What do you do when your company experiences a 425 percent hyper-growth for five years in a row and expands from two business partners to four with over 60 employees and offices worldwide? The answer for successful entrepreneur Brad Szollose is this: help other smart companies realize their business potential and proper ways to handle how technology has impacted corporate culture in the Information Age.
Former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years taking the first Dot Com Agency public in an IPO on NASDAQ. Szollose is also the #1 Bestselling and Award Winning Author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia — Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing the Way We Run Things.
With real life experience in the field on entrepreneurial advancement, Szollose looks to help those emerging into the corporate world with his experiences. He values education through experience to help create awareness of the changing ways businesses have to function.
“95 percent of business advisors, authors and professors have never owned a business,” he said. “What you’re getting in those cases is textbook theory.”
By applying his knowledge of the entrepreneurial world, Szollose is working to prepare the current workforce for the changes needed to keep up a business and alter it to engage current and emerging audiences.
“Having experience is the key aspect that will fuel and fire up any advisory position you may have. It’s great to have a lot of ideas but it has to make sense in the real world.”
Szollose is all too familiar with the need for adaptation to a changing world. Working with an innovative concept at the time he launched his company, it was hard to initially raise awareness of the idea he wanted to present to the public.
“The first thing I had to realize was that I had to adapt more. I assumed I knew what my business was going to look like,” Szollose said. “For a year, we were struggling, we had to become an Internet company when a lot of people did not know what the Internet was, for the first three months, no one knew what we were talking about.”
With millennials expected to take up 65 percent of the workforce by the year 2020, Szollose encourages the necessity for the previous generation to acclimate themselves to the increasingly technology based world around them.
“Millennials are told to be the next billionaire, to be innovative. The key element here is to not do it like others have, to do things like you are,” he said. “You don’t chase people, you get people to follow you.”
However, creating these modifications to cater to a new audience is often easier said than done. Many businesses fail to adapt enough and eventually will fade out of focus without the needed technological revisions. Creating and maintaining attention requires desire and enthusiasm Szollose said.
“We believed in our product and we were pioneers in this new space called the Internet.”
“We were in the middle of a revolution and we knew it. For us, it really was adapting and learning as fast as we could in a new space.” This idea is one that he continues to portray to audiences today. Looking at the idea of contemporary consumers, Szollose accentuates the concept of the lack of commitment that the younger generation has to products. Now, entrepreneurs will have to gain the trust of their consumers by creating an innovative and romantic version of their product. However, Szollose stressed that it is imperative to create a distinction between the vendor and product.
“You cannot confuse brand and product with the owner of the company,” he said. “Mark Zuckerberg, the face of Facebook, represents a generational change, he also represents a part of today that people criticize.”
While individuality and personal ambition are vital when encouraging a new product idea, having a supportive and passionate team behind the company is also as important. During his companies’ climb to success, Szollose focused on creating an open environment for his employees that allowed for unrestricted innovation.
“We had a management scale where we brought people together on a project, everyone went their separate ways and then met their deadlines,” he said. “People would be there all day and leave late that night.”
This idea of a relaxed but zealous work environment is one of the elements that Szollose contributes to his great success. By monopolizing on the strengths of each person involved maximum results are achieved he said. “You have to have a little overlap, but you need to have opposite skill sets.”
The atmosphere Szollose encouraged of origination and ingenuity also backed the idea that there needs to be a change in the way businesses are presenting themselves with the introduction of a new, technology obsessed generation.
“By the time you are six, you already have intimate connections with brands,” Szollose said. “People ignore marketing now. Advertisement will have to reinvent itself by adding romance and appeal to your product.”
“I don’t believe you can create genius unless you surround yourself by geniuses, I don’t have all the answers, I know that,” Szollose said. “You, as the leader have to create an environment for creativity.”
He continues this message of necessary modernization in a visionary way by talking about the alternative path one must take to create a prosperous company that can develop over the years. “When you create a startup company, you are breaking all the rules of business. That’s something you have to remember,” Szollose said. “Anyone who creates a company is finding a problem in the marketplace that needs to be solved in an innovative way. If you don’t have this creativity, you will never have innovation that comes from the people involved.”
Szollose emphasized the need to embrace innovation and stop expecting employees to follow the rules, and listen to everything without opposition. To truly reach accomplishment, those looking to promote a creation or idea must look at the situation surrounding them and encourage their employees in a way that demands intensity and devotion.
“If success were easy, then everyone would be successful,” he said. “You have to find something that you are passionate about so that you can get others to follow you and be passionate about what you are promoting.”
Szollose believes that through these kinds of stimulated approaches to the concepts behind a business, one can find success if they utilize the materials and people around them while familiarizing themselves with the necessities the age of the Internet demands.