Accomplished businessmen had advice for nearly 1,000 people gathered Wednesday in Modesto: Don’t fear failure. Hang out with savvy people. And look how low interest rates have dropped.
The fourth edition of a free conference called “This Economy and You” took place at the Gallo Center for the Arts. The crowd heard about economic trends in the Central Valley and beyond, and about what it takes to start and expand a business.
Speaker Joe Duran, a best-selling author and chief executive officer at United Capital Private Wealth Counseling in Newport Beach, moved from war-torn Zimbabwe with $600 to his name and later sold his first company for more than $100 million. The other speakers – Realtor Mike Zagaris and entrepreneur Dan Costa – built their companies in their hometown of Modesto.
Zagaris, CEO of PMZ Real Estate, said the low interest rates were designed to stimulate the economy after the Great Recession of 2009. Many people still hesitate to borrow, he said, but that leaves more capital for those willing to take a chance on a business.
“When you meet a successful person, you are not meeting someone who has never failed,” Zagaris said. “You are meeting someone who has failed many times.”
He urged investments in businesses serving two large population segments: baby boomers, born after World War II and now aging, and millennials, born from 1977 to 1995.
Duran said people fall into three basic types when it comes to money: those who save out of fear, those who share what they have and those who seek pleasure. He said everyone facing major decisions, such as a job change or retirement, should approach them with full information and careful analysis.
Duran has MBAs from UC Berkeley and Columbia University, but he said he “learned a lot more on the rugby field.”
Costa, president of Costa Enterprises, has owned the Mallard’s and Velvet Creamery restaurants and later the Royal Robbins and 5.11 Tactical clothing businesses. He now has three new ventures involving clothing and another that provides ready-made meals in grocery stores.
“I think about business like a banana,” Costa said, meaning that it’s interesting to run one from the green startup stage to the peak of ripeness, but after that it’s time to sell.
Costa agreed that people should not be afraid of making mistakes, and he also urged hard work. “I’ve got to be the hardest-working person in the company,” he said.
The conference, the fourth since 2009, was sponsored by United Capital in cooperation with Financial Decisions and The Bee. It included breakout sessions at which attendees could get practical advice on real estate, personal finance, health care, preparing for retirement and estate planning.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2385.