A.J. Wasserstein – Living a Happier Life – Ep.142

My guest on this episode is A.J. Wasserstein. Early in his career, A.J. founded Archives One, a physical records management business he operated as CEO for 17 years before selling to Iron Mountain. He then acquired One Source Water, which was eventually sold to Water Logic in 2016. He then began teaching at Yale School of Management where he has written ad nauseam about nearly every topic within growing and running small companies and search funds. His writings are my go-to resource for many questions and business concepts I want to learn more about, and I’m quick to recommend them to others.

A.J. and I talk about being a professor and how to get involved if you’d like to teach, why students do not pursue entrepreneurship through acquisition and work-life integration as CEO, a topic A.J. has written and thought very deeply about, among other topics. Please enjoy this fantastic conversation with AJ Wasserstein.


More on A.J. Wasserstein

The Judd Lorson story by A.J. Wasserstein

Why MBA Students Do Not Pursue Entrepreneurship through Acquisition by A.J. Wasserstein

How CEOs actually spend their time? by A.J. Wasserstein


(3:14) – What made you excited to publish a paper covering an unsuccessful search?

(4:26) – Is it a conscious part of your process to present both sides of an issue in your writing?

(5:45) – What was your experience like going from a CEO to academia?

(8:39) – What were some challenges you faced as a CEO?

(13:49) – In your experience, did you find your workload felt reduced as you grew different departments?

(15:20) – Is work-life integration as a CEO possible?

(18:03) – Are there any CEOs you know who have achieved this balance?

(19:39) – How do you think about the ROI of your time spent as an investor, professor, and content creator via research papers?

(25:52) – You said it takes 5 years to be a successful CEO, would you say it takes the same amount of time as a professor?

(27:04) – What are some best practices for being an effective professor?

(30:20) – What moments as a professor bring you the most joy?

(32:02) – How do you help students think by asking them questions?

(34:25) – For someone in the process of selling their business, how would you recommend testing out the waters of academia?

(37:59) – What were some interesting observations you saw in students after they went through the Search Fund curriculum? 

(43:20) – For students wanting to pursue Search, what roles were most effective in helping them feel ready

(48:41) – Do you have any desire to turn your papers into a book one day?

(49:55) – Do you find there are any themes that come up consistently in your writing?

(52:15) – Do you get the sense more folks are thinking about work-life integration than ever before?

(55:18) – What strongly held belief have you changed your mind on?

(57:42) – What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?

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Oberle Risk Strategies– Oberle is the leading specialty insurance brokerage catering to search funds and the broader ETA community, providing complimentary due diligence assessments of the target company’s commercial insurance and employee benefits programs. Over the past decade, August Felker and his team have engaged with hundreds of searchers to provide due diligence and ultimately place the most competitive insurance program at closing. Given August’s experience as a searcher himself, he and his team understand all that goes into buying a business and pride themselves on making the insurance portion of closing seamless and hassle-free.

If you are under LOI, please reach out to August to learn more about how Oberle can help with insurance due diligence at oberle-risk.com. Or reach out to August directly at [email protected].

Oakbourne Advisors– Oakbourne is an independent retirement plan consulting firm that helps small companies design and implement great retirement plans for their teams.  Whether you already have a 401(k) in place or are looking to start one for your team, please reach out to learn more about how Oakbourne can set your people up for success in retirement at oakbourne.com/think.

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