Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
A. Jaquez Land Greenhaus is a full service Intellectual Property Law Firm with extraordinary technical competence derived from working as engineers prior to attending law school, as well as working both in large law firms and in-house practice. In addition, our experience in both in-house and private practice law firms gives each of the attorneys at Jaquez Land Greenhaus substantial legal skills. These, coupled with over 30 years of practice in intellectual property law that each of the partners at have, makes Jaquez Land Greenhaus a great selection as a legal team to assist large, mid-sized or small companies, as well as start-ups and solo inventors with their intellectual property law issues. We are based on San Diego, California and Vancouver, Washington. However, we travel throughout the United States to meet with clients and conduct a substantial amount of our business through video conferencing.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
A. I’m Bruce Greenhaus, one of the founding partners of Jaquez Land Greenhaus LLP (“JLG”). I have been practicing law in the area of intellectual property for 30 years, including as Vice President, Patent Counsel for Qualcomm Incorporated for 10 of those years. Naturally, that provides JLG with particular expertise in 5G and communications generally, but we also have extensive experience in many of the other exciting areas of innovation, such as artificial intelligence, medical devices, blockchain, video graphics, integrated circuit development tools, and many other areas in which we have assisted our clients with securing and protecting their patent rights.
Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
A. I was working as the Vice President, Chief Patent Counsel for Entropic Communications, a publicly traded corporation in San Diego. I started at Entropic five years before returning to private practice. Entropic was acquired by one of their competitors that had little understanding or interest in maintaining the important patent portfolio that we had put together. Rather than continue to innovate in the area of Multimedia Over Coax technologies, which Entropic had developed, the new organization decided to go in a different direction. Just prior, I realized that the opportunities in private practice were growing exponentially and were really getting exciting. Coincidentally, my two good friends and former co-workers at the law firm of Spensley Horn Jubas and Lubitz (John Land and Marty Jaquez) had decided to form a partnership together. As they say, the rest is history. We’ve been happily taking advantage of the incredible opportunities every since.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
A. Things always seem more difficult before you start. I tell my friends that are thinking about starting a new business to do a significant amount of planning up front, and then jump in! If you do the work up front correctly, the business with flow naturally to success. The key is to prepare a solid plan and then execute on the plan, while still being flexible enough to learn from the experience as you go along.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. The first and probably most important skill in to be courageous. Starting a new business is not for the timid at heart. In addition to that, you have to have confidence in your ability and have done the hard work of gaining the skills necessary to create a solid business plan and then perform on your plan.
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
A. Like most business owners, the partners of a firm like ours work pretty long hours. But as the saying goes “if you love what you do, you won’t have to work on hour of your life”. We really love our work. It is so exciting to work with bright, energetic and enthusiastic inventors, both those in start-ups that are high on the prospect of changing the world and those that are working for a large corporation and have made a new invention that they hope will alter the course of the company. Of course, not all inventions are life changing, but the inventors all seem to be excited about their inventions anyway! And so are we. We love seeing new technology. The best part of my job is learning new technical features and tricks.
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
A. There is no doubt that the most important attribute to success is hard work and tenacity. I don’t think there are too many people that have succeeded without being tenacious in their efforts. Nothing great comes easily and most of us have to have some failures before becoming successful. Thankfully, in our profession, we get to learn from a mentor that pads us from having to fail in front of others and allows us to make our mistakes under the watchful eye of their tutelage. I’m very grateful to my mentor, John Land, who is now my partner, 20 years after I left his knee. John was an awesome mentor and over the last 5 years, has been a great partner. Having great partners like John and Marty have made the path to success much easier for all of us.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A. In our business, many of our clients have a steady flow of inventions. Therefore, doing a great job on each and every job is the best marketing tool we have. In addition, as a former VP of Qualcomm and Professor of Law, I speak at many seminars and have opportunities to address audiences across the country. I enjoy speaking to large groups. I also enjoy staying active in the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). The IEEE has a lot of really exciting and interesting meetings during which they discuss technical innovations and new advances in technology. Its both stimulating and it keeps me in contact with the engineering community.
Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
A. Fortunately for use lawyers, it is not as large an issue to get funding for our business.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A. I know that this will sound cliché, but the best way to achieve long term success is to really understand your business and your clients/customers and to work hard to stay on top of things. Being responsive if an important part of our job as patent attorneys. The people that rely on us expect us to be very responsive and to move fast to provide them with solutions to their problems. It requires us to work hard and stay on our toes. That’s what keeps my blood flowing!
