Stefania Mallett | When You Cross Fearlessness & Insanely Helpfulness  (Episode 3)

Stefania Mallett | When You Cross Fearlessness & Insanely Helpfulness (Episode 3)

Stefania Mallett | When You Cross Fearlessness & Insanely Helpfulness (Episode 3)
Stefania Mallet (@StefaniaMallett) is the CEO and co-founder of ezCater, one of Boston’s hottest technology startups. She was just named Entrepreneur of the Year by EY. She has spent over 25 years building and growing technology-enabled companies that solve real business problems. Stefania co-founded and successfully sold InSite Marketing Technology (now NASDAQ: KANA). Her tenure at National Logistics Management (a broker for $225M in transportation services) brought NLM to profitability for the first time in 4 years. At IntraNet (now NASDAQ:TSAI), Stefania revamped the firm and vaulted it to #1 in its market, a position it has maintained for 15+ years. Stefania also operates as a Director and advisor to many for-profit and non-profit firms. She has a BS and an MS from MIT.

I grew up with two messages. Be a citizen of the world and learn as much as you. And you don’t deserve to live (which wasn’t explicitly said). That combination was quite confusing to me. Took me a while to understand the full effect that had one me.Stefania Mallett

“We all are on a journey to be ourselves. Stefania Mallett

“You need to understand what motivates others. Reading people is a critical business and life skill. Stefania Mallett

I shut down my company on Thursday, had some cocktails, and then launched ezCater on Monday.” Stefania Mallett

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Why you should be asking yourself is my company’s solution or product a “painkiller” or a “vitamin”?

  • When do you bootstrap versus take outside capital?

  • What are the three main reasons people become entrepreneurs and why does that matter?

  • What does your last company’s success or failure mean to for your next venture?

  • What matters more the people or ideas or both?

  • What are the three core values in ezCater’s culture that propels the business?

  • How do you become “fearless” and learn to take a leap of faith when you are scared?

  • How do your emotions play into your leadership ability?

  • And so much more…

Scroll down more for a summary, show transcription, resources and more.

“(When you face great adversity or failure) You’ve got to just get back up and pick yourself up. You can’t assume that because one business didn’t work the next one is not going to work. You just think, I’m playing the numbers game My life is my portfolio and I just kind of got to keep trying, keep trying, to keep trying.” This philosophy, persistence, and self-awareness are what has propelled Stefania’s career. It’s what makes her successful, caring, fearless and able to internalize the lessons she learns along the way.

Stefania joins us today to talk about her journey and share the valuable lessons she has learned in leading and architecting businesses. She shares her breakthroughs, breakdowns, and lessons you can walk away using on your journey. Listen, learn, laugh, and enjoy!

Show Transcript

[Start of Transcript]

Jason: Welcome to another episode of Executive breakthroughs, I have a fantastic guest for you today and you’re going to learn a lot of insights and wonderful information, Stefania who is the CEO of eZcater and it’s a very interesting path she has traveled on and so I want to start off from the beginning because one of the quotes or things I just heard you talk about is that growing up you grew up in a difficult family. I just want to find out some of the people back around where people came from because easier to understand their journey. So, what does that mean, how was growing up?

Stefania: I grew up in a family that sent two messages at the same time. I guess everybody gets conflicting messages one of them is, you’re a citizen of the world there’s a lot of interesting stuff out there you should be out there figuring out how to learn as much as you can do as much as you can. The other message was but you don’t deserve to live and that combination was kind of confusing for me; took me a long time to realize the drag effect that you don’t deserve to live message which of course was never explicitly said had on me.

Jason: How did that play out though because I’m trying to get people like what things happen that told you that…

Stefania: It takes a lot to explain to one game from basically parents who, it was a strong message to turns out there were four us as adults, there was a moment where we all realized that you know we pretty much all came away with that message which is not something that my parents woke up everyday wanting to convey but that right what we got.

Jason: Was a challenging time a girl child with any other people influence you or advance on your path forward?

Stefania: I tell you the biggest thing was when I got out of the house and this exactly exemplifies the conflict. My mother who was a difficult woman, my mother is the one who figured out that I needed to go to MIT and she got me and I mean she arranged it that I applied and I got in and she arranged that I applied I got in and then, the minute I got there and was free of my family the same family that had propelled me into MIT, that was when I really started to become a healthier person from there on.

Jason: It forced on around their own letterhead my hands

Stefania: Got out from under there and flourished on my own.

Jason: What about MIT sort of helped you?

Stefania: MIT teaches everybody how to solve problems, like really teaches you how to use your brain and how to use everything you know and everything you can interpolate, extrapolate from what you know to solve problems. It also has an attitude which I would never have known articulated this way but now, this is a phrase we use here at the it has that attitude of well just try it, I don’t know what not sure if it would work but try it and the just try it.

