Be fearlessly weird: four takeaways from the N.Y.C. Creator Awards

“You have to be prepared to fail,” said Joey Wölffer, founder of The Styleliner. “I actually feel if people had told me how much it would hurt, I probably wouldn’t have done it.”

Wölffer was speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at the New York Creator Awards on November 16. She and three other successful business owners were giving a tell-it-like-it-is master class to several hundred people, many of them would-be entrepreneurs. More than a few had notebooks in hand, furiously taking notes.

“I feel that it is an exciting world, but it’s also a terrifying world,” she added. “You have to be genuinely you in everything you do. If you sway any other direction, you won’t succeed.”

Her words were echoed by the others on the stage. They all said that being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but also one of the most rewarding. Their passion meant they couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Here are four of the biggest takeaways from the evening.

Be ‘fearlessly weird’

“We have this phrase called, ‘You do you.’ It’s this idea that you should be fearlessly weird. What the world doesn’t need is your version of someone else’s idea. What the world needs is your idea. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of being authentic, being unique, being real to yourself. Don’t chase the dollar, chase the vision.”

—Michael Lastoria, &pizza

Trust what your customers have to say

“Everybody else is going to stroke your ego. Your customers are going to tell you the truth. That’s really important.”

—Joey Wölffer, Wölffer Estate Vineyard and The Styleliner

Gather a group of great advisors

“Surround yourself with people who are great advisors, who have strengths that you don’t have. Run your idea by them, and get their input. If they believe as passionately in it as you do, then you have the support you need.”

—Anna Keiser, AKT

Prepare yourself for the loneliest job

“I told my team the other day, ‘The wins are yours, the losses are mine.’ They were all celebrating the biggest day of revenue in the history of the brand. I’m like, ‘Yeah!’—and then I’m back to solving a problem. That’s just the way it is. It’s the loneliest job in the world being a founder.”

—Ryan Babenzien, Greats

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