Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Welcome to Entrepreneur's Insight - Profile of Ted Coine

This blog is intended to inspire others to start a business as well as grow an existing business successfully!  I am asking entrepreneurs a short series of questions about their business, views on their industry and advice for anyone interested in starting a business.  I hope you will find this resource valuable.  Each Monday, you will find a new profile!  If you or someone else is interested in being profiled, please email me at  Thanks

The first person to be profiled is Ted Coiné!  Thanks to Ted for participating in the blog.  I know many people will benefit from your perspective.


1. Please provide a 2-sentence biography for yourself and/or mission statement.

Ted Coiné, 3-time CEO (you’d think I’d learn!). Most recently, I’m co-founder and Co-CEO of, a multimedia leadership website dedicated to The Human Side of Business. I’m also a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Influencer which (I’m sorry) feels kind of like being an expert in email. But apparently a lot of folks are still having trouble mastering the social aspects of social media, so maybe I shouldn’t knock that expertise.

2. Describe your business and why you started it.  What is it that differentiates your business model from others?

We’ve been called “HBR with an axe to grind,” which of course is a huge compliment. A recent post, “Good Karma is Good Business,” sums up our philosophy at Switch and Shift pretty well (

3. What is one challenge you’ve experienced with your business and how did you overcome it?

I made a huge mistake with my first company, which was very successful very quickly: I believed what people said about me. Business seemed so easy, I started to think maybe business people weren’t that talented as a rule, or that I had the Midas touch. That whole thing is just plain stupid, and I’m embarrassed I ever thought that way for even a minute. The truth is we came up with a service that companies needed, and we delivered it very well. The delivery? Yes, that’s skill. Finding what people need, at a time that they need it? There’s a whole lot of luck in that. No one knows how good they are at business till they fail miserably at something. Now that I’ve done that, and rebounded, I know how good I truly am (and am not), and how lucky I’ve been a couple of times. You need both skill and luck to succeed at anything. The “overcome it” part? I started taking smaller risks, so now I fail much faster than I used to, and much more often, but I try to learn each time and I never bet the farm like I did with my first company. Embrace small failure keep going. That’s how you overcome adversity.

4. Which entrepreneur inspires you and why?  What industry do they work in and what accomplishment is unique to them?

I’m a huge Richard Branson fan. I love the way he has fun at work, and has actually built that into Virgin’s business model. Virgin is a vibe, not just a brand. I admire the way he realized early on that working at headquarters could be a liability, so he held meetings on his houseboat instead – that’s literally and figuratively working “on” the business rather than “in” the business, as so many entrepreneurs do. I also really identify with his “Screw it, let’s do it” approach to business and to life.

5. What is one development you foresee in your industry in the next 10 years?

My industry is teaching business leadership – teaching through our keynotes, our writing and TV show on Switch and Shift, and our consulting. I’m writing a book called A World Gone Social: How Businesses Must Adapt to Survive, with Mark Babbitt, on the transition our economy is making from the Industrial Age to the Social Age.  The transition from old school to more human-centric is the development I see – not just now, but it’s going to keep going, as some industries lag behind others. It’s a fascinating time to be alive!

6. What trait is most important to succeeding in entrepreneurship?

You’ve got to put your business ahead of your ego. Not everyone does it; many egomaniacs build successful businesses. But that’s actually harder: top talent has no interest in working with you, so you’re stuck trying to build a business with the leftovers. When you’re focused on the success of your organization, on building something important that you’re proud of, and that your employees and customers are proud to be part of, too – that’s when your company will truly thrive!

7. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering starting a business?

Why do you want to start a business? It’s much easier to have a job. Start a business only if you feel compelled to create something from nothing, just like an artist feels compelled to create. I’m a writer: I get miserable if I haven’t written for a few days. If you don’t get miserable when you’re not building a business, don’t even start.

8. What if your favorite book on entrepreneurship and one lesson you learned?

Hands down, Entrepreneurial Genius: The Power of Passion, by my good friend (and fellow Naples resident) Gene Landrum. First, let’s start with Dr. Gene himself: creator and first president of Chuck E. Cheese’s, he took that business from thought to $100M. Then he did it again with another company. Then he did it a third time with a third company. Good luck finding someone who understands entrepreneurialism better than Gene.  The best two chapters of the book itself are on Branson and Jeff Bezos. What I like best about it are the things you can’t find in other biographies, like the fact the Bezos used an unfinished door on two saw horses from Home Depot as his desk when he started Amazon – what kind of a message do you think that sent to the rest of his staff about the importance of not wasting money? Absolutely brilliant read!

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