When an agency’s client list includes the United States Air Force, General Motors, Ford, CDW and Jack Daniels, amongst other Fortune 1000 companies, it’s no wonder the man at the helm is a performance master himself. Henry Rischitelli, President and CEO of Next Marketing, founded the agency in 1993; combining his passion for motorsports with his marketing expertise, his vision was to provide specialized marketing services to the rapidly increasing motorsports industry. The agency, however, quickly grew to become a full-service experiential and live event marketing agency and has enjoyed 25 highly successful years in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Hard work, an insatiable desire for excellence, and the non-acceptance of failure are the words that best describe Henry Rischitelli. And it’s those sorts of traits that lead to these sorts of accolades:
Today, Next Marketing is committed to excellence in B2B, B2E and B2C marketing across a variety of live and digital media platforms providing highly measurable, goal-achieving results through innovative and meaningful customer experiences. Rischitelli’s energy and passion for business is evident in his community support, including his current leadership position with the Atlanta chapter of the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO), a global, non-profit association of business owners, where he served as the chapter president and is now chairman of several committees and chapter projects.
Next Marketing is also consistently ranked one of the top 100 sports, promotional and event marketing agencies in the United States. But to truly understand how this performance powerhouse delivers time after time, is to understand Rischitelli and what makes him tick.
As the owner of a successful marketing agency, you know the industry is constantly evolving. How do you approach change?
Well, with everything in life, if you can’t accept change you’re going to be in trouble. In terms of the industry, it has been our ability to embrace change that has driven our success over the last 25 years. Evolution, staying relevant, calculated risks and accepting that change is constant and inevitable, are our everyday mantras.
What are your strengths and challenges?
Strengths: Leadership, salesmanship, client advocacy, work ethic, hustle, ability to calculate risks and fiscal oversight.
Challenges: Staying focussed on one thing, impatience, letting go and deciding what to stop pursuing.
What are your 3 biggest accomplishments?
The past 25 years has been a whirlwind but I would have to say building this agency to be one of the most accomplished independent agencies in America is right up there. Also, being recognized by Inc. and the prestigious Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest growing private companies in America six times, and being able to maintain long standing relationships with clients such as the United States Air Force, CDW, Continental Tire and HP has been tremendous.
What other company founders and CEOs do you look up to?
There honestly isn’t any one person that comes to mind, but I do try to incorporate the best traits of many inspirational leaders into my daily life. In particular; decisiveness, self-awareness, compassion, humility, authenticity, accountability, personal growth, and above all, a consistently professional work ethic.
What is one characteristic about yourself that people love? And what is one that drives people insane?
I think my hands on approach to life and business has really helped clients feel confident that we are going to get the job done. The flip side of that is I hold people accountable to what can be considered, a fault.
What was your journey like to get where you are?
Great question. My journey was long with many detours and stopovers. Just a year after the initial agency launch in 1993, I split from my then business partner and had to start over from scratch. That experience definitely toughened me up and prepared me for just about anything. Having to fight for survival has a profound effect on one’s attitude. I learned to build indelible relationships and to never let a client down. And if you do fail, accept responsibility, be transparent and do everything necessary to regain the trust.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how it helped to drive your success today.
My father was a very successful entrepreneur. From an early age, I was taught a strong work ethic and the power of a paycheck. I was also granted exposure to the inter-workings of businesses and was able to travel the world and learn business and culture. Unfortunately, my father’s business was deeply affected by the real-estate recession of the mid-seventies. I witnessed a bankruptcy and learned an early lesson in corporate finance. It also taught me what was possibly my best life lesson: fiscal responsibility and accountability.
What are you into when you’re out of work?
I’m an adventure freak. When not in the office, you can find me on the ski slopes, riding my dirt, road or mountain bikes or some other adrenalin filled experience. I also have a deep appreciation for watches, fine wine, food, fashion, travel and exotic cars.
As a President and CEO, how do you make sure you’re always learning?
I am a big believer of continual growth and learning. The majority of my growth comes through my entrepreneurial peer group, Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). I’ve been a member, chapter president and on and off of the Board for over 15 years. EO’s 13,000 worldwide members are led by the principals of constant growth, learning and shared experiences.
If there was no Next Marketing, what do you think you would be doing?
Well that depends on resources. If I had unlimited resources I’d spend my time investing in innovative companies and serving on Boards. Without unlimited resources, I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I’d likely be building another business or two.
Tell us about a time you failed.
I fail often but I also recover quickly. In my eyes, failure is part of growth. If I lived a life being safe, I don’t think I would ever have realized my true potential.
On your very best day at work, what happened that day?
My best days are when our work has had a profound impact on a brand’s success. I also take pride in winning new clients and projects, and love spending time with existing or potential clients. I just feed off the energy.
What is the most valuable quality you look for in a person when you’re hiring?
I like to see a blend of humility, hunger and confidence.
When it’s all over, how do you want to be remembered?
When we were largely focused on motorsports I always said I didn’t want to be remembered as the guy who helped race cars go fast in circles. For me, it’s more about leadership, authenticity, creativity, integrity, the hustle, and being business savvy.