Spotlight: Andrew Schrage
Ever have a question about the best way to make, invest, or save money? How to get out of credit card debt or deal with an IRA? Andrew Schrage, and his company, Money Crashers, have the answers.
Money Crashers is a personal finance resource for individuals and small businesses, priding itself on providing education that improves lives. Andrew’s passion for Money Crashers is rooted in trying to fill the personal finance education void worldwide. His hope is to provide top-notch education, tips, and strategies that Money Crashers readers can use on their way to achieving financial fitness.
Before founding Money Crashers, Andrew studied economics at Brown University and put in some time working for a Chicago-based investment fund. In the midst of the Great Recession, Andrew saw a need to “help the average American consumer make better financial decisions.” What started out as a simple knowledge-sharing effort grew into the thriving business that Money Crashers is today.
As the popularity of Money Crashers grew, so did Andrew’s reputation. He has been interviewed by TV outlets including MSNBC, CBS News, NBC News, and Fox News, and featured in respected publications like Forbes and US News & World Report.
Andrew’s focus remains on helping others get their financial houses in order. He says, “We know that every life we can affect in a positive manner regarding finances is going to benefit that individual as well as the economy overall.”
Below, Andrew shares his perspective on the importance of helping others as part of his business, on the use of social media, on leadership approaches, and on the habits that have helped him succeed.
On Helping Others
We help people solve everyday problems, and we make their lives better as a result.
The best part of our work is when we receive positive comments from our readers and followers saying thanks for a certain piece of advice that helped them solve an issue in their financial life. For example, we've had a significant number of readers gain a ton of value out of our step-by-step plan on how to get out of credit card debt, which is a situation that plagues a large percentage of our population. It might seem like a small thing when a few readers reach out and detail how much better their lives are now that they're out of debt, but I and my team take immense pride in that.
We get questions and comments on our website about specific situations and financial matters, and we always do our best to help people out. If my website sees one of its articles go viral, that's even more rewarding because it helps a larger number of individuals. As long as I'm doing good in the world, no matter with whom or on what scale, I am totally inspired and satisfied.
On Social Media as a Business Tool
If I could go back in time, I would not have ignored social media as a valid form of marketing and advertising when it first came to the forefront. Our business missed the boat on that initiative in the beginning. But we did a good job of getting caught up, and now we are fully immersed in that marketing strategy.
We've had a strong social media presence and following on Facebook and Twitter, but we always knew that more was out there. Actually, a whole lot more. But we didn't really know in which direction to head specifically without a lot of trial and error. So we recently did that [testing] and found that Pinterest was a pretty good place to try to expand our presence. With a lot of hard work, we went from just a handful of followers to now where we are close to 19,000. We plan on continuing that effort along with exploring other social sites where we have a small presence but feel that we can grow.
One of the biggest things I've learned about myself as I've created and evolved this business is how to be a better leader. More specifically, I've learned that I can't expect my team to adapt to any one singular style of leadership.
Someone once told me that you're rarely going to succeed if you adopt one singular management style and expect all of your workers and team members to adapt to it. That advice has served me well over the years.
Management style needs to be a rather fluid strategy, which will fluctuate depending upon the employee you're dealing with. For some of your staff members, you can be direct and straightforward while with others you need to take a more hands-off approach. I adapt my leadership style depending upon the instance and the person.
On Habits for Success
One habit that has helped make me successful is using a handwritten daily to-do list. In my opinion, it works much better than, say, a mobile app. My list is comprised of three categories. The first outlines the things that I have to get done that day. The second is for items that I need to address but can wait for a bit if necessary. The final category is for minor things I can knock out on slower days. Whatever I don't get to is transferred onto the following day's list.
Another habit that makes me successful is always trying to work smarter rather than harder. If there's a quicker way to do something and still get the same result, I adopt it immediately. And I'm always looking for new systems and processes that meet those criteria.
Maintaining physical health is another habit that has also played a role in my success. I truly believe that if you don't have a healthy body, it will be a longer road to success. That means that I have an exercise regimen that I stick to as best as I can, I try to get a good night's sleep every night, and I also eat a healthy diet.
A final habit that has made me successful is to create, monitor, and track business goals. I usually have 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals, along with annual ones for our business. This is a great way to stay focused and on track at all times - including the short- and long-term.
Who is your personal hero?
My Dad, who has provided amazing advice over the years which has played a tremendous role in the success of my business, and he also has led by an unrelenting example of hard work.
Historical figure you wish you could meet?
Steve Jobs. He might not be historical in the traditional sense but I'd definitely like to meet him because he's a hero to many entrepreneurs and I could probably learn a lot from meeting him.
App you can’t do without?
Google Maps. I live in California, do a good bit of local travel, and that app has saved me countless hours of sitting in traffic.
Best day of your life?
The best day of my life was when I realized that I could let go of my previous career and focus fully on Money Crashers, since the revenues generated at the time allowed me to let go of my day job. It meant I could work on my true passion and really make a meaningful difference in millions of lives across the world.