On September 15, 2011, the week of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Lower Manhattan and The Pentagon, a group of Inc. Business Owners Council Members and Inc. 5000 honorees from the Greater New York area were given VIP tickets to the 9/11 Memorial just steps away from Inc. Magazine's headquarters at Seven World Trade Center.
The memorial is quite beautiful and visitors are treated very thoughtfully. We were allowed an unrushed visit while we walked the grounds, including the two square fountains where the Twin Towers once stood. The names ringing the fountains were of those who lost their lives on that day.
About an hour into our visit, a gentle rain began to fall and the Council Members and Inc. 5000 honorees made their way to the Visitor's Center where they could learn more about the rebuilding of the site and what the future holds for the area. While we shared our reactions to the memorial, two members of our group also shared their stories of what that day meant to them and how it shaped their entrepreneurial experience.
Robert Herzog of Zog Sports, an Inc. 5000 honoree, described the happenstance which led to him showing up late at work that morning (picked up the dry cleaning, took care of some other errands). He emerged from the subway at 8:45AM just in time to see the first plane strike. Two-hundred-ninety-four of his colleagues perished.
Doug Klares of Infinity Consulting Solutions, another Inc. 5000 honoree, was in the middle of an important deal around the time of 9/11/01. As he frequently did, he turned to his father for advice as the deal progressed. Unfortunately, his father perished in the World Trade Center attacks and Doug ultimately had to make the biggest career decision of his life on his own. He spoke lovingly of channeling his father's voice to help him make the choices which helped him launch his entrepreneurial career.
We asked other Inc. 5000 CEOs to share some of there stories in writing and here's what they sent us:
Chris Kramer, Netx.com:
"9/11 happened 7 months after we started our business and when we started looking for our first “real” office in the weeks after the towers came down, downtown was one of the first places we looked. We wanted to support the downtown area and the discounted rents in the area allowed us to move into 1 west street in December of 2001. I’ll never forget the smell in the air down there that lasted for months and the view from my desk looking out at the soot and debris from the WTC."
Joe Meyer, HopStop.com:
"On the morning of 9/11/01, I left Miami on a 6:00AM non-stop flight on American Airlines to San Francisco where I lived at the time. At about 9:30 am while flying 30,000+ feet above Texas, the plane started to rapidly descend, but in a controlled manner. After a minute or two, the pilot came on the loud speaker and informed everyone in an eerily calm voice that we weren't experiencing any mechanical issues but instead that the FAA had ordered every plane in the U.S. to land immediately. Less than 10 minutes after the announcement we were on the ground in Austin, TX. Upon hearing what had happened I immediately rented a car, and within minutes of de-boarding the plane I began to drive to San Francisco. It took me two full days to drive home, and at every gas station and fast food joint I stopped at along the way I met hundreds of other people who were also heading home. I still have my plane ticket from that flight, one of the few cross-country flights that landed safely on 9/11.
Now 10 years later, I find myself the CEO of HopStop, a local service that gives millions of New Yorkers a sense of direction. To help commemorate the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, HopStop partnered with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum by providing them with free direction links on their site, as well a complete takeover of our website for the full 24 hours on the 10 year anniversary. We hope this small gesture, combined with the generosity of many other companies, helps people to never forget what happened."
Looking forward to October 2011: we have an exciting new event, "How I Did It By Breaking All the Rules." Even entrepreneurs who are known for thinking "out-of-the-box" can get caught up in old customs and industry traditions. But what happens when someone breaks those rules? On October 19, two CEOs who've broken their industry's rules and become multi-year Inc. 5000 honorees are going to share with an Inc. audience their "rule-breaking" strategies and what's come of it.
Click here to sign up and find out more about "How I Found Great Success By Breaking All The Rules".
LEWIS SCHIFF | Inc. Business Owners Council
Lewis Schiff is the executive director of the Inc. Business Owners Council. His latest book is Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons From the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons.