This globe-trotting innovator has many titles – CEO, Author, Editor, Cultural Curator – but one clear message: embrace risk and you will succeed.
HOME IN MIAMI
Best cultural experience in Miami:
The Rubell Family Collection of contemporary art housed in a former 45,000-square-foot Drug Enforcement Agency building and Wynwood Walls in the warehouse district. It was once blighted and is now a vibrant art haven of giant outdoor graffiti canvases.
Way to rejuvenate:
Paddle boarding in Biscayne Bay at sunset. Bike rides to South Pointe Park. Reading a book on the beach. Chilling on my lanai and watching the boats go by.
Miami wardrobe staples:
Stylish flat sandals for walking or biking; fashionable shorts and a lightweight top for day with some fun accessories. By night, it’s all about short dresses and high heels!
My passport with extra pages. We almost didn’t make a trip to Moscow because the customs agent said there wasn’t a blank page to stamp the entry documentation! Bose noise cancelling headphones, my cat-eye mask and my flat black boots, stylish and comfortable, especially at the end of a long flight when your feet expand.
Best Miami architecture:
The parking garage at the base of Lincoln Road by starchitects Herzog & de Meuron. Considered the world’s most beautiful parking garage, it’s a study in transforming what is considered to be one of the ugliest wastes of space in cities: large swathes of parking lots.
Growing up, it was so fun to watch my mother get dressed up and go out with my father on weekend nights. I don’t know how she pulled herself together so elegantly while also caring for my five siblings and me.
Favourite Miami restaurant:
Casa Tua. Impossible to get a reservation but worth the hassle. Old Hollywood meets Mediterranean villa, beautiful garden seating with twinkling strung lights and candles and equally gorgeous indoor seating in the cozy library. Everyone speaks Italian and the food is delicious Northern Italian.
What’s on your desk?
I’m a bit OCD, so just my Mac Book Pro, but in my desk are easily accessible dog treats for my new four-month-old puppy name Penelope.
The non-profit Girls E-Mentorship Innovation (www.girlsementorship.com) founded by Rochelle de Goias. Its mission is to mitigate the adverse effects of poverty through mentorship, bridging the social divide between at-risk girls and high-achieving women, motivating them to reach their full potential.
What’s your motto?
“Don’t call me boss!” I hire my team based on their skills and expertise. We’re all colleagues. I’m not going to do performance reviews or expect status reports. It’s up to each person to manage their workload, their clients and deliver quality service.
BOOKS & WRITING
What inspired you to write “Upgrade: Taking Your Work and Life from Ordinary to Extraordinary?”
I interviewed so many inspirational leaders for my column at the Huffington Post and I quickly noticed a pattern appearing. I realized that successful people had themes in common. I took all their great insights and distilled it into a book to help people upgrade their work and life.
One of the principles you advocate in the book is embracing failure. What do you mean by this?
We set up children from a very early age to believe that only success is rewarded. This, however, is very unlike the way we learn. New discoveries and innovations come out of trial and error: this is a fundamental method of problem solving.
Is there one trait that all successful people share?
Yes! They’re not afraid to take risks!
What did the corporate world teach you that business school didn’t?
That once you tie yourself to a corporate job working for someone else, you’ll never be free again. You’re tied to your desk, you have no control over your time or schedule. I’m glad I left my high-powered corporate job in Washington, DC.
How did your parents and family influence your risk-taking approach?
Like many first-generation immigrants, my Jordanian parents considered entrepreneurship considered too risky. They taught us to go to school get a good job and earn a steady pay cheque. However, my father always taught us that if we set our minds to it, we could accomplish anything.
Best business advice you’ve ever received?
Place lots of bets. Most people mistakenly invest way too much into one plan, one proposal, one client. The key to success is to invest in several plans, several proposals and have a roster of lots of clients.
Jack Keraouc, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Ayn Rand, J.D. Salinger, James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, William Faulkner, Charles Bukowski and Richard Florida!
Last book you read?
Just read the New York Times bestselling author Paula Hawkins’ Girl on a Train, couldn’t put it down. And can’t wait to read the new book coming out by my friend Kate Betts, My Paris Dream.
Proud moment in work?
We recently had a very famous client who was hesitant to pay for Creative Class research on which cities were good for their target audience. They recently came back to us and said it was their number-one indicator for success!
What is the Creative Class?
Creative Class is a growing segment of professionals that includes musicians, business executives, artists and writers, but mostly it consists of people who earn their livings by working with their minds. They’re driving cultural and social trends and influencing growth in urban communities. While the Creative Class make up only 30% of the workforce, they earn half of all the wages in the U.S. and control over 70% of discretionary spending.
As CEO of Creative Class what is your mandate?
I have two. The ethos of my husband and founder, Richard Florida, “That every single human being is creative and only when we tap and harness the creativity of everyone will we truly prosper.” And my own, “Be anything but boring.”
Biggest professional influence?
So many. My friend, Frank Toskan who founded M.A.C. Cosmetics was a pioneer, and a champion for gay rights and diversity. President Bill Clinton told me he learned his first lessons by being a comic book sales entrepreneur at the age of 13 in a grocery store. Andre Agassi, who told me he hated tennis and taught me that you don’t need to be passionate about something to succeed by making it about something bigger.
Favourite women in business?
Sara Blakely is the outrageously successful entrepreneur who founded Spanx. She explains that her father would often ask her as a young girl “What did you fail at today?” He made it clear that failure was an indication that you tried something. And my sister Leena Hosler, a mother of three and a full-time speech pathologist who just launched her own startup, with her kids, called Nooloos.
Do you have an office uniform?
Heck no! Come as you are. We celebrate and embrace diversity.
You divide your time between Toronto, New York and Miami – how does each city affect your style and wardrobe?
Toronto in the summer, Miami in the winter and New York year round. A stylist once told me, what you wear as a dress in Miami, you can wear as a shirt in Toronto. And it’s true! Anything daring goes in Miami: vibrant colours, bold prints and lots of skin. Toronto is more conservative and classic, while New York is darker with more of a gritty urban edge.
If you could give one piece of advice to young women just starting their careers, what would it be?
Surround yourself with smart people and listen to them! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be sure to take a seat at the table.