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.

Profile written by Jacqueline Aaron, The Wordsmith Company

Entrepreneur: Christopher T. Spiro

  • Business: Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations; full-service marketing agency
  • Year founded: 1988
  • Location: Fort Myers, Florida
  • Number of employees: 11 full time and four part-time employees

What is your definition of success? He pauses and gets a cup of coffee to reflect on the question. “On a personal level, it is providing for my family — giving them a better life than I had. Corporately, it’s more than the corporate side.  It’s being a good community steward; leaving the community a better place than I found it.”

He goes on to define “community” at different levels in his world.  There is the Spiro & Associates staff community, the ad industry community comprised of his peers, the Southwest Florida business community, and the Southwest community as a whole, he explains.

What advice would you give to others regarding achieving success? “If they have staff, their assets go home every day at 5 p.m.  Recognize that.  The wolf sitting at the top of the mountain is not as hungry as the wolf climbing up the mountain. Remember that.  Have fun! If you don’t kick the covers off in the morning to go into work, find something else to do.  I kick the covers off in the morning because I love what I do — hopefully it shows.”

What inspires you now? “My children are probably the biggest inspiration in my life.” He speaks proudly of both his daughter, Chelsea, and his son, C.J. (Chelsea graduated from Spiro’s alma mater, University of Florida, while C.J. is  currently a freshman there.) “She will change the world and do great things…his passion and zeal for life and [his] sense of humor are amazing.  And my wife.  She is an amazing woman.” We still hold hands, say ‘I love you,’ and find each other attractive after 27 years of marriage, he says.

*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.