In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Mac Schlesinger, the founder, and CEO of Best Seller Listers, a leading Amazon listing optimization agency for Amazon Sellers, shares his journey into eCommerce.
In life, it’s often hard to know what path to follow. The same holds true for business. There are many choices and options available, but you have to be brave enough and confident enough to make the decisions. Even if you don’t think you are, you should just do it because one opened door can lead to many others. Yoni Mazor from PrimeTalk discusses how to navigate the murky waters of e-commerce business.
In today’s episode, PrimeTalk has teamed up with Mac Schlesinger, the founder, and CEO of Best Seller Listers, an optimization agency for Amazon Sellers. Best Seller Listers offers unique services and strategies created especially for your Private Label brand that will help you increase revenue and scale your business.
Mac Schlesinger shares his journey into e-commerce, from his humble beginnings as a sales associate at B&H Photo to finally having the confidence and courage to start his own business. So if you are considering starting an e-commerce business, or you have an e-commerce business, but you want to grow it more, then this episode is for you!
Learn more at Best Sellers Listers.
Learn about GETIDA’s Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.
Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Welcome, everybody, to another episode of PrimeTalk. Today I’m excited to have a special guest. I’m having Mac Schlesinger. Mac Schlesinger is the founder and CEO of Best Seller Listers. Okay, which is a leading Amazon agency, a marketing agency. Mac, how you been?
Mac Schlesinger 0:23
I’m doing great. Thanks, Yoni. It’s my honor to be here.
Yoni Mazor 0:27
Our pleasure, our pleasure to have you. So today, this episode is going to be about yourself. It’s going to be all about you. You’re going to share with us your story, where you’re from, where’d you grew up, where’d you go to school? How’d you start, you know, entering the business world or the professional world with your first job? And we’re going to take it all to the stations that where we are today. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Mac Schlesinger 0:50
All right, so you want to hear my story?
Yoni Mazor 0:53
Mac Schlesinger 0:54
It’s a little personal, but ah…
Yoni Mazor 0:57
Yeah, you don’t have to tell us how much money in the bank and your tax returns but, you know, the human story, the person called Mac Schlesinger, you know?
Mac Schlesinger 1:06
Okay, I mean, honestly, just the way I grew up is nothing fancy. The recipe is very similar to most people in our community, which I grew up in Monroe. Monroe, New York. It’s very familiar with this.
Yoni Mazor 1:18
So, Monroe, New York is, um it’s on the border almost with New Jersey. So, in the northern part of New Jersey, that’s where it is. As opposed to, so it’s not part of New York City. It’s what they call upstate New York, correct? Okay, good. So you grew up in Monroe?
Mac Schlesinger 1:32
I grew up in Monroe, went through the whole system, you know, school, yeshivas, and everything.
Yoni Mazor 1:39
When you say yeshiva, yeshiva, what kind of school is that? You know some of the audience here they’re not too familiar, diverse, with I guess the, you know, the Jewish world, right? To give us a little bit of context, what’s a yeshiva for somebody listening?
Mac Schlesinger 1:52
Yeshiva was basically once you finish (Yiddish) as you call it, like that?
Yoni Mazor 1:58
(Yiddish) means in Hebrew or Yiddish, a room, right? So you go into this room, there are many students, so basically, it’s a classroom we call (Yiddish). So that’s which grade is that? From first grade to what?
Mac Schlesinger 2:07
So this isn’t until you turn 13. Once you turn 13, you get bar mitzvah obviously, and once you get a bar mitzvah, you go up to yeshiva, which is like, I guess from 13
Yoni Mazor 2:20
Yeah. 13. So essentially either seventh grade or eighth grade and up, that’s when you knew yeshiva up until then you’re in the what they call the(Yiddish), which is the room which is a classroom, which is if you like elementary, and you know, middle school, and when you enter to the yeshiva. Which, for lack of a better term, is that yeshiva was like the high school stage for, you know, ultra-orthodox communities, correct? Right. Okay, good. So you finished your yeshiva at what 17-18 years old?
