My advice to anyone interested in engaging in business startups or ventures is this: Don’t be afraid to take risks as “nothing ventured nothing gained.”
Joel Landau is a community-minded entrepreneur with decades of experience helping companies and nonprofits which serve a human need. He is an innovator, investor, founder, incubator, and advisor. Much of his work has focused on the residents of New York and how to better serve their healthcare needs through quality healthcare, as well as improved integration with insurance and providers. He innovates by keeping holistic well-being at the top of mind, creating companies that are accessible to those in need, cost-effective and financially sustainable, and sensitive to individual cultures.
Maintaining the best health possible is the foundation for quality of life at any stage. To support this, and from the personal experience of wanting to find better care for his own grandfather, Landau started The Allure Group to provide healthcare services with greater thoughtfulness and care than he saw available. While the group was initially focused on nursing homes, it soon became clear to Landau that a more complete vision was needed to truly care for the patient in mind and spirit. The facilities of The Allure Group now include rehabilitation centers so patients can experience treatment, recovery, and long-term care within one comfortable setting. Some of these centers include culturally specific staff and services.
Another innovation of The Allure Group was to consider not only the patients, but also the family and friends who support them. Long-term hospitalization is a major life event not only for those being treated, but many centers provided minimal–or no–support and entertainment for the loved ones of patients. Landau saw this an easy opportunity to make life better while making business better. In New York City and Brooklyn, The Allure Group operates more than 1,400 beds for patients of all ages.
A thriving business also influences and improves the other businesses and communities around it. Joel Landau has incorporated community assets into his business strategies from the beginning, which allows him to create a business that is stable financially, while also blending with the existing people and places. This kind of mindful innovation is what Landau has focused on throughout his career.
Incorporating state-of-the-art technology is another area where Landau has pushed for excellence. In struggling non-profits and unstable healthcare businesses the last thing on people’s mind is new technology, which can be perceived as expensive, threatening, or just confusing. However, Joel Landau has shown time and time again that with the right business acumen and approach, the highest quality technology can actually improve the bottom line of a struggling business.
As a co-founder of Pinta Capital Partners equity firm, Landau has used his management expertise to identify new market opportunities for early and mid-stage healthcare businesses. Drawing from his own knowledge and success, he grows and creates companies that serve the elderly, disabled, and chronically ill people of New York City. The guiding goals of Pinta Partners are to make care accessible for all patients, remain cost-effective, and improve their quality of life.
In business and in philanthropy, Joel Landau is dedicated to bringing people together as like-minded individuals, business partners, or investors who have the greater good in mind. He serves as an advisor, committee member, and member of the board on many community-based organizations including the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, NYS DOH Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant, Medicaid Managed Care Advisory Review Panel (MCCARP), and NYS DOH Task Force on Long Term Care Financing.
Where did the idea for The Allure Group come from?
When I was caring for my elderly grandfather, I became frustrated with many of the deficiencies I saw in eldercare. Sadly, he’s not around anymore, but I knew at the time that there had to be a better way. The nonprofit nursing homes I saw purported to provide great care, but were often too non-responsive to his needs and unable to provide personalized and culturally sensitive services. Since I’ve always approached entrepreneurship as a way to solve problems, I founded The Allure Group to provide a better model with improved care to seniors. In addition to a business stake in this enterprise, I also have a personal stake in its success; many of The Allure Group’s beneficiaries include close personal friends and relatives.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts at 4 am which allows me personal time to reflect and plan for the day ahead. I start by renewing my faith through prayer and gratefulness for all that I have; these renew my spirit and energy. I write down 3 personal priorities and 3 business priorities as the focus of my day, and then spend time with my wonderful wife and children before venturing out. These help me focus on personal and business growth. As an entrepreneur, every day is different, but whatever I do I’m always solutions-oriented, details-oriented, and taking steps to improve what I’ve built.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When my associates and I have a promising idea, we like to pilot, test, and try it out with different workgroups. For example, we will try out different programs. Out of every six programs, maybe one gets implemented, while other ideas may die at earlier stages. Ideas come to life through perseverance, constant evaluation and revisions of the product or service to meet the true needs of the client. As entrepreneurs, we also have a willingness to take risks, fail and get up and start again. We really try to be innovators. Whichever ideas do succeed, I take great satisfaction in having a hand- on approach to making things happen and using new technology to get things launched.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
In healthcare, new technology and innovations really excite me—they represent a huge opportunity for the industry, but also a threat. I’m worried about how technology will be implemented into the healthcare system especially considering issues like confidentiality. If you look around, technology is making huge strides in the world, but healthcare hasn’t caught up. I think we will need to improve patient engagement—another trend that excites me — to get to where we need to be with healthcare technology.
