Extreme Accounting by Steven Schussler, Columnist for the Minnesota Business Magazine. TIM MYSLAJEK has built a reputation as a top notch accountant, and he’s done it while being an adrenaline-seeker in an industry that is typically buttoned-down. His passion for people and his method of connecting with them has led to his company’s perpetual growth. His commitment to helping both companies and the average Joe, along with adding an element of “fun” to this industry has contributed to Myslajek LTD’s success.
Steven Schussler: ‘I’m not one who gives up’
Creative stunts helped Steven Schussler launch his career and later get Rainforest Cafe off the ground.
By WENDY LEE, Star Tribune
Before Steven Schussler created and sold the Rainforest Cafe, his neighbors thought he was into black magic.
Schussler spent nearly $400,000 turning his St. Louis Park home into his concept, with sound systems, waterfalls, 40 tropical birds, two 150-pound tortoises and other exotic animals.
He painted his ceilings black, so that when the greenery couldn’t cover all parts of the wall the rainforest facade would look more real. He spent nights crying and at times, even he questioned whether he was psychotic.
Minnesota Business Back Talk Issue – Steven Schussler Interviews Dan Lowe, Managering Partner of Red Development
The Business of Shopping [Centers] by Steven Schussler
The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes (Maple Grove) and Woodbury Lakes are among the more forward-thinking Twin Cities shopping destinations. Dan Lowe is managing partner and one of the founding partners of the developer behind both: RED Development, LLC, which develops, leases and manages a total of 30 shopping centers nationwide. The company primarily focuses on open-air lifestyle centers and destination retail and entertainment developments. Lowe’s development responsibilities include project coordination, financing, budgeting, equity structure, due diligence, governmental relations, lease review and legal aspects for each project.
Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog: It’s a Jungle in ThereBy Michael McKinney
Created by Steven Schussler, the Rainforest Café holds the record as one of the top-grossing restaurant chains in the world and was the first restaurant concept to be featured at every Disney theme park worldwide. Schussler shares in …
Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog – http://www.leadershipnow.com/leadingblog/
It’s a Jungle in There
Anyone that has ever been to the Rainforest Café, knows it’s a treat. Created by Steven Schussler, the Rainforest Café holds the record as one of the top-grossing restaurant chains in the world and was the first restaurant concept to be featured at every Disney theme park worldwide. Schussler shares in It’s a Jungle in There, what it takes to make it happen and the lessons he learned that can be applied to your dream.
Schussler embodies the five Ps of successful entrepreneurship—Personality, Product, Persistence, People, and Philanthropy—that he teaches in the He writes, “As a leadership quality, one’s own passion is what galvanizes others into action.” Passion and persistence has played a big part in everything Schussler has done. It’s “not going through the motions but going through with the emotions.”
Schussler says that he’s always wanted to create a rainforest themed restaurant but the problem was getting investors interested in the idea. To get their attention he turned his home into a tropical rainforest. “Over a period of a few years, my standard split-level home was transformed into a jungle dwelling complete with rock outcroppings, waterfalls, rivers, layers of fog, mist that rose from the ground, a thatched hut covered with vines on the roof, tiki torches, a twelve-foot neon and a full-size replica of an elephant near the front door.”
“In the bedroom, my bed was ‘paradise’ sign, constructed to look like it was suspended in a tree….Birds and animals moved freely through the area during showings of the house….Every room, every closet, every hallway of my house was a ‘scene’: an attempt to present my idea of what a rainforest restaurant would look like in actual operation….No venture capitalists were going to invest their money in my far-out concept without actually seeing it, so I transformed my house into my vision of what a rainforest restaurant would look like in order to make them believe in my dream.”
Naturally, this would catch the attention of your neighbors (and law enforcement) too. There were problems of all sorts as you can imagine. And Schussler writes, “Being passionate doesn’t totally shield you from moments of doubt.” But his passion finally won out.
“How far are you willing to go to see your dream realized?
In short, high-content chapters, he explains his guiding philosophy and backs them with concrete experiences. He has two quotes framed on the wall over his desk: “When you’re out of quality, you’re out of business” and “The noblest search is the search for excellence.”
He talks about looking for “enhancement gaps.” Those gaps between “what you are seeing and what you could create to make what you are seeing better by providing some product or service.”
He asks, “Are you willing to help other people succeed even when it’s not a requirement of your job to be of assistance?”
Self-control: “What you don’t want to do is say things and/or act in a manner that will create negative impressions and the unwanted consequences that are certain to follow.” You must know your audience.
Burning Bridges/Writing People Off: Don’t do it. “What I learned that day reconfirmed my belief that ego can be a killer, especially an unchecked ego. Most entrepreneurs need to have a healthy ego, but you also have to be realistic. That’s a very delicate balance—the kind of balance you need to cross a bridge you tumbled off the first time around.”
“Everyone told me ‘great idea!, call us when you’re open’. You could see eyes rolling behind their head.”
