I think names, the moniker you put on something, tells a lot about you.
I was often asked if I was a runner, since I named my personal management company Marathon Entertainment. Far from it: though at different times in my life I spent lots of time playing basketball, tennis, baseball and then softball, I’m not sure if I’ve run a marathon cumulatively.
The name Marathon mirrored how I looked at personal management: not as a sprint to success, but the conscious building of a life-long career. I remember telling a young comedian client that because he had a unique name – Ant – and had a personality reminiscent of Paul Lynde, he would have to work that much harder to be better faster because he was going to get opportunities much faster than other performers. He fired me, got those opportunities, and soon proved he didn’t have the foundation to succeed at those levels. He’s now, several years later, regrouping and I wish him the best.
The Green Garmento obviously was meant to connote an environmentally friendly company that had something to do with garments. But we didn’t create the word Garmento; it was a somewhat derisive label given to mid-level employees that worked in New York’s Garment Center. For me, creating a positive connotation to that word was one of the reasons for our company’s name.
When I was in college I had a sports column in the Pitt News for a while when I was an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh. I called it ‘The Fan’ because I was, well, a fan, and I wanted to write about from that perspective versus pretending I was in any way more learned or informed than my readers.
My naming this monthly column, ‘The High Road,’ was just as conscious and intentional. I assume that most of those reading these articles are entrepreneurial and find themselves on almost a daily basis faced with a variety of choices… how much should I pay my staff, do I have the right kind of insurance, am I charging the right amount for my goods and services; can I charge more? How much should I be spending on advertising and marketing, is this the right time to expand; would I be better off if I contracted my business operations? Do I do more wholesale work, do I concentrate on delivery, buy lockers, do I get an APP? Am I using the best solvent, the best spotting products, am I spending too much time on quality for the price point you feel comfortable in charging?
How each of those questions is answered, while important stand-alone issues, also offer insight into one’s overall business beliefs. ‘The High Road’ mirrors my belief that one should always try to take a long-term view when making business decisions. Just as I recommended to Ant that he not cut corners in his effort to establish himself, I continually use this column to forward my belief that looking at the big picture is always the best way to go.
I believe this not only because I think that it helps increase one’s business, investing in quality also helps during down times. The investments I made in purchasing a ‘better house’ and ‘luxury car’ have allowed me to keep my maintenance costs down while working to build a new business. Luckily, the office furniture I bought twenty years ago looks as good and works as well today as the day it was purchased.
We took the high road. I was very good as a personal manager and made a very good living. Jennie was a terrific marketing executive for Warner Bros. Records… anyone familiar with our company should recognize her skills. We liked having a reusable drycleaning garment bag as an organizational tool for ourselves. But we started the business, first, when we realized that we could save drycleaners money while giving them a better product and marketing initiative, but more important, when we realized that with success we could keep tens of millions of pounds out of our ecosystem.
It has not been easy. We had no idea just how disruptive our product would be. When we started, almost seven years to the day as I write this, we had no idea how long it would take to get our footing. As we stand at the precipice, finally, of success, an obvious question is whether it was all worth it?
The answer is just as obvious, but not perhaps for an obvious reason. I’ve had money, and I’ve not had money, and trust me, having money is better… easier anyway. But what I’ve also learned, and others who have periods of both struggle and prosperity that whether rich or poor, they laugh at the same things, cry at the same things are moved by the same things. Those willing to take ‘the high road,’ the more difficult path, enjoy a more colorful, layered journey.
I wouldn’t change a thing. And I bet you recognize that the bumps in your roads of your life have provided strength and riches that cannot be measured in a bank account.
The message is simple. Live in the moment. Enjoy the good, learn from the bad, but realize everything is temporary. Make the most of every day.