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Lessons I learned from a tennis GOAT and a hospitality king
David Grutman with his LIV team.

Lessons I learned from a tennis GOAT and a hospitality king

Hard-won, real-world advice from Serena Williams, DJ John Summit and other celebs-turned-entrepreneurs made The David Grutman Experience an influential class.

February 8, 2024 at 2:00pm

When I signed up for The David Grutman Experience: The Class at FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, I couldn’t have imagined I’d be getting real world advice from Miami’s King of Hospitality himself, but also from his guest speakers like DJ John Summit and Serena Williams.  

Every week students like me - I happen to be a grad student studying hospitality management – are eager to learn real-life lessons from Professor Grutman. This week, the focus was on teamwork and investing in young talent.  

Professor Grutman opened his most recent class with DJ John Summit. The Miami-based DJ shared his story of working full-time while pursuing his passion to DJ. It took him several years before he was able to make money from that side hustle. Instead, he bartended to pay the bills and fund his education. That is what gave him the work ethic he has today. “No matter what you do, you have to work your ass off.” That work ethic has paid off: Today, he performs at festivals like Coachella and owns his own label, which currently represents more than 20 artists.  


DJ John Summit shares his story at The David Grutman Experience: The Class

Mentalist and magician Oz Pearlman gave an unbelievable presentation. He asked students, “If you could have dinner with any famous person dead or alive, who would it be?” He chose random students, and he guessed each one of their answers correctly. Throughout his segment, he emphasized the importance of being memorable and finding a way to differentiate yourself. Find something you are passionate about and work on it until you become the best at it.  


Mentalist Oz Pearlman shocks students with his presentation.

Surround yourself with the best 

The next guest was fashion entrepreneur Loren Ridinger, who gave a valuable life lesson about doing the hard things first. “Excuses make today easy and tomorrow hard,” said Ridinger. She went on to add, “That is why it is important to do the hard task first because if you wait till later, it will never happen. Ninety-five percent of people think they have time, and they make decisions based on how they feel now. That type of thinking robs you of your future.” 

When she started her business with her husband, they believed in the future of online shopping, they founded SHOP.COM. Despite people trying to dissuade her, she was focused on the task at hand even if it seemed impossible at the time. She focused on building this business with her husband. Surveying your environment and, especially, relationships is integral to setting yourself up for success. My takeaway: It is important to see the things that affect you and what’s holding you back from working towards your goals. 


Fashion entrepreneur Loren Ridinger shares the importance of doing the hard thing first.

Lastly, the GOAT of tennis, Serena Williams, shared her wisdom. Surround yourself with the best so you can learn from them.Being with people who are “smarter” and “better” than you, they can push you to be the best version of yourself. 

When Serena started her tennis journey, there weren’t many black female tennis players. Tennis was predominately a white male sport. When asked about how she overcame prejudices and being different from other players, she said, “If there isn’t space for you in the industry, then make the space yourself. You must believe you are good enough to have a seat at the table. It’s important to work hard and not be afraid. If you are hungry enough, you can be whatever you want to be and be great at it. It’s about your hunger and desire and forcing people to see you no matter what you look like.” 

Serena’s hard work and dedication has led her to revolutionize women’s tennis, winning multiple Grand Slams, and now she is an investor in her own firm, Serena Ventures. The firm focuses on funding female entrepreneurs. She uses her platform to build others up so they can also have a seat at the table too. 


Top tennis player Serena Williams gives valuable advice to students.

It’s safe to say The David Grutman Experience is unlike any other class. The conversations Professor Grutman has with each guest are insightful, practical and applicable. I’ll be incorporating these valuable lessons for years to come.