Category Archives: Member Feature

Member Feature

A Different Way to Borrow Money

By Susan McGlory Michel

Many people do not realize that they can use their investment securities as collateral to borrow money at very competitive rates.  If you are looking to start or expand a business, purchase a new car or boat, pay for a child’s education or even pay for unexpected healthcare expenses and you own investment securities, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds or ETFs, you may want to consider setting up a line of credit or taking a loan against the value of some of your investment securities, especially if these are securities that you desire to hold as long term investments.  Security based lines of credit are not margin loans and cannot be used to purchase additional investment securities, but they can be used for most other types of expenses.  These loans typically allow you, the borrower, to borrow up to 70% of the market value of the pledged stocks, bonds and/or mutual funds.  Click here to read more.

Member Feature

Kraig Kalashian (KKAD)– New member story.

In order to understand my background, I think it’s important to understand my parents.   My parents are first generation Americans whose parents immigrated to the US in the beginning of the 20th Century.  My parents grew up in the post-depression 1930’s and the survival skills they learned growing up have always been a part of my life.   I grew up in a middle class Long Island suburb and have always lived within 60 miles of my childhood home.

Click here to read more.

Justice League Sees The Results of “Profit First” Thinking at Coffee Farm in Costa Rica

The Justice League left for Costa Rica on Sunday, January 11 for their annual forum retreat. After an original plan to have the retreat in late February changed because of a schedule conflict, the Justice League had to move it to January and had less than four weeks to pull everything together. They chose an all-inclusive resort called Riu Palace Costa Rica in Guanacaste and spent four days on retreat. With the winter temperatures outside in New Jersey dipping into the single digits last week, there was certainly no complaints about the timing of the trip.
The Justice League has been spending significant time recently discussing topics from two books: Mike Michaelowitz’s “Profit First” and Chris McChensey’s “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.” When you add into the mix the League’s desire to build more accountability into their forum experience, this year’s retreat focused on setting up goals across three categories: individual, family and business.On the second day, Justice League left early in the morning in a van and traveled through farms, small village-like towns and dense jungle terrain to reach Diria Coffee Farm for a tour of their production facility. After a great cup of their best organic “Peaberry” coffee, the group was led through the facility to learn the production process.One of the biggest takeaways of the tour was learning how much attention the farmers pay to being a sustainable operation. In the context of Michaelowitz’s “Profit First,” it was readily apparent that they were operating on the “small plate” philosophy. That region of Costa Rica is very dry during the harvest season for coffee, and water is a precious resource. The farmers there go to great lengths to recycle all the water they use to wash and filter the coffee beans. They also use the skin of the coffee bean as a fuel in the furnaces that dry the beans before the roasting process begins. The farmers at Diria Coffee Farm have implemented some ingeniously simple solutions to consume as little as possible and minimize their costs – it’s their version of small plates. The result is a highly profitable operation that supports the lives of 150 local farmers and their families.

On Wednesday, January 14 the Justice League returned to the great state of New Jersey as a stronger forum, all tanned and fired up for a very successful 2015.

Justice League Members: Steven Kramer, Dan Wilson, Joe Infante, Terry Lyons, John Cioffi, Glenn Van Etten, Brian MacClaren

Photo 1: Justice League on the beach at Riu Palace Costa Rica
Photo 2: Local coffee farmer, Dennis, explaining the coffee bean washing processIMG_2406



Member Feature: Joe Hodakowski

The EO New Jersey blog periodically features members. In this post, learn more about Joe Hodakowski in his own words.

My name is Joe Hodakowski, and I joined EO 8 years ago. I have been in Eleven Forum for the past year and a half. The biggest thing that I’ve gained from EO is learning from other business owners who are having challenges in their business and how they are dealing with them. We all have different businesses, but we all have similar issues.

I founded my business (Hodakowski & Hodakowski) in 2003 when I left Ernst & Young and went into business with my father. We are a full service accounting firm, located in Flemington, N.J., that provides bookkeeping, tax return preparation, tax planning and estate administration to individuals, small businesses and corporations.

I left Ernst & Young because I wanted a better quality of life and wanted to provide my clients with better service and more advice. When we first formed our partnership, we had one employee and a small office. Today, we have 11 employees and have seen tremendous growth. In the last year we have started a marketing program that is unique to the accounting industry. It has been very successful and has helped grow our business about 20 percent in the past year.