Mac Schlesinger 2:48
So there were a lot of yeshivas. Yes. I mean, I went through a lot of different stuff. I went locally; then I went to England.
Yoni Mazor 2:57
Did you go to England? At which age?
Mac Schlesinger 2:58
I was 14
Yoni Mazor 3:01
14? So it was part of your school system or?
Mac Schlesinger 3:05
I needed to change the yeshiva so I went, whatever, I went over there.
Yoni Mazor 3:08
So you were there for how many years? How long?
Mac Schlesinger 3:11
I was there, I think for two years.
Yoni Mazor 3:13
So 14 to like 16?
Mac Schlesinger 3:15
Yeah. And then I came back and…
Yoni Mazor 3:17
And you said London was the place?
Mac Schlesinger 3:18
It’s called Hitchin. It’s like an hour away from London.
Yoni Mazor 3:24
Okay, that was like a unique experience for you? You felt like it was just the same yeshiva format, just a different country? The accent may be a little bit different.
Mac Schlesinger 3:31
But it’s different. Because the whole yeshiva system is other than most yeshivas with how there’s more like a camp all year round, you know, like, everyone has a life like that, like a family because we are away from the family, everything.
Yoni Mazor 3:44
So it’s a dormitory. It’s a community. You guys are like a bit of a village.
Mac Schlesinger 3:47
Right? You all live together all year round, so it’s like, uh…
Yoni Mazor 3:51
As opposed to where you’re living in New York, Monroe, New York. Where are you going back home after school? Right. Got it. Okay, that provides some perspective on this. Alright, so 16 years old, you’re back into yeshiva and take us from there.
Mac Schlesinger 4:03
Yeah, so basically, I went back to New York, and different yeshivas, in and out. So basically…
Yoni Mazor 4:09
You say in and out because you’re problematic, or just you’d like to always kind of change the scene?
Mac Schlesinger 4:13
It’s part of my story that I get bored very, very easily, very quickly. So I like to change. I want to do so, and that also helped me with my story. I mean, how I started the business, how I grew. And
Yoni Mazor 4:25
So you felt this new yeshiva; I’m here for a few months, I feel like I want to go to a different yeshiva. I want to give it a shot. So it comes from you. It doesn’t come from that yeshiva saying, you know, we had enough of you go to this other yeshiva. Not interested. Okay, good. So when did you graduate? You don’t really; you don’t graduate, right? Because you guys don’t do the SATs, but you know, you turn 18. And then what happens usually? What’s the trigger? What’s the…Is there a shift when you’re 18-19? Or is there a timeframe where you kind of finish that system, and then you go out to the real world? What’s the position?
Mac Schlesinger 4:56
Yeah, so it’s once you pass 18 and that range, you either get married, if you don’t get married you either going ton yeshiva longer, and yeshivas exist for specifically for older (Yiddish) and
Yoni Mazor 5:09
So (Yiddish) is the older guys, older boys, we have to make sure that the English translation, we’re gonna keep it in English, you’re going to keep it very open for any type of audience to understand the context. Yeah, it’s essential that we keep that. Okay, so I got it. So yeah, basically, either you get married, and you start a family, and you go into the real world where you start working or we kind of stay in the yeshiva format. And there are yeshivas that are kind of built and structured for you know, you know, people over older age, you know, 20 years and up and up and up. Okay, very good. So what was your case? Did you get married?
Mac Schlesinger 5:40
No. So, I mean, I did get married. But uh.
Yoni Mazor 5:45
Eventually. Yeah. When you’re 18 or 19. I mean, take us to the next step.
Mac Schlesinger 5:49
So after 18-19, I went out and basically, I found like, it’s the same issue which is basically it’s a place where you can go in and basically babies are our friends and this and they have like, part-time jobs and stuff like that. So during that period, I started you know, starting having access to my phone, to the internet. So this is when I started getting a little bit familiar with, what I’m doing like, which is basically online, like products selling listing eBay and stuff like that.
