What I’ve Learned: Stan AngeloPosted 10/23/2019
Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Westinghouse Lighting Corporation
I was thrown into the family business at conception. I didn’t fall in love with it until I was able to contribute to its significant growth. That sparked the entrepreneurial fire within me and it has never burned out – yet. We are an endangered spices. If you have it, cherish it and do all you can to embellish it. We live in the most wonderful country in the world where entrepreneurship is the foundation of our economy.
I used to coach the kids at Temple University when I was Entrepreneur in Residence. They had a million ideas, but they always asked, “Where do I get the money?” Tough question to answer. Their business excitement still exists, thankfully, if they can get the support. I always advised them to try and find work where they can learn and maybe someday go out on their own.
Exercise is vital. It is a form of meditation that produces ideas, reduces stress and helps solve problems. I have run in 38 countries and 149 cities. I learned a lot and thought a lot. I would not have survived or been as successful without those morning runs.
Don’t be afraid to hug someone you really like and respect. It is not just an Italian thing. I hugged a K-Mart buyer once – he almost got fired. For a million dollar order, I would hug almost anyone.
I used to tell my Temple students, “You need a balance in your life.” Advice I didn’t always listen to. Family comes first, business second, but there are exceptions, just keep them to a minimum.
Watch the consumption of booze. I had too many happy hours around the world. I thought the 53,000 miles that I have run over the last 35-years would keep me healthy forever. When my cardiologist told me I had an electrical problem, I thought he was talking about the business and not my heart.
In a family business it is critical to have a shareholders’ agreement that is equitable for all members. Each member should have his or her own attorney to be sure the document satisfies the need of each person. Blood is not always thicker than water. Trust isn’t a given. People change, circumstances change, whether they are family or not.
You got to get out in front of your major customers and key vendors. Face-to-face communication still works even in this cold, distant, digital world.
Learn to play “customer or vendor golf.” It came easy for me. No surprise, I have made many relationships and deals playing golf around the world.
I have been successful writing like I talk. Rid yourself of the old “business jargon.” It is useless. Take time writing those important emails, let them age overnight, read and re-read them several times until you are sure they achieve what you want. No short cuts. Use spell check.
The Golden Rule applies to all people around the world, including American buyers. My greatest joy is dealing with Asian and European people. There are Taiwanese suppliers, friends and partners that I have relationships with for almost 40-years. They are like family. The lesson is to determine the quality of the person you are dealing with first and all other buying fundamentals should follow.