Sam Nazarian is a business tycoon. If you’ve never heard of him, he’s a big time business mogul in LA whose company sbe (Sammy Boy Entertainment) owns some of the most successful restaurants, nightclubs and hotels in LA, New York and Miami. His restaurant and nightclub concepts have huge hype in LA, perhaps in no small part due to their prominent featuring on The Hills, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and other reality shows. The first big TV appearance Nazarian ever made was of him boarding a private jet to Las Vegas with Heidi Montag to review his plans to renovate the Sahara hotel (which, more than three years later, sits closed and waiting to begin those renovations). In terms of strategy, he couldn’t have made a better public debut. His bread and butter market is Los Angeles, and he was shown on The Hills lightly mocking Heidi and looking extremely powerful and poised. Smart.
But what’s more impressive was Nazarian’s refinement of his business strategy. For a few years, sbe had a production company, Element Films, and was producing films with success, including the movies Mr. Brooks (a great movie) and Waiting. But Nazarian shuttered his film business even though it was doing well. His talents in business were developing and executing lifestyle brands in hotels, nightclubs and restaurants. His brands exude exclusivity, which LA types love. His every venture attracts celebrities and he works with the best in every aspect of his business, from Philippe Stark in design to José Andrés for dining. He has brand marketing down pat in an industry where restaurants can only be cool for a few years and nightclubs are lucky if they last a few months (one key to sbe’s success is that its nightclubs are often rebranded and redesigned to stay extra trendy). So even though he enjoyed the film business, he ultimately decided to end it, explaining it this way: “You have to do what you’re great at, not what you’re good at.”
It’s pretty simple but powerful advice. Have you found what you are great at? Are you constantly refining that work and making it better? Sometimes you don’t need a complicated business plan or sophisticated media planning to get yourself going. You’ll need those things eventually, but for an idea of yours to be successful, you should be able to look at the heart of it and say, “I’m great at this. I can do this better than I can do anything else.”
What do you guys think? Have you found what you’re great at? What if you’re great at something but you don’t like doing it? Does that still count as being great? For me personally, I know I love to write but I’m not sure I’m great at it. I think I am great at developing ideas and turning them into something bigger. I think that’s still kind of vague so I’m still working on my “great thing”. Let me know yours!