Entrepreneur shares journey to happiness

Entrepreneur shares journey to happiness

By Myrna Fearer/mfearer@cnc.com
GateHouse News Service
Fri Aug 03, 2007, 03:58 PM EDT


Kennedy talks about his book and his business life in his office at the
Prep, from which he ran the foodservice at the school and his other

He was the first to bring a Seattle-style coffee shop to Danvers,
was in charge of the catering service at St. John’s Prep and headed his
own $5 million company. Putting it all behind him, Steve Kennedy is
sharing his business expertise with others as a professional business
coach and author of “The Entrepreneur’s Quest for Ultimate Success:
Winning the Game of Business.”

“This book will give people a sense of what it’s like to live the
life of an entrepreneur,” says Kennedy, who spent the last three years
writing the book he speaks of as an outward journey of successful
achievements and acquisitions to an inner journey of peace and success.
“This book is about both journeys and what I learned from each of them.

“I had a blast writing it,” he says. “All the principles I’ve
learned in the hospitality industry are transferable to any industry.”

In each chapter, Kennedy reveals the principles and concepts that
will help budding entrepreneurs make their own business more successful
without compromising what he calls their core values, those values they
totally believe in. And it’s done almost in a conversational manner
rather than as a textbook for a business course at a business school.
It’s an easy read the first time, yet the principles and advice the
book offers make it one the reader will keep around for future

“I want this book to feel like two good friends getting together
over a cup of coffee and chatting about life and how to live each
moment to the fullest,” Kennedy says. “Some of the ideas will remind
you of things you already know and may have forgotten. Other ideas will
be brand new to you. All are here to stimulate you thinking toward your

Everything he writes about is based on his own life’s journey. As he says, “I walk the talk.”

Kennedy is brutally honest about himself, even sharing a painful
part of his own life to prove, “Everything is possible. Look at where I
came from. I’m a kid who was in a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol as a young man."

Although he graduated from Marblehead High School in 1976, it was a
part of his life he wasn’t particularly proud of. Age 22, he says, was
a turning point in this life.

 “I decided to become successful,” says Kennedy, who was also intent
on making his father proud of him. Kennedy found work a game, and he
loved it. He worked hard to achieve success. “My goal was to retire at

Kennedy, 49, discovered retirement means different things to people.
For him, it’s being able to do what he loves, what makes him happy.

While in high school, Kennedy had worked as a fry cook in a
restaurant, so he decided to seriously pursue a culinary career. He
enrolled at Essex Aggie, where he earned an associate’s degree in
culinary arts and restaurant management.

After graduation, Kennedy found he was quite a good chef and he
worked in a variety of places including Eastern Yacht Club as head chef.

“I was pretty young to have that position,” he says. “It was the
second to last job I ever had (working for someone else). The last was
at Veronique’s (an upscale restaurant in Brookline).”

Kennedy’s dad had been employed at Championship Lamps (ITT) in Lynn
when the food service was closed down. His dad suggested Kennedy take
over, something he wasn’t sure he was prepared to do. But, he worked
hard, made some mistakes and eventually turned it around. In the
process, Kennedy overcame his fears to reach his success. He reveals
how to conquer those fears in the chapter “Managing your fear.”

The experience was Kennedy’s initiation into the world of corporate catering.

By 1994, Kennedy had expanded his business to service 20 corporate
clients as Steve’s Food Service. It was a big year for the
entrepreneur, who also started Custom Catering, doing social catering.
It was also the year he took over the foodservice at St. John’s Prep,
where he moved his office.

“Two years later, I started Corporate Catering,” Kennedy says. “I had 150 companies using our service.”

Kennedy, who had started his company in 1982, says had had many other businesses along the way.

“I don’t know if I had guts or I was crazy,” he says. “I never thought I could fail at anything.”

Before their marriage in 1985, Kennedy was honest with his wife, Pattie, about his entrepreneurial ambitions.

“I was very up front about what it means to marry an entrepreneur,”
he says. “You may come home and find I’ve mortgaged the house to buy
something. I’m always willing to take a risk.”

Ten years ago, with a $5 million business, a lovely wife and two
healthy children — Steven will be a freshman at Plymouth State College
and Amy a sophomore at the Austin Prep — plus, he says, all the toys,
Kennedy thought he had achieved the ultimate success. But something was

“I was not happy,” he says. “I wondered what would make me happy. A
coach helped me understand what my values were. I had forgotten my very
core value of freedom. I was trapped with my own success. My business
was calling the shots.”

During his 25 years in business, Kennedy says he spent the first 15
going after financial success, what he calls outer achievements, and
the past 10 years in an inner journey to find what mattered most.

“It’s having that inner joy of contentment and fulfillment and the
goodies of success congruent with inner and outer gain,” he says. “Who
wants all that stuff if you’re not happy?”

Three years ago, Kennedy had an opportunity to unexpectedly sell the
Custom Cup Caffé. Since then, he found himself mentoring people seeking
his business advice. He loved it. In fact, Kennedy enjoyed it so much
he decided to become a certified professional business coach.

Kennedy spent two years training with the Coach’s Training Institute
in California. Monitored by master certified coaches, he went through
100 hours of coaching, which was taped and critiqued by the experts. He
also had to pass an oral and written exam. The last part was what he
calls, coaching on demand. Coaching someone extemporaneously on stage
in front of an audience.

“That’s 90 percent of the exam,” he says. “If you don’t get it, you don’t pass.”

Kennedy has recently sold his businesses, including Custom Catering
and Corporate Catering, and ended his career at the Prep with the close
of the academic year.

“I’m walking away from a lot of money to do what I most enjoy,” says
Kennedy. “I really want to get into working with organizations on
leadership development. The key to my success was loyalty to my people
and they to me.”

Now a certified coach with a clientele in many different states, all
of whom have been referred by other successful clients, and author of
“The Entrepreneur’s Quest for Ultimate Success: Winning the Game of
Business,” Kennedy has achieved the inner peace and happiness combined
with success he’s been searching for. And he’s happy.

Kennedy was also asked to share his own philosophy as one of 15
experts nationwide in a chapter in the book, “Success and Happiness,”
published by Austin Bay.

“For the first time in my life I have space,” Kennedy says. “I walk
the reservoir with my dog. I have a motorcycle and I join the group
that meets at the Custom Cup. I love to work. I love the whole game of

“My wife likes the idea that I still get to play and I come home at night.”

“The Entrepreneur’s Quest for Ultimate Success: Winning the Game
of Business,” by Steve Kennedy is available through his Web site
winingthegameof business.com, Barnes and Noble and amazon.com.’

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