Monthly Archives: April 2014

Members in the News

Rutgers University’s The Daily Targum wrote about EO New Jersey members speaking to students. The article included Anna Walz [Medisys Health Communications], Alex Zaltsman [Innovi Mobile], Daniel Wilson [Northeast Wealth Planners] and Carl Gould [The Gould Organization].

Dr. Ramtin Kassir [Mona Lisa Cosmetic Surgery Center] was featured in a New York Post article about using Google Glass in the operating room. NBC New York also did a story about Dr. Kassir and his use of Google Glass.

Cheryl Biron [One Horn Transportation] was quoted in an Inc. story about managing a crisis.

A Hunterdon County Democrat story included Lyons & Associates [Theresa Lyons] for sponsoring the third annual Red Shoe event.

Cornerstone Search Group [Steven Raz] was in an article on for its participation in BioNJ’s 3rd Annual Human Resource Industry Conference.

Roman Jewelers [Sophie Shor and Lucy Zimmerman] was in the Hunterdon County Democrat for sponsoring the Flemington Business Improvement District’s cultural series.

Member Feature: Joe Hodakowski

The EO New Jersey blog periodically features members. In this post, learn more about Joe Hodakowski in his own words.

My name is Joe Hodakowski, and I joined EO 8 years ago. I have been in Eleven Forum for the past year and a half. The biggest thing that I’ve gained from EO is learning from other business owners who are having challenges in their business and how they are dealing with them. We all have different businesses, but we all have similar issues.

I founded my business (Hodakowski & Hodakowski) in 2003 when I left Ernst & Young and went into business with my father. We are a full service accounting firm, located in Flemington, N.J., that provides bookkeeping, tax return preparation, tax planning and estate administration to individuals, small businesses and corporations.

I left Ernst & Young because I wanted a better quality of life and wanted to provide my clients with better service and more advice. When we first formed our partnership, we had one employee and a small office. Today, we have 11 employees and have seen tremendous growth. In the last year we have started a marketing program that is unique to the accounting industry. It has been very successful and has helped grow our business about 20 percent in the past year.

Born and raised in northern New Jersey, I went to Pope John High School in Sparta. I attended Gettysburg College, where I met my wife, Kate. While at Gettysburg I played football and graduated in the top 10 in career tackles and was second-team All American my senior year. I have a master’s degree in taxation from Seton Hall University and my CPA license in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

I live in Doylestown, Penn., with my wife and four children: Annie (6), Ben (4), Jane (2) and Rosemary (2 months). We enjoy spending time in the Poconos at our second home in Lake Naomi.

Member Feature: Joe Spano

The EO New Jersey blog periodically features members. In this post, learn more about Joe Spano in his own words.

My name is Joe Spano, and I have been a member of EO New Jersey since 2003. I was an original member of the Vigor forum, a past moderator and EO NJ’s current treasurer. Over the years, my biggest EO takeaway has been that I really can liberate myself from my business. Although very successful at my former business, Buy-Rite (fashion accessories), like many EO-ers, I felt that it owned me more than I owned it. My first EO University in LA in 2004 gave me the confidence that I could change that, and I sold the company at top of the market just a year later to private equity.

Since 2006, I have operated a real estate development business, Spano Partners, primarily involved in the retail and solar spaces. I got started in this, regrettably, at the top of the market, because I quickly grew bored after selling Buy-Rite. In hindsight, I should have given my mind more time to relax and unwind, though I was fortunate enough to take many adventure vacations in between. I also have been a partner in WorldWide Mining Partners since 2011. We have successfully developed a plasma- and chemical-based technological process for the demolecularization, or freeing, of precious metals bound to base metals, and we are currently raising funds to upgrade the plant to a commercial level.

After graduating Rider College (now University), I remained with my internship company, PricewaterhouseCoopers as a CPA. I had the good fortune of working primarily with smaller clients in both the audit and tax departments, giving me fantastic and broad general business experiences. I left that firm after two years, beginning what I never dreamed would be a 24-year stay at Buy-Rite.

I grew up in Old Bridge, N.J., just a few blocks from the home of my wife, Diane. We have been married 33 years (did I really say 33??). Since 1984, we have lived in Freehold Township, and we have three grown sons – Matthew, Steven and Andrew, two of whom, thankfully, are liberated from us.

That’s all folks…

Event Recap: The Business of Football

EO New Jersey and EO New York teamed up to host “The Business of Football” at The Chart House in Weehawken, N.J. A total of 122 people attended the event. You can see a video recap here.