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and still expect to be doing it for another 20 years. I hope that our firm continues to grow and to service our currently clients, while adding to the list of inventors and companies that we can serve.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A. The experienced and grizzled attorneys that sit at the top of the large law firms are some of the smartest and hardest working people that I know. I really admire them all. You don’t get to that position by being either lazy or mediocre. Only the very hardest working and smartest get to those positions. Unfortunately, there are only a few of those guys around. Lots of attorneys at the big firms aspire to be one of them, but few are good enough to get there. One of the things that we are proud of here at Jaquez Land Greenhaus is that we provide that kind of lawyering at a fraction of the cost of getting access to one or those guys.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
A. We count heavily on our paralegal staff to back us up and ensure that we are on top of all of the due dates that exist in our practice. One of the most important things in our practice is to never miss a due date. Our paralegal staff is one of the best!
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A. It is really important to be able to tell the difference between a bad idea and one that just requires a number of attempts before you are successful. That makes this question a tough one. I highly prize tenacity, but it comes at a high price if you don’t know enough to know when an idea was bad to start. Listening to others is often a good sanity check, especially after a failure. But sometimes, you just have to go with your gut and hang in there when others don’t yet see it. I suppose that having the ability to decern the difference between a good idea that just needs another go and a bad idea that should be abandoned is one of the skills needed to succeed.
Q. What motivates you?
A. I’m excited by the combination of learning something new and helping a great idea get off the ground.
Q. What are your ideals?
A. I’m very attached to high moral standards in my interpersonal relationships. I believe that we live in an interconnected society and that we need to treat everyone with a high degree of honesty and respect.
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
A. I listen to others. Some of my best ideas were variations of things that I got from someone else. Not too many people invent in a vacuum.
Q. How do you define success?
A. I believe that success is defined by the amount of excitement you have in your life. I’m very excited by the work that I get to do. Therefore, I count myself as very successful. All the other trappings of success tend to follow.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
A. Dedication to knowing what your client/customer needs and wants. Again, the clichés tend to be spot on in these types of questions. It is really important to make each and every person that you serve feel like they are the most important person to you. That is hard at times, but it is the key to building a successful customer/client base.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A. It is so exciting when you secure a new opportunity. There’s nothing like the thrill of breaking into new ground.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A. Teaming back up with my two former co-workers, John and Marty! I love working with these guys.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A. As an entrepreneur, you are the master of your own ship. That means that you have to live with all of the challenges and hardships, as well as calling the shots. It’s much easier to let someone else take the lead and just follow them. But I prefer to do the take both the responsibility and the risk that comes from making the big decisions.
Q. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
A. In our firm, honesty and hard work are the cornerstone of our culture. We work hard and enjoy the rewards together of those efforts. We believe in having strong family ties. We are each a part of the extended family of each other. We enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the relationship that we share.
Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
A. I’m pretty happy with the path that I’ve taken. I spent my first years in military service, after which I completed my formal education. Going into the armed service early in life taught me several important life strategies and lessons. I was on my own at 18 years old and took responsibility for myself. Having the Air Force as a surrogate parent made it a bit easier not to make too many mistakes. Having completed my military service, I went back to attain an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering. I worked for 5 years as a design engineer, which was a great training ground for a patent attorney.
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A. I have a great wife. She is an entrepreneur as well, so she understands the challenges of running a business. We have only one son, so we were able to focus our attention on him. We’ve been blessed in that he is a great guy and has really done well for himself.
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
A. I just hate thinking about having something interfere with my ability to continue to work.
Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
A. I love the ocean and the endless summer, so San Diego was an easy choice for me. I came here from New York after law school and haven’t looked back (except to visit family).
Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A. As I said earlier, you have to have courage and be a bit of a risk taker. That implies that you have to have confidence and move boldly forward.
Q. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
A. Albert Einstein. I would really love to have a philosophical conversation with him. He is definitely one of my idols.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A. My partner and mentor, John Land had definitely been a great inspiration and leader for me. It is a real honor to be partners with your mentor.
Q. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
A. I found Blink to be an interesting read. I’m also very inspired by Henry Kissinger’s book “The Whitehouse Years”, in which he talks at length about the inner workings of the politics and decision making at the highest levels of power in the world.
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A. I got married to my first wife at 18. I thought I was much older than I was. That marriage lasted 14 years and we split amicably, but no one is ready for marriage at 18.
Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
A. Listen to the counsel of those that you respect and trust. If you don’t have someone like that, find someone!
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
A. I play music (guitar, drums, keyboard and bass) and I surf the ocean almost every morning.
Q. What makes you happy?
Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. I think that when you love your work, there is no need to sacrifice. I’m lucky to have had a supportive family, and my son was older when I started my practice.
Q. If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
A. I’d say you did a great job. Thanks very much!