A lot of people have asked me how I got into the industry. Generally I take it that they would like to get in themselves and are looking for some advice or replicable successful actions. My response is usually, “Oh I’ll write a blog post about it so I don’t have to write the same story a hundred times.” And yet, I’ve procrastinated. So, thanks to my twitter follower, @Elder_Poptarts who nudged me to write a new post, here goes…
I will start by saying that in general, I don’t feel that my path was very replicable, but there are some lessons to take. I never wanted to work in the watch industry. Frankly, I’m still not sure if I do. I happened to get an opportunity to work with an amazing team, led by a brilliant entrepreneur, who produce spectacular products. That the products are watches is almost inconsequential to my desire to be involved.
My background is in finance and technology. I created my first company at a young age and went on to start a few other interesting projects. I had some decent successes and some spectacular failures, like most entrepreneurs. Along the way I was able to make a bit of money – and as a young guy with no real responsibilities, I was happy to store some of it in toys: cars first, then watches. I’ll write another post sometime detailing how I really got into watches, but suffice it to say I went down the rabbit hole quickly. I immersed myself in the online forums, learned everything I possibly could, and attended every meetup or brand event that I could – even though I was routinely 20 years younger than anyone else there. It was at one of these dinners that I met Max Busser, years before we would work together.
Living in Los Angeles, I was able to meet Thomas Mao and eventually was asked to help as he transitioned from ThePuristS to PuristSPro. This brought me further into the industry, if nothing more than forcing me to think about it on a deeper business level than I had as a collector.
I had sold my last business and was taking a year off when Max and I sat down for coffee in 2008. He was in Los Angeles and we had kept in touch. I admired what he was doing and he recognized that I was someone early on who “got it”. But the meeting was to be nothing more than two friends chatting. Over the course of the meeting it became clear that he needed some help in the US. I thought about it overnight, asked him to meet the next day, and from there we decided to start MB&F North America.
My path into the industry was not traditional, and in fact my job is not traditional. I don’t believe there really is any analogous position in the watch world. However, there are a couple points that I believe are important not just for the watch industry but for any. First, learn everything you can about the subject. Become an expert. Meet everyone you can. Opportunities will arise and you will already be a value added employee. Also, be generous with your time and help. When the opportunities present themselves for you to be helpful, do it. Don’t worry about getting paid for everything or lining up whatever comes next. If you help enough people, it will work out. Other than that, the only truly important piece is to only get into watches if you’re passionate about them and only with a company that you truly believe has integrity. The last thing the world needs is another hired gun watch salesmen peddling marketing BS.
I hope that answers the question from those who have asked. If not, feel free to post in the comments and I’ll try to answer.