Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Jason Levinthal. I am an entrepreneur and owner of J Skis and 4FRNT Skis. I design develop and market skis online.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
Never give up. Just because it doesn’t work doesn’t mean it can’t work. You just need to try different variations and be persistent. Persistence is key to anything in life. There is no skier that gets down the hill their very first time without falling, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to fall forever. You just need to learn where and how to adjust and keep trying.
Some people forget, but in business, it is the same way. You got to try different things, and learn from other people that have experienced what you are going through.
The biggest problem is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. If it doesn’t work, do something different, simple as that.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
Selling my first ski company. It was going bankrupt, and I sold it to basically just pay off the debt. What I learned from that is important but not obvious when you’re a startup or don’t have any business background.
It doesn’t matter how good the perception of what you’re doing is. It doesn’t matter how many people are patting you on the back and congratulating you. Unless the dollars and cents show a profit at the end of the year you’re basically just an art project, not a business and you will fail. And if you are losing the money you need to make a plan and way to not lose money.
This experience helped me tremendously with the brands that I now run. I knew I could make it a great product, but due to this experience, I can make a great product and stay in business.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
It is easier than ever to start a business these days. Regarding ski companies in the future, I see more people having the goal of owning a small ski company but unfortunately, it’s much harder to stay in business than it seems, even with all my experience, it’s hard as hell! I welcome more companies in the industry. The more ski companies, the more flavor, stoke, and support for everything in the industry. More brands are better, but it is hard when you can only sell products for five months a year, to a very small market, don’t forget that reality!
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
It is torture going 6 months with no sales. People always tell me “why don’t you make wakeboards or water skis.” But that would be even a much smaller niche and even more difficult especially being I have no experience in those industries. Another recommendation I hear is that I should sell in stores. I like ski shops and have nothing against them. It’s just I don’t make any money doing it.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
Everything. It is all about saying no. There are a lot of great businesses, and services, but you need to spend all of your time focusing on what matters. You can’t just say yes to anyone and everyone. Each opportunity might help you and might be great. But you need to narrow down the things that give you the absolute best return on your time energy and money spent.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. If you read this book you will understand how to position your brand.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Set out to do what you love for a job. You will enjoy doing it which will make you better at it. To start you should go to a company that is related to that and ask to work for free for 6 months. Even if it is the most basic level of work at that company. Do whatever it takes to get in that door. I guarantee three things
- You’re going to gain real job experience, you’re going to learn way more than you ever would in school
- You’re going to find out if you even like that field.
- More than likely they will hire you if you do a good job.
Advice to ignore – You can’t do it for the money. I talk to so many people who want to get into the ski industry because they went to law school and they hate the job. It’s important to like what you do and not just follow some goldrush.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
Nothing is impossible, but it doesn’t mean we are going to figure it out.
Find my contact info on Jskis.com