…Something Dale Carnegie taught me from How to Win Friends & Influence People (one of the most important books you can ever read). Listen! G-D gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. The power of listening not only saves lives, but it will also make you friends. Most people just want to be heard and understood. By listening and acknowledging that you see their point of view, that person can just be with you and have the power of expressing themselves without judgment. Even if you don’t agree with them, just listen!
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Schneider. He is the President and Founder of NEXT Events, which offers networking and matchmaking experiences for decision makers in the interior design industry. Founded in 2019, NEXT Events connects buyers to suppliers in an engaging environment and through interactive events — crafted to ensure the progression of meaningful relationships.
Michael has spent the last 15 years leveraging relationships and developing innovative ways for his clients to market their business. As a serial entrepreneur, Michael is looking forward to reinventing and transforming the interior design industry all over again with NEXT Events. In his spare time, he enjoys fitness, flying planes, and hanging out in his upstate home with his wife, three sons, and a rescue dog.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I owe it to my dad, Eric Schneider. He owned a small niche-publishing company called Sipco Publications. I still run his 30-year-old textile sourcing magazine, Fabrics & Furnishings International. The one thing he didn’t excel at, which I did, was event production. After a couple of years working on his trade publication, I added the events to the mix.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Besides the unprecedented fallout from COVID-19, I would have to say how supportive and understanding our customers are in leaving my former company to start over again as an underdog. Not everyone has the risk-taking abilities to “leave the nest” and learn how to fly all over again with even higher stakes. (I now have three children under the age of 4).
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?
When I first started in the industry, I spent too much time playing rather than working. Not sure I would call it a mistake, rather getting it out of my system for personal growth. Of course, looking back at those early years were quite destructive, and now I realize how much wasted time and energy I spent. Despite all that, I still succeeded, and I now know my parents were always right and they were telling me things at the time that I didn’t understand and now do.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
I co-founded Hospitality Cares with the late Helen Marcus of Zenith Rugs in September 2009 to help hospitality professionals recover from the financial crisis of 2008. The activities of this not-for-profit organization were suspended by management after I sold my previous company, Boutique Design to ST Media Group.
Given the climate of the industry today, along with the backing of my new advisory board and own company, NEXT EVENTS, I determined that now was the time to ‘reboot’ this worthy organization. Hospitality Cares now offers a dedicated Coronavirus Fund to assist those who are experiencing financial fall-out due to this global virus.
Hospitality Cares extends support to hospitality professionals who have experienced financial challenges through job loss, as well as housing and medical hardships. Through job placement support and monies donated to Hospitality Cares, qualified professionals receive assistance in re-building their businesses and careers within the hotel industry.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
A woman named Lynn (out of privacy withholding full name) was in a horrific car accident while on the job and her former employer did not honor her medical benefits. She was not only left holding a financial bag but an emotional one at that. Even though we could only help her with a small sum of money at the time, she was so grateful. Going back to the power of listening, just having someone listen to her predicament helped her healing. Charity is not just about giving money; it’s about listening and understanding. Too often people just think the beneficiaries are poor with finances — that is not always the case they just got dealt a bad hand.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Recognize that the hospitality industry is one of the hardest hits, if not the most, and we need your help more than ever, right now!
- The hospitality industry supports many communities with jobs — housekeeping, F&B, salespeople, etc.
- Government is overloaded with responsibilities and criteria for offering loans/grants. An organization like Hospitality Cares can ease the burden and help allocate resources to our industry. Consider helping nonprofits with this task instead of individuals and companies in each community.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is having the courage to take risks, accept failures and be able to keep plowing forward despite anything coming into your space. This current pandemic we are in is a perfect example. At NEXT Events, we realized the status of face-to-face events, for the time being, is on hold. Thus, we pivoted immediately and launched NEXT Virtual, a platform to assist buyers and suppliers to continue doing business in the comfort of their own home. This took much courage and focusing on being in action. Leaving the emotion out of your choices and realizing you always have a choice opens opportunities. If you keep a level head in a crisis, you will be surprised at what opportunities are available.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t be so quick to sell when facing a crisis. In 2008, my father forced my hand to sell our company and didn’t want to shoulder the financial burden. We sold the company for 450,000 dollars. Ten years later the company sold for 45 million dollars. The originator of an idea is usually the one that fails to monetize, it’s often the 2nd or 3rd owners. I read somewhere that the inventor of the Internet sold the IP for 100,000 dollars as another example. I’m sure there are countless others out there.
- Don’t try to be like your competitor. Focus on innovation and problem-solving by coming up with unique ways that your competitor is not addressing currently in the marketplace. People like shiny and new; not the old and tired. The former gets their attention.
- Be willing to take risks even if people call you ‘crazy’. Pioneering new territory can seem scary, but if you stay true to your cause people will admire and respect you.
- Eliminate as many distractions as you can when you are working. Achieving goals requires discipline and focus.
- Keep emotion out of business and be in action. Action, action, action — that’s what gets things done. Being in your head, second-guessing and doubting yourself will lead to nowhere.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
Something Dale Carnegie taught me from How to Win Friends & Influence People (one of the most important books you can ever read). Listen! G-D gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. The power of listening not only saves lives, but it will also make you friends. Most people just want to be heard and understood. By listening and acknowledging that you see their point of view, that person can just be with you and have the power of expressing themselves without judgment. Even if you don’t agree with them, just listen!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die.” — George Bernard Shaw on Taking Creative Action
I am a doer, an action-oriented person. There is a finite amount of time in one’s life, and I aim to accomplish as much as I can in the life I was given. If you ask someone on their deathbed what they most regret, they will most likely tell you: not the choices they made, but they regret the choices they didn’t take out of fear.
Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S. with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
At the risk of bringing politics into the conversation, that’s easy, President Trump. For the reasons, I mentioned in this questionnaire.
How can our readers follow you on social media?