A Conversation with Roman Sledziejowski on How to Overcome Hurdles and Persevere
Roman Sledziejowski is the co-founder and Vice-Chairman of Savant Strategies, an international management consulting firm that provides management consulting services to middle-market companies primarily in Latin America, Europe, and South Africa.
At the age of 18, Roman Sledziejowski became the youngest National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) licensed stockbroker in the United States. By the age of 25, Roman Sledziejowski had become the Senior Vice President and Investment Officer of Wachovia Securities. At the time it was the 3rd largest investment firm in the United States with over 10,000 brokers working in 700 office locations and $680 billion in assets under management.
While he was at Wachovia Securities, Roman Sledziejowski began to make personal investments in multi-family rental properties in New York, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Through various partnerships, Roman Sledziejowski purchased and re-developed nearly 400 residential units between 2004 and 2009.
In 2006, Roman Sledziejowski founded Innovest Holdings, a New York City-based financial holding company. Then, in 2007, Roman Sledziejowski co-founded MyPlace Development, Sp. Z o.o., a Poznan, a Poland-based real estate development company. In December of 2009, RJS finalized the sale of his interest in MyPlace Development for $7.3 million in cash to Kulczyk Real Estate Holding SARL in Luxembourg.
We caught up with Roman Slediziejowski to discuss specific hurdles and obstacles he’s had to face throughout his career. He shed light on what he did to overcome these situations and persist.
Give an example of when you had to work with or for someone who was difficult to get along with. How did you handle interactions with that person?
Many times in my life I have had to work with people who have been difficult to get along with. I learned a lot from these experiences. Most importantly, it is crucial not to allow this kind of person to get under your skin and affect the way you think and behave.
Some time ago I was advising a very important client on an M&A transaction. One of my tasks was to deal with the CEO of the other party to the transaction. This individual was hands down one of the most negatively-minded, sarcastic, and downright rude individuals whom I have ever encountered in my life. At the same time, he was extremely smart and very successful at what he was doing. More importantly, he held the key to what our client wanted to be accomplished.
Instead of getting lured into this permeating negativity, I chose to flat-out ignore all aspects of it for several months. Instead, I kept a laser focus on what needed to get accomplished day in and day out. It was not easy since we often had to interact on a daily basis. When all was said and done with the transaction having been successfully consummated, I received a very surprising phone call from this individual. In a nutshell, he told me that in over 30 years of management he never came across anyone who was able to deal with him the way I had. He concluded that if anyone could deal with someone “like him” the way I had, then I can probably deal with literally anything. As a result, he ended up hiring us to advise his newly formed company on various strategic issues.
Tell me about the last time something significant didn’t go according to plan at work. What was your role? What was the outcome?
The longer that I live, the more of such situations I gather under my belt along the way.
Fairly recently, I grossly misjudged both the business potential and acumen of its management team in a project with which we are deeply involved as management consultants. I became so enchanted with the prospects for the project that I ended up delving much deeper into the project than usual; introducing trusted personal connections in order to assist with the development of the venture and its path to success.
Unfortunately, the project ended up being a failure due to a number of reasons, primarily as a result of the lack of experience of the management team and resulting irresponsible decision-making practices. It was all a great personal disappointment for me, especially after becoming so involved.
Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?
I have always been a strong believer that logic and hard facts make best friends with persuasive rhetoric.
From my experience, as long as the person on the other side is of a reasonable nature, it is not difficult at all to persuade them to see things “my way”.
The only time I have failed in this matter was when dealing with completely unreasonable people on the other end of the table.
Describe a time when you felt stressed or overwhelmed. How did you handle it?
There have been several times that I’ve bitten off way too much than I could reasonably “chew.” Each time it led to tremendous stress and anxiety.
I’m my younger years, I was not very good at saying “no” to people who came to me with various ideas and projects. As a result, I often ended up taking on challenges way beyond my capacity to handle them all with required attention and care.
I learned the hard way what it can lead to and nowadays I am being very thoughtful about how and where I allocate my time and energy.