After earning an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Chicago Business School, Mordy Levine embarked on an entrepreneurial journey, creating numerous companies from seed capital, and transforming them into profitable, salable entities. Among his numerous accomplishments, he co-founded a technology placement firm. Within 33 months, as CEO, Mordy managed 300 employees across 12 cities, leading to a successful acquisition and subsequent IPO. He created the largest custom marine apparel and accessories company in the US and sold it. He cofounded an asthma / diabetes mail order pharmacy growing to 3,000 patients and then sold successfully. As cofounder of a handmade jewelry manufacturer, the company grew to over 1,000 retailers worldwide. He operates, with his partner and cofounder, Exit Strategy Mastery.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Mordy shared his professional trajectory, the top qualities required to be successful entrepreneurs, how he defines success, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Hi Mordy. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your first business.
I went to the University of Chicago Business School when I was 21. In retrospect, that was probably not a great idea – since I had no business experience. When I graduated I sold fresh fruit ices from a street cart on 42nd St in NYC – my first entrepreneurial (and successful) venture. I probably made $500. Fast forward to 2024, and I have founded many ventures, with success of sale, IPO, merger, etc. with about 10 of them.
Can you briefly tell us about Exit Strategy Mastery? What are its mission and vision?
My partner Richard Harmon and I created Exit Strategy Mastery to help business owners prepare to sell their businesses. Although owners may be experts at running their business, they typically do not have the skill set to maximize proceeds when selling their company. Many end up leaving millions of dollars behind on the closing table when selling their life’s passion, and are left disappointed.
We solve that problem by showing owners exactly what to do (and not do) before, during, and after they sell. As a result, they reduce risk of a failed or disappointing event when selling – and they maximize their sales proceeds. It levels the playing field between experienced buyers and business owners.
We are also evangelists for a transaction type called an ESOP – Employee Stock Ownership Plans. ESOP transactions in our opinion are the best for businesses that qualify. When structuring an ESOP appropriately –
Owners sell a portion of the company to employees (employees don’t pay anything for it).
Owners get proceeds from the sale – also tax free.
Company taxes can go to zero in perpetuity.
Owners maintain governance over the company operations.
Employees become highly motivated as their stock vests over time.
Owners still own a large percentage of the company for future growth and/or sale.
You founded & currently manage North American Resellers LLC, a financial management company for IT companies operating in the Ukraine and Europe. What sets it apart from other market competitors?
We manage client funds intelligently and conservatively for companies who are not able to – as a result of doing business outside of the US. Many of their clients based in the US have greater confidence and trust working directly with a US-based company.
In your opinion, what are the top qualities or skills you believe entrepreneurs need in order to be successful?
Grit, grit and grit. Intelligence, skills, salesmanship, creativity, and leadership are all wonderful traits to have – no doubt. I like grit and passion. That is what it really takes to be successful.
What is one thing that you do daily to grow as an entrepreneur?
I meditate every day and have done so for almost 40 years. Without that I would probably be extremely unhappy – and not have a clue how to address it. We all know the benefits of meditation – both anecdotally and scientifically. But in short, it provides calmness, equanimity, clarity, joy, compassion, and a more accurate understanding of reality (and it’s not what you think!). And that applies for non-entrepreneurs as well.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
For Exit Strategy Mastery we spend a lot of time on LinkedIn by simply posting good content. Over time, when someone needs us, they have that confidence that we can help them. It’s a simple, straightforward way to get our message out on a business-to-business platform. Over time it works. Nothing fancy, just one step at a time.
What is your definition of success?
Freedom from fear, stress, anxiety – or at a minimum being able to deal with it when it arises. Anyone can feel successful momentarily when the sun is shining, and the food is good. By being able to pay attention moment-to-moment and learn from the process as we travel down the road – that is freedom. Achievements are great – but very fleeting. Being in the moment is quite freeing versus always focusing on the future or the past.
What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
Practice paying attention to what you are doing now. Don’t get ahead of yourself or lose your mind by rushing or dwelling on the past or all the possibilities that may happen in the future.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Same place I am now. Enjoying whatever I am doing. Learning. Teaching. Leaving my comfort zone here and there. Living one day at a time.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Find something you like to do and do it – either as a business or as a hobby. Train yourself, with or without a mentor, on how to be in the present moment (it will take the rest of your life). Work hard – but don’t take yourself that seriously. Life is very short. Don’t waste it living in the past or the future. They don’t really exist.