Tom Fox chats with John Shegerian, an entrepreneur who is passionate about serving up second chances. They talk about what motivates him, and how his company ERI helps organizations protect their data while protecting the environment.

Serving Second Chances

After the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, John co-founded Homeboy Tortillas with Father Greg Boyle as an outreach program to employ gang-impacted youths. He recalls father Greg’s tagline, “Nothing stops a bullet faster than a job.” Their way of doing business became a phenomenon in post-riot Los Angeles, and eventually, thousands of young people were employed in many different industries, which changed their lives positively. John says, “I only wanted to do businesses that made the world a better place, that made an impact… it always had to have a bottom-line way beyond just profit… All the companies that I’m involved with, I always looked for people that are part of what has been historically marginalized parts of society… Our core mission is recycling electronics at ERI, but recycling lives is what we really do in giving people a second chance.”

Recycling Electronics

Tom comments that recycling is becoming more important in today’s technologically-based world. He asks John to describe the business of ERI. John says that ERI recycles old or discarded electronics. He calls it the dark little secret of the technological revolution since nobody considered what would happen to our old electronics: they just made great technology that made our lives better. As a result, old electronics were dumped in landfills and it became – and still remains – the fastest growing solid waste stream in the world.  Chemicals such as arsenic, beryllium and mercury leach into the ecosystem when electronics are dumped. This is very bad for people, for plants, for animals, and for the water supply, John says. “There’s no reason to throw the stuff in the landfills because you could keep it above ground. You could recycle them responsibly and everything can go for beneficial reuse,” John argues. “You could be zero waste.”

Protecting Data

John’s message to governments and corporations is that recycling their old electronics is good for their business, good for their privacy, and good for the environment. He explains how he helps companies assess their e-waste recycling risks. In today’s context of the Coronavirus, it’s more critical than ever to protect your data, John says. Bad actors seize opportunities like this crisis to take advantage. “If they got your old hardware they could pull your hard drives or other data containing materials, reverse engineer the information and have a heyday with regards to monetizing any data that’s contained in old hardware,” John points out.

A Giveaway For Listeners

John is giving a free copy of his book, 101 Tips From The Marketing Masters, to the first 10 listeners who reach out via email to He is also running a $0.99 promo on the Kindle edition on Amazon.



Email for a free copy of John’s book:

Buy on Amazon