Photo by DAVID ALBERS, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo
Michael Feuer wants to look you in the eye. A man who demands accountability, Feuer eschews the concept of using texts and email as technological hiding places.
If you have something important to tell him, look him in the eye and say it. Whether the goal is to brainstorm or to confess, nothing will ever replace the revealing benefits of one-to-one communication.
Feuer is a passionate combination of confidence, focus, and candor juxtaposed against equally potent character traits spotlighting his wit and self-deprecating manner — a man who takes himself very seriously yet not too seriously.
But mostly, Michael Feuer elevates the concept of "what you see is what you get" to an absolute art form.
These combined qualities enabled the OfficeMax co-founder and 16-year CEO to take a single store, a personal investment of only $20,000, and unimaginable tenacity to transform the retailer into 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales of approximately $5 billion.
Riding the wave of America's renewed passion for healthy living, Feuer now presides over burgeoning retailer Max-Wellness, having placed one of the first locations in North Naples.
Though few can argue the benefits of openness and honesty, in his 2011 book, "The Benevolent Dictator," Feuer provides much more than just a peek inside the man behind the curtain. The book is ultimately a time-honored how-to guide: how to build and grow a business; how to negotiate your way through corporate America; and for those who want an inside track, how to deal effectively with Michael Feuer.
As explained by Fred Koury, president and CEO of Smart Business Network and publisher of Feuer's national magazine column, Tips from the Top, "He doesn't expect anything from you he doesn't expect from himself."
Calling upon his substantial creative-thinking skills, Feuer once influenced employee behavior by distributing copies of the 1970 movie, "Love Story." In his words, "If you are guarded, you can't tell people what they need to hear and I always insist on a free flow of information." To "Love Story" fans, and to Feuer, "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
With his heightened understanding of the importance of personal and business branding, Feuer suggests, "Build your own brand and credibility, because you've got to get people to follow you. Position yourself or your competitors will do it for you."
Without question, the way we view ourselves directly influences the way we are viewed by others — the same "others" who ultimately affect our success or failure. Chief among Feuer's principles: "If I tell you I'm going to do something, I do it."
In the oft-described "dog-eat-dog" business world — one suffused with competition, intense negotiations, and veiled deception — Feuer offers simple yet optimistic advice for those who wish to celebrate at the end of a hard-fought battle: "Success is the greatest revenge."
As for Feuer's enduring success, Koury adds, "He is not 'theoretical.' Everything he says and does is based on experience."
Though he is aware of his reputation as a tough businessman, with a corporate landscape sometimes characterized by half-truths and hidden agendas, Michael Feuer has bamboozled the competition simply by being an open book.
Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the President of MindZoo, a marketing communications agency headquartered in Naples. He can be reached at Randy@mindzoo.com or 239-304-9611.