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Extraordinary Business Savvy Folks

Updated on September 2, 2010

I love reading about business people who are genuine, honest, and innovative.  I like getting surprised with amazing shows that shows the inner-workings of a business that thrives on challenges and 2 am coffee discussions.  People who love what they do and enjoy their lives in the process have one of the best standards of living.  What you’re about to read here is the first article on business-savvy folks who are extraordinary in what they do and what they offer to the world as a whole.

What Ya Gonna Do With All That?

What would do you with all the garbage in the world? Nationally, do you know how many things still get dumped in the landfill with no other purpose left in them but to decay and clog up land? Here are some statistics to consider [1]:

  • Each day the United States throws away enough trash to fill 63,000 garbage trucks.
  • Almost 1/3 of the waste generated the U.S. is packaging.
  • Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.
  • Producing recycled white paper creates 74% less air pollutants, 35% less water pollutants, and 75% less process energy than producing paper from virgin fibers.

I Introduce You To TerraCycle!

It is getting better every year with global reusing and recycling.  However, a pair of Princeton University boys had a much better idea of what to do with it all.  Tom Szaky and Jon Beyer were on the scene with their worm-based invention in 2001.  They fed organic waste from the dining hall to worms, then liquefied the excrement to make compost tea that was stored in used soda bottles [2].  Those bottles were collected on campus.  In 2002, they planned on expanding their work to other businesses by collecting their waste.  Szaky discovered that they had created the world's largest continuous flow reactor [3].

A Key to Success

One of the primary keys to becoming successful is the ability to evolve. Evolve, they did, by putting themselves in the company of strong talent by hiring amazing individuals into their crew. They evolved even more by expanding their curiosity and experimental nature to upcycling garbage. Tom's dedication to TerraCycle, another key factor to success, led him to dropping out of college. To Tom Szaky, nothing is cooler than selling garbage [4]. Especially garbage they spend all night playing with to come up with original ideas. The results not only surprised the other companies they were pitching it to, they also surprised themselves! They sell their products all across the major companies with great success.

The Garbage Moguls

I was watching Garbage Moguls one night on National Geographic channel. They were featuring an all-weekend marathon on TerraCycle. The first night I watched, I was hooked. Their crew went all out! At the time of viewing, they were expanding into retailing after years of working with other companies to sell their products. The crew was having a small difficulty adapting to the new expansion and Tom Szaky brought them into his office. In particular, he spoke to two girls whom he delegated the responsibility to run the store. During an approximate 15 minutes chat, he highlighted his concerns and offered solutions. He would follow up with a visit to the retail store and work further with those two girls. The result was a dedicated team of girls who figured out how to get creative.

I watched as he brought in ideas after ideas. He would pull the entire crew together into TerraCycle’s main headquarters in Trenton, NJ and dump bagfuls of garbage onto the meeting table. Then, he would state what the next challenge was and they would pitch their ideas which he listed randomly all over the dry erase board. The next day, they had created the products and Tom took it to a meeting with the head of Target.

Tom Szaky : The hunky Hungarian-Canadian guy who started it all.
Tom Szaky : The hunky Hungarian-Canadian guy who started it all.

The Inspiration To Young Entrepreneurs

What really, really inspires me about this company is their story behind the surface and their determination. My definition of success is possibly very different from everyone else. Success isn’t defined by fancy clothes and a mansion. To Tom Szaky, success came with his colleagues and the fulfillment of his ideals that were brought to fruition. He was 19 years old when this all started. At 28 years old, he has watched his company falter, fail several times, then picked itself up and ran hard to multi-million dollar success. All in selling garbage and compost.

These guys not only were and still are young entrepreneurs, they are entrepreneurs with casual style. They show up for high-end extremely important meetings in blue jeans and hat. They throw off their sponsors, and then pitch into persuasive highlights of their products. They earn very, very deep loyalty from their crew, especially the crew they stood up and turned down their first million-dollar deal for in the fledgling stages of TerraCycle’s being. That is what makes TerraCycle extraordinary; the people who all make up a part of it personifies the success of TerraCycle.


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    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      Wow! I love innovation. Very cool.

    • Sunny Robinson profile image

      Sunny Robinson 7 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you, Sogno! I really appreciate your support.

    • SognoPiccolo profile image

      SognoPiccolo 7 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      you never cease to amaze me