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reThink: Success Speakers Encourage Agility and Persistence

Written By: Scott Costello

Kristen Hadeed started Student Maid to get a pair of $100 jeans after her parents said they wouldn’t buy them and she should instead get a job to purchase them herself.

Hadeed still loves stylist jeans, and she wore a pair as she emceed reThink: Success, an event held July 19 before a crowd of more than 350 at the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall.

Sponsors for the event included Student Maid, Santa Fe College, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and Business in the Heart of Florida.

Many of the 12 speakers at the event also were in jeans, but don’t let their casual attire detract from their seriousness as business owners.

The dynamic group, who exemplify today’s innovative business leaders, shared practical tips for adapting in the face of challenges.

Geoff Wilson, co-founder of 352 Media Group, said his business was booming, but his profits were shrinking a year or so ago.

The company turned itself around, getting its work done 90 percent faster while generating 80 percent of its assignments from existing clients and having zero turnover.

The company formed small teams that focused on one project at a time and kept the clients at the center of the teams.

“Job titles no longer matter,” Wilson said. “It’s the most natural way for people to operate.”

A 15-minute daily “stand up,” during which each team member shares his or her accomplishments and challenges is part of the new way of doing business. “It’s amazing the clarity this approach brings,” Wilson said.

Grooveshark co-founder Sam Tarantino challenged the audience to never give up in what they believe in. The media had declared Grooveshark dead time after time as it faced lawsuits from major labels.

“We’re like cats. We stayed alive,” he said. “You have to fight and never give up.”

Jason Lucash, co-founder of California-based OrigAudio told about how he and his partner developed speakers that could be folded down like Chinese food boxes.

The company took off when Time named it one of top 50 inventions of year in 2009. The buzz about the foldable speakers and other company products has propelled the company’s success, he noted.

Nadia Kamal, founder of Tallahassee-based design firm Onyx, said that she focuses on helping her customers align their businesses with their purpose.

Fear is a great motivator, she said, adding, “If you’re not scared, you’re not operating out of your comfort zone.”

John Spence, a renowned business speaker from Gainesville, said that success means more than having money, fame and power.

“If you’re not living by core values, you’re not successful,” he said.

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