On a previous 710 WOR “Mind Your Business” broadcast, Yitzchok Saftlas (YS) spoke with guest Sim Shain (SS), founder and CEO of ParaFlight Aviation.
YS: How does technology benefit a business owner?
SS: The one thing we don’t have enough of is time. And technology has really moved forward every single day. So many things, like ChatGPT, are coming out, that are there to help us maximize and save on our time. When you have a store or a business, there’s something called scalability. You want to be able to scale your business. With technology, you can scale so quickly and so far, because you don’t have to build exactly where you are. You could build something that works around the world. Technology is key.
YS: How important is it for a businessperson to be open to leveraging new technology?
SS: I love technology. But when I grew up, I knew nothing about technology, and even now, I don’t really know much about technology. But I utilize people who really understand it and are able to relay our message of what we want to do. People always say, “When opportunity knocks, open the door.” But I believe, don’t wait for opportunity – create it. That’s what we can do with technology. We can create our own opportunities. But it’s very important to also try to stay in your lane, at least be in the business of what you do. So, I’m in aviation. We can teeter a little but to different parts of aviation. But focus on your business. You don’t have to grab everything that’s out there. Focus, stay in your lane, and you’ll be able to grow and grow. You don’t even have to look at your competitors. Just focus on what you need to do.
YS: Sim, how important is it to have strong communication skills?
SS: Many years ago, I didn’t know how to public speak. I was not comfortable. I would read everything off a paper. I’d be drunk when I read it. Warren Buffett said that “you will increase your net worth by greater than 50%, if you have the ability to communicate both orally and in a written form.” You need to be able to communicate. It used to be you’d have to go out to meet with somebody. Now, everything is done by Zoom and on the phone. And everybody takes out their little smartphones and they send these little, short messages. You need to be able to communicate. And if you can do that, you can get business done. But never get too comfortable. Never think, “I’m in a good place right now. My business is protected.” There are always competitors out there. There are always people nipping at your heels, trying to figure out how to get your business. Don’t be comfortable in your business. Know that you always need to grow. Sitting back and waiting for money to come in is not going to make anything happen. You need to work on growth every single day.
YS: Could you share one of your incredible business insights?
SS: One of the things that I believe is very important is loyalty. Loyalty to your staff, to your people, and to your clients. And we actually request reciprocity from our clients. We say, “We’re very loyal to you, we ask you to be loyal to us as well, because we understand what you need, and we’ve got your back.” Here’s an example. I had, one time, a very large operator that we work with who gave us credit back on one of our trips. It was a very expensive trip, and they gave us a credit back of $20,000, that really, we could have justified and said belonged to us. But it came on the heels of one of our client’s trips, and I said, “You know what? I’m going to do the right thing.” And I met with the client in his office and said, “Hey, how you doing? I just want to thank you for your business. We really appreciated that trip that you did last week. But we got credit back from the operator, and we want to give it to you.” I took out a check and he opened it up, a check for $20,000. That’s a lot of money for anybody. And he’s a wealthy guy. But the bottom line is that this $20,000 came on the heels of his trip. It’s his money. My employees asked, “Did you feel bad giving it to him?” I said, “I felt great giving it, because it was the right thing. And you can do wrong by doing the right thing.”
If you’re loyal to your clients, they see it. You have to respect their money, too. People spend a lot of money in every business. One of the most important things you can do when you’re picking a partner or an employee is you need to be able to trust them in a room with uncounted money. They have your money in their hands. So, our clients also have to be able to trust us with uncounted money. Because when we give them a price for an aircraft that we get, they’re trusting that we’re being honest with them. So, that trust has to go from A to Z.
YS: Can you talk a bit about the importance of clock management and using whatever tools or apps that are out there to make sure your schedule is clear?
SS: I don’t like to call it a clock because I’m really not a stickler for time. I mean, I come on time to all my appointments and meetings, but I don’t maximize my day and fill every minute. I don’t have to do that. That’s okay. But I am a stickler for one word: Calendar. I have a very close friend named Bernard Warman. And years ago, when I was starting my business, he realized I was all over the place. He would call me for meetings, and I missed them. I totally forgot. He set me up with a business coach in New York City named Nancy Snell. She’s also called the Calendar Queen. She changed my life. She taught me to put everything in my calendar. Everything I do. Even if my kids say, “Can we go out to dinner tonight,” or “can you pick me up from school,” I say, “Do me a favor, just put it on my calendar.” Because if it’s there, then I see it, and I have no excuse to miss it, That’s really what it is. It’s difficult in the beginning, because you’re not used to it. But once you understand the technology, it will work. Siri knows me very well by now. I pick up the phone and say, “Hey, Siri, please add to the calendar for today, 11am breakfast.” That’s how I remember it.
YS: You talk a lot about the importance of saying “thank you.” Why is that?
SS: That’s the most important thing. Everybody works hard. Even if you pay them, if they’re your employees, your clients, or your vendors, everybody wants to hear “thank you.” And that’s something they always remember, just the same as they would remember something that’s not nice. Speak carefully. Take a second or two before you make that comment. When we book an aircraft for a flight and we order freshly catered food for our clients, we always make sure there’s food for the pilots and the flight attendants. And we’ll drop off doughnuts, pastries, and cupcakes to airports, just walking in with a sticker on the back of the box saying, “Thank you.” It goes such a long way.
YS: Sim, you’re a clear example that business is not just business, and that family is an integral component of a functioning CEO. Can you please elaborate on that necessary human side?
SS: I’ve been a paramedic for almost 16 years right now, and I’ve been in the field as a Hatzalah member for 26 years or so. I got introduced to aviation and chessed by a very close friend of mine, my mentor, Shlomo Zakheim, zt”l. And he always said, “It’s about saying yes.” It’s very easy to say no when somebody needs help. You’ve got to figure out how to say yes. He would say, “If its difficult, we do it.” And if it’s impossible, we try harder.” You’ve got to figure out a way. And that’s what it is. It’s all about family, saving lives, and growing. Everything that we do is about giving back. At the end of our days, the reality is, we can’t take anything with us. Not even a pair of socks. The only thing we get to take with us is our good deeds and the impression that we leave on the world.