When talking about Rockaway business, he often uses words like strictness, ferocity, and diligence. And it’s no wonder. Jaroslaw Czernek, who has been with Rockaway Capital for over six years now as an investment partner, wouldn’t have extensive work experience from London and New York without such qualities, nor could he manage all of the companies in the Invia Group.
What key thing has 2020 taught you?
Probably the fact that the unpredictable becomes reality, that everything is possible and that you have to be flexible and prepared for anything. Last year, an entirely unprecedented situation arrived, on nobody was prepared for, and everyone was in shock. One wouldn’t even say that it’s possible – after all, this is something that happens only in movies! We thought that things couldn’t get any worse, but it was still OK and it did get worse.
What is the number-one rule that you follow every day in your business?
Integrity and personal reputation. The entire business is based on trust, relationships, upholding agreements, and behaving in a way that earns respect. I stand by that and think that it’s a cornerstone of Rockaway’s success. We’re tough players, we don’t give anything away for free, but when we commit to something, we stand by it.
And then there’s keeping your word. A handshake is more important than anything else. Trust is based on integrity, on the fact that you have principles, that you behave in a way that’s defensible – so that you’re not ashamed to look in the mirror. Being strict or having a strong opinion is fine, but you have to stand by it and be consistent. This is based on personality: you don’t change your opinion according to what is expedient, and you don’t try to improve your position in a tendentious manner.
One learns from one’s mistakes. What mistake taught you the most, and what, specifically?
Probably the fear of making decisions. Actually, even my joining Rockaway was based on some sort of past decision: I’d rejected a different opportunity because back then I was afraid of the circumstances. Without taking a certain degree of risk, making a decision, and avoiding the comfortable middle ground, where you basically can’t do anything wrong, you can’t make any progress. And back then, I took this risk here, with Rockaway. But it’s important to go with your gut. It’s important to be more decisive and stand by what you’ve done – with everything that it entails.
What is your most important piece of advice for new entrepreneurs?
Believe in what you’re doing – not blindly, but smartly. Be very thorough, diligent, and focused. And meticulous. It starts with details, of course, but work hard. Work, be self-critical, admit mistakes, learn some lessons, and go after what you want to achieve in a very fierce and focused manner.
What do you consider the greatest benefit of your business for society?
At Rockaway we have companies with broad scope, so digitalization, modernization, simplification of classic products for the customer. Our portfolio is B2C oriented to a great degree, and in most cases the customer benefit is always incorporated in the given company, be it books, comparison, the broadest product catalogue, vacations, plane tickets, or whatever else. In all these areas we try to increase sustainability for the customer – in a way that makes sense to them.
What question are you asked most often, and how do you answer?
Most often from my son, whether he can borrow my phone (laughs). No, really, I can’t think of a specific question. At work I get asked a million questions and nothing specific comes to mind.
What life hack helps you most in your work?
To have a counterbalance to your work life. So for me, my biggest life hack is time spent with my family, with my kids. And also experiencing new places, and sport – mainly skiing, soccer golf, or wakesurfing, for example.
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