From the Corner Office

Mark Gordon

Join us every week on From the Corner Office by the Business Observer for exclusive interviews with accomplished business leaders, where we delve into their unique experiences and insights. Gain valuable lessons from their expertise that you can apply to your own business. read less
BusinessBusiness

Episodes

Major lessons in leadership with minor league baseball managing partner John Martin
4d ago
Major lessons in leadership with minor league baseball managing partner John Martin
This week, we speak with managing partner of the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, John Martin. John’s humble beginnings started on a farm in Illinois. He grew up in a town of 1,000 with no stop light, but it did have a baseball field. He fell in love with baseball while listening to the Chicago Cubs on the radio. John went on to have a successful career in agriculture, working for several seed companies, and is still part of his family farm. In 2022, John became the managing partner of the Mighty Mussels. John takes leadership lessons from the farm and board room to Fort Myers. Here he uses his skills to create a family-friendly environment in the baseball stadium. Together, we discuss the future of the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, the leadership lessons he learned on the farm and in the corporate world, and how sometimes timing is everything. 3 Takeaways: (03:20) It is hard to get the ecstasy of victory to equal the agony of defeat(10:10) When your employees talk, listen(11:00) Don't tell them how to do the dirtiest job, show themTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing John Martin, Managing Partner of the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (03:40) John’s farm history and transitioning to Florida (06:15) What does a Managing Partner do? (07:50) What is the landscape of Minor League baseball? (09:45) What stands out as good leadership characteristics? (12:20) John’s mentors (13:50) Learning what NOT to do (15:45) Lessons learned and taking risks (18:20) What can we expect from the Mighty Mussels? (21:20) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
The beauty — and struggles — of being your own boss with Coyote Ugly franchise owner Joanna Olsen
Jun 13 2024
The beauty — and struggles — of being your own boss with Coyote Ugly franchise owner Joanna Olsen
This week, we speak with Owner of Coyote Ugly Saloon, Joanna Olsen. Joanna fell in love with Coyote Ugly one night as a patron when she was 24 years old. That fateful night led to a napkin deal allowing Joanna to bring Coyote Ugly to Atlanta. Since then, she has opened 4 locations across Florida, including Tampa, Panama City, Destin, and Daytona. Together, we talk about the importance of owning her own land, and the reason why the Atlanta location is no more. We also discuss overcoming hurricanes, caring for employees, setting the culture, and the successes that have kept the Tampa location in business for  21 years. 3 Takeaways: (04:30) Keep a good journal(20:05) Never take no for an answer(22:50) Ensure you have control over the direction of your businessTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing Joanna Olsen, Franchise Owner of Coyote Ugly Saloon (02:00) How Joanna became an owner of Coyote Ugly Saloon (04:20) Challenges of owning a bar (06:00) Hurricane Michael’s impact (09:00) Joanna’s journaling (11:00) How do you keep your culture at Coyote Ugly? (12:45) The importance of owning the building (15:10) What do you look for in leaders? (17:15) Learning from mentors (19:55) Advice for other entrepreneurs (21:15) Giving back to the community (22:10) Setbacks that stand out (25:20) What can we expect in 2024? (26:45) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
Behind the scenes of a 40-year career in jewelry design with Mark Loren
Jun 6 2024
Behind the scenes of a 40-year career in jewelry design with Mark Loren
This week, we speak with Mark Loren, founder of Mark Loren Designs. Mark is a goldsmith, silversmith, and platinumsmith who started his gallery in Fort Myers almost 40 years ago. Together, we talk about managing the waves of economic downturn, Mark’s best leadership advice, and competing with national brands. We also discuss lab grown diamonds and the impact they have on the industry. 3 Takeaways: (07:30) Being nimble might be the key to surviving an economic downturn(08:00) Become friendly with your local banker(11:20) Good leaders rise to the topTimestamps: (00:00) Subscribe to the Business Observer (00:30) Introducing Mark Loren, Founder of Mark Loren Designs (02:30) Getting started in Ft. Myers and tipping points over the last 40 years (04:40) Best parts of being an entrepreneur (06:20) How did you get through the difficult economic times? (09:40) How do you compete with national brands? (11:10) Characteristics of a good leader (13:10) Leadership advice (14:30) Balancing clients expectations with artistic style (16:00) Lab Grown Diamond Industry Update (20:45) Changing dynamics of the diamond industry (21:40) Advice for young entrepreneurs (22:30) What is coming up for Mark Loren Designs in 2024? (23:30) Rapid Fire Questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
