Raleigh entrepreneur's networking series becomes a rock star
By Dathan Kazsuk
In our next installment of 5 Questions With ... we got in touch with master meet-up organizer, Steven David Elliot. We first met him many years ago when he owned a book store near the Falls River neighborhood. But Elliot's life and knowledge went back way before that.
Elliot started off with a degree in Jewish studies at the University of Florida, which then led to a trip to Israel and work as a educator resident assistant. Then coming back to the U.S. he worked as a social worker, marketing for a nursing home and even his own radio show. But after the high-pressure of working with the elderly, he was getting burnt out. He decided to have no regrets and do something he really wanted to do ... own his own bookstore.
And with the assistance of his family, he finally opened his first bookstore in Miami – which eventually lead to owning a few in the greater Miami-area. From there, he had time to experiment on how to interact with clients and determine their wants and needs. At the same time his business was starting to grow. He then realized it was easier to promote what was happening around him instead of promoting his own business. That lead to him starting a farmers market, an art festival, a music series and poetry readings.
Is that the start of getting your feet wet with what's now known to the area as North Hills Networking?
During that period of time I created my first networking event. It was a morning event called Success is Contagious. This group was designed to be almost a support group for people going through bad times in business. I started North Hills (Networking) immediately when I became a real estate agent. The networking events were very popular, and I carefully crafted my program so it would be scalable around the country, unlike my book business. The event was popular immediately.
And there is now Rockstar Connect. What exactly is that?
I formed a partnership with a young man named Nick Cioffi, who understood my vision. Together with my wife, Sarah, Nick and I knocked out all the nuts and bolts of my system. That became Rockstar Connect. After a few months we have started several programs around the country. My partners at Fathom (Marco Fregenal and Joshua Harley) invested in Rockstar Connect as partners, we scaled the company nationally. Within six months of this partnership and eight months of forming the company, we were in 60 cities around the U.S.
That's great. It seems like you've been doing entrepreneurial endeavors pretty much your entire adult life. What are some words of advice you'd give to someone starting up their own endeavors?
My advice to entrepreneurs would be to determine your 'Why?' Why are you trying to do what you're doing? Is it because you want your independence or freedom? Is it because of money? Do you want to be rich? Or is it because you want to make the world a better place. Or maybe it's a combination of all these things. It's also important to recognize that you have to have your integrity. Your mouth has to write checks that your ass can cash!
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The only way you are going to figure something like that out is if you just hop into the deep end of the pool and figure it out on your own, right?
It's OK to reach out to others for help, but I think you'll gain the most value by figuring it out your own way. I have always been untrainable, uncoachable and incorrigible. This has forced me to be an autodidact that thinks outside of the box. The market rewards people who think like that. It is also important to let go of some control. Get good partners. They can help you with your vision as well as relieve you of a lot of the pressures and time constraints of the business.
That's some good advice. We're now a little past the halfway mark of 2017, is there anything we can expect from North Hills Networking or Rockstar Connect to finish up this year?
I foresee my real estate business continuing to grow at both the local and national level. Rockstar Connect will morph into the area of technology to better serve our constituency. Also, I will be happy to see that my wife and I will be able to achieve our goal to help people across the U.S. and perhaps the world with our unique events.
For more information on North Hills Networking or Rockstar Connect events, check out the Facebook pages, https://www.facebook.com/groups/NorthHillsNetworking/ and https://www.facebook.com/rockstarconnect/
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