Always lead by example and embrace that good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere.
Ronn Torossian, Founder & CEO of New York based 5WPR, is one of the most well respected Public Relations professionals in America. His firm is one of America’s leading privately owned PR firms, and Torossian has been recognized with many awards including being named PR Executive of the Year by the American Business Awards, and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semifinalist, among others. Torossian also serves as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and as an advisory board member for JetSmarter, the fastest growing private jet company in the world. A native New Yorker, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children.
Where did the idea for 5WPR come from?
Before I started my own PR firm, 5WPR, I realized that the PR industry was ripe for disruption and felt there was a lot of room for growth, innovation and change. While I started over 15 years ago as a one man operation, today, 175 people later, I still feel there’s a lot of room for growth, innovation and change. The name, 5WPR – stands for the 5W’s of marketing – who, what, when, where, and why. At our core, we are storytellers. I wanted to build a PR firm that wouldn’t just stand on strategy for strategy’s sake, but rather, focus on results and working in real time to assess our approach, innovating constantly, and changing with the pace of the media landscape. I am so happy I started my own company, and still treat every single day like it’s day one.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start most days early in the morning, waking up at 530AM with a workout, then breakfast with the kids while reading the morning newspapers (yes, I still read hard copies). I am usually in the office by 8:30am or so – and running from meeting to meeting, whether with clients, staff, a strategic partner or something else relevant to our business. Dinner is usually at one of my favorite restaurants, again with a client or staff member, and then home and in bed for a few hours of sleep. There’s very little separation in this business between business and pleasure, and often client relationships morph into personal relationships.
Every day is productive, and as we grow I have learned the importance of prioritizing what’s most important. A client many years ago once taught me just because it’s urgent for someone else doesn’t meant it’s urgent for you. I focus on what matters to our clients, and what matters to 5WPR, that’s where my focus goes professionally.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I go and do them. I am not one who believes in overthinking, and as one of my favorite pieces of art says, “Blah Blah Blah.” No blah blah blah here – make it happen. The best advice I’ve been given was from my mother. She told me to believe in myself and work hard. Having the courage and determination to roll my sleeves up and make things happen has helped me every step of the way. My biggest secret to success is to work really, really hard.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m fascinated by the way our always-on culture is impacting the way we communicate with each other, interact with the media, and set expectations for brands and businesses. There isn’t one particular trend I would speak to, however I think that many of the trends and innovations we’ve seen of late (connected homes, phone chargers in everything, one-to-one communication from brands to their consumers) are being driven by this cultural shift. I’m excited to continue to see companies innovate and change the way they do business within this new ecosystem.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Giving back. I proudly give 10% of my annual earnings to charity every year. It makes me feel good and it is one of my top priorities. I have always believed that the more I give, the more I get. Being able to give is a blessing, and the desire to help others comes full circle back to being productive, working harder, and making a difference as an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Always lead by example and embrace that good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere. Understand that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Learn to listen, and learn to trust your gut.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Blackberry’s are still the best phone on the market for email! No one agrees with me on this – but they are all wrong! I use (and absolutely love) my old school blackberry. Yes, I also carry an iPhone, but nothing compares with my old school blackberry which I remain obsessed with. Why change something that works?
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make time for the little things. Spend time with family. I have two daughters who are the biggest blessings in my life. Thank employees for their hard work. Treat your team fairly and always bring positivity to the workplace. Learn the importance of balance and of what makes you tick.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
At 5WPR, we’ve learned to cut our losses. If there are aspects of the business that are no longer serving our mission, we let them go. We’ve had to resign clients when they no longer fit our business. It’s unfortunate, but a necessity for our business in the long run. And ultimately, a strategy that continues to help us grow and flourish. The old 80/20 rule remains very true.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As you grow a business, you need to grow your team and hiring is one of the most important things you do as a CEO. Early on, which I think is natural, there were times where we hired someone who was a fit for the job on paper, but I’ve learned that having team members who not only have the technical skills but are a cultural fit is critical to growing leaders and building your company. We use personality tests for people to better understand their motivations, drives and key riders for success. That’s helped us to become better at hiring. Few entrepreneurs think before they start about the importance of finding good staff — it’s one of the hardest things of success.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I love art and would love someone to create an online marketplace for art collectors to connect, network and sell artwork. I think this would be great for discovery and art education. It would also be fun. 5W keeps me busy, so if someone does start this business, let me know!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I was recently in Israel with my kids and we stopped into a local market that had handmade goods for sale from local artists. Together, we picked out several pieces to bring home, as mementos from the trip. Travelling with my kids and creating shared memories is something you can’t put a price-tag on.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Going to stick with the Blackberry for email! Absolutely nothing compares for emailing!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations” – A must-read for anyone in the public relations industry, or anyone looking to get into the space. Yes, it’s my book, but still a good read!
What is your favorite quote?
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw
● Believe in yourself and work hard.
● Stay curious, allow yourself to get input from all sources.
● Mistakes will happen, it’s how you respond to them that defines you as a CEO.
● Cut your losses when you need to.
● Make time for family and that which is most important to you.
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