“A Great Example of American Entrepreneurship”: Ric Edelman’s Family Business
In his appearance on yesterday's episode of Smashing the Plateau, Ric Edelmen spoke at length about the influence that his entrepreneur parents had on him, and how he learned about how to run a business from them. Here, in an excerpt from that interview, he tells the story of how his parents built their business, and how he learned from them "every day through osmosis":
"Being in a family of entrepreneurs was, I think, what set the stage for me to start my own business with my wife. My mom and dad ran their businesses forever, and so you hang around at the dinner table—and mom and dad are talking business! They're talking about the company and all the issues associated with it. They're talking about staff, and HR issues; they're talking about issues such as marketing strategies and business strategies, and new products, and new services, and new markets they want to get into. They're talking about banking and finance and capital issues. They're talking about taxes. They're talking about competition. They're talking about regulation. This is just natural dinner conversation, for a five-year-old. And then you go to their office during the week and on weekends, and you watch them running their business, and you watch them with their customers, and you watch them engaging…
"And so you grow up in this kind of environment and household, and you begin to realize as an adult, that although Dad never said a thing about 'here's what you need to do to run a business,' he essentially taught me every day through osmosis. I just absorbed it all through that environment.
"He was a tournament promoter, and created the world's largest bowling tournaments. Today my brother still runs that business. For people in the bowling industry, they're household names; outside of the bowling industry, people are kind of shocked to realize that there is such a thing as a bowling tournament industry. But he's built a huge business in that world, did things that no one ever did before, and along the way, mastered all elements of the business. He ended up publishing his own newspapers; that's how he promoted his business. And his newspapers were distributed free to bowling centers all around the country, and [through] free subscriptions to league bowlers.
"I learned very early on that being really good isn't enough; creating a great tournament's not enough. You gotta let people know about it so they come out and bowl. So his business was a really great example of American entrepreneurship."