Kean Graham: MonetizeMore Founder & CEO

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How did you get into the industry? I originally fell in love with the online industry when working for a large online classified network. The job was an immense learning experience but once the recession hit, the company decided to lay off the marketing department. I lost the best job I ever had but I was determined to turn the bad into something great.

Five days later, I’m on a plane to South America to go on a life changing trip. Four months into my backpacking trip I was on a four-day trek through the incredible Inca trail towards Machu Picchu. By the end of it, I was sitting on top of Huayna Picchu reflecting on my experiences throughout my trip. I have had the most fulfilling time of my life and it finally clicked: I will work and travel when I want, where I want. I have to start a digital business to enable this autonomous lifestyle. Seven months later I started the digital business called MonetizeMore and I signed my old employer as my first client. They were still in tough financial times when I signed them. I convinced them by charging a percentage of the increased ad revenues so I would charge nothing if I didn’t increase their ad revenues. It took a little under a month to close them and that was our first success story. We made them additional millions and pioneered the business model which we use for websites around the world.

Career Advice? I have learned an incredible amount during my 7.5 years of running MonetizeMore. If I were to sum up the most useful advice I could give anyone who would like to advance their career, I would give them the below advice: 1.    Ask Why: People who are not satisfied with ‘how’ or ‘what’ tend to be rising stars in their companies. They have a yearning to know ‘why’ and need to have a deeper understanding which tend to frustrate the underachievers. 2.    Deny the Status Quo: People that question and get frustrated by the status quo tend to take this as fire to make a difference via their own initiative. They tend to hate the answer, “Because that’s the way it is.” 3.    Do More: Most people are content with doing the minimum. The future leaders want to make a difference. They tend to be involved in extra-curricular activities, take interest in side projects and some even start a business at an early age.

Ben Dankiw: NAV43 Founder

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How did you get into the industry? The digital world was growing extremely fast and was fascinating to me. I turned out to be great at it. I attended a Lead Generation seminar and thought it was awesome how you could tie together marketing and analytics.

Career Advice? Be open-minded when it comes to your career. There are entire industries out there that exist that you won’t hear about through school. Don’t wait for anything, make it happen! If you don’t, nobody else will.  “When an opportunity comes up, if you’re prepared, you can grab it and own it.” Jamie Foxx – Put yourself in those situations to succeed.

Christian Hassing: Mandarin Oriental, Singapore General Manager

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How did you get into the industry? Prior to my final year in high school, a friend of mine who worked as a bellboy during the summer holidays, managed to convince me to join him at the hotel. The experience of working in the glamorous industry of a luxury hotel and interacting with senior business leaders and international leisure guests became a very enjoyable and enticing experience. Since the attraction of my summer job experience lingered with me, I ended up choosing the hotel industry after completing high school, rather than pursuing an earlier aspiration of becoming an electrical engineer. Looking back on a very rewarding career which has taken me around the world, the extensive experience and acquired knowledge of working amongst multiracial cultures throughout three continents has certainly been very stimulating.

Career Advice? Be true to your passion, maintain your discipline and the highest commitment to achieve your goals.

Masoud Motamedi: LocationSmart President & Founder

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How did you get into the industry?

When I was in middle school, I took a technology-focused class that taught wiring and it sparked my interest in learning about electronics. I became hooked pretty quickly. Whether it was building a simple circuit to turn a light on and off, or finding a way to fine tune the reception of our TV with rabbit ear antennas, I wanted to learn it all. This interest led me down a path toward becoming an electrical engineer. My involvement in the wireless location industry started more than 30 years ago when I was working for a company called GeoStar. It was a position determination company before GPS was developed and it used two satellites to locate a handheld device or transmitter. GeoStar’s founder was inspired to create this technology after losing a few friends in a private plane crash that occurred while attempting to land on a runway during a foggy night. The founder’s goal was to be able to safely land a plane using precise navigation information based on the technology his company created.

Career Advice? Do what you love but do not get completely consumed by it. Try to remain flexible as change is inevitable. Also, do your best to stay connected to those you meet as you never know where people will end up.

Jennipher Walters: Fit Bottomed World CEO & Founder, Author, "The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet" & Editor-in-Chief at Fit Bottomed Girls, Fit Bottomed Mamas and Fit Bottomed Zen

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How did you get into the industry? I started teaching group exercise in 2000 after falling IN LOVE with taking classes at the University of Missouri Rec Center. It was so fun and high energy that I just had to be an instructor. After teaching for a few months, I decided to get even more education and became certified as a personal trainer. That’s really when my love for fitness started – but it wasn’t until 2007, before I got married that a lot of my own personal body image issues really came up and I learned more about body positivity, intuitive eating and mindful living. In 2008, I looked around at the magazines on the shelf and the sites on the internet for women’s health and saw a huge need for a message that wasn’t just “lose 10 pounds and get a perfect life.” I started FitBottomedGirls.com in 2008 to get a more powerful and meaningful message to women that they are more than the number on the scale and that the first step of being healthy is loving yourself.

