From the editor’s notebook: Our slice of paradise

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By: Jeff Perlman Editor in Chief
I am addicted to inspiration.
Every day I seek it out—in people, writing, projects, businesses, books, movies you name it.
There’s something energizing about being in the presence of people who are positive and who aspire. I love the dreamers and the doers—the risk takers and the creatives. Complainers? Not so much.
This month, I found inspiration in a lot of different places and I thought I would share some with you.
Many years ago, I met two Boca-based entrepreneurs Patrick Stinus and Brian Niles in a Delray coffee shop. We’ve been friends ever since. When I met them, they were two MBA’s who had gone through GE’s renowned training programs and at young ages—we are talking 20s—they were running big projects for GE all over the place. Both decided to get off the corporate track and start a firm called 7th Element to help small and midsize businesses grow. One of their clients loved their work so much he hired them to run his business and they doubled sales to over $100 million in short order.
These days they are working on their own start-up called Rooster and you’ll hear more about that effort in future issues of our newspaper.
We caught up recently and had a wide ranging conversation on the entrepreneurial journey, the nature of partnerships and the start-up climate in Boca and Delray. Being an entrepreneur can be an emotional rollercoaster—the highs are very high, the lows can be crushing. But if you have the bug you have no choice but to launch your idea into the world. It does help to have a community to fall back on and to work in an environment or city that celebrates entrepreneurs and nourishes their needs for space, seed capital and other services.
Being an entrepreneur– and also having worked on the investment side– I know the most important factor in success is the team and its ability to execute. Based on those criteria, Brian and Patrick, are going to make it big.
Speaking of successful entrepreneurs, we ran into John Ferber and his team at the Seagate this month.
John is extremely talented and incredibly smart visionary who has done it before (Advertising.com) and doing it again (Bidtellect) right here in Delray. He always makes me laugh and he always inspires me.
I had the honor of presiding over his wedding to the beautiful Jenna Ferber at few years back. The duo just had a beautiful baby and we wish them all the best. So what makes John a great entrepreneur? Let’s see: a razor sharp mind, an ability to see around corners and a strong passion for making a dent in the universe. He’s also extremely generous—super busy, but always willing to help another entrepreneur.
Speaking of visionaries who give back, I was happy to see our Associate Editor Marisa Gottesman hanging with former CRA Chair Howard Lewis and current CRA commissioner Bill Branning, who also serves as chair of Old School Square.
Howard and Bill are successful businessmen who have volunteered a ton of time to making Delray Beach a better place.
They inspire others to get involved, spend countless hours promoting causes they believe in and quietly have done a great job to move our city forward.
Howard and Bill are the kind of people that smart elected officials try to find and empower.
Truth is when you are elected there is no shortage of people and information coming at you. A lot of it can be defined as negative—some of it is true and some of it is overblown. The best elected officials find the doers in their communities and do their best to stay in touch with them. Most of these people don’t come to commission meetings or write emails on every subject but they are out there quietly making it happen. Bill and Howard are but two of hundreds of examples.
Another inspiring moment this month came courtesy of Suzanne Spencer, the volunteer head of Delray’s Drug Task Force.
I had been in meetings and briefings with Suzanne but never had the chance to sit down and get to know her. But when we did, I was impressed by her vision, passion and analysis of some of the challenges and opportunities in Delray.
In short, she’s fascinating and someone to watch. She has vision and ideas and seems to be the type of person who will persevere and get things done.
Our final inspiring snapshot came courtesy of lunch with Boca Chamber President Troy McClellan at Abe and Louie’s.
Troy and I used to meet every year around Thanksgiving to trade notes on Delray and Boca. We missed a year or so but we picked up the conversation where we left off. In short, there are sure lots of really cool things happening in Boca and we at the newspaper plan to cover it. The Chamber is in the thick of things—as it should be and the future looks bright.
Chambers of commerce have taken a beating in recent years—with some questioning their value or whether they are still needed in today’s digital world. But the best chambers are more important than ever. The best are those that advocate for their members and the general business climate. They inform the business community of threats and opportunities and take the time to introduce people to one another so that everyone can grow and prosper. Can that happen online? Maybe, to an extent. But the best connections are in person and chambers are still great conveners. Troy and Delray’s Karen Granger are doing bang up jobs championing their cities economies. They are making an impact and they are inspiring.