Jason: Implemented rather than people a lot of times if you notice talking about I just I don’t know start believing it or a yeah and pivot as you go along.

Stefania: I think Engineers have courage because there’s this sense of like I can fix this, I can make something, I can build something, and so that strength and courage permeates MIT.

Jason: So, solving problems in Engineering technical is part of who you are as your [DNA] you figured out that when you’re in MIT or you know that ahead of time where do you figure that along the path?

Stefania: I would give my parents credit for having figured out that I was the kid do type who thought you should be able to make something and who had a I had a certain science and math bent got it and we grew up in Newton which is a suburb or you know not far from Cambridge and MIT My father went to the MIT of Switzerland, my father’s Italian but he went to the MIT of Switzerland and I was the kid most like him and so I think that was the natural path.

Jason: So, how do you find yourself in this entrepreneurial path like where did you come to get your hitch, and where you know your start.

Stefania: I think that entrepreneurs come in three camps. I think there’s the ones who want to prove something to a parent usually to their father [yes]. There’s the ones who need to prove to themselves it’s a smaller group than the first group that needs to prove something to the parents and then there’s another group which is pretty healthy sized which is, I am so sick of working for other people. I just want to quote work for myself. You work for your customers, you work for your Employees, you work for your investors but it feels somehow like you’re working for yourself and I was one of those. It took me 20years of working for other people’s companies before I finally was able to launch.

Jason: What was the event that pushed you finally down this path?

Stefania: so, I am an operating Exec. I’m not the idea person, I’m the one that idea people turn to say can you build this company? I have an idea for a product or you build a company around it. And in 1997, I was approached by or late 1996 I guess, I was approached by IDEA people who didn’t want to quit their day jobs before one of this idea to see the light of day and so they asked me if I would do that and I was in a job where I was kind of sick of it was time for change anyway and I said Sure; why don’t I give it a shot.

Jason: So, what company was that?

Stefania: It’s a company called Insight Marketing Technology, OK We sold that one for 14X. Some investors did better than 14X.

Jason: And it was in a very short period of time right a couple of years?

Stefania: Well 1997, I think we sold it around 2000-2001, I don’t remember, it was that one of them was during the Internet bubble right was a lot of fun people who say the Internet bubble was the era of silliness and we all should have done that they’re like, we had a great time you know great time we’ve all had a great time all of us.

Jason: That was pretty incredible that you got the company interjectory one when you went in there and what is it that you needed to do that wasn’t being done at the time?

Stefania: This was in the early days of the Web; the Web was still the wild west. We helped companies who were just moving into e-commerce create virtual sales people, software that made you feel like you were being helped in a situation and now yes to the best in-store situation you know you walk into a store and you find a salesperson actually knows this is doing it is dispassionate in their advice to you and gives you real help in making your decision, we created a virtual version of that and it made everybody happy, we tripled conversion rates, it was a big deal. It’s a great company I’m working right now technology so familiar with Con us on well yeah then we go above a so yes I have something that is there and then count it in the West Coast.

Jason: So, we wanted this whole process and then you were successful at it and then you started the next venture which was something different so what did you do?

Stefania: Well you ruined once you’ve done, that it’s hard to go back and work for some big company again. I love big companies a lot of strength, a lot of resources in big companies but I found that I like the smaller scenario where what you do has such a huge impact. Your mistakes have much bigger effect; yet your success is so much bigger make the things you did right have much bigger effect. So, I bounced around a bit helping other people I am an operate Exec right, so I was helping other people run their companies or take their companies to the next level people who were plateaued and needed to go to the next level, people who were who weren’t sure how far whether their idea had legs I was helping them and then. In 2004, I got involved with the company that was the precursor of this one. Briscoe Rogers is my co-founder here was the founder of the previous company. He’s an idea guy and he was looking for an operating Exec to help him take his idea forward and honestly at first, I didn’t want to work for the company at first I thought it oh sure problems that are interesting I just don’t know but he kept suggesting people for Him to hire and he kept hiring them and then I thought Oh my friends work there may be better just go work there and so I went.

Jason: Was this preferred time?

Stefania: Preferred time and so he wanted to do for time help pharmaceutical company sales reps get in front of the Doctors. But that’s a very broken dynamic and yes it is happy with the way that it works and we tried to inject sanity and mutual respect into that process and we got to where a third of all the pharm reps in the country were using us for at least some of their visits to some of the doctors that was really cool but still…

Jason: What was the resistance? People paying?