Yoni Mazor 6:22
Hold on, hold on, hold on. How old are you again? 19?
Mac Schlesinger 6:25
I was 19 or 20.
Yoni Mazor 6:27
19-20. You basically opened up a little more to the world. You got your first phone and the phone or whatever internet connection. What was the first time you had access to the internet? Let’s put it this way. Did you always have access or?
Mac Schlesinger 6:36
Yeah, it always had access or on this canvas, cuz it was my she was
Yoni Mazor 6:42
I got it. Okay.
Mac Schlesinger 6:44
All right. Oh, yes. Officially, I heard about it 19 probably.
Yoni Mazor 6:48
So when you’re 19 years old, that’s when you discover the internet right? And you’re not like 90 years old, you’re a pretty young guy. So just to give context to people that you know, first 19 years of your life, he’s you know, he’s basically wrapped in a community where you know, the values and the mindset are completely different than what many entrepreneurs or online entrepreneurs take for granted. So 19 years old yet understand what internet is what internet means. And inside all of that what e-commerce means online retail means correct.
Yoni Mazor 7:15
Yeah, of course. That was actually really hard because I didn’t have any like, not my parents not my siblings, not my friends I mean even between friends, everything was like secret like the internet everything was like sound like okay everything as we have courses and classes everything was like on secret there. So as to find out everything myself so um, since I don’t know I guess it’s the type of persona personality or person that pulled me into buying or selling products for some reason.
Yoni Mazor 7:46
Got it. So you understood what the internet means, you quickly identify the potential to do trade, to buy and sell products. You start buying products and selling it on eBay and what you do on Amazon immediately as well or no?
Mac Schlesinger 7:56
No so basically back then I didn’t have any business experience obviously. I didn’t learn that at the yeshiva, I didn’t learn at home.
Yoni Mazor 8:03
Forget about the business experience, you didn’t have internet experience. That’s more challenging. But let’s give it some more context of which year was that, when you’re uh, your first year of when you figure out what internet is? Like 2000 what? 2009 was your first date or I guess really settling into the world of the internet right? So 2009, 11 years ago?
Mac Schlesinger 8:27
Yeah. Probably Yeah. So that was really hard so I don’t know how I got into it but for some reason, my friends and like in school and just find out about like that I’m familiar with it with the internet and online, whatever. So we didn’t know a lot like a business but we did it as a personal stuff everyone had like their own phone their own wallet or something. We always find like I was looking like either to buy new ones or sell the old ones so some reason my friends in school whenever they wanted to sell something or buy something they came to me I should sell it for them or assign it to them so.
Yoni Mazor 9:00
So 2009, you’re still in your yeshiva, but you basically discovered the internet, you started your activities on the internet. So your friends from the yeshiva came to you whenever they wanted to sell something? Okay.
Mac Schlesinger 9:11
So that was just like childhood. Do you know?
Yoni Mazor 9:15
Yeah, kids play, you know, you know, messing around and you know, kind of trying to make some extra income on the side.
Mac Schlesinger 9:21
Hmm. And also since I’m you know, when I was around that age, I was like the outgoing, like a social person, that with a lot of friends and stuff. I’m more or less to my side like quietly on my side. So that’s why I had more time to sit on my phone and get familiar with stuff. I even remember back then. I think it was…Yeah, probably back then. I think I fell into a kind of sort of scam like drop shipping. I don’t know-how
Yoni Mazor 9:49
This is 2009 say you? Tell us about that. What happened? I guess you know, you were I guess naive. You were not too familiar with the fact that the internet is an amazing, amazing world, but there has this dark side. So what happened there?
