The Recovering CEO

"You lose a bit of who you are in the process of success," says Brandon Steiner. "You become your business as opposed to the guy you used to be."

A year ago Steiner sold Steiner Sports Marketing Inc., his $25-million-plus sports-marketing and -memorabilia business, in New York City, to advertising giant Omnicom Group Inc., and life got simpler and more complex all at once. Continuing to manage the business became simpler -- his hours were controllable, and Omnicom gave him autonomy, connections, and resources. But living -- well, that was a different matter. For 14 years Steiner had had no time for hobbies. Once he'd cashed out and finally stopped thinking about his business every waking hour, he realized he had no idea how to enjoy his financial and psychic freedom. "I don't like museums, hiking, or mountain biking. I'm not a sightseer," he says.

What does Steiner like? Concerts. Rock concerts, specifically. Lots of them.

So now he goes to them, just as he did so passionately in his late teens and early twenties. (Over the summer Steiner, 42, saw U2, James Taylor, the Allman Brothers, John Mellencamp, and more -- a roster that suggests how little time Steiner has had for music since starting his company in 1987.) He invites old high school friends to accompany him, hoping they'll help him rediscover his earlier chilled-out self. "They tell me, 'Hey, you're funny,' " he says. "As if it's a discovery or something. And it's really that they just haven't seen me."

Not like this, anyway.

The Inc Life

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Published on: Nov 1, 2001