How This Entrepreneur, at Age 32, Has Already Built a Thriving Restaurant and Entertainment Company
One of the things I find deeply fascinating are the backstories of incredibly successful individuals. We know them for the accolades they receive for their success and for their public profiles. But when you dig a little deeper into those stories to find out makes them tick, you often discover a wealth of knowledge that will help guide you along your own journey.
You may initially label these people as "lucky" and wish that you too could attain their level of success, but it's not just their success where you should be looking . . .
Instead, what all highly successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, athletes and all others at the top of their game possesses is an unwavering desire to be the best, master their craft, relentlessly fight until they get to where they want to go and never stop learning and getting better.
I recently had the great fortune to sit down with one of these individuals, Carmen Rossi. Rossi is an attorney and extraordinarily successful restaurant entrepreneur who's relatively young, at age 32. He is the founder of the Chicago-based company, 8 Hospitality Group, a restaurant, hospitality-development and management company that has 900-plus employees. It specializes in food and beverage marketing, branding, promotions, public relations and operations.
8 Hospitality Group, Rossi told me, sees food and beverage as a lifestyle that is maintained through valuable experiences and mutually beneficial relationships with the community.
I spoke with him further about how he was able to achieve entrepreneurial success at such a rapid rate. An attorney by trade, he built one of the most dominant hospitality companies in Chicago -- one that continues to expand and reach new heights. Here are four key things that Rossi attributed his success to, attributes that I think could greatly benefit others on the entrepreneurial and professional paths.
1. Move past the fear.
In my work as a keynote speaker and consultant working with some of the biggest brands in the world, I have concluded that one of the biggest reasons why so many organizations and individuals stay stagnant and never experience major breakthroughs is fear. When Rossi earned his law degree from Northern Illinois University and later discovered that he wanted to take a chance in the hospitality market, with no background in hospitality management or culinary arts, he was initially consumed with fear.
"The biggest thing for me in that moment was that I had to move past the fear. I was absolutely terrified, but I was willing to bet on myself, and it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made," Rossi told me.
One of the biggest pieces of advice that I ever received which has positively shaped my life is to "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Fear is a common emotion, but the best of the best fully understand that once they feel the fear, they don't let it paralyze them from taking action and going after what they want.
What are you fearful of right now? Write down that fear and then take the time to put in your calendar what your next course of decisive action is going to be. As Rossi put it, "You can't build anything of great value and achieve lasting success if you let fear be the driver of your life."
2. Be "pro" community and government.
When I asked Rossi what he saw as separating him from everyone else, he mentioned his philosophy of being pro-community and government. "The hospitality industry is a great way to engage the community and make a positive difference in the local government," Rossi said to me.
The takeaway here, he said, is how he decides on new concepts, how he's always thinking about how he can actively engage the community and positively influence civic and social issues within that community. "You see a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses trying to find ways to shortchange the government," he said, "but I have found that the more I can get involved and make a difference in the local government is where the real change and success lies."
How has this philosophy paid off for Rossi? Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel appointed him as commissioner on landmarks while Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner selected him for a member of the Illinois Economic Development board. Even if you yourself have no desire to get involved in politics in any capacity, making a positive difference in your local community and being "pro-government" can catapult you to business success just like as it has for Rossi.
3. Be a "craftsman."
The one specific mindset that has been a huge driving force in my success, first as a professional athlete, and now as an entrepreneur, is the mindset of a craftsman. By that, I mean becoming a lifelong learner of your craft, commiting to never stop growing and relentlessly searching for ways to maximize your potential and get better at what it is you do.
Rossi said, "When I travel and go to other cities, I am constantly looking for ways to adopt new concepts and refine my approach and what my next move will be." He continued, "I guess you can call it 'obsessiveness,' to a degree, but I think that all entrepreneurs need to have a healthy amount of obsession if they truly want to succeed in the long haul."
One of the best decisions you can make that will take your performance and professional success to the next level is to commit to a never-ending development of yourself and your craft.
4. Don't let crisis define you.
"I think a huge determining factor in whether someone has the guts to be a successful entrepreneur and win in business is to never give up the fight and break stride after you repeatedly get hit in the face and knocked down," Rossi said to me.
Besides fear, I think that the inability to move past failure and keep standing when the going gets tough is what holds many back from living their absolute best life and tapping into their full potential.
It's important to note that I am not talking just about adversity in business, but about life in general. Life will always throw you curveballs and unexpectedly take your breath away at times, but the one thing you control is how you respond. "I have had a great deal of struggles and adversity throughout my career, but one of the hardest things that I ever had to do was continue to move forward when I lost my mother unexpectedly. It crushed my entire world, but I knew that I couldn't let this crisis define me or get in the way of my grand vision," Rossi said.
Whether you get knocked down in business or experience a personal crisis as Rossi did, it's incredibly important to remember that this is a wonderful opportunity to develop the courage, strength and perseverance that will catapult you to a whole new level. The champions, the icons and the legends never let crisis define them. Instead, they use that failure or adversity as a springboard to not only greater success, but to growth, to become the best version of themselves.
Whether you are an executive of a large organization, a successful business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, these four ideas may help you in your journey.
Already, they've helped shape Carmen Rossi into the successful entrepreneur he is today, allowing him to build a thriving organization that is taking over the Chicago hospitality market.