Once you have a little success in life, people will start to approach you with every type of distraction possible…please review this business plan, invest in this or that, sit on my board, help me, show me, the requests never end. Just say no. Success in business takes a maniacal focus that most people just do not understand.
John Shegerian is a serial social entrepreneur who focuses on solving global problems through game changing innovation to build successful, socially responsible companies. John is also an inspirational public speaker, being invited to speak at conferences and provide keynote speeches at a variety of special events.
No stranger to “recycling lives” and serving up second chances, in 1993 Shegerian co-founded Homeboy Tortillas and Homeboy Industries, which continues to serve as a paradigm for urban renewal in America and was awarded the New York Stock Exchange Building for the Future Award for creating new jobs and opportunities for gang-impacted youth in post-riot Los Angeles.
Shegerian is also the creator of the popular Bulldog Root Beer brand, which he launched in 1997.
Shegerian then co-founded FinancialAid.com, filling the financial aid gap for higher education and generating one of the most successful student loan companies in the country. While at FinancialAid.com, he also created RateYourCampus.com (a college student polling and feedback community), leading to the creation of CampusDirt.com (which evolved into the most relevant and visited college search engine of its time). Also, CampusClix.com was created and became one of the first college social networking properties on the web.
In October 2004, Shegerian and his partners sold FinancialAid.com and all the aforementioned affiliated properties to Education Lending Group, which was purchased in February 2005 by CIT (NYSE: CIT).
Shegerian founded Addicted.com in 2005, one of the largest web resources for individuals seeking help for addictions online. The website boasts a database of over 20,000 addiction centers across the United States.
Shegerian is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of ERI, the United States’ leading recycler of electronic waste and the world’s largest IT asset disposition (ITAD) and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company. ERI processes more than 275 million pounds of electronic waste annually at eight locations, serving every zip code in the United States, and providing peace of mind to hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses that their personal data is responsibly destroyed.
Shegerian is the co-founder and CMO of The Marketing Masters, a digital marketing and web development company that builds effective, ROI-driven marketing campaigns for businesses large and small.
Shegerian co-founded and is the CEO of Som Sleep, a drink formulated to help individuals achieve better, more restorative sleep.
Shegerian is a member of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business’ Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) Advisory Board and was named the Clean Tech Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California by Ernst & Young.
Where did the idea for Som come from?
Back in June 2016, I was driving to meet a friend. I nodded off for less than a second. That’s all it takes. I almost crashed my car into oncoming traffic. Still shaken, I pressed on to my meeting and shared my near death experience due to a lack of sleep. This was the moment we knew we had to create Som.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up at 6am, exercise, and then prioritize my list of tasks that need to be completed that day. I go full speed until 6pm or 7pm, then exercise again before heading home for the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When you’re a serial entrepreneur, you walk through life looking at the world as a series of voids. I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities that exist and are personal to me. Once I find a specific void that impacts my life, I think of scalability in terms of global impact. Homeboy Industries, FinancialAid.com, ERI… Som is just a continuum of finding voids that are personal to me. When an endeavor is personal to you, it automatically gives your work passion and great purpose.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The explosion and adoption of plant based eating.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Exercise, eat clean, sleep well, repeat.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Do more; worry less.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Just say no. Once you have a little success in life, people will start to approach you with every type of distraction possible . . . .
please review this business plan, invest in this or that, sit on my board, help me, show me, the requests never end. Just say no.
Success in business takes a maniacal focus that most people just do not understand.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Stay hyper-focused on the business. The time is now to shut out near-term enjoyment and any sort of immediate gratification. There is absolutely a direct relationship between sacrifice and the amount of focus you place on your business and the success you will ultimately achieve. Your unwavering focus and attention are the keys to ensuring you get the most out of any opportunity.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Teaming up with the wrong partners. Picking the wrong partners will lead to failure more than picking the wrong idea. Now I know to make sure that every time I surround myself with partners, they’re the right people. I have learned the hard way that building a committed team of passionate people who know how to work both smart and are always willing to go the extra mile is one of the most important keys any launching and growing any successful venture.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Triple AAA needs to be disrupted. Some smart technology people will come together and make an app that is much more responsive and service minded than the current model which has leaned on their legacy monopoly in this space for way too long.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My wearable step tracker. Without a doubt. My goal is fifteen thousand steps a day, and I try to never cheat! 🙂
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
My iPad. I take it with me everywhere, so I remain constantly organized and connected. And Flipboard is my absolute favorite news aggregation technology service.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins. It’s timeless and contains all the best lessons.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two. “Discipline equals freedom.” Jocko Willink, “Know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” Neil deGrasse Tyson
The 100 Best Books For Entrepreneurs
Sign up for our emails and we'll send you a list of the 100 best books for entrepreneurs, which we compiled by analyzing over 3,000 interviews.