Tag Archives: CEO

Episode 27: Chick-Fil-A: “How I became the owner of an $8m business with only $10k to start”



Adaobi shares her story of she became the Owner/Operator of the Chick-fil-A in Pasadena. She was 1 of 30,000 applicants, and had only $10,000 to start… but she managed to build a successful branch through an effective culture that lead to the acquisition – and retention – of great talent.

Bio:

Adaobi was born in Nigeria and was introduced to Chick-fil-A in 2004 when she started working at the Chino Hills location. She quickly rose into leadership positions and began to pursue Chick-fil-A as a life-long career. After receiving her Business Management degree from California Baptist University, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia to work at the Chick-fil-A home office. This led to her involvement in the opening of more than 100 new Restaurants nationwide. Adaobi’s ultimate goal was to become a Chick-fil-A Operator in California and that dream came to fruition in 2014 when she was selected to be the Owner/Operator of the Pasadena location.


Episode26: “My First Rodeo”: Campaign Reflections & Insights



After more than 20 years of active public service in the community as a volunteer (including as a co-founder of Innovate Pasadena) earlier this year, Andy Wilson ran for elected office for the first time. Disconnects between expectation and reality were much greater than anticipated (fake news transpires at the local level!). Was it naivety? Or has the modern political process changed dramatically in the last couple years?

In his talk, Andy will reflect on the many lessons learned his “first rodeo.” Specifically, he will share insights on how to run a successful campaign while staying above the unsavory tactics that are unfortunately commonplace. Also, new channels and for local political engagement and better strategies to connect with the electorate with be discussed.

Bio:

Andy Wilson is a serial entrepreneur having led, founded or invested in almost two dozen Southern California high tech start-ups. He has a long history of service with local not-for-profits including leadership roles at Pasadena Heritage, Pacific Oaks College, the Gamble House and SteamCODERS.  Andy is a co-founder and board member of Innovate Pasadena, which is dedicated to advancing the east side of Los Angeles as a vibrant innovation community. He is a frequent speaker on the role of innovation to create high paying local jobs with the goal of enhancing quality of life in our community.

Andy has extensive volunteer experience with the City of Pasadena including service on the Planning Commission, Design Commission, Urban Forestry Advisory Commission and the Pasadena Center Operating Committee. He just completed a two year appointment as the District 7 City Council member and was recently elected to a full four year term after a contentious election.  Andy currently serves on both the Municipal Services Committee and the Economic Development and Technology Committee of the City.

Andy holds a degree in engineering with honors from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  He is a graduate of Leadership Pasadena and has completed advanced certificate programs at Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Northwestern Kellogg School of Business.  He and his wife Liz can often be seen walking with their school aged boys (Spencer & Dylan) and rescue dog (Gandalf) in Madison Heights, their home for 20 years.


Episode 25: How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace



How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) takes a frank and honest approach to examining what women are doing to hold ourselves back in the workplace, and how we can compete on a playing field designed by men to reward their achievements.

Using relevant studies in evolutionary biology, anthropology and sociology, as well as examples from her life as a securities lawyer, investment banker, Internet executive and screenwriter, Valerie Alexander explains the evolution of the “gendered” brain and the corporate structure, showcasing and dissecting areas where women’s natural tendencies prevent us from succeeding in male-designed workplaces.

How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace tackles a difficult subject with candor, humor and confidence — and two of those traits are actually welcome in the workplace!

Bio:

Valerie Alexander is a speaker, author and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Goalkeeper Media, a tech start-up that builds communication bots to amplify happiness. As a speaker, she works with companies and organizations seeking to grow and succeed by making happiness a priority in the workplace and ensuring that female professionals advance and thrive.

Her books on Happiness, Success, and Success for Women can be found on Amazon.com, and she owns the U.S. Registered trademark on the phrase, “…as a Second Language” for self-help, personal growth, self-esteem and motivation.