Born and raised in northern New Jersey, I went to Pope John High School in Sparta. I attended Gettysburg College, where I met my wife, Kate. While at Gettysburg I played football and graduated in the top 10 in career tackles and was second-team All American my senior year. I have a master’s degree in taxation from Seton Hall University and my CPA license in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

I live in Doylestown, Penn., with my wife and four children: Annie (6), Ben (4), Jane (2) and Rosemary (2 months). We enjoy spending time in the Poconos at our second home in Lake Naomi.

Member Feature: Joe Spano

The EO New Jersey blog periodically features members. In this post, learn more about Joe Spano in his own words.

My name is Joe Spano, and I have been a member of EO New Jersey since 2003. I was an original member of the Vigor forum, a past moderator and EO NJ’s current treasurer. Over the years, my biggest EO takeaway has been that I really can liberate myself from my business. Although very successful at my former business, Buy-Rite (fashion accessories), like many EO-ers, I felt that it owned me more than I owned it. My first EO University in LA in 2004 gave me the confidence that I could change that, and I sold the company at top of the market just a year later to private equity.

Since 2006, I have operated a real estate development business, Spano Partners, primarily involved in the retail and solar spaces. I got started in this, regrettably, at the top of the market, because I quickly grew bored after selling Buy-Rite. In hindsight, I should have given my mind more time to relax and unwind, though I was fortunate enough to take many adventure vacations in between. I also have been a partner in WorldWide Mining Partners since 2011. We have successfully developed a plasma- and chemical-based technological process for the demolecularization, or freeing, of precious metals bound to base metals, and we are currently raising funds to upgrade the plant to a commercial level.

After graduating Rider College (now University), I remained with my internship company, PricewaterhouseCoopers as a CPA. I had the good fortune of working primarily with smaller clients in both the audit and tax departments, giving me fantastic and broad general business experiences. I left that firm after two years, beginning what I never dreamed would be a 24-year stay at Buy-Rite.

I grew up in Old Bridge, N.J., just a few blocks from the home of my wife, Diane. We have been married 33 years (did I really say 33??). Since 1984, we have lived in Freehold Township, and we have three grown sons – Matthew, Steven and Andrew, two of whom, thankfully, are liberated from us.

That’s all folks…

EO New Jersey Member Highlight: Dan Wilson

From time to time, we will be featuring EO New Jersey members on this blog. Our first feature is on Dan Wilson. Here’s what Dan had to say about himself:

Hi…my name is Dan Wilson and I had the profound experience of joining EO almost 10 years ago in 2004. It has changed my business dramatically over the last 10 years, which went from a partnership, to a split, to a rebirth and now to explosive growth. All of the ups and downs and ups would have seemed overwhelming if I had to do it alone. Thanks to a wonderful forum I was able to navigate and flourish to the next level. I have only been in one forum during my 10 years — “Born 2 Run” (BTW hate Bruce Springsteen), now “Justice League” — in which some of the mates have changed over the years but there are still a few that have been with me the whole time. They have become like brothers to me. We share our goals and passions every day, which provides all of us with accountability to each other and ourselves. Part of my value received in EO was the opportunity to give back (not just in forum) but to the chapter. I have been a part of the board for the last six years (I know they need to kick me out already!), but I was lucky enough to be finance, membership and eventually president (which was truly an honor). I found the more I engaged with everyone in the chapter the more I got out of EO, and that would be my advice to everyone in the chapter. EO (like life) is you get what you put into it…

As for my business, I run a financial planning firm with three locations. Since the financial collapse in 2008, my practice has grown in sales on average 19% a year and my revenues have grown 18% over the same period of time. I have been blessed to have a business model that has recurring revenue and new clients come by referral only. Currently we are looking at new space to expand (with the help of our sponsor Jones Lang LaSalle). My new business venture is a RESTAURANT in Jersey City, although the details are still be hashed out, the opportunity looks like fun…STAY TUNED

As for my family, I married my college sweetheart, Kristen. We met in 1995 and have been married since 2000. I have 2 awesome daughters Madison, 11, and Reese, 9, although I always thought I would have a boy it has been so cool to have Daddy’s little girls. They just seem to grow up too damn fast…