Stefania: The resistance was the pharma firms were kind of torn like well you’re either helping me or you’re getting between me and my customer I can’t decide and we figured out. The cases where people adopted us and felt that was really valuable that worked extremely well but there was the resistance like well are you actually going to slow down my excess or are you helping my access and our investors were at a different point in their funds where they ran out of interest, they didn’t have any more cash to put into the company. So, we shut the thing down. that was pretty discouraging

Jason: But what lesson that you were a man I want to get done how you got to where you are right now what lesson what lesson did you learn at that point you know one number one business that you sold successfully No I didn’t and as well what things did you take away from both experiences moving forward that you were

Stefania: Persistence is important that luck here is part of the game. You’ve got to just get back up pick yourself up and keep going you can’t assume because one of them works and the next one didn’t you can assume because one of the work the next one is going to work and you can’t assume because [a lot of people do] I know but you also can’t assume that because one of them didn’t work the next one is not going to work. You just think, I’m playing the numbers game. My life is my portfolio and I just kind of got to keep trying, keep trying, to keep trying. what in life have I done where every single time I touched some process it worked, oh it’s the same thing. I had an investor the day that we shut that company Preferred Time down. I called all the investors and it was no surprise to them all the employees all the investors knew that it was a very good likelihood that indeed we would have to shut this thing down and when the white knight prospect of investors didn’t materialize, we close that down pretty quickly. And I called the investors to say look I’m sorry I lost your money, this is the way the game is played I’m thinking this but still I felt terrible and the 4th or 5th guy whom I called said That’s OK Stefania, I’ll do whatever you and Briscoe are going to do next. I’ll invest in whatever you want.

Jason: But why do you think you do next he said that I saw you mention that I said

Stefania: Absolutely blew my mind and I remember still very clearly I remember feeling this weight come off my shoulders and he said to me well I was silent because I was feeling the weight, he said What is that next thing by the way and that’s when I realized people really invest in people more than the idea that I was heard people say an A-idea with a B-team is not as good as B-idea with an A-team that the team is what matters and clearly we were being respected for what we had accomplished even though the company was not successful.

Jason: The relationships also that you built with all of these people that want a better

Stefania: I think relationship mattered but I think it was more the way they all served how we performed OK. it’s not like we were best buddies and that they would have sold their first bond to fund our next come, [Got it] was more that they saw that we had performed as well as well as we could and how we had before was pretty reasonable. and the message that I took away from that was at that moment he reminded me of failure is the deal for an entrepreneur it’s OK failure is part of the game. I had to sort of know that intellectually but when he said it in those words emotionally I resurrected that concept of oh yeah, it’s OK it’s OK when it happened and I moved all had to be the joke but it’s actually not a joke is that you shut those things down the Thursday like I got drunk Oh we can do it on Monday we launch this thing. You know take yourself back up.

Jason: What do you think if you would have gotten away with it [part of the process] and you made peace with what had happened recently. You know I was reading somewhere that the arc of being a successful entrepreneur or is really more about knowing when to kill ideas and move forward and I’m wondering if you would have had that white knight come in would you have can would have continued? Would  you have continued on or not I mean I know, that a hypothetic question.

Stefania: It’s I’m a little cut and [yeah[ I mean that certainly was what we’re looking for the white knight for we certainly thought the business had legs in hindsight I see that it was a tough business, a really tough business Iine a way much tougher than the one we’re in now the one we’re in now, The difference is that people were clamoring for the kind of assistance [that Easy cater] provides in the in preferred time, it’s like almost every other business I’ve ever worked for, there was a need but people aren’t clamoring for a solution to that need.

Jason: There’s not massive pain.  

Stefania: There’s pain but it wasn’t such a strong pain there were all desperate for it and for a solution to that pain and so many companies are built quite successfully convincing us that the pain is really great and that we should buy this.

Jason: Yes, and instead of solving that the pain is there now because you found that right idea you found in the business you have now in the preferred time.

Stefania: We had literally thousands of people attempting to place orders, literally thousands of times we were asked, can you make the food appear for this business meeting, and we thought two things, we thought what we can bootstrap this thing and it’s a real need. So, let’s figure out how to do that. And so, we did we launched the thing again out of our house.

Jason: And you did in our Monday. So, I mean how did you how did most people take their wounds for a little while I know you’ve had that conversation the sense a very was that really just for you was that just a simple, getting the weight off your back?

Stefania: I think when you went over there a bit was that was it continue to work OK but also admittedly it was the beginning of summer and with that summer, we worked but we didn’t work balls to the wall 24hours a day over we did I know we were waiting to try to released software we’re waiting to try to have all the pieces lined up and I would say I work probably 30hours a week that first summer OK so I did take some time to just kick back a bit

Jason: And you had investors lined up or people that would give you money?

Stefania: Yes, we did but it was very small money you know Briscoe and I each put in, I don’t know I think together we put in $25,000 or something $22,000 and we raised $100,000 more from people like this investor who said I’ll put in money, we didn’t pay ourselves the first year or more of their surroundings model really bootstrapped. I remember the discussion about when winter came and we were still working in my house I said you know if I went to a job I would heat the house during the day I have a timer thermostat to be charged the company the heat bill and we decided that yes I could charge the company in the heat bill that was. For the part of the week for 40hours of the week that Monday-Friday, 9-5, If yes so we were back kind of careful about using the money we didn’t feather our own mess with it at all.

