Interview with Myself, John Leschak, Owner of SecondMoonshot
Since most of us will never really be interviewed (or even be asked), I decided that I would just interview myself…who better to ask the compelling questions that no one else is going to ask or care about. It was a joke conversation Zabrina and I were having in the car and thought it would be fun to do and a non-traditional way to share some information about us and SecondMoonshot.
Part II, A Year Later is here.
John: Welcome John, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Let’s start with the basics, tell us in a nutshell the fundamentals of yourself.
JOHN: Thanks John, it is truly [emphasized excessively] a pleasure to meet you in person!
Well, I was born in Indiana in 1965, as a child I rode bikes and skateboards with no helmet, probably didn’t wear a seatbelt until I was 25 too. Average middle class raising in a military (Marines) family with 2 sisters and 1 brother - all older. Divorced 13 or so years ago, hope the ex is happy, she’s a good person, we had 2 wonderful children, Carrianne and Mitch. Met Zabrina and Ali and we all fit. All the children are now adults and we are now empty nesters. I retired in 2022 from a large Healthcare IT company after 29 years and Zabrina will be joining me in a few years.
John: How did you get started with SecondMoonshot?
JOHN: Did I mention how much of a pleasure it is to meet you? Well, it is!
It really came about from boredom and the fact that I just am not able to not work. When I retired, I played golf for 3 weeks, realized I just didn’t enjoy it, so went to put the clubs into the attic. While I was up there, I saw 20 or so copy paper boxes of knick-nacks I have collected for the last 40 years. I saw dollar signs in my eyes and with all the cool collectible California Raisin grapes, Inspector Gadget body parts, McDonald’s Toys, etc, there must be 20k just staring me in the face.
Let’s just say that wasn’t the case, but it did get me hooked on eBay. Zabrina and I have always liked hunting for cool collectibles and one day at a local thrift store, I picked up a book (Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook I think) and it was signed. So I went though every book and looked for signed books and walked out the store with 20 or 30 - I figured if I could buy these for 2 dollars, surely someone will pay $5 or $10 for them (which they do). During this time, Zabrina felt collectible coffee mugs was definitely more the way to go….so off she went in that direction. We went around and hunted for books and mugs probably at every thrift store within 100 miles. It just completely grew from there and expanded to estate sales and auctions. I love having a goal, a dream, something to build and grow, and it was fun. Who says work cant be fun?
John: What was the first thing you sold?
JOHN: Hmmmm….believe it or not, the first eBay sale was one of my cars, a 2016 Miata ND Launch Edition. Sold to a very nice journalist out of Virginia Beach. Car was just too small and I had too many cars, so this one went…it also gave me some startup money to roll back into the business.
John: What did you do before you started SecondMoonshot?
JOHN: I ended up as a software development director at a large Healthcare IT company. I started out as a computer programmer and after 5 or so years, started moving in the management track. I was fortunate to be employed for so long. I feel compelled to mention my mentor, long time friend, and the man that gave me a chance, Walter Johnstone, who passed away several years ago.
John: Is that where you gained your Customer Service focus?
JOHN: Many of the positions I held over that career were client-facing and had built a strong skill set of communicating and supporting our clients and software. I remember telling my boss at the time “If I have to do customer support, I will quit”…rather bluntly (he laughed). It was this area that I ended up enjoying the most in the long career but there just wasn’t a place for me in this capacity so decided to move on. There is just something satisfying to me about taking a bad situation and having the opportunity to solve a problem and make something positive come out of it.
John: What are your Core Values? Principles?
JOHN: Enjoy every day as if it were your last. Treat the customer with respect and provide a level of service rarely seen in this or any industry today. Exceed expectations with everything you do. If you say you will do something, you do it…High Say-Do ratio as I call it, integrity is important. Have fun!
You see, when I left the company, every day was misery for the last 5 or so years for reasons I wont go into here. But the result was that if I were to embark on something, it has to be fun and if I stopped enjoying it, I would move on…almost 2 years later, happy as a clam.
John: What lines of business do you have?
JOHN: So it started out with eCommerce on the eBay platform. I tried a few others, but eBay was just the right fit for me starting out. We [Zabrina and I] really don’t specialize in anything specific although books and art are the 2 largest categories…our only real constraint on what we buy is that we like it and that we can ship it. As I was acquiring art, I would often need to do repairs to framing and have now formally made the custom framing a new business area which I am heavily focused on establishing right now. I love the detail work and seeing a finished product which literally has your stamp on the back.
John: What is “SecondMoonshot.com”?
John: Who makes up the SecondMoonshot core leadership team?
JOHN: Zabrina, Carrie and myself. When I started this, it was mostly just myself, but Zabrina enjoys the hunt and has a great eye for finding items we can sell for profit and is now heavily involved on the product sourcing side. My daughter, Carrie is involved more on the branding side and actively helping me to establish and build the brand. Both Zabrina and Carrie have other jobs, so they are part time…paid in love and gratitude right now.
John: What does a typical business day look like at SecondMoonshot?
