Mr. Steingard is the co-founder and CEO of Laughing Man Coffee & Tea and Director of the Laughing Man Foundation. He left his work as a criminal prosecutor in Brooklyn to start Laughing Man Coffee & Tea with actor Hugh Jackman. They share the vision that business can be a vehicle for positive change and Laughing Man Coffee & Tea is a model. Mr. Steingard was CEO of Creative Exposure, a small business marketing firm, and CEO of CompuTech Edge, a technology company for public schools.
Q: What is your favorite memory (professor, class, etc.) of BMCC?
A. One of my favorite lines, which I still remember to this day, and I recalled often when I was a criminal prosecutor in Brooklyn, was from a business law class I took: “If the facts on your side pound the facts, if the facts are not on your side pound the table.” But my favorite class was astronomy. The teacher was amazing and I remember thinking about scale, distance, speed, all the facts you learn in that kind of study. Here I was in the middle of this huge school making my way and there were things much bigger and much more important out there. It somehow gave me the confidence I needed to just keep moving forward. It's those kinds of experiences that make education so important. I didn't purse astronomy but that moment showed me that anything is possible.
Q: How did BMCC help you get where you are today?
A. Going to BMCC was the beginning of really testing my ability to self start and self monitor. It is so important to build that in yourself and put it to the test. Starting Laughing Man Coffee &Tea or any other new venture I have been involved with depends on putting in the effort and being honest with yourself. When nobody is watching and nobody recognizes the work you have done and there seems to be more failures than wins, that's when you need to know you have the strength and the ability to continue and succeed.
Q: What advice do you have for today’s BMCC students?
A. I think one of the most common traps people fall into today when starting out and charting the course of their career is to base that on what other people are doing. In today’s hyper-sharing world, we see everyone's life and what they are doing. When we see their successes more than their failures, it is hard not to compare ourselves. But my advice is, don't compare yourself to anybody. Success is how you define it. For me it taking care of my family, personal growth and giving back, and I know what needs to be done to achieve that. What someone else does or has or thinks, should not change your definition.
Q: Why is it important for alumni to stay involved with BMCC?
A. If you are an alumni of BMCC, the college opens its doors to you and makes a place where you can share your values and experiences to those coming after you. At BMCC a little help goes a long way toward giving someone a bright future. Whether it's a donations to help with scholarships, mentoring or sharing your success stories, giving back to the students who are coming after you will ensure we all grow together. As we all succeed, BMCC succeeds and that in turn allows us all to achieve more. We are all in this together.