Category: Leadership

Top Tech Executive Steve Johnson on the Most Important Things in Life & Business

Top Tech Executive Steve Johnson on the Most Important Things in Life & Business

 

If anyone knows how to grow revenue exponentially, it’s long-time tech executive Steve Johnson. Steve is President and COO at Vidyard, the video intelligence platform for business. Before joining Vidyard last year, he was Chief Revenue Officer for Hootsuite. At Hootsuite Steve helped grow the company from a sub-$100 million valuation to over $1 billion and from 27 employees to more than 800.

 

 

Steve has a broad range of experience with strategic accounts, global partnerships, web analytics, SaaS to database and email marketing applications. He has served on executive teams for startups and established companies including Constant Contact, Blackbaud, Scopus, ACI 4th Dimension and others.

To master a spectrum of skills, the key to learning, Steve says, is to “always be curious.”

 

Failure, inevitably, is a part of learning. And Steve has advice on how to confront this challenge – if you must fail, fail fast.

 

For Steve, the most important aspect of life and work is making a real impact. He founded a SaaS application called iAbida for special needs children, to help improve team communication. And he continues to ask himself, “Are you really making an impact? Are you learning? Are you having fun?”


I had a great time talking with Steve Johnson about the insights he’s gained from his years as a top tech executive. For the rest of my conversation with Steve and for insights from other exceptional leaders, check out DaveCarvajal.com/videos.

Conquering Super Bowl Challenges: Insights with Alain Benzaken

Conquering Super Bowl Challenges: Insights with Alain Benzaken

Alain Benzaken has decades of experience developing innovative technology for some of the most successful Internet companies in the world. Most recently, Alain has served as CTO, Americas of Decisyon. He was also Vice President of Development at Priceline before leading the technology organization at Ladders with me in 2005. Alain also led the technology organization at Buddy Media during its $800M acquisition by Salesforce.

Alain and I have trained together for Ironman triathlons. In business and in sport, Alain understands that strong mentors help you achieve bigger results faster.

 

Alain was one of the first technology hires at Priceline and was an integral part of building the company’s core systems. During the dotcom boom, Priceline was one of 3 companies valued over a $1B. Alain talked to me about the importance of choosing tech opportunities wisely.

 

Throughout his career, Alain has had to overcome what he calls the “Super Bowl challenges.” It all comes down to hiring the right people to help you conquer.

 

Alain also talked with me about how strong leaders master influence. Understand which levers to pull, adapt to each situation, and remember to solve new problems without fighting old battles.

 

For more insights from my good friend Alain and from other outstanding executive leaders, visit DaveCarvajal.com/videos.

Insights from Extraordinary Business Leader Liza Landsman

Insights from Extraordinary Business Leader Liza Landsman

Liza Landsman is an extraordinary business leader who recently graced the cover of Adweek for her visionary leadership as Chief Customer Officer at Jet.com. Before joining Jet, Liza served as CMO at E*Trade, Managing Director at BlackRock, Partner at Bravas Group and Managing Director at Citi.

“Jet is a totally different spectrum than Citi or E-Trade, and she’s succeeding in all of those different roles because of the core skill sets she has,” said Hema Widhani in the Adweek cover story on Liza. Hema is CMO at Prudential and worked with Liza at both Citi and E-Trade. “Liza’s one of those super-versatile business leaders that finds a way to make every business environment successful.”

Liza’s success story is a stunning example of why in business and in life, for creating stronger communities and enterprise value, women are the greater sex. When it comes to women leading in tech, Liza has big dreams.

 

Liza’s first mentor was another strong female entrepreneur, her mother.

 

As former CMO of E*Trade, Liza is often asked what happened to everyone’s favorite little guy on TV – the E*Trade baby. Where is he now? Retired on an island in the Pacific, Liza says.

 

Liza’s experience is truly global in scope and she has deep insights on what it takes to lead international teams.

 

It was such a pleasure talking with Liza about leadership and what the future holds for women in tech. For more of my conversation with Liza and other outstanding leaders, check out DaveCarvajal.com/videos.

Global insights with top executive Chris Hummel

Global insights with top executive Chris Hummel

Chris Hummel is a one-of-a-kind executive leader with experience at the helm of global organizations in places as far-flung from his hometown of Boston as Kazakhstan and Singapore.

He is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of United Rentals and has also served as the chief marketing officer of Schneider Electric SE. Chris has more than two decades of executive leadership experience in senior sales and marketing positions at Unify, SAP and Oracle. Over 13 years in a number of senior roles at Oracle, Chris helped Oracle’s customer service organization earn certification from J.D. Power and Associates for its “outstanding customer service.”

Chris’ success is proof that anyone can define his or her own unique path. He started on a track to become a U.S. diplomat. And he soon found himself traveling and working with some of the greatest tech companies in the world. Here’s how he built Oracle’s office in Kazakhstan from the ground up:

 

Great leaders don’t all march out of prestigious business school doors. Chris learned early that being different from the rest could become one of his strongest assets.

 

Leadership, for Chris, is more than a title – it’s a mindset. Chris looks for these three defining characteristics that all great leaders share.

