An Interview with Entrepreneur Argyropoulos of Avant Global

(As featured in the National Herald- July 2, 2017)

Written by: Eleni Sakellis

Demetri Argyropoulos. Photo by Santi Visalli

NEW YORK – Greek-American Demetri Argyropoulos- founder and CEO of global advisory firm Avant Global, based in Santa Barbara, CA, loves Greece. A dual citizen for the last 7 years, he divides his time between his home in California and the homeland. Argyropoulos spoke with The National Herald about his family, his work, and his love of Hellas.

Argyropoulos said that many members of his family read TNH over the years, and his grandparents were avid readers of the paper. He noted that his family roots are in Peloponessos and in Athens, but before 1922 his father’s family lived in Asia Minor and were refugees who settled in Oropos, Nea Palatia. Argyropoulos’ father came to America at the age of 18. His mother was born in the United States to Greek immigrant parents.

Argyropoulos told TNH that he is a proud Greek-American and spends about 3 months a year in Greece and has just recently purchased property in Corfu. He noted that this is one way he is helping the Greek economy and encouraging his Greek-American friends to also buy property in the homeland.

A successful businessman, Argyropoulos is also a dedicated philanthropist. He was recognized for his support of philanthropic causes and knighted into the Order of Savoy in a ceremony at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. The knighthood recognizes those who have contributed to the benefit of mankind through good works, the arts and letters, sciences and humanitarian disciplines. He said of the honor that only two people have been knighted in recent years and the experience was humbling and memorable. Argyropoulos noted that friends from all over the world attended the ceremony and the “history of something like this is very interesting, and it’s quite unique to be a part of that.”

When asked about his recent comments in interviews with the C-Suite Network and on the common characteristic shared by all successful entrepreneurs- making decisions quickly and decisively, Argyropoulos said they do make decisions quickly but with an important differential, they use their instinct and understanding and have “failed enough to know how to succeed.”

Argyropoulos, a serial entrepreneur who made his first million at the young age of 23, also touts an impressive roster of individuals and companies — dozens of billionaires, fast-growing startups, and Fortune 1000 companies. Argyropoulos’ clients include one of the wealthiest business magnates in Mexico, the founding family of a well-known retail giant, and one of the largest holding companies in the world. Since it was founded, Avant Global, known for building strategic relationships for its customers, has helped fuel more than $10 billion in added value for its clients.

He said, “Fear cannot be your enemy. You have to be fearless, to conquer your fear and take calculated thoughtful risk.” Experience and insight are important, Argyropoulos noted, and gave the example of buying a failing company in order to turn it around. “It won’t work if you don’t have the experience and insight to make the changes to improve the business and eliminate problems.”

To illustrate his point, Argyropoulos spoke about his admiration for Greek-American billionaire Dean Metropoulos and how he saved Twinkies by making the necessary changes to keep the company in business.

About his own work, Argyropoulos said his company assesses risk, uses the currency of relationships to bring people together in “the best team in the world centered around a common purpose.”

He noted the power of believing in that purpose, “You have to believe, whether it’s a company or a country.”

His company builds “great businesses by bringing the right people together,” he added.

When asked about the economic issues in Greece, Argyropoulos pointed out that Greek-Americans can help by investing in the economy and buying real estate. He noted that the Germans should forgive the debt because they owe Greece a great deal from the past, especially World War II, so at least some of the debt should be forgiven.

Argryopoulos noted that there are too many taxes on the Greek people, consumers cannot spend, their hands are tied. Foreign investment is great, it brings some stimulation to the Greek economy but he wonder about too much foreign control.

The hardworking culture of Greece was passed down to Argyropoulos through his family, his grandfather Vlasios Kokiousis, he noted, was a great mentor to him and a source of knowledge. Arriving in the US at age 17, Kokiousis worked for Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, and helped develop the Model-T Ford assembly line, Argyropoulos told TNH. Kokiousis passed away at the age of 101.

He said that everyone in his family is an entrepreneur and they are great examples to follow in life. The innovative Greek people, he said, will come back to success. He cares very much about the country, noting that he gives back as much as he can. His efforts with the Clinton Initiative, Leadership 100, the National Hellenic Society, and the Greek Orthodox Church and helping with the refugee crisis in Greece by finding abandoned factories and retrofitting them to be used as housing is just one of the ways he gives back.

Proud of his heritage, Argyropoulos said, “My heart is in Greece and my mind in the US.”

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