The event scored high on satisfaction with an 8.7 overall satisfied score. The venue scored a 9.3 and the speakers scored an 8.6.

Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports, presented on selling sports and received great comments. Attendees thought his presentation was relevant with great content. Steiner shared his true business success story that was both inspiring and engaging.

Other feedback was also positive. Attendees thought Jamal Lewis, a former NFL running back, was authentic and funny. One EO-er wrote that Ted Sundquist, former general manager of the Denver Broncos, related sports to business well.

Overall, attendees most enjoyed the variety of speakers and the interesting topic. The business/football integration was a unique subject for both EO New Jersey and EO New York.

Don’t Miss EO NERVE 2014

Registration closes for EO Nerve 2014, the EO East Coast regional annual conference, on April 15. Don’t forget to register before it sells out!

The conference is June 11 – 14 in Philadelphia (add to calendar). Keynote speakers include Michael Maddock, Gary Vaynerchuk, Randy Jones, Dick Vermeil and Rudy Karsan. Visit to learn more about the conference.

Click here to see a video invite outlining the conference speakers from Eric Keiles, 2014 Nerve chairman. You can also learn more with this short video from EO Charlotte member Dana Bradley or this video from Dick Vermeil, former NFL football coach.

You can register here.

Members in the News

NJBIZ wrote a story about the EO New Jersey results from the Global Entrepreneur Indicator survey and used a photo of Alex Zaltsman [Innovi Mobile] in the story.

Intac Actuarial Services [Charles Rosenberg] was in a Ridgewood-GlenRock Patch story for making NJBIZ’s 100 Best Places to Work in New Jersey list.

Kansas City music publication The Pitch included Select-A-Ticket [Tom Patania] in a story about tickets for the Essence Music Festival.

Steven Raz [Cornerstone Search Group] was quoted in a story about salary trends.

The Greeley Tribune and Las Vegas NV Blog both covered World Class Driving [Aaron Fessler] for their part in granting a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Gruskin Group [Ken Gruskin] was in a story on Kean University’s The Cougar’s Byte for hosting “Let’s Charrette.”

Theresa Lyons [Lyons & Associates, P.C.] was in a Messenger-Gazette article about the Business Builders Breakfast where she was a presenter.

Roman Jewelers [Sophie Shor and Lucy Zimmerman] was in the Hunterdon County Democrat for sponsoring the Flemington Business Improvement District spring cultural series.

EO New Jersey Named a Finalist for Marketing & Communications Awards

EO New Jersey has been named a finalist for Best Video and Best External Awareness in the EO Global Marketing & Communications Awards. There were 92 entries, spanning all EO regions.

Best Video recognizes business development, learning and/or chapter promotion videos less than three minutes in length. Best External Awareness recognizes chapters whose PR and marketing efforts have taken off this year. The award is for chapters who show ROI for external awareness and are recognized as a leading voice for EO.

Winners will be announced at GLC during the marketing and communications track. Here are all the finalists:

Award Category Finalists
Best Chapter Branding EO Atlanta
EO Arizona
EO Silicon Valley
EO Seattle
Best Video EO Karachi
EO Kolkata
EO New Jersey
EO New Zealand – Auckland
EO Sacramento
Best Social Media EO Cleveland
EO China East
EO Silicon Valley
EO Turkey
Best Newsletter EO Atlanta
EO Cleveland
EO Kolkata
EO Osaka
Best External Awareness EO Colorado
EO Malaysia
EO New Jersey
EO Seattle
EO South Australia
Best Event Branding EO Bahrain
EO Cleveland
EO Kolkata
EO Malaysia
EO Los Angeles + EO Orange County + EO San Diego

EO New Jersey Member Ken Gruskin Wins Award

EO New Jersey member Ken Gruskin’s company, Gruskin Group, won the Grand Award from the New Jersey Concrete and Aggregate Association and the New Jersey chapter of the American Concrete Institution. They won the award for designing the Kean University Green Lane Building. This is the top concrete project in the state of New Jersey for construction year 2013.

Congratulations, Ken!


How to Improve Your Business and Life…One Story at a Time

If you need to persuade and influence, teach and inspire, or want a competitive edge, come and learn to improve your storytelling ability. Storytelling is a frequently overlooked and underappreciated skill business skill.

