A Man With A Mission
By Patricia Canole | Photography Neil Tandy
Paul Szyarto is an unlikely success story. Growing up amid poverty, abuse, and chaos, one would have thought he would have fallen victim to his environment. But that’s not the case.
His story is one of perseverance, resilience, and triumph. Szyarto is the epitome of a survivor and has taken his success to an entirely new level. He is now the CEO of multiple companies nationally and internationally. Quite simply, Szyarto is a serial entrepreneur like no other! Tough inside and out, he is an unstoppable machine and an inspiration to all of us—as we still navigate these turbulent times.
So let us all lean into this master of survival.
Growing up in New Jersey was not an easy task for the middle child of three boys. Tell our readers if these tough times prompted a desire to be an entrepreneur.
Beyond growing up in some of the most challenging spots in New Jersey, it was the struggle of living with an abusive alcoholic father who dished out chaos daily that allowed me to find my inner “Survivorpreneur.” I watched my mom work 3-4 jobs every day to provide for my brothers and me.
Beyond providing material things, she did her best to keep us safe from my father’s abusive ways. I don’t know if she ever slept because she was always working or protecting us from him. She is the definition of a survivor. Seeing her struggle to provide doing whatever it took really inspired me to become an entrepreneur. Being around her, I saw the definition of what I call a “Survorpreneur,”—someone who will do anything it takes to survive and live another day. She ensured I adapted her survival ways which allowed me to become an entrepreneur. I didn’t become an entrepreneur to buy things I wanted but to help get the things I needed like food, clothing, and helping my mom with bills as required. That’s what makes an entrepreneur. We do what we do because we must and ensure we survive. We do whatever it takes to win.
Those early years brought forth a skill entrepreneurs must develop called instinct. Do you believe some people are natural-born leaders?
We are all here to lead in some way. We all have a purpose. The goal in life is to find your meaning and generate impact. Our environments allow some of us to excel at developing impact sooner than others. But in the end, we all lead something.
Your company helps corporations to structure and develop and succeed. What do you want people to know about structuring their own lives?
Do your best to succeed in the business of life. Yes, life is a business, and you are the CEO. Like a business, you are given a limited amount of time and resources to succeed. Life is not infinite, just like any operation. It would help if you found a way to maximize your value as quickly as possible and take advantage of the limited resources, with the primary one being time. Your goal is to invest that scarce asset to generate as much wealth as possible to allow your business of life to affect as many as possible. When you start seeing life and time as a minimal resource, you focus on maximizing every minute of your day to create impact.
You’ve said that being passionate about your career is not enough. Explain what is missing.
What is passion? Passion is an emotion, something that makes you feel a certain way. I think having a passion for what you do, or a strong emotional attachment is critical to success but must be supported with a good plan of execution. The sad part of life is we can’t freely live be based on passion because we have taxes and bills. No one is giving you a handout to live a life of freedom. You are the only one responsible for building a life of freedom based on passion. So, how do you get there? It would be best if you had a solid plan to generate monetary wealth based on your skills, abilities, experience, and, yes, your passion. If you can also plug in these other factors, you will have the ability to live based on passion alone one day.
What do you believe makes a resilient and prosperous entrepreneur?
The challenging times make us resilient and successful. Finding the good in the bad and using these lessons to further catapult yourself to the next level of success or even failure is what it is all about. Even failures are a win sometimes because they allow you to reset, learn, and try again. Those that don’t let the bad cause them to stop but allow the bad to drive them more challenging and further define their success.
Achieving a level of success in the world today is daunting for most. But do you think most can reach that level?
If you think achieving a level of success is daunting, then you’ve already given up. Achieving success combines how you invest your time, consistency with your investments, resiliency to continue when it’s challenging, and showing appreciation for your success. So, no, it’s not daunting if you plan to win.
In today’s business atmosphere, everyone, big and small, knows of someone out to destroy them and their business. Is there a solution to avoid these minefields?
This is so true, and it stems from a simple five-letter word...GREED. Too many people are willing to hurt you to advance themselves because it’s the easier path for them to make gains. Why? Because they don’t possess the abilities to do it themselves. The only way to gain is to take advantage of others. Understand, though, when someone sets out to destroy you, they don’t ever win in the end. They think they made some gains, but they only gained a small piece of a puzzle they will never understand anyway. I have been through this several times. I’ve had good partners and some bad. You can’t avoid it. I always tell my mentees to expect it at one point. When it does happen, ensure you have a solid recovery plan in place for when it happens.
Why did you decide to form PS Group Holdings?
Over the last 25 years, I’ve only had a few jobs. One was the U.S. Navy along with others that lasted only months. Not because I wasn’t a good worker, but because I knew I couldn’t generate the most significant amount of impact working for someone else.
