Now that I’ve started a new business, my first business mentor speaks to me again, from childhood.
My grandfather, Rudy Kiesler, was a businessman. He came to the US during the war, a Jew fleeing the Nazis, with a few diamonds sewn into my grandmother’s coat, which was stolen on the way. So they arrived in the US, to their new home in Brooklyn, like many other imigrants, without a dime.
He started a sewing shop, and grew it, and grew it, until when he retired after having a stroke in his 60s, he had a dozen factories in the South, and a nice bit of cash in the bank.
When I was a kid he didn’t seem like a wise person. He yelled a lot, loudly, and had hard opinions about everything. But there was an intellect in there. He was a good card player, and a good provider, and he did teach me one important thing about business, an idea that keeps coming up.
“Pay for your sins,” he would say. It’s one of those ideas that means different things depending how you approach it. You’re going to pay for them, one way or the other. So knowing that, think twice before you do it. And if you try not to pay for them you’re only making it worse. There’s a compound interest to sins.
Compare this to the lame “Don’t be evil” — which has none of the subtlety. Why not be evil? My grandfather knew the answer.