I’m more than a bit old-fashioned in some ways. I believe in honesty, that old adage of treating others as you would want to be treated. As I’ve gotten older, my old-fashioned nature has only solidified.
I like dealing with individuals more than groups or big businesses, government, etc. I think it’s one reason I’m such a fan of small businesses, headed by and staffed by individuals you can easily get to know. Individuals are easy to communicate with, believe in, you can understand their values and morals, whether or not you can trust them. That’s harder with everything else.Anthony Dinova is a Local example, reinforces my thinking. I haven’t known Anthony long, but I think you get an idea of who he is very quickly. This is not someone with pretenses or attitude, or any of those other personality traits I personally tend to avoid.
I met Anthony last week at The Bistro on Park Avenue, site of the next event – ‘New England Steam’, this Wednesday evening – organized through his Winter Park Annual event business. I’d actually screwed up the scheduling, arrived late. Anthony was sitting in the solarium dining room, greeted me cheerfully.
Here only two years, I can’t help but be impressed with the number of people he already knows, obviously demonstrative of his personality, an inclination to jump in with both feet. He’s not shy. I’ve walked into many businesses on Park Avenue to find Anthony sitting with the owners discussing possibilities. He tells me a bit about how he ended up in Winter Park from upstate New York. He also speaks of his six years in the United States Marine Corps.“I went in straight after high school,” he says. “The reason I joined the marine corps, my grandfather was in the navy and every time I used to leave his house I’d see this picture (in uniform) and think, man, that’s the kind of man I want to become. And so I joined the Marine Corps to sort of follow into the military footsteps, follow on with his tradition of defending the country. I was in the marine corps six years.”
The comment stands out to me, so I ask what kind of man that is. “Honest, hard-working, unselfish, loyal, I guess those are some of the character traits, ones I’d view positively,” he responds without hesitation.
With numerous Local events organized by Winter Park Annual, including two fall Wine & Dine events, a Chowder Fest (another scheduled for January) and a spring Kentucky Derby party, he began The Sip Event LLC earlier this year, with the goal of organizing fun events with food and drinks, Local networking, doing so in others cities along the east coast. This has meant completed events in Saratoga, New York and Baldwin Park, and scheduled events in Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale.
Given our discussion, it’s not surprising that he seeks a Local charity to work with for each event. “We always partner with a not-for-profit, so we donate back. There are companies out there which organize events but don’t donate anything. I think that if we donate to a good cause it brings out a better echelon of people, people who really care about the community. So my idea from the business model is to help, assist the bar.” The upcoming event in Philadelphia will “donate to the Movember movement, which helps men battling prostate cancer.”“I’d been looking at going into Philadelphia and, again, my purpose really is to not just make money, it’s to build the business and build it the right way. So from the standpoint of going into Philadelphia, we just looked at a bar, looked at the pictures online and thought, this looks really cool and neat, guests would have a really good time. Just like The Bistro on Park Ave, it’s hidden, it looks nice, it looks beautiful, has nice features to it. Then if you can put craft beer with it, people like that. So I called them up and asked them if they’d like to host an event there.” He credits a previous job involving cold-calling for his outgoing, let’s see approach.
The partnership with a non-profit is surely a positive for a community, but there are other benefits, he admits. “I figure if we’re giving back to the community, people who care about the community will come out. So that’s the type of appeal we’re trying to draw on,” he explains. He speaks frequently of working together, of benefitting not just the charity, but the businesses involved. He gives me numerous examples of how he has adjusted his plans to accommodate various businesses, make it possible for them to participate, incentivize it. It resonates with me, as dealing with individuals, small businesses also increases creativity, flexibility. Individuals will more often say let’s see what we can do, when groups get political, insist it can’t be done, rarely care to try. I’ve never told a business something has to be done a specific way. I’m guessing Anthony hasn’t either.
“I look at a lot of events locally in Orlando and I say, okay, what’s the best part of that event and I try to incorporate it into mine,” he says of how he got started, continues to operate. “There are some awesome events, networking events, food events, we try to have a blend of all. What makes that networking event really good? Is it the flow of the event? Name tags? I think the crowd really means something. You want to have a classy crowd, filled with good people, because when you’re around good people it brings out the best in everyone.”
“We don’t ever want to seem like – what’s it called in Star Wars? – we don’t want to seem like the Evil Empire, the dark force. You’ve got to prepare for this (event) like this,” he says laughing. I identify with the thought process, relishing being a lone person taking on projects, being able to react quickly and easily, that ability to demonstrate reliability and eagerness to the small businesses you approach and with which you hope to work.
“What would those businesses say about him?” I ask. “He’s an honest guy and does his best. He works very hard. Growing. And we’re happy to partner with him,” he responds.
“I’m the same guy who was in the marine corps for six years, did two tours in Iraq. I’m the type of guy who went back to Iraq the second time voluntary. So I extended my tour, went back for a complete year. And the reason why people make that decision is because one, they’re unselfish and two, they want to do the right thing for the right reasons. I feel like I want to create a business based on those characteristics. That’s my past, this is what I’m presenting to you in the future. So this is my offering to you as a business. I want to be loyal. I want to be unselfish. I want to build something and grow together,” he explains. “And if you are investing back in your businesses and people see that, you’ll win in the end. They see that and say, that’s the kind of person I want to do business with.”
Yes, it is.