CEO Experience with Emily White
Sep
27
12:00 PM12:00

CEO Experience with Emily White

Emily White has spent the last two decades helping build and operate some of technology’s most notable companies including Google, Facebook, Instagram and Snap. Currently, Emily is President of Anthos Capital, a Los Angles-based investment firm.  Emily is also a board member and advisor to companies including lululemon, a public athletic apparel retailer, Zayo, a public a communications infrastructure company, X-Prize, a non-profit devoted to creating industry-changing technology that brings us closer to a sustainable world, Virgin Hyperloop One, a privately-held company out to reinvent transportation and Graco, a 100-year-old public manufacturing company focused on fluid dynamics.  She is also an advisor and former board member of the National Center for Women in I.T., a non-profit coalition working to increase the participation of girls and women in computing and technology. Emily is a wife, mother, artist, horseback rider, very bad guitar player and breast cancer survivor.

Prior to joining Anthos, Emily was Chief Operating Officer at Snapchat, Inc., from 2014-2015. Prior to joining Snapchat in January 2014, Emily was at Facebook where she held several key roles, most notably running Business Operations at Instagram where she built and launched monetization. From 2001–2010 Emily worked at Google (employee 200), where she ran North America Online Sales and Operations, Asia Pacific & Latin America Online Sales & Operations and the Emerging Businesses channel.

Emily received her B.A. in Art History from Vanderbilt University and resides in Los Angeles with her husband, three kids (and many animals.)

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CEO Experience with Patrick Spence
May
10
12:00 PM12:00

CEO Experience with Patrick Spence

HERE ARE THE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE DISCUSSION WITH PATRICK SPENCE: (not necessarily statements that he made directly):

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·         Rich culture and highly effective culture ops drives best-in-class product and customer loyalty.  Patrick finds this is the best corporate lever for Sonos and an area he spends the most time on.  He believes you have to focus on employee experience to get customer experience right. 

 

·         Over communicate your values.  This was a tidbit Satya Nadella offered Patrick a few years ago. As a leader, your job is to communicate, communicate, over communicate (reinforce, whatever you want to call it) the values that you see as essential for the organization to succeed.

 

·         Pivoting is about opportunity not risk.  When Patrick advocated for Blackberry’s push into messaging software (market WhatsApp ultimately claimed) or Sonos’s prioritization of partnerships, it wasn’t about taking risks -- it was about what path will generate the most profits for the company.  Yes, bold pivots have execution risk given lack of maturity in the market; but, the mindset for pivot is opportunism and pragmatism not risk taking.

 

·         Value of international experience.  Early in his career, Patrick drove Blackberry’s international expansion, starting in China and leading them into 167 countries ultimately.  Conventional wisdom speaks to the cultural empathy dividends of global experience. That’s true of course, but, an undervalued aspect to global experience is learning how to accomplish objectives in an uncertain, foreign environment. 

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CEO Experience with David Kilimnik
Mar
15
12:00 PM12:00

CEO Experience with David Kilimnik

David Kilimnik is the founder and CEO of Hero Digital, one of the fastest-growing business services companies in the lower middle market.  Dave and his team have built one of the world's leading digital customer experience companies.  Any major company wanting to better empathize with their customers at scale across digital  comes to Hero for leading-edge CX/UX design strategy and downstream technology solutions. They deliver like no other in the sector, and fueling their execution capabilities are very high employee engagement levels.  

 

Dave grew up in Massachusetts and started running services businesses early on  He and his friend figured out one way of improving customer experience with snow removal was to use dental tools to get the ice out of the driveway cracks.  He got started in the tech economy as a an e-commerce software platform trainer/teacher and from there what has driven him is simply a desire to jump the steepest learning curves out there. 

 

Dave co-founded Hero Digital in 2014 and without any outside capital or sales team grew the company to $25 million in two years.  And they did it with high margins and limiting scale by how rigorous they approach new hire screening. They partnered with CI Capital in 2016 and since then have doubled from $25M to $50M and are now tacking towards a $150M revenue run rate.  What’s amazing is how well Hero continues to perform in the area of employee experience/engagement during such rapid growth of a services business. 

 

Dave did his undergrad at UC Berkeley where he studied biology. He later got his MBA at Babson, where he graduated magna cum laude. 

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CEO Experience with Kevin O'Connor
Jun
15
12:00 PM12:00

CEO Experience with Kevin O'Connor

Kevin O’Connor has over 30 years of experience in high tech, both as an entrepreneur and investor. Kevin was the founder, CEO, and chairman of internet advertisement-technology giant, DoubleClick, which was acquired by Google in 2007 for $3.1 billion.

