Chris Paradysz, a 1983 graduate of ESU, gave an inspiring presentation on creativity as part of the third annual President’s Distinguished Speaker Series inside Beers Lecture Hall on Wednesday, March 27.
Paradysz was a speech pathology major as an undergraduate. He now serves as the co-CEO and founder of the PMX Agency, a very successful integrated digital media company.
The PMX Agency now has expanded to seven locations across the United States. In 2017, the agency won the CJU Agency of the Year Award.
Paradysz was joined on stage by Mike Visceglia, a bassist and well-known guru. Visceglia has spent the last several years performing in the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots” in New York City.
ESU President Marcia Welsh had the honor of introducing the speakers.
“Entrepreneurship is not just about starting a business,” stated Welsh. “It is a mindset. It is a mindset that I hope many of our students leave ESU with as they go out into the world to make their own way,” Welsh said.
Welsh was followed by Paradysz who stated that he would lead the audience on a journey to discover their own inner creativity.
According to Paradysz, that creativity manifests itself differently in everybody. At the root of this creativity needs to be an innate ability to solve problems in order to be successful as an entrepreneur.
“So we are going to ask you to go–in your own mind–to explore possibilities that you had in ways maybe that you didn’t consider before,” Paradysz said.
But before that, Paradysz talked about his own personal failures.
What he took away from his failures was that he needed to follow his own path and trust his gut.
He shared with the audience that the percentage of businesses that succeed after 25 years is 5%. Part of the reason businesses do not succeed over the long-term is that they stay static and do not continue to innovate. Its complacency that causes businesses to fail and entrepreneurs to struggle.
Paradysz shared more tips for the would-be entrepreneurs in the audience.
“Listen. Trust. All. Fail. Get up. Believe. Be all in,” Paradysz said. When it comes to failure, “…why matters. Why does something happen matters. Once you dig into the why, we start to discover ourselves,” stated Paradysz.
Paradysz revealed more secrets to being a successful entrepreneur.
“Here’s the deal with entrepreneurship: you will not have a lot of friends,” Paradysz said. “A lot of people are going to think you are crazy, and a lot of times, you are on your own,” stated Paradysz.
He said that if you are trying to do something right or are trying to do something that has not been done before, you need to have the discipline or quiet rage about you to figure things out. That means that you will be tired most of the time.
Paradysz simply admonished the future entrepreneurs that it comes with the job.
“You cannot avoid struggle. Don’t even try. Just plow through it because the downside of not taking the risk is way greater than taking the risk,” Paradysz said.
Then Paradysz and Visceglia performed together on stage and played different versions of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” There were rock and jazz versions of the song.
Paradysz asked, “What did we do to that song?”
Visceglia responded, “We put it in different genres, but the essence of it remained the same.”
The moral of that perfomance by the duo was to illustrate how a simple idea can become substantial just by applying creativity and being able to think outside the box.
The Broadway performer then shared what made him a successful musician and guru.
“I am of the firm belief that more than 90% of the fears that we have–about going that extra step and taking that leap–never come to fruition,” stated Visceglia. “So we are paralyzing ourselves with something that is not even reality.”
Visceglia quoted the famous German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
“Be bold and great forces will come to your aid,” Visceglia said. “I think that is an important lesson.”
Visceglia said that he is 65 years old, and he can say that he has written three books and played and recorded with Bruce Springsteen, Phoebe Snow, Bette Midler, Jackson Browne and Suzanne Vega.
“I’ve made all these relationships,” stated Visceglia. “Every single one of them was based on me taking a leap into the dark without knowing where I was going to land but just having the belief that I need to do something, and I will figure it out because great forces will come to my aid.”
Then the duo engaged the audience in creating a new song together.
“You didn’t walk in here thinking we’re going to do a song together, did you? But it only took us five minutes,” Paradysz said.
The PMX CEO then revealed that his daughter has lupus. In order to raise money to fight lupus, he rode a bicycle around the Velodrome for 24 hours. He ended up raising $58,000 and proving a lot of people wrong who thought that Paradysz could not do it.
“So what happened? Zero to one,” stated Paradysz.”It is the first step. Because zero is zero. You are not moving. But if you just go one mile an hour, you’re moving–as long as you keep moving.”
“So that is really the story today. Taking the risks and embracing the failure wherever you are in the business cycle. There is always tomorrow that you can do something better that you couldn’t do yesterday,” stated Paradysz.
“You own it,” stated Paradysz. “That’s the end of our story today.”
Email Ronald at: