I was born in Trenton, New Jersey and have been a resident of Florida since the age of five years old. At the age of 13, I won the Broward County Science Fair and took second place in the State of Florida Science Fair in the Category of Zoology. I attended Nova High School and earned my diploma in 1981 where I was a member of the gifted program and was awarded a National Merit Scholarship. From 1981 to 1985, I attended the University of Florida as a National Merit Scholar and earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree cum laude with a major in English Literature. I subsequently received a scholarship/teaching assist position with the University of California, Irvine and was admitted to the PH. D. program there.
After my first year at UCI, I withdrew from academia to enter the business world and became a Management Information Consultant in the consulting division of Arthur Andersen (now known as Accenture) in 1986. As a Management Consultant, I provided advanced business consulting, as well as design and programming of computer software applications for Pratt & Whitney, United Technologies in Jupiter, Florida and the Student Lending Division of Florida Federal Savings Bank (at the time the country’s 3rd largest student loan provider and servicer). In 1989, I became a bank officer at Florida Federal and received the title Senior Project Coordinator. In Jan of 1990, I received the Quality Service Award from the bank. Later that year, I resigned from the bank to attend law school and began a re-modeling and rental business. From 1991-1993, I attended law school full tie at the Stetson College of Law, where I earned an Juris Doctorate in 2 years and 4 months (normally at least 3 years). I graduated in the top 15% and was awarded the Paul Barnard Award for excellence. I then began practicing trial law at the Naples, Florida offices of a large New York law firm. I received national attention for arguing the case of Conner v. Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center before the Florida Supreme Court, overturning the doctrine of necessaries in Florida that had been in place since 1895.
In 1996, I started a law firm in Naples, Florida which became a very prominent litigation firm with cases throughout the country. I served as President and managing partner of this high-end, mid-sized specialty law firm for over 20 years, receiving some of the largest verdicts and awards in Southwest Florida history. At the firm, I represented such well known figures as Mike Ditka (former head coach of the Chicago Bears), “Papa” John Schnatter (former Chairman of Papa John’s Pizza) as well as other lawyers, judges and prominent business people. I retired from trial practice in the areas of asset protection, complex litigation, intellectual property and construction litigation to become a partner in a large construction company performing high end restoration and construction at major hotel chains, high rises and other large projects. In 2019, the company, Coastal Maintenance & Restoration, had gross revenues of nearly $40 Million. I currently serve as an owner and Chief Operating Officer of that company. I also own, operate and manage Oceanic Blue Retreats, LLC (as Managing Member) and several other business entities in the hospitality industry with properties in multiple states. In addition, I am a part owner of a real estate brokerage business called MNM Companies, Inc.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
I decided to go out into business on my own because I wanted “unlimited” potential and because my spirit is entrepreneurial. I am not the kind of person that simply takes orders and I wanted some level of control over my destiny. While it is more risky to go out on your own, the rewards are greater and it is much harder to get ahead in life if all you do is work for others, helping them achieve their business goals.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
The professions I am in allow me to exercise unlimited creative thought (and often reward it).
What does a typical day consist of for you?
A typical day for me involves managing all my business enterprises, touching base with my partners in the various enterprises that I own, solving outstanding problems and managing these varied endeavors. I am constantly on the move from one project that needs attention to another.
What keeps you motivated?
A retirement plan that never happens. I have decided that this may be a good thing to avoid, the sudden realization that you would be bored if you did. It also helps to motivate when you have many people that depend on you especially when they appreciate it.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
If it has to do with law, believe it when they say that it will adversely affect the way you think and appear to others. As a former lawyer, I can say that lawyers are mentally conditioned to be pessimistic people in general and it truly affects your real ability to be happy. You may want the money and think that it will make you happy but, along the way, this profession can take your soul. Make sure you design a good rip-cord.
What has been the hardest obstacle you have overcome?
The painful realization that you can almost never really help someone overcome their own self-destructive behaviors and that trying to be the white knight almost always leads to metaphorical bloodshed and pain.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
Each year your worth will increase, and you will likely do better in the next five years than you have in all your previous working life.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
Surround yourself with people that care about your well-being and try very hard to eliminate those people from your life that do not. I am not a jealous person, and it took me a long time to learn that a great percentage of people would rather tear you down than bring themselves up. My very worst results in life have always come from doing favors for people that don’t appreciate me (or anyone really). Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there that are like that. I am still coping with that reality.