Forbes Coaches Council member Jacob M. Engel started his career in his family’s business, Gel Spice Company (an importer and custom manufacturer of spices, herbs, and seasonings). He developed a strong understanding of business growth from hands-on experience as he rose to the rank of COO and helped grow the venture into a multi-million-dollar company.

But Engel’s real passion was motivation and leadership. He wanted to share his accumulated knowledge with other leaders. So after taking early retirement he founded a nonprofit center to train managers and business owners to re-invent themselves, transitioning into new roles or businesses. This led to the development of Yeda LLC, a leadership training program developed to “empower our participants to build and lead successful organizations by providing them with evaluation and training of leadership skills, coaching, and consulting.”

Engel also shares leadership and business advice learned from his father, a Holocaust survivor and business founder, in his book: The Prosperous Leader: How Smart People Achieve Success. He has developed a Prosperous Leader growth and management consulting service and a Prosperous Leadership online course for leaders.

With all these ventures, Engel is focused on taking professionals and companies to the next level, whether it be solo entrepreneurs trying to grow their businesses with “people, infrastructure, funding, and great execution” or larger companies whose sales have plateaued. In either case, he helps develop a specific, actionable plan for growth.

Below, Engel shares some of his experience and advice on business and professional growth.


On Business Growth

I started working for my family’s business right after school, eventually becoming the COO. Now I work mostly with founders and next-generation family businesses. I understand their challenges because I’ve been where they are now. I understand their pain, their fears, their successes, and their failures. It’s very lonely at the top, and entrepreneurs need a trusted advisor and guidance from people who have been there.

Recently I worked with a husband and wife team who ran an IT company that was stuck at a certain sales level. They had invested heavily in building their expertise and reputation as cybersecurity experts. They had identified the types of customers they needed as well the technology they would offer, yet they weren’t closing the deals. We created a detailed strategic plan and a very clear action plan with a high growth expectation (about 100%). We had continuous follow-up and accountability meetings with the leadership and their team. We also recommended changes in hiring and firing practices. (My belief is, “Hire right and you won’t have to fire.”)  Fast forward 3–4 months; now we are close to the 50% growth mark and the pipeline is full.


On Professional Growth

I love to read. My favorites are great business success theories and insights about famous people in leadership.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts; your thoughts become your words; your words become your actions; your actions become your habits; your habits become your values; your values become your destiny.” ― Gandhi

The best self-improvement book I’ve ever read is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’m a certified facilitator. I’m very into creating win-wins (Habit #5) for people and sharing how I do it.

For example, an established financial services company once asked me to evaluate their growth strategy. The founder was reluctant to embrace the new technology his development team had built, yet his leadership team were all for it. I facilitated some serious discussions about the future of the business and where the team wanted to be. The founder eventually sold out and the COO (whom I had coached) became the CEO, implementing the technology with great results.

I found my calling; I teach and preach, looking to motivate and inspire leaders and aspiring leaders to be their very best!


Bonus Tidbits

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
TakingPoint: A Navy SEAL’s 10 Fail Safe Principles for Leading Through Change by Brent Gleeson

App you can’t do without?

Place you’d most like to visit?

Favorite artist?

Historical figure you wish you could meet?
Winston Churchill

Who is your personal hero?
My father

Connect with Jacob Engel through the Forbes Councils concierge (members only), or on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.


Forbes Councils
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Forbes Councils
745 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02110

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