Neil A. Carousso is the producer of The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez, airing Friday nights at 7 PM on WCBS Newsradio 880. Each week Lynda talks with newsmakers for a deep dive into the top stories of the week and the impact it has on people.
Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.

The Latest

  • New York Back in Sight with Steve Schirripa

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    Produced by Neil A. Carousso, Carousso Enterprises, LLC

    NEW YORK — This Fall, celebrate New York’s reopening with us!

    Join The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration and our host Steve Schirripa, from The Sopranos and Blue Bloods, as he takes us on a virtual tour of the quintessential New York experiences we’ve been missing. 

    Whet your appetite for our city’s unparalleled food scene with award-winning Chef Dan Kluger of Loring Place.

    Fix yourself a classic New York cocktail with master mixologist Erin Davey from the Tao Group.

    And, return to Broadway as Come From Away playwrights David Hein and Irene Sankoff share their favorite scenes from this joyous musical.

    Register here to watch this virtual New York experience from Thursday, October 14, 2021.

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  • VIDEO: Why Barbara Corcoran Believes Best Investments are in People

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Barbara Corcoran, the self-made “queen of New York real estate,” has always put her customers and her workers, first. That mantra is guiding her businesses out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “I don’t buy businesses. I buy people,” Corcoran told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the latest WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    “The reason I was able to build such a large company is because I adored my employees and would do anything for them at any time – anything for them – they came first,” she said. “You have to have that attitude toward employees if you want to do well with them.”

    A tight labor market has left many job postings unfilled. The “Shark Tank” star said the businesses that have survived the pandemic are growing, but their biggest challenge is hiring and retaining workers.

    “It’s not just at your local restaurants, it’s at your dry cleaners, it’s at your technology companies. Everyone across the board is having a hard time attracting employees,” she said.

    Corcoran noted one way to limit turnover is to pay more competitive salaries. She explained many customers are willing to support small businesses in their communities.

    “They’re very amiable to helping small businesses if they think they’re helping a good business get ahead. So, you can pass on a lot of those costs, but you have to pay people more,” said Corcoran.

    Barbara Corcoran
    Barbara Corcoran listens to a pitch on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” (Photo Credit: ABC)

    She told WCBS 880 businesses must be more flexible with remote work, too.

    “You have to give them the latitude and the freedom to work different hours, which now, people have been spoiled by because of COVID. Anybody who’s dictating that you must be here 9 to 5, come every day of the week, is not getting the employees because employees have other choices. They just move on and get a better boss so you have to be a phenomenally good boss and do everything you can to help that employee and that’s how you get them,” Corcoran said.

    She describes “good bosses” as those who put the needs of their customers and employees before their own. She believes that’s the primary reason that The Corcoran Group blossomed into a $5 billion company when she sold it in 2001.

    Corcoran called companies that are still not embracing remote work “stupid.”

    “If you’re not budging, you’re stupid because you’re not doing what is the basic, core essence of all business: it’s called change,” she said, noting the seismic shifts businesses have been forced to adapt to over the past 19 months. “Let me tell you, if you don’t acknowledge the change that happens, you don’t stay in business.”

    The famous entrepreneur said on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight that the job of the business owner is to spot trends early and direct their team “on which ways to run.” That’s how, she said, small businesses become big businesses.

    “You know, the great advantage I saw early in my business when I looked around and saw my big competitors was I picked up on their attitude. They were big shots. The minute I saw everyone playing ‘big shot,’ I knew I had a shot,” said Corcoran, adding, “Most big businesses think they’re competing with other big businesses. They’re not. That’s not the enemy. The enemy is the little business that’s going to come up from behind and bite you in the butt.”

    She said she tells companies like Ernst & Young in corporate speeches to think small. As for small businesses, Corcoran advises to learn everything about operating the business; those that are hungry will win the race.

