> Martin Schaffel

I want to make sure that what we do and utilize in the classroom has long term value for all the students

“I want to make sure that what we do and utilize in the classroom has long term value for all the students”

It was my second to last semester at the University of Florida when I got kicked out of the University’s MBA program. I was enrolled in Macroeconomics, where I would see my professor transcribe extensive mathematical equations on the board indicating that we would utilize in executive positions in our future careers. After the 10th-11th time I raised my hand in class questioning if we would truly utilize these equations outside of the classroom, the professor failed me in the course which dropped my GPA below the required 3.0. The Dean at the time allowed me to leave the University’s MBA program to get a job, and, in return, I would be rewarded a second bachelor’s degree in business. I accepted.

In my own course at UF, I ensure that my students are aware that at any point they can stop lecture and ask when something being taught would be applicable to the real-world.

“You can either start at the bottom and work your way to the top, or you can start at the top and build the bottom”

Several months out of college, I began selling the Kroy lettering machine. I remember writing a check that I couldn’t cash in order to get inventory, but I managed to sell the first ten machines I received within 48 hours. Within a matter of time, Audio Visual Innovations (AVI) expanded to include movie projectors, slide projectors, overhead projectors, and overhead equipment. As the company grew, I realized that I needed to reinvent myself, as well as the company. I transitioned from selling equipment to consumers, to selling a vision of success and opportunity to my employees.

“I realized that if we could do a small service for a company and do a great job, it would become a lot easier for us to land a larger contract with them.”

When sitting down with a potential client, I would ask them about their frustrations and listen closely. After hearing about some of their pain-points, I would ask them if they would give my company a chance to solve it for them. This was how we landed our first major client, as well as several other large clients.

“If you’ve got a viable business and you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you better be solving somebody’s needs or problems or it’s not going to last very long”

“I knew that if I helped other people be successful, I would be successful” Although I miss mentoring my employees and helping them become successful, I have now filled this void by driving to Gainesville two hours each way, every week—to help young students find their way and be successful. I strive to make it a course like no other, offering optional dinners after class so students have the time to cultivate meaningful relationships with one another that endure post-graduation. My courses typically contain many lifelong friends that serve as guest speakers to students. They fly in from many parts of the country to share their experiences and advice to young entrepreneurs that want to start their own business one day. I will continue to inspire and impact the next generation of world-changers.

“I was hyper-ventilating, I couldn’t breathe… I was literally laying on the floor of my hotel room, gasping for air. It wasn’t a heart attack, it was a panic attack, cause all I could think about was ‘That’s it, it’s over. The company’s dead, I don’t have the money… I have to go back and fire all my employees and… it’s done.’”

I sat back, recalling one of the scariest moments of my 30-year career as an entrepreneur, when I had 3 days to get $100,000 or I’d be out of business. I then went on to explain how I navigated the situation and managed to make it out alive.

This is an example of the type of content you can expect to hear on my new podcast, called the Art of Biz, co-hosted by Pablo Casilimas. I also bring in other world class entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds and ask them questions to share their stories, including their successes, failures and the lessons they’ve learned along their journeys.

Martin Schaffel

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