Zalman Silber
Zalman Silber, Business Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist
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Cornell Lecture Series Attendee Feedback

In addition to his business acumen and intense love of philanthropic endeavors, Zalman also lends some of his time to lecturing business students in several locations. What follows are some comments from attendees of the 1996 Cornell Business Lecture Series, where Zalman and other business colleagues, was a featured speaker.

Loree Politziner

Zalman Silber is a very likeable person. As Ellie Gordon mentioned, likeability can get you far in life. In addition, I also like the way he attributes his success to others.

Wise before his years is a huge understatement. His values, advice, outlook and business experiences seem to belong to someone much older. I would credit both his parents and his religious studies.

Zalman Silber is a great role model because he takes responsibility for his actions. He is responsible for his employees and their safety, his tenants and theirs, not to mention his large family. In the short time he spoke with us, his behavior, ethics and personality became quite apparent. I would imagine that his being natural and open is how he acts in business, and this makes him a pleasure to deal with. I think his public persona may be a result of unconsciously trying to be “normal” and eliminate the mystery of being a religious person.

Debra Strauss

Zalman Silber’s lecture hit home for me particularly. As a life insurance agent, his experience in this area is particularly meaningful to me. While I plan to call him to discuss his experience in this area more thoroughly (as it is perhaps more interesting to me than the general class). I found his story intriguing and inspiring. As an insurance agent, I can respect his accomplishments in that field and the persistence and creativity that made them possible. While his ideas were certainly different from those of other speakers, his unflagging energy and persistence was apparent.

Ann Hasegawa

There have been two speakers who have made an impression on me – Zalman Silber and Fernando Mateo. They are an inspiration. They exhibited pure, raw energy, determination, integrity, and sense of communal responsibility. They are smart to access the politicians to implement their ideas. They both stressed, n one way or another, to take responsibility and to not pass off the blame. Zalman made another suggestion which struck me as logical at the time, yet now, much more significant. “Think through an idea from start to finish.”

Zalman apartment complex in Brooklyn is a fascinating story. It is amazing to me that he was able to overhaul a project, change it image, improve its community standing and enjoy a 99% occupancy rate within a year and a half, at a time when Congress could not negotiate a budget within four months.

The changes that he made, i.e., increasing security, refurbishing, etc. were not creative nor innovative. However, his actions emphasized his desire to better the welfare of others. The goal to reduce the incidents of rape wasn’t implemented along the way – it was initiated immediately. His humanitarian side is prominently displayed with his sincerity. He is someone I would want to do business with and could only hope to emulate his upstanding business practices.

George Matouk

Zalman Silber combines the outstanding qualities shown by some of the other speakers. He is incredibly driven, and has an irrepressible personality. There is probably not a boardroom in America that he could not win over with his acumen, wit, and integrity, the latter springing from his spiritual approach to doing business. His integrity not only drives him to try to improve society; it has also served him as a business asset in that he has achieved immeasurably through the strength of his character.

While Mr. Silber’s entrepreneurial and societal accomplishments are extraordinary, their success is not mythical or ethereal. He is, in truth, an ordinary guy from an ethnic working family in New York who has simply worked his tail off to achieve success.


Jane P. Boyle

It was obvious that Zalman Silber had so much drive bottled up inside him that he was always thinking of and creating new ideas. I certainly believe him when he said that he only required three hours of sleep each night. He seems to have a gift for obtaining the interest in other people in helping him to create his various business visions.

Paul Tucker

Mr. Silber’s drive displayed the power of goal-driven motivation. The man is a dynamo. His life is phenomenal. His story of selling insurance to the Syrians and the Italians impressed me the most. I don’t think I meet too many people with the kind of clarity of thought who can cut through the traditional barriers of communication and culture the way Silber did.

When I think about his stories, they make such sense, and there simply seems to be no limitations to his idea stream. I can only hope to be that creative (as well as have as much energy). Too many people voluntarily wear blinders that restrict opportunities.

I also admire the strength that Mr. Silber receives from his religion. Although I don’t gather the same strength from my religion that he does from his, I admire him for understanding that life is more than business.

Aysenil Brittan

Zalman Silber is a person from whom a lot can be learned. His upbringing and the fact that he took on family responsibilities early in life made him an unusually mature person. A winning attribute of Zalman’s is that he has humor, can exercise self-criticism, and does not take himself seriously. He seems like a very trustworthy person, and the stores he tells seem to reconfirm this belief. It is examples like his, of which we fortunately have some in Turkey too, who keep society’s belief in truth, faith, and honesty.