At this year’s Inc. 5000 Conference in San Antonio, TX, our own Norm Brodsky was awarded Inc. Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award. We are extremely proud of him and this remarkable recognition! I caught up with Norm upon his return to his office, a modest trailer in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from which he oversees his entrepreneurial portfolio. — Lewis Schiff

Lewis: Norm, welcome back from the Inc. 5000 conference. You’ve been the “Master of Ceremonies” at the Inc. 500/5000 conference for 20 years now. How was this one different?

Norm: Well, to begin with, this was my 20th year being part of the ceremony, so that was different and exciting. But also, it turns out that there were a lot of great people working behind the scenes to make this a very special Inc. 5000 conference for me because of this amazing Lifetime Achievement Award – and I never suspected a thing!

Lewis: Congratulations. I know how hard you work to support entrepreneurship in so many ways, so I’m really proud of you and that achievement. But you’ve made it to the Inc. 500/5000 awards stage before as a recipient, haven’t you?

Norm: Yes, I’ve started 3 companies that made it into the Inc. 500. The Inc. 500 predates the Inc. 5000 by a couple of decades and was, for obvious reasons, harder to get into – 10 times harder, in fact. I was honored to make it to the stage as an Inc. 500 company 3 times and am also honored that other companies I’ve started have made it to the Inc. 5000 list as well. It’s just been an amazing run.

Lewis: One of the ways that we measure success in our world is by how many fast-growth companies you launch. We also measure it by your exits, meaning how many times you’ve sold a company or how much you’ve sold them for. You’ve had some eye-popping exits in the past decade, as well, haven’t you?

Norm: Before I answer that, let me preface it by saying luck is a huge part of any success story and, while I’ve always worked hard, I’ve also been lucky. So, yes, I’ve had 2 great exits in the past 10 years. One for $110 million which I wrote about step-by-step for Inc. Magazine in a series called “The Offer” and another for $160 million which was a different kind of lifetime achievement award of sorts, because I was able to use that transaction to help the community that I worked and lived in – Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It meant a lot to me.

Lewis: So, let’s see, by my count, that’s $270 million in exits in the past 10 years.

Norm: Something like that.


Lewis: Do you think that’s why you got the Lifetime Achievement Award from Inc. Magazine? For starting fast growth companies and exiting those companies for huge amounts?

Norm: Not at all. Like I said, it takes hard work and luck to have the kind of entrepreneurial career I’ve had, but since I received that wonderful award from Inc. Magazine, I’ve had time to think about it. I think they gave me that award because of the thousands of hours I’ve dedicated to mentoring other entrepreneurs: through my columns, my speeches, my individual sessions with every kind of entrepreneur you can imagine, from the biggest to the smallest, and my work with Birthing of Giants, our Fellowship Program for entrepreneurs.

In other words, aside from all my hard work and luck, I’ve always had a passion for sharing what I know – what I’ve learned along the way myself. And I’ve always been incredibly grateful for Inc. Magazine and the Inc. 5000 community for giving me the opportunity and the platform to share it. That’s the greatest achievement of my professional lifetime, for sure. That and getting the chance to share that professional journey with my wife of nearly 50 years, Elaine. We’ll be celebrating our 50th anniversary next year and it hasn’t escaped my attention, after these last 2 days of soul-searching since receiving that award, that these two events are happening so close to each other.

For the past two-thirds of my life, I’ve been an entrepreneur and built an entrepreneur’s life and community around me. That includes my family, friends, Inc. Magazine and the Inc. 5000 community and the thousands of entrepreneurs I’ve interacted with and mentored over the years. It really has been the greatest achievement of my life so it has incredible meaning to me that Inc. Magazine recognized that at this year’s Inc. 5000 conference.

Old friends Norm Brodsky & Lewis Schiff modeling t-shirts from Inc 5000 honoree Torch Technologies. Congratulations, Bill Roark!

Lewis: Thank you for sharing all of that with us, and for your years of contribution to all of us who are making our own way through our entrepreneurial journeys. Congratulations.

Article originally posted on

Lewis Schiff is the author of Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons From the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons, the executive director of the Business Owners Council and the co-founder (with Norm Brodsky) of BEN Global Mentorship that helps business owners transform their companies into scalable enterprises and, eventually, enduring institutions with help from rockstar entrepreneurs from around the world.


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