Mac Schlesinger 10:02
So there was a company that offered drop shipping officially, they had a website with a lot of products. And they offered that they made it look very easy that I just go into their website, open an account, I sell it somewhere. And whenever I sell something, I buy it from them, and they ship it to the customer. So I thought it’s very simple, very easy. And let’s do it. Yeah. So the problem is, I didn’t have any money, then. I mean, I didn’t work then. So I, what I did was I did have some experience in credit cards, like how to get credit, got to get approved, and I had some credit cards. So I signed up for that program. And I started, I went, I started doing it like the whole thing. And then at some point, I don’t know where it felt. And I think once I started selling the products, and I wanted to buy the product from them to sell it, I realized that most of the products are not even available. And the files that are available are much more expensive than it was stated on their websites. For example, they said this product you can buy for 9.99 you can resell for 19.99. So I posted for 19.99. The end of the game, maybe it was also because of lack of experience, I don’t know. But it was much more than it.
Yoni Mazor 11:15
So they essentially charged you more than what they said they’re gonna charge you on the wholesale price? So instead of charging your wholesale, the actual product they charge you retail, for example? Got it? Okay, so that wasn’t good taste. And you drop that in and what do you do next?
Mac Schlesinger 11:29
So what to do next, social, there was a book so I mean, what was it? So once I grew older, I decided to quit yeshiva and…
Yoni Mazor 11:42
Let’s talk here. So 2009, you were still there? Did you get stung by a little scam? And what year did you leave the yeshiva?
Mac Schlesinger 11:48
So I probably left in 2010. At first, I didn’t really do anything. I was just at home with friends. But I think in 2011 I started feeling that I need to start something and it’s not something real. I got a job and you know, start living. Right. So that’s 2011 I started working for B&H, B&H Photo in Manhattan.
Yoni Mazor 12:10
Okay, anybody that doesn’t know is not familiar with B&H, listening, B&H Photo is a very serious electronics store that’s located in Midtown, New York City on Manhattan. You know, they are very active in the electronics world and also a very active website, b&hphoto.com. So you work there in what capacity?
Mac Schlesinger 12:31
So when I went there for the interview, obviously, they saw right away, that I don’t have any experience. And I had very little company as well. So when I went in, I was very quiet. I just so obviously they put me in the lowest position possible, which is like working in the warehouse.
Yoni Mazor 12:47
And the warehouse in the city or somewhere else?
Mac Schlesinger 12:50
In the city, yeah.
Yoni Mazor 12:51
So that’s a fulfillment center that they had?
Mac Schlesinger 12:54
Yeah, so for myself for the store. So basically, when someone comes into the store, they want to buy something, I have to bring it up from the warehouse. And so basically, when a sales, salesperson in the store made a sale, they had like a system to bring out the product from the warehouse. So I used to do it, like bring products around back and forth. But…
Yoni Mazor 13:09
Oh yeah. So use your muscle right? Literally muscle work. You come from the warehouse into the…with a box to the client. Yeah. Great. Thank you for buying, here’s your product. Correct, huh? All right. Cool. So that’s 2010 or 2011? Yeah. Okay, good. All right. So how long did you do that for? What was the next station for?
Mac Schlesinger 13:26
Oh, I did it for a while. And obviously, it didn’t take long for the managers to see that this is not my I’m in a much, much more capabilities than that.
Yoni Mazor 13:35
Yeah, if you’re, if you’re listening to this episode in sound, just in the podcast, you know, maybe you can consider jumping into our YouTube channel to see Mac on video. He’s a pretty slim guy, you know, is petite. So I guess carrying all these products. He wasn’t the best fit. Right?
Mac Schlesinger 13:51
Right. So at the start, they realize that I can do much more than just running back and forth. I mean, obviously, cuz I was very quick was slim. But that doesn’t that’s not my address. So at that time, I was still single. And I think that was 2011. So in 2012. I got married. I was still working at B&H. That was February 2012. I got married and after my wedding, I got a promotion in B&H which they put me in in the store, like as a salesperson.
Yoni Mazor 14:25
Face to face with clients. Okay, yeah. All right. Direct with consumers. Nice. How was that experience? Was it good?
