Why This CEO Loves Failure

Jonathan Segal, CEO of The One Group and best known for STK restaurants, reveals why he loves failure when he joins Liz Claman in the FBN Suite Spot.

CLAMAN: You have had a fascinating climb up, haven’t you?

SEGAL: It’s certainly been interesting. It’s been a challenge, particularly being in the hospitality industry. But, we’ve succeeded and stuck to it and managed to make it.

CLAMAN: You literally started with pennies and dollars cobbled together from friends and family.

SEGAL: That’s exactly how it started. We ran the company like that for many, many years. Then, we just progressively reinvested our cash flows. Our investors didn’t take any cash back because we couldn’t get a line of credit from anyone. There was no bank that would support us. And, in fact, it wasn’t until we were doing $83 million in revenue in November 2011 that we could get a line of credit. 

CLAMAN:  And then you didn’t want it or need it!

SEGAL: Well, it’s helped us expand, I have to say.

CLAMAN: Well, it is a huge success story, which leads me to this question… You, as the visionary, what’s the best mistake you ever made?

SEGAL: Creative finance, without a doubt. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Don’t use creative finance to make it happen because the circumstances that exist at that moment in time to make creative finance work – when either interest rates are too high or  money is not accessible – invariably affect you later down the line when circumstances change. If you can’t afford to do it, don’t do it.

CLAMAN: How does a guy like you view failure?

SEGAL: Well, I love failure from the point of view that you can’t get an A until you’ve got an F. And, it’s not until you understand failure and the adversity and problems that it brings that it gives you the strength of character to keep going and pushing forward.

CLAMAN: You just opened in Milan, where next?

SEGAL: We did open in Milan. We’re opening in Orlando later this year, in Chicago. Chicago’s an exciting city for us. We’re opening STK Rebel in Denver and in Miami. So, we’ve got a busy year ahead of us. We’re actually going to increase our venues from 22 in 2014 up to 34, an increase of 52% through 2015.

CLAMAN: And he did it all the way through the recession. Congratulations! Jonathan Segal of The One Group.