Chris Paquette: DeepIntent Founder & CEO

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Inspiration for DeepIntent? As we are engineers by trade, DeepIntent’s founding team sat in a unique position to see the technical and business challenges to building what is ultimately a marketing platform combined with a DSP – the first platform that truly integrates the most advanced marketing and advertising technologies and practices. Our platform can source data from CRMs, email lists and then enrich the data set with our own first party interests/affinity data in addition with third party datasets. We use our data to build highly granular look-a-like audiences in order to expand upon these known customers and add additional scale and reach. For those advertisers who have an idea of their customer persona(s), we can easily translate these personas into programmatically targetable audiences. This is because our AI can understand up to 30 million individual concepts and sentiments, so DeepIntent can get very specific when building very complex audiences that represent varying levels of detail in their personas. For example, we can target users who are interested in specific car models and place considerable interest in fuel economies.

Career Advice? Never settle; always keep learning. If you’re in sales, expose yourself to the tech side. If you’re in tech, learn what motivates the clients. You can always apply learnings from various parts of the business to your current role.

James Sun: Beautytap Founder & CEO

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Inspiration for BeautyTap? Originally, the inspiration for the business was to allow anyone around the world to discover and purchase cross border beauty products. This is still the vision, but we are realizing the importance of omnichannel since touch and feel are a huge part of beauty discovery. Now, after launching our first brick-and-mortar store, our vision is to maintain a physical presence where people can try samples from all types of products in person before making a final purchase online.

Career Advice? Understand the combination of online and offline strategies for beauty. 91% of beauty is still bought in person so it’s important to understand this consumer mindset.

Ajay Yadav: Roomi Founder & CEO

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Inspiration for Business Idea? So, no joke, I once got robbed by my roommate. It became very clear to me there was a problem to solve in the way we search for roommates. Craigslist felt unsafe and you never knew what you were going to get. Personal contacts are great, but you only have so many friends looking for an extra roommate. It’s not flexible enough to rely on by itself. I started Roomi because I wanted to solve those problems for everyone.

Career Advice? You need to really care about what your company is doing. Care about solving a problem and satisfying your customers. That is what is going to drive you to build the best company that you can. Yes, I know startups are strapped for cash. And it’s a business, so of course, profits are important. But you might be surprised how much that side of the equation sorts itself out when you focus on the other side. The customer satisfaction, employee happiness, human element of running a business. Any business.

Ted Kallmyer: HealthyEater.com Founder

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How did you get into the industry? After finishing my career as a biology teacher, I decided to take a break and travel the world. I ended up in New Zealand where I began helping a friend with his diet and fitness blogs back in 2008. Given my professional interest in science and my personal interest in fitness and health, it was a perfect fit and this has allowed me to be able to redirect my love for education by being able to teach people how to live their healthiest lives.

My Career Advice? I think the best advice that I can give others is to always let helping others be your primary motivation. As soon as the primary focus shifts to “making money” or “making a name for yourself” your business won’t survive. People want to be valued and if your customers feel like they are just a number, it won’t take long for you to start having fewer customers. Success happens after being diligent in helping your clients succeed.

Samir Becic: HealthFitnessRevolution.com Founder & ReSYNC® Method Creator

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How did you get into the industry? I’ve been in sports my whole life, but became very serious when I came from Europe to America and started working for Bally’s, the largest fitness corporation in the world. Because no one believed I could become the number 1 trainer in the country, I used it as motivation to propel my career.

Career Advice? Have true compassion for your clients and their best interest at heart, always! This will not only lead to career success but also personal fulfillment.

Scott Harris: Building Construction Group Founder

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How did you get into the industry? When I was young, I grew up in a financially impoverished family. I recall church members delivering meals to our door, so my sisters and I could stay fed. I realized then that success was my only option, and the alternative was failure. My ‘happy place’ was playing with my only Lego set, and I recall, as a child, noticing how adults were generally unhappy with their jobs. At the time, I thought “What if I can stay a kid and become the top Lego builder in the world?’ Will that become my success story and get me out of here? Doing something I love? I made a promise that day, too never give up on my dream. My dream expanded into becoming an architect, a builder, a designer and a business owner building life-size Lego sets.

