Norm Brodsky

Speech Topics

“A lot of people starting out in business would prefer to have a step-by-step formula or a specific set of rules they could use to achieve their goals. The problem is, there aren’t any. Rather, there’s a way of thinking that allows someone to deal with many different situations and take advantage of many different opportunities as they arise.”

Having “the knack” has made all the difference to the eight successful start-ups of Norm’s career. He explores this mind-set every month in Inc. magazine, in the hugely popular “Street Smarts” column he cowrites with Bo Burlingham. Both in their column and book, Norm and Bo show small-business people how to deal with all kinds of tricky situations with street-smart advice such as:

  • Follow the numbers—that’s the best way to spot problems before they become life threatening.-Keep focusing on your real goal—it’s amazingly easy to get sidetracked by secondary concerns.
  • Gross profit is the single most important number in any new business.
  • Don’t get so close to the problem that you lose all perspective.
  • Sales do not equal cash, and cash is what you need to survive.

Using engaging examples from Norm’s thirty years of experience, and from the advice he’s given many entrepreneurs over the years, Norm and Bo prove that business acumen can be within any entrepreneur’s reach.

To be sure, having the knack doesn’t guarantee that you’ll succeed at everything you do, but it does improve your chances significantly. You win more than you lose, and the longer you stay in the game, the more often you come out on top.


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Norm Brodsky, who co-authors Inc. Magazine’s “Street Smarts” column, is the founder of six businesses, including a three-time Inc. 500 company. He began writing “Street Smarts” after being featured on Inc.’s cover in July 1995. The column was nominated for a National Magazine award in 2006. He recently concluded a nine-part series, “The Offer,” about his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to sell his companies.

A graduate of Rider College and Brooklyn Law School, Brodsky began his professional career as a lawyer, but the slow pace of the courtroom made him want to do something different. His first entrepreneurial endeavor was Perfect Courier, a messenger service and trucking company in Brooklyn, New York. When the rise of fax machines in the early 80s decreased the need for messengers, Brodsky began looking for other opportunities.A phone call from a customer asking about box storage prompted him to call storage facilities in the area. Recognizing that others were charging too much and the potential market was great, Brodsky began CitiStorage with the profits from his trucking company. The archival storage and retrieval company now holds more than three million boxes. Brodsky and his wife, Elaine, run both CitiStorage and PerfectCourier from their Brooklyn office.


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