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Simpkins Speaker Says Confidence, Seizing Opportunities are Keys to Success

Bill Rancic with microphone in front of navy and green Simpkins sign
March 1, 2023

The difference between success and failure in business is often slim, but if you remain confident and seize opportunities you can come out on top.

That was the message Wednesday from Bill Rancic - entrepreneur, best-selling author and the first winner of NBC's "The Apprentice” – to students during a Simpkins Speaker Series appearance at Eastern Florida State College.

Rancic’s topic, "From Apprentice to Visionary: How to Innovate in Business and Life," traced his journey from washing boats in college to operating a million-dollar business and restaurant empire.

The main thing he learned along the way was to never give up and don’t believe it when people say failure is guaranteed.

“Believe in yourself and don’t allow people to tell you what you can and can’t do. Don’t allow others to pull you down,” he said.

Rancic said there’s “no secret magic” to becoming an entrepreneur but there are qualities that can determine whether a business booms or goes bust.

Among them are recognizing and seizing opportunities, staying agile and challenging the status quo “even when the status quo is working” and understanding and respecting risk.

Also critical is a keen self awareness in admitting that what appears to be the right road may in fact be the wrong one.

“Many times we get caught up in the day to day and don’t see it from the outside,” he said. “Our minds can play tricks on us that we are better managers or leaders than we really are. But if we pause and examine it we can see our mistakes and make changes.”

Rancic came onto the scene nearly 20 years ago as NBC’s first Apprentice winner, and has since traveled the world and shared his experience and business acumen with tens of thousands of leaders, businesses and organizations on a variety of important topics.
His expertise ranges from why some companies thrive in chaos — and others don't — to the leadership behaviors needed in a world beset by turbulence, uncertainty and dramatic change.
He has authored four books, including the New York Times best-seller “You’re Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life,” which examines how some companies and leaders make the leap to superior results.

Bill Rancic with five people, including three student scholarship recipients
The latest three Simpkins Scholarship recipients strike a pose: Pictured from left to right: William Beckett, Jill Simpkins, McKinna Cooper, Bill Rancic, Dr. Michael Cadore, Tonya Cherry and Ronnie Gardner.

The Simpkins Speaker Series is named after Bernard Simpkins, a highly successful entrepreneur and Brevard County business leader who established the sessions that have brought some of the nation’s top business innovators to EFSC.
A student scholarship presented by the EFSC Foundation has also been named in his honor with three entrepreneur-minded recipients announced Wednesday. They are:
• Ronnie Gardner, who wants to start his own environmental solutions company and said obtaining his degree from EFSC with the help of the scholarship “will give me the foundation to bring a much-needed business to Central Florida.”
• William Beckett, who wants to work in the space program and also own multiple rental properties around the Space Coast.  "As a side job of sorts, I will also be a certified Standard Poodle breeder, and eventually, own my own Standard Poodle rescue.”
• McKinna Cooper, who wants to run her business from home, producing art pieces and videos. “By putting out a call seeking animators on different social media platforms, I’m able to catch interest, explain my concept, find the best freelance employees to fill certain roles, and build a finished video from the ground up.”

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