5/20/19

Who, What, When, Where, Why? | Gary Korb, Cigar Advisor / Famous Smoke | Interview by Kaplowitz

"Have you Kaplowitz'd to-day?"


Who has mentored you and who have you mentored?
When learning about writing for direct marketing, I was mentored by one of the advertising world’s leading direct marketing writers, the late Sol Blumenfeld. However, my current employer, Arthur Zaretsky, president of Famous Smoke Shop, has had a major impact on my understanding of how to run a successful business.

Arthur is a voracious reader and would often provide me with books on marketing. One of the most influential was John Caples’s seminal text on direct marketing, Tested Advertising Methods, many of which still hold-up today, and Being Direct, by Lester Wunderman. But I also watched how Arthur grew the company, year-by-year. Using a more conservative approach, the business took a slow and steady approach.

I have not personally mentored anyone other than my two sons, but you could say that through CigarAdvisor.com I have mentored a whole lot of cigar smokers through my articles and videos.

What have you compromised and what won’t you compromise?

When I first got into the cigar business, I compromised a better salary for a job that I truly love. Fortunately, things have evened-out over the years.

I started in the recording industry, my first dream job. It was in 1977, at the tail end of what I call the FM radio era. Watch the now-defunct HBO series, Vinyl, and you’ll get some idea of the craziness that went on. M-TV came in and everything changed. It really did kill the radio star.

After that, I worked for myself by getting into Desktop Publishing. It was very new, and I learned typography, more writing. I stayed close to the music business by doing bios and press releases for a number of local bands, then landed a gig doing PR for Joe Bonamassa.

From there it was back to a small indie record label, but the conditions were a mismatch for me. From there, I did marketing for a video producer and distributor, mostly fitness videos, which were very hot at the time. That company failed, but by that time I was really into cigars and that’s how I wound up at Famous.

When is it a failure?

Things change. It can be a lack of funds or other resources, changing trends, etc., but most people learn from the failures. I’m not an entrepreneur, yet, I can still relate to some personal projects that had the best intentions, but just never made it to completion. One of them was a Broadway musical featuring the music of Bruce Springsteen. Go figure.

When you give something your best effort, and for whatever reason, it just doesn't get off the ground.

Where are you on your journey and where are you going?

I'm closer to the end of this journey because I plan to retire in about 5 or 6 years. After I retire, I would like to work as a consultant for a cigar brand and work on my music. I've also considered becoming a professional poker player.

Why do you succeed?

Because I do my homework and keep all of my priorities in order. Something I learned in the music business -- if you can master the art of prioritization, you’ll always be organized. One bite of the elephant at a time, as they say.

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READING LIST:

GARY KORB Executive Editor ((( link ))) (Cigar Advisor)

Cigar Interviews by Kaplowitz ((( link ))) [other interviewees]


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