Jason: there are two schools of thoughts and then a bootstrapping it. And then there are people that are taking L-side capital, like how do you view that starting a company from infancy point of view because people probably listen to this and you know we have successful people.

Stefania: Your idea OK you know if you’re building a drug you need huge amount of money and bootstrapping is not an option. If you’re building a service, if you’re building a consulting service, if you’re doing software for hire, you probably can bootstrap that and then all the other ideas are somewhere in between on that spectrum. I think that it’s wise to not have a lot of money early on because it makes you be really creative and clever about what you’re about how to accomplish what you need to accomplish and it makes you be pretty ruthless about what’s important to work on first and I think that gives you a sharpened focus. So, I think never not having too much money is a good move at every stage of the company, and we’ve always raised only as much money as we knew what to do with we think that’s a wise discipline. I think also. Frugality breeds creativity, resourcefulness and I think that’s helpful I think it helps to be a little scared all the time I. Think that’s sharpens of the senses, there is a motivator.

Jason: Fear is a motivator.

Stefania: You do if you’re too much like everything else if you sue much then you end up unable to get out don’t get overwhelmed and you can’t really try anything in hindsight, I think we bootstrap for about a year too long. I think we were we could have brought in bigger money earlier but boy that day we brought in the big money, I mean to us at first $1million dollars raised it once was big money and then we raised $2-million at once it seemed like incredible and then $3million at once and then we raised $13million at once and while we could try a lot of experiments at that point and going fast, which is what with enough money you can move faster which was Hope money letting you move fast gives you a quicker learning cycles because that’s all this is about yes constantly learning and learning and learning and doing incorporate learning said moving quickly money helps you do that move when you’re ready when your ready money helps you move faster to get to be ready and yeah you can just everything the way in the beginning and people in place and of people that you can bring in more good people.

Jason: So, what did you want about hiring people because I’m interested in you know on Company Number three how has your hiring process or philosophy changed over time and what do you learn that’s kind of the secret source to finding the right people.

Stefania: so, I have over time I think I’ve developed my gut pretty well I think the big change is I try to listen one hundred percent to my God. To the collective guts of all the people who interview, I do not do the interviewing alone I don’t interview every day I don’t if I don’t even interview all the employees anymore I have people who have trained their guts that we have a group consensus and if someone if anybody in the group says I think so this is not like somebody that makes me go yes this is our kind of person and they have the skills, then we don’t hire you’ve got to have somebody in the group is really negative on an individual if the majority opinion is that there’s very strong Yeah this look oh my God this is a really a real keeper that we don’t hire and we’ve hired pretty well.

Jason: So how do you want to trust your gut because a lot of people get different and basically look at the data you know look I’m sorry they’re right people want that right also the godson right so how did you measure it was there any is there anything that happened that got this moment that you reflect on that sort of taught you to trust in yourself more.

Stefania: One of the great advantages of growing up in a difficult situation is that you learn to read the tea leaves you learn to be very sensitive to nuance to understand what’s really motivating this person because in my family if you didn’t figure out what was motivating your parents. You were going to die, not literally but it certainly felt like it yeah and so you learned to be pretty attuned to and to nuances of situations of human beings. Harnessing that has been very helpful you harness to understand how you couldn’t treat a customer really well, you harness that to figure out how you can be hire people well, so see reading people as a life skill. Everybody can develop it but if you develop it under fear of death when you were little you probably developed greater probably got a faster you know I need to tell you that out and just look at your time.

Jason: so, what do you want also a building culture, like what does culture mean to you because I feel like that’s a lot of work for some people but I’m seeing a lot more and a lot more people are really putting a lot more emphasis on that now building process and in the D.N.A. of the company culture matters hugely I mean everybody has one I remember just recently I was at an event where somebody said you know we don’t think we had a culture we went offline for a couple days and we decided what our culture would be I said well you actually have a culture, you always have a culture you could go outside and decide what you want to change it to if you don’t like the one you have but you’ve got a culture ours is pretty intentional from the start. I have cared about and Briscoe my co-founder has completely supported has agreed with he cares about the same things I cared about transparency about. Try it you know fearlessness let’s just try stuff and honestly he’s more Felix than I to his He’s amazing you guys like how hard can it be and I’ve been through the more cautious voice and I think the combination has helped us and I’ve become more and more brave over time following this guy around the bike he still lived let’s keep trying more things so transparency, fearlessness and Being insanely helpful to each other to our customers, to our caterers were two sided marketplace and so we need to support both sides equally well you can’t be emotionally available to be that supportive to your customers and your business partners if you’re not being well treated so being insanely helpful to our employees and each of us to each other and I to each of them that’s of course tenet of our culture too. I didn’t wake up one morning saying these are the three things I just that’s the way I behave and every year as we brought in more employees we realized we had to articulate more clearly that these are the behaviors and we’ve kind of distilled it to those three. Because that’s genuinely who we are and because it helps to say it out loud.

