“Keep Your Word” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing Durée Ross, Durée & Company, Inc, who started her company at the age of 24, more than 18 years ago. Durée & Company is an award-winning PR and marketing firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Aspen, Colorado specializing in restaurants, lifestyle/hospitality, travel, real estate, business and nonprofit clients. Durée and Durée & Company have been celebrated within the PR and small business communities. Most recent professional accolades include:
· 2017 American Business Awards, also known as The Stevie® Awards, Bronze winner for Women in Business in the Entrepreneur of the Year — Business Services — 10 or Less Employees Category
· 2017 Bulldog Stars of PR Silver Award, Small Agency of the Year (fewer than 50 employees) category
· 2016 PR News’ Top Women in PR
· 2016 Women of Distinction Award from March of Dimes

Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?

I became founder of Durée & Company, Inc. at the age of 24 after numerous people that I worked with starting calling me to help them with projects. SInce I started in PR at the age of 19, I had quite a few years under my belt already and had forged some great contacts and experience. I hadn’t thought of starting a PR business but it quickly blossomed. Never, ever underestimate the value of internships! Some of my early time in the business was spent faxing press releases to media (yikes!) and finding media contacts in big old green Bacon’s books! Times have certainly changed!

Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are extremely strategic in our PR and marketing efforts for clients and seek to move the needle. For some clients, moving the needles means more butts in seats, for nonprofits it’s donations, for real estate clients it’s a sold sign. We’ve also been tasked with handling crisis communications and community affairs. We are also very passionate about what we do and believe our results speak for themselves. We under promise and over deliver.

Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We are always working on exciting projects! That’s what keeps the business fresh after 18+ years. We always feel good about the nonprofits we work with. One big internal project we finished this week is a brand new, updated and more modern website for the company. I will say the most difficult project is one for myself!

Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

I actually don’t have a favorite book per se but the AP Stylebook is my bible. :)

Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Keep Your Word — people remember if you do what you say you are going to do. Once people know they can count on you no matter what, you will have a very special place on their team.
  2. Give 100% — it’s always served me well to be someone that has an insane work ethic. I do think sometimes I care too much!
  3. Don’t accept “no” for an answer — I don’t give up easily and that’s served me well in PR — and in life! Every day we are told “no” in PR, sometimes we just have to figure out a way around it or re-tool our pitch/story.
  4. Multiple hats — learn to accept wearing multiple hats. I always say I have my “day” job of PR/marketing and I also have the “night” job of administrative duties, accounting, and more items that come along with owning and running a business.
  5. Financials — there’s a new kind of worry that comes along with being responsible for making sure that payroll is covered, overhead is covered, and that other people are relying on you to live and eat!

Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

I really respect Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. She’s been through a lot and I respect her immensely. She’s also a South Florida native, like me. Fun fact, I actually got stuck in the elevator where her office is at Facebook headquarters but didn’t get to meet her in person as she wasn’t in that day. I was rescued by the jaws of life though! Certainly wasn’t the excitement I was planning to have at Facebook!

— Published on June 27, 2018