I formed PS Group Holdings to allow myself the freedom to invest my time as I wish, based on my ability to generate as much impact in the world as possible. PS Group Holdings is diverse, ever-changing, fun, and provides wealth to not only me but to my amazing team of operators. PS Group Holdings is supported by an outstanding team of operators, including Amanda Wild, who has more than 20 years in the operations world supporting multibillion-dollar assets. Although PS Group Holdings was created by me, it succeeded because of people like Amanda and the teams we are honored to work with.
Tell us about the exciting businesses PS Group Holdings is involved with?
PS Group Holdings doesn’t discriminate the types of businesses we support and accelerate, but we have a passion for technology, reach systems, and supporting our fellow entrepreneurs. One fantastic company we are supporting is BOSS AI, the first commercially available federated machine learning solution on the market. This company comprises the most brilliant people, including Russ Blattner, John Leschorn, and Dr. David Bauer. The team prides itself on building predictive models to support and solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. If you are looking to find ways to be more competitive, I highly recommend checking out BOSS AI as their models can accelerate any business to new levels of success. This is the company to watch regarding changing how economies function.
Another is A2E, a service for disabled veteran-owned businesses that help create strategies to work within the government sector. Started by Murphy Bright and Nick Trepasso, these two ex-Marines had a mission to help others gain government opportunity and help veterans transition into the civilian sector. They are living proof that veterans are essential and can succeed after the transition from active military duty.
What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is not glamorous like people believe. Being an entrepreneur is one of the most challenging physical and emotional rides you will make in your life. Entrepreneurs can fail so horribly they don’t recover. Only a small number gets beyond the financial, emotional, and physical drain to where they even see a return. Being an entrepreneur has no guarantee of success or even consistency. Proceeding as the one, you need to be willing to give up everything, work through failure, and manage the success, knowing it can all be taken away at any moment. For those who take the journey, being an entrepreneur is the most rewarding endeavor I believe is available for all of us to try. Knowing the challenges of being an entrepreneur, I created Mentobo.com, which is a community for aspiring entrepreneurs, designed to help everyone release their inner entrepreneur by gaining access to the tools, benefits, discounts, and much more which is needed to remove some of the roadblocks and increase each person’s probability of success.
Did you find any challenges when launching PS Group Holdings?
Every business that is launched has challenges. Specifically for PS Group Holdings, I found working with smaller assets more challenging than working with significant assets. As an entrepreneur, I understand the struggles, but learning how others operated as entrepreneurs within their businesses was a challenge. Most lacked the fundamental basics that I expected to accelerate their business operations quickly. This forced me to restructure how I worked with small businesses and reframe the methodologies I created while collaborating with larger companies. This took time and caused delays in adding value to the assets I was targeting. Still, we were focused, consistent, and found a way to adapt and began supporting both small and large organizations with accelerating their value proposition.
Paul with team member Russ Loignon
What are the key factors equity firms look for in start-ups?
Most equity firms have their algorithm for what they search for in start-ups, but I focus heavily on the human capital and economics of the business. Starting with human capital, people are the backbone of a business. If you don’t have the right people, you will never succeed. So, I look for businesses with a champion who is willing to own the company’s success and failures. We can build a team around this champion if there is a champion. Next is economics. What I mean by economics pertains to the business’s costs, revenues, margin, and execution structure. Some companies fail at this aspect of operations, but this is only an equation. But with analysis, if it is viable to restructure the economics for success, then I am interested. I don’t look for perfection; I look for the economics to meet certain constraints, such as market reach potential, cost of conversion, margin opportunity, to name a few.
What are the prime financial mistakes most companies make at the beginning?
Most, if not all, companies fail to plan. Start-ups don’t understand how critical it is to control your operations. Too many lose sight of the economics because they have some early wins. They become lazy or content, and then the business failures snowball because they function as a reactive operation versus a proactive operation. All I can say is plan!
If you set a roadmap, you leverage your actuals to adjust. If you don’t think you need to plan, prepare to fail or give up now.
I am currently working on a self-help book to guide individuals through dealing with stress and anxiety. Like everyone, I also deal with stress and anxiety. Therefore, I search for knowledge to learn strategies to overcome challenges to cope with challenges. This new book will provide readers with a framework they can employ to help recognize what causes stress and anxiety, strategies to cope, procedures to eliminate, and a model to accelerate and inflate your success.
Lastly, what is the best part of being CEO?
The best part of being a Chief Everything Officer is that you have your hands in all aspects of a business, influence, learn, help people rise when there are challenges, and you can be lifted by the teams you support. Being a CEO is just a title. Learning how to be part of the business, the actual pulse of the company, and the teams you work with is the hard part and the most rewarding part of being a CEO.
For more information on PS Group Holdings, visit psgroupholdings.com