Entrepreneurial Leadership: A Practical Guide to Generating New Business
In the middle of selling his Florida home and having a flat tire repaired, Angelo Mastrangelo took a pause to have a power conversation with me about Entrepreneurship and Leadership.
Professor at Binghamton University and the former owner and CEO of Adirondack Beverages, Mastrangelo recently published a practical guide for those who want to start a company or succeed in business. In his book, Entrepreneurial Leadership, Mastrangelo shares basic entrepreneurial and leadership strategies to help people achieve their goals.
“Leaders do not develop followers. Leaders develop other leaders,” said Mastrangelo. “And all leaders need to be entrepreneurial. This has nothing to do with ownership or profits.”
The book combines Mastrangelo’s Opportunity Model with tried and true entrepreneurial and leadership strategies, which outline the connection between vision, skilled management and business accomplishment.
“I started off my career as a stock boy, then a milkman and worked my way to the top,” shared Mastrangelo. “In 1980 with 4 children, we had $232 dollars our checking account and nothing in savings besides the equity our house. I remember being in a room with a bunch of lawyers trying to buy a multi-million dollar company. All our credit cards were overdrawn, and we didn’t even have enough money for the plane ride home.”
Using an Industrial Development Act bond, and with the support of his wife (who signed a clause assuming any business debt for the remainder of her life, even if they were to divorce), Mastrangelo purchased what is now known as Adirondack Beverages. After thirteen years growing the business, including competing in the “Cola Wars,” Mastrangelo left the company in 1993, which by then was generating $60 million in sales a year.
“I can still hear my grandfather’s voice saying, ‘Only in America,’” Mastrangelo relayed in an Italian accent.
Beyond Mastrangelo’s life experiences, he developed a model for leadership backed by research from his dissertation, which he completed as part of his Ph.D at the University of Albany, SUNY. The model also ties in lessons learned from the Owner/President Management program at Harvard Business School.
“After combing through hundreds of years of research I realized they teach the basics of business, but there is nothing out there on the basics of leadership,” said Mastrangelo.
Mastrangelo defines leadership as a process with the purpose to obtain willing cooperation. The process for this involves having the ability to provide direction on a strategy that works, and coordinate strategic alignment.
“It’s so important to keep the vision aligned with the process. If a leader can do this, they will succeed,” explained Mastrangelo. “I remember we had two days to sell 60,000 cases in a weekend. Keeping everything coordinated and making sure people were working together was the key to delivering on our promise.”
He continued by revealing the 4 parts of his entrepreneurial and leadership model, which include:
“It’s not complicated, it’s about fine-tuning a process that generates new business, and an entrepreneurial force is the key behind generating new business. This is why Apple continues to change their phones. It’s all new business! This can be achieved by looking for problems to solve, developing something special and unique, making your solution sustainable and eventually turning a profit so you can keep going.”
“Leaders need to obtain the willing cooperation of their team. No one has the time and money to watch people. To me, you manage things and lead people. This strategy builds strong relationships, and everything in life depends on relationships. If I were walking off a cliff, I wouldn’t want my team to follow me. If the fall doesn’t kill me, their landing on my will. No. I want people to have the courage to grab my belt and ask if I see the cliff!
“Leaders need to create a team of people who win when they win, and are passionate when they’re passionate. This transcends to the customer service your business provides. You don’t have to be brilliant, you just need to care about solving a customer’s problems.”
“This stems from being selfless, not selfish. One person may have an idea, but it takes a team of people to develop it and take it to market. Being a leader is about living in a world where if it’s good for us, it’s good for me.”
But that’s not all! Mastrangelo added that expertise, trust, caring and sharing make up only 80% of the recipe. The rest comes from morals – how a leader honors others with dignity and pride.
Mastrangelo has over thirty years of leadership experience. He currently teaches Entrepreneurship and Leadership at Binghamton University, and was named one of the top Entrepreneurship Professors in the USA by Fortune Small Business. He is also the founder of the Second Chance Scholarship Foundation that has helped more than 1,400 local students go to college.
“I don’t teach students to become entrepreneurs because very few people have the stomach for it. I do help them be entrepreneurial by learning to create products and services for companies. This is a valuable trait. Even big corporations and the government need to be entrepreneurial.”
In addition to writing and teacher, Mastrangelo is still an active entrepreneur. In his latest venture, he is a key player working on various agricultural programs as part of the Southern Tier’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI).
Learn more about his plans to transform greater Binghamton from a college town into a hub for food and beverage.