Kevin is currently the CEO of Graphiq (acquired by Amazon in 2017), a technology company whose mission is to drastically simplify the process of accessing the world's knowledge. Graphiq turns complicated data into vivid and contextually-rich visualizations and knowledge products. 

Kevin also runs O’Connor Ventures, from which he has invested in companies such as Internet Security Systems, Procore, 1-800-Flowers.com, HotJobs, and MeetUp.

Kevin grew up in Michigan.  He attended the University of Michigan, where he obtained a Bachelors of Science degree in electrical engineering. 

 

Here are the takeaways from the discussion with Kevin O’Connor:

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1.      First order of business at every company is establishing the “why not us” mentality with the team.  In all of his companies as well as tenure as wrestling coach, Kevin has consciously sought to achieve this objective so that his employees knew they would be at the vanguard and they were the only ones standing in their way.  Why shouldn’t we be the best?

2.      Five Gotta Do’s.  Kevin believes an important part of his job description as CEO is constantly defining the five most important objectives of the company; and ensuring the team operates and prioritizes in alignment with the five gotta do’s.  

3.      Hire “smart, happy athletes.”  In assessing “smart,” Kevin doesn’t assign a lot of value to where someone went to college.  He’s happy to hire someone from Washington University in St. Louis over Stanford.  Regarding “athlete,” O’Connor looks for people with high winning expectations from themselves.  And lastly, life is too short to hire unhappy people. 

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Apr
26
12:00 PM12:00

CEO Experience with Peter Nolan

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Peter Nolan is one of the most well-respected investors in the private equity industry.  He started his career off in investment banking, building DLJ’s LA presence in the early 90’s to a 100-person office. Leonard Green was an important client and in 1998 he joined them as managing partner along with Jon Sokoloff and John Danhakl.  Under their leadership, the firm completed over 80 principal investments and grew assets under management from $500 million in 1997 to over $24 billion today.  Peter transitioned to his current role as Senior Advisor in 2014.  Today, Peter also makes private equity investments out of his family office entity Nolan Capital.  

Peter presently serves on the Board of Directors of Diamond Wipes International, Inc., Fresh Brothers, La Fresh Group, Inc., AerSale Holdings, Inc., and Activision, Inc. Peter has served on the Board of Directors of Aspen Dental Management, Inc., FTD Group, Inc., Liberty Group Publishing, Inc., Motorsport Aftermarket Group, The Palms Hotel and Casino, Scitor Corporation, VCA Antech, Inc., Wavetek Corporation, White Cap Industries, LLC, Werner Ladder Corporation and the Supervisory Board of Adidas AG. Peter is a Trustee Emeritus and was vice chairman of the Executive Committee for Cornell University, and he is currently a member of the Investment Committee for the University's endowment. Peter serves as a trustee of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Foundation. He is also a member of the Loyola High School Endowment Investment Committee and is a former Eagle Scout. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and Finance from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.

Peter has a lot of rich experiences and perspectives to share, and we’re fortunate to have him up from LA for a candid discussion followed by lunch.  Among other topics, we'll cover the exciting and challenging parts of his PE career, what has served him well as an investor and how entrepreneurs should approach private equity partnerships.  

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Nov
17
7:30 AM07:30

CEO Experience with Mitchell Green

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Mitchell Green is the founder of Lead Edge Capital, one of the most innovative VCs in the world.  They have built one of the most value-added limited partner bases of any VC firm, comprised of former Fortune 500 executives and other sought after leaders that are involved in helping portfolio entrepreneurs.   Mitchell focuses on two things:  finding unusually high-growth startups and helping them get customers through dogged networking.

Lead Edge is currently investing out of our third fund $290M fund.  Portfolio includes Alibaba, Uber, Duo Security, Toast POS and Spotify.  Among other highlights, Alibaba investments returned approximately $1 billion to his limited partners.

Mitchell graduated from Williams College, then went to work at UBS as an analyst in the M&A group. From investment banking, Mitchell went to work at Bessemer Venture Partners, where he met his now-partner Brian Neider.  From Bessemer, Mitchell was a partner at a hedge fund under Tiger Management.  And in 2009, he started Lead Edge Capital.  Mitchell and his young family now call Santa Barbara home.  

Here are the takeaways from the discussion with Mitchell Green:

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1.  CEOs respect and will always respond to persistence.  Lead Edge's deal origination depends on connecting with CEOs of the world’s most successful emerging growth companies.  Mitchell and his team point to one key success factor: dogged persistence.  “They will eventually get back to you.”