Saving lives one text at a time with Cope Notes Founder Johnny Crowder
May 30 2024
Saving lives one text at a time with Cope Notes Founder Johnny Crowder
Johnny Crowder likes to say that, in short, he’s a suicide/abuse survivor, TEDx speaker, Billboard-charting heavy metal musician and a Certified Recovery Peer Specialist. He’s also the founder of Cope Notes, a Tampa-based mental health platform that provides daily support to users in nearly 100 countries around the world. Now Johnny, who has  “YOU MATTER" tattooed across the back of his neck and "SAVE THEM" tattooed on his knuckles, is a sought-after speaker on mental health issues. And the ultimate accidental entrepreneur.  Together, we speak about the unique and unusual circumstances in Johnny’s life that led to Cope Notes, and how he has sustained the organization. (He constantly focuses on his north star — helping people.) We also talk about why cereal is important to Johnny — and which one is his favorite. 3 Takeaways: (06:00) You have skills that will transfer to entrepreneurship(08:00) Ask for help(17:00) The “3-year period of guaranteed loss”Timestamps: (00:00) Subscribe to the Business Observer (00:31) Introducing Johnny Crowder and Cope Notes (03:40) How did the Cope Notes come to be? (06:00) Steps you took to grow Cope Notes (09:55) Being curious (11:25) Where is Cope Notes currently? (13:00) What impact has Cope Notes had on its community? (16:35) Advice to young entrepreneurs (20:00) Johnny’s music career (22:20) What can we expect in 2024 from Cope Notes? (23:30) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
How an immigrant who didn't learn English until her 20s became a college president with Aysegul Timur
May 23 2024
How an immigrant who didn't learn English until her 20s became a college president with Aysegul Timur
This week we speak with Aysegul Timur, President of Florida Gulf Coast University. Aysegul was named president of Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers last summer — the fifth top leader in the 33-year history of the college. Timur is a first-generation college student who moved from her native Turkey to Naples 25 years ago. She joined FGCU in 2019, after working at Hodges University for nearly 20 years. Her name is pronounced (ah-sha-guhl, rhymes with Portugal; and tim-er, rhymes with glimmer.)    Together, we talk about how she pulled off a major feat: earned a Ph.D, raised her young family, built her career and learned English — all at the same time. We also discuss the leadership advice she gives to young students and the importance of mentors in her life and career.   3 Takeaways: (01:30) Calculate the opportunity cost of your time(14:40) Leadership is about influence(15:40) Communication is oxygen for an organizationTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing President Aysegul Timur and her biggest surprises of the first 10 months (02:45) President Timur’s Inauguration Day (04:10) Getting started as a teaching assistant (06:20) Learning English and immigrating from Turkey (08:20) How did your parents shape your work ethic? (09:50) Commuting from Naples to Tampa to get her PhD (14:15) What do you look for in leaders? (16:10) Leadership advice (17:15) Mentors (18:35) The importance of communication (20:35) Biggest challenges facing college presidents (23:20) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
Liberate yourself from the clutches of hustle with entrepreneur and keynote speaker Taylor Villegas
May 16 2024
Liberate yourself from the clutches of hustle with entrepreneur and keynote speaker Taylor Villegas
This week, we speak with Taylor Villegas, founder of Twelve Tables and Sunny Collabs, angel investor, podcaster, keynote speaker, and influencer. Taylor’s companies work with growth-stage startups and established brands on anything from strategic advice to one-off projects to longer marketing campaigns and more. Prior to these companies Taylor worked for a variety of other entities, including one of the largest contractors in the region and a real estate brokerage.   Together, we talk about Taylor’s unusual career path and how, and why, she changed directions. We also discuss Taylor’s “un-hustling” philosophy, how to build a business and career with the right balance between professional achievement and a fulfilling life and her advice for budding entrepreneurs.  3 Takeaways: (17:00) Don’t allow hustle to ruin harmony in your life(23:45) Feedback is the strongest form of care(27:30) You have to continually validate othersTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing Taylor Villeagas and Twelve Tables (02:40) The creation of Twelve Tables (04:15) Transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship (06:30) Getting started with breathwork (13:00) The creation and meaning behind Unhustled (18:30) Unhustled book, inspiration, and intentionality (21:20) How to collaborate more effectively (23:30) Giving good feedback (28:15) Where do you get your inspiration? (31:30) What can we expect from Twelve Tables in 2024? (33:00) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