Career Advice? Be yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for your worth. Also? Fake it ‘til you make it – or at least fake it until you can learn it and make it. You’ve got this.C

Mary Calderon: Kuoda Travel Founder & President

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How did you get into the Industry? When I was eight years old, I used to accompany my mom to her souvenir shop in the main plaza. It was fun for me: I could meet people, learn about different cultures, make new friends. When time came to choose a career to study, I naturally looked to tourism at the national university in Cusco. One of my first jobs after university was as a trainee at what´s now Belmond Hotels. I learned a lot about customer service, and I was lucky enough that my bosses were from hotels around the world. They were direct, with high expectations. Working for them, I rediscovered how much I liked daily interaction with clients, like in the souvenir shop. After five years, I joined a luxury travel company, where we specialized in luxury travel experiences around the world. In 2003, I decided I wanted to do something smaller and more specialized on my own, and I started Kuoda. Since then, we have developed a passion for providing the ultimate travel experience for each and every guest we have the opportunity to serve.

Career Advice? Love what you do! Otherwise, learn how to love what you do. I feel so blessed that, from the very beginning, working in this industry was a pleasure for me. There is so much to learn every day! Also, build a strong network of highly qualified individuals, and try to be surrounded by the best in your industry—you will always learn something, and you will always teach something.

Ryan Novak: Chocolate Pizza Company Founder

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How did you get into the industry? Chocolate has been in my blood from a very young age. As a toddler, the Chocolate Pizza Company store was across the street from my house and my mom would take me over in a stroller. They tell me I was very good at reaching up and finding the sample tray while the women talked. At the age of 15, I got my first job at the company washing dishes and mopping floors. I loved working there and learned everything I could about the business. My enthusiasm was rewarded by the founder who mentored me in how to work with chocolate. It was just a small-town chocolate shop when she retired in 2010 but I knew it could be much more so I offered to buy it and she agreed. I was 21 years-old.

Career Advice? Aspiration demands perspiration – you should work for what you want. Young entrepreneurs should not be afraid that their dreams are too big but rather that they are too small. Big dreams come with big challenges that keep you up at night. Don’t fear the work, fear being stagnant. If you are not living, breathing and sweating the pursuit of your dream, then you are not reaching far enough. If your goals are coming too easily, then your expectations are failing you. Thomas Paine once said, “What we attain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

Michael Philippe: Keli Network & Jellysmack Founder

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Biggest Success? Our biggest success thus far has been reaching 2 billion monthly videos views in just over a year. On the way to reaching the milestone, The Keli Network’s monthly network views doubled each month since the start of 2017. It was simply amazing to see our hard work speak for itself through the metrics and for The Keli Network to gain traction and recognition in the industry.

Most Challenging Moment? Leaving my home in France to move to the United States was difficult, as any move to a new country is. However, as they say, every challenge is an opportunity and the move was instrumental in starting and growing The Keli Network.

Motto? Move fast and be patient.

Kasey Kaplan: Urban FT Founder & President

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How did you get into the industry? As many entrepreneurs’ stories go, I found the fintech industry by accident. I found a problem I wanted to solve when I was making a purchase at a store. At the time geolocation based check-in apps like Foursquare were popular. I regularly used them, but didn’t like the friction associated with pulling out my phone, searching for a venue, and then checking in I wanted to create a platform that would automate the check-in process at a venue when I swiped my card and made a purchase. Growing up, I was one of those kids who asked a lot of questions. I liked to understand how things work, and as I got older I began to learn about emerging technology solutions, trends and their application to respective industries.  I’ve generally found that once you understand the interworking’s of something, you can see opportunities that others don’t. And, the more I learned, the more I realized I could apply these new technology solutions to traditional products currently in the market. As it turned out, my check-in idea was pretty complicated because of how the payments flow works, but as I looked into it, I became fascinated by the banking and payments industry because of the potential for much-needed innovation. Soon after this revelation, by chance I met my co-founders and we started Urban FT, which set out to be a world-class provider of digital banking solutions. After 5+ years we’re making good progress.