While these advances are exciting, I am concerned that lack of confidence in information security is still inhibiting widespread growth and acceptance.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Instead of keeping to myself inside the four walls of my office, I try to spend hands-on time in every department, a habit that definitely makes me more knowledgeable and productive. For example, at Allure I’ll spend time in the kitchen, nursing station, etc. This helps me learn more about and troubleshoot problems that occur in real-time and be more efficient in getting issues resolved.
What advice would you give your younger self?
We all have our life’s challenges and most of the time we don’t look at them as opportunities. Eventually, I learned to use my personal experiences in a productive way to learn and know more, and start successful businesses. But learning this lesson earlier on in my career would have helped speed up the process.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
We need to find ways for aging baby boomers to live independently longer by engaging in healthy lifestyles within supportive communities rather than relying on the medical delivery system to provide costly or frequently ineffective services to improve quality of life. Our society has become too reliant on pills, doctors, tests and procedures to address normal aging processes that could better be supported by enabling the elderly to be self-sufficient. The health care delivery system isn’t focused on independence.
Additionally, eldercare gets a bad rap. News stories and media representations would have you thinking most nursery homes are clinical and miserable places, but the reality is quite different. Many people are resistant to placing their elderly family members into homes due to this stigma. Often times, though, it’s what’s best for them, and by and large the institutions taking care of aging individuals do a great job. They are providing care and community that families just aren’t capable of.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As an entrepreneur, I routinely take calculated risks that often bear fruits, but not always. My advice to anyone interested in engaging in business startups or ventures is this: Don’t be afraid to take risks as “nothing ventured nothing gained.” I would also advise that some setbacks and failures are inevitable—learn from your mistakes and keep improving your odds for success.
Making mistakes is where you learn the most, so I recommend you embrace your failures and use them to grow.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Respect and appreciate the strengths and successes of your competitors. I observe their strengths and successes as well as their shortfalls. Then, I adapt and integrate these into my business models. You don’t always have to be a first mover to win .
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I first started a business, I hired primarily family and friends. This inhibited my ability to give important feedback and make necessary changes and in many instances, I knew significantly more than my employees and could not rely on them to provide constructive feedback or advice. Also, I had to learn to be more direct in my expectations, develop measures to effectively evaluate performance, and then make time to discuss business issues more often. This resulted in my feeling of having to do everything myself without the support of the appropriate talent pool! Over the past 15 years, I have learned to surround myself with people that are wiser and more experienced than me, and to listen to them. I now partner with or hire people who complement my skills and strengths.
Want to be a great leader? Hire people who argue with you and who enhance your skills and knowledge base.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As elderly persons live alone, many of them rely on friends and relatives to help them run errands, but they don’t have the inclination to ask for much-needed company to read a book, go to a movie, take a walk in the park or share a meal with them. I believe that there is a great market for an “Adopt a mom or a dad for the day” service to function as an in-person or loneliness-reduction service. Maybe it’s an app platform that allows a senior to select a desired activity, define the timeframes and parameters of the request which would then be processed by the “convener” who would match the need to a qualified provider.
The convener would pre-screen the interested parties to make sure that servicing providers meet the need of the requestor including language preferred, schedule availability and general background check on the individual to make sure that they are safe and trustworthy. Churches and other faith-based organizations could provide some of these services, but not on an organized basis. There are many college students and people seeking part-time employment who would be delighted to fill this role and seniors don’t have a mechanism for accessing this kind of assistance. This application could be sponsored by a community organization or a local faith-based entity. Fees would be based on a bidding process based on time and demands of the service required.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently found a $100 bill in an item that I was about to donate to the local thrift shop. Since the coat was going to a “good cause,” I figured that I should dedicate the found money to worthy cause as well. I stopped at my regular Starbucks and bought five $20 gift certificates to be shared over the next 5 days with the first staff member who I observed engaging in an act of kindness or encouragement. In doing my daily rounds at the skilled nursing facility which I help operate, it didn’t take me more than the first half hour to come across such greetings. I approached the staff member, greeted them and handed them a gift certificate thanking them for their kind words of caring and compassion.
The reaction of each of these staff members was gracious and welcoming of the gesture. People really appreciate being appreciated. Even a small token gesture can demonstrate your level of gratitude.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Wunderlist. It helps keep my team and all of our details on the same page.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. This vivid biography of an extraordinary man who, despite facing unparalleled adversities and setbacks, managed to inspire, shape and define the structure of the federal government and the underlying principles of the US Treasury. He was self-taught, lacking financial backing and orphaned at an early age, yet he grew to be one of the most influential founders of our country—a great example of triumph over adversity through hard work, focus and extraordinary determination.
What is your favorite quote?
“Doing well is the result of doing good” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. To me, this perfectly sums up the duty that entrepreneurs have to the public and the economy. Doing good in the world can bring on financial success and growth.
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.