Running your own race in business
Leading a business is no doubt a test of endurance. Today’s chief executive officers face many challenges as they strive for both stability and strategic victories.
Maintaining a laser focus on your business goals is critical to avoid distraction. As the leader of one of the nation’s top fashion trade show events, Jeffrey Zuckerman has seen others fall victim to endless comparison and competition.
“There is fierce competition in both the fashion and trade show verticals, so you can imagine the level at which we have to operate in a field that combines both,” said Zuckerman.
“But what we learned is that success comes not from keeping up with the latest trends and competition. It comes from creating your own benchmarks and focusing only on necessary actions to achieve your goals.”
For many executive leaders, that means doing a lot less. To start, Zuckerman encourages fellow CEOs to look first at their mission, vision and values. Consider whether these statements align with your current business goals and actual business practices.
If there is any misalignment, work with your team members to ask “why?” and determine what changes need to be made in order to streamline workflows with overall business strategy.
He explains, “Your goal is to trim the fat. Find where there is excess effort being expended, and redirect it toward initiatives that are more impactful. At Main Street Events, our focus is on relationships.
When we see a new offering on the market, we ask ourselves (and often our clients and industry partners as well) whether the adoption of that offering would enhance our relationships. If the answer is no, we pass on it.”
But that does not mean successful CEOs leave innovation out of the equation. According to Zuckerman, innovation becomes easier as businesses become more critical.
“There is always some level of temptation when we learn about new services, offerings or technological advances,” he said.
“Yet, there is a ‘sea of sameness’ that occurs when everyone starts to chase these trends. Our team prioritizes intrapreneurship, which instead enables greater customization toward our clients’ needs – and we are stand out as a result.”
This focus helped Zuckerman and his team achieve a major milestone. Their signature ILOE STUDIOS event doubled in size this spring, attracting a new cohort of international exhibitors and buyers from across the globe.
ILOE STUDIOS is now expected to grow even more in the fall, and the event will feature dedicated spaces for young contemporary ready-to-wear and elevated womenswear exhibitors. Zuckerman credits his team’s hyperconnectivity across the industry as the cornerstone to the success of these initiatives. “We listen just as much as we act,” he explained.
“The old adage was ‘if you build it, they will come,’ but our team has found the greatest success building alongside our clients as their needs evolve. We involve our clients in our innovation process from start to finish, and the result is a custom-tailored show experience to further ensure the highest return on investment.”
In the end, Zuckerman says, it is all about running your own race. He encourages CEOS to build their leadership platform on a foundation of client service.
When challenges do inevitably arise, CEOs can lean on their relationships to help uncover meaningful solutions. Additionally, remaining steadfast on your mission, vision and values can help bolster those relationships even when times are tough.