Crain’s Los Angeles, a daily curated newsletter for business and industry leaders, recently sat down with Transcend CEO, Asher Gottesman, to discuss the lessons he’s gained from his past.
I grew up as the son of the rabbi in what I thought of as the poorer part of Beverly Hills. I thought if only I had the same amount of money or more money than the others there, then I’d be happy.
My pursuit was to be the richest man in the cemetery. I pursued that goal fervently. I didn’t even complete college; I went to work right away as a salesman. I became a partner in a chain of retail closeout stores, and then I sold out and became a real estate entrepreneur and dabbled in private equity as well. At first, it was the Rolex, then the fancy car and then the private jet. The more I got the less I had. None of it made me happy.
Between 2005 and 2008 when the markets turned, there was a series of events where I was forced into bankruptcy.
I went to a therapist to manage the process. I said, “I’m a true narcissist and I don’t think I’ve ever done good without balancing it out with bad. I was not always willing to look at the ethical side of business.”
Unbeknownst to me at the time, the therapist was in long-term recovery and referred me to a book, “The Holy Thief: A Con Man’s Journey from Darkness to Light,” by Mark Borovitz, who went to jail for 12 to 14 years and went on to become rabbi at a rehabilitation facility. I sent him an email asking to meet and, since my father was a prominent rabbi in Los Angeles, he agreed…
Continue reading this article on Crain’s “If I Knew Then,” here.