2.  Capital efficiency as a key metric. Mitchell has always been drawn to this metric as the ultimate company success indicator.  It was what drew them to invest in Duo Security, who had raised $4.5M cumulatively at the time Lead Edge invested.  Since then, they have grown their revenue run rate over 10X.

3.  China, an underestimated e-commerce innovator.  Want to know e-commerce trends? Look at China.

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CEO Experience with Daniel Muth
Sep
8
7:30 AM07:30

CEO Experience with Daniel Muth

Daniel’s diverse, collective work experiences have helped him build a career as one of the most effective PE-backed CEOs and operators around. 

Daniel grew up in Wisconsin, and after watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at a young age, decided he wanted to get into business.  After high school, Daniel made his way to Stanford, where he majored in quantitative economics and graduated with distinction.  After some work experience, he earned his MBA from Harvard Business School, and from there joined Bain for a ten-year stint.  While at Bain, Dan gained valuable foundation experience, working around the globe in a number of industries and functions/domains. 

At the time of becoming partner at Bain, Dan deliberately pivoted to the operator side.  He joined Roll International (Teleflora, Pom Wonderful), where he ran their operations improvement and acquisitions group and later became the CFO for the $300M Teleflora holding.

In 2002 after three years at Teleflora, Dan partnered up with PE firm Swander Pace Capital to acquire and run Fleischmann’s Vinegar, which at the time had 50% market share in the U.S. for vinegar.  After five years, he and his partners sold the company for a 3X return.  With 75% of their COGS being corn supply, navigating the ethanol craze required agility, innovative strategy and focused execution.  Through effective management relations and data analytics, Dan and his team were also able to significantly increase alcohol yield, one of the most important operating metrics in that business.

Around that time, Dan partnered again with Swander Pace to serve as CEO of International Fiber Corporation, a $100M revenue producer of powdered cellulose and insoluble fiber products for the food and industrial applications markets.  One of the key ways they added value to this holding was launching sales teams into new markets.    

Today, Dan serves as chairman of Encore Consumer Capital-backed Van Law Foods (private label and contract manufacturer of salad dressings and sauces) and as an operator partner and board member of Altamont Capital-owned Excel Fitness Holdings (fitness club operator).

As an experienced operator often working with private equity sponsors, Dan has deep experience handling the multi-faceted strategic and operational challenges that come to companies in crisis from fast-changing industry dynamics.  He has extensive experience in senior and mezzanine debt financing and in transactions to buy and sell privately owned companies.

Here are the takeaways from the discussion with Dan Muth:

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1.  It’s Who You Work With.  It’s important not to underestimate the efficiency and quality of life factor of working with people you trust and that get you.  Throughout Dan’s career, he has had the benefit of working with people that “get him” and vice versa.  And he has deliberately chosen to work with people where that factor exists. Business is so much more efficient and enjoyable when you match up with partners who you have natural chemistry and trust with.  If you have the opportunity to work with partners with this level of effortlessness on the interpersonal front, take it, even if it’s not the richest option.

2. Recognizing Situations Requiring Bold Action.  When you’re in a situation that requires bold leadership, make bold moves.  It takes intuition to recognize the scenario and guts to act.  When Dan was the CEO of Fleischmans, 70% of his COGS was sugar and then the ethanol craze occurred driving up the cost of sugar.  The conventional wisdom was that you can’t go around ADM for supply.  Dan recognized it as an existential moment for his company that required bold action.  Dan went out and negotiated direct with a supplier in Brazil.  They imported a tanker of ethanol and stored the supply in a terminal in Houston.  This saved his company.

3. Being Forthright and Communicating Fast with Investors.  Swander Pace and Altamont Capital chose to partner with Dan on multiple transactions.  Dan executed enterprise value growth, but it was his ability to communicate fast in a forthright manner with institutional investors that led to such a high trust factor.  During one crisis (plant fire), Dan immediately scheduled an all-hands-on-deck board meeting o

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CEO Experience with Annie Duke
Jun
2
7:30 AM07:30

CEO Experience with Annie Duke

Annie has leveraged her expertise in the science of smart decision making to excel at pursuits as varied as championship poker to public speaking. For two decades, Annie was one of the top poker players in the world. In 2004, she bested a field of 234 players to win her first World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet. The same year, she triumphed in the $2 million winner-take-all, invitation-only WSOP Tournament of Champions. In 2010, she won the prestigious NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Prior to becoming a professional poker player, Annie was awarded the National Science Foundation Fellowship. Because of this fellowship, she studied Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. While Annie’s career began in 1987, it has further developed into 2017.

