MF 115 : From Successful Entrepreneur to a Legion of Leaders, with Yigal Adato
Yigal Adato is an entrepreneur, leadership expert and founder of Leaderato and Legion of Leaders. Today, Yigal will share what it takes to find success while keeping true to your values and your relationships.
Successes at a glance:
Setback failure or time when things fell apart:
As you will discover in the next section, Yigal achieved major success as an entrepreneur. Unlike many of our guests, Yigal’s rock bottom didn’t look like one from the outside. He was making a lot of money and the business was getting spotlighted on TV and in newspapers. Then two major life events occurred that sparked a much-needed pivot. First, Yigal’s father had been diagnosed w/ Parkinson’s disease and dementia at the young age of 58 years old. This was a man, himself a very successful entrepreneur, who had built up a business w/ 12 locations and hundreds of employees. He lived by the philosophy of working now “to enjoy later.” Sadly, as Yigal shares, “his later is filled with caregivers and doctors.” Second, Yigal had gotten married and one-year into his marriage, his wife sat him down for a heart-to-heart, saying these words which shook him to his core: “Yigal, I didn’t get married to be alone.” This took Yigal completely by surprise. At the time, he thought he had reached the pinnacle of success; providing a good life for his wife and their newborn daughter. But when Yigal looked into the mirror, he didn’t like what he saw. He saw someone who was tired, 30-40 lbs overweight, and now carrying the weight his wife’s unhappiness. It was then that Yigal knew it was time for a major pivot.
The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:
Yigal has had some pretty remarkable pivots and “aha” moments in his career. Although he came from a family of entrepreneurs, Yigal started out w/ a different path: music. In high school, Yigal was lead singer in a band w/ aspirations to become a famous rock star. After year 6 of having fun, touring and being surrounded by groupies, Yigal was broke. While Yigal was off trying to break into music, his brother built up a pawn shop business. To help pay his bills, Yigal worked a few days a week at the pawn shop, managing the books and paperwork. As the business started to grow, so did Yigal’s involvement: from 2 days to eventually, 4-5 days a week. Shortly after, Yigal and his brother had a heart-to-heart about where Yigal’s life was going. Yigal’s brother needed full-time help and Yigal wasn’t making any money as a musician. So came the fateful day when Yigal left music to become a partner in his brother’s business and took a leap into entrepreneurship.
Over 15 years, Yigal helped grow the business and found a new passion. As Yigal shares, music was like a first love and when he left that behind, he found it a bit “soul crushing.” I suppose you never forget your first love in relationships or in careers. But then, Yigal found his inner entrepreneur and soared as a business owner.
As noted, above, Yigal decided to make another major pivot when his father started got sick and the wake-up call from his wife that his business success was adversely affecting their relationship.
Yigal candidly shares that change didn’t happen overnight. Nothing magical happened after looking in the mirror, except the revelation that what he thought was “success” was actually making him and those around him unhappy. The next few days, Yigal went to work and was sad and depressed. Concurrently, seeing his father deteriorate before him sent Yigal into some dark spirals w/ moments where he would just stare at his computer screen; desperately seeking a way to make a change for the better.
Yigal started on a long journey of self-development, reading lots of books and seeking out coaches who could help him out of his rut. Then, the big “aha” moment for Yigal occurred when one day he was holding his baby girl and asked himself three questions:
Question 1: What do I have to do so that you can grow up happy?
Question 2: What kind of man do I have to be to make sure that my relationship w/ your mom is full of passion and lasts as long as we both last?
Question 3: How can I be the kind of leader that will help make this world a better place than the one I had growing up?
It was then that Yigal broke down into tears and realized that the success he had as an entrepreneur wasn’t enough. He needed to take all of the things made him a winner in business and put that into his personal relationships.
Thus, came the big pivot: Yigal decided to sell his half of the business to his brother and take his experience and wisdom as an entrepreneur to coach and teach others. Thus, Leaderato was born. What makes Yigal’s coaching practice unique is that he doesn’t just focus on helping business owners grow their business. Yigal certainly knows how to do that. But he also teaches how to be successful and mindful in your personal relationships; not sacrificing them to reach the top. In discussing this, Yigal reveals a rather surprising fact. It’s not just start-up entrepreneurs who have this problem. Many of Yigal’s clients are extremely successful business owners w/ lots of money in the bank. However, many of them are miserable w/ deteriorating relationships and poor health.
Moving Forward listeners, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy. You’ve heard that from many of our guests. But what’s even harder is to be successful in all areas: your business and in your personal relationships. Many think it’s impossible to have both, that it’s one or the other. Not so. Yigal’s story is both a cautionary tale of the costs of blind devotion to a business but also a story of reinventing, reassessing and re-prioritizing what’s truly important so that you can have a successful business w/o sacrificing those that mean the most to you. Many think of leadership only in the context of a business or career. For Yigal, that’s only half the picture. Leadership is also about how you live your life intentionally w/ your family and your loved ones, how you manage your health, as well as your business. This requires taking a good hard look at who you are and being authentic and vulnerable w/ yourself and those who you seek to help you. This is how we move forward in the best way, the right way.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Yigal to move forward:
The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine (Paperback | Kindle): a sobering look at those who make over $80k a year. Yigal shares that many don’t have a great relationship w/ their kids leading to increased risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
(Dis)honesty – The Truth About Lies (Instant Video): explores the science of why we lie and aren’t authentic. Yigal reminds us that when you’re in a mentor-mentee relationship, being vulnerable and real is the most important requirement for getting the most out that relationship. Lying to yourself and to others about what’s really going on in your life will prevent you from moving forward.
The most important quality to look for in a mentor:
Someone who will call you out and won’t be afraid to tell you like it is.
Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
How Yigal recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
Spending time w/ his family, whether a trip or a drive.
Spending time outdoors; hiking and walking.
Take some time to get away from the space where you spend so much of your worklife.
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Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
First, keep moving forward and take action. Yigal had been hitting the same wall for a long time. It wasn’t until he sold his half of the business to his brother and started his leadership coaching practice that he started to see the change he had been seeking for so long. It all started w/ a sobering conversation w/ his wife, then seeking books and mentors; all culminating into a life-defining moment when he held his baby daughter and ask himself those three questions. Second, don’t wait until it’s perfect to start. Put it out there and improve as you go. Don’t hold yourself back or delay bc of perfection syndrome. It was only when Yigal was honest w/ himself and completely authentic that he was able to make those pivots and move forward.
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
“Be clear with your communication”
“Be courageous w/ your actions”
“Be committed to what you say you’re going to do!”