JOHN: For whatever reason, I wake up every morning at 3am. Usually I will think about the days plan, maybe order some supplies, do a blog post, and check all the stats and feedback on eBay that occurred overnight…I do this until 5:30a or so…then get out of bed. Then after a shower and coffee, go to the storage unit/warehouse and do the packing and shipping for the day. I usually have a few ongoing framing projects sitting in the wings so will work on those for an hour or two. Then I go the post office and UPS Store to drop off the shipments and head home to list new items that were acquired the weekend before. At around 2pm or 3pm, I have been taking a nap…oh what a treat to be able to do this. Beyond that, maybe do personal to-do items like mow the lawn and make dinner, etc.
John: Buying, researching, posting, packaging, shipping, day in and day out sounds so tedious. What keeps it interesting?
John: I’ve heard you say, “Every day is Saturday”, what does that mean?
JOHN: Since I have been doing this, I just lose track of time. The day of the week is now meaningless and it just feels like every day is Saturday since I started this business.
John: What does the logo and “SecondMoonshot” mean?
JOHN: I formally created “SecondMoonshot” as a business in June 2022. The name was just a combination of the fact that this would be my second career and that it was a moonshot in a way (a term often used back in the corporate world I left). I was doodling a logo and decided I wanted something simple, something that was hand-drawn in appearance….I ended up with a moon and a Roman numeral “II” inside the crescent. Carrie turned it into what it is today with some of the graphics tools she has at her disposal. Oh…and it was important that no one had the domain name or any use of it really in the internet space…so I secured all the appropriate rights, ensured I got accounts on all the platforms for SecondMoonshot just in case (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc) and moved on to the next thing. Plus Zabrina like taking moon pictures so that probably factored into it subconsciously.
John: What do you see happening with SecondMoonshot in 2023?
JOHN: This is something I have been thinking about for a few months now. While some of these ideas might materialize in 2023, they may not as well, but having a goal to work towards is what drives me.
For starters, the storage unit/warehouse is about at its limits and a larger space will be necessary, so I am currently searching for a small warehouse for lease, maybe 2000 square feet or so. Ideally this would be something that has 400 or 500 square feet of retail space that I could use for a brick and mortar storefront. One thought is that the retail space would focus on the art in a gallery format and also complement the custom framing…and maybe showcase a few of the best vintage items available - but I do NOT want this to come off as a thrift store vibe. I am also approaching a limit of how much I am able to do myself and think a part time employee or two may be in the cards to help with shipping and new listings (or research). Zabrina had a cool idea to have a comfortable sitting area with couch, coffee/espresso, and plants etc. in the store….I like it.
Zabrina and I want to make sure that we have time to enjoy our senior years and so while we will have the business, we don’t want it to tether us…we have some ideas in this area we will share at some point.
I also have another storage unit which has 2 cars in it, so I could also move them out and into the warehouse, using the savings to help offset some of the lease costs. This larger space would allow me to setup a better framing space as well.
John: What about the longer 5 year plan and beyond?
JOHN: Not really sure and it is a work in progress. What we do know is that we want this to be built up in 5 years when Zabrina retires so we can both do this….on our terms, our way. Its pretty fluid beyond that for now and finding it is sometimes hard to stay focused and getting into too many other potential areas, so it is taking all my strength to stay focused on the eBay business and Custom Framing. The eBay is pretty much matured to a point and only limitation is primarily my bandwidth while I need to build up a base on the Custom Framing.
John: Great direction, but the business plan seems….well…a little lose, is there more to it?
JOHN: I don’t really have a formally business plan and not following any recipe book on starting a business. In large part because its fun to just learn your way though and see what works and what doesn’t.
John: Do you think eBay will still be your primary eCommerce platform?
JOHN: Probably not, but the brand isn’t where it needs to be so that is probably still 2 years out. There are some other platforms that are turnkey that could replace it that don’t have the fees, but the challenge is getting the traffic, so we will keep reviewing this over time to see if and when we pursue this…maybe do a pilot and see once we get into a physical store.
John: Ok, time for some softball questions, any hobbies?
JOHN: Yep, Cooking my moms recipes from childhood, cars and driving (Porsche specifically), visiting small towns, I am always listening to audio books, and Zabrina and I want to do more hiking and camping. I have been dabbling in some things like cast iron restoration and similar things that are offshoots of the buying process. Oh…and Taco Food trucks and really dive restaurant hunting in general.
John: How’s the beard coming?
JOHN: I stopped shaving and cutting my hair in January 2021. I am pleased with the progress, I would say its 50% to goal.
John: Speed questions:
Favorite movie? Hatchi
Favorite food? Anything my mom made, Zabrina’s lumpia rolls…And my ex-wife’s beef stroganoff.
Biggest fear? One of my children dying before I do. Buried alive and full paralysis are both close seconds.
Faith Mitchell Leschak passed away on October 15th, 2022. She will be missed, always loved, and always remembered.
Biggest regret? A lot of them, but lets just go with not starting SecondMoonshot 10 or 15 years ago. And not being the best father to all my kids.
Greatest accomplishment? I’m still alive.
Place you want to visit before you die? Bora Bora
Afraid of dying? Nope, just afraid they won’t play Danny Boy at my memorial party.
John: Any last words?
JOHN: I am 57 years old on the outside, but still feel like I am 18 on the inside. I still dream and shoot for the stars (ok, maybe dim stars). Every day I try to be a slightly better person than I was the day before. It took me 55 years to figure out work doesn’t have to be miserable and now I am working on a new dream and loving every second of it. Every day is Saturday.
John & John