Jason: Got it, what 3-things?

Stefania: Transparency, fearlessness insane helpfulness [OK[ if you put those together, you know insane helpfulness is another phrase for just really nice to each other. In a proactive in a thoughtful way, fearlessness is try it, try it and track it. Because if you track it then you figure out whether that was a good thing to try whether time to change it pivot just do more of it and tracking it also improves the sense of psychological safety, it is my idea, I don’t play the founder card very often it isn’t that I yell loudly it’s that the data said this was a good idea of the data said this was not a good idea and that doesn’t matter whose idea was let’s keep going to do something else. So, transparency fearlessness with data to back it up and, it was my third one here there’s transparency, fearlessness and helpfulness yeah, those are my three.

Jason: So, the other part about you meeting you in just wondering about your past, I can see that probably caring and empathy is a huge piece of who you are and so I wonder how that’s reflected in the culture because I find it so I can psychological safety that’s a key component of making that…

Stefania: It’s true, I heard of it so I think I can people I like people who think coming out of a difficult time I know you can’t tell you that you can’t kill things that people are born with I was born industrious, I was born liking people, I was born optimistic and you can’t kill that in people. I don’t think you could borrow it but you can’t eventually it comes back and I actually come back out I’ve spent my whole life trying to become more and more myself I think we’re all on a journey to being ourselves Yes and it turns out myself is industrious and caring and genuinely people and optimistic so everybody who works here. If the people who are successful here are people who are like that.

Jason: Everyone is also right themselves out there somewhere they don’t are they are they don’t want to join you can join every C.E.O. has their own their own culture, has their own personal style, their own personal sense and you either match with that or not. I remember a long time ago, the first time I inherited a group I realized, wow it’s a very good manager who could manage a group and Harrah’s as opposed to a group that they’ve built that have selected Yes and that they have selected for themselves so that’s a real skill.

Jason: So how do you know working with a co-founder because I know you’ve got a very close relationship how do you resolve conflicts with a lot of people who start a business together one of the things that implode them is the people that found the business end up either buying one or out or they just can’t work gather and the business sinks I know

Stefania: My job is that the company’s founder on the rocks of the founders are going with each other yes. We’ve been, we’ve done really well we are this is the third year we’ve been on together actually. I got involved he is the idea guy had helped found a company with a different co-founder and they were running into some trouble and they and one of their investors said you need to upgrade here I’m a little further along in my career the Briscoe was not that much further but further and so, I came in and tried to help with that one we didn’t manage to succeed in saving that company but we discovered that we have complimentary skill sets and we love the same values. We have different angles, and we solve the same problems from different angles and they get their complimentary we have nothing to do with each other outside of work and we joke about it if we ever talk politics or get into trouble but it turns out. I’ve known the guy longer than I’ve known my husband I mean yes, I’m on my second husband so I’ve known him longer than know my husband he’s known me longer than he’s known his wife. We are the lucky combination of sufficiently different that you have two brains working on things and sufficiently the same. That we don’t get into fatal fights, we’ve certainly had disagreements but we’re both Engineers we both go back to the data and the data has resulted a lot of issues it was a great day when we had enough volume going through the system that we could just test it we didn’t have to argue about like should the button be blue or should it be red and we could just test it and the market was said one of them was a better color and the breadth of the best thing was neither Briscoe or I could remember was the blue button your idea or bad idea; because neither of us cares either of us hold quite so easy go in as even you go to drain checking a good yeah we’re both pretty separated from our egos.

Jason: So, what do you think makes a great leader from a good leader where you think separates out as you look at yourself and other people I mean what is it that you would hold out there as well as a cleaner ships’ the key for getting this thing where you want to go yeah.

Stefania: I think there are two things I would say matter and that’s probably a fifty but I’ll pick two one is, leadership is being able to stand back and see the bigger picture, see I always use this phrase with my people I say look pull the lens back, now as your become a more senior manager pull the lens farther back the more senior you are the more you should pull the lens farther back with your manager leader pull the lens farther back so that you can see the bigger picture see more where we’re going think about the more strategic dimension that’s one thing. And that’s kind of more on the skills level. I guess on the there’s an emotional dimension too. I think leaders really care about people I think. The company isn’t what matters, the people that are and yet you have the people matter in order to build a company because the company is this enabler or for people to get to a better place the work is enabling and I think giving people better work to do giving people jobs they really want to have is a powerful, Powerful force it’s what I actually care about the most, I think all work done well is magnificent. It doesn’t matter if you’re flipping burgers if you do it well it’s magnificent and is terrifically interesting do whatever you’re doing well and it becomes terrifically interesting and so I think a leader embodies that with him in trying to  articulate what excellence looks like and helping people get to that excellence.

