Power Players

BY LINDA MARX | PHOTOGRAPHS BY CARLOS HIDALGO

David Grutman
MIAMI NIGHTLIFE ENTREPRENEUR
Owner and operator of LIV and Story, restaurants Komodo Miami and OTL

Why do you love the entertainment and hospitality business?
Even though I studied finance in college, I fell in love with the hospitality industry when I did some early bartending and learned what it took to make people happy. I love being able to see the reaction on guests’ faces when they are having a good time or enjoying a great meal. I fell in love with making people happy!

How do you keep the crazy nightclub hours and still look good?
My wife, Isabela [Rangel], helps! In all honesty, I keep a healthy lifestyle. I have a trainer and chef who keeps me eating right. The crazy hours are just par for the course when you work in hospitality. You have to go to your venues and restaurants and make sure they are running the way you want them—there’s no such thing as blindly managing from afar.

Who has most inspired your work and success?
Jeff Soffer. He gave me that first bartending job at his Biz Bistro in the Aventura Mall, then later asked me to partner in and operate LIV in his Fontainebleau Miami Beach. My career really came full circle with this. Now we’re running one of the top clubs in the country in a sexy city that knows how to have fun.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
More! I have my eye on hotels—and more restaurants, more clubs—really expanding our footprint to other cities. I want to offer people the full 360-degree experience. I want people to party in my clubs, eat in my restaurants and sleep in my beds.

Lauren Gnazzo
FOUNDER OF GNAZZO GROUP
Miami communications agency focusing on public relations, special events and marketing for luxury brands

How did you feel when you took over The Patton Group at such a young age?
The Patton Group laid a strong foundation for the beginnings of what is now Gnazzo Group, but also for the way that I approached brand communications. I had a transition plan in place for the realignment of the company, but when the time came I was ready to grab the reins and run with them because of the previous years and the way they molded my vision for public relations. During my eight years at The Patton Group, my daily involvement, dedication to the clients and collaborative approach to help build the company played a major role in what was a smooth takeover. I was prepared.

What’s the most exciting part of running a high-profile firm with prestigious clients?
There is nothing more exciting than collaboration, which is the key component to create strong brand communications. It takes great creativity and an unrelenting, no-nonsense work ethic. Luckily, I was born with that. I’m quite literally never not working. My clients expect the best and I strive to provide nothing short of that—we will part waters!

What do you do to unwind and relax?
I like to be around friends and family. I stopped working out a few years ago, but I grew up equestrian and still ride when I get a chance, especially when I go home to Pittsburgh. I love to travel and take last-minute trips to Europe, especially Italy since I am Italian.

What is your advice to others who want to excel in their work?
Know your worth, and always be kind and humble. Set goals and work hard to achieve them. Don’t take no for an answer—I know it sounds cliché, but there is nothing that hard work can’t accomplish. And there is no better feeling than realizing your full potential.

Orlando Montiel
Miami-based real estate business coach for The Montiel Organization, author, host of the podcast The Miami Real Estate Show, and a financial and real estate contributor to Univision TV

During your first year in real estate, you sold 211 properties, then you went on to coach more than 7,500 real estate professionals. Describe the difference between selling real estate and teaching others how to do it.

I teach agents to focus on the clients and their needs. Nobody cares who the agent is. During the real estate boom of the 2000s, and with a client base I had developed through my work in the financial sector, I learned how to create a system and execute with a structured habit. I also discovered that less than 5 percent of real estate agents have any formal training. Since I like to teach, I turned to that side of the business, teaching agents to have a solid system which produces presentations, videos, etc.

How do your podcasts and TV work result in successes for you and for the audience?
Well, I was a wooden table when I first started with Telemundo, but I got a coach for $300 an hour to learn how to communicate with the audience. Now I am with Univision and have four coaches. If you want a bigger future, you have to write a bigger check! The better you communicate, the more successful everyone will be.

What are the highs and lows of today’s real estate market?
The most exciting thing is technology and the opportunity to automate, delegate and grow your work so you can still have a life. The most frustrating part of the business is dealing with people who do not want to take action. They should ask for help when they are ready. If they are not ready, don’t say hello to me. Don’t waste your time or mine.

How do you relax, since you travel so much for work?
I am up at 4:30 am and meditate for 20 minutes. Then I repeat it around 5 pm. This helps me tremendously. I also play tennis four or five times a week. With my wife and kids, I like to travel for six weeks to places like England and Germany. We also ski in Vermont and Lake Tahoe during December.

Brett Sugerman and Giselle Loor Sugerman
OWNERS OF B+G DESIGN INTERIOR DESIGN COMPANY

What is it like working with your spouse every day?
Brett: We worked together at another firm where we met and became best friends. We learned the ins and outs of working together first, so by the time we married in 2007 and opened our own design business, we rarely had issues.
Giselle: I was a late bloomer and have finally caught up with Brett’s wisdom. He taught me how to turn it off so we can relax and have fun. We have many advantages working together, and we live the lifestyle we sell with our kids and pets.

You each have different strengths. How do you divide the work?
Brett: I have an architectural and design construction background. I do lighting and space planning, millwork and interior elevation.
Giselle: I come up with concepts, ideas, furniture and fixture selection. I am inspired by fashion and architecture that we see when we travel to places like Europe, California and Chicago. I like color, style, shape, textures, materials and form.

Give us a sneak peek into some of your upcoming projects.
We are launching a furniture line in October called the B+G Collection. In Coral Gables, we are doing a mixed-use residential project called Giralda Place where we will design the apartments, lobbies and common areas. And we are designing a signature custom home on Las Olas Isles in Fort Lauderdale.

You both believe in giving back to the community. What are your favorite charities?
We work with KidSanctuary, an organization to help abused, abandoned and neglected children, and Design on a Dime charities in partnership with Elle Decor to raise money through design work to give back to those in need.

What is the single-best thing about working together in a business that you both love?
Brett: I don’t have to say much because we read each other’s minds. Like, hey, remember the light fixture!
Giselle: Working with my best friend every day—I’m lucky to share what I love with the person I love the most.

Burnadette Norris-Weeks
PARTNER IN THE AUSTIN PAMIES NORRIS WEEKS LAW FIRM AND COMMUNITY ACTIVIST

You represent government entities, corporations and also do personal injury work. Why do you love the law?
Governmental work is not sexy and can be tedious. If I make a mistake, it has a lasting impression. But I like to make an impact behind the scenes. There is a lot to be done in these areas.

Are you a feminist?
Yes, although it can be described in different ways. Most important is that I work hard to empower other women to live life to the fullest. I promote mentorships and help lift barriers to connect women to make the kind of relationships that will help them grow.

How do you do make this happen in your community activist work?
My passion is a group that I founded called Women of Color Empowerment Institute (WOCEI). We are able to galvanize women in positions of authority and motivate them to act. We are understanding of children and child-care issues. I like to focus a great deal of my community efforts to helping women.

How can we improve race relations in our divided country?
I don’t walk around with a banner on my head, but I am not afraid to bring it up because we can do better. We need to look for opportunities to share our viewpoints and face the least amount of hurdles. My clients are in large part based on intellect, commitment and race.

 

 

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