The Soenen file Featured

8:51am EDT November 23, 2004
Born: 1970, Detroit

Education: Bachelor of arts degree from Kalamazoo College

First job: Cutting lawns. "(I had) my own lawn-care business, although I think I underpriced it significantly. I didn't (make a lot of money). And I think that was my first lesson in economics -- four hours to cut a yard and make $3 wasn't a terribly good deal, but I had lot of business. I couldn't make it up in volume."

Career moves: July 1993 to July 1996, Salomon Brothers Inc., specialized in mergers and acquisitions; August 1996 to December 1996, an associate at Perry Corp., a private equity investment firm, which has a large investment in FTD; January 1997 to May 1999, vice president of marketing and sales promotion for FTD; May 1999 to October 2002, president and CEO for FTD.com; October 2002 to May 2004, president and COO for FTD; May 2004 to present, CEO and member of the board of directors of FTD

Resides: Chicago

What is the greatest business lesson you've learned?

Not to fear failure. You can't be afraid to make a big mistake; otherwise, you will never get anything interesting done.

What is the greatest business challenge you've faced, and how did you overcome it?

One of the things that was always interesting to me is that when I was starting out early in my career, I wasn't afraid to work really, really, really hard. I think early on in my career, it was difficult for me when I started managing people.

Many times, they had different backgrounds and experiences than me; they didn't always have the same work ethic.

I realized that I was going to have to work hard to find a team of people who understood the value of working hard and the value of dedication and commitment. It took me awhile to assemble that kind of team and to find those types of people.

Once we found that group, the group I work with today, is really when things really began to happen.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

I admire my father, simply because he taught me just about everything I know about how to treat other people. And every day, that is probably the one thing that allows me to continue to succeed in my career.