Surround yourself with trustworthy people. I recommend investing in your company and your talent because it will pay off.
Entrepreneurship seems to run in the Cohen family. In 1927 Jeffrey Cohen’s grandfather had the “vision” to create an entirely new industry – fashion frames for eyeglasses. This innovation, and 3 generations of family stewardship, has helped Cohen’s Fashion Optical grow to over 100 locations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Taking a page from his family’s playbook, Jeffrey Cohen started the Cohen Management Group in 2001.
In 2001 General Vision Services was purchased from bankruptcy and Jeffrey Cohen was determined to bring them back from the brink. He recruited and groomed the management team and by 2008, General Vision Services had not only returned to profitability but had also grown into one of the leading third party administrators in the Northeast.
In 2008 Golden Pear Funding launched, adding to the investments managed under the CMG umbrella. Jeffrey Cohen assembled specialized and results-driven senior management team and empowered a stellar sales force. Currently, Golden Pear Funding is the nation’s leader in providing litigation funding services. Additional specialty funding companies have been created with a focus on key segments of the American business landscape.
Now, as the Co-Founder & President of the Cohen Management Group, Jeffrey Cohen is responsible for managing all of the investments that operate under the CMG umbrella which, to date, have a return profile in excess of 20%.
In his own words, Jeffrey Cohen excels at building exceptional senior management teams in order to drive growth at exponential rates. Fundraising and a passion for helping small and medium sized business owners succeed is my specialty.
Where did the idea for Cohen Management Group come from?
In 2008, I was at a cocktail party, and I had a meeting with my two cousins, one of them a personal injury lawyer. He told me about this concept of lending money against lawsuits. This was how I began my lawsuit company, which became the number one legal finance company in the country. After that, I worked for a separate company for about ten years. We were doing a little shy of $150 million in sales. When that was sold to three private equity companies, I then tailed off into my own thing. I bought a medical billing company out of bankruptcy in 2001. About four years ago, I was presented with an opportunity to provide a patent for a telemedicine company, and I met with some partners. Nevertheless, my real baby, my real company that I sold, was created just at a cocktail party.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
When I arrive at the office, I meet with two or three different department heads, partners, and we go down the operation by looking at the KPIs and reports from analytics. I’ll make a couple of phone calls and then look at some data on my personal investment side. Then it’s mostly just putting out fires, talking through situations. It varies day-to-day, but the most standard and consistent is more of a reporting, analytics and KPIs that we look at and figuring out how to grow the company.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First off, I don’t bring all my ideas to life. I like to vet ideas; I like to bounce them off some close people to me. I like having technical people around me because I like people telling me why I shouldn’t do something, not why I should. Then I kind of sniff these ideas and parse them out and dissect each idea by how people react to it. Like how a restaurant has a tasting menu. You let your employees or your executives sample your ideas, and whatever people are reacting to, whatever you feel could be the most efficient and most cost-effective, those are the ideas you take a chance on.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I think a general trend that excites me is the whole clean energy, clean living, healthy living trend. That kind of trend does excite me. It makes people more aware of having a healthy life and how it can benefit you.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have a very detailed-oriented personality. I’m very retentive because I like to know and examine everything, so I pay a lot of attention to detail. That has made me successful.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell a younger Jeffrey Cohen to remember to stay focused and to in his lane. I would tell him not to go too far outside of his lane because there are a lot of cars out there. Obviously, there are good drivers and bad drivers, but you’ll avoid more bad drivers by staying in your lane.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I said some time ago that Social Media would cause problems for people. Look what is happening!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I recommend that people hire good, smart people. Surround yourself with trustworthy people. I recommend investing in your company and your talent because it will pay off.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
When I had my finance business, my strategy was to sell, sell, sell. I paid and focused a lot of my attention on the scale of that effort, and I liked to think of it as the McDonald’s of the finance company. We focused on service, sales, and accommodating whatever our clients wanted.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I used to work in my family business for about ten years, and the barrier that I had is that I never wanted to be in that cloud of working in the family business. I started my own business, and in ten years, I grew a larger business than my family’s business. That barrier of respect for entry into the capital and finance market is a big barrier to overcome. I think it was overcome pretty quick.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have a fast food business idea. The name of the company would be Let Us Wrap You (Lettuce Wrap You?). When you walk in, it would be laid out similar to a Chipotle or a Subway. It would have several different types of protein, several toppings, but instead of bread, everything is wrapped in lettuce to help with clean eating and healthy living.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent recently was buying my son’s toys. There is nothing better than seeing a smile on his face. When I look back and think, what am I really working for? It’s really for your family. It’s something else when you have a child, and you get to see his face light up from the little things in life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Most of the software we use here is homegrown, meaning we built it all internally. However, the top thing that we do buy over the counter would be Salesforce. It acts as a command centre and helps you to manage your business and sales and to connect with customers.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I enjoyed the books by Dale Carnegie. These are great for business owners and still stand true.
What is your favorite quote?
“You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
- Hire good, smart people
- Pay attention to detail
- Stay focused
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.