Friday, April 20, 2018

“Like with the election cycle, there are a lot of (real estate) experts…,” Jason Dov Greenblatt, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of The Trump Organization, quipped.

Mr. Greenblatt delivered an address and held a Q&A session at Wednesday’s J-Biz Expo and Business Conference at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison. Among many other things, Mr. Greenblatt was asked whether he thought the real estate market had peaked. He explained that he, along with most experts, have thought so for a while but the market kept on rising anyway—sort of like his boss’s unprecedented winning of the GOP presidential nomination.

The thousands of attendees who streamed in from across the country and beyond to attend J-Biz Expo were treated to a smorgasbord of intriguing personalities and business resources, with the opportunity to network face to face and build business relationships. Attendees came from Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto, Antwerp, Israel and more to take advantage of this opportunity.

During the Q&A session with Mr. Greenblatt, moderated by Dr. David Lieberman, the top Trump aide now advising on Israel and other Jewish issues was asked a range of questions. Most questions were not politically focused, but rather related to his business and negotiating experience, and how he manages his high-level position as a frum father of six.

Mr. Greenblatt was presented with an award from Duvi Honig, founder and director of J-Biz and the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce (OJC), for his dedication towards Jewish community economic development. Mr. Greenblatt related that face-to-face networking—the hallmark of J-Biz Expo—has been the most valuable tool for advancing his career at all stages. “There’s no substitute for networking,” he said.

The audience at the morning business conference enjoyed various other high-level speakers as well.

Marketing guru Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg, well known for his elite business addresses in chassidish garb, was the opening speaker. Rabbi Ginzberg shared a range of practical tips on how to win over individuals and audiences, such as researching their backgrounds to refine a sales pitch, and understanding the different modalities of audience members and how to appeal to them.

His address was followed by a legal panel featuring two prominent frum business attorneys, E. David Smith Esq. and Dror Futter Esq. The attorneys related their experiences on how proper professional business and accounting planning can increase the value of a business and prevent countless headaches. They also spoke of the importance of maintaining a constant relationship with investors and lenders, and keeping them updated on business progress, which can pay particular dividends when the business hits a rough patch. “‘No surprises’ should be the rule,” said Mr. Futter.

When the screens began showcasing clips of the wild African jungle, the audience knew that they were in for something unique. Keynote speaker Kivi Bernhard did not disappoint. Mr. Bernhard, a native of South Africa and highlight of elite business events around the world, shared fascinating tidbits from his life experiences and his original “Leopardology” business philosophy. The son of a rabbi, and successful diamond executive, shared details about the African leopard and how it manages to “close the deal” on 76 percent of its prey. He elaborated on the first pillar of his six-pillar philosophy: “Know who you are.”

Just as the African leopard knows what its strengths are and is fully comfortable in its own skin, so too for the successful businessperson. In his inimitable colorful manner, Mr. Bernhard explained that one must be confident in who they are, both personally and as a frum Jew in the business world. “You are what most differentiates your business from the others—not product, price or service,” he explained.

After the conclusion of the business conference, the action moved onto the main expo floor where a frenzy of business-to-business—and person-to-person—networking activity took place throughout the afternoon.

The diversity of both exhibitors and attendees was striking. They hailed from a cross section of the Orthodoxy, communities around the world and all business sectors. The floor was dotted with a selection of corporations of all sizes, showcasing their products and services to curious attendees. There were names like Wells Fargo, Meridian Capital and Lyft, as well as small, medium and large community-based businesses. Banks. Traditional and online marketing companies. E-Commerce resources. Accounting firms. Real estate and construction resources. Media firms. Telecommunications companies. Shipping companies. Educational resources. One-on-one business coaching. Transportation. And much more.

Excitement and synergy were in the air as exhibitors interacted with attendees, and attendees interacted with each other. Booths were vibrant and colorful, many of them distributing exciting souvenirs.

“The event was extremely well organized and had a wonderful energy about it,” said Tom Frank of General Floor, who spent the day showcasing his products at the MS Flooring booth. “On a business level, we accomplished more than we thought was possible.”

Similar sentiments were heard from exhibitors in other industries as well. “We were able to interact with the exact demographic we were looking for,” said Penina Baim of Testing and Training International (TTI), a higher education program. “The expo gave us great access.”

This scene was repeated throughout the day, in every corner of the massive expo floor. New relationships. New ideas. New clients. New transactions.

New horizons.

Additional action on the floor included an exciting live business game show, professional workshops, a Women in the Workforce panel and more.

“This is what J-Biz Expo and the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce are about,” explained Honig, the visionary and director behind these projects. “Bringing the most promising resources of the business world under one umbrella, and empowering the entire community to benefit from them.” He credited the Chamber and J-Biz staff for arranging this event, particularly coordinator Devorah Wahl and sales director Ari Finkelstein.

The event’s grand finale took place in the main business conference auditorium. “The Accelerator” investors panel featured veteran, savvy investors Gershon Bassman, Morton Davis, Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger and Danny Lemberg. Moderator Shea Rubenstein managed to make the presentations and discussions entertaining, concise and efficient. Innovators from New York, Lakewood, Toronto and Israel showcased their new products in technology, long-term care, health care and pet care, and discussed various long-term investment offers from the “sharks.”

Before the final attendees left the 2016 expo, Honig was already working on planning upcoming Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce events and the 2017 J-Biz Expo and Business Conference.

By Shimmy Blum