Career Advice? The first thing I tell anyone entering any industry is to never stop learning. Understanding how your industry works is so important. It allows you to put things together that others can’t, and understand why processes are the way they are. This can only be accomplished through effort. Read articles, blogs and books. Talk to people. Listen to podcasts. Watch presentations. It’s easy to coast and be mediocre, but to truly excel you need to have an in-depth understanding. Everyone is selling and trying to position himself, his solution or company in a way that makes it sound amazing. By actually understanding how things function, you can ask smart questions that reveal the truth. The second is perseverance. Everyone will tell you why your solution isn’t a good fit, why it won’t work or how it isn’t what he needs. Chances are those people have already developed opinions long before they met you and are operating solely on their personal experiences and assumptions. So what can you do? Poke and prod until you find a way to prove their unspoken assumptions wrong and position you and your solution in a way that gets the results you want. Achieving success isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and the way you get there is by putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t give up and keep moving forward. Finally, have fun. Be positive and optimistic. Enjoy the journey no matter how rough it can be. If you put yourself out there, it will be more rewarding than you expected, and in ways you never thought. Choose to be great.

Elaine Queathem: Savvy Coders Founder & CEO

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How did you get into the industry? I saw a need to educate people to become software developers in a manner different than the status quo.  At the time I was in sales and we couldn’t get code written fast enough to meet release dates that offered new functionality.

Career Advice? Learn to code and continuously learn more and share your knowledge.

Austin Netzley: 2X Founder/CEO & Best Selling Author

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How did you get into the industry? I had a few businesses before I got into consulting others on their business. In my first businesses, I was trying to figure it all out on my own and definitely stumbled most of the time. It was stressful… and often NOT profitable. Even though I was putting in the hours and work, I wasn’t getting very far. After having burnout and anxiety attacks, causing me to have to call 911 (thinking I was going to die), I learned that there just HAD to be a better, simpler way to becoming ’successful’ in business. So, I went on a mission to figure that out, and applied those principles to then create much stronger, simpler, better businesses. Then, once I started to get more traction myself, I saw the opportunity to start helping others do the same, as the right way I found to build a business wasn’t talked about nearly enough.

Career Advice? Some career advice I’ve learned is that it start and ends with your Vision. Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? What does your ideal day-to-day look like? Being able to see and feel this will have you seeing things from a long-term perspective. So many get caught up in the day to day that we forget where we’re headed and what we really want. It’s not going to be all easy, and sometimes you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get stuff done you don’t want to do. BUT… Spending some time to get clear on your Vision will be a great guide to staying focused on creating the life and business you dream of within a short period of time. We’ve seen it over and over again, and I hope these answers help more entrepreneurs realize those goals!

Daniel Pompa: TRUE CELLULAR DETOX™ Founder

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How did you get into the industry? From “pain to purpose” is the theme. I had fractured my neck when I was young which led me to become interested in chiropractic, and later my mercury poisoning experience drove me to the discovery of True Cellular Detox™.

Career Advice? 1. Find out your Why. Hint, start by looking at your pain (“from pain to purpose”) 2.  Don’t make it about you. Your dream must be bigger than just increasing your own quality of life.

Micky Sivapruksa: Flexi Lexi Founder

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How did you get into the industry?

Flexi Lexi Fitness started when I was pregnant with my first son Troy in 2014. I was practicing prenatal yoga and found that the sports bras were really too tight definitely for pregnant ladies whose breasts usually increase a few cups. I was at the point where I was wearing a bikini instead of a sports bra. That’s when I was thinking that maybe we could invent a “bralette” – like a sports bra but gives not too much support (medium) and 100% comfort and also style. That was when Flexi Lexi started with the first yoga Lexi bralettes. Then the other lines came soon after.

Career Advice? Never ever say “it’s not my job”. I think it’s always beneficial to learn new skills and learn new things. It makes you resourceful and helps you acquire versatile skills.

Athena Perrakis: Sage Goddess Founder & CEO

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How did you get into the industry? Ironically, I never thought I was getting into the industry. My life has been this long process of following my heart’s desires and my soul’s deepest calling, which was to work with crystals and essential oils as a means of healing and supporting our planet. I have studied metaphysics since I was 14. So the past 30 years have been a fertile learning and breeding ground for my own evolution and exploration. I did what I loved, and it landed me here.

Career Advice? Most importantly, you have to authentically love what you do. I work so hard – 7 days a week, sometimes into the wee hours – and I have 2 kids, a husband, friends, aging parents, and health challenges I have had to overcome. If I didn’t love Sage Goddess, passionately and insanely, there’s no way I could maintain my work schedule or survive the pressures on me. Do something new, and love it hard.