Connections can help your business take off with serial entrepreneur Veronica Swiatek
May 9 2024
Connections can help your business take off with serial entrepreneur Veronica Swiatek
This week, we speak with Veronica Swiatek, founder and owner of Massage Studio. Veronica owns Massage Studio, with one location in downtown St. Petersburg and another location in South Tampa. She also owns retail stores in the Tampa International Airport and commercial real estate properties in the region. Together, we talk about Veronica’s career in restaurants and hospitality and how she took those customer service and work ethic lessons to launch her own businesses. We also discuss the importance of being a transparent leader and clear communicator with both employees and customers 3 Takeaways: (01:44) Get involved in the community and take advantage of you contacts(04:50) Just ask, what is the worst that can happen?(09:30) It is important for employees to understand the “why” behind decisionsTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing Veronica Swiatek, serial entrepreneur (02:44) How did you start becoming a business owner? (06:20) Leadership lessons from learned experience (08:40) What do you look for when hiring employees? (11:45) Setbacks that you overcame and asking for help (13:35) Who are some mentors and what you learned from them? (15:50) What does the day-to-day look like for you? (17:20) What can we expect from you in 2024? (19:34) Rapid Fire Questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
Leading with courage, conviction and curiosity with Kristen Lessig-Schenerlein and Hannah McGowan of CORE Leadership
Apr 25 2024
Leading with courage, conviction and curiosity with Kristen Lessig-Schenerlein and Hannah McGowan of CORE Leadership
This week, we speak with Kristen Lessig-Schenerlein, founder of Koi Coaching and Consulting and Hannah McGowan, founder of Hannah McGowan Coaching.   Kristen and Hannah, each with independent coaching consulting firms, are teaming up to create a leadership coaching course and curriculum for nonprofit and for-profit professionals in the region.   Together, we talk about their diverging career paths that led them to their current passions and their big plans to help even more professionals. We also discuss the power of positive psychology and curiosity to become a better leader.   Instagram: @coreleadershipcoaching Email: connect@coreleadershipcoaching.com 3 Takeaways: (08:15) Leadership starts with self awareness(10:30) The reason you have a team is because your mission is larger than one person(15:20) Don’t get so defensiveTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing Kristen Lessig Schenerlein & Hannah McGowan (01:10) Koi Coaching & Consulting (03:00) Hannah McGowan Coaching (06:00) New initiative - CORE Leadership (07:30) Solving for the leadership gap (09:45) “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious” (11:30) How does applied positive psychology get incorporated into Core leadership? (12:50) Memorable leadership advice (17:45) We bring our full selves to work (18:40) Memorable leadership learning experiences (23:55) Learning from mentors (27:15) Tell us more about CORE leadership (29:00) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
The importance of connections with Michael Westafer, founder and CEO of Roger West Creative & Code
Apr 18 2024
The importance of connections with Michael Westafer, founder and CEO of Roger West Creative & Code
This week, we speak with Michael Westafer, founder and CEO of Roger West Creative & Code. Michael founded the company, a full-service marketing agency, in 2007. The company recently merged with Digital Brew, an Orlando video production company, and will be run under a holding company called Roger & James, with a combined 45 employees. Together, we talk about how Michael founded and grew the business and some early challenges he overcame to scale and work with bigger clients. We also discuss Michael’s leadership style and how builds a culture of open communication at the company.   3 Takeaways: (03:25) It all starts with connections(11:40) You can learn as much from bad leaders as you can from good ones(12:35) It is hard to say “no” to projectsTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing Michael Westafer (02:00) What led to the founding and growth of the firm? (04:35) What were some key tipping points along the way? (05:55) What do you look for when hiring employees and leaders? (09:20) Tell us about EOS for your company (11:00) Learning from other leaders (12:30) What have you learned from running the company? (14:15) Company-wide goal setting (15:00) New announcement (16:00) What can we look forward to in 2024? (16:45) Rapid fire question Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