Here are the takeaways from the discussion with Annie Duke:

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  • Creating a culture where employees truly feel comfortable taking risks requires a systemic normalization of dissent. Leading companies say they want employees to take risks and are prepared to positively reinforce failure after smart risks were taken.  The issue is that this approach by itself will limit the potential of the occurrences of risk/failure for the greater growth projection of the business. If a company does more week-to-week, back-end work (whether leadership chats, role playing) demonstrating that dissent is a mainstream part of the company, then that will lead to more risks being taken overall.
  • Create opportunities to get feedback on a real-life decision but make sure the feedback is objective. The tendency is to want to describe a challenging situation, share the outcome and then ask for feedback about whether the decision was the right one or not. Annie calls this “infection bias”. If we truly want to learn about different approaches to decision making, describe the challenge, provide the data and thought process leading up to making the decision and ask for feedback before you share the outcome.
  • When interviewing candidates for a job, it’s useful to ask questions that are extremely tough and vague by design. This creates an uncertain environment and will help identify those that show grace under pressure versus those that feel cornered and react in a way that shows discomfort with uncertainty.
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CEO Experience with Rick Stollmeyer
Mar
9
7:30 AM07:30

CEO Experience with Rick Stollmeyer

Rick and has been a software entrepreneur and CEO most of his professional life.  He co-founded Mindbody (Nasdaq: “MB”) in 2000 and has grown the company from a garage concept to a publicly-traded company.  MindBody, which is a leading SAAS company serving the wellness and spa sector, started off as a desktop software company in the early 2000’s and bravely migrated to a SAAS delivery in 2006 as a very early adopter of this deployment model.  Salesforce.com, which was and remains at the vanguard of SAAS through secure cloud hosting, was not widely accepted during that period by industry as a secure and efficient platform for service delivery.  It was a bold move, which paid off richly to MindBody’s employees and investors.   

Rick grew up in southern California and then moved back east to attend the Naval Academy for college.  He graduated in 1987 and for the following six years worked as a submarine officer for the US Navy.  From 1994 to 2000, Rick embarked on his career and in his words things did not take off until, to put it simply, he changed his mindset.  A client of his recommended he read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book, and in Rick’s words, it changed the way he looked at the world and indirectly paved the way for his future success as an entrepreneur and business leader.

We appreciate Rick trekking down to Santa Barbara from San Luis Obispo for this talk. It should be a great event! 

Here are the takeaways from the discussion with Rick Stollmeyer:

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Interesting turning point ten years into his career.  Rick was 34 when he saw the Stephen Covey DVD at Starbucks and decided to pop it in during his drive through Topanga Canyon in west LA.  The wisdom of the “power of response” mindset hit him like a ton of bricks and his whole world changed from that point forward. Rick also related this concept to the Travis Kalanick video crisis with an observations this might have been a scenario where he didn’t need to get caught up in the noise – where the big picture was a passionate stakeholder with a big heart for the Uber business and wanting it to thrive.

Staying close to customers is the oxygen of his company.   Rick shared that, plain and simple, it is what keeps his company alive.   He feels centered only when he is close with his customers.  Fact: his company thrives or suffers proportionately to how close they stay to their customers. 

In international markets, don’t forget that marketing to early adopters is different than marketing to mainstream business users.  Rick made the point that early adopters in global markets are always the innovators and relate more to existing features requiring less localization.  It is folly to conclude that because these influential innovators embrace existing product that major localization efforts are not required for further market penetration.

Not a single regret when his team decided to stay narrow versus go wider.  At one time, they won a bid from one of the largest prospects in the industry after a 9 month competitive process.  The company demanded a statement of work that would require constant customization of the software platform.  Rick turned down a deal that would have increased their revenues by more than 30%.  The deal ultimately brought major havoc on a competitor that took on the business. 

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Dec
9
7:15 AM07:15

CEO Experience with Kevin McGibben

Kevin McGibben is the CEO of LogicMonitor, a global SaaS business based in Santa Barbara that provides IT infrastructure monitoring solutions to the world’s leading brands.   Kevin has led LogicMonitor from a start-up to a globally-recognized solutions provider.  Kevin is a hands-on CEO who has experienced all aspects of the challenges facing organization leaders today.  Earlier this year, he and his team executed a $130M investment partnership with Providence, a leading private equity firm.

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