Sometimes the best education is right at your front door.
When I hear about small business start ups, I get very
excited about their journey. Entrepreneurs are a breed unto themselves. They
fight the addiction to the W-2 and stake a claim in the world. They believe in
an idea or a product and through their excruciating persistence they succeed. They get up every day and although the odds may be against them, fight to survive and build their brand as they manage their business.
I know many entrepreneurs. Having been one for about 15
years, I know the incredible hard work it takes meeting a payroll, making
difficult personnel decisions and finding the right customers. I am very proud that our business made INC Magazine's Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies in 1985.
When you are an
employee, you take for granted those who borrow against the house or bootstrap
a business on a credit card. I salute the entrepreneurs that keep running hard
at the wall- because at some point they can break through to the other side.
I want to mention three entrepreneurs from my family and
comment on what I admire about them.
|George and Fannie Ginsberg |
First is my grandfather- George Ginsberg. I have written
about him in many posts on this blog so his background may be familiar to some
of you who read my observations. Around 1910, George came to the U.S. from Russia as an
orphan. He was 10 years old and came on a boat by himself. His uncle Henry, who lived
in Newark, New Jersey, taught him the craft of commercial photography.
Pop started several business but his Philadelphia-based Quaker Photo, which he
began in the late 1920’s still exists today as Quaker Chroma. It has a completely different
format than it did when Pop was taking pictures of the political conventions
from 1948 in Philadelphia. The current owner Bob Marion is the son of my grandfather's first employee (Pat Marion) who bought the business in the 1950's.
What did it take for an uneducated immigrant in the 1920's to start a business? I wonder if it would have been so much easier to get a job in factory or
to just work for someone else. Maybe at the time, it wasn't so easy to get a job and starting a business wasn't as risky as I think it is. It is hard to know.
learned from Pop about running a business was that he trusted the universe. He believed everything
would work out in the end. He never doubted himself and that a greater force was watching over him. He had a true and unwavering belief in himself,
his creativity and his ability to make a buck. Pop trusted the universe.
Second is my brother-in-law Jerry Bedrin. Jerry, along with
his brother Paul, took over an office supply business in
East Rutherford, New
Jersey. Their father Murray started Allied Office Supplies sometime in the
1950’s and named it for the Allies in WWII.
|Jerry and Diane Bedrin|
Jerry was like fuel in the engine of a vehicle.
long, long hours to make his business grow. I used to laugh at Jerry at Phillips Beach in Deal, New Jersey with his printouts, paperwork and projects that seemed to be with him every moment of
every day. But Jerry knew that he had to be better than his competitors to gain
and keep business. He succeeded in business by outworking the competition. I learned from Jerry
that it takes an incredible level of energy and hard work to make things
You create your own good luck by putting your head down and pushing
for every order and every last dime. I recall a story Jerry told me in the
early 1980’s about a customer who needed some office supplies over the weekend
for a project he was working on and he needed it in a few hours. Jerry drove
home from the beach and went to his warehouse, picked up the things that were
needed and delivered them to the man’s home. Jerry told me that this investment of effort will buy him a customer for
life. I may not be remembering the details
of this story exactly as it happened, but I do not doubt for a moment that Jerry probably did something
like this more than once in building his successful company. Jerry trusted in hard work.
Last but certainly not least, my wife is the third
entrepreneur in this trilogy. Ra El (formerly Rachel), never wanted to be in
business and always felt pulled into it by the exquisite brownie that she
baked. During the days of Rachel’s Brownies, she had the highest standard for
quality on each and every brownie that went out the door. They had her name on the label and she
refused to compromise.
|Jeffrey Slater and Ra El Remez|
I love to remember how we would be in the bakery with twenty of the employees who worked with us as we all hand wrapped our brownies in a confectionery conga line. Ra El instructed
us on a certain special way to fold the Glad Wrap to secure each individual
morsel of heaven.
I spent hours
wrapping like Jay Z.
She would come behind me and undo each and every poorly wrapped double chocolate brownie and rewrap it since it wasn’t good enough to meet her standards.
She held all of us to a standard that was a step beyond perfection. This lesson taught me about the importance of delivering on the promise of your brand. Our product was our marketing so perfect wasn't even good enough. Often when interviewed on TV shows or newspapers, Ra El would comment that there
can’t be any compromise in quality. Period. None. End of story. If it has her name on it, it must be the absolute best it can be.
I remember in one TV interview with Charlie Rose that she said "good enough is never
good enough." It was at this point that I
started to realize how important it was to trust in yourself. I watched my wife work so hard believing in her own instincts and never questioning that without a spectacular and extraordinary product, we would be like everyone else. The power of trusting yourself has been an invaluable lesson for my marketing education. But more importantly, watching my wife trust herself has been a true and sacred blessing to witness. Ra El trusts in herself.
So if you want to succeed in business, remember these three things I learned from my family about marketing:
1. Trust in the universe
2. Trust in hard work
3. Trust in yourself
Pop, Jerry and Ra El, thank you for providing me with this marketing wisdom. However, I trust you have all taught me even bigger life lessons.
Labels: Entreprenuers, George Ginsberg, Jerry Bedrin, Marketing Moments, Ra El, Ra El Remez, Rachel's Brownies