Five Tips from a Successful Businessman: Stuart Silver

Audiovisual pioneer Stuart Silver shares what he has learned over the years in executive roles.

Story by Eddy Hoyle

Stuart Silver was an Army producer/director in 1973 at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Visiting Ayers Rock in Australia

Stuart Silver’s career started by pure accident. He earned a degree in journalism from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s in communication from Temple University thinking he would become a writer. As an Army infantry officer, he was assigned to the TV division at Ft. Benning, Ga., as a producer/director to create training films. In 1973, he moved to Hilton Head Island to run the in-house media department for Sea Pines Resort at the request of Charles Fraser.

When the department was dissolved in 1974, he co-founded United States Audio-Visuals with Bill Robinson and Denny Fussell, and served as president. Through various acquisitions and mergers, he also served as president at Hospitality Partners, AVT Event Technologies and as executive vice president at Encore Event Technologies. He has been a pioneer and national leader in the audiovisual industry, specializing in the hospitality industry and is now “reasonably retired,” doing consulting work on projects he finds interesting in operations and business planning.

Tips for Success

1. Return phone calls. Always return your phone calls in a timely manner, especially in a service-oriented business. It sets the tone for the whole relationship. The most important thing to remember is that if you don’t return the call, they will call someone else. And there’s no reason not to “do a little selling” when returning calls. Last, and most important, always say “thank you.”

2. Send them a bill. Promptly send invoices for services rendered. “You would be surprised how often it doesn’t happen, or there are mistakes. You have value,” Silver said.

3. Be inspired. Look deliberately for inspiration from great minds in order to grow and develop an entrepreneurial spirit. Silver always keeps a list of his favorite quotes with him and adds new ones when he finds a gem. Here are a few of his favorites:

“You manage things; you lead people.”
“Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, make your absence felt.”
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

Silver also has his own mantra for success: “Does everybody win? Is it fair and honorable?”

4. Be a mentor. Share your expertise and experience to shorten others’ learning curve. Listen, be supportive and help them to contribute. This builds confidence. If you show you care by helping along the way, they will also help you.

5. Surround yourself with smart people. Silver said it’s important to hire people who know more than you do. Bring the very best on your team, then give them the tools, resources and freedom to do the job well, even if it’s not exactly how you’d do it. Silver includes his wife, Linda, among his smart people, jokingly referring to her role as the “designated worrier and onlooker with an opinion.” But he added that he has truly benefitted from a wife “who has her head screwed on tight!”