Valerie has also worked as a screenwriter and film director, a corporate securities lawyer, an investment banker, and the VP of Business Development for two internet start-ups.  She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their ill-mannered German Shepherd, Pepper.


Episode 21: The Roller Coaster Ride to 40 Million Monthly Users



An honest discussion of the realities of a journey of a of a 5 time successful entrepreneur whose company – Ranker – now reaches 40 million people monthly and is solidly profitable with over 60 employees. Benson will take us through his self-funded beginnings to early angel rounds (partly secured in Pasadena), and funding from “name” VCs like Lowercase, Draper, and Wavemaker, and will discuss not just the success but also the many pitfalls even an experienced entrepreneur faced.

With all his prior success, Benson still did plenty of things wrong in the process of starting Ranker and had to work with less than ideal resources to survive, and eventually thrive. Benson will discuss the challenges of the tech world where massive changes are happening year-over-year and how even disruptive businesses can find themselves quickly disrupted. He will explain how to navigate hype vs reality with investors, and the Silicon Valley investor mentality vs everywhere else, among other topics.

 

Bio:

Clark Benson is the founder and CEO of Ranker, the leading digital media company for opinion-based, crowd-sourced rankings on just about everything. Launched in 2009, Ranker is Benson’s fifth startup. Ranker creates editorial lists to vote on about virtually every topic, and the 40 million+ monthly audience’s opinions shape the rankings. Prior to Ranker, Benson’s company, eCrush, an early social network for teens, was bought by Hearst Corporation in 2006. Benson lives in the Hollywood Hills with his wife and young twins.


Episode18: Doing Business in the Face of Growing Uncertainty



Our technology, business models, geo-politics and a not too distant inter-planetary (inter-reality) life are all growing in complexity and uncertainty. The age old profit-wage correlation is one of the many lagging indicators that most of our ways of economically and socially operating no longer hold as they did. Volatility creeps up in most facets of our lives at whiplash pace. And there’s no going back. In this talk we will cover what we think are the require tools to thrive in uncertainty and what we think is a new form of worldwide literacy that must be developed: Computational Literacy.

Computational Literacy is a new set of skills that combines data science, algorithmic thinking, AI/Machine Learning enhanced pattern recognition and probability assessments. The ingredients are all there for every person on earth to become literate in a computational perception. The complexity of data sets and the relationships between time, people, resources and economics have grown beyond any Newtonian model of the world or our most basic sensory apparatus. That is, no single human using only their common 5 senses and little elbow grease has the capacity to assess many important decisions on a daily basis – everyone, and especially businesses, need to develop a new literacy that unlocks much larger data sets and much more robust probability assessments of possible outcomes.

This talk will cover the functional definition of Computational Literacy, make a case for its relevance through examples and showcase the already available tools and devices to make anyone, particularly a business person, fully computer literate. There will be live interactive examples using real world phenomena and real world data.

Bio:

Russ is a co-founder of Case Zero (case0.com), a machine-learning data platform that automates market and product development for startups and SMB companies. He is a 17 year veteran of consumer internet and large scale data intelligence platforms. He has started several companies. He has been part of a successful IPO as well as a handful of private acquisitions. He has led several large distributed technical, product and marketing teams.

– Currently a mentor for TechStars Austin, providing strategic guidance to start-ups and TechStars managing director

– Serving as advisor and technical strategist for Thisway Global and Smarter Sorting Inc.

