There is a fine line between success and arrogance. Entrepreneurs who struggle and finally become successful tend to loose their grounding. They start feeling and acting like a Big Shot. I went through a similar transition when I opened my first cigar and martini bar, Ozio. The media coverage was phenomenal and in a short time frame Ozio became the hottest place in DC and that went to my head, I was only 26 and so much attention!
If success is mismanaged it is accompanied with arrogance and a disdain to the people who were part of your rise to success. One starts to feel like a Big Shot while looking down on others. If success is handled correctly, one embraces a larger group that will help you to move to the next level and always an appreciation for those that brought you to your current position!
Well my rise to being a Big Shot didn’t last long with Nesrin in my life. One day she told me, “All of this is going to your head and this is not the Mauricio I know. Either you get your feet back on the ground or I am out of here! I did not sign up for this!” Well that was a rude awakening but a necessary one. I had to reflect on where I was going and to reroute my focus on what I really wanted to accomplish and this was just the beginning.
I started to better understand how easy it is for people to go into the Big Shot stage by watching how some of my best employees handled growth. I would select an employee that I believed had the ability and potential for growth and would groom him/her personally. The majority became arrogant and acted like they were indispensable for our company. Unfortunately that arrogance streamlined downwards in the company and was not productive so that was the end of their careers in my company.
I would like to share a story of a dear friend of mine, George Khouri. I met him 10 years ago and believed in his talent as a rapper, writer and performer. We supported him throughout the years and my most important advise to him was to keep it real!
The following is George’s description of his transition...
“I remember being in elementary school and my teacher telling me to sit in an isolated chair in the corner of the classroom. Not because I was being bad, but because I was too far ahead of the class in math. She said that there was nothing else to teach me and that I should give the other students a chance to learn and raise their hands to answer the questions.
Exactly one year later, I recall waking up in the middle of the street, not knowing where I was or what happened to me. “You were in a car accident,” said a paramedic with an Australian accent. I was still in a state of confusion, nauseated by the scent of hot metal and burning rubber. I was only 11 years old at the time. I was sitting in the front passenger’s seat of the vehicle and wasn’t wearing my seat belt. I had been ejected 15 feet head first from the window, landing onto the main road. The paramedics said I was unconscious for over an hour.
Miraculously, 24 hours and 9 staples in my head later, I was released from the hospital. Most would assume that the most difficult part of the accident was over-false. For several years to follow, I was haunted by the most excruciating migraines and dizzy spells that one could imagine. I lost my ability to focus in school. For the first time in my young academic life, I didn’t receive straight A’s on my report card. Out of all things, I was struggling in math! My learning ability was clearly impacted. None of the medicine helped. I still feel a sense of disorientation till this very day.
There was also a big change in my behavior. Maybe it was a reaction to the pain. Maybe it was a result of the challenges that I was facing at the time. Whatever the cause, I started to get into all kinds of trouble. This type of behavior extended into my adulthood. I was too loud and flashy. Maybe this was my own way of distracting my mind from all the things that I felt were wrong with me.
One day I attended, my role model, Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld’s 40th Birthday party in Washington, DC. I walked into his private party at his lounge and he immediately pulled me to the side. I was excited because I thought that the “big fish” at the party wanted to hang out with me-wrong. Mauricio put his palm out and told me to take off my large gold necklace. He also made me take my diamond earring out. “You don’t need this stuff,” is all he said to me.
He was right- I didn’t need that stuff. I recently experienced a life- changing event. I moved from Washington, DC to California to pursue a career as a television/radio personality. When I arrived to California it was very humbling. I didn’t have my family, friends, and business contacts-nothing. Most importantly, I didn’t have the “stuff”-the only thing that I WOULDN’T miss. I would like to define “stuff” as all the negative distractions that we have in our life. We tend to use things to make us feel important and help our attitude to grow.
It was a fresh start for me, and for the first time in my life, I began to enjoy the benefits of simply being myself. I faced my weaknesses, embraced them, and made the conscious decision to move forward from everything that harmed me along the way. My mother always told me that I survived the car accident for a reason. Over 15 years later, with only 4 months in Hollywood, I am finally starting to see this reason. I hope that one day Mauricio’s son will get to attend my 40th birthday to celebrate all of my achievements, and that I won’t have to tell him to take off his jewelry.”
Being a Big Shot on your path of success is a small part of a larger picture. One has to have an eagle view of their goal and their growth. If feeding your ego is the goal then that is also the end of your path. If achieving and growing is your purpose then Big Shot is a short lived euphoria that you outgrow!