    Corcoran turned a $1,000 loan from a boyfriend in 1973 into a multi-billion dollar real estate empire. She told Connolly and Carousso that she budgeted every cent and hustled for every sale to keep her little business alive in the early days. That’s what she’s seeing new entrepreneurs doing today in season 13 of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

    “So many of the entrepreneurs that were standing before us either got fired or left their job,” Corcoran said. “They had part-time things they liked to do and they just decided they had time to think about it. They weren’t happy with their life and that was the time to make a big change and they took their part-time gig and they made it a full-time business. And, ironically, those were the strongest businesses we saw.”

    See what it takes to make your dreams a reality on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight featuring Barbara Corcoran above.

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  • No Laughing Matter: Caroline’s on Broadway Struggles Despite Theatres Reopening

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Broadway’s return is not providing the comedic relief clubs in the theatre district had been hoping.

    Caroline Hirsch, founder and owner of Caroline’s on Broadway, told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso she has never experienced a challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic in her four decades in business.

    “Business was going very well until Delta hit again and people were alarmed about going out and being in crowds,” she said of the dominant strain of the virus on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    The iconic comedy club reopened Memorial Day Weekend with a ton of pent-up demand for laughs. It took a turn late summer.

    “When the vaccine mandate came out, it really curtailed business,” said Hirsch, explaining, “We have people who are canceling because somebody in their group is not vaccinated so they won’t come.”

    She told WCBS 880 that she believes vaccine mandates are hurting New York’s live entertainment industry, but elevated COVID-19 infections are driving hesitancy as well.

    “Some comedians don’t want to go on tour; they want to wait until 2022. So, therefore, we have a bit of a talent shortage,” Hirsch said. “First, we had a labor shortage. We couldn’t hire enough waiters and waitresses. We couldn’t hire enough staff people in the kitchen.”

    Carolines On Broadway Owner Caroline Hirsch
    Carolines On Broadway Owner Caroline Hirsch Photo credit Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Ms. Foundation For Women

    Caroline’s on Broadway had also been relying on private parties this fall to recover some losses, but some events have been postponed to next year. As a result, she predicts businesses in the Theatre District will experience a slow recovery.

    A handful of Broadway shows returned last month at full capacity for fully vaccinated and masked audience members, cast and crew. But, on opening night, Hirsch asked workers in a garage how many cars arrived and found out only two people drove in to see a show.

    “I think we need to be realistic about this and not just say, ‘Oh, Broadway’s reopening,’ but Broadway’s going to have a really tough time reopening. And, I think that we all need to help them out. I think people have to make a concerted effort to go out and buy a ticket to Broadway,” she said.

    Caroline’s organizes the annual New York Comedy Festival, which makes its return to the stage November 8-14 with pop-up shows throughout the five boroughs.

    “We’re going to do close to 150 shows around the city,” Hirsch told Connolly and Carousso.

    Bill Maher, Marc Maron and Michelle Wolf are among the comics taking the microphone.

    “You’ll have a great laugh,” said Hirsch who admits despite all the pandemic challenges and stress, she is still laughing, herself.

    Caroline’s on Broadway first opened as a small cabaret in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in 1981 before moving to the South Street Seaport six years later. It eventually made its home on Broadway in 1992. Hirsch is known for giving Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and countless other comedians their start.

    Watch the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above for ideas on getting Broadway back on its feet.

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  • Fall 2021 WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast: Building Back Stronger

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    Presented by Dime Community Bank

    Streaming Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 9 AM EDT

    Submit your questions for our experts by tweeting @JoeConnollybiz and @WCBS880 using #WCBSBizBreakfast.

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – What are you doing in your business that will allow you to survive the pandemic and emerge stronger?

    The next WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast, presented by Dime Community Bank, will leave you with actionable advice on developing new products and services, and revamping your marketing and social media strategies. The time to act is now, and one way to learn how is to join us on Thursday, October 21 at 9 AM EDT at

    Host Joe Connolly will lead a stimulating conversation with one of the country’s leading Internet entrepreneurs and investors, Kevin P. Ryan, and the Head of Shopify Spaces, Cody DeBacker, covering new revenue opportunities, sales transformations, digital marketing and expanding industries.

