The TIGER 21 Chair Spotlight introduces you to the remarkable people that make up the TIGER 21 community. This week, meet Jerry Swain, TIGER 21 San Diego.
How did you get involved/introduced to TIGER 21?
I was approached to become a TIGER 21 Member. I had sold my company and was sharing my new career aspirations with Lew Haskell, a Chair at TIGER 21. Lew was insightful enough to share the experience of being a Chair and thought it might be of interest to me.
What made you decide to become a TIGER 21 Chair?
After attending several meetings as a guest, I experienced the powerful and valuable dialogue that had significant impact on the group’s Members. I was pleasantly surprised by the power of the collective intelligence. For example, when a question or issue would come up, I dug deep into my personal experiences or learnings and was happy to share with the group. However, the real benefit came when going around the table and hearing each individual’s thoughts. The vast amount of recommendations and experiences that were shared made that dialogue that much richer and more valuable, not just to the person that asked the questions, but to the whole group.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of being a TIGER 21 Member (or Chair)?
There are several. The meetings offer a safe and confidential environment to discuss many topics. The meetings are rich with content and value from the speaker selection, world updates, issue processes and the impact of the portfolio defense presentation and discussion. The meeting allows for a safe format to share concerns, ideas, issues, challenges, etc. Outside the meetings, I see Members engaging in-person or through the online community. I have not been yet, but I hear the excursions and national conference are terrific.
Do/did you have a mentor? Who? What the most valuable piece of wisdom/advice he/she taught you?
I have several, however, my late grandpa had the most impact on me. He was full of amazing advice and experience. Having lived a hard life as a boy during the Great Depression, he shared how important it was to work hard at any job—work as if you were the owner. He also shared that when you find a true friend, you give everything to that person. And, in my home near our front door, is one of grandpa’s favorite teachings: “Don’t fall victim to loving things and using people. People should be loved and things should be used.”
Was there a decision that changed your life?
I’m sure there have been several decisions that have changed my path. Leaving a very comfortable and lucrative high-tech career to start a business was one. My business was a gourmet chocolate consumer product that changed the course of my professional career. Another was deciding to take a speaking engagement in Argentina, and that trip is where I met my wife.
What is your best advice for a young wealth creator?
Be good to yourself, your team, your loved ones and your family. Keep perspective and remember the core reasons why you are pursuing your passion. Never lose site of the “why” you are doing what you are doing. Don’t put your personal values or relationships at risk in favor or your business.
What is your greatest concern about the market?
Its unpredictable journey of corrections.
What lesson did you learn the hard way that you would like to share to help others?
Balance your risk. When I was working in a stable career with a good job, I took on riskier financial investments. When I became an entrepreneur, my career position changed from conservative to risky. What I failed to do was change my investment holdings from risky to conservative. The market crashed and I lost almost all the funds I had set aside to build my new company.
What is the biggest risk you took that paid off?
Launching Jer’s Squares. As our chocolate company grew, we continued to study the marketplace and opportunities so we could expand our product line and offerings to our customers. With the downturn of the economy in 2008 – 2009, we saw buying behaviors change at the consumer level as well as the wholesale buying teams. We predicted people may downsize from more expensive gourmet gift boxes of chocolate to a more affordable snacking habit. We created a smaller-size confection, individually wrapped, using our same award-winning flavor profiles, and put them in a “sharing” container rather than a fancy gift box. We called these Jer’s Squares. It was a completely new area for us to explore not only from a packaging/branding standpoint, but also from a manufacturing area. We took chances on equipment/production, packaging/presentation where we had little experience. We were now able to produce higher volume once we perfected the recipes. With larger retailers such as Costco, Target and Whole Foods liking the product, the risk we took to get into a new confectionery snacking space paid off nicely and in half the time we predicted we found our ROI on the new product launch.
Last book you read
Think Bigger: And 39 Other Winning Strategies from Successful Entrepreneurs, by Michael W. Sonnenfeldt
Kids:Oh, the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss
Spiritual:The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran and The Precious Present, by Spencer Johnson
Business: Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell
Investing quality time in myself and my children/family.
Ice cream! It is hard for me to choose a favorite, but my go-to flavor is mint chocolate chip!
Five words to describe yourself
Grateful, Trustworthy, Fun, Resilient, and Positive