He grew used to skeptics when describing his themed restaurant, thick with tropical birds and featuring endangered species.
“It becomes easier to tell other people about it,” says Schussler. “Then you need to create a business plan, that you use as a guide. Anybody that wants to own a business that doesn’t have a business plan is making a huge mistake.”
As part of Schussler’s plan he decided investors needed to see to believe in his vision. He transformed his home into his idea of the Rainforest Cafe, by holding a dinner party one evening.
“They would call me two to three hours after leaving my home and asked me if I actually live there. They couldn’t believe that I would immerse myself into a concept and I put that much into it.”
He says his display of personality and persistence is what eventually hooked investors. Schussler adds, there are also two must-have characteristics of new entrepreneurs.
“You need to bring concept to fruition. Disney likes to say imagination is king, so it’s really important to embrace what you want to create then learn as much as you can about it. You need to become the expert in your field.”
His nugget of an idea developed into 45 restaurants. Now he’s helping inspire other entrepreneurs to paddle through those early rough waters, to reach smooth sailing ahead.
Steven Schussler Interviews Andy Lansing, President & CEO of Levy Restaurants in the Minnesota Business Back Talk December Issue
An Innovative and award-winning company specializing in restaurants and premium sports and entertainment dining, including concessions at the Xcel Energy Center. Andy Lansing is a guy who understands partnership and leadership. Link here to read full interview…http://www.schusslercreative.com/press_articles.html
Business Cast – The Podcast for Entrepreneurs - Robert Gold and Andrew Brown…”Robert and I have interviewed dozens of business leaders, media insiders and business thought leaders. But, we’ve rarely spoken to an entrepreneur who has as much unbridled passion for entrepreneurialism as Steve Schussler. That‘s why for BusinessCast #177, we interviewed Steve who is best known for founding the wildly successful Rain Forest Cafe restaurant chain. Steve‘s newest venture is a book entitled, It‘s a Jungle in There that somehow effectively captures great stories of entrepreneurial daring, key lessons for today‘s business leaders and much of Steve‘s passion and homegrown wisdom.”
Originally from Rockaway Beach, New York, Steven Schussler is no stranger to PR stunts, and his book, It’s a Jungle in There, encourages anyone with a dream to “learn to become a creative genius, and take your ideas as far as you can to make them come true.” In order to attract investors for his idea of Rainforest Cafe, he transformed his home into the Rainforest Cafe® prototype. After four years of showing the concept to potential investors, Schussler opened the first Rainforest Cafe® at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota in October 1994. He and his public company built and operated 45 Rainforest Cafe® restaurants in seven years, on three continents and sold the chain to Landry’s Restaurants Inc. in 2000. Before selling to Landry’s, Rainforest Cafe® received over 40 awards in 6 years including: Fortune Magazine’s “Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S.A.” (named to the list two consecutive years); Nation’s Restaurant News’ “Hot Concept Award,” and Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Top 100 Entreprenuers.”
Steven Schussler says, “What better way to kick-off Thanksgiving than by giving thanks for what you have. At the end of the day, it’s not about how much you can acquire in your life, but how much you can help others. In Chapter 28 of my book, It’s a Jungle in There, I talk about the importance of philanthropy and how entrepreneurs must embrace social responsibility. My motive for creating the Ice Palace on the Fox Plaza is to raise awareness for Smile Network International, and to share the message that anyone can overcome obstacles and get ahead in business if they put their mind to it.”
The Ice Palace, which is also a prototype for Steven Schussler’s concept restaurant called, “Water, Fire & Ice™ The Ultra Polar Lounge™,” will be carved by Minneapolis-based Ice Occasions™ owner, Chris Swarbrick. His team also created sculptures for the Vancouver Olympics, and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. “It will take (100) 300-pound blocks of ice to construct the 15-ton Ice Palace on the Fox Plaza, and upon completion will house an ice bar stocked with Aquadeco Water in beautiful designer bottles, a circular ice couch, a fire and ice table (with real fire), an ice carving of a penguin, and a full size gorilla!,” said Swarbrick.
Without a college degree, Schussler became the CEO of a company twice named by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 100 fasted growing companies in America.
Here are some of the questions guiding our discussions:
1. You had some major challenges in the beginnings. Tell us about the process that lead to the success of RainForest Cafes…
2. You have said the importance of researching a new product or service concept is paramount to success. How does an entrepreneur approach the matter of getting market validation for a new concept?
3. So much of doing business is about relationships. Let’s talk about the power of a first impression. I think you have a story to share around this theme.
4. We’re sitting together in late 2010. What is your sense about the current business-startup environment. How can entrepreneurs overcome the tight credit markets and low consumer spending headwinds.
Greg Corombos and Rainforest Cafe founder Steven Schussler discuss the ideas, risks, ambition and personal qualities needed to be success entrepreneur. Hear more here click here