What I’ve Learned: Jay Goodman

What I’ve Learned: Jay Goodman

Posted 1/22/2015


Founder, LumenOptix; Managing Director, Westinghouse Lighting Solutions; Founder/Principal, Intelligent Lighting Solutions

While nobody will write a book about my parents, they are true heroes. They raised my 2 brothers and me in a modest house but in a house where seemingly outdated values were non-negotiable. Things like personal integrity, honesty, making good on your commitments, showing up on time, finding nobility in giving one hundred percent to a job well done, even if it was as simple as washing a window.

Never compromise the relationship for the order. An order is a singular moment in time; a relationship endures and can return exponentially bigger.

My parents taught me the concept of treating people equally but not identically. I have two incredible brothers, a doctor and a lawyer, and I am the left-handed middle child. My scholastic career was dramatically more ‘colorful’ than both of theirs, and our needs were different. My parents did everything they could to meet our needs equally, recognizing full well how not identical those needs and we brothers were.

You can’t fake it. You can’t have valuable and meaningful relationships if you neither value nor find meaning in relationships.

Integrity is paramount. Deliver on your promises and when you stumble, deliver the bad news as quickly as possible to allow both parties to figure an alternate plan, even if it means losing the order to save the relationship.

Our two daughters are completely different people, with completely different needs. ‘Different’ is not better and is not worse, it’s just ‘different’, and respecting and teaching them to embrace your sister’s differences—or anyone in the real world for that matter—will lead to meaningful relationships.

There are no secrets in this industry, so never do anything compromising. At some point word will get out and everyone will know.

The lighting industry is filled with opportunities for niche companies. Stay focused on your differentiation and remain vigilant in not allowing your team to try and grab the easy order at the right price. It’s a bad formula to sell at the lowest price if you don’t produce at the lowest cost.

My wife deserves a Nobel Prize. Looking back on the trials and tribulations of starting a manufacturing business—the ups and downs, the sure-thing “ups” that in a matter of seconds turn out to be “downs”—none of it is easy. When I told her I was starting a lighting fixture company, she should have run for the hills, but she didn’t and she never had a doubt it would become something, even when many times I was asking myself what in the world I got myself into. Twenty years married, I’m still in awe of her.

Show up on time.

Your ‘Bests’ are all priceless. Your best vendors are equally important as your best customers who are equally important as your best agents who are equally important as your best employees and all should be treated in a similar deserving manner.

Help other people because people genuinely want to help those who are willing to help others.

I’ve been fortunate to have many incredible mentors at every stage of my career, even today. Respect the industry elders and ask questions. Most of them love to offer guidance and share stories of what they have learned. Their feedback and guidance is invaluable.

If you start your own lighting fixture company, do it because you love it—not because of the money. Given the ups and downs, you’ll sometimes find yourself in an all-consuming, very low-paying job and if you don’t love what you’ve created, then the work, sacrifice and commitment required will be a nightmare for which no money can compensate.

One of my biggest faults that has led to many of my failures—and there have been many—is believing that everyone else who spoke so confidently knew so much more than me. It took me twenty years to finally recognize that maybe I know a little more and have experienced and lived through a little more than I give myself credit for.

There is no greater or painful lesson learned than mistakes made on your own money…borrowed money, at that.

The single biggest lesson I’ve learned is that in the end, businesses are a collection of people. There is a huge difference between a group and a team. The Philadelphia Flyers one year had a disastrous start to the season. They fired the coach, hired a new one, and then miraculously the team turns around and makes it to the Stanley Cup Finals! Not a single player changed, just the coach.

I tell my girls: be honest, be genuine. Don’t fear showing your humanity or your vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to ‘not know’ something— it’s a phenomenal opportunity to learn!

Don’t be afraid to ‘not succeed’ at something. I say ‘not succeed’ because to fail would be to not try. Give it your best and it’s never a failure.


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