“5 things I wish someone told me when I first became an author”, with Bob Fisch of rue21

Be very detailed in doing your research for the book. In addition, be able to have a lot of patience and tolerance! As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bob Fisch. Bob is the former founder and […]

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Be very detailed in doing your research for the book. In addition, be able to have a lot of patience and tolerance!

As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bob Fisch. Bob is the former founder and CEO of rue21, which he rescued from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and made it into the largest specialty apparel retail chain in store count with more than 1,200 stores. Known for his bold and successful innovations in value-priced, fast-fashion retailing, he took his company public in 2009 with a fast-track winning streak that included a hot-stock IPO and building to a value of more than a billion. He is the author of the book, FISCH TALES: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer (ForbesBooks; August 6, 2019).

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

In 2015, as the Founder & CEO of rue21 I was in the NYC merchandise market with one of my Fashion merchants talking with one of the Manufacturers who had gone to the same school as me: Syracuse. I was reviewing many of my past accomplishments and stories of working with young business associates when she asked me, “Why don’t you write a book about the stories and what you achieved in business and life?”

I started to think about it and decided to do it! However, I was so tied up in business I didn’t get a chance to write my book and become a published author while at rue21….When I left rue21, I then started putting my thoughts together to be an author….And, most importantly, if I had still been at rue, the book would have been more of a memoir! What I decided to do was to write about how I can “give back” and help both Millennials and Baby Boomers apply what I learned and achieved for themselves!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In my first chapter about starting my career at Abraham & Straus. My 1st day of business, June 12, 1973 was a day that I will never forget and really humbled me for the rest of my career… Please read in Chapter 1 what happened to me that day with my new Pierre Cardin suit after hearing the President of A&S addressing the 125 Trainees.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I put together a Millennial Advisory Board- (MAB) when I started writing the book. They are the ambassadors of my book Fisch Tales:The Making Of A Millennial Baby Boomer. In addition, they will be joining me on seminars and potential TV programs where I will be having a Millennial Adisory Board Salon tied in with my discussions on the book.

I am also doing radio interviews around the country to discuss the book and why I wrote it as well as how I help make a difference in the Millennials and Baby Boomers lives.

I work with people as a Tough Times Counselor — TTC Where I have the experience to help them get through the tough times of their vision becoming a reality for success!

In addition, I am an advisor and consultant to the Director of XRC Labs, which is a retailer incubator startup fund having different startup companies to work with. I help advise and mentor with the Director and the individual companies.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

First, I am working on becoming a great writer by how I Mentor people in both business and overall life! Number one is perseverance! Never give up in your beliefs of what you believe you can achieve! I do not believe in luck, you make luck happen! And, I believe that the “sky is always the Limit”

Note — I was able to take over rue21 when it was a private company tied in with private equity owners, and then took the company into bankruptcy. Then, never missed an estimate as a high growth retail company in sales and profits for more than 11 consecutive years and 45 straight quarters We came out of Chapter 11 in a year and became private again…Then, 6 years later I took the company public and then 4 years later I took the company back to private and sold the business back to the private equity company for over 1 Billion dollars!

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

The story in Chapter 5 which is called “Shittin’ A Brick!” It’s a story tied in with one of the major retail Investor/Analyst conferences in Orlando where I spoke every year in front of the retailers, investors and analysts. It’s too long to talk about in this questionnaire, but would be great to see the book and chapter to review it. But, the key is that I am all about “taking a Stand” and being a strong leader and not worrying if I am different than other retailers in Business. I am all about being a Disruptor!

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

I want the readers to realize that “THE BEST IS YET TO COME!” Always stand up for what you believe and take a stand! The key is also not only having strong vision, but taking vision to fruition!

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I liked the book Good to Great by Jim Collins — — The example of Circuit City becoming a great company and then going out of business had a major effect on me to insure that you always need to change it up to keep stimulating a business.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

I have been a visionary business leader who achieved great success in action and not just theory! I help people achieve their dreams! My key mantra is “I Teach Them Business, They Teach Me Life!” It’s all about Mutual Mentoring, which I call Generation Splicing — There should NOT be big divisiveness between generations. It’s the mutual respect that is paramount…

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

Be very detailed in doing your research for the book. In addition, be able to have a lot of patience and tolerance!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. How challenging it is to get your book published with the right publisher.

2. Book stores don’t automatically purchase your book!

3. Amazon dominates the world of books too, but there should be more play in store and not just online!

4. It should be more of a business to SELL books and not just retailers returning books on consignment!

5. I can give examples of B&N and their new owner, that is also an inspiring story.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In being a disruptor, and not being afraid to be controversial. I believe totally in the factor it’s ALWAYS all about people who build business tied in with strong product and marketing. While today, everything is being talked about Data Science and algorithms and Artificial Intelligence, the key is humans make things happen! While data is important it does not take the place of people in business. Key then, is the leadership of people driving the business and not being afraid to take the key risks!

But, you must do this with what I call ‘Tribal Knowledge.” It’s the substance and passion that is key and having a strong understanding of knowing what you need to do to achieve the most important results!

How can our readers follow you on social media?




Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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