Steve’s first job was washing dishes at 10 years old in his father’s local restaurants. He loved the fast-paced environment of the hospitality industry with its constant barrage of problems to solve as well as the vast array of personalities you meet and the freedom a paycheck afforded him. After working in hotels and restaurants through high school he went on to graduate from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration in 2007. Upon graduation Steve spent five years running high-end restaurants and nightlife venues in New York City and Philadelphia, with a focus on opening new venues. He was responsible for everything from daily operations to promotions, strategic partnerships, and social media. Watching his father grow his business showed him the value of entrepreneurship, and working in the hospitality industry taught him the essentials of running a business – and gave him an innate sense for problem solving and the ability to speak to almost anyone.
Looking for a new challenge and a more stable lifestyle to start a family, Steve left hospitality and started working in the fast growing tech sector. Steve first worked for global tech giant SAP taking part in their management training program, which exposed him to every element of the corporation, but he quickly realized large corporations do not offer the same energy and challenges he was used to working in hospitality. He found the perfect combination of excitement, entrepreneurship, and career stability in the world of tech startups as they offered daily challenges and the opportunity to be involved in building a company. He worked at local startups such as PeopleLinx and Relay Network involved in business development, streamlining sales processes, integrating sales and marketing automation programs, sales management, and other operational duties. From this experience, Steve gained specialized expertise in growing a startup’s client base and gaining traction in the marketplace, ultimately enabling them to become well-known, funded companies. With the itch to build something of their own, Steve soon convinced his wife Lisa to quit their jobs and start their own company.
Steve and Lisa both grew up with self-employed fathers and always dreamed of owning their own business. This dream was a frequent topic in their conversations as they brainstormed restaurants, apps, and the next “hot” start-up, but quickly realized these ideas would take more money than they had to invest. So after years working for others, learning what works and what doesn’t, they decided to combine their skillsets and invest their time into building Graham Media Partners. Their complementary personalities and incredible companionship both at home and in the office have allowed them to build something most couples would never accomplish.
At GMP, Steve runs the day-to-day business operations with a focus on building relationships, implementing structure, staying profitable, hiring great people, and working with Lisa to build a culture and company that is fun and welcoming yet highly effective. When asked what the most important takeaway from his career so far, Steve would say that sometimes the most important thing in any service business is simply being likeable and responsive.