40 Under 40: Spotting Age-Old Traits of Success FROM THE NEWSROOM By Jason Schaff At this writing, the editorial team is finishing our special “40 Under 40” report and I feel old. I’m over 40 and although there’s nothing wrong with that, I feel like I felt last year when we did this project that I probably wasted some time in my 20s and 30s and could have accomplished more. Whine, whine, whine. That’s not a constructive way of thinking and readers don’t care about my 20s and 30s. So I’ll tell you what else I got out of the “40 Under 40” project that is a little more useful. Actually a lot more useful. The common factors among all the people who were nominated this year to become one of the 40 “finalists” profiled in this issue are passion and focus, I believe. And looking back as an old guy who thinks he may have wasted a few years in his 20s and 30s, those are the two things that were lacking for me then. And passion and focus go hand in hand. I don’t think you can have true focus without passion, otherwise why work so hard on focusing if you don’t like what you’re focusing on? Let’s take a quick look at some of the 40 Under 40 professionals profiled in this issue and you’ll see what I mean. I can be most credible in my observations by talking about the people I interviewed at length for our profiles. Take Josh Barinstein, owner of Red Frog Inc. advertising and marketing company for example. He started his firm out of his un-air conditioned house because he felt he could contribute best by owning his own company and doing what he does best creating full service advertising/marketing for client companies big and small. It sounded like his initial years were rough but he knew he and his wife Cecilia could provide creative services for their clients that would work and they loved doing it. He could still be working for far bigger companies and getting a regular paycheck from them but he wanted to do more than that. And he stuck with it. Raul Castillo, the executive director of the Los Angeles Valley College Patrons Association, has stayed focused on non-profit fund-raising for many years now despite being only 36. He decided that’s what he wanted to do with his professional life and he has stuck with it. He’s really studied the business and can discuss strategy. This might be boring to a lot of people but when talking to him, he shows a lot of energy when discussing his job and this energy has brought results for the college. The energy really is passion and you couldn’t do fund-raising without lots of passion. Then there’s Bill and Bob Davis who run Davis Research, a market research firm. Sure, they’re at the helm of a family business that was built by the hard work of their parents but actually they’re doing a job right now that is just as hard. They’re moving the company to the next generation and not missing a beat, in fact they’re growing it. They know the obstacles in running a family business in a competitive industry but they’re focused on the steps they need to take to do it successfully. And, they too, obviously aren’t just going through the motions. There’s energy/passion there. Looking at the accomplishments of all the other “40 Under 40” we found, you see the same thing as you do in these guys. Most set their sights on something and didn’t give up. That’s the key. Us older folks can learn from all these men and women. I hope other people in their industries and the greater business community make use of these “youngsters.” I know that the 92 people we found are not the only talented under-40 people in the area worth watching. You’ll see others, of course, if you network around the community. And we’ll be writing about others throughout the year. If you know of people we missed this time around, please let me know, and we’ll track them down. Congratulations to all. Business Journal Editor Jason Schaff can be reached at (818) 316-3125.