Five Minutes With James Cusumano
James Cusumano is a successful author, entertainer, scientist and entrepreneur. His wide range of business interests includes scientific research, pharmaceuticals and sustainable energy. James has published a number of books on technology and business, including his latest, Balance: The Business-Life Connection.
After successful careers that have ranged from popular recording artist and filmmaker to co-founder, president, CEO and then chairman of a publicly-traded pharmaceutical company, James moved from the U.S. to the Czech Republic, where he and his wife Inez bought, renovated and now operate Chateau Mcely, a five-star castle retreat and spa.
1. Your career has spanned four very different fields. Which area of work have you found the most inspiring and why?
All have been self-inspiring in their own way. If I had to choose one, I would say co-founding and leading the growth of Catalytica pharmaceuticals. Our motivating vision was to create practical means to manufacture drugs using low-cost, ecologically-safe technologies. Growing in less than 5 years from 4 employees to a public company with 2,000 people and annual sales of $500 million provided us with opportunities to positively impact all six of our STAKEHOLDERS: Employees, Customers, Investors, Suppliers, Community, and the World.
2. Was it a culture shock moving from the U.S. to the Czech Republic?
Yes, it was a culture shock moving there from Southern California, primarily because of the challenge of navigating a difficult Slavic language. However, the positive side is that I developed a much deeper understanding of human nature and culture, being smack dab in the middle of Europe and having easy travel access to the entire European continent. It has been an invaluable education. Also, the Czech Republic, which is only recently out of Communism, is a new frontier with many talented people and many opportunities. An explorer at heart, I love living here.
3. Which room in Chateau Mcely is your favorite and why?
They are all unique, but I would say Mark Twain—we use names instead of numbers. It is roomy, filled with natural light from the large English park that surrounds the castle, and it has a special history. It is dedicated to the great American author, who stayed at the castle in the late 19th century when Prince and Princess Thurn Taxis owned the castle and when Mark Twain was visiting Prague to promote the release of his books in the Czech language. In the public spaces, my favorite room is our library, located in the very top of the tower. It contains more than 2500 volumes covering a vast array of disciplines, and opens to our roof-top observatory.
4. Clearly you like to keep busy. What are your plans for the future of Chateau Mcely?
Our vision for Chateau Mcely from the very start has been to go beyond hospitality by enriching the lives of all of our six STAKEHOLDERS, mentioned above. For example, we created and produce at the castle Mcely Bouquet, our own line of physically and spiritually healing natural cosmetics; the Princess Nely Project which encourages young girls to grow into talented, well-rounded women; and Chateau Mcely Forum™ where we provide courses and lectures on leadership and how to find and live your Life Purpose. We will continue to expand upon these programs and also have ideas about expanding our physical infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing customer base.
5. What do you do to relax? Please describe your perfect day off.
I study Consciousness and Quantum Physics and the links between them. My perfect day is the one I try to live everyday: Up at 5:00 am—40 minutes of meditation; prepare a healthy breakfast for Inez, 7-year-old Julia and me; 7:30 am—drive Julia to the International School in Prague, home by 8:30 am—write until 12:00 noon; 12:15 – 1:30 pm—exercise at the gym; 2:00 – 2:30 pm—light lunch; 2:30 – 5:30 pm—administrative work in my office; 6:30 pm—dinner with my family; 7:30 – 8:30 pm—family play with Julia & Inez until Julia goes to bed. 8:30 – 10:00—read; 10:00 – 11:00 pm—time with Inez; 11:00 – 11:30 meditation before retiring. Weekends are spent with the family and friends relaxing at the castle; bicycle rides in the forest, and enjoying the castle amenities—massage, swimming, tennis, and other physical activities. Lest there be any doubt, the privilege of living this way has come with very hard work, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.
6. Having experienced castle living in the Czech Republic, would you ever be tempted to move back to the US?
I love the U.S. and visit there several times per year to be with family and friends. I have 9 brothers and sisters, a mom who is 92 years old, two older daughters and five grandchildren. This summer we will spend six weeks in the U.S., but I have no plans to move back. I am a U.S. citizen and a permanent resident of the Czech Republic, which will be my base for all my future activities.
7. You have written a number of well-received publications. Do you have any plans for another book at this stage in your life?
I am in the early creative stage of thinking about my next book. I am intrigued with the concept of writing my first novel, and basing it on the fundamental tenets that I have written about over the years on the Cosmic Consciousness—Quantum Physics connection, Inspired Leadership, Life Purpose, Passion and Balance. It will be a challenge to weave these concepts through the fabric of the novel in a subtle, yet clear manner, and maintain an interesting story line. We shall see!
8. What are the three most important values by which you live your life?
1. Family—Support my wife, children and myself in our efforts towards long-term health and personal fulfillment.
2. Professional—Counsel and inspire the Chateau Mcely Team so that they succeed in their personal and professional goals and share in the rewards of our success.
3. Spiritual—Share my life-long knowledge on finding and living your Life Purpose, as well as those elements which when practiced diligently are a clear and sure-fire basis for long-term success in business.
9. How would you inspire those just starting out in life to reach their goals and fulfill their dreams?
A. As described in detail in my book BALANCE, don’t try to live someone else’s life, it can’t be done. Look inside and develop and write down your true basic Values and live by them.
B. There is something inside you that you are really good at. I call it your Essence. Connect it to a Need in the world that makes it a better place. You will have found your Life Purpose. Pursue it, no matter where you are in your life. It is never too late, or too difficult to do!
C. Don’t be concerned about “getting there” quickly. Just enjoy the journey, which will be easy to do with the passion generated in steps A & B.
D. Don’t design your life around making money. If you follow your Life Purpose and do well, the money will follow.
E.Always be considerate of all your Stakeholders.
I have never known this approach to be unsuccessful.
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