    Kevin P. Ryan helped grow DoubleClick from a 20-person startup to a 1,5000-employee global leader that was acquired by Google for $3.1 billion in 2007. Today, as founder and CEO of AlleyCorp, Ryan funds and launches startups, including Nomad Health, Business Insider and Zola – providing mentorship to their leadership along the way.

    Ryan will explain where the new growth opportunities are in today’s world. He will also speak to the challenges in hiring talent in a tight labor market and will reveal proven steps for building a winning team.

    “We’re looking at consumer goods, we’re looking at B2B, we’re looking at software, we’re looking at healthcare, education… and a lot of (property) tech as well,” Ryan told Connolly ahead of the WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast.

    Shopify has helped more than a million of the world’s most successful brands manage their e-commerce. Cody DeBacker will tell you how Shopify has put small and mid-size businesses in the position to succeed through digital sales growth.

    Shopify also recently launched a creative space for entrepreneurs in SoHo. Shopify NY at 131 Greene Street offers hands-on business coaching, a photo studio for highly quality product photos, and a podcast studio. DeBacker will talk about how Shopify NY has started networking programs in the Big Apple.

    “We’re ideally trying to provide all the tools that they need to get started,” said DeBacker. “We’re always ready to receive any and everyone who wants to learn more about how to make it in today’s world.”

    In learning digital marketing and targeting of customers, businesses have found an entirely new revenue stream. On the WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast, you’ll see success stories and examples of thriving new businesses that have disrupted the marketplace.

    The WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast programs have become blueprints for pandemic recovery since our long-running series pivoted online in March 2020. Join our business reporter Joe Connolly for this enlightening free virtual event on Thursday, October 21 at 9 AM EDT and participate by submitting questions using the form on this page.


    Kevin P. Ryan
    CEO and Founder, AlleyCorp

    Kevin P. Ryan
    Photo credit: Kevin P. Ryan

    Kevin P. Ryan is one of the foremost Internet entrepreneurs in New York, having founded and is Chairman of several businesses, including AlleyCorp, Zola and Nomad Health. Previously he founded and was Chairman of MongoDB, Business Insider and GILT. Combined, these companies have raised more than $700 million in venture capital funding and currently employ almost 2,000 people. Previously, Kevin helped build DoubleClick from 1996 to 2005, first as President and later as CEO. He led DoubleClick’s growth from a 20-person startup to a publicly traded global leader with over 1,500 employees. In 2013, Kevin was named one of “The 100 Most Influential New Yorkers of the Past 25 Years” by the Observer.

    Aside from his professional responsibilities, Kevin serves on the board of Mercy Corps, is Vice Chairman of The Partnership for New York City, is a member of the CFR Committee on Foreign Affairs, is on the Board of TECH:NYC and is Director Emeritus for Human Right Watch. He previously served on the boards of Yale Corporation, INSEAD, the Direct Marketing Association, The Ad Council, HotJobs and the advisory board of Doctors Without Borders. He holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from INSEAD graduate business school.

    Cody DeBacker
    Head of Spaces, Shopify

    Cody DeBacker
    Photo credit: Cody DeBacker

    Cody DeBacker is the Head of Shopify Spaces. His projects and experiential activations have landed coverage in Forbes, The New York Times, Hypebeast, Complex, and hundreds of other publications around the world.

    Cody’s current role is focused on leading Shopify’s physical spaces, and most recently, his team opened the first ever Shopify entrepreneurial community space in New York that features free one-on-one business support, commerce training workshops, and thought provoking panels and events with the industry’s top entrepreneurs and merchants.

    He has also lead a team that participated in consumer conventions around the world such as Star Wars Celebration, NYCC, Complexcon, Hypefest, Family Style, and more. Cody is also the owner of 143 Worldwide, a DJ, and has been working in the fashion, trade show, and tech space for more than a decade.

