The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is interviewing the four finalists for the honor of Distinguished Entrepreneur for 2015. Learn more about each finalist, and get some entrepreneurial advice and inspiration, by reading the two posts dedicated to each before the big awards day on May 19, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Estero. You can register for the event by clicking here. https://clients.floridasbdc.org/workshop.aspx?ekey=900350028

Entrepreneur:  Mark Loren

Business:  Mark Loren Designs, Fort Myers Florida; creates custom-designed jewelry; Year founded: 1982. Number of employees: 16

What is your definition of success? “Truly being able to serve your fellow man, your community.  It’s about finding a way to make a living that makes a tremendous difference in clients’ lives.  [Our] clients are members of the community.” He pauses and reflects to take in the question more deeply.  “It’s to serve, like to really be of service to. When we come to work in the morning, we know that’s the agenda.”

What advice would you give to others regarding achieving success? “It ties back in to serving others.  If what they’re doing is not making a difference in other people’s lives, they will have a tough road.  They will have to manhandle that thing, and it still won’t feel like success.”

He describes how he and his father went to donate blood when he was 10 years old, and he didn’t quite understand why they were doing it.  That was the day his father taught him the meaning of the Hebrew word “mitzvah,” which means doing something for someone else without any expectation of thanks.  This message, modeled by his father, stuck with him.

He explains that if he wasn’t helping people as a custom jewelry designer, that he still would have chosen something where he could help others.  “That’s the type of person I am — I am drawn towards that.”

What inspires you now? “I’m a visual guy.  I’m visually inspired so I’m always looking at images — it drives my wife crazy.  I could zone out on Pinterest for hours until the tears come pouring from my eyes.”

Profile written by Jacqueline Aaron, The Wordsmith Company

*Profile post have been randomly selected based on the date received.  
Stay-tuned to read more about the other final four finalist and their stories.
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