 

 

For the rest of my conversation with Chris Hummel, check out DaveCarvajal.com/videos. You’ll find more insights from some of my favorite leaders on the planet.

Insights with Y&R CEO David Sable: Why You Don’t Need the Corner Office

Insights with Y&R CEO David Sable: Why You Don’t Need the Corner Office

David Sable is a world traveler, a gamer, a die-hard Doors fan, and a self-proclaimed hippie at heart. I had a lot of fun talking with David – who is also the Global CEO of Y&R, one of the world’s leading global marketing communications companies. David was an early digital entrepreneur, and he is still tapped for marketing and digital expertise around the world.

David is a distinguished leader in several realms – business, marketing, digital, and philanthropy (he serves as Chair of UNICEF’s New York Board and was named one of the 10 Most Generous Marketing Geniuses by Fast Company in 2013). Here’s what he says it takes to become a leader of leaders.

 

Leadership isn’t inherited – it’s learned from great mentors. David discovered that learnings could come from unexpected mentors, and he found how much there is to gain from keeping yourself open to every side of an argument. The most important lesson he learned – you don’t need the corner office to get big things done. Here’s why:

 

Leadership is also forged from adversity. David talks about the most important trait a leader must possess in order to learn from a difficult situation.

 

For more of my conversation with David Sable, check out DaveCarvajal.com/videos. You’ll also find other insights from some of my favorite leaders on the planet. And, David has an active presence in the blogosphere – you can read his blog at www.weeklyramble.com.

Insights with World-Class Executive Jim Madej

Insights with World-Class Executive Jim Madej

Jim Madej has nearly three decades of experience leading and learning from some of the greatest Fortune 50 companies in the United States. Jim served as Chief Customer Officer for National Grid, Director of National Sales & Service at Hess, and Chief Commercial Officer for General Electric before forming his own strategic growth consulting firm, Madej Core. I had the opportunity to talk with Jim about the insights he’s gained on business and leadership over the years.

It was a privilege talking with Jim about the three keys to GE’s long-term success. In our conversation, Jim opened up about the company’s three most important business practices.

One of the greatest marks of a leader is humility, and Jim understands the importance of measuring victory by the success of the entire team.

 

Every good company keeps track of KPIs, but here’s Jim’s argument for why you might be focusing too much on output metrics – along with other advice for achieving high performance in your career.

One of the biggest insights along the journey of professional development is distinguishing between management and leadership skills. Jim talked with me about what makes someone a true leader.

You can see more of my conversation with Jim Madej on the Insights page of DaveCarvajal.com. You’ll also find more interviews with some of my favorite leaders on the planet.

 

Insights with VC Legend Itzhak Fisher

Insights with VC Legend Itzhak Fisher

I had the pleasure of sitting down with serial entrepreneur and investor, Itzhak Fisher, for an interview. Itzhak is Founder and General Partner of Pereg Ventures, a Nielsen backed private equity fund. He also served as Executive Vice President, Global Business Development for Nielsen.

Itzhak has a long track record creating new companies and developing them into operationally excellent businesses. As Co-founder and Chairman of Trendum, he took the technologies of this small internet data mining company joined them with VNU, Intelliseek and BuzzMetrics, and sold the new entity to the Nielsen company. In the nineties, Itzhak founded and headed RSL Communications (NASDAQ: RSLC) a Telco company operating in over 20 countries across four continents with over $1.5 billion in revenues.

In our talk, Itzhak opened up about the most important lessons he’s learned on leadership, business and investing.

Every great executive seeks out mentorship. Itzhak Fisher’s mentor just happens to be one of the most influential leaders in the world.

Itzhak also talked candidly about an early business failure. After that experience, he made one rule for himself that he follows to this day. Here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth (he invested in a horse farm).

 

Itzhak is a world-class leader, and he’s wise enough to know that when it comes to hiring and investing — the last thing he wants to be is the smartest person in the room.

A bonus from my conversation with Itzhak was learning about his history and his vision for the future. It was humbling to learn about his heritage as the son of Holocaust survivors and hear about the incredible work he’s doing to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.

 

See my full conversation with Itzhak Fisher on the Insights page of DaveCarvajal.com. You’ll also find more interviews with some of my favorite leaders on the planet.

CEO Spotlight: What To Do When Performance Numbers Suck

CEO Spotlight: What To Do When Performance Numbers Suck

CEOs are responsible for driving the highest possible performance results. Of course, this task is much easier said than done. Teams miss their KPIs and MBOs for any number of reasons. Sometimes, despite the strength of your leadership, you know your own expertise in making it better is limited.

