This is the eleventh installment of my “5 Questions for a CEO” series. The list so far:
- Raymond King, Zoo Atlanta
- Devon Wijesinghe, Insightpool
- Mark Feinberg, Uruut
- Simms Jenkins, BrightWave Marketing
- Rob Kischuk, PerfectPost
- Kyle Porter, SalesLoft
- Brett Jacobsen, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School
- Jacqui Chew, iFusion Marketing
- Joe Koufman, AgencySparks
- James Yancey, CloudTags
(me, Raghu, Raj and Danny celebrating the sale of Engauge)
I became an entrepreneur in November of 1998 with my college roommate, Raj Choudhury. We started NBN Designs, which we later renamed to Spunlogic and then sold in March of 2008 to Engauge (more on that story here). Raj and I worked together from 1998 until last August, when Engauge was sold to Publicis and I left to start Dragon Army. Raj starts today as the CEO of BLiNQ Media and wrote a great blog post reflecting on his time at Spunlogic and Engauge.
1. How excited are you to be moving into the CEO role at BLiNQ? What in particular are you most excited about?
Well, my family recently expanded with a second child and I’m also in the middle of an Executive MBA program GSU, so the timing of taking on this role is tricky. I was initially hesitant to seriously consider this opportunity. However, it became impossible for me to ignore that this role was made for me and I couldn’t pass it up. It just feels right. I’m walking into a team that has already created award winning products and yet hasn’t even scratched the surface of their potential. BLiNQ has an incredible future and I’m truly excited to build and lead the talented team that exists today.
2. What are a few things you’ve learned since you started Spunlogic in 1998 about how you want to lead BLiNQ?
I was naive to the risks when I started Spunlogic; so much so that I didn’t worry about or contemplate failure. In retrospect, this fearlessness, though ignorant, was a huge advantage. I was never afraid to learn and try new things, pivot directions, and especially, to think and dream big. Although I recognize that my perspective is different now, I strive to cultivate a culture where we are brave enough to try new things and can stay flexible and adaptable in order to take advantage of unexpected opportunities in the industry and to get out of the way of potential disasters. It’s not in my nature to rest on my laurels and I never want to be stagnant. We can always dream bigger and accomplish more.
3. What do your first 90 days look like?
Honestly, I’m not looking that far ahead yet. I DO have a 30 day plan though wherein I intend to listen and learn from our people and assess the entire package from the culture to the products to our clients and all the opportunities and risks within the industry. I’ll plan out the following 60 days only after that recon is complete.
4. CEO’s have many challenges and their calendars are one of the toughest as they are pulled in many directions. How are you going to approach time management as a CEO?
A couple of years ago at SXSW I heard a keynote from one of the big VC’s that made a profound impact on my time management. When asked how he assessed his CEOs he said he simply looked at their calendars; if the calendar had most work hours booked, he knew the CEO was ineffective in leading the business. Instead, he was looking for CEOs with 50% of their schedule open. His reasoning: It’s easy to fill your calendar with check-in’s, department meetings, sales meetings, etc., and then run from one appointment to another. But the reality is that if you are going from one meeting to the next, you are only able to react to the day-to-day business. An effective CEO should be thinking about the evolution of the business, it’s people, and how the organization can create more value. By keeping my schedule 50% open, I’ll be able to think and plan around a vision, and not just put out fires all day.
5. Describe your leadership style and why you think it will help you be successful in this new position.
I’m known for my hands-on approach, problem-solving skills, calm manner and work-hard/ play-hard mentality. I’m not the rah-rah, stand on the table and pound my chest guy. I don’t partake in manipulative games and don’t tolerate politics. I listen to all sides of an issue, make decisions quickly, and move on to the next challenge. I do what I commit to, and I play to win. BLiNQ already has passion and energy, so my job will be to help focus that in the right directions and remove barriers to allow us to reach our full potential.