All entrepreneurs can benefit from effective communication skills. Short, well-told stories can be used in your relationships with customers, prospects, investors, employees, potential employees and vendors. In this Patricia Fripp EO seminar you will learn to add punch and power to your business stories, examples and case histories. The event is at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 29 at the Metropolitan Room at the Newark Club (add to calendar).

Your well-told story has the power to:

  • Influence others to make decisions and say “yes”
  • Turn numbing data into drama
  • Simplify the complex
  • Make company history come alive
  • Teach values and how to behave
  • Explain job responsibilities
  • Inspire associates to follow your vision
  • Elevate teamwork and co-operation

In Patricia Fripp’s EO “One Story at a Time” session you will learn how to:

  • Connect emotionally and intellectually to any audience of any size
  • Identify the best examples, case histories and stories
  • Incorporate all aspects of effective storytelling including creating content and delivery techniques
  • Teach your team to perfect their storytelling ability
  • Speak so that your listeners “can see” what you are saying
  • Improve your staff meetings and training
  • Adopt Hollywood techniques to your business situation

Your session presenter is Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE. Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE is a Hall of Fame keynote speaker, executive speech coach and sales presentation skills expert. Meetings and Conversations magazine named her “one of the 10 most electrifying speakers in North America.” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine wrote: “the sixth best investment in you is to attend a Patricia Fripp speaking school.”

For more than 25 years, Patricia has transformed sales teams and coached executives on how to deliver dynamic and inspiring presentations. She delights and entertains audiences while delivering practical, personalized content and consistently exceeds client expectations.

Patricia simplifies and demystifies the process of preparing and presenting powerful presentations. She is a member of the very prestigious Speaking Roundtable, an invitation-only society of highly regarded professional speakers and a past president – and the first female president – of the over 3,000 member National Speakers Association. She is also a partner in the World Champions’ Edge presentation skills coaching community with four Toastmasters International World Champions. Patricia is the author of Make It, So You Don’t Have to Fake It! and Get What You Want! and co-author of Speaker’s Edge, Speaking Secrets of the Masters, and Insights into Excellence. 

In fairness to all EONJ members, should you reserve a spot and fail to attend (without 48 hours notice) you will be assessed a $100 charge.

Click here to register.

EO New Jersey to Host Fireside Chat with Michael Kempner

Michael Kempner will speak at a fireside chat from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 15 at the Queen Room of LaReggia, 40 Wood Ave., Secaucus, N.J., which is in the Meadowlands Plaza Hotel (add to calendar). Lunch will be provided.

Michael Kempner started MWW in 1986 with just a typewriter, a single client and a one-room office in New Jersey. Today, as MWW’s founder, president and CEO, Kempner manages one of the largest public relations firms in the world. In 2010, he led a management buy-back of the firm to restore the firm to its independent and entrepreneurial roots. MWW is one of the 10 largest independent public relations firms in the United States and has been named PR Agency of the Year by the International Business Awards, The Sabre Awards and PR News. In addition, MWW has been named Digital Agency of the Year and has been inducted into PR News’ Corporate Social Responsibility A-List.

A nationally recognized authority on reputation management, crisis management, public affairs, business-to-business, consumer marketing and corporate social responsibility, Kempner has counseled some of the world’s most prominent executives, organizations and companies. Kempner is known for his candor, commitment to community service and personal attention to clients needs. He is an author and speaker on a variety of public relations, management, entrepreneurship and marketing issues, and he is a frequent blogger at and a contributor to the Huffington Post.

Kempner has been honored with several of the industry’s top recognitions, including International Business Awards 2012 PR Executive of the Year; Bulldog Stars of PR 2012 Agency Professional of the Year and PR Blogger of the Year; American Business Awards 2012 Executive of the Year; PR News CSR Awards 2012 PR Professional of the Year; PR Week’s 2010 Public Relations Executive of the Year; a Lifetime Achievement Award by PR News; and Michael CSR Professional of the Year. He was inducted into the PR News Hall of Fame in 2009.

An active member of his community, Kempner has served as a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions, appointed by President Barack Obama, and as a founding board member of ConnectOne Bank. Kempner is also a board member of Goodwill Industries International and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Event: Fireside Chat with Michael Kempner

Date: April 15, 2014

Time: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Location: Queen Room of LaReggia, 40 Wood Ave., Secaucus, NJ (located in the Meadowlands Plaza Hotel)

Please note parking is behind the Meadowlands Plaza Hotel – DO NOT park across the street or you will be towed!

Click here to register.