What’s the most ambitious goal you’ve attempted?
The most ambitious goal we have taken is the November opening of our second store, in Darien, Conn. While many of our competitors have taken a defensive step during uncertain times, we have taken an aggressive step toward protecting our future growth. We are pleased with our position in the industry as a fourth-generation jeweler. But we feel there is more opportunity in the years to come. We have introduced our brand to a market that truly appreciates fine jewelry, timepieces, and collectables. Based on the reception we have received by our new friends, we are encouraged that this venture was a good decision.
If you weren’t a retail store owner, what would you be doing?
That’s easy. I would transition my part-time job as an adjunct professor at Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business to a full-time position. My students look to me for instruction and guidance, but the relationship is reciprocal. The questions and challenges I face in the classroom make me a better jeweler and businessman. Albeit our generational differences, we speak the common language of entrepreneurship. It is a myth that entrepreneurs take wild risks and defy the gods of business failure. Challenging events deriving from one’s external locus of control, like the current economy, often diminish confidence and contribute to failure. My students learn to plan business strategies and policies when things are going well rather than reacting during anxious times of trouble.
What book that you read changed the way you do business?
Rather than name one book I can name over 30. Let me explain. After nearly 25 years, I realized that I needed to improve my skills if our firm was to grow. Specifically, I knew that this would require relearning the fundamentals and studying new techniques by returning to school. Therefore, in 2003 I took the GMATs and returned to school. In 2005, with my MBA, I had a new outlook on business. I was a better leader because I was a better listener. I was a better jeweler because I had a better appreciation regarding customer service and quality control. I actually became a new and improved jeweler with a rejuvenated product cycle. With my degree, I knew to look back and assess how I was performing tasks and adopt a new technique to motivate some very good people and assure a customer base that our firm would continue for generations to come.
What makes you a successful jeweler?
The people you work with are the ones who make you look good day after day. Your family, your sales associates, your management team, and, most importantly, your customers. Each of them demonstrates trust and friendship and bolsters your status as a successful jeweler. These people keep me grounded to remain humble and remind me that no one person is larger than our industry. We are clearly reliant on each other to be successful. Trust and respect must be a reciprocal arrangement for it to enhance a firm’s future.
Additionally, our customers can relate to our family because we possess the same ideals they honor within their own family. A business needs to possess family traits, especially when trust is a key component to success. After four generations we feel our family business possesses special alliances with our customers and vendors.
Why are you a great boss?
While I was studying for my MBA I distributed a double-blind survey to my employees regarding my leadership skills and how I scored as a boss. For many employers this alone would be considered a bold move since feedback was anonymous. I did well, not great, but well. What I learned most is that leadership means listening as much as directing and an organizational chart can often get in the way of creativity.
Perhaps this is why I consider myself a good boss. I know I am not perfect, but I’ll never give up trying to please the people I work with every day of my life.