– In 2013, Russell and his wife founded Acton Academy Venice Beach,  a k-12 alternative education school focused learner driven education

– Named “Top 100 IT Executive” by ComputerWorld Magazine for his work at TrueCar.com where he led the creation of and managed the team and tech for the world’s largest, most sophisticated automotive industry data platform

– Deep relationships with executives at Facebook, Experian, Neustar, Hortonworks, Wolfram Research and many other large data and media firms

– Has given several talks at conferences like LeadsCon, Hadoop World and Semantic Web World as a recognized expert in large scale data platforms

– Past presentation videos: Data is the Only Marketplace  |  Behind The TrueCar Data Platform

– 2016 included talks at Google HQ and Hadoop World Business Track

– Has held business, technical, product management and BI leadership positions at Wolfram|Alpha, TrueCar, IAC/Citysearch, Business.com Grind Networks and several large internet content companies. He has a track record of intense business intelligence driven decision drive by the enthusiasm of an entrepreneur and the patience of an investor

– Previous strategy and execution engagements include Hachette Filipacchi Media, Alpha Media Group, Vizio, DrPhil.com, Carney Inc, Sony DADC and more

– In late 2015 Russell Retired from TrueCar and launched a successful visual and fine arts career. In his first year he held 3 exhibitions, wrote a book, sold 74 paintings and continues to produce art on a daily basis. His upcoming work will be seen in Portland, OR in association with Vertigo Productions in April 2017. His art and philosophy can be found at www.worksonbecoming.com . Additional writing and essays on technology and culture can be found at www.socialmode.com  (a bit of an older blog)

Russell has run all aspects of a media and awareness strategy and execution – both as a first party operator and as a third party consultant. Additionally he has helped create several large scale search engines, social media platforms and analytics platforms currently in use by hundreds of millions of people.

Twitter: @un1crom


Episode 13: Staying Ahead of the Curve in an Era of Change



An overview of Laserfiche’s rise to become an international developer of the world’s premiere Enterprise Content Management software. From its humble beginnings with a unique sales structure, to its evolution into an industry leader that annually hosts Empower, the largest ECM conference in the United States, Laserfiche has continued to reinvent and improve the industry for the past three decades. CEO Christopher Wacker will explain where Laserfiche fits within the ECM landscape and how the company has positioned itself for future growth and expansion. He will also touch upon the company’s roadmap – its Digital Transformation Model – and how it will ultimately improve those Laserfiche end users that embark upon it.

Bio:

Chris Wacker is the CEO of Laserfiche, the leading global provider of content management software. With intuitive on-premises and Cloud solutions for document management and business process automation.  Laserfiche products improve productivity, efficiency and strategic decision-making for clients across industries.

Chris co-founded Compulink and Laserfiche in the 1980s with his late wife and partner Nien-Ling Wacker. They grew the organization from a small software consulting company to a more than $100 million software developer headquartered in Long Beach, CA, with offices across the United States, as well as in Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and China.

Earlier in his career, Chris worked in Saudi Arabia for Ralph M. Parsons, Construction Engineers, where he helped develop the municipal systems infrastructure for a new city with a population of 50,000 people. Before that, he spent several years with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Chris has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and speaks several foreign languages. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social science from Hofstra University in New York.


Episode 07: Tim Cadogan (CEO OpenX) talks about his experiences building Open X



In this session Tim Cadogan will talk about some of his experiences building OpenX. Topics will include strategic focus, navigating the life cycle of a company, making decisions in the face of uncertainty, leadership choices and implications, shaping culture & communicating through adversity. 

OpenX creates quality programmatic advertising markets that drive superior monetization for publishers and optimal value for brands. As monetization partners to more than 1,200 publishers worldwide, OpenX has the largest knowledge base of publishers needs and trends. Our robust global technology infrastructure that ensures full reliability for all ad formats across all digital environments.

Tim Cadogan is the Chief Executive Officer of OpenX and Chairman of the Board of Directors. From 2003-2008 Tim was at Yahoo!, most recently as Senior Vice President of Global Advertising Marketplaces overseeing the primary advertising product lines at the company, including Display, Search and Video. Previously at Yahoo!, Tim was Vice President of Search where he was responsible for both the consumer search and paid search businesses. Prior to Yahoo!, Tim was Vice President of Search at Overture (formerly GoTo.com). Prior to Overture, he was a consultant at The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company.

Tim earned his B.S. from The London School of Economics, his M.Phil from Oxford University and his MBA from Stanford University.