Jason: So, last question for you would something that you struggle when you’re trying to get better and you know as far as being a leader you know what are your views or are you now sort of learning or trying to figure out to take it to next level because obviously there’s a lot of things you’re doing excellent training but we’re always as you know pulling leaders that are doing that we’re now in a learning and grow and trying to get better or worse so we’re because people always want to know that they see the highlights but I was like I don’t know what they’re weeks but what are the I know well but I think more of just the things that you’re learning a lot about yourself and growing because it’s evolution is an important part of…

Stefania: fearlessness you know I talk about transparency I’m pretty good at that talked about insane helpfulness I’m pretty good at that the fearlessness I continually working on that, I find myself continually having to say no you stretch higher, go farther you can do bigger, bigger or pull my own lens back so that’s the one that I think of those three that I work on the most. I look very confident and I can talk very confidently but then it really, I’m like to go with. And that and then I pull yourself together well but then I go up there and I get I look really confident I do really big stuff and thinking oh my God do them figure that out yet how do you know I have imposter syndrome like everybody else does that every leader has it so what is it.

Jason: what do you do to help yourself make that leap of faith in order to be more fearless is there something that you think in your head or something that you do?

Stefania: There’s two things one is a use data I think. You have had a lot of success up to this moment yeah, I think you can you know it look at everybody else they’ve all fallen down a few times and they’ve done OK if you’ve gotten here and if they did that, why can’t you? So, use the data of other people’s experiences as well as my own life history. And the other thing is. This is something I get it from my co-founder. Briscoe Rogers has the opposite of he doesn’t think you deserve to live Briscoe has a core that the lighter uses you know that that clown that you got when you were a kid that you can whack it no matter what happened to bounce back up Briscoe’s like unshakable in his core and I thought I want to be like that so I watch, I watch him I think unshakable Core, you can do it and shakable core is not the only one of my life that I’ve seen like that but I see him every day, so it’s a good example to Reminder for a constant reminder.

Jason: Wonderful thank you for joining us today and it’s another new show of executive breakthroughs and we had a lot of insights, a lot of very excellent show today and thanks for coming.

Stefania: Thank you it’s great to be here thanks a lot.

[End of Transcript]

In This Episode:

  • The impact her parents had on her
  • How going to MIT was a turning point for her & what was the biggest lesson she learned (that will help you!)
  • Why the core values of transparency, fearlessness, and being insanely helpful drive their culture and success
  • How can you learn from your failures? (She gives an example from her company)
  • Why building relationships it’s essential to your success
  • What is ezCater’s driving motivator in hiring
  • Why frugality breeds resourcefulness
  • Why you should leave perfectionism outside the door and instead look to the data and pivot based on experience
  • What is leadership
  • What skill set is Stefania trying to develop more of and how it can help you

Couple Key Takeaways (pre-interview)

Before the interview, we discussed a few ideas and I wanted to share them with you because they can make a big impact in your business.  

(On Culture #1): We made the choice from the start to deliberately build a culture of insane helpfulness. I can’t say that we use that phrase. We didn’t articulate that into those two words. We focused on providing fantastic customer service to both sides of our marketplace. We’ve always taken both sides of our marketplaces equally seriously.

(On Culture #2) You can’t deliver excellence unless you create a culture where the employees feel as well supported as is humanly possible. If I am emotionally drained, I don’t have anything to give to anyone else. If I’m emotionally nourished, then I can be very caring, helpful and look out for them. From the start, we treat our own people with the same caring, concern and same excellence as we do to anyone outside the company. I’ve often thought, “How can you keep this wonderful culture as you get bigger?”

(On Hiring) We keep our culture moving in the right direction if we have done the right job of hiring people who value and care about our culture (and three core values). We’ve been able to model it in such a way that each one is a steward of the culture to the point that the bigger we get, the safer our culture is. We figured out how to ensure that each person picks up their responsibility in maintaining the culture.


“Many companies are built on the rocks of co-founder’s arguments.”

“Engineers have courage. I can make something. I can fix something. They have that strength.”

“I’m an operating executive. I’m the idea people come to and say ‘Can you build this?’”

“Took me 20 years working for other people before I started my own company.”

“Once you are an entrepreneur you are ruined, you can never go back. Why? Your successes have a much bigger effect. So do your mistakes.”

“As an entrepreneur, persistence is important, luck is part of the game, you have to pick yourself up and keep going.”

“I’m playing the numbers game, and my life is my portfolio. I’ve got to keep trying and trying.”

“MIT taught me to ‘just try it’. So now, that’s core to our culture at ezCater.”

One of her favorite quotes:

Archimedes saying, “Give me a long enough lever and a place to stand, and I can move the Earth.”

‘Remember, in his day that was a completely bonkers idea. I would say to him, “Where did you get the clarity and the courage to say something so earth-shaking (pun intended!)?”’