So how do you get performance back on track fast? Skillful leaders are able to achieve results through their team the same way a good coach builds team performance by leveraging individual talents and filling the gaps. Sometimes CEOs and coaches feel torn about what to do when it comes to making tough calls on talent. Here are your options:

  1. Train: You can send someone to get the training they need to improve individual and team performance. It’s a good idea to develop the skills in your team, but this option takes a significant investment in time. In the months that it takes for this person to learn new skills, he or she might have the theoretical or academic understanding of how to solve a problem – but the person will still lack the the years it takes to develop mastery. If your business is in high growth mode, any individual’s capacity to learn – no matter how strong a team member he or she might be – will likely be outpaced by the needs of your company.
  2. Outsource: You could outsource a problem area to a consulting firm. This might be a good plan for skills that are not strategic to your vision and goals. Keep in mind that this option is expensive and you are not guaranteed quality. If you need to increase performance in an area that is strategic to your mission and vision, then you need to build the capacity internally.
  3. Recruit: That leaves a CEO with the best option for developing capacity in a high-growth company. Recruit and hire a world champion to fill the gap your team is missing. And remember that hiring must be done with mastery. Dabbling in recruiting and making the wrong hire will only add to whatever problems you’re already facing.
  4. Nothing: The last option is to do nothing. CEOs do this all the time by choosing not to hire an expert. Sometimes it’s worse and they take on yet another set of responsibilities for themselves to prove their personal significance. This is the most painful option that often causes the kind of skull-crushing brain damage that creates suffering for everyone involved.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Make the right executive decision and remember that the best utilization of venture capital is to acquire the right human capital.

Are women the greater sex?

Are women the greater sex?

Victor Hugo said “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” We are living in historic times. And the time for women to be in more executive, business and leadership roles is here now.

Female founders are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs, yet they receive less than three percent of venture capital funding. According to research by Korn Ferry, women hold just a quarter of the top jobs across the most prominent C-Suite titles. And that number is even smaller when it comes to the chief executive position. Women hold only 5% of CEO posts; the role that shows the lowest gender diversity in the entire C-suite.

Fortunately, tech and HR are slightly ahead of the curve. 1 in 3 leaders working in tech are women. And the chief human resources officer position is the only C-suite role where there is gender equality – 55 percent of CHROs across industries are women.

There is concrete evidence that in life and especially in business, for creating stronger communities and enterprise value, women are the greater sex.

Companies that fail to recognize this, are actually paying the price. At Twitter, only 13 percent of employees in tech roles are women – a point of embarrassment for the company as it has struggled to secure strategic options.

Research shows that female leadership creates a significantly higher ROI. Companies with a female founder saw 63 percent higher ROI than investments with all-male founding teams. Businesses with strong women leadership generated a return on equity of 10.1 percent per year compared to 7.4 percent for those without, according to a 2015 study by MSCI of more than 4,000 companies around the world.

Of the c-suite and board member positions my team of recruiters is asked to fill, close to half our clients are asking for diversity and inclusiveness in the search process. The ‘Mad Men’ era of doing business is a vestige of the industrial economy – when the domestic space was a woman’s queendom and a man’s ego battled in business. Entrepreneurship today is about building communities, tribes and the enterprise value that comes from network effects. The growing evidence is that diversity of thought creates the most value.

5 Awesome Brain Hacks for Making the Best of Every Situation

5 Awesome Brain Hacks for Making the Best of Every Situation

When life hands you lemons, be a lemonade maker. People who get stuck are the ones waiting for the perfect situation. The most effective people in the world are those who make the best of every situation.

If you feel inside that you are not enough, it becomes easy to think the solution is external. You might believe that the thing you are missing can be found in the right pair of shoes, the right mate, or the right job. You seek perfection outside of yourself to compensate for the imperfection inside.

When you become weary from your search for perfection you begin to feel sorry for yourself. But those who feel sorry for themselves won’t find the luck they’re looking for.

Lemonade makers create their own luck.

Lemonade makers have a better understanding of the big picture in life, instead of limiting themselves to a nearsighted perspective of personal survival. They lift themselves up. They look for silver linings. They find a way to win.

My good friend and coach, Dan Sullivan, said in a recent talk, “You have to have full consciousness to have luck.”

How do you achieve “a more full consciousness”? It starts with humility. Humility allows you to appreciate what you have in life and the cards you’ve been dealt. It primes the mind to be optimistic and seek the best outcome in any situation.

If your guiding question in life is, ‘How can I make the best of this?’ your brain will find all sorts of possibilities and prize-winning paths to a better outcome. Our brains are wired such that they cannot leave an unanswered question alone.

How do you become a lemonade maker? Here are five of my favorite brain hacks for making the best of every situation:

  1. Get your body moving! Feeling sorry for yourself is a low-energy state. Motion creates emotion. Get your heart rate pumping and force a smile on your face! Your mood will elevate, for sure.
  2. The problem is not the problem. How you react to the problem is the problem. Breathe. Meditate. Learn to change your brain chemistry from fear-based emotional triggers to calm, centered thinking focused on positive outcomes.
  3. Ask a better question. What are you grateful for right now? How can your smile, humor, and energy be weapons of mass production in your arsenal? Use these questions to push past your fear of failure. The brain is a liar and uses fear to keep you safe from saber-tooth tigers. Danger and fear are not the same. The chances of you getting eaten by a saber-tooth tiger are lower than you think.
  4. Excellence is more important than perfection. Appreciate and commit to seeking excellence. Excellence is an achievable standard.
  5. Be a contributor. Highly effective people are able to make an impact in the lives of others by sharing their knowledge and wisdom.

Now, how can you help me share this with as many people possible? If you think this can be useful to others, please share it with your network and recommend.