You don't get ahead alone and more leadership insights from nonprofit executive Susie Bowie
Apr 11 2024
You don't get ahead alone and more leadership insights from nonprofit executive Susie Bowie
This week, we speak with Susie Bowie, CEO, The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation. Susie was named CEO of the foundation in March 2023. She was executive director of the Manatee Community Foundation before this new role, and has been involved with nonprofits in the area for some two decades. Together, we discuss Susie’s passion for leadership and facilitating environments in organizations that make people feel heard and valued. We also talk about what the Selby Foundation is up to next and how she’s addressing the challenges in her new job.  3 Takeaways: (05:55) Always be thinking about what you could do better(06:45) Empathy is a learned trait(09:35) Meet with anyone. None of us get where we are without other people.Timestamps: (00:00) Introducing Susie Bowie, CEO of the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation (02:30) Tell us about your previous roles in the nonprofit sector (04:25) Growing up, did you always want to be involved in the nonprofit sector? (05:30) Being an empathetic leader & learning from Mr. Rogers (09:00) What is a piece of leadership advice that stands out to you? (11:50) Is there a failure you learned from in your career? (15:10) Goal setting (17:50) Mentorship & executive coaching (20:27) What is coming in 2024 for the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation? (22:05) Rapid fire question Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
Jay Girotto's unique path from tech startups to Microsoft to a billion-dollar family farm investment fund
Mar 28 2024
Jay Girotto's unique path from tech startups to Microsoft to a billion-dollar family farm investment fund
This week we are speaking with Jay Girotto, President of Farmland Opportunity. Jay founded Farmland Opportunity in 2009 after a career in tech on the West Coast of the country, including stints at Microsoft, Bain Capital, and multiple startups. Jay holds BA and MBA degrees from Harvard University. Farmland Opportunity manages a billion-dollar portfolio of row crop farms in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, with an eye toward creating efficiencies and leasing land back to local family farmers Together, we talk about how Jay was influenced to begin Farmland Opportunity. We also talk about his greatest role model and member of underappreciated Collins Commercial Avionics, his father, Jay’s involvement in TIGER 21, and his recent relocation to Sarasota.   3 Takeaways: (11:00) Know your fit(13:25) Understand the importance of long term relationships(16:10) There is a skill around preserving optionalityTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing Jay Girotto and Farmland Opportunity (03:30) Farmland Opportunity mission (07:25) Jay’s career in tech (10:00) Lessons from working at Microsoft (12:50) Jay’s leadership style (15:42) Advice you would give to a startup (18:00) Jay’s biggest mentor, his father, and innovation (21:30) Finding Sarasota (23:30) Jay’s involvement in TIGER 21 (26:20) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
Melding a career of for-profit and nonprofit leadership with All Faiths Food Bank CEO Nelle Miller
Mar 21 2024
Melding a career of for-profit and nonprofit leadership with All Faiths Food Bank CEO Nelle Miller
This week we are speaking with Nelle Miller, President and CEO of All Faiths Food Bank. Nelle has had two careers: one in business with technology and a focus on mergers and acquisitions. And another in nonprofits and philanthropy, in chairing boards and overseeing several nonprofits in Sarasota. She was named CEO of the food bank earlier this year.  Together, we talk about how she navigated challenges across her career, in addition to her personal why that motivates her to work with so many different nonprofits. We also talk about how and why she believes it’s crucial to prioritize employees’ wellbeing to build a great organizational culture. 3 Takeaways: (12:14) No one job on a staff matters more than any other(12:25) If you are going to be a leader, you have to be willing to do every other job on the staff(18:30) You never know what someone hears and what they don’t hearTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing Nelle Miller and All Faiths Food Bank (03:05) What does “ending hunger” mean? (04:15) What drew you to this role at All Faiths Food Bank? (06:00) How Nelle got into Interim-CEO-for-hire roles (09:00) What lessons about culture did you learn from the other organizations? (11:40) Nelle’s for-profit career in startups (14:30) Who are mentors that have stood out throughout your career? (16:50) What do you look for in a good leader? (19:05) Checking ego at the door (20:40) Anything coming up in 2024? (21:55) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
