mainstream alternative fuel sources from plant based products. Clean fuel. I know there are several products out there doing this now but we haven’t seen anything go mainstream yet. It’s just a matter of time. The petroleum industry is powerful and in the pockets of so many of our government officials and therein lies the problem. We will get no help from the government to financial assistant for some of the smaller companies looking to move this forward. Grants are always available from the government, I just hope more money is being distributed towards this endeavor.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I guess the one habit I have is I am always looking for a need to fill. My brain is automatically programmed to see if I can make something practical that nobody has. This is how I came up with MCALERT 11 years ago. At the time there was very few alert systems out there. In fact I was not aware of any large scale alert systems and that was my reason I moved forward with my business. Once I was down that path my research found some offshoots of that particular business but there were absolutely zero businesses that did what I was wanting to do. I feel like I was pretty close to first to market with my concept.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think I would give my younger self a stern talking to. I would say stay focused on one thing. My mind was always going in so many directions and there were so many things I wanted to accomplish I just couldn’t sit still. I would tell my younger self to relax and enjoy the journey. I realize now as I am older that life really does go by fast. In life you really can’t have everything, you can’t please everyone and make everyone like you. So, in the end just be happy with yourself and the people you have surrounded yourself with. Last but not least always be grateful.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe everyone that qualifies should be able to carry a gun. I agree with stricter gun regulations. I believe all people should have the opportunity to own a gun as long as a thorough background check has been completed and there is absolutely no history of mental illness.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The one thing I have always done is ready books on “self”. Figure out who you are and what makes you who you are. Once you figure out yourself then you can move on to bigger and better things. I think so many people create monsters in their head and that holds them back from becoming who they are really supposed to be. Once you figure yourself out you have the confidence to go out and fail. I constantly read the autobiographies of successful people. It is here you come to understand failure. Failure is only failure when you refuse to get up. I heard someone say once that we all ride the wave of success at some point in our life. That where life is going perfectly, you have surrounded yourself with good people, you like your job and overall you are happy. However just like with any great wave you are riding in the ocean, that wave will crash on the beach at some point. Some waves are bigger and longer than others, but at some point it will crash on the beach. The difference between successful people and people that are not is simple this. The successful person decides to get back on their surf board and paddle back out to catch another wave. If may take some time before the next wave comes but at least they are on the surf board and they are ready.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The main strategy is networking. Most if not all of our clients have come from word of mouth. Unfortunately, with MCALERT.NET advertising does not work. I have spent thousands of dollars on advertising and I have yet to receive a return. However, nearly all of my business has come from referrals. I promote as much as possible people telling their friends in other communities about the advantages of having a communication system set up in their neighborhood. Once everyone is connected and can receive information instantly it brings a community/neighborhood closer together.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had many failures in business for sure. The biggest failure occurred when I built a dating app. Although the app worked perfectly we did not set aside any money for advertising. We found out early on there are thousands upon thousands of app out there and if you expect anyone to find you, you must set aside enough money to promote it. Being we were funding it our self we did not have enough funds to take the next step with the app. Subsequently, ten more dating apps appeared on the market and we were too late for the party once we figured that out.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I thought I was on to something big while sitting in the doctor’s office one day. My business idea was building a machine that automatically placed surgical and latex gloves on your hand once placing it in a dispenser. Once I started the research I found out quickly this had already been done.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Honestly, this is so simple and yet it made my stress level go down 10-fold. I simply purchased an external battery charger for my iPhone that I could place in my pocket. When I was out working and nowhere near power, I found myself always worried my phone battery was going to die and it would only be 1pm in the afternoon. Because I was fielding so many calls there was no way I could conserve my battery other than placing it on Low Power Mode. Once I got my hands on a portable battery charger my stress was gone. I can talk and talk for 10 hours a day without my phone dying.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Humanity.com is by and large the best piece of software I have ever used for scheduling my people. Once the schedule is built I send it out and they get to choose the hours and days they want to work. I no longer have to check with 30 plus employees to see who’s available. Because everything can be done on a smartphone everyone has their schedule with them at all times. The program sends them a reminder message when they are 1 hour away from their scheduled work time. Furthermore, they are aware of who they are relieving before they get to their assignment. This is important when someone may be running late.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I highly recommend a book written by John Maxwell. “Developing The Leader Within You” This book will give you everything you need to know about what a leader should look like and what you can do to get to that place. There are five levels of leadership and John points out that the lowest level of leadership is leading by fear and intimidation. Looking back I recognized some of those poor leaders were actually my boss.
What is your favorite quote?
One of my favorite quotes is actually from John Maxwell. He says, “If you think you’re leading but no one is following then you are only taking a walk”.
• Be patient with yourself and never give up
• If you have a great idea move forward and get the best people you can find on your team.
• Everything life throws at you is for a reason. Learn from it and move on.
• Readers are leaders. Keep reading about successful people and what they did to become successful.
• Be humble and take advice from people that have been there before you.
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.