Mitchel Zelman is an E&S broker with a passion for business. He currently owns Noodle Station, a fast casual Asian restaurant. Noodle Station encompasses the love of ramen, fresh produce, and quality proteins to bring its patrons a quality bowl of goodness. He also owns a consulting company that focuses on sales and mentoring training.
Career and Education
At the age of 18, Mitch Zelman obtained his insurance license. In 2002, he began working an internship with NAPSLO. In 2003 he graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Risk Management and Insurance. While at Florida State University he was part of the Water Polo Club Team and President of the Risk Management Insurance Society (RMIS).
After graduation, he went on to join a wholesale insurance brokerage in 2003, where he became a vital industry player. He created a team capable of handling a wide variety of property and casualty placements by building long-lasting relationships with retail agents and insurance company underwriters.
Mitch successfully managed a large and diverse book of business by developing solutions for complicated risks. He is known for his innovative approach to problem-solving, and his ability to create connections with agents and carriers. Due to these admirable qualities, Mitchel quickly became a mentor to new talent entering the industry.
Philanthropy and Family
Mitchel Zelman resides in Deerfield Beach, Florida. He’s a supporter of the Children’s Tumor Foundation and the Angelman Syndrome Foundation. He has participated in events that have helped raise funds and awareness to improve the health of individuals and families affected by Neurofibromatosis and Angelman Syndrome.
Mitch is also very involved in his local community and has participated in raising funds for the SOS Foundation, and serves as the Chairman of the Fishing Committee at the Lighthouse Point Yacht Club. He is also an avid supporter of ocean conservation and clean-up.
Interests and Hobbies
Mitch Zelman has multiple interests and hobbies. Beyond working as an E&S property broker, he is also a triathlete and has previously participated in the Ironman competitions.
Another aspect of his hobbies and interests is fishing and spearfishing. He caught one of the largest Wahoo off Harbor Island Bahamas in 2021. Mitchel wishes to continue to invest more of himself through mentorship and grow a team that’s ready to rise to the challenges of a rapidly growing and evolving market.
Where did the idea for Noodle Station come from?
The idea came from a pure and unabashed love of Ramen. I’ve done a bit of traveling over my lifetime. While in Japan, I fell in love with the Ramen houses all over the country. The craft and dedication that the Ramen chefs show to their finished product is awe-inspiring. That kind of dedication to the perfection of vision made me want to develop what I consider to be the perfect noodle house. I have a simple vision. The freshest ingredients and highest quality proteins married perfectly into a zen experience for every customer. It’s their own little bowl of Nirvana.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Organized chaos is the best way I can describe it. I’m up early in the morning and into my routine. I have my coffee, take a shower, and mentally prepare for the day. I’m generally in the office by 7:30 and sometimes work straight through lunch. I’m on conference calls, having team meetings, and working to foster the industry relationships I’ve built over the years. After work, I sometimes head over to Noodle Station and see what’s going on over there. I talk with some customers and pass on any active feedback to the kitchen and management. I try not to micromanage the restaurant because I feel like I’ve partnered with the right person to execute our vision.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It sounds a little pretentious but through sheer force of will and clarity of vision. When I have an idea that gets my brain going, I have to see it through to the end. I can see every aspect of it and actively look for ways to go horribly wrong. Once I fix the problems that I can see, I let others try and break them to account for problems I may not have seen the first time. I also listen to people who tell me where they see problems. Not people who tell me the idea is just plain bad. My attitude is “bring me solutions and suggestions, not just complaints.”
What’s one trend that excites you?
A company in Japan is making some great strides in improving the overall Ramen experience for their customers. They have used the latest technology to remove the usual pork-bone odor from their restaurant. They’ve also instituted what they call a “taste-intensive counter.” Every customer has walls to both sides and a curtain in front of them, where the Ramen is served. It’s bar seating with dividers. This way, they can be alone with their bowl of Ramen and have nothing to distract them between them and the noodles.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’ve always worked to foster and recognize talent in hiring people. The people I hire share a vision of what makes our business successful, and all work toward that common goal. This relationship building and mentoring has allowed me to be able to spread myself into many areas without spreading myself too thin.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Living every day like tomorrow isn’t an option. This isn’t the same as living as if there is no tomorrow. It’s more about not putting off till tomorrow what you can get done today. If you do it today, you can come to your next idea tomorrow.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Business leaders tend to focus on the wrong things a lot of the time. The major focus among many business leaders is on profits and the overall bottom line metrics that let their company hit those numbers. My focus is on mentoring and employee growth because I believe that if I invest in my employees, they will invest their time and energy back into the company, and as a whole, we’ll hit the numbers.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I make it a point to try and learn at least one new concept a day. I’m not saying to completely master it in a day, but understand a new idea or technology. The mind is a muscle, and it withers and dies if you don’t exercise it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Relationship building has probably been the most crucial aspect of my business growth. The company’s relationship with brokers and underwriters has helped us bring speed, quality, and satisfaction to our E&S customers for years. With Eat Noodle Station, the relationships are with suppliers to ensure that we get the best quality ingredients for the best prices possible.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It’s not so much a failure, but it can be a failing. There are times when I try to wear too many hats. One person cannot do everything, and trying to be an island unto yourself will only lead to burnout and frustration. I’ve overcome this by hiring the kind of people I can trust to wear the hats for me.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Start an online coffee shop. It can be profitable. Thre is a high volume of customers, offer better quality, and it’s a niching opportunity.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently picked up a really great set of wireless headphones with noise-canceling features. Most times, I don’t even use them to listen to anything, but just to block out the noise of the day for 10 minutes while I center myself. Perfect Investment.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We recently purchased an upgraded E&S digital wholesale platform that lets us be much more efficient than ever before at filling orders and processing claims. The jump in productivity allows us to be more customer-focused, making everything else run better.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The four agreements the author discusses are:
● Be impeccable with your word
● Don’t take anything personally
● Don’t make assumptions
● Always do your best
The idea is these “agreements” you make with yourself are like a powerful code of conduct you hold yourself to based on traits like honesty, integrity, mindfulness, and appreciation for others and yourself. The book is about making sure your agreements aren’t broken because of your actions and that you remain mindful of what you’re saying and doing.
Although the book’s genre is categorized under spirituality or metaphysics, it’s actually very applicable to business, too.
● Be impeccable with your word → Uphold your word (whether it’s making a policy clear and understandable for employees or being reliable and honoring a business deal)
● Don’t take anything personally → Make sure you don’t take things personally in your process and everyday business interactions. Allow slack in expectations and in understanding personal issues with your clients and employees
● Don’t make assumptions → Use data. Learn from mistakes and failures.
● Always do your best → Live up to your word and make a promise to yourself you’ll always do your best and give it your all in everything you do
What is your favorite quote?
“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position and be bruised in a new place.” – Washington Irvington
- Work hard, believe in yourself, and never give up
- Anything is possible with dedication
- Bringing new ideas to life is just another way to be successful and proactive toward the things you love most
- Give back to your community
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.