Interesting fact: She knew the famous comedian, Louis C.K. growing up.


If you enjoyed this session with Stefania Mallet, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Stefania Mallett at Twitter!

Click here to let Jason know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

References Mentioned:

  • Stefania Mallett LinkedIn bio
  • ezCater – They make it easy to order food online for your office. From routine office lunches to offsite client meetings, from 5 to 2,000 people, we have a solution for you. ezCater connects businesspeople with over 50,000 reliable local caterers and restaurants across the U.S.
  • MIT
  • Briscoe Rodgers – President & co-founder of ezCater.
  • Get a glimpse into the ezCater culture


Stefania has spent over 25 years building and growing technology-enabled companies that solve real business problems. Stefania co-founded and successfully sold InSite Marketing Technology (now NASDAQ: KANA). Her tenure at National Logistics Management (a broker for $225M in transportation services) brought NLM to profitability for the first time in 4 years. At IntraNet (now NASDAQ:TSAI), Stefania revamped the firm and vaulted it to #1 in its market, a position it has maintained for 15+ years. At a dozen companies, she has held general management, marketing, sales, product management, support, and technical positions. Stefania also operates as a Director and advisor to many for-profit and non-profit firms. She has a BS and an MS from MIT.

On your phone? Click here to write us an iTunes review and help us reach and help more people!

Jason Treu is an executive coach. He has "in the trenches experience" helping build a billion dollar company and working with many Fortune 100 companies. He's worked alongside well-known CEOs such as Steve Jobs, Mark Hurd (at HP), Mark Cuban, and many others. Through his coaching, his clients have met industry titans such as Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis, Chris Anderson, and many others. He's also helped his clients create more than $1 billion dollars in wealth over the past three years and secure seats on influential boards such as TED and xPrize. His bestselling book, Social Wealth, the how-to-guide on building extraordinary business relationships that influence others, has sold more than 45,000 copies. He's been a featured guest on 500+ podcasts, radio and TV shows. Jason has his law degree and masters in communications from Syracuse University

Brent Brightwell | Pivot to Success  (Episode 2)

Brent Brightwell | Pivot to Success (Episode 2)

Brent Brightwell (@doublehorn) is the Senior Vice President of Products & Strategy at DoubleHorn in Austin. Brent Brightwell is a Technology Leader and Entrepreneur with extensive Startup, SMB, and large Enterprise experience. He is currently the SVP of Products at DoubleHorn where he is responsible for R&D, Product Management, Marketing, Alliances, and Strategy. Prior to DoubleHorn, Brent held positions such as CMO of Artisan Infrastructure, VP of Products for Gravitant, and Product Marketing Executive in the HP Helion Cloud organization. Brent has also led Global Marketing and did Technical Pre Sales for the HP Software Portfolio. Prior to Sales, he led R&D and Product Management for HP’s strategic Solutions.

He studied business and marketing at Panola College and Texas A&M University, earning a BSB/IS degree from the University of Phoenix in 2002 and an M.B.A. from Regis University in 2004. He is IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Level 5 Pragmatic Marketing Certified. He is a certified Facilitator and often asked to lead and speak at various boards, events, and conferences. Brent is a founding member and on the Board of Directors for an Austin Children’s Museum. Brent is also a Board Advisor for several startup companies.

There are a lot of smart people. And there are a lot of sociopaths. You better learn to choose wisely who you work for and with. Brent Brightwell
Anyone can break a negative cycle if they are forward thinking and create a concrete plan of where they want to be and who they want to be. Brent Brightwell

The Cheat Sheet:

  • What’s the best role in a technology company to have to become the CEO?
  • What’s a huge mistake people make in business that can wipe away all their success?
  • Why spending time thinking about what you need to do or skills you need to acquire is more critical than you think?
  • Why is lifelong learning the major key to your success?
  • Does mentorship really matter?
  • And so much more…

Scroll down more for a summary, resources and more.

One of things that initially really impressed me about Brent Brightwell was his ability to build great, genuine relationships in his career. Go check out his LinkedIn profile. 79 people have wrote recommendations, and it’s what they wrote that is most impressive.

I attribute that to several things:

  • Brent Brightwell learned from an early age how to be an entrepreneur through hard work, hustle, and building the right relationships in the right way.
  • He’s been curious his entire life, and learning is core theme on his journey.
  • He’s always looking ahead and figuring out what areas he needs to improve and get better in.
  • He values servant leadership, helping others, loyalty and putting his family first.
  • He gives backs through his nonprofit work and advising startups.
  • He didn’t let his past define his future, and he intentionally created the life he wanted to live.

You’ll learn about all of the above things in our interview, and much, much more. Listen, learn, laugh, and enjoy!


“Helping people is very important to me.”

“You have to be a good mate to attract a good mate.”

