Skip To Content
Positive Enterprise Value Blog Against All Odds
Against All Odds Podcast

Against All Odds

May 5, 2021

55 minute listen

Portsmouth, NH

Growing up with her family in Bolivia, do you think Jan Herschkowitz ever dreamed she’d become a successful entrepreneur business owner in America? I don’t. Having already gotten her professional start, Jan got the call from her Dad that he needed temporary help in the business that he acquired called PRL.  She left a promising career with an electronics manufacturer in Chicago and traveled home for a short-term assignment to help her Dad. Tragically, his sudden death soon after her arrival, set the stage for Jan investing 32+ years leading the business from a small non destructive testing business into a high-tech, vertically integrated defense contractor making mission-critical nuclear components for the Navy. Jan generously shares candid comments with us on what it was like to lead the most successful company in a male-dominated industry, how she kept her perspective between professional and personal roles, and how she’s coping with being a passive investor in a business she ran for multiple decades.

Listen to the interview here:

What I am Reading / Listening to

Contributed by Stephen R. McGee

Most of you may know Steve Levitt as the co-author of Freakonomics, which spent over 2 years on the New York Times Best Seller list and has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.  He and his co-author Stephen Dubner for many years tag teamed on the Freakonomics podcast, to which I am a subscriber and thoroughly enjoy.

But Levitt was always more of a guest on the show while Dubner was the core.  This makes sense as Dubner was the journalist turned celebrity economist, while Levitt was the economist turned celebrity journalist.  And Levitt’s econ quals are impressive: he received his BA from Harvard University in 1989 and his PhD from MIT in 1994. He has taught at the University of Chicago since 1997 where he is the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics.  In 2004, Levitt was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to the most influential economist under the age of 40. In 2006, he was named one of Time magazine's “100 People Who Shape Our World.”

Today, Levitt barely shows up on the Freakonomics podcast, and maybe that is because he just launched his very own podcast: People I (Mostly) Admire.  The title is open to interpretation and is indicative of Levitt’s quirky style and personality.  There is no central theme to the show, rather it is just Levitt getting to interview people he has a genuine interest in, personally and / or professionally.

Levitt’s somewhat awkward style is endearing and authentic– the conversations he has with his guests make you feel like you are the proverbial fly on the wall to a conversation that was going to take place anyway, maybe over a meal, or on the golf course.  You get the sense he is really not doing it for the audience but his own personal curiosity and interest.

The guest list is appropriately varied: Greg Norman the golfer, Angela Duckworth the author of GRIT, Amaryllis Fox undercover C.I.A operative, and Sal Kahn founder of Kahn Academy to name a few of my favorite episodes.  I think this is what I find so appealing about the show, you never know what you are going to get, and you don’t necessarily know anything about the guest – but the conversations are always fun and interesting.

As an Econ major myself I like Levitt a lot.  There is something about his nerdy self-deprecating style that I find funny and compelling.  He appeals to the homo economicus in me.

I’m interested to see where this show goes.  At some point, will Levitt run out of folks he has an interest in talking to, will he exhaust the list of people he mostly admires?  I hope not.

Entrepreneur Owner-Manager Quote

“Having failed at managing a transaction ourselves, we had no idea what an M+A advisor could do. Bigelow kept us in control and got it closed. We got to choose our partner and the valuation was more than 50% higher than our prior deal that didn’t close. In a word…TREMENDOUS.”

-Duane Dunn, President of Dunn Industries, Inc.


Energy Creation

Sometimes positive energy is created—and expressed—in surprising ways.

Wendy Fee, our neighbor at our home in the Out Islands of the Bahamas is an incredibly creative and expressive artist. She has worked with all kinds of media, but recently created two acrylics for us of her jellyfish (or as she calls them) Jelly Dancers themed.

Her style is dominated by multiple textures and vibrant color. I am not completely clear on the steps she uses to create, but I know that she overlays washes of fluid acrylics some of which she literally pours on the substrate to create her work.

Wendy is a creative Entrepreneur Owner-Manager with a terrific story. You can learn more about her and her work here.

Back To Top