We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Scott Novilla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, how do you think about risk?
Since everything involves risk, I don’t focus on it. Instead, I focus on how much I really want to do ‘this thing.’ The more I want to do/accomplish something, the stronger the drive to complete it is. For example, the risk of betting my entire financial future on purchasing a disgusting, run-down dog kennel, “Pet Planet” and investing every nickel I had, while borrowing $2.5MM more. Working 6-7 days a week, for almost 3 years, 2005-2008, renovating it into a world-class 5-Star wedding venue and unique event space. There was RISK GALORE involved, and if I focused on any of those risk points, I would have NEVER opened NOVA 535 the #1 rated venue in St. Pete / Tampa. Awarded Best Place to Get Married (2010), (Top 10) Best Restrooms in USA (2009), …too many other awards to mention, plus Best Place for a Wedding (2020), just weeks ago!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art is improving spaces. All kinds. Physical Space, such as renovating a home, apartment, or workspace. Atmospheric Space, like creating an epic party from inside a venue that was empty and silent, only hours ago. This talent began while sitting alone in my bedroom, as a young boy. Often I was in trouble; “on restriction.” My parents, Mike and Leslie, had enough of my tireless motor-mouth. So I’d bounce off the walls in there, no tv, no radio, (before the internet), no video games; I could read or move my furniture around. So I became adept at optimizing room designs. Now 40+ years, 91 countries visited, 1000s of books read, and over 2,000 live events produced later, I’ve combined all of this experience into my space improvement “superpower.” This, along with the KPI team push-push, birthed my first book, “It’s 5 am Go Home”. A hilarious tale of, well grab a copy for yourself, and enjoy!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d start with a bicycle ride along the gorgeous downtown St. Pete waterfront, up Central avenue to Art Pool Gallery (say hello to owners Marina, Becky, and Evan) and visit my Boca Ciega High School pal Ray at his family’s historic Haslam’s Book Store. We’d check out many of the incredible street art murals (https://STPeteMuralTour.com) then zip over to my historic, 5-star venue NOVA 535. We’d take a tour, enjoy a drink, then head back towards Brick and Mortar for dinner, thanking owners Chef Jason Ruhe and Hope for their amazing dining experience. Afterward, we’d check out the new 26-acre St. Pete Pier, grab drinks on beach drive, then over to Ruby’s Elixir, share a cigar with owner Greg Haddad and pal Jeff Copeland, grooving to their incredible live jazz, and endless cocktails. After breakfast, we’d zip to Tampa’s Busch Gardens for insane rollercoasters, then a healthy delicious dinner at my house, via Chez Novilla. The next day we’d explode our minds at The Dali Museum, grab a nutritious lunch at Love Food Central, then sunset out on the spectacular, powder white sands of St. Pete Beach. At the legendary Undertow Beach Bar. Hugs all the way around for Undertow sibling/owners Paul and Karen Nicklaus, who are my dear friends from back at my first high school, St. Pete Catholic. (Read It’s 5 AM Go Home“, and you’ll find out why the Nuns had enough of “Mr. Novilla.”) If my best friend was single, maybe we’d end up in Tampa, if married then maybe we’d chill and catch up over drinks. Certainly, if there is enough time, we’d sneak down to Selby Gardens and over St. Armens square in Sarasota, followed by sunset on Lido beach.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Wow, this could be longer than the Oscars! OK, certainly Mom and Dad, (Leslie and Michael F. Novilla) for life itself, my fabulous siblings Chris Novilla and Nurse Julie Schultz, my “It’s 5 AM Go Home” book team; editor Keith Long, consultant Karen Rowe, designers Melissa Caban and Gabriel Aluisy, and the Key Person of Influence crew; author Daniel Priestley, Jodi McLean, and Topher Morrison. My NOVA 535 business partners/mentors, Drew Edwards, Michael Mitchell, Mike Aaron, Mike Lewis, Chuck Taylor, Jon Aljasir, Emily Morgavan, Mietek Badzinski, Chris Jenkins, Nick Mazeika, Ruby Thomas, and my Kung Fu Martial Arts master Amir Ardebily. A special shout out to two incredible friends I lost in 2020, Michael Lerner and Mikey Ruggieri. RIP Brothers.
Other: https://michaelsnovilla.com https://nova535.com https://entrepreneursocialclub.com https://416days.com