Crain’s Fast Fifty Breakfast

On Thursday, June 17th, I had the absolute pleasure of attending one of my favorite events of the year – Crain’s Fast Fifty Breakfast.  A Celebration of entrepreneurs who took the tiger by the tail and made great things happen.   The morning starts with networking, followed by a panel of mavericks who have seen great business success (fyi – WCS Fast Fifty list appearance targeted for 2012 :0) )

At $70, it was a pricey ticket, but well worth it for the inspirational messages from the speakers and the quality of the attendees.

Here are some highlights from the panel

Julie Smolyansky, @juliesmolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods blew me away with her background and the story of how she took over her family business in her 20’s when her father suddenly passed away of a heart attack.  She had been involved as Director of Sales and Marketing since 1997, but likely wasn’t expecting to take over the entire company so early in life.  The company stock actually tanked when she took over and turned around as sales increased by $60mm under her watch.

Some great takeaway’s from Julie were

Leverage every situation to your advantage – they did this when the swine flu broke out and yogurts were named as one of the foods that would fight the flu and also again when a competitor stepped out of the liquid yogurt market and Dominick’s needed product.  She even remembered her dad getting a call late in the day, running to the factory to get product and putting it in his car and driving it over himself

How many times have you stayed up late at night, schlepped things across the city, written your own emails, etc…. You can’t be afraid to get down and dirty – and work your tail off when you are building your business.  It’s not easy.  Hopefully you are doing what you love, like I am, but none the less, it’s hard.

You can do good things and still be profitable – AMEN!  I’ve built my business on hosting fundraisers for great local charities – the amount of proceeds donated always varied from 10 – 50%, but there was always nice exposure for the charity.  Tomorrow, June 29th, I launch a series of monthly events where 100% of the door goes to charity.  The response has been overwhelming – I look forward to helping a new charity and meeting new people every month.

Jason Beans, CEO, Rising Medical Solutions started his company after he experiences frustration with medical bills he accumulated from an accident in college.  He grew his business from a 2 person home based operation to over 200 people.  He took a bad personal situation and leveraged his experience to help other people.

What life experiences could you leverage?  Do you learn from your mistakes?

Here are some of my tweets from the event.  Not sure who said them, but they are all golden nuggets from people who’ve come a long way….

  • Even a billion dollar company started w one client.
  • Be willing to task a risk in ways that the odds in your favor. Don’t be afraid to fail. great learning experience
  • Create a place you’d like to come to every day and people will work hard for you
  • Helping as many people as you can is the magic formula to being successful
  • Every situation is an opportunity to create a service for someone else. This is an amazing time

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