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Small Business Digest



M*A*S*H Star Shares Secrets of His Ascent to Business Success

Many people know Wayne Rogers as Trapper John from the hit TV show M*A*S*H and as a panelist on Fox Business Channel’s top-rated program “Cashin’ In.”  But they often don't know that he is also a founding shareholder of six banks, created several successful businesses — including a convenience-store chain, a barge company, and a vineyard — and is the CEO of Klienfeld Bridal.

Rogers, author of the new book, Make Your Own Rules:  A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success, has always prospered from making his own way, relying on the fuel of creativity to generate success. 

“I have found that learning to be creative, challenging convention, and seizing unexpected opportunities is not only liberating,” Rogers attests, “but also can make all the difference in whether you are successful.”  In the new book (AMACOM; February 2011), written with Josh Young, Rogers tells readers what has worked for him in business over the past four decades, what hasn't worked, and why. 

As Rogers says, “I have no interest in telling you what you should or should not do or in giving you lessons about how to get involved in a business, start a business or run a business.”  Instead, he lets his experience speak for itself and hopes his ideas will provoke others to take a risk, without being reckless, and bet on themselves.      

The book reveals how Rogers excelled in each of his various business ventures precisely because of his lack of previous experience and preconceived notions.  Here are a few of Rogers’s rules for unconventional success:

  • To level the playing field, people need to know what they’re up against.  People need to make it their business to know the rules and regulations that affect the business.
  • Dare to do what is not expected.  Question the status quo. But keep a intent eye on reality. Creativity becomes useless when it crosses the border into fantasy.
  • Do your homework — and legwork.  Improving standard business practices starts with understanding why they became standard in the first place.  
  • Find people to work with — and trust. 
  • Just ask the customer.  It’s not rocket science.  The customer has always been and will always be the best source for solutions to business problems.                

Along with examples from Rogers’ career in show business, the wine-making business, the hospitality business and more, is a chapter that tells how he entered the wedding-dress business — and reinvigorated the brand of a New York institution:  Kleinfeld Bridal.  Beyond business case studies are Rogers's shared tips for creative financing, strategies for making the most of the banking system and his passion for the free market, despite its flaws.

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