Learn From Success: 5 Interviews with Inspiring Leaders

Are you inspired by people in your network? If you aren’t, you need to meet some new people.

Being successful in my business is important to me and these individuals motivate me to follow my passion to positively influence the lives of my clients. My last article encouraged you to reach out to individuals in your network and to learn how their work skills benefit their daily lives.

During these interviews, each mentor had some great advice for success. These words of wisdom are helping me improve my business, and life in general, and I hope they motivate you to reach success with me.

First of all, thank you to all these fantastic people for their time and willingness to answer my questions. It was a great opportunity to catch up and to learn about their distinguished careers.

Ralph Rubio – Co-Founder of Rubio’s, a Fresh Mexican restaurant chain with over 190 locations.
Ralph and his father opened their first Rubio’s in 1983 in Mission Bay, San Diego, and took the company public in 1999.

“Watch Every Dollar.”

As a young entrepreneur, Ralph felt he didn’t have a second chance with this endeavor. He wanted to avoid mistakes so he personally managed the company’s checkbook which allowed him to watch each expense and to manage the business conservatively. He learned this from his upbringing and refined his techniques after starting his business. When Ralph later married, he realized his household was its own complex financial business. Just like a business, the family manages cash flow, debt and interest payments, and establishes savings accounts for future projects (vacations and children’s education). Being familiar with financially conservative practices in business helped him tackle his household finances confidently.

  • Advice to reach success

“Hire the best people and seek out the best people for advice.”

Ralph understood he couldn’t be an expert in everything. When starting his business, Ralph asked a trusted friend (who started his own successful business) to refer experts that could help Ralph. Third parties have the ability to introduce you to important subjects that you might have overlooked. Seeking out experts allows you to remain focused, which for Ralph was creating great products for his restaurants’ guests.

Sue Hesse

Sue Hesse – Sue is the CEO and Founder of Hesse Partners. The team at Hesse Partners works with forums and chapters of YPO-WPO (Young President’s Organization – World President’s Organization) and the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), as well as independent businesses and other member organizations. Sue has delivered nearly 1,300 forum programs and training sessions in 15 countries around the world, engaging more than 10,000 entrepreneurs and senior executives. As an entrepreneur who founded her own printing business, Sue understands and has a unique ability to relate to the world of business owners in her role as a trainer, facilitator and consultant. Sue also served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Kauffman Foundation for 13 years, linking the Foundation to its audience.

            “Take calculated risks.”

Entrepreneurs are mistakenly labeled as high risk individuals who thrive in atmospheres like Las Vegas. Sue’s experience opened her eyes that these serial entrepreneurs are more cautious than what is generally believed. She learned from the best entrepreneurs how to utilize resources and best practices of others to build growing businesses. There are many people and companies that provide support and coaching to entrepreneurs. While growing her own new business, Sue realized that she should use most of her available time to address the areas that grew her bottom-line. Recognizing which clients and which niches grew her revenue allowed her to develop specialized skills to better serve her clients’ needs.

  • Advice to reach success

“Do what you enjoy.” Sue loves being with customers and serving their needs. She doesn’t enjoy the behind-the-scenes management. She finds people to help her in those areas rather than expending her energy on cumbersome tasks. Sue can then focus on what she enjoys, allowing her to grow her business in a fun and exciting manner where her energy level is part of her overall product.

Dan Larsen – Former President and General Contractor for W. Daniel Construction which was one of the three companies that built San Diego Stadium, now known as Qualcomm Stadium.

 “Pay Attention to What You Can Control.”

Dan grew up in the construction business and joined his father’s company before starting his own. When he began his career, he made a few mistakes by bidding too low on some projects which made his life and business more stressful. After these low bid challenges, he applied effort in understanding and controlling the expenses of his business. He noticed that curveballs would happen, such as when bad weather would delay construction, labor strikes, or other events which were out of his control. Instead of worrying about these outside factors, he made an effort to learn the side of the business that he could control: finances.

  • Advice to reach success

“Persevere!” Dan knew that the vast amount of information in his industry would take many hours to learn and would not be easy. He knew to become proficient in his industry he needed to apply himself and to persevere. Dan created detailed reports, kept diligent notes, and learned from every experience so he would be even more skillful for the next project.

Anonymous – This person asked to remain anonymous. He has over twenty years of experience in the financial services industry and received numerous awards while maintaining a spotless compliance record throughout his lengthy career.

“Stay balanced, because everything tends to be cyclical.”

This person discovered early that creating diversified investment portfolios for his clients benefited his firm and his clients’ personal financial goals. Financial markets go through good times and bad; however if you look at charts, the broad markets have gone up over time. The trick is to have the discipline to create balance and not be too aggressive. As in life, relationships have their occasional bad days but the ones worth preserving get better over time.  Having a balanced life allows you to juggle the multiple tasks and responsibilities that arise every day.

  • Advice to reach success

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.” This person realized through his years of experience that chasing the best investment year-after-year created too much risk for his clients. He mentioned the Bamboo and the Mango Tree story from Aesop’s fables. The mango tree mocks the bamboo for being inferior in strength when standing, but the mango tree is the one which breaks during a storm when the bamboo sways and survives the turbulent times. Setting up investment portfolios with a defensive approach isn’t as exciting as reaching for the extraordinary yield, but they will successfully survive when markets invariably go through their difficult periods.

Craig Andrews – Craig has been continuously listed in The Best Lawyers in America for over 20 years. In 2007, Lawdragon named him one of the top 500 dealmakers in America.  In addition to practicing law, he has been a director of over 15 private and public companies and has co-founded several successful technology and biotechnology companies.

“Everything is Negotiable.”

Craig believes that everyone uses his or her negotiating skills every day, both in business and in their personal relationships. Negotiation doesn’t always mean getting the best deal – it can mean compromising or walking away in the appropriate circumstances. Early in Craig’s career, he believes he made mistakes by trying to offer a fair deal in business situations as his first offer as he expected the other party to recognize the fairness of the deal and accept the terms. He learned the hard way that it is human nature to negotiate for a better deal and to use the other side’s first offer as a starting point in negotiations.

  • Advice to reach success

“Know when to intelligently turn down business.” Sol Price, the founder of Price Club that merged with Costco, gave some advice which impressed Craig:  that sometimes the best business decision is to turn down certain kinds of business. It’s not about finding clients; it’s about finding the right clients where you can provide value.


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