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October 2010
Prepare To Be Inspired

"Inspiration and genius – one and the same," said French poet and playwright Victor Hugo.

Indeed. Often referred to as "an unconscious burst of creativity," inspiration literally means breathed upon. The Greeks believed that inspiration came from the muses. The Ancient Norse thought inspiration derived from the god Odin. In the Hebrew Book of Amos, the prophet speaks of being overwhelmed by God's voice and compelled to speak. In Christianity, inspiration is considered a gift of the Holy Spirit.

In the October issue of Be Inkandescent Magazine, our Entrepreneur of the Month Steven Schussler is sure to breathe inspiration into your day. The founder of the Rainforest Cafe and CEO of Schussler Creative has a new book out called, "It's a Jungle in There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring." You'll also be inspired by Schussler's favorite nonprofit, Smile Network International.

And that's not all. In this issue, our 14 columnists provide ideas and insights that we believe will fuel your imagination, touch your heart, and feed your entrepreneurial spirit.

Here's to your incredible success! – Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor & Publisher, Be Inkandescent Magazine
Founder, Inkandescent Public Relations

Illustration (above) by Michael Gibbs, www.mglenwood.com

Entrepreneur of the Month
Steven Schussler explains why "It's a Jungle in There," and what entrepreneurs can do to tame the beasts

OCTOBER 2010 ENTREPRENEUR OF THE MONTH

Steven Schussler, founder of the Rainforest Cafe, and CEO of Schussler Creative

By Hope Katz Gibbs

When Steven Schussler was 18, he got a job in Miami climbing phone poles for the Southern Bell Telephone Company. But the young man, who as a teen figured out a way to make thousands of dollars each summer selling playing cards and soda and running errands to poker-playing rich guys at the beach, had his sights set on something bigger.

"It was hard work for little pay and offered limited opportunities for advancement," he writes in his new book, It's a Jungle in There. "When I learned I could make more money selling airtime for radio and television stations and build a future career for myself, I knew it was time for me to make a move."

A risk-taker with a flair for the dramatic

Schussler says he not only wanted to land a new job, he wanted to do something so wild and crazy that no one would ever forget him. So he donned a Superman suit, rented a giant barrel that he climbed inside of and sealed shut, then had two friends who were cops deliver him to the office of Don Hamlin, the manager of the TV station where he wanted to work.

The trip took a tad longer than expected – the manager was in a meeting and air was running out in the barrel. But Hamlin finally walked in with several members of his board of directors who had also been in the meeting. When he saw the barrel, the first words out of his mouth were, "What the hell is this all about?"

With that, Schussler jumped out jack-in-the-box style and said, "I'm your new super salesman," and began shaking hands. One of the board members responded, "Son, you are the sickest person we've ever met. You're hired."

Lesson learned

"A successful businessman operating in a corporate environment is like an acrobat doing all kinds of elaborate tricks on a high wire," Schussler shares. "Sure, it's impressive, but he's got a safety harness on. Where's the danger in that?

"Entrepreneurship is like performing a steady walk across two 40-foot-high platforms. It doesn't have to involve fancy footwork; it can be just moving gingerly along the taut wire strung 40 feet above the arena floor. What makes the performance impressive is that lack of safety net."

It's a Jungle in There

Schussler prides himself on his daring and has choreographed several stunts in his three-decades long career as an entrepreneur. He believes, "You can't worry about falling. There's no room for the faint of heart in the entrepreneurial game."

Consider his approach to convincing investors to support his theme restaurant concept, Rainforest Cafe.

A fan of rain forests and owner of several macaws since he was a kid, Schussler had the idea to open a restaurant that would honor and educate people about parrots, fish, and our dying natural resources.

His plan was grand, and expensive to execute, and he knew that he had to show potential supporters what he was dreaming up. So he turned his suburban Minnesota split-level home into a makeshift rain forest.

"When you are passionate about a project, anything is possible," he says, noting that over a period of years he added more and more to his house: rock outcroppings, waterfalls, rivers, layers of fog, mists that rose from the ground, tiki torches, and on the roof – a thatched hut covered with vines.

Inside, he lived with 40 tropical birds, two 150-pound tortoises, a baboon, an iguana, and tropical fish that filled 10, 300-gallon tanks. The pièce de résistance was a 12-foot neon "paradise" sign and full-size replica of an elephant that stood near the front door.

Needless to say, his neighbors weren't pleased

"They started a watch group," Schussler admits. "They even bought walkie-talkies and would update each other on what was happening."

One day, they called the cops. Nearly a dozen showed up. "They were going to search the premises for drugs," Schussler realized, figuring it was because he had a huge unpaid electric bill. "One guy put me up against the door and said he was with DEA, and they were going to search the premises for drugs. Because of my huge residential electric bill, they assumed I was growing marijuana in the house."

