Stacy Blackman Consulting is now 20 years old, and this major milestone is making me feel a bit sentimental. So, today I’d like to share the SBC origin story and the tale of my very first client. I hope it will inspire you to pursue your wildest dreams, despite the roadblocks you may encounter.
I started this company in my cramped San Francisco apartment and built the first website myself. Although I initially thought about changing the name to something “catchier,” I listened to my fellow Kellogg branding friends who advised against that. Next, I hired someone to make me a logo for $50, and we were off!
There was just one thing missing—a client. Luckily, Barak Salomon took a risk on me, and then it became official: SBC was born.
I recently reconnected with Barak and learned about his career and life journey over the past 20 years. I loved hearing about the opportunities he encountered at b-school, the experiences he said yes to, the ups the downs, and the serendipity. His path has lessons for all of us.
But first, let’s rewind to 2001. Barak had decided to apply to b-school late in the game, and we faced a daunting time crunch. He only wanted to apply to Boston-area schools due to life logistics, and that made MIT Sloan School of Management the best/only option. Barak was 33 when he started business school, putting him in the older 5% of his class. Add to that the fact that he didn’t have much in the way of traditional work experience under his belt due to several years spent in the Israeli army. In short, we had our work cut out for us.
The first thing Barak confided in me when we caught up this fall was that, at the time, he had been hoping I would write his MBA essays for him. Frankly, he was disappointed when I just kept giving him homework! We strategized, figured out his unique story, and went through many iterations of those essays. Eventually, we felt satisfied that they showcased exactly why Barak would make a great addition to the class. It all paid off, and Barak joined the MIT Sloan MBA Class of 2004.
Looking back, he said business school was a fantastic experience, but only the beginning of his journey. While it opened doors, it was not a so-called golden ticket. Barak had to work incredibly hard while he was at Sloan, and afterward, too.
For instance, Barak shared a hilarious story about how he landed his MBA summer internship. His first interview was with Boston Consulting Group, but unfortunately, he didn’t make it to the second round. Despite that, Barak decided to attend a BCG reception to take advantage of the complimentary sushi buffet. During the event, they did a presentation dissecting a case study on Heinz ketchup.
The next day, he had his second consulting interview with Bain, where he received the very same case to analyze! Naturally, he killed it, and Bain made him an offer. Although they wanted to place him in their CPG practice, Barak really wanted to work in private equity. So, he asked…and he received. He had a fantastic summer in New York working at Bain.
After graduation, Barak returned to Israel to work for a private equity firm. Two years later, they closed the office, and he got laid off. Next, he joined forces with two colleagues and bought a majority stake at a low-tech company. During that time, he also became NTT Docomo Ventures’ Israeli Partner.
“After five years of blood, sweat, and tears, we had to sale the company with a lost,” which, in Barak’s words, “was really hard and broke his heart.” Even in retrospect, he said he struggles to find the gift in that failure. It was an excruciating time; on top of it he was juggling family life with four young children.
Barak said that when he graduated from MIT Sloan, he had wanted to work in Asia. But at the time, his wife was pregnant with baby #2, and it made more sense for them to return to Israel. Sometimes, a bit of patience is the key to reaching your goals. In 2018, Barak joined Red Dot Capital Partners, an Israeli early-growth VC, which has deep roots in Singapore (Temasek is Red Dot’s largest investor). He is now one of the Managing Partners leading the technology investments and absolutely loves it.
Barak endured a very bumpy and winding road to get to where he is today. But it sounds like he’s definitely living the good life now!
Here are some life lessons we can all take from Barak’s journey:
- Say yes! Just say yes to opportunities and people; you never know where it will take you.
- Nothing is a waste—the dings, the bad meetings, the conversations—everything is a learning experience.
- Just ask – ask, and you may receive. It’s always worth a try.
- Keep your eye on the big picture. Not every day (or month or YEAR) will be great – but it’s all part of the journey. Don’t give up.
- Business school is a transformative experience.
- And… It’s great to catch up with old friends and clients!
Thanks so much, Barak, for taking the time to chat and catch up, and thank you for helping make SBC legit!