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Work/Life Solutions with David Stanton

“Don’t over-promise and under-deliver; rather, under-promise and over-deliver”

Who: David Stanton> He’s a Senior Loan Originator at Eastern Union national commercial mortgage brokerage firm, and is a popular LinkedIn personality.

What: Three years ago, at the age of 20, newly-married David arrived in New York to pursue his business vision. In his first month, he spent every single day tirelessly traveling around Manhattan, searching for a prosperous opportunity. He introduced himself to strangers on the street, shop owners along 5th Avenue, and brokers throughout Wall Street. But bills needed to be paid and nothing was coming up, so he put the American dream on hold and settled for the first opportunity that came his way — selling raw fish. A setback? Nah. He credits his hustle to that invaluable learning opportunity. And now, just three years later, he’s a senior loan originator for Eastern Union — one of the top 10 commercial financing firms in America — where he focuses on generating new business through social media, networking events, in-person meetings, and cold calls in order to identify potential clients looking to finance commercial properties. He’s also extremely popular on LinkedIn (with nearly 60,000 followers) where he shares lots of positive, personal vignettes.

Where: David was born and raised in a family of ten from Manchester, England, where his father, Rabbi Jeremy Stanton, is a rav and popular lecturer. After learning in yeshivah in Israel, he got married and moved to America. He started out in Boro Park, and now lives in Lakewood with his wife and two children.

Why: Since this column’s inception, my goal is to introduce you to inspiring men and women who are juggling both personal and professional growth, demonstrating that living a dedicated Torah life and having career success aren’t mutually exclusive. But there’s something special about interviewing someone who most of you haven’t heard of, at least not yet, someone who’s story is a bit different. And David is one of those people. Born into a large rabbinic family, David had to discover his own path — he admits that he was kicked out of three yeshivos by the time he was 18. But at 23, he’s pulled his life together in an amazing way. His story is about perseverance, bitachon, and the ability to tap into that unique potential that Hashem gifted him — and every one of us.

1 of 9 What opportunities or personalities played a role in your career?

In one of my first work experiences, my older brother Doniel took me on as an apprentice in the jewelry/pawnbroker chain that he owned and operated, which specialized in loans against jewelry. It was under his leadership that I learned the moral foundation of business — the following story is just one example:

One day, a frail elderly woman came limping into our store and asked to borrow money against her diamond wedding ring. She said that her husband had recently passed away, and she needed the extra money to help pay her monthly expenses. As if an elderly person being forced to part with such a precious piece wasn’t a hard enough thing to have to facilitate, after a brief inspection, my brother established that the diamond ring was in fact fake and didn’t have any significant value whatsoever, making it impossible to be able to lend any money against it. But he couldn’t bear breaking the news to her that the very ring she’d been wearing on her finger for more than 60 years wasn’t real, let alone the fact that we wouldn’t be able to help her out financially. And so, I watched as my brother put his hand into the cash register, pulled out a sum of money, and handed it to her. He told her, “A fund has been put in place by the company directors in order to help elderly and vulnerable members of our society. This money is a gift — keep your ring safe and don’t let it out of your sight.”

Obviously, this wasn’t true. We were a business, he was the owner, and he had never put anything like that in place. All I could ask was, “Why?”

He said, “A successful business is founded upon trust, but a purposeful life is founded upon kindness.”

From that day on, I learned that the only way to operate a real business is to put people first and your pocket second.

2 of 9 Which three character traits have played a key role in your career path?

Persistence. It’s my willingness to face rejection with optimism, hope, and courage, knowing that ultimately Hashem has a plan far greater than mine, and all I’ve got to do is keep believing in myself, and in my ability to help others.

Relatability. Just like a comedian evokes laughter by being unexpectedly and refreshingly relatable, I try to do the same. By being open about my life, my vulnerabilities, and the challenges I’ve faced in overcoming different struggles and adversities, many others have been able to relate to me and my content. The more relatable a person is, the more people tend to gravitate toward him, ultimately opening more doors of opportunity.

Authenticity. As much as I try to acknowledge my faults, I still embrace the person who I currently am, as well as the man that I aspire to be. I often say, “My greatest competitor is the man I was yesterday.” Being wholeheartedly myself is the pedestal that helps me stand out in the crowd.

3 of 9 What do you do to relax, recharge, or simply have fun? How do you make time for that, and how often?

As an Englishman currently residing in America, I imagine I’m supposed to say something like: waving the American flag, driving around in my pick-up truck, and practicing my Second Amendment rights.

Or, as an ambitious entrepreneur, I imagine I’m supposed to say something like: Fun? Fun is work.

But interestingly, one of my more peculiar but enjoyable forms of relaxation is simply conversing with others. I’m honestly passionate about hearing different people’s stories and perspectives. And the best part is that this avenue of pleasure can be realized anywhere, at any time, whether it’s with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, clients or simply random people I meet. Even an accidental encounter can serve a tremendous purpose, considering that every individual has something to share. Sometimes just listening says more than all the words in the world.

4 of 9 What was your most resounding failure? What did you take away from that experience?

For anyone who stereotyped me as a teenager, this is what it looked like: I dropped out of the religious world at 14, left high school at 15, college at 16, two jobs at 17, and three yeshivos by the time I was 18. The story that changed my life began the day I was told that Yeshivas Neveh Tzion was no longer for me. Neveh is an incredible yeshivah that has helped thousands of OTD teenagers from around the globe, kids who couldn’t fit into the status quo of the frum world, to rediscover and reconnect to authentic Judaism.

