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Advice from techies, business owners and a Coast Guard captain

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Nine speakers — business owners, entrepreneurs, software company CEOs and the captain of a Coast Guard cutter — shared their best advice and lessons learned on Wednesday during the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Power Breakfast.

We put together a selection of comments from each speaker. We also asked them to tell us what books they would suggest reading. Check out the print edition of the Business Journal for more:

Colleen Troy
Founder of Touchpoint Communications and Sponsor Smarter LLC

Your best performer is going to leave you and it’s going to hurt, and you’re going to think you’re going to die. You’re going to cry. You’ll be upset, but you’ll survive. ... The other sad truth is that your worst performer is never going to leave you. They aren’t going anywhere, unless you invite them to. ... But you’ll survive that too. It’s painful. It’s horrible. ... It usually feels better immediately afterward.

Giff Daughtridge
Nucor Steel Berkeley, general manager

Have you ever worked around someone who is unfailingly positive? ... Everybody wants to work around people like that. Something comes up, and they say, “Hey, you know, what can I do to help?” or “I have no idea what to do to help, but I know somebody who does and I’ll find out.” ... Whatever it is, they’re a positive problem solver. They’re going to help you get to a solution.

Marc Murphy
Atlatl Software CEO

Confidence and denial can have very similar effects on your behavior, but dramatically different effects on results. The difference for me between confidence and denial is backing things up with data and finding data to make decisions. As business leaders, you want to be passionate about growing your business, and I think sometimes that passion can lead to denial in decision-making, in not wanting to change, not wanting to make hard decisions.

John Osborne
Founder and executive director of The Harbor Entrepreneurship Center and executive director of Charleston Angel Partners

When you’re aspiring to accomplish something, it’s likely not going to be handed to you. Get out there and make moves happen. Make one and one equal four. Chase your dreams, and encourage those that are trying to do so.

Capt. Mark J. Fedor
Commander of the Coast Guard Cutter James for the U.S. Coast Guard

Optimism. ... I’m not talking about looking through the world through rose-colored glasses. Where I work, on the ocean, it can be a dangerous and unforgiving place. What I mean by optimism is: you identify your challenges, be realistic about what challenges you’re facing out there, develop those strategies to reduce risk to acceptable levels, and then you engage enthusiastically. You get the top of the organization right down to the bottom to believe that: “We will succeed and we’re not going to give up.”

Christine Osborne
Owner of Wonder Works Toys

Just so happened the last bank I walked into, there sat Frank Smith. Frank Smith was the husband of my teacher in the sixth grade in Clemson, South Carolina. I was nerdy. I was quirky. My parents were German. I was a Girl Scout. I loved helping people. ... I helped her. I helped the kids in the class. ... He goes, "You’re my wife’s favorite student. ... and she knew you were going to make something of yourself." ... And he wrote that check, and we were off running. ... Things come back around. Always, always remember that.

Steve Swanson
Co-founder of Automated Trading Desk, adviser for SnapCap LLC

Come up with a thesis about why you want to be in a stock and then basically buy that stock, hold that stock, think of yourself as an investor. Don’t be a day trader. Try to build wealth by having good thesis and trading upon that. Be small. Don’t go in and blast the market around, and I think you can be quite successful.

Steve Parker Jr.
CEO and co-founder of Levelwing

We finally decided we were going to operate in a different way and we really focused the business on three things. ... communication ... commitment and consistency. I literally don’t talk to my team about anything but those three things anymore. ... In the last three years, our organization has made a 180 in terms of culture and how we operate and the way we are there for one another. ... I’d just like to encourage everyone ... you have to consider how you show up for people each day ... you have to be there for others.

Amy Barch
Founder and director of Turning Leaf Project

It’s a mistake to describe ourselves the way we don’t want to be. We hear people say things like, "I’m terrible with money. I really wish I could save more. I’m so unhealthy. I wish that I could eat better." But all this really does is reinforce what we don’t want to see in ourselves. ... What we should actually do is talk about change in the way that we want to be, before we actually are. So we should say things like, "I used to be terrible with money, but now I’m doing so much better. I’m saving more. I’m not frivolous with my spending." ... It doesn’t even have to be true. You want to say it even when it’s not true, because what happens is, you create a new identity for yourself that way.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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