Maria Liberati is a serial Entrepreneur, Real estate investor, Celebrity Chef, Award-winning author, mentor. CEO of Art of Living, Prima Media, Inc., which is a multimedia content company that produces content in the genres of food, cooking, home, garden, DIY, art, culture, travel, and history. They produce content in published books, streaming videos, podcasts, TV Shows. Currently, she hosts and produces The Maria Liberati Show Podcast. Their content was selected for the Gourmand World Awards, Culinary Travel Blog of the YEAR BY THE NY Travel Writers’ Society, and the Innovative Culinary Content Award from Corporate LiveWire (UK)
They also license their content and have a registered trademark for The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati and is licensed for food products. As a serial entrepreneur, she has also been CMO of a successful real estate corporation, and also CEO of 2 Real Estate Investment LLCs.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Maria Liberati: Although most may know me as an award-winning author/Celebrity Chef- I consider myself mainly a serial –entrepreneur. I love the challenge of starting and growing a company. Right now I am the CEO of Art of Living, Prima Media, Inc, which is a multimedia content company, producing content in genres of food, cooking, art, home, DIY, garden. The content is published in books, blogs, podcasts, streaming videos, and licensed for other companies. I am also CEO of 2 Real estate Investment and Management Companies.
I started my career as a serial entrepreneur and bootstrapped my first company and never looked back, just kept going!
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Maria Liberati: I believe that entrepreneurs are made. My upbringing taught me the skills I needed to be an entrepreneur. I was not brought up in a middle-class family, not a privileged lifestyle, but I also had grandparents that came to this country from Italy. They taught us how lots of hard work, a determination is important to succeed. My parents were employees and they always encouraged me to ‘do my own thing’ kind of follow my path. My Dad always told me to ‘never be dependent on anyone. always be your person. And that philosophy stuck with me. So you could say he programmed me to want to be independent and I am so glad he did!
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Maria Liberati: As an entrepreneur I am resilient, creative. By creative I mean that I like to always find solutions to a problem or issues or challenges that may be different. I am curious and I love a challenge. A voracious reader and researcher, I love discovering new things by reading and researching.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Maria Liberati: Art of Living, Prima Media, Inc grew out of the combination of my background as a serial entrepreneur and the success of my first book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. I decided if I was going to write a book I would have to own the company that publishes it. Again as mentioned I did not want to be dependent on another company for the success of my book. So the company started by publishing print books and expanded into digital content, then we were awarded a trademark that is licensed. But we have expanded into digital content, blogs podcasts, and producing TV.
The success of my book series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking led to a PBS show of the same name that we produced in Italy but in English for US audiences. So we have evolved and grown from being what began as a book publishing company to a multimedia content company. Our latest growth strategy is book translations. So while we began with just a book that I authored we are now acquiring books in other languages and translating them for publication in the US and English-speaking markets.
We also produce live events related to our content- like cooking events, book signings, conventions, wine dinners, culinary corporate training events for Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Maria Liberati: You must assume that you will always have to keep learning and ‘reinventing the wheel”. If you truly want to be an entrepreneur and see the success of your company then you must be willing to constantly reinvent the way your company does business for an ever-changing market. So if sales begin to slump that means you need to change your approach or take on a new approach, it doesn’t mean you need to or should give up or that you have failed it just means you need to find a new approach. You have to give your business unconditional love and sometimes it will love you back but sometimes it won’t and you have to hang in there!.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Maria Liberati: When I first began my career as a serial entrepreneur I assumed that because one approach made the business successful it would always be successful using that same approach. So my first business was successful for a while but then sales began to dwindle because I needed to change my approach and reinvent the business for the ever-changing market. I didn’t realize this and ended up selling the business for a small amount of its real value.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Maria Liberati: Be sure to get everything in writing, and as mentioned before- keep your pulse on an ever-changing world and just because the business is successful at one point does not mean it will always be that way. When something is not going just right you need to analyze and change your business approach and keep the business going, but with a new approach. Don’t give up the ship so quickly until you have exhausted all possibilities!
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Maria Liberati: Listening to people that discouraged me and letting that discourage me and bring me down. Not everyone is an entrepreneur and they don’t understand what it takes to be one, so many will discourage you only because they think they mean well but don’t understand. So try to be perceptive to your own goals, don’t always look for praise from others. If you strongly believe you can do it you can, so go out there and do what you believe you can. You don’t need others to believe in you, once you are successful they will all come to you.
My father told me to never be dependent on anyone, and I think that says it all in many ways. Realize that you are your unique being and you have unique skill sets, try to utilize them to grow and succeed and be the independent person an entrepreneur should be.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Maria Liberati: The idea that if your business is successful you can just keep going the same way and it will remain successful! Covid 19 forced my company to begin doing more things virtually so we had to in a sense reinvent the way we were doing business. So it has taught us that you need to be ready on your feet to always adopt new ways to fit in with the ever-changing world. What hasn’t changed is the idea of always needing to keep changing your business model to the changing world.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Maria Liberati: The one common myth is that myth that entrepreneurs are born and not made. There are so many resources out there to assist those that want to be entrepreneurs. With the right mindset and research, you can make yourself into a successful entrepreneur.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Maria Liberati: Resilience, curiosity someone that likes to and can work on their own, highly motivated, courageous.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Maria Liberati: My favorite book is called ‘The Magic of Believing’ by Claude M. Bristol. I keep this book with me, close by all the time at my office
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Maria Liberati: Probably being an interpreter. I went to University to become a linguist and teacher of languages and have a degree in that. But I think that is what makes me an expert in Communications. So I would be a translator or interpreter.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Maria Liberati: Leonardo DaVinci for all of his inventions that were the forerunners and inspiration for many things we use in modern society.
Mother Theresa for her humility and all the great work she did.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Maria Liberati for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Maria Liberati or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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