Member Spotlight: Daniel Weinstock
Gakken is Japan’s largest educational publisher that focuses on creativity and children’s science education through books, magazines, and other practical utilities.
Gakken’s brand new U.S. division, in which Daniel Weinstock is Vice President of Finance and Operations, is operating as a start-up company that’s just getting its feet wet. Their projects include taking the best selling products from Japan and adapting them both in language and content to make them accessible to American kids. Daniel his team are very excited about this new beginning and passionate about their mission to bring creativity and science education together.
We got the opportunity to interview and learn more about Daniel’s life outside of work as well as some accomplishments that Gakken has recently achieved.
Suite Project : Tell me a little about your company and your position.
Daniel Weinstock : “Gakken is Japan’s largest educational publisher, sort of like the scholastic of the US. It is a 75 year old company founded by a guy who just really wanted to make learning more fun. The books that they make, even though they are entertaining books, all have some educational angle to them. Mostly so far, we have been taking the best selling products from Japan and adapting them both in language and content to make them better for American kids to use. Gakken won’t teach you that one plus one equals two because they want to focus more on creativity and setting up children's brains to work a certain way to make them excel in life.”
“My official role is Vice President of Finance and Operations. My job is to make sure everyone gets paid, to review all financial deals, accounting and getting things printed and moved around. We are such a small company right now that everyone wears a hat in the company so our titles are more of a suggestion, although hopefully as time goes on we get to work on having intended roles.”
SP: What led you to this career?
DW: “I have never been involved in publishing. My professional background started when I was 13 years old in business. I started in video production, then went into software development, then into business automation consulting, started an ecommerce company with my best friend for 10 years which got really big until I retired and went into product development and distribution. When that was idling on, my wife who worked for Gakken in Japan earlier on, got a call from them asking her to get Gakken started in America. As she started working for this company and the publishing wasn’t going very well, I had a lot of opinions about it. So when it came time to renew the contract, everything kind of lined up. I was idling at this other company and not seeing a great future there and Gakken was trying to figure out what to do, so when they were looking for someone to run the business side of things, they said why don’t you do it. I thought about it, it wasn’t a slam dunk and it was a very big change of careers, but a lot of what I have done in the past has prepared me to be in this role and I think so far I have been pretty successful.”
SP: What is a work-related accomplishment that you are proud of?
DW: It actually happened today. Today we got out first mass market order from Walmart for a book from Gakken called Ginormous Workbook. So that was a very big accomplishment. This book was my idea, how to make it, and so they put in the order in today, and it will be in every Walmart store.
SP: If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?
DW: 43 Going on 79. I have done so many different things in my life that when I drive around with my wife, I always say I used to work in that building, I used to live there, I used to do this... She always looks at me and asks how old I am again because she thinks it’s impossible to have done all these things and to have worked in so many places and only be the age I am.
SP: Who is someone that you really admire?
DW: I could take the cheap route, say my wife and make her happy, which is someone I really do admire in her work ethic, but I think that one person I would like to be a little more like in business is Marcus Lemonis. He is a businessman who hosts a show called The Profit on CNBC. He goes to companies but also takes over their management, figures out what’s wrong with how they are doing their business and then implements and fixes it. His empire of businesses are massively increasing and he is a very wealthy person.
SP: Do you have any hobbies?
DW: I used to have a lot more before I had kids, but back in the day I used to go to a lot of concerts and play a lot of music. Now, it is mostly watching YouTube videos like watching people having chiropractic adjustments, cracking videos, competitive eating and drinking videos, cooking videos and I have recently been into grilling and smoking meats. I am also a points guy. I have become a master at creating credit card points, knowing how to buy amazingly, using the right credit card and gaining thousands and thousands of points and using them for amazing first class trips around the world. How to turn a simple 10 dollar purchase into 200 points and a 1000 dollar purchase into 1500 points. I just took a fancy trip to the Dominican Republic free and I am taking a very fancy trip to Hawaii next month for free. People who have heard always say you have to teach a class and maybe I would do something for the people here if they want to get into it!
SP: How has being part of a co-working space benefited you?
DW: Just for Gakken alone, in the front cover of the new book that just came out, Ginormous Workbook, the foreword is written by Lauren, who was working here in another space. Just by being in a co-working space we have met and made connections with other people doing business here and started doing business with them which has helped tremendously. Also, what I love about co-working spaces in general is that it’s a good place to feel motivated to get more work done, especially when you see other people hustling and getting a lot done. For what we spend, we get a tremendous value out of this space here, especially at The Suite Project where we don’t get nickeled and dimed for everything. We get coffee for free and we can print out a page without ending up with a bill. We looked at a few places before here but we loved this and even though we are working in a sub-optimal situation right now, we stay here because we love the space, the people and the location.