They were astonished when they discovered the tropical rain forest. After the cops left, one actually returned with his kids to show them the paradise Schussler had built.

The hoopla that surrounded the event drew the attention of an investor named Lyle Berman. Two years later, after several visits – some with his kids, parents, and other investors – he helped raise the funds to get the Rainforest Cafe up and running.

"I guess my tenacity and passion for the Rainforest Cafe idea kept growing on him," Schussler says with a contagious grin.

Be upbeat or beat down

It is his tenacity and never-say-die attitude that has helped the entrepreneur achieve great success – and handle great disappointment.

In chapter 19 of his book, Schussler asks the self-examination question: "Can you remain generally optimistic, even when things aren't going your way?" He proudly says he can.

Never have a bad day

The phrase that Schussler is often quoted as saying, "Never have a bad day," was first printed in a newspaper on the day utilities officials showed up at his house to dig a 25-foot hole in the street to cut off the juice to his suburban rainforest exhibit. He hadn't yet sold Berman on his big idea, and the energy needed to feed the 3,700 extension cords and 20 sound systems he had installed was costing a bundle.

A reporter approached him and asked how he was feeling about the situation, noting, "This has got to be the worst day of your life."

"No," said Schussler. "I consider myself to be lucky. Sure, I've had some rough times. I've been hit hard, and been down, but at least I've been able to pick myself up. I can put up with the utilities company and a lot worse, and you can, too!"

Schussler insists: "You are fortunate to be an entrepreneur. You get to do your own thing and be your own boss. If it comes with certain costs, like suffering through some rough times, try to think like I do: Proclaim there have been cloudy days, rainy days, tornado and hurricane days … but never a bad day."

Click here for Schussler's Tips for Entrepreneurs.

Tips for Entrepreneurs
The 5 Ps of business success: Personality, Product, Persistence, People, and Philanthropy

How did a boy from Far Rockaway, NY, raised by a single mom and without a college degree, become one of Entrepreneur magazine's top 100 entrepreneurs in the U.S.? Rainforest Cafe founder Steven Schussler, now the CEO of Schussler Creative, believes his success is linked to his deep understanding of the 5 Ps: Personality, Product, Persistence, People, and Philanthropy.

These five big ideas create the framework for his 28-chapter book, It's a Jungle in There, published this month by Sterling. Part self-help book, part business-school primer, each chapter begins with an inspirational quote that reflects Schussler's philosophy of life.

Chapter one, for instance, starts off with this famous quote by poet, dramatist, and literary critic T.S. Eliot: "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

Each chapter also offers a "self-examination question," which you'll find outlined below. While this format is a slight departure from our other Tips for Entrepreneurs, we believe that Schussler's questions are great food for entrepreneurial thought.

This synopsis is just the appetizer, of course. To enjoy all of Schussler's delicious and daring insights, you'll have to read the book, available on amazon.com.

It's a Jungle in There: Steven Schussler's 5 Ps of Entrepreneurial Success

I. PERSONALITY: What makes you a smart business person?

II. PRODUCT: What makes a product or service viable?

III. PERSISTENCE: Don't let failure stand in the way of achieving your dream.

IV. PEOPLE: You can't do this by yourself.

V. PHILANTHROPY: Success means giving back.

Click here to read more Tips from Steven Schussler.

Click here to watch Schussler's YouTube video about the book.


"Suddenly Frugal" author Leah Ingram tells us how to live happier and healthier for less


If cooking is your passion, sign up for a class at Culinaria Cooking School, which opens this month


Learn how the GED program changes lives


Event planner Roxanne Rukowicz inspires us with a few postmortem tales


Financial advisor John Hasenberg inspires us with ideas on "Retiring Right"


Illustrator Michael Gibbs interviews visionary artist Greg Spalenka


HR expert Sharon Armstrong asks: Do you have a personal brand? It could be the key to your success


Foreign entrepreneurs take note: Attorney Steve Trow explains the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program


Angela Sontheimer takes us inside the research behind the Transformational Journey program at the Lincoln Leadership Institute


Radio talk show host Angle Bush gives us "The 3 T's to Perfecting Your Pitch and Getting the Interview You Want"


Dr. Alice Waagen helps leaders separate true, viable inspiration from the fad of the moment


Smile Network International reconstructs lives one bright, smiling face at a time


We are inspired by this month's Truly Amazing Woman Suzanne Carbone, an advocate for research into the prevention and cure of Alzheimer's disease


John Peters pairs the perfect wine with each dish of this three-course meal by Chef Stephen Sands



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