Victor Shiblie ’89, is founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Washington Diplomat, an international newspaper and online publication. He says Radford University helped him find his way. Shiblie was a part of the student team that created the first collegiate division of the International Association of Marketing and Management under the guidance of Dr. Hooshang Beheshti. He also remembers many lessons he learned in Dr. Hsin-Min (Carl) Tong’s Introduction to Marketing class — and in fact still has Dr. Tong’s book, “Inspiring Business Successes,” on his office bookshelf.
Shiblie’s parents emigrated from Palestine, and he is among the first in his family to finish college.
“I worked at Macado’s and sold televisions at Sears to pay my own tuition. Radford attracts a lot of students who pay their own way,” said Shiblie, who began his career at his local community college in Silver Spring, Md., and then transferred to Radford. “I wanted a small school and liked Virginia and North Carolina. Radford was the perfect all-around school for me that was far enough away from home.”
Shiblie worked hard during his first two years at Radford, ultimately earning a spot on the Dean’s List — but working hard was nothing new for him. “I had a car wash business and a grass-mowing business when I was 13, and subscribed to Fortune magazine at 18,” he said, adding that upon his graduation from Radford, he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur. “I wanted to control my destiny. As a business owner, you can decide the direction you take your company. You take a risk get to see if your vision comes to fruition. It is very rewarding to be an entrepreneur.”
After graduation, Shiblie created an export company, working with embassies in Washington, D.C. He soon realized there was no publication to serve them, so in 1994 he established one with his cousin, Fuad Shiblie. “I reached out to publishers of major publications and the former publisher of Radford’s school paper, The Perspective, to get his advice on what makes a publication successful.”
Thus, The Washington Diplomat was born. Now 20 years old, the newspaper has more than 120,000 readers, including diplomats at 180 embassies in Washington and United Nations missions in New York.
“It’s a lot harder these days to run a business, because often you are competing against major corporations,” said Shiblie. “Small businesses are often owned by big companies, which have deep pockets. To a small business owner, managing finances is the most important thing. If you don’t manage money well, it’s going to hurt you. Attention to managing your money should start in college.”
Shiblie advises today’s students to follow their interests. “You need courage to go forward and try different jobs. It’s better to fail at something, rather than to not even try. Each failure is an education,” he said. “Being an entrepreneur is very difficult. If it scares you, don’t do it. I was motivated to prove people wrong. It’s hard to build a business from the ground up; you’ll need support. But you can do it. Just look to others for help.”