Who was your biggest influence growing up? (And why?)
David Seruya: My biggest influence growing up was my dad, Ronnie. He was a hard worker – working six, and oftentimes seven, days a week. He was a retail business owner that was dedicated to his job and his business, and yet, despite his hectic schedule, he made sure to remain present in my life. Whether it was running our little league games or being our cub scoutmaster, he somehow found the time to do it all! He was a great father and a great husband — which I will always aspire to be as well.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world? (How do you use that skill and why is it important?)
David Seruya: I have loved architecture, drawing, and interior design ever since I was a child. Creativity has always been one of my biggest assets. My mother always used to say that I had missed my calling in life, which was to be an architect, after entering the home warranty industry like I did. But, I still use this sense of creativity in just about everything I do, whether it’s designing websites for my various businesses or even remodeling and decorating my home – having a good eye for design is super important, in my opinion.
How did your business get started?
David Seruya: I first entered the home warranty space in 2005, along with a friend of mine from college. He said that there was a competitor in the industry that’s been around since the 70s making hundreds of millions of dollars a year. And we figured, well, then there must be more than enough business out there for us to take a small piece of that pie.
I was around 25 years old at the time, so I decided, If I was going to try something risky and new, I might as well do it while I was still young.
I immediately quit my job as a mortgage broker to go into business for myself. It was a big risk, and my partner and I soon realized it wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought it would be! We made all the mistakes any first-time business owners and entrepreneurs make when starting their first business. But, I like to think that these mistakes were our best learning experiences. As I always say, if you haven’t failed at anything then you’ve never tried anything new. After all, the best part of failure is having the opportunity to correct your mistakes, prove people wrong, and march forward new and improved.
What’s your favorite quote? (And how do you apply it in your life?)
David Seruya: “You’ll only regret what you don’t do.” Brad Lea.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, it’s super important to take risks; because if you don’t, then you’ll just end up working for the person that did. Don’t be afraid to take chances and fail. There will always be speed bumps along the way, sure, but any strong-minded person able to navigate those bumps will always manage to reach the very top.
What was your biggest, most painful failure? (And what did you learn?)
David Seruya: Back in 2009, my first home warranty business was sued by the New York Attorney General’s Office. This was a huge challenge for me as a 29 years old and first-time business owner. It was an eye-opener in many ways, as it gave me and my business partners a real insight as to what parts of our business model needed improvement, where the holes were, and how we could fix them. I learned one great lesson at the time, which was to do what I do best and delegate the rest. That business eventually closed, but I was fortunate enough to be able to re-brand, right past wrongs, and start over with a clean slate.
What’s the biggest common leader mistake?
David Seruya: The biggest common mistake a leader could make would be wearing too many hats and trying to do it all. It’s an easy temptation. After all, there’s a saying we all know that tells us that if you want something done right, then do it yourself; but much like with many other old adages and cliches, it’s not always true. Because… no one is great at everything.
A great leader acknowledges this and doesn’t try to do something that they can’t do. Instead, they hire the right person and delegate to create a more efficient and seamless group environment. That’s what I believe makes a true leader.
How do you hire top talent?
David Seruya: I hire top talent from references. Learning what a person is like from reading a resume just doesn’t do it for me. I like to hear from their past employers and learn about how they work so I can best make use of their talents. Although to be completely honest, there are occasions in the past where I’ve hired someone based on a ‘gut feeling.’ I’ve always liked giving someone the opportunity to shine if only to see if they would be the one to impress me.
How do you prevent burnout?
David Seruya: I have one simple solution for this, and that’s to remember that…
Weekends are for the family. I know how crucial it is to put aside my emails and messages when it’s time to rest. We all need downtime. And, what better downtime is there than taking your wife out for a romantic dinner or spending quality time with the kids at a park or museum. Not only is this incredibly important to me as a husband and father of three, but it has done wonders for me when it comes to preventing any burnout that may hamper my ability to do a better job when it’s time to pick up my work again.
What are you working on right now?
David Seruya: At Total Home Protection, we are currently working on new AI technology that will greatly reduce our labor costs and improve our telephone hold times. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of outsourcing calls to overseas call centers. So, I believe that having this new AI technology is super important to us as we grow and scale up as a company. It also has the added benefit of ensuring the highest standard of customer experience for our policyholders by minimizing the risk of human error, expediting our process exponentially, and providing more transparency on how we do business.
What are two or three things on your bucket list?
David Seruya: I love to travel and see the world. So, taking my family on an African Safari and to the Amazon is definitely at the top of my bucket list. I see it as a great opportunity to experience other cultures and enjoy the beauty of a place so different from what I’ve come to expect. There are just so many beautiful places around the world that I’d love to visit, Italy and Greece are up on that list of must-see places too. Perhaps one day I’ll even be fortunate enough to sail around the world and see all these beautiful places one heart-stopping spot at a time. That’s certainly my hope.