Ryan Jacobson, Serendipity Labs/Sleep Inn & Suites

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Ryan Jacobson, franchise owner, Serendipity Labs/Sleep Inn & Suites.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most challenging part of being a small business owner is remaining patient. The world is constantly changing; when things are going well you need to remain humble and when things are challenging you need to learn and grow. I’ve learned over the years that placing a high priority on health and wellness and surrounding yourself with the right people is key to winning the long game.

The most rewarding part is overcoming challenges. Sometimes it gets messy behind the curtain and when the team or an individual performs beyond what they thought they were capable of it brings me sense of accomplishment.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

My parents have been my greatest influence in my life and in business. They bought their first business in 1975, a little grocery store in Flat Rock, Michigan. They didn’t have much money at the time, but they worked hard and grew to own and operate 30 different business over the years. Not all of them were a huge success but they learned and grew and patiently played the long game. Warren Buffet would be another businessman who I admire. He keeps his life simple, has a few basic principles that he follows, and just enjoys the game.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

After Sept. 11, 2001, I was living in Florida working odd jobs in construction and hospitality. A couple of hurricanes sent me home to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My parents had been in the hotel industry for several years and they were looking to transition out of daily management, and I took the opportunity to fill that role. We purchased the Sleep Inn & Suites in Green Bay and my parents left for Costa Rica to enjoy a mini retirement. This was my first experience managing people and running a business. It was a challenging transition, but I read everything I could get my hands on and I still manage this hotel today.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

I believe that life divinely unfolds before our eyes. I would not change one thing in my life past or present, but if I were to give my 21-year-old self some advice, I would say: drink less beer, save a little more money, and be more kind to yourself.

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What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

My wife, daughter, and I just moved to Madison in June 2019 to open Serendipity Labs. So far, I can say that we love it. The business climate is good, the people are friendly, and we feel that we have all the perks of a big city with the peacefulness and sense of community of a small town.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

In my previous career I was a master electrician. So, I can wire a three-way switch.

What are your guilty pleasures?

One of my guilty pleasures is attending personal development events. I have been to many over the past couple of years but the one that has been the most impactful was a 10-day silent mediation retreat. Ten days of no talking, eye contact, physical touch, exercise, reading, writing, or personal gratification of any kind. No contact with the outside world. Me, myself, and I alone with my thoughts for 10 days … scary stuff. I learned one thing: a peaceful world is a quiet mind!

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