- Greg Koch, the cofounder and CEO of Stone Brewing Co., learned not to sell himself short.
You don’t get to being named the All Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth (courtesy of Beer Advocate) without learning a thing or two. Co-founder of Stone Brewing Co., the largest craft brewery in Southern California, Greg Koch understands the importance of being firm. Growing into the role of CEO, Koch realised it’s always best to take three offers from separate contractors to secure the best deal. Don’t settle for the first offer that comes your way!
- Beth Doane, the founder of Raintees, learned that you need to hire people who are better than you.
Beth Doane founded Raintees in 2008, an apparel line that plants a tree in an endangered rainforest for every shirt sold and donates school supplies to a child in need for every tote bag sold. Doane learned early on that in order to succeed, you must set aside your egotistical drive to micromanage, and instead build great teams.
“If you really want to reach your highest potential you have to constantly surround yourself with people who challenge you, who are strong where you are weak, and work just as hard or harder than you do,” she says.
- Jon Levy, founder of the Influencers, learned the importance of networking.
An innovative approach to networking, twice a month Jon Levy invites prominent people to his expansive New York apartment to share a dinner followed by a series of engaging presentations. Previous guests have included Olympic athletes, Nobel Laureates, and notable figures such as Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Levy saw the improvements in his life from surrounding himself with successful people from a wide variety of fields – he believes a strong network is everything.
- Kristina Roth, CEO of Matisia Consultants, learned to be patient.
In 2006, Kristina Roth founded Matisia Consultants. Her firm has now worked with several Fortune 100 companies and brought in over US$60 million in revenue. Just like many of us, Roth felt that crippling anxiety in her younger years, making her feel as though she wanted to rush everywhere and get tasks done as quick as possible. However, she notes that this stressful mindset is actually counterproductive.
“In my 20s, I learned the concept of delayed gratification and that you need to pay attention to important decision points in the tree of life, which will change your life one way or the other,” she says.
- Ari Weinzweig, CEO and cofounder of Zingerman’s Deli, learned that building a business requires a great deal of stamina.
One of nine businesses in Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, Ari Weinzweig co-funded Zingerman’s Deli in 1982. In today’s modern world of instant wealth and internet sensations, hard work can seem unnecessary. Weinzweig disagrees.
“Resilience, collaboration, willingness to stay the course, emotional and physical stamina, positive energy are all key,” he says.
Never be afraid of a little elbow grease!
- Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa, co-CEOs of Warby Parker, learned that you should never cut corners.
Blumenthal and Gilboa saw a gap in the market for affordable, stylish and well-made eyewear. They decided to fill that gap with glasses retailer Warby Parker in 2010. According to the two young entrepreneurs, excellence and thoroughness should be the themes of your business.
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- Kate McKeon, founder of Prepwise and Prepwise Games, says that being a leader can be lonely at times.
If you really, really want something, chances are people around you aren’t going to share your views, or are going to want to bring you down. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to increase other people’s ambition.
“A lot of people just go to jobs and aren’t all that interested in digging in to do the work necessary to reach the next level,” she says.
“This is really important to consider when structuring teams and planning staff — most of your employees will be nothing like you. That has to be factored into your plans if you really want to grow, so you can plan realistically. Your version of ‘take initiative’ won’t be replicated by your staff.”
- Shane Snow, author and founder of Contently, learned that you can’t follow convention if you want to be exceptional.
Often, conventions are in place for a reason; for the masses to feel comfortable adhering to. But conventions are just that – conventional. In order to rise above the rest, it is sometimes necessary to forge your own path.
Working with various entrepreneurs in his 20s, Shane Snow, founder of Contently, noticed this early on.
“The best entrepreneurs and workers and artists — and people, really — ignore convention and find smarter paths,” he says.
Snow embodied this notion, by starting a platform that connects freelancers to major brands such as Coca-Cola and GM – a concept that had never been done quite like that before.
- Sylvie di Giusto, founder of Executive Image Consulting, learned that a fancy degree and natural talent don’t entitle you to success.
Consulting for companies such as BMW, Mckinsey and Thomas Cook, di Giusto started Executive Image Consulting in 2009. She learned that no piece of paper or inborn trait entitles you to success.
“I spent my 20s in corporate environments, and I remember them for working nights and weekends,” she says. “Sweat, hassle, pain, as well as diligence, perseverance, and an enormous amount of effort and energy characterize my career at this point. I’ve learned that there are very little short cuts when it comes to career success. Success doesn’t ‘just happen.’ Never.”
- Mona Bijoor, founder of Joor, learned that there’s no replacement for hard work.
“Work ethic is put down these days,” Bijoor says, acknowledging the shift in popular culture toward prioritizing health and well-being over all-nighters and few days off. “But looking back, it gave me the extra edge in a lot of situations and was the training I needed” to start a company.
Bijoor indeed embodied this as she gained her MBA then worked as a consultant, before moving into fashion. Then in 2010 she started Joor, an online global marketplace for wholesale buying and fashion retailers.