Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:01

Adversity is a friend

When Mike Jackson was 10 years old, he made his first entrepreneurial endeavor by cleaning horse stalls for $1 each, and he learned how to appreciate hard work.

He also learned as a child how to persevere. When he was 14 years old, he signed up for and paid for a Boy Scout summer camp program in New Mexico on his own, but he was small for his age. So when he showed up to board the bus with the other scouts, the leader insisted he stay behind, but he wouldn’t back down. He went on to the camp, withstood ridicule from other scouts and persevered against bears and rattlesnakes. He learned that adversity was his friend, and at the end of camp, he was named the one outstanding camp scout out of several thousand attendees.

After college, while on his way to law school, his old Mercedes broke down. He couldn’t afford to have it fixed, so he offered the dealership his time in exchange for repairs. He did odd jobs, and when they asked him to stay on as an apprentice mechanic, he delayed the start of law school and took the job.

He went on to join Mercedes Benz as a master technician, and in 1979, at age 29, he purchased the dealership where he had worked as an apprentice. The dealership grew substantially, and Mercedes approached him to run its failing North American business, which he accepted because adversity was, indeed, his friend.

He made the company the strong business it is today. The turnaround caught the eye of entrepreneurial legend Wayne Huizenga, who was the chairman of AutoNation Inc., which was a young auto retailing startup at the time. He had rapidly built it and was looking for someone to lead the company from growth through acquisition to growth via sales. Jackson accepted, and he’s grown the organization significantly, and today, he serves as chairman and CEO.

How to reach: AutoNation Inc., (954) 769-7000 or

Published in Florida

Smart Business is honored to be part of Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards as its local print media sponsor in several markets across the country.

Since its founding in 1986, the Entrepreneur Of The Year program has recognized more than 8,000 deserving entrepreneurs nationwide. The 2011 finalist and winners will be featured in Smart Business' July issue as a special program report.

Who is Eligible?

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards recognizes men and women who put everything on the line in order to translate an idea to viable, sustainable enterprise. A nominee can be a founder, president, or chief executive officer of a private or public company who is primarily responsible for the recent performance of the company and an active member of top management. The nominee's company must be at least three years old. With this criteria in mind, we invite you to  nominate your clients, colleagues, and even yourself for this prestigious award.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year independent judging panel consists of local leaders in business, including past award recipients. Smart Business and Ernst & Young do not participate in the judging process. Nominations will be accepted through March 18, 2011.

If you are interested in pursuing our nominations for this prestigious award, or if you have any questions please contact Director of Marketing John Lotenero at (440) 250-7013 or

We look forward to helping you get the recognition you and your business deserve.

Published in Akron/Canton

Ernst & Young LLP is calling for applications for its fourth annual Entrepreneurial Winning Women competition, a national leadership program designed for women entrepreneurs to accelerate the growth of their businesses and help them realize the potential they envision for their companies.

To obtain an application form, or to nominate a deserving woman entrepreneur, visit: The application deadline is June 30, 2011. Winners will be announced in October 2011.

The Entrepreneurial Winning Women program identifies and connects a select group of women entrepreneurs with the advisors, resources and insights they need to scale their businesses and become market leaders.  The program is conducted in collaboration with the Women Presidents’ Organization, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the Committee of 200, National Association of Women Business Owners and Babson College.

“Women employ 16 percent of the US workforce and climbing – starting businesses at twice the rate of men. There has never been a better time to help women scale their businesses, adding even more jobs to the economy,” noted Maria Pinelli, Americas Director, Strategic Growth Markets, Ernst & Young LLP. “Our program helps successful women entrepreneurs to propel their company’s growth, which benefits their businesses, creates jobs, and helps to boost the economy.”

Winners of the Entrepreneurial Winning Women competition will join an elite business network of the country’s best high-growth companies, including accomplished entrepreneurs recognized through the 25-year-old Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® program. Winners will also participate in a customized executive leadership program designed to:

  • Expand their knowledge with the latest information, research and executive dialogues about business strategies and practices
  • Identify potential partners, strategic alliances, customers and suppliers as well as prospective sources of private capital
  • Provide access to informal, one-to-one guidance and support
  • Strengthen their executive leadership and business skills and identify opportunities to grow through meetings with senior advisors and seasoned entrepreneurs
  • Increase national and regional visibility for themselves and their companies among corporate executives, investors and the media

“Entrepreneurial Winning Women and the Strategic Growth Forum have allowed me to take a step back, focus on my business and think bigger and differently than I did before,” said Dawn Halfaker, CEO, Halfaker and Associates, and a 2010 Entrepreneurial Winning Woman.  “The contacts I’ve made and relationships I’ve built are not just helpful now but will be in the future as I continue to grow my business. I’ve received tremendous media exposure and truly been inspired.”

Each winner will receive an all-expense paid trip to the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum 2011, which takes place November 9-13, 2011 in Palm Springs, California. The Strategic Growth Forum, dubbed by as one of the “Seven Get-Ahead Executive Retreats,” is an invitation-only gathering of high-growth, market-leading company CEOs. The Forum presents a one-of-a-kind platform for Ernst & Young Winning Women to introduce their companies and share their corporate and personal brands within a community of established entrepreneurs, top executives, prospective investors and business advisors. All 2011 Winning Women will be recognized at a special celebratory event during the Forum. For more information on the forum, including speakers from top US companies, visit:

Competition Criteria and Selection:

To apply for the program, applicants must fit the following criteria:

  • Founding woman CEO of a privately held US company
  • Company must have reported at least one full fiscal year of $1 million in sales within each of the last 2 years
  • Venture must be less than 10 years old
  • Entrepreneur must be able to attend an orientation/preparation session at Ernst & Young’s headquarters in New York City on October 4-5, 2011, and the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum, November 9-13, 2011, in Palm Springs, CA.

"Through Entrepreneurial Winning Women and the Strategic Growth Forum, my network has grown exponentially,” said Susan Rice, President, Cavanagh Services Group, Inc., and a 2010 Entrepreneurial Winning Woman.  “I have learned that even the most established entrepreneurs have similar challenges to me, which gives me the strength to know I can achieve that same level of success. I have gained more confidence to think bigger, and I have real plans for change in growing my company and exploring new market segments.”

The 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women panel of independent judges — representing successful entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders — will name 10 Entrepreneurial Winning Women in October 2011. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate qualities needed to take full advantage of the program, including successes to date that exhibit the creativity, tenacity and plan necessary to realize their companies’ full potential and the confidence and conviction to drive toward market leadership. In addition, Entrepreneurial Winning Women should have the maturity and level of business sophistication needed to interact effectively with potential investors, high-level business advisors and top executives.

About Ernst & Young’s Strategic Growth Markets Practice

Through our Strategic Growth Markets (SGM) practice, Ernst & Young guides high-growth companies to market leadership worldwide. Our multidisciplinary teams of dedicated professionals provide perspective, advice, and insights to help our clients accelerate their growth. Ernst & Young is the undisputed leader in guiding Russell 2000® companies, IPO-bound companies and Forbes’ largest private companies. We deliver assurance, advisory, tax and transaction advisory services to thousands of companies in numerous, selected industries.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 141,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

For more information, please visit

Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a client-serving member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited located in the US.

Published in National
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