6 important things everyone should know about Robert Reffkin, who left a successful career at Goldman Sachs to take a chance on real estate – and is now poised to become America’s youngest Black billionaire

Compass Co-Founder and CEO, Robert Reffkin
Compass Co-Founder and CEO, Robert Reffkin. Compass

  • Robert Reffkin grew up in Berkeley, CA, with his mom, who is now a Compass agent.
  • After graduating in two years from Columbia, he began his career on Wall Street.
  • Reffkin took Compass public Thursday, making him one of just 8 Black billionaires in the US.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Robert Reffkin may soon be the youngest Black billionaire in the US after taking his real-estate startup Compass public on Thursday.

The 41-year-old cofounder and CEO has risen to prominence quickly. From growing up in Berkeley, CA with a single mom, to becoming a White House fellow and rising through the ranks at Goldman Sachs before launching Compass, here are some things to know about the up-and-coming executive.

The women in his life have inspired him

Reffkin grew up in Berkeley, CA, as an only child with a single mom, who is now a real estate agent for Compass. In a LinkedIn post Thursday after his company went public on the New York Stock Exchange, Reffkin said, “I started Compass because of my mom, Ruth, a single mom who embodies the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Today, Reffkin lives in New York City with his wife, Benis Reffkin, who is a business and life coach. He dubbed her the “most important person” in his life and an inspiration, in a LinkedIn post from Mother’s Day 2019 that documented how she lived the American Dream. The couple have three kids together.

He’s been a founder before

Reffkin started his first business when he was just 15 years old, according to an article from Columbia College Today. Backed by babysitting and bar mitzvah money, the young founder started a DJ company called “Rude Boy Productions” that brought in a total of $100,000 by the time he graduated from high school, the article said.

In later years, Reffkin founded two philanthropic educational groups prior to starting Compass. One is Success Academy Charter Schools, a school system for low-income Black and Hispanic students in New York City that helps diminish educational disparities.

The second is a 501c3 non-profit called America Needs You, which according to its website, “fights for economic mobility for ambitious, first-generation college students.”

He’s a runner, too

Though he founded two philanthropic organizations, Reffkin’s generosity doesn’t end there. Even his running hobby is helping others.

His “primary philanthropic undertaking” has been running a marathon in each of the 50 states in the US to raise $1 million for youth education and enrichment programs, he said in a bio on America Needs You.

robert reffkin central park
Reffkin running in Central Park in 2014.

Read more: Compass is gearing up for an ambitious $10 billion IPO. We pored over its 261-page S-1 filing and came away with 5 key revelations.

He rose through the ranks on Wall Street

Reffkin graduated from Columbia University in just under two years, according to Fortune, which placed him on the 40 under 40 list in 2014. He then became the youngest business analyst ever hired at McKinsey & Company where he spent two years before returning to his alma mater to get his MBA and then going back to Wall Street as an associate at Lazard.

He then rose through the ranks at Goldman Sachs, eventually becoming the chief of staff for Gary Cohn, the former president and chief operating officer of Goldman. But he left the storied Wall Street firm in 2012 to start his company.

Real estate isn’t his forte

Reffkin left his banking career to start up Compass with the tech entrepreneur Ori Allon. But sources told Insider previously he didn’t actually know much about the industry he was trying to disrupt, saying he had a rudimentary knowledge and didn’t know the difference between a co-op and an apartment.

Doing things he’s uncomfortable with is just part of his personality, though. One person said he’s lacked experience in almost everything he’s ever done but that’s part of what makes him an “extraordinary person.”

His former boss, Cohn, said Reffkin just has an “aura of confidence.”

He may someday run for public office

In 2005, he was a White House fellow under the George W. Bush administration, where he served as the special assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow.

He’s always had big ambitions for his career, sources told Insider previously. Those close to him have said he has talked about someday running for public office, such as mayor of New York City.

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Elon Musk warned against excessive regulations, offered leadership tips, and bemoaned a lack of new candy bars in an interview this week. Here are the 12 best quotes

Elon Musk

  • Elon Musk shared his views on the role of government, the best way to lead a company, and the state of candy-bar innovation in a virtual interview at the WSJ CEO Council Summit.
  • The Tesla and SpaceX CEO also discussed the dangers of memes, the outlook for artificial intelligence, and the need for tunnels in cities.
  • Here are Musk’s 12 best quotes from the interview.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Elon Musk warned against excessive regulations, called on executives to focus on their products and customers, and bemoaned candy companies’ lack of innovation at the WSJ CEO Council Summit this week.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO also highlighted memes as a worrying source of misinformation, argued machines will eventually surpass humans in every aspect, and touted tunnels as an effective way to reduce urban traffic during the virtual discussion.

Here are Musk’s 12 best quotes from the interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:

1. “A lot of the time, the best thing that government can do is just get out of the way.”

2. “Rules and regulations are immortal and if we keep making more every year and do not do something about removing them, then eventually we’ll be able to do nothing.”

3. “It’s government’s responsibility to establish the rules of the game and ensure that those rules are properly enforced. Where I think government does not do a great job is when they want to not just be a referee on the field, they want to be a player on the field.”

Read More: Ron Baron earned a $4.2 billion windfall just from investing in Tesla. The legendary investor told us why he still expects a 30-fold return from Elon Musk – and shared the biggest lessons and mistakes of his career.

4. “The reason that government is often the worst at responding to the customers – being the people – is that they are a monopoly that can’t go bankrupt or usually cannot go bankrupt.”

5. “Big Candy has consolidated into like three companies and they also own all the dog food and the baby food. When’s the last time there was some good candy? What’s the forcing function for a new candy bar? I haven’t seen one in ages.”

6. “Spend less time in meeting rooms, less time on PowerPoint presentations, less time on a spreadsheet, and more time on the factory floor, more time with the customers. Step back and say, ‘Is your product as awesome as it could be?’ Probably not. What could you do to make it great?”

7. “Just be an absolute perfectionist about the product that you make, the service that’s provided. Seek negative feedback from all quarters, from customers, from people who aren’t customers. Ask them, ‘Hey, how can we make this better?'”

Read More: Morgan Stanley is warning that the stock market’s economic recovery trade may soon be over. Here are 4 strategies they recommend for finding the returns that still exist.

8. “There might too many MBAs running companies. There’s the MBA-ization of America, which I think is maybe not that great.”

9. “The troops are gonna fight a lot harder if they see the general on the front lines than if they think the general’s in some cushy situation. Nobody bleeds if the prince is in the palace. Get out there on the goddamn front lines and show them that you care and you’re not just in some plush office somewhere.”

10. “We need to go 3D in cities in order to alleviate traffic congestion, and probably the best way to do that is with tunnels.”

Read More: Emmet Peppers grew his accounts from $30,000 in 2010 to over $70 million this year. The newly minted hedge fund manager breaks down how he spotted early opportunities in Tesla, Facebook, and the COVID-19 market crash – and shared one IPO on his radar.

11. “I think we need to be concerned about mind viruses. Memes that travel very quickly through social media that may, or may not, be correct.”

12. “AI will be able to do everything better than human over time. Everything.”

Read the original article on Business Insider