Considering that no yeshivah will accept a guy who has failed in Neveh (leaving very little options even for a party lifestyle in Israel), I was at a dead end. But then a friend of mine told me about this small program being run by a very special man, Reb Dovid S. Lipsett. I called up Reb Dovid and shared with him my brief story and why I was no longer in Neveh. Without any judgment or financial considerations, Reb Dovid immediately welcomed me to his yeshivah, as long as I would dress and speak in a refined manner around the other boys in his program.

For some unfathomable reason, I actually agreed. I moved into an apartment near the Mir in Meah Shearim, and began my new yeshivah experience. Although, at that moment in time, I wasn’t too religious, I dressed and played the part. And surprisingly, by just dressing the part, people treated me like I was the part, and I too slowly became convinced of it myself. Within six months my life had taken a U-turn, and I was living a life more focused toward growing and connecting in the ways of Hashem.

There are two things I learned from my experience: First, treat people with integrity and honor and they will immediately start mirroring it. I’m not in favor of faking, but when we find the good in others, they automatically want to live up to this new expectation. And second, reexamine the world “failure.” It means “lack of success,” and “success” is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” I believe that if your sole aim or purpose is to attempt to learn and grow from every experience you encounter in life, it’s absolutely impossible to fail.

In simple words, “Don’t go through life, grow through life.”

5 of 9 If you were granted an extra three hours per day or a spare million dollars, what would you do with that time or money?

I would choose more time, and I would try to use those hours to give quality attention to my family. We monotonously work, learn, pray, eat, and sleep, all the while getting so wrapped up in the rat race that we often forget what true success is and where the drive for it stems from. Perhaps if we came to the realization that our families don’t just desire a life filled with unlimited wealth, but rather a life filled with our presence, we’d actually be on target for a far more pleasant, purposeful, and focused life.

6 of 9 What is the most inspiring feedback you’ve ever received? Did that impact what you did next?

I started creating content on LinkedIn almost a year ago, and in this short period of time I have accumulated close to 60,000 followers, and have generated tens of millions of views. In truth, it’s not a specific instance of feedback that inspires me, but rather the overwhelming number of individuals who take the time to reach out and share their thoughts about my posts. Every day I receive countless messages of encouragement from different individuals who claim that my content inspired them to take some form of action. And aware of all their decisions, I believe it is only fair that I attempt to do the same. So, every day, I take some step to break out of my own personal fears, anxieties, and insecurities, while honestly sharing my experience and vulnerabilities with the platform.

7 of 9 If you were asked to deliver a TED Talk that would be watched by 50 million people, what topic would you choose to speak about and why?

Without question, the topic would be, “You Were Born to Lead.” I believe the difference between a follower and a leader boils down to self-belief and confidence in one’s own abilities and judgment. If more people believed in themselves, we’d be living in a far more pleasant, advanced, and innovative world. There are no keys to success when our minds are imagining a permanently locked door. Once we open our minds and empower ourselves with self-confidence, all doors seem to open as well.

To quote George Bernard Shaw, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them.”

8 of 9 Can you share a time when you had to navigate the tension between your deepest values and the business world?

One of the greatest tensions as a hard-working salesman in the business world is to turn down high-paying opportunities where bosses insist their employees use dishonest words in order to make or maintain a sale. I was blessed to be raised in a phenomenal home with incredible parents and a father whose every action spoke of honesty and integrity.

Five years ago, my father suddenly suffered multiple cardiac arrests and heart attacks, and was in an induced coma for just over two weeks. To rectify the damage in his arteries, a triple bypass was scheduled. The night before his surgery, he was visited by the surgeon, Dr. Betsy Evans, who would perform the operation to explain the pre- and post-op procedures. As she introduced herself, she extended her arm to shake my father’s hand. My father naturally found himself in an uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing situation. But, not missing a beat, he said, “My apologies, Doctor, but my wife and I believe that having physical contact only with one another keeps our relationship strong — it has nothing to do with lack of respect. Believe me, I have nothing but respect for someone like yourself. Any time you walk into a room and I’m there, I’ll stand up for you!” And, lying in his bed, weak and sedated, he mustered all the strength he had and stood up for her. At that, Dr. Evans burst out crying. She said, “If only there were more men in the world like you, the world would be a better place.”

This story is so powerful for me because it shows how all the tension that we, as religious Jews, face in the business world could be overcome if only we’d realize that the moral code with which we live our lives is the true path to success.

9 of 9 If you were advising a young man/woman hoping to launch a career as an entrepreneur, which “dos” and “don’ts” would you share?

This really is what my LinkedIn content is all about, but I’ll give a synopsis:

Don’t go into an industry solely for the money; rather, go into an industry with the intention of providing real value to others. Why? Because if your only focus is on creating wealth, when you don’t earn the numbers you were hoping for, you’ll most likely get burnt out. However, when your focus is on providing real value to others, one happy client is enough to propel you forward, ultimately setting you on the path to earn a lot more money in the future.

Don’t over-promise and under-deliver; rather, under-promise and over-deliver. Exceeding your clients’ expectations will not only have them coming back for more, but will bring their family and friends as well.

Last but not least, be honest, be courageous, but most importantly, be yourself.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 822)

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