Chairing a conference of this magnitude and caliber has certainly been my greatest professional achievement to date. Receiving the key to the county was the icing on the cake.
From fashion on Fifth Avenue to real estate on Ocean Drive, Jessica Goldman Srebnick has defined herself as a visionary leader. Her family company, Goldman Properties, has been an integral force in the revival of classic districts like Soho and South Beach. In March, she earned a key to Miami-Dade County as one of the masterminds behind the most-attended YPO-WPO Global Leadership Conferences in history. Here she shares her journey with Haute Living readers.
Haute Living Revitalizing real estate—and neighborhoods—is in your blood. Tell us about your experiences growing up in Soho and South Beach before they were considered chic.
Jessica Goldman Srebnick I was eight years old when my Dad, Tony Goldman, invested in our first of 16 properties in Soho. Back then, it was a manufacturing district that was known only to the factory workers, artists, and gallery owners and some friendly and not-so-friendly vagrants. We opened the Greene Street Café in 1979 and life was fun and unorthodox, living over the store.
When I was 15, my dad fell in love with South Beach. It was 1985, and South Beach was considered “Heaven’s Waiting Room.” No banks would finance such an at-risk neighborhood of dilapidated buildings and crack houses. We bought a property a month for 18 months. The photograph of the future had been taken and we would spend the next decade enhancing the American Riviera to what it has become today. Living in these neighborhoods showed me that anything is possible with hard work, vision, passion, and commitment.
HL Goldman Properties has been the innovative lead of some of the most historic restorations in Miami. What was the first “big” project that captured your heart?
JGS In 1997, after five years as the associate fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue, I joined our family business and moved to Miami to open The Hotel and Wish Restaurant. With Todd Oldham as the designer, we were the first hotel to ever be designed by an American fashion icon. The project was an integration of creativity, a deep sense of place, solid value, and genuine hospitality. This project not only captured my heart, it was the beginning of my love affair with Miami.
HL What was the original inspiration behind The Hotel, and what continues to drive the motivation to keep it fresh and relevant?
JGS The original inspirations were all of the elements that make Miami a one-of-a-kind destination: the sun, the sea, and the sand. It was about vibrant colors and textures, comfort and sophistication. When we opened there was not much competition. Today, competition makes you stronger. We are building 20 additional rooms for The Hotel, which are coming on-line this year. In addition we are developing Goldman Hospitality, a new division of the company that is dedicated to managing hotel properties in distress.
HL What was your motivation to first get involved with the Young Presidents’ Organization?
JGS In 2002, the founder of Pollo Tropical, Larry Harris, introduced me to YPO, the organization of worldwide presidents of public and private companies, who are under the age of 44, have at least 50 employees, and $8 million in revenues. They were looking for strong women in leadership positions in the community. YPO’s purpose: to create better leaders through education and idea exchange. Today the organization has close to 17,000 members worldwide. My motivation was the opportunity to be a part of a group of peers facing similar challenges as young leaders, learning from the best practices of one another, having my own personal board of advisors, and being exposed to a worldwide support network. After seven years in the organization I can truly say that I am a better, stronger leader.
HL You recently served as a co-chair for YPO-WPO Global Leadership Conference. Can you tell us more about the conference, and about your role in co-chairing it?
JGS For more than 2,300 YPO and WPO (World President Organization) members and spouses, the Global Leadership Conference offered an opportunity to gain knowledge, training, and inspiration for the year ahead. The 10th annual GLC, held at Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel, broke attendance records, making it the largest gathering of YPO and WPO members ever. With 77 countries represented, members and spouses convened for workshops, networking, and best-practice sharing. Along with my co-chairs Neal Sherman and Leonard Abess, and hundreds of staff and volunteers, we set out to do two things: inspire the next generation of leaders so they can return to all the corners of the earth and do their part to shape a better world, and give the attendees a strong sense of Miami.
HL What was the most memorable moment of the event?
JGS Our members were hungry for hope and inspiration at a deeply challenging time in the history of our planet. We had world-class speakers like Grammy award-winning artist Wyclef Jean, who, as a goodwill ambassador to Haiti, raises awareness about the poverty plaguing his homeland, or former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, who started his career as a truck driver for Coca-Cola and went on to become the president of the country. Then there was Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, who taught us the power of tapping into the unlimited energy and possibility of the human imagination. Or George Feldenkreis, a Cuban immigrant who came to the United States with $700 searching for the American Dream, and built Perry Ellis International into one of the world’s largest apparel companies. There was Aimee Mullins, a double amputee at the age of one who became a world-record-holding paralympian who shared with us what it takes to be a champion.
HL As a result of the conference’s success, which generated millions of dollars for Miami, you received a key to Miami-Dade County. Describe the impact of such an honor.
JGS Chairing a conference of this magnitude and caliber has certainly been my greatest professional achievement to date. Receiving the key to the county was the icing on the cake.
HL What is next for Jessica Goldman Srebnick?
JGS Enjoy this amazing journey with my prince of a husband Scott and our three beautiful sons…and reach for the stars…the possibilities are endless!