3 People Who’ve Helped Me in Business

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I love it when I’m asked a question that really makes me think. The latest was, “Who are three people you credit with helping you in business, and what did you learn from them?”

That wasn’t an easy one – there have been so many! Thinking it through made me realize that my answers might help someone else. So, here are just three that come to mind right away.

My father, Artie Ulan, who passed away five years ago Labor Day, started one business after another. He had a book store, a trucking company, a gas station; you name it, Dad built it. While he was never wildly successful, he never had a failed business either.

I think I inherited his entrepreneurial spirit, but there was also some of what I’ll call “reverse nurturing.” In those days, dads like mine believed their sons should go to college, but not their daughters. My job, he said, was to find a rich husband to support me.

While getting married and having a family was something I wanted to do, Dad had provided a great example of how rewarding the business world was. I graduated high school on a Friday and nailed a job interview in New York City the following Monday. A couple years later, I launched my first business.

Dad not only inspired the entrepreneurial spirit in me, he also taught me to follow my heart. And at the end of the day, he was glad he did.

The second influential person is one I never met. Author Wallace Wattles was a writer in the New Thought tradition – a movement with religious, philosophical and metaphysical roots. In 1910, he published “The Science of Getting Rich.”

From Mr. Wattles I learned that you can do and be anything you want if you get rid of the negative in your mind and focus on the positive. We’re part of a great, positive universe, and if we’re in harmony with that, we can achieve our full potential.

That starts with our thoughts. We have to believe that we can achieve whatever we set our minds to. Get rid of the negative thoughts – the doubts, fears and insecurities that hold us back – and believe that, if our purpose is good, we will succeed.

It also translates to how we do business. If our transactions make people’s lives more abundant, we’re contributing to the world in a positive way.

Don’t be greedy and don’t seek to “win” by having someone else lose, Mr. Wattles says. If you focus on creating, rather than competing, everyone is enriched.

These are principles I apply – or try to apply – every day. If nothing else, I’m much happier focusing on the positive than dwelling on the negative.

Last but not least is Lew Rockwell, an incredibly smart man who today is chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a research and education center for the Austrian School of economics. Back when he gave me his great advice, he was working as then-Congressman Ron Paul’s Chief of Staff. Lew’s politics are sometimes controversial, but how he helped me had nothing to do with that.

In the late ’80s, when I set my sights on opening a public relations firm, I knew I had to find a way to stand apart from the thousands of other PR agencies across the country. Lew suggested developing a “pay for performance” model – a unique concept back then.

I liked the idea immediately. Most PR firms, then as now, used a traditional retainer fee model. Customers pay a monthly fee to secure the firm’s services; it comes with no guarantee of results.

Pay for performance would offer potential customers a distinctly different option: quantifiable results in exchange for a set price. The approach was a little risky, but I felt good about it.

Lew’s idea proved to be an excellent one! EMSI Public Relations has been in business now for 23 years. For many new clients, pay for performance is a safe investment. Former clients come back because they know exactly what to expect.

So how did these three people teach me that influenced my business life?
Follow my heart.

Approach life and business with a positive attitude.

Listen when given the opportunity to learn from successful people.

As simple as they sound, all of these things have enriched me in countless ways. I’m so glad I was asked this question.

Thinking positive,

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