5 fresh, old ideas for a productive 2013 from the smartest people I know

January 8, 2013
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I am blessed that over the years, I have worked with smart, bold entrepreneurs who, through their words and deeds, have taught me the real secrets of business, ones that are rarely shared. Over the holiday, I returned in my mind to some of their teachings, and thought 2013 would be a great time to reaffirm their grand conclusions:

1. Sid Friedman on the simple importance of rising early and working hard. For decades, Sid Friedman was one of the country’s top insurance salesmen with a style and substance all his own. To meet with Sid, you had to rise early (he has since passed away) and be at his Center City Philadelphia office by 5:30 am. There, behind a huge granite desk, Sid taught me that by starting your day one hour earlier than everyone else, you will work a month and a half more than anyone else each year. A simple lesson that has served me well over the years.

2. Brian O’Neill on the value of storytelling. Brian is one of the most inventive entrepreneurs I have ever had the pleasure to work with and an evangelist for the power of storytelling. I, along with my colleagues Mike Lizun and Joe Crivelli, spent many days projecting copy on a screen as we would work collaboratively to create the story in back of the story for one of his projects. Fact driven, but also lyrical and grand in theme, his stories served as the blueprint for his real estate empire, and our promotional efforts.

3. Dan Roitman on the power of business analytics. He’s only in his 30s, but Dan gave me a concentrated course this past year on business analytics and continually optimizing your business. A deep and penetrating mind, Dan draws from all possible sources — books, mentors, seminars — to learn more about business, rules he then applies to a business, Stroll, that is growing exponentially each year. He does it all through small, incremental improvements that compound over time, an approach we can all use to improve our own success.

4. Rich Levin on constant change and staying relevant. Rich is a colleague of mine here at Gregory FCA who constantly emphasizes the need to stay ahead of the communications curve. He’s the first guy who, for me, was able to connect public relations to business development in real and measurable ways. He has helped to power me forward over the past few years with fresh, new ideas. Sometimes kicking and screaming, but always with fun and excitement.

5. Miles Spencer on how to shape the future. I first met Miles when he was an aspiring TV star, creating and hosting a PBS show. At the time, it was programming no better than local public access. But Miles saw something much bigger and knew how to get there. We rode “MoneyHunt” to dizzying heights during the giddy tech bubble of the early 2000s. Miles since has continually dazzled me with an ability to foretell the future and mold it to his liking. Writing screenplays, building businesses, and someday diplomatting his way to some far off land, Miles has taught me how to always be skating to where the puck will be, rather than where it has been.

So some simple lessons learned over 20 years of entrepreneurship … work hard, craft your story well, constantly optimize and improve, stay current, and visualize the future. Not bad advice as we move into 2013.

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