St. Pete native Michael S. Novilla is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. The mind behind Nova 535, Entrepreneur Social Club and DowntownStPete.com, Novilla doesn't wait for things to happen in his hometown, he builds them himself. Novilla was early to St. Pete's renaissance, when after renovating hundreds of historic buildings Novilla realized that his city needed its very own historic event venue. He created Nova 535 in 2008 for that purpose. On Thursday nights, you'll find him there hosting Entrepreneur Social Club, a mentorship group he founded for like-minded entrepreneurs in need of connection.
Years in St. Pete
April 1, 1968
Organizations involved in
Nova 535, Entrepreneur Social Club, downtownstpete.com, Key Person of Influence (KPI)
What gets you out of bed every day?
My legs. Every day’s an adventure. Once you’re done sleeping, there’s no other reason to stay in bed. Get up and do the best you can that day, make an adventure out of it.
Why St. Pete?
After traveling the world, 87 countries so far, St. Pete has the best blend. I was born here, my family and friends are here. But I think St. Pete has the best blend of everything that you want and a wonderful place to live. It’s like a big, small city, so there’s plenty to do. It’s grown up a lot. When I was in college back in the ’90s, St. Pete was really slow in terms of social life. You used to have to go to Clearwater or Tampa, but now St. Pete has got a fantastic blend. Food, art, weather, friends, the vibe. Traffic is still good, lots of parks. I love it here.
What is one habit that you keep?
Breathing. Eating well. I live by continuous improvement so trying to solve problems and make things better for myself and those around me. Living by the axioms of “You are what you eat,” “Be your own best friend,” “Mind over mind.”
Who are some people that influence you?
Influencers growing up: Isaac Asemov, Leonardo DaVinci, Benjamin Franklin. My father, my business partner Mike MItchell, Drew Edwards, Chris Jenkins. People who give me real, honest feedback. I try to listen and be a good student.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
A lot of books. There’s so many. But I think really being your own best friend is the key for me. If you are your own best friend, you don’t need to fill yourself with other things to be happy because ultimately all happiness can only come from yourself. So once you realize that, life works out pretty well. You are what you eat, so keep that in mind. Mind over mind because you have to be in charge of what comes out of your mouth, what happens with your hands and feet, where your eyes look. You’re in charge of yourself and if you want to be positive and add value to the world, you can do that.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
Most of my clients are women and I’m a guy. We have different ways of thinking. But just a better understanding of human behavior. We all have our own biases and filters. Understanding people better would be the thing I wish I knew because all business is about human to human.
I’m launching my first book, which has taken forever. But four years later, it’s called It’s 5:00 a.m., Go Home. It’s a hilarious autobiography about my life and how I can teach you to throw 5 star weddings and events. So publishing a first book is next, after that we’ll see how the rest of the week goes.