Mac Schlesinger 14:31
That’s pretty good. Oh, by the way, as I’m talking I remember that the name Mac comes from that that comes from there.
Yoni Mazor 14:39
So what’s your full name? Like before Mac? Mac is a nickname, right?
Yeah. And my name is Mechy. So I needed something…Mechy, Mechkel.
Yoni Mazor 14:45
What’s that in Hebrew like Mechy, what’s the full name in Hebrew? Mechkel, Michael in a different world or different community you would probably be called Mike. But you went to work for B&H Electronics and they called your Mac because of the Apple Mac computer?
Mac Schlesinger 15:00
No, it was also. So basically, in sales. Every salesman had a vest, like a uniform vest and a tag with a name. So the problem was that I already had a colleague in my department, his name was Michael. So they couldn’t give me Michael because it was confusing. They brainstormed a new name, Mechy they couldn’t give cuz it was very hard to pronounce for a lot of people. So I think one of the managers came up with the name Mac, you know?
Yoni Mazor 15:28
Nice, makes sense, you were probably a hit you know, I want the Mac Oh, Mac’s right here for your No, no, I meant the other Mac, doesn’t matter here’s Mac. So you probably got a lot of clients coming your way because they are all looking for a Mac computer. But everybody out there looking for a Mac, the sales guy. Hopefully, you got a lot of traffic into your daily routine.
Mac Schlesinger 15:44
Good branding, but actually, I think I always keep it here in my drawer in my office just for the memory. So this is the tag and if you can see it, can you see it there?
Yoni Mazor 15:55
Yeah. B&H Mac nice. Mac.
Mac Schlesinger 15:58
So I wore this on my vest. And this is just
Yoni Mazor 16:03
Nice, very cute. Very cute. Okay, so. So you were doing some face-to-face sales? And How’d you do that for a while? What was the next station after that?
Mac Schlesinger 16:10
Yeah. So while I was doing sales, you know, it was after my wedding. So I started to feel like it in real life, you know, with expenses and bills and stuff. I lived in Brooklyn, it wasn’t cheap. So…
Yoni Mazor 16:21
Oh, that’s a big move. You shifted when you got married. Did you shift to Brooklyn? When did you get married?
Mac Schlesinger 16:24
I got married in Brooklyn. My wife’s from Brooklyn.
Yoni Mazor 16:28
So the cost of living is in a different league, right? So Alright, so you it’s already 2012 you realize, you know, working for B&D, but I needed supplemental income, you know, cost of living is rising?
Mac Schlesinger 16:40
Right. So first I started doing like, like offline, like side jobs. And when I came home, as I do, I did like car service and messenger services just to the income. And while I was working there like at B&H I just have to feel like, I don’t know this. As I told in the beginning, I get bored very quickly. Like I always try to find the next big thing, because I’ve so I’ve tried to think of what else can I do? I’m you know, I want to do something better, something more for myself. So. And I remember that I had some experience with eBay and stuff like that. So I decided maybe I should try. I don’t know, maybe I should try more of that. So I tried to get into like, try to find out what is that? I mean, it was in 2009. Now it’s already 2012. Let’s see what it was up to, like..
Yoni Mazor 17:26
Three years in the mix. What’s, you know, is there more potential for you in that track? Right?
Mac Schlesinger 17:30
Right. So maybe there are more opportunities out there. So but the problem is I didn’t have any assistance. I wasn’t so social, social. I wasn’t I didn’t have anyone to talk to, to ask questions. I never really call home anyone to like, say, or ask anything, everything I did myself and privately. So one day, there was one person, that my brother-in-law, actually he had a business. So one day I spoke to him, I told him that I want to start doing something but I don’t know how I don’t know where to start. So he has some experience. He told me that you first have to start something you have to get out. Step out of the shirt.
Yoni Mazor 18:13
Step out of your comfort zone, start laying a track doesn’t matter where it’s gonna get to at the end of the road, but start it because once you do it, you’ll get things in motion.