Helping is in her DNA with Elizabeth Dosoretz CEO and Founder of Elite DNA Behavioral Health
Mar 7 2024
Helping is in her DNA with Elizabeth Dosoretz CEO and Founder of Elite DNA Behavioral Health
This week we are speaking with Elizabeth Dosoretz, Elite DNA Behavioral Health, CEO and founder. Elizabeth is a licensed clinical social worker and founded Elite DNA Behavioral Health in 2013. Since then, the company has grown into one the of the largest mental health providers in Florida, providing in-person and virtual behavioral services to children, adolescents and adults at over 30 locations statewide.  Together, we talk about the early days of Elite DNA and how and why Elizabeth started the company, in addition to the unique hidden meaning behind the name of the organization. We also talk about how Elizabeth has managed the growth of the company to meet a surging demand for mental health services, and why she's a fierce advocate for expanding availability of mental health services.  3 Takeaways: (04:40) Begin where your client is(13:52) It is easy to get distracted, and sometimes it is convenient to be distracted when things are hard(16:40) If we take care of people well, everything else will fall in lineTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing Elizabeth Dosoretz and Elite DNA Behavioral Health (04:05) How did you grow the company? (05:50) What is the footprint of Elite DNA now? (07:10) Communicating the importance of mental health (08:50) How do you keep a consistent culture while expanding? (11:35) What book is the organization reading now? (13:05) Key lessons Elizabeth learned building the business (15:25) Who are the mentors you have learned from? (17:05) What do people misunderstand about mental health? (19:45) What can we look forward to in 2024? (20:45) Rapid fire questions
Behind the scenes of an ad agency with ChappellRoberts CEO Christine Turner
Feb 22 2024
Behind the scenes of an ad agency with ChappellRoberts CEO Christine Turner
This week we are joined by Christine Turner, CEO of ChappellRoberts, one of the leading ad agencies in Tampa. Christine was named president in 2021 and CEO and partner in 2023. She’s also been involved in multiple local civic and philanthropic groups, including Leadership Tampa and the Tampa Downtown Partnership.  Together, we speak about why Christine took a job with ChappellRoberts right out of college and never left. We also talk about Christine’s mentors, the biggest business lessons of her career and what makes a great ad campaign and commercial.   3 Takeaways: (08:29) When you are for the business and not for yourself, it becomes easier to be seen as a leader(10:00) The pain points that I had don't have to be someone else’s(11:40) People that are happy will produce creative, great workTimestamps: (00:00) Introducing Christine Turner, CEO of ChappellRoberts (02:40) What is ChappellRoberts niche? (03:45) What is a project that really defined ChappellRoberts? (07:45) How did you pursue the CEO role? (09:50) What do you do to create a great culture? (13:00) What mistakes did you learn from? (15:50) Who are some mentors and what did you learn from them? (18:10) What do you love about this industry? (20:10) How do you consume marketing and advertising? (21:10) Any projects you are excited about in 2024? (22:30) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.
Connections, creativity and championing innovation with Synapse Florida CEO Lauren Prager
Feb 15 2024
Connections, creativity and championing innovation with Synapse Florida CEO Lauren Prager
This week, we are speaking with Lauren Prager, CEO of Synapse Florida. Lauren has been involved with Synapse Florida since 2018, when she volunteered for the launch of Synapse Summit, a statewide event of innovation. She was named CEO in spring 2023.  Together, we talk about how Synapse has evolved, and continues to evolve, as a go-to source for entrepreneurs, business leaders, nonprofits and more from across Florida to gather and learn from one another. We also talk about what Lauren has learned seeing and working with some of the region’s most notable and innovative organizations and companies.   3 Takeaways: (08:52) Florida is a welcoming community, utilize it(10:35) Not all innovation is tech, and not all tech is innovative(12:35) A common thread among inspiring people is they give more than they receive Timestamps: (00:00) Introducing Lauren Prager and Synapse Florida (04:15) How do you connect people and organizations at Synapse? (06:20) How did you get connected with Synapse? (10:07) Who are some innovators that are doing it right? (12:00) Who are some leaders you look up to? (14:00) How do you choose your opportunities at Synapse? (16:35) Nonprofit organizations leveraging partnerships (18:25) What is Synapse Summit? (21:00) Rapid fire questions Join us every week as we interview business leaders to learn what makes them great, what they look for in growing leaders, and much more. Visit businessobserverfl.com for more.