The People Who Make Us: Finding Mentors to Keep Us Moving Forward | with Chad Silverstein

Chad Silverstein is living proof that you can succeed in business and do right by the people you work with and the people you serve, regardless of your industry.

Chad has worked in the Collections industry for 22 years, and in that time, he has developed and refined his personal philosophy — a philosophy based on the principles of purpose, responsibility, kindness, and love — and integrated them into his day-to-day operations and interactions with clients, teammates, and his community. But let’s go back to see how Chad became this type of leader.

Throughout his life, Chad had three mentors who helped shape him into who he is today. In middle school, Chad had gravitated towards wrestling. Part of that was the need to prove himself, a byproduct of being the youngest of four boys, and the other part was his coach — his first mentor. He taught Chad that, in order to achieve what you want, you have to work harder than everyone else and do things you don’t want to do. But Chad’s greatest lesson from wrestling came after losing the state championship against someone he had beat the week before. At the time, it felt like the biggest blow in the world, but in hindsight, it was the best thing that happened to him. It made him more competitive — in a healthy way — and it drives him in business to raise the bar.

In his junior year in college, Chad went home for a summer job at a collections agency, and he tackled that job the same way he tackled wrestling: He found out who was making the most calls in the office, and he made more calls than them. Next thing he knew, the CEO of the company offered him a sales job. Chad pounded the pavement and he quickly had over 100 clients. Suddenly, he had another mentor. That CEO asked him how much he wanted to make, and when Chad gave him a number, he said, “Done.” A year later, he was a partner. The most important thing he learned from his CEO was the way to treat people and how to give to the people you work with. People look at the collections industry as a very tough industry and he tried to build his agency the opposite of what everyone else hated, and it just worked. He had an office full of happy people who loved working there.

The third of those mentors was Chet Scott of Built to Lead. He saw that Chet was looking for new coaching clients so Chad reached out and interviewed with him. Chet broke Chad out of a cycle of complaining and defending, and he helped him become an actual leader. When Chad set out to build a collections agency that was actually nice, it was a radical idea. Eventually, the other agencies had to catch up, and there was nothing that set him apart. So Chet challenged him to push that even further and to create a culture of giving within the firm.

Every mentor that came into Chad’s life left him with important lessons: Work harder than those around you; treat the people you work around, including those who work for you, with kindness; and never stop raising the bar for yourself.

What Brett asks:

  • [02:32] Can you tell us about your background?
  • [04:49] How would you describe yourself as a kid?
  • [12:33] Do you still feel that drive to work harder than anybody else?
  • [15:29] How was it for you that you didn’t end up winning?
  • [20:31] What’s next for you after wrestling?
  • [24:56] Were you thinking that you wanted to go into psychology?
  • [31:04] What was the experience like being thrust into business?
  • [34:37] Where did your approach to collections came from?
  • [40:00] How does Built to Lead show up in your life?
  • [48:59] How did you develop the mindset to empower people and reinvent yourself?
  • [52:51] Can you tell us how religion and spirituality have guided you?
  • [01:00:56] How are you integrating all of your business learning into the Jewish community?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • Doing things the way they’ve always been done doesn’t work when the way they’ve always been done is the wrong way. Identify the things that people hate about the way things are and then find ways to change them. Chad used this to great effect when building the culture of his collections firm, and the end result was a company of people who loved their jobs in a traditionally difficult business.
  • You have to keep raising the bar for yourself and paying attention to the world around you. You may think that you’re ahead of the curve (whether that’s in business, or personal progress, or social awareness), but the world is always catching up. If you stop evolving, you will be left behind.