The Boundless Energy of Barry Habib

You know you want to.

You know you want to try your hand at other jobs, but you’re afraid to.

And that’s even before the recession forced your hand.

But you can.

In fact, a number of executives have suddenly acquired new hats on the job, even though just 39% of recruiters think executives will be more willing to change jobs this year, down from 45% in mid-2010, the Wall Street Journal reports, quoting a December survey of 210 members of the Association of Executive Search Consultants.

But then there are those who have made a lifetime of chasing new business ideas with success, and that includes entrepreneur Barry Habib, probably the most kinetic, if not the nicest, executive of them all.

Habib has tried his hand at about a dozen different ventures, in a number of different sectors, ranging from real estate to health care to entertainment (see below). Few executives have had as many successful businesses, have as much energy, and are as nice and inspiring as Habib.

This hyperkinetic group also includes Nathan P. Myhrvold, 51, former chief technology officer at Microsoft who went on to co-found Intellectual Ventures, one of the largest patent licensing houses in the country. He’s now a chef elbow-deep into the science of cooking, as a master chef of modern cuisine, writing a 2,400-page, $625 cookbook along the way.

It also includes Gary S. Cohen, former vice president of Playtex Products, who in January was named the new chief executive officer of the Timex Group, the global watch maker.

Other executive keep plowing ahead, and don't sit staring morosely at the mounds of rejection letters.

Entrepreneur Ted Turner, who founded CNN, was rejected by Princeton and Harvard. “I want to be sure to make this point: I did everything I did without a college degree,” he has said.

Katina Solomon at, which helps aspiring students find online colleges, notes that auto pioneer Henry Ford failed twice at two car business start-ups, and was broke before he founded Ford Motor. R. H. Macy started seven businesses that failed before finally hitting it big with his store in New York City, Solomon says. Thomas Edison plowed through 9,000 lab tests before his Eureka moment with his first light bulb.

Soichiro Honda was initially turned down by Toyota Motor Corp. for a job after interviewing for a post as an engineer, leaving him unemployed for quite some time, Solomon notes.

Even Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and flopped at his first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, called Traf-O-Data, Solomon says.

Harland David “Colonel” Sanders got rejected more than a thousand times before a restaurant accepted his fried chicken recipe. And Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, the editor was quoted as saying, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Disney later filed for bankruptcy before he hit the big top.

Those are the successes out of the ashes stories.

Then there are also the peripatetic, habitually nice guys and women who hit it big, building their lives from the ground up, and helping to provide jobs for thousands. Grab some Dramamine, this is what Habib has accomplished:

1. Lead producer, managing partner and majority shareholder in Rock of Ages – a musical that captured five 2009 Tony Award nominations in 2009, now running on Broadway and on tour as well as across the US. It’s about to debut in London, and is currently playing in Melbourne, Australia;

2. Founder and creator of the Mortgage Market Guide, which helps mortgage brokers and bankers to interpret and forecast activity in the mortgage rate and bond markets;

3. Founded and created Certified Mortgage Planning Services, a business that certifies mortgage brokers and bankers;

4. Founded Certified Mortgage Associates in 1989, a mortgage provider; 5. Principal managing director of Health Care Imaging Solutions [HIS], a company which Habib co-founded. HIS specializes in helping to detect early signs of cancer and heart disease;

6. Has appeared as a market expert on FOX News, FOX Business and CNBC. His Monthly Mortgage Report show ran for 13 years on CNBC’s Squawk Box;

7. Managed a Tiedemann hedge fund, and authored a stock advisory newsletter, The Bull Market Technical Investor. Habib is currently developing another stock advisory newsletter with stock pro and author John Mauldin for Bloomberg;

8. Owned an insurance agency, CMA Insurance;

9. Was a managing partner in a real estate investment company, called Family Connection;

10. Acted in and co-executive produced four Hollywood movies, including “Barry Munday” starring the actor Patrick Wilson; “Sympathy for Delicious” with Laura Linney, Mark Rufalo and Juliette Lewis; “Lonely Street” with comedian Jay Mohr; and “Nic and Tristan Mega Dega.”

11. Part-owner of a company that produced “Hesher,” starring Oscar winner Natalie Portman.Exhausted? I am. I’m going to go lie down. I’m kidding.

Habib has been at it for three decades, creating jobs for more than 2,000 people. It’s clear though that what really gets this Brooklynite going is Rock of Ages, a musical Habib says he has invested $4 million in.

The thing about Habib is, he's a Horatio Alger story. He says he “grew up so poor in Bensonhurst, in Brooklyn, NY, my parents had immigrated from Turkey, but we’re not Turkish, we’re Sephardic Jews.”

Habib’s father, who was an international journalist who spoke eight languages, passed away when he was age 11 of a massive heart attack. “He couldn’t really master English, he was 56 when he got here, so he sold hot dogs,” Habib says.

Habib says he initially wanted to be a “pro athlete, when I was a kid I always wanted to play baseball or football, or be a singer--I still do some singing, I’m a baritone, I’m more of a crooner, I can sing.” Habib says back then he listened to all kinds of music, including the Cars, with the wildest concert being the Ramones.

But he turned to business instead, and graduated with a BS from Baruch College in New York City.

Habib says he started selling stereo equipment, including Pioneer and Panasonic brands, out of the trunk of his 1974 white Impala. “I started to employ my friends, all of a sudden I had 12 employees, and I started making serious money,” Habib says.

And then another business idea popped into his head. "With all this money, and travelling through New Jersey, I saw that real estate was really undervalued in New Jersey,” he says.

So Habib started buying fixer upper houses, multi-family and rental homes in Monmouth County, NJ.

“what an education that was,” he says. “One night I sat down with the guy doing my mortgage in 1986, I was 26 years old, my twins were just born, they were three months old, I figured I had to stop selling stereos out of the trunk of my car. So on a whim I got into the mortgage business, and started doing very well. Within a couple years, I became one of the top ten mortgage producers in the U.S., according to mortgage trade magazines.”

Habib had opened Certified Mortgage Associates in 1989. He then started to give motivational speeches laced with a comic routine mixed with advice on where the mortgage and real estate market was headed. “I spoke about how financial events were interlinked, I took complicated financial topics and made them easy to understand,” he says.

From there, Habib went into a string of other businesses, having a ball all along the way, “we laughed every single day.”

Why does he think he’s been involved with so many different, disparate companies? “I love business, I love to solve problems, I am very creative at making things work,” says Habib, who lives with his wife Toni of 14 years in New Jersey, where they raised their four children aged 10 to 25. “I try to see the future before it becomes obvious.

So, what does he want to do next? “Wow, tough one,” he says. “I want to always bring out the best in myself and those around me.”