Pelle Nilsson: BRF Founder & CEO

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How do you motivate others? I like to let people get the space to build confidence. Listen a lot and try to make them make the right decision through conversation and not finger pointing. For creativity, you need to let people know it’s okay to fail and that we all do that. We have to fail to learn and advance, and to come up with the next big idea. Being an international business, you also have to understand different cultures and adapt to them. Motivating people in the U.S compared to Germany is very different.

Career advice to those in your industry? You have to show that you really want something and you have to go for it. When you see the opportunity, take it and never look back. If you want to work with something that you’re really passionate about, it doesn’t feel like a job and that’s when you know you’re on the right path.

As a director and producer you have to always be curious. It’s hard and almost impossible to follow all trends, but if you’re passionate and curious, it will come naturally. Continuously try to find new ways of storytelling, learn about new technologies, distributions and platforms. This diversity will not only elevate your portfolio, but also create opportunities for you to thrive. 

Eric Yaverbaum: Ericho Communications Founder & CEO, best selling author & national television pundit

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Career Advice? Put on a thick skin. Nobody is going to hold your hand, and nobody is going to be nice to you. Earn it. Every single solitary day.. Keep going. That actually works. And stop taking everything so personally. I take an approach to teambuilding that’s basically this: if I’m not the dumbest one in the room, I’m in the wrong room. I hire people who can elevate me, instead of people I can feel better than. That’s how you learn, and I love how smart my staff is. Every single one of them is smarter than me, and that’s by design. That generates real value; if everyone agrees, nothing happens. But if smart people disagree, the challenge leads to better solutions. I call it intellectual fiction; I want to rub intellects together and see the magic happen. Lastly, don’t shy away from trouble. Run right to the eye of the storm; that’s where you need to be.

Phillip B. Goldfine: Hollywood Media Bridge Founder

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How did you get into the industry? I was always in love with the idea of entertainment from a very early age. I remember watching television and just loving it. What 5-year-old kid doesn’t? Throughout high school and college—even though I was involved in other academia—the entertainment business remained a draw (as it still does today). My story is much like many others. I interned for various companies and worked my way up the ladder.

Industry Challenges: I think the challenge is going to be finding quality projects for the new streaming services and the VR technology that’s emerging. Five years from now, there will be an entirely new landscape in the entertainment space.

Chris Roebuck: Organizational/ Personal Success Advisor & Hon Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership

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How did you get into the industry? I studied Economics at university so have always used an analytical bottom line based approach to business. Subsequently as an Army officer the challenges of leading soldiers meant I had to really understand how to get the best from people. The combination enabled me to approach issues from both a people and financial perspective. That seemed natural to me but I it became clear that I was in a small minority in the business world, and that most corporate leaders, even senior ones, had less real leadership capability than one of my 20 year old corporals in the Army. I realized that this meant that many teams and organizations were significantly underperforming performing significantly and that this had a negative effect on the organizations performance, profitability and the quality of working life for employees. I decided I wanted to help leaders and organizations be more successful though better leadership and, through this, help as many employees as possible have better bosses and through that a better working life during which they could achieve their true potential.

Eric James: Field Ready Co-founder/Executive Director & Adjunct Lecturer at DePaul University’s Program on Refugee & Forced Migration Studies

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Inspiration for the Business? Two things. First, I’ve always had a passion for helping people, especially in the mostdifficult situations. Second, there is a lot of frustration with fundamental things not working as they should for people in the field. Take basic supply chains. When there is a disaster, people suffer because simple things aren’t available. Improvements andefficiencies to supply chains have been made in a number of areas, but what is needed was a bigger transformation and that’s what Field Ready is doing.

Career Advice? Everything flows from the fundaments and in that there are no shortcuts. Distinction can come from taking the right risks and working harder than others.

Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia Founder

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Inspiration for Wikipedia? I was watching the growth of the free software movement, or open source software as many people call it, and I saw programmers coming together to create all the really great software that runs the Internet using free licenses and collaborative techniques.  GNU/Linux, Apache, Perl, PHP, MySQL – all of these technologies and more were created mainly by volunteers sharing their work freely online. I realized that this kind of collaboration naturally started with programmers (because they could create the tools they needed for sharing their work) but that the concept could be extended to all kinds of
cultural works.  Hence, the idea for Wikipedia.

Career advice? Don’t waste too much time on a prior thinking.  Just get started.  Fail faster, which means: do small low-cost low-risk experiments to test your ideas and be ready to change quickly.