Secrets of Success: Theo Nissim

There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.

Meet: Theo Nissim, CEO at Gemini Solutions, a software development company. Theo has more than 20 years of experience as a Silicon Valley tech exec with companies large (Sun Microsytems) and entrepreneurial. Gemini Solutions was founded in 2005 by a core group of Valley technologists.

Theo grew up in Romania under Communist rule. His parents, both engineers, finally managed to emigrate to Israel, where Theo, who had been studying at the Romanian School of Computer Sciences, had to quickly learn a new language. Recognizing that the Silicon Valley was the “epicenter of technology innovation,” Theo moved to California in 1992.

Theo has not forgotten his European roots. Gemini Solutions has offices both in the U.S. and Romania, and connects Romanian engineers with American companies looked for skilled talent.

Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Theo Nissim: A race car driver! I’ve always had a deep passion for automobiles.

Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?

Nissim: I wanted to experience creating something from scratch, and to be able to shape my company in any way that I wanted. The process of building a business, battling adversity, growing it and ultimately making it successful was always a dream of mine.

Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Nissim: I did not experience one pivotal moment; rather, many smaller moments added up to shape my experience. My career path has always been a marathon, not a sprint. I experienced some setbacks, but also a mix of great opportunities, good decisions and luck that helped make my business successful.

Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Nissim: If you believe in something, go and make it happen! If you don’t do it, you could regret it for your entire life. It’s better to regret what you did than what you didn’t do.

Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Nissim: Be inclusive and work closely with your team, instead of simply handing out tasks. Company leaders often are “Type A” with big personalities, but they also must be part of the team, contribute and be constructive. Nothing good ever came from a business leader sitting on the sidelines.

Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?

Nissim: Small businesses have been a staple in Silicon Valley for a long time and will continue to be part of it. It’s very important to have these small businesses that are turning their dreams into reality. These companies are changing the world, will continue to do so and we are only scratching the surface of what can be achieved. I’m optimistic that this wave of innovation will continue.

Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?

Nissim: I have a lot of favorites! Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Milan Kundera are two of my favorite authors, and I enjoy reading whatever they put out.

Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Nissim: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – from Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University

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Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.