Maverick Business Adventures® (MBA) combines high-energy adventure trips with full-throttle business opportunities and philanthropy in order to strive and thrive in today’s new and challenging economy. Founder Yanik Silver sees more opportunities than ever for smart entrepreneurs during the downturn. In fact, he handpicks MBA members, who are recognized as top performers in their professions, everyone from online pioneers and presidents of financial institutions to creators of green business and international real estate development. Several times a year, Silver sequesters them on adventurous trips (sky-diving mixed with wine tasting, for instance) where they test their courage, brainstorm around the clock, and develop relationships with each other in order to em-ploy more people and stay afloat in an exigent economy. Silver, who made his first millions in internet trade, stresses that the focus of these very playful trips is to encourage high-level networking and powerful connections that can only occur outside of normal business settings.
How important is the environmental green movement to you and your business practices?
I’ve always strived to live in harmony with the world around me and walk lightly, with a minimal footprint. It’s a lesson I hope to pass along to my kids through my own actions. Fellow members of Maverick Business Adventures share the belief that with success comes a duty to pay it forward to help make the world a better place for everyone. That’s why five percent of Maverick’s gross revenues go to self-sustaining charities selected by our members. Currently we are involved with Sir Richard Branson’s non-profit foundation Virgin Unite. Associated with an upcoming trip to his private Necker Island resort, we have raised over $300,000 in donations. A number of Virgin United’s initiatives support environmental causes including Project Clean Water, founded by the singer Jewel, to help provide clean drinking water on a global scale.
Your high-energy hobbies like bungee jumping and scuba diving make you a thrill seeker. Is that how you are in business, too?
My adrenaline-rush activities have created new perspectives and ideas for business, but I wouldn’t consider myself a huge risk-taker at work. I definitely take chances and do not shy away from risk within my company, but not in a reckless way. I do believe we achieve significantly more through action than meditation or analysis. So I would rather just jump in and figure out. In fact, that’s one of the ways I motivate myself. I simply set a ‘must-hit deadline’ (i.e., for throwing a huge green event) and recognize my team’s strengths, and then quickly figure out how to get the job done.
What is the smartest move you ever made in business?
And what is the dumbest? The smartest initial business move was using the internet to leverage activities and effort. I can create a site with new product one time and then get paid for my efforts over and over again. In fact, some of my websites are still bringing in significant profits after nine-plus years, and I have not significantly reinvested in them in six years or so.
The dumbest move has been not always thinking about how to create ongoing continu-ity in most of the items we sold online. Most people are in a one-time transaction business; make the sale, and go away. If you can make the sale, it’s best to make it so that customers will keep paying you. These are automatic replenishment plans. If you’re selling anything that people will eat, drink, travel, help the earth, whatever the case, there are automatic replenishment plans. There are monthly service contracts and audits that smart businesses can capitalize on.