Manny Skevofilax is a consultant and speaker that helps his clients successfully navigate the challenges of growing their businesses profitably. Since 2003, Manny has helped businesses by using his experience in strategic planning, financial statement analysis, operations, organizational development, and team-building. His consulting firm, PORTAL CFO Consulting, Inc., has attracted clients from diverse industries in the United States and abroad.
What's your industry?
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
My parents were born on a Greek island named Karpathos and immigrated to America at the end of World War II. My parents worked hard in many different jobs, saved their money, and eventually started their own small restaurant business. I grew up in the restaurant business and noticed early on in my life that I enjoyed “business.”
After earning a Bachelor's degree in business and a Master's degree in finance, I set out to change careers, left the restaurant business, and took a job as a credit analyst in a commercial bank with a spot in the bank's commercial lending training program. After 8 knowledge-gaining years in commercial banking, I decided to move back home and hang out a shingle as a Business Consultant. Two of my closest friends were working successfully as consultants and they grabbed me by the hand and showed me how to be a consultant and even referred customers to me. My business consulting firm was born!
What kind of work does your daily role involve?
For the past twenty years, I take the knowledge that I learned about how big companies are managed successfully and I apply that knowledge every day with the owners of small, rapidly-growing businesses. Together, the business owners and I create solutions that help them to successfully manage the challenges of growing their businesses profitably. The fun part of my work is that it varies from day-to-day.
During one day, I am helping a client figure out when they can afford to hire a new employee. The next day, I am assisting a client with negotiating a line of credit from a commercial bank. The day after that, my client and I are having a financial review meeting to go over the financial results for the previous month. During another day, my client and I conduct strategic planning exercises together to help the client create a path to achieve specific outcomes. On other days, my clients and I put in place processes that keep the employees productive and happy to come to work every day. Some days, my clients and I just talk, so I can help to put their fears at ease.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I am in the business consulting industry. People should know that it is a demanding job because you have to tell your client something about the baby they created and everyone has the most beautiful baby in the world. Sometimes it is good news and sometimes it is not. It is a rewarding line of work because you can see your small contribution to your client's success every month. What grabs my interest when I think about my industry is knowing that my efforts helped another human being take care of their themselves, their family, their employees, and their community.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
The best advice that anyone ever gave me on my journey in business was to not get emotionally attached to tangible assets. Their point to me was that I was the asset; not my money or the tangible things I bought with it. Let me state that it took many years for me to understand this deep piece of advice! Finally, one day it clicked for me. The acquisition of tangible assets like cars, houses, jewelry, and "you name it" would not bring me happiness. I was "the asset" and I controlled my own happiness and my own destiny. I was the proverbial master of everything I surveyed. In my opinion, once you take that constant pressure off of you to buy the next thing, you can focus on doing the things that truly make you happy and that makes your business journey fun!
What's the most challenging project or situation you've overcome to date?
The most challenging situation I've overcome to date was making the career change from the restaurant business to corporate life. It would require, at a minimum, a college degree in something and a bunch of money to pay for it which I didn't have. So, I did what I had to do. I worked full-time in a restaurant and I took classes full-time in college. I told myself that it was simply one chapter in life. The grind wouldn't last forever. Little did I know!
After I earned my Bachelor's degree, I decided that I wanted to stay in the restaurant business and keep making money because I was good at it. Four years later, I grew tired of the monotony of the restaurant business model and went back to college and earned a Master's degree in finance. Then, I couldn't find a corporate job due to a bad recession. I was so frustrated that I didn't even attend my Master's graduation ceremony. I never bought my cap and gown. I ended up moving to Texas because the jobs were plentiful there. I kept persevering and I never gave up on my dream.
Are you using any AI tools right now to help grow your business or, if not, do you plan to use any this year?
Yes, video meetings have become popular in the last few years due to their simplicity and ease of use. I always take paper notes during the video meetings. A client of mine told me about an AI app that would sit in the video meeting and take the notes for me! At first, I didn't believe it. I was wrong! Now, there are several of these AI apps that take the notes for you!
Overall, do you see AI as a good thing for business?
Yes. In my opinion, AI is a good thing for business because it will hopefully help the human race continue to become more efficient and productive. It seems to me that AI is a part of the natural evolution of human life. For example, my father was born in 1924. As a child, he rode on a donkey on the island of Karpathos where he was born because the terrain was steep and there were no paved roads or vehicles as we know them today. Back then, the island was only accessible by boat. Almost 100 years later, there are paved roads, automobiles, and a big airport. By the same token, 100 years ago there were no computers. Today, we have AI. Life keeps evolving.
Overall, do you see AI as a threat or an opportunity in business?
In my opinion, I see AI as an opportunity for business. We are already exposed to AI in our daily lives with "Assistants." Plus, as much as we hate it, AI is now answering the phone calls we place to most of our vendors like our cable company, insurance company, etc. AI is in its infancy. In my opinion, we are just scratching the surface of its possibilities. I remember back when the brilliant minds at IBM Corporation predicted that there would never be more than 50,000 personal computers sold world-wide. These people were brilliant and they were making their assumptions off of the best visibility that they had at the time. Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft proved otherwise. Therefore, I don't want to rule out any possibilities when it comes to AI.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
If I had one wish for the future of my industry, it would be to have a holographic meeting capability! Video meetings are cool, but a full-size hologram would be next-level! Just like in the movies, I would appear to my client as a hologram. That way, you could see my body language and not just a moving picture in a frame. One can always dream!