Why did you get into advertising?
Well, it wasn’t on purpose, honestly. My father has owned an agency for about 25 years, so I grew up around it. I’ve worked with him on and off on projects for my entire adult life. I’ve been on TV more times than most rational people, I’ve done on-air appearances on QVC, I’ve written scripts, directed commercial shoots, bought media, managed entire campaigns, blah, blah, blah. And, while I swore that I never wanted to be “part of the family business,” I didn’t expect that I would end up starting my agency (although I guess I’m not part of the family business!). The truth is, I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I love disassembling things, then rebuilding them. It’s just the way my mind works. And I LOVE working with other entrepreneurs. We’re our own strange breed of people and we just “get each other.” I want to see more small businesses succeed, and the best way to do that is to help business owners learn how to sell their products and services. So, here I am. Ready, willing, and able to help anyone who is ready to take the next step toward greatness.
What wakes you up every morning?
Well, I live downtown, so usually it is the construction crews working on the nearby buildings.
Seriously though, it is my need to see every person reach their potential. Not to get too serious, but my personal passion is about people being able to see themselves the way that they could be. People are so capable of “becoming,” but in our society, there is a vacuum of mentorship which leaves even mature individuals lacking. And all of our public speakers and social influencers spend their time “inspiring,” because it sells better, but really leave their audience with no tangible steps toward finding their own greatness.
When I wake up, I want to make people better than they were when they woke up. In business, I want to see my clients achieve goals they never thought possible. I want to see them believe they can do it – like REALLY do it. I want to see my staff achieve beyond what they thought possible. I want them to share in the reward and make tons of money. I don’t want them to come to work because they have a job. I want them to find their passion. I want my friends and loved ones to wake up believing that there are no limits to what they can do. Past the paychecks, there are realities that I don’t think most people have the ability to dream about. Maybe I live in a fantasy world, but there are no limits to what I want to accomplish.
What is your favorite thing about what you do every day?
Solving problems. I’ll keep this answer short and just say that when I get to work each morning, it is like I get to work a puzzle. New problems. New clients. New strategies. And I get to connect the dots all day (and sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with the solutions).
Your bio says that you have a lot of college degrees? What is that about?
Yes, that’s true. I do hold a lot of degrees, but I’ll be honest and say that I have learned more through life experience than a classroom could ever provide. As my bio reads, I have also been a college professor for many years, and until you have had to teach a subject, you will never understand it.
You dodged the question. Tell us about those credentials. People want to know that about you.
Yes, I did dodge the question. I’m not much into talking about myself, but okay.
I have an undergrad degree in psychology from the University of Michigan (go blue!). I then went back and earned a master’s degree in business from Central Michigan University. For personal enrichment, I earned a master’s degree in theology from Moody University. Then a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the same. Then I did an MBA from Clearly University, where I was concurrently a professor, chairing the public speaking department. It was fun being a teacher and a student at the same school. Freaked out my professors. I then went back to the University of Michigan for my doctorate in Educational Leadership. Later, I attended Grand Canyon for a PhD in Industrial / Organizational Psychology, but did not complete that (I’m a little busy).
If we’re getting detailed, I also hold all available MCAS certifications from Microsoft, which is how I was able to teach computer science. I joined American MENSA in 2002 on a dare (funny story).
I’m getting uncomfortable talking about this though. Clients don’t do business with us because of my degrees and certifications. They want to know that we know how to sell their products. And THAT we do.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing instead?
I can’t imagine life that way, as strange as that sounds. I chuckled on a phone call the other day when a colleague said that he was talking to a “retired entrepreneur.” A retired entrepreneur? There is no such thing. Entrepreneurs are always “just between gigs.” I love what I do and I love when I get to meet people who love what they do. It’s truly a gift to love what you do.
Now, I’d love to be doing it from a beach in Greece, but I’ll settle for the beach in Florida for now.
We are always evolving, and when you said that you have been an entrepreneur for nearly 30 years, I couldn’t help but wonder how you have evolved since then.
Oh, yes. I actually owned my first business when I was 16 years old. I owned a few retail stores that sold pagers – and later, cell phones. I’m that old. And, yes, I used to hire people to work at my retail stores during the mornings while I was in school. Freaked out my high school because they had no idea how to grade that “co-op work credit.”
My gosh, I think back to those days and want to go back and shake the younger me.
When I’m talking to potential clients, or even staff members, I’m always trying to remain cognizant of where they are on their journey. Twenty-some years ago, I wouldn’t have been ready to listen to a 44-year-old version of me. I wasn’t ready to hear some of the things that I should have. And, likewise, some of our potential clients aren’t ready either – so I make a conscious effort to meet them where they are. Everyone is somewhere. I take the time to figure out where that is, honestly, then meet them there. Sometimes it is just a matter of baby steps. And, honestly, I’m here for the long haul. We’ll make it work.
Your bio also reads “author.” What is that about? Do you have a book out?
Oh, I can’t wait to get through final edits. I did just recently complete a book and am working on the finishing touches now. You have no idea how excited I am to get this out to people, but it goes along with everything we have already talked about. And it’s hilarious. Because, well, I’m funny. If a book about business can be entertaining, you know you’re winning. Hang tight. It’s coming and you’ll love it.
• Was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and proudly declares himself a Wolverine for life. Go blue!
• Has enjoyed 16 years as an adjunct college professor, lecturing in business management, English, psychology, computer science, finance, and public speaking.
• Is mildly obsessed with the travel guide “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” It may be the world’s most expensive bucket list.
• Has a personal passion for international humanitarian work and has both participated and led dozens of relief teams worldwide.
• Cannot imagine moving out of South Florida, being an active runner and outdoor enthusiast. SCUBA anyone?