Saul Mishkin is a serial entrepreneur and business developer, as well as an inventor. Originally from Lima, Peru, he currently lives in the United States and serves as president and CEO of NEX-XOS Worldwide, a shelf-stable food manufacturing company he founded in 2011. Among Saul’s many talents, he speaks four languages: Spanish, French, English, and Hebrew.
We asked Saul Mishkin six questions on how he views success. The following are his answers, and within them, a unique perspective on the subjects of personal and professional success.
How have you achieved success?
Taking a long-term view, achieving success is all about maintaining a vision. Once you’ve had a great idea, you’re about 25% of the way to being successful. The idea itself is crucial—be it for a project or a company or a product or a service—but what’s even more important is the implementation of the idea. You may have an idea with multi-million dollar potential, but that means very little if it only exists in your mind. Putting it into practice and making it a reality is the real challenge, and a lot of that goes back to mentality. In order to midwife a startup into a successful and sustainable company, you have to be determined, you have to be smart, you have to be tenacious, you have to be adaptable, and you have to be accountable, all the while maintaining a focus on your original vision. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and energy, to be honest.
On a day-to-day level, achieving success is about being able to maintain productivity in the face of many, many distractions. When you run a business, you have to constantly address surprises and problems of all sizes. You have to reassess schedules, juggle priorities, and adapt to various human factors all the time. One day you might have to deal with supply problems with a vendor, the next day you might have to re-negotiate a contract with a client that you thought was finalized long ago, and another day you might have to address an unexpected personal issue with an employee. These day-to-day distractions are almost never-ending. However, if you can navigate your way through them while still maintaining a healthy level of productivity and meeting your deadlines, you know that you’re on the right track and success isn’t too far away.
What obstacles have you overcome in the process?
The obstacles I’ve encountered on my journey have been large, small, and too many to recount. Suffice it to say, I’ve overcome professional obstacles of all types, including funding issues, personality conflicts, design flaws, production problems, distribution hiccups, and onerous regulations—in some cases fairly unreasonable ones—from multiple national governments. Obstacles are unavoidable, especially if you’re trying to accomplish something that’s never been done before. There will always be roadblocks put smack dab in the middle of the path to success by numerous parties. The trick to overcoming them is simple: It’s all about maintaining your original vision, and summoning up the drive and the persistence to solve whatever problems present themselves on a case-by-case basis.
What drives you to succeed?
Everybody’s different in that respect. In my case, I have three main motivating factors. First and foremost, on a personal level, I want to see my family thrive. Whenever I feel my motivation dip, I simply think of my children and how my actions in the present will impact their futures. For instance, while it’s true that money cannot buy happiness, money can buy a decent post-secondary education for my six children. And while it’s true that professional success cannot buy love, it can ensure that my family wants for nothing and never has to worry about making ends meet.
My second major motivating factor would be to make this world a better place to live. At NEX-XOS, we spend every single day trying to fill the bellies of as many hungry people as possible, which was my reason for starting the company in the first place. Additionally, the processes by which we produce our shelf-stable foods and meal-kits are as environmentally friendly as possible. We always do our best to recycle and reuse virtually every material involved in our manufacturing process. I think that working towards having a carbon footprint of zero is the responsibility of every modern, forward-thinking industrialist.
Third, on a professional level, I want to expand my company and cultivate my own reputation and career as an executive and an entrepreneur. With a sterling reputation comes influence, and with influence comes the ability to get things done faster and more effectively. I’ve heard people call this phenomenon ‘clout’ in the past. Regardless of what it’s called, it’s a panacea for productivity. However, although this is important to me, I should clarify that it comes in as a distant third in terms of my drive to succeed when compared with the other two answers I have already given.
How has your definition of success changed over the years?
I suppose that when I was younger, I was inclined to see the manifestation of success in the material realm—a fleet of luxury vehicles, a big modern house in an exclusive neighborhood, things like that. Now that I’ve gotten a bit older, I realize that success is not quite so cut-and-dried. Driving a Lamborghini or having a membership in an exclusive country club does not necessarily make someone a success, and in fact, could be indicative of someone who feels insecure with their position in life. These days, I view success in a much different way, more through a lens of creation rather than consumption. Real, actual success is building something lasting that benefits future generations and aids in the regeneration of the planet’s biosphere. That is the only legacy worth pursuing.
What has success meant to you?
Among other things, success has given me the ability to attempt larger and more ambitious projects. As professional success compounds, both in an individual sense and with regards to a company, money, resources, and relationships accumulate to the point where someone like myself can build a new manufacturing facility if it fits with my plans. Not just anyone has the ability to do that. Success has to pave the way for that to happen. Take Elon Musk, for example. He couldn’t simply go from being an anonymous citizen to founding a private company that launches rockets into space—he had to have a string of successes in order to reach that point, both in engineering and in business. In his case, PayPal begat Tesla, which then begat SpaceX. Obviously, I’m oversimplifying in order to better make a point, but the takeaway is that success opens doors that would otherwise remain closed.
Do you have advice for others on how to be successful?
The main piece of advice I give to people when they ask that question is to surround yourself with good people. By ‘good’, I not only mean compassionate and good-hearted—although that is very important—but also intelligent, savvy, and talented. When operating a company, it’s critical to assemble a team with a wide assortment of skills, preferably skills that you yourself don’t already possess. That way, best-case scenario, you can learn from those people, if possible. If not, though, the skill sets of those people will still make up for whatever gaps there are in your own. It’s all about making the team, and therefore the company a stronger and more competitive entity.
Follow Saul Mishkin on Social Media:
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/saulmishkin/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Saulmishkin
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/myprojectdash
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NEXXOSW
Website – https://www.saulmishkin.com/