Career Advice?
If you’re considering becoming a builder, you have to completely immerse yourself on every level. When you’re sitting in a restaurant, take note of how the light fixtures are hung and question if it could have been done better? When you’re on a construction project, take note of how the teams are organizing the projects, and do you respect it, or can it be improved upon? When you’re in a home, take note of not just what you see, but how do the people engage in the house, what kind of odors do you sense that may be related to poor construction technics, and what does the temperature feel like as you walk from room to room? While most of what you do in the industry will be guided by those around you, a level of sensitivity to your work is what makes the difference between “good” and “great.” Consider a concerto pianist competing against a brilliant computer playing the identical notes. The concerto pianist will win hands down, because of their “sensitivity” to their craft. Immerse your self into your craft, remove “good” from your professional vocabulary and become sensitive to a level beyond your competitor and the rest becomes easy. And, if you’re ready to begin your career and take the journey, please contact us directly and we can help guide you!

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.

Duane Silverstein: Seacology Executive Director

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What do you love most about Your City? I live in a small town just north of Berkeley, CA in the middle of the San Francisco Bay Area.  I have all the advantages of a university town and a vibrant cosmopolitan city.  At the same time my town is a bit like the Cheers bar.  The shopkeepers and restaurant staff know my name.  Additionally I can walk to over 30 restaurants and rarely have to use my car.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account? My favorite app is tripadvisor.  I travel frequently to remote islands and tripadvisor helps me plan my trips.

My favorite Instagram account is @seacology_photos

What should everyone try at least once? Snorkeling.  I am now an avid scuba diver. The first time I snorkeled the beauty of the coral reefs and fish changed my life and influenced my career.

Where do you enjoy getting lost? On any island anywhere at any time.  Islands are not only beautiful but the people are extremely friendly.

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.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot: Feeding America CEO

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My Deed of the Day: See someone new today—don’t look past anyone.

My Tip of the Day: Gratitude is an Action

What do you love most about Your City? Its diversity. Chicago has over 70 diverse neighborhoods. It’s so full of unique people with different lifestyles, interests and contributions.  Oh, did I mention the food? Chicago has taught me that there’s more to pizza here than deep dish and that there’s more to the Chicago food scene than pizza!

What should everyone try at least once? Boudin! It’s a delicious, spicy Creole/Cajun sausage from my hometown of Opelousas, Louisiana.

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!

Michelle Mekky: Mekky Media Founder

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How did you get into the industry? My experience with the industry really it started in high school when my English teacher recommended I try for a position at the school newspaper. I had never tried journalism before and once I got into it I absolutely loved it. I eventually became editor-in-chief and set my sights on studying journalism in college. I ended up going to Northwestern University, because I lived close by, and it had the best journalism school in the country. The school had a television studio, and I had the opportunity to anchor news shows. That experience inspired me to purse a career in broadcast journalism. It was only after working at Fox for 12 years that I started to really think about PR. I had been pitched by so many publicists as a senior producer, and I felt that I had developed a knowledge of what it would take to be good at PR. So I decided to cross to the other side.

Career Advice? I think the most important advice is don’t be afraid to work hard. For a while I was working two eight-hour shifts, barely sleeping. I was 23 years old and thinking, “I graduated from Northwestern and thought I was going to be set for life. I went to the best school, I did everything right. What happened?” That was so challenging, but I learned so much about perseverance, and I learned how to grow in my career and what it takes to succeed. Young people need to find their place and what they’re passionate about and then really prove themselves in that job. And that might mean volunteering to take on an extra project or asking for more responsibility. Not everybody knows early on what they want to do for the rest of their life, so I think it’s important to watch for the signs that point to what you’re passionate about. Then seek out as many opportunities as you can, like internships, shadowing, any opportunity to get in there and see and experience what a particular career might be like. You’re going to have to work for the rest of your life and you need to love what you do.