I sat down with successful entrepreneur and Washington A-lister Mark Ein on an unusually warm fall day. After making our way through heavy DC traffic, we both arrived at his Chinatown office 30 minutes behind schedule.
“How’s married life?” I asked.
Ein has been married to Sally Stiebel for just over a year. The investor, philanthropist, and Washington Kastles owner dated the policy analyst for 5 years before popping the question.
“The first year of marriage has been great,” says Ein. “It makes me wonder why I waited so long. I was very focused on my life and my businesses, but I don’t regret it and I wouldn’t do anything differently. There are lots of paths to happiness; each person has to find their own.”
The son of a doctor and healthcare policy expert, Ein grew up in Chevy Chase…a suburb of Washington, DC… with his mom, dad, and younger brother. After college, Ein started what he calls “your typical finance job” at Goldman Sachs.
“I had 100 hour work weeks with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met,” says Ein. “That was a key inflection point in my life. If I’m honest with myself I think I had a lot of potential but lacked certain professional skills. That job taught me how to be a professional by demanding excellence.”
“Excellence is a mindset. Where good enough is not good enough.”
“You can’t hand something to your boss and think that they will make it better and clean up your work. You want to do things as fully and at the highest level you can. Do everything as if it is the end product. It is an extraordinarily demanding way to work but phenomenally educational.”
“In those days, I’m not sure I knew what being an entrepreneur was, but I knew creating and shaping things was what I wanted to accomplish.”
On Todays Professional
“Todays young professional places a high value on community and that will serve them well,” says Ein.
“What is hard to find these days, however, is that long-term perspective. There is this impatience and not willing to stick with things long-term. In general, people who are successful tend to have more of a long-term perspective and are good communicators. These things are hard to find but are really critical to being effective in the world.”
On Business Strategy
“I see great businesses all the time who are being held back by the owner,” explains Ein. “They are not hiring well and are unable to see opportunities. The single most important aspect of being a successful business person is finding the right team of people to run the business.”
“When I’m looking to invest in a business, I look for a company that has something unique and defensible. I don’t like investing in small or niche opportunities. They have to solve hard problems in a big way. Lots of businesses don’t do that.”