All Aboard

Changing Course

Rome wasn't built in a day--but if Elsie and Eli Marcus had overseen the project, perhaps it could have been. Helping people lead happier, healthier lives has turned into a healthy business for the New York City couple, who conceived and launched their seminar company in just three months.

The Marcuses' professional backgrounds (Eli's is in sales and marketing and Elsie's is in computer networking) have taken a back seat to pursuing their longtime avocation. "The Seminar Center arose from our tremendous interest in self-help," explains Eli, 40. "We started conceptualizing the business in October, and things spiraled very quickly." In January, the Seminar Center's spring catalog of seminar events was placed in some 2,000 locations throughout New York City.

The couple wisely hired a program director, enabling the Seminar Center to boast a wide variety of high-profile speakers, including Billy Baldwin and Ivana Trump. Courses on everything from "How to Run a Successful Business" to "The Near-Death Experience" brought in more than 1,000 participants in the Center's first six weeks.

With heart and soul firmly engaged, the Marcuses' business vision is matched only by their sense of purpose: "We're trying to make the world a better place," says Eli. "I know it sounds clich├ęd, but it's not about money for us."

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: All Aboard.

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