    The WCBS Business Breakfast series hosted by Joe Connolly is executive produced by Neil A. Carousso for WCBS-AM New York and Audacy, Inc.

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  • When to go ‘All In’ on Your Dream Business

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Risk is assumed when someone starts a business, but oftentimes, entrepreneurs aim for a soft landing. At some point, founders must take a leap of faith.

    Marla Aaron left advertising agency McCann Worldgroup in 2012 where she was vice president of communications for its division MRM. Her aha moment came during a business trip in France. Away from her kids, a coffee pot exploded leaving her with burns and she decided to return home. She presented her husband with an ambitious business plan on PowerPoint and left her job a week later to follow her passion designing jewelry.

    Aaron told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, that she wishes she started her jewelry business earlier. Even after she did, she felt rejected when she was initially turned down by major retailers and picked up freelance jobs in advertising as a safety net.

    “That was probably a mistake and that was a waste of time because I wasn’t doing anything that well,” she said. “I was probably a mediocre consultant and I was doing a mediocre job starting my business. I had to fully pull the rug out and focus 100 percent.”

    Her advice for anyone looking to leave their job to start a business or take their side hustle full-time: “You have to do it. You have to go all in in every respect.”

    Aaron went door-to-door in New York’s Diamond District selling her first pieces of fine jewelry made from industrial climbing carabiners. When one retailer took an interest, she knew she had a viable business and began designing, selling, and eventually, building the Marla Aaron Jewelry brand.

    She had just signed a lease for her showroom on 47th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in Midtown Manhattan at the start of the pandemic lockdown. Her new space remained empty.

    Instagram helped her showcase her products and communicate her story, but she missed the personal touch with clients. Aaron and her employees had been meeting over Zoom at the beginning and end of each work day to keep everyone engaged. That gave her an idea.

    “We’re like Zoom is working for us; let’s do Zoom appointments. So, we started doing Zoom appointments, but it wasn’t just like, ‘Hey Zoom with a customer.’ We understood that it required orchestration, rehearsal, dominating the archive of photos that we had so it would be seamless,” Aaron said.

    She discovered that the Zoom appointments were most effective when two sales representatives were on each call. One person operates the technical side, showing their catalogue of product photos, while the other representative describes each piece and asks questions to determine the customers’ tastes.

    “We just figured it out,” said Aaron.

    Figuring it out was not easy, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when jewelry was far from prospective customers’ minds.

    Before COVID, Aaron vowed to donate silver heart lockets to single mothers every year, which was derived out of her own experience. She remembers feeling down on Mother’s Day as a single mom before her second marriage. Her son was too young at the time to understand the holiday and she sat at brunch empty handed while she watched families exchange flowers. So when her business suffered at the outset of the pandemic, Aaron tried to make the most out of a bad situation and lift the spirits of others.

    “We call it the ‘Lock Your Mom Project’ and we give them away to single moms. The first year I gave 50 and every year I had doubled it subsequently. And, the first year of the pandemic, we had planned to give out 800. I was thinking, we can do this. We can figure out a way to get this done,” Aaron said.

    While the showroom remained shuttered, they found single mothers online and began shipping lockets from Marla’s house for Mother’s Day 2020. Aaron told Connolly and Carousso that’s when they realized they could sell a lot of jewelry virtually.

    Marla Aaron Jewelry has more than 112,000 followers on Instagram. But, what those followers don’t realize is that the woman behind the brand is also the one operating the account.

    Aaron calls her business “rebellious” in how they’ve bucked traditional jewelry marketing.

    “We speak to people in plain language. It’s not covered in fairies and frost and Photoshop,” she explained. “It’s just really honest and authentic and real.”

    Aaron sees her jewelry designs as an extension of herself and believes her story resonates with customers.

    Today, she employs 18 people who help manage production, marketing, customer service and her wholesale accounts. Aaron continues to design all the jewelry she sells out of her office in the Diamond District.

    See Marla Aaron’s creative process, her advice for taking the leap into entrepreneurship, and the new ways of selling jewelry that has helped her expand her reach on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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