Looking back now through the reflective mirror of history, how would I know that 25 years later, my career that started from fixing houses, would go to making (and losing) millions on Wall Street, taking part in the re-emergence of Eastern and Central Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union; and riding the tide of the fast paced technologies boom, emerging markets such as the Chinese expansion into the US capital markets, and years of deal transactions both large and small? Throughout my history I have earned, spent, and sometimes lost tens of millions of dollars. I have employed thousands of people in varying times, had great successes as well as lived through terrible defeats. However, I have always remained grounded through my successes which I think enabled me to learn, persevere and push forward during challenging times.
Being where I am today, looking back I have dined with heads of states and have had my share of run-ins with some unscrupulous characters. Before search and social media became a household name that we have become reliant on today to find information on people or businesses, this was not a significant reality during my entrepreneurial days.
I remember a quote that was once told to me that “One must die a thousand deaths to build a business”. No true businessman has ever had success in every endeavor. Not even the famous investor Warren Buffet has been right 100% of the time. Remember his investment in US Airways? He lost his shirt. The point being is that business is tough and is a risky proposition. If you plan on starting your own business then you’d better have the temperament for the ups and downs without the fear of failing. A former trader and salesman I met in my early days on Wall Street rephrased a famous quote to me once, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
— Martin Sumichrast