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About 30 years ago I read a quote by Thomas Watson, the legendary entrepreneur who founded IBM, “If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work.” This quote has inspired me many times throughout my business life, and reinforced the power of a quote.
So on June 30,,2015 I was at an event of great entrepreneurs where they were asked about their big breakthrough in business success. I thought you would appreciate hearing their quotes.
As background the event was The Luxury Marketing Council of Connecticut-Hudson Valley (www.luxurycouncil.com/cthv) CEO Roundtable Luncheon, led by Kathryn Minckler and Judith GlaserCEO, Benchmark Communications, at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, New York. The 10 participants were:
-Ira Neimark, 17 year CEO of Bergdorf Goodman, who reinvented luxury retail by helping designers become top brands
-Tariq Farid, founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements, who built a beloved company with over 1,200 stores
– Louis Nelson, the top architect and designer famed for creating the FDA nutritional labeling system and public art places, including the Korean War Veterans Memorial
-Angelo Robles, Founder and CEO of The Family Office Association, uniquely representing the wealthiest families in the world
-Jeff Butchen, founder and CEO of teamDigital Promotions, a leading digital marketing agency that has made billions of consumer to brand connections since 1995.
Louis Nelson: “One of my first career breakthroughs was when I recommended Head bring color to all of their skis. Afterwards, the whole industry exploded into colored skis. I am always on the lookout for shifts in the wind that are important to my clients. I stay in touch with people; I observe what they do and read as much as I can. I attend all kinds of events and make sure to stay in touch with the young.”
Angelo Robles: “FOA is a global membership organization dedicated to helping the wealthiest families seize opportunity and break through challenges by vibrantly, dynamically, and proactively embracing the new, in addition to building on proven lessons from generations past. We look at the principles and strategies that families have applied to maintain their prestige through generations, centuries. And, we combine it with education and programming on today’s exponential technologies and global opportunities. Synthesizing the two — with ample input from our active community of hundreds of families — to bring our member families the best wisdom on what directions make sense today. The need for clear direction and collective wisdom is greater than ever, in light of both the threats against and opportunities for a family’s wealth and well-being today.”
Jeff Butchen: “My first career-goal breakthrough came when I was just 12 years old. I read a quote that still resonates deep within me today that said, “Success is getting what you want, but happiness is wanting what you get.” I never realized just how meaningful that would become later on in my life. The most important belief I carry running teamDigital is that our team is our “secret sauce”. I believe titles are just words that feed egos and everyone must have a voice and be empowered if they are to truly make a difference. I have also learned to embrace the reality that CEOs, me included, are not always last because we are right, but rather right (at least we hope) because we are last to make the final decision.”
Ralph Anderson: “My breakthrough moment occurred when I realized that I do not know everything. I have always said, “ Learn to listen and listen to learn”. I reflect a lot on what I don’t know and have learned to listen, especially from young people and technology, in order to learn. I also understand that my clients’ biggest assets are their family and money and always try to be very careful with any investment of their time.”
David Amlen: “I am always having breakthrough moments because we live and die on each project. Two things are essential to my successes: quality and the ability to appeal to people who understand what my company does. When I started my company, I was fearless and thought that by building a better music studio, people would just come. Now, I know that it’s all about the last experience that we delivered.”
Joe Garofoli: “The investment banking and asset management businesses have changed so much in the last few decades. However, having good ideas and trust is still at the heart of the business. My breakthrough moment occurred to me when I realized that we had to focus more on identifying good companies and having a better understanding of their capabilities, needs and objectives in order to add more value as opposed to emphasizing that our primary benefit was the ability to bring longstanding institutional investor relationships to the table.”
Kathryn Minckler: “My breakthrough moment came when I became a parent and learned how to listen more carefully and to become more flexible and patient. My first company started when my three-year old daughter and I conceived of a new toy product at our dining room table. Over the last several years, I have appreciated the importance of and of taking time, particularly to listen to my children all over again as they and their peers have increasing economic and social impact.”
Shelly Tretter Lynch: “Breakthrough moments happen all the time in life and in business and inspire future success and fulfillment. One of these moments happened when I was asked to become involved in a number of non-profit organizations in Greenwich where I live and work. Within a short space of time, I was devoting a significant portion of my time and my energy as a board member and event organizer for the YWCA with its focus on domestic abuse and for SFTT, a charity focused on the welfare of our troops returning from combat. I was honored and excited to be doing this good work but worried initially that it would distract from my business. Instead, what I learned was that by becoming more involved with our community, I became more closely identified with it. By giving something of myself to try to help others, I have been rewarded in life and in business in ways that I could never have anticipated.”
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