Organization is key. Your mind is like a closet — if it’s not organized, it can’t hold as much. Organizational skills are so important to being able to store more and do more.
Todd Leebow is an American businessman, philanthropist, and investor. He is the current president and CEO of Majestic Steel USA, a steel service center with operations throughout the continental United States. He is also the founder and visionary of Majestic Universe Ventures and Investments (MUVI), a diversified holding company, and Felux, a technology-driven industrial marketplace platform spun out of an internal working group at Majestic Steel.
Leebow is a staunch advocate for American-made steel. Since 2017, he has spent substantial time in Washington, D.C., to lobby in support of American steel manufacturers and service businesses. Leebow favors public policies that promote the fair trade of steel.
The fourth son of Dennis Leebow, founder of Majestic Steel USA, Leebow has three older brothers: Jonathan Leebow, Eric Leebow, and Matthew Leebow. Leebow also has a half-sister, Joni Kupps, from his mother Barbara’s marriage to Larry Kupps.
Leebow graduated from Orange City Schools, a Cleveland-area public school system, in the early 2000s. He then moved to Miami, Florida, to pursue a degree in business and entrepreneurship at the University of Miami. Before graduating, he relocated to Los Angeles and launched his own film production company.
Leebow returned to Cleveland in late 2007. Shortly thereafter, he joined Majestic Steel USA in a leadership position covering supply chain management and innovation. In 2012, he succeeded Dennis Leebow in the roles of president and CEO, becoming only the second individual to hold those titles at Majestic since the company’s founding in 1979.
As Majestic’s president and CEO, Leebow has rebranded the company as a technology-driven, next generation steel firm that operates as much as a technology company as a steel processor and distributor.
Core to this transformation has been Majestic’s dynamic internal culture and targeted investments in data and technology. In recent years, Leebow and his in-house technology team have developed several new products for customers and associates. These include the Core Report, a weekly fact and trend sheet for steel buyers; Unravel, a mobile app that illuminates the total cost of steel ownership; and MHub, a web portal for customers to manage their steel spend and inventory. These differentiators have strengthened Majestic Steel USA’s value proposition and helped the company attract top talent.
In 2018, Leebow and former Majestic executives Chris Day and John Camenisch founded Felux, a digital marketplace and community for the metals industry. Felux brings increased transparency and accuracy to metals transactions; Camenisch and Day run the company’s day-to-day operations as co-managing partners.
Where did the idea for Majestic Steel USA come from?
Majestic was my dad’s creation. The name “Majestic” comes from Majestic Prince, a horse who ran in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but fell just short of the Triple Crown. My dad loved the story of an underdog who continued to run despite challenges. Going farther back in history, my great grandfather started a steel company called Baldwin Steel out of Jersey City, New Jersey. My dad worked there until they sold the company; later, he struck out on his own and founded Majestic Steel USA. At the beginning, the goal was to sell high-quality steel inventory into the construction market. Over the years, Majestic has evolved into what it was today — a national steel service center.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I don’t really have a typical day. I prioritize each day around two guiding lights: timeliness and value. Most of my solitary, independent work happens outside regular business hours — nights, early mornings, and weekends. Workdays are generally reserved for meetings and working sessions with other people, laying out my strategic vision for my various business ventures, building teams, checking in on execution, and generally making progress each day to reach the objectives I’ve laid out. At Majestic, we have a culture that is results- and values-driven. That’s embodied in our core values: Trust, Integrity, Continuous Improvement, Knowledge, Enthusiasm, and Togetherness — TICKET, for short. Togetherness is particularly important — our company motto is “We Will.” We’re also oriented around what we call the Five P’s: Positivity, Prioritization, Productivity, Progress, Performance. Each has a meaning: If you’re not positive, you’re already starting out on the wrong foot; if you don’t prioritize, you’re not going to focus on what matters; productivity requires efficiency; progress is all about moving things forward; and, at the end of the day, you’ve got to perform.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I call it the “Majestic process.” It begins with a brainstorming session, where the goal is simply to get ideas out there. This part of the process is all about creativity, with zero restrictions. We develop the best ideas into a framework, develop an actionable plan and, from there, it’s all about execution. My film production background informs the Majestic process — it’s all about producing, about bringing the best ideas to fruition.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m really heartened by the culture of innovation I see taking root at businesses across America. Leaders who foster true cultures of innovation at their organizations have the opportunity to build enterprises that are truly timeless. On a personal level, whether it’s at Majestic Steel USA or the other ventures I’m involved in, what excites me is the opportunity to build companies and cultures that stand the test of time — that are sustainable in the true sense of the word. “Sustainability” is a buzzword now, but when you think about what it means at its core — the sustaining of life, product, business, community, country — it’s incredibly impactful.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Every day is a new day, so I start every day fresh. You could say I always reset at the end of the day and restart at the beginning of the day. This makes room for creativity, clarity, and ideas. Separately, but just as importantly, I always keep lists. Organization is key. Your mind is like a closet — if it’s not organized, it can’t hold as much. Organizational skills are so important to being able to store more and do more.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Resistance makes you stronger. When you’re with other people, embrace tough conversations immediately and don’t let issues drag out longer than they need to.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
When I make a decision that affects others, I’m making it with their best interest in mind — even if they don’t realize at the time that it’s the best decision for them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Focus on listening. You can learn so much from listening to others. When you listen to only one person or to no one but yourself, you don’t formulate an unbiased opinion. Think of it this way: If you’ve only eaten sushi at one restaurant, you have a biased opinion based on a narrow experience. If you’ve eaten sushi at the best of the best and the worst of the worst, you have a palette and know what you like. So, listen to everyone, even those you don’t agree with.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I’m relentlessly solutions-oriented. Even as I take calculated risks, I trust in myself to find solutions to the problems in front of me. If you believe in yourself, it’s okay to make a mistake.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest failures came out of a belief that certain people had the ability to do certain things — then, based on that belief, putting them in inappropriate roles that weren’t good for them or for the company. At the end of the day, business is about people, and my biggest business mistakes have all involved putting people in positions where they’re not going to succeed. I saw them for what I wanted them to be, not what they were.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The idea itself isn’t as important as the approach: to go into an industry that’s been around for a while and embrace the challenge to reinvent it. Whether it’s making a pizza, or fueling your car, or flying people across America — find something you’re passionate about and disrupt the status quo.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent recently was on a massage. I’m a big believer in self-care — if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not in a position to take care of anyone else.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I wouldn’t be as organized as I am without my iPhone’s note-taking app. It’s nothing fancy, just the Notes app that comes with the phone, but it’s very important to how I order my day and keep track of my work. Without that app, I guess I’d have to resort to old-fashioned pen-and-paper lists.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend two books: “Ten Commandments for Business Failure,” by Don Keough and “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” by Simon Sinek. In “Ten Commandments,” Keough tells you to learn from what not to do, because “what to do” is unique to your circumstances. In other words, there’s no right way to do business, but there is a wrong way. Keough is telling you that if you do these 10 things, you will fail.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two:
“There is little success where there is little laughter” – Andrew Carnegie
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” – Muhammad Ali
- Organization is key. Your mind is like a closet — if it’s not organized, it can’t hold as much. Organizational skills are so important to being able to store more and do more.
- Resistance makes you stronger. When you’re with other people, embrace tough conversations immediately and don’t let issues drag out longer than they need to.
- Focus on listening. You can learn so much from listening to others. When you listen to only one person or to no one but yourself, you don’t formulate an unbiased opinion.
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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.