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Life lessons from the first lady of nails

OPI's nail polish is ubiquitous around the world, but the beauty products company had humble beginnings as a dental supply operation in the 1980s. Co-founder Suzi Weiss-Fischmann also had a unique trajectory to becoming the American entrepreneur now known as the "first lady of nails," after the color of one of her polishes. She grew up in communist Hungary before coming to the United States as a teenager and starting in business. Odontorium Products Inc became OPI in 1989 when Weiss-Fischmann noticed that the chemistry of dental adhesives was similar to that of nail extensions. The company is now a subsidiary of Coty Inc. Weiss-Fischmann, who is currently OPI's artistic director, spoke with Reuters about some of the things she has this site: Your parents are Holocaust survivors. What lessons did you learn from hearing about their experience and stories?A: My mother is a very strong woman. Whenever I’ve experienced obstacles in my life, I think of her. My obstacles are nothing compared with what she saw, lived and experienced every day. My father taught me to dream big and aim high, and to be passionate about life and my path. He taught that one has to make the best out of whatever life gives you. Q: What did you learn from your first working experience?

A: My first job was at Dairy Queen. The biggest perk was getting an ice cream every night, and I love ice cream to this day. I learned that I took pride in my job, no matter how big or small. I also learned the rule that the customer is always right, something that's important to take to heart when you're in the business of providing products and services. Q: What did the beauty business teach you about money?A: In the short term, I learned how to price a product to cover all aspects of its timeline, from design and manufacturing to packaging and advertising. This skill is so important because to succeed, you need to have the finances to support all areas of your business, from taxes and payroll to product development and simply keeping the lights on. Long term, I learned to look at growth. By planning for one year, two years, even five years ahead, you will be better equipped to handle both successes and failures.

Q: What is the most important thing you learned as your business grew?A: As I became more established in my career and more comfortable financially, I continued to be budget-oriented. I believe that money is not to be spent as you make it, at least not in excess. I think one of the major challenges businesswomen face is how to balance financial success and family. I believe it's very important to support your children and provide for them, but that they should learn for themselves the very lessons that shaped your life, including hard work, the value of a dollar, and the importance of having a vision and believing in yourself. Q: What advice would you give someone thinking of starting a business?

A: The number one thing I would tell people to avoid if at all possible is loans. Invest earnings into the business rather than borrow; you won't have the stress of repaying loans and paying interest on top of that. Q: How do you structure your charitable giving?A: I have chosen to focus on education, through scholarships and financial aid via institutions that my family has attended, as well as support for families at our company. Q: What money lessons do you pass down to your own kids? I have two college-age kids (ages 20 and 23), and there are two big lessons that I've tried to impart. The first is to have a budget, live within your means and always save money for the future. The second is to be charitable and put money behind your passions and convictions. Learning how to make a difference at an early age is a great skill to carry through life.

Volkswagen CEO says not ruling out merger talks with Fiat Chrysler

WOLFSBURG, Germany Volkswagen (VOWG_p. DE) Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said he did not rule out he could hold merger talks with Fiat Chrysler (FCHA. MI) boss Sergio Marchionne, in a marked change of tone by the German carmaker toward its Italian-American peer."I am not ruling out a conversation," Mueller told journalists after VW's annual results news conference. Only last week, Mueller appeared to dismiss the prospect of talks with Fiat Chrysler (FCA), saying VW had enough on its plate as it struggled to overcome its emissions scandal and push a wide-ranging business transformation.

"We are not ready for talks about anything," he had told Reuters on the sidelines of the Geneva auto show last week. "I haven't seen Marchionne for months," he had added. Marchionne has long advocated car industry mergers to share the costs of making cleaner and more technologically advanced vehicles and has repeatedly relayed his desire via the media.

"It would be very helpful if Mr. Marchionne were to communicate his considerations to me too and not just to you," Mueller said. The purchase of General Motors' (GM. N) Opel division by PSA Group (PEUP. PA) leaves FCA in an increasingly difficult position in Europe.

The indebted group has a European market share of only about 7 percent, and its operating margin of 2.5 percent lags most rivals, as does its spending on cleaner and more autonomous cars. Mueller declined to discuss whether the PSA-Opel deal could reinforce consolidation among carmakers in Europe and said VW would in any case press on with its strategic shift to embrace electric cars and automated driving."I am pretty confident about the future of Volkswagen, with or without Marchionne," he said.