“Product Managers can become excellent CEOs because they have to learn to work and collaborate with every part of the business.”

“I have an insatiable appetite to learn, grow and expand my life.”

“A big mistake I made was not understanding my value and what I was worth.”

“Pick your leaders well. I made some poor decisions, and I learned from each experience and how to pick better ones the next time.”

“I’m always thinking about the areas I need to improve on and seek out new information and help.”

“You can’t boil the ocean in technology. It’s all about outcomes and serving the most immediate pain of your customers.

“I’m responsible for picking my children’s parent.”

“Watching how my parents didn’t get along helped me figure out the communication skills I needed to have.”

“I learned to be a consummate networker. You never know who you will need in your life.”


If you enjoyed this session with Brent Brightwell, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Brent Brightwell at Twitter!

Click here to let Jason know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

References Mentioned:

Full Biography:

Brent Brightwell is a Technology Leader and Entrepreneur with extensive Startup, SMB, and large Enterprise experience. He is currently the SVP of Products at DoubleHorn where he is responsible for R&D, Product Management, Marketing, Alliances, and Strategy.  Prior to DoubleHorn, Brent held positions such as CMO of Artisan Infrastructure, VP of Products for Gravitant, and Product Marketing Executive in the HP Helion Cloud organization. Brent has also led Global Marketing and did Technical Pre Sales for the HP Software Portfolio. Prior to Sales, he led R&D and Product Management for HP’s strategic Solutions. He has led projects for Competitive Analysis, Market Intelligence, Talent Assessment and Retention, Leadership and Career Development Training.

Before HP, Brent was the SVP of Product Management and Marketing for Allen Systems Group, Inc. Prior, he spent four years at BMC Software leading both Global Product Marketing and Management for the Atrium Product Line, bringing to market the first commercial CMDB establishing BMC as the market leader in ITIL technologies. He has also successfully spearheaded marketing and product management for Cesura (formerly Vieo) and EMC Smarts. He Co-Founded nVision Software in 2001 and was the VP of Product Management and Business Development. Before founding nVision, he was the Director of Product Marketing with Matrix NetSystems. Before Matrix, Brent was a Senior Product Manager with Marimba, Inc. His background also includes marketing and engineering positions at Comwerx, Inc. and ITRW, Inc., both Internet Service Hosting Providers.

He studied business and marketing at Panola College and Texas A&M University, earning a BSB/IS degree from the University of Phoenix in 2002 and an M.B.A. from Regis University in 2004. He is IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Level 5 Pragmatic Marketing Certified. He is a certified Facilitator and often asked to lead and speak at various boards, events, and conferences.  

Brent is a founding member and on the Board of Directors for an Austin Children’s Museum. Brent is  also a Board Advisor for Startup companies. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and two sons.

On your phone? Click here to write us an iTunes review and help us reach and help more people!

Jason Treu is an executive coach. He has "in the trenches experience" helping build a billion dollar company and working with many Fortune 100 companies. He's worked alongside well-known CEOs such as Steve Jobs, Mark Hurd (at HP), Mark Cuban, and many others. Through his coaching, his clients have met industry titans such as Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis, Chris Anderson, and many others. He's also helped his clients create more than $1 billion dollars in wealth over the past three years and secure seats on influential boards such as TED and xPrize. His bestselling book, Social Wealth, the how-to-guide on building extraordinary business relationships that influence others, has sold more than 45,000 copies. He's been a featured guest on 500+ podcasts, radio and TV shows. Jason has his law degree and masters in communications from Syracuse University

Ron Nash | Grow or Die  (Episode 1)

Ron Nash | Grow or Die (Episode 1)

Ron Nash (@hronaldnash) is the CEO and Chairman of Pivot 3 in Austin. He’s worked alongside Ross Perot, Mort Myerson and many other industry titans. He’s been a VC, Board Member, and avid art collector. He has been a corporate officer at the following companies that completed IPO’s: Perot Systems, Teleci and Rubicon. He has been a director of the following successful companies that were acquired: Vendavo, Lombardi Software.

If you are not growing, not getting better, you are getting worse. The competition gets better. The world changes. So if you don’t step it up, you won’t make it. -Ron Nash

Ask yourself, ‘How long will the music really be playing for me?’ -Ron Nash

The Cheat Sheet:

  • How do you turn things around when the wheels have completely gone off the wagon?
  • What’s the ultimate secret ingredient to long lasting business success (and how is your ego intertwined with it)?
  • How do you spot bigger and better deals as a venture capitalist or angel investor?
  • Why do leaders fail, what blind spots are they missing, and how can they course correct?
  • Do mentors really matter and how do you find them?
  • What’s the role of Board Members and why do they often get off track?
  • Does modeling others actually work? How should you do this?
  • And so much more…

Scroll down more for a summary, show transcription, resources and more.

“How do I get better each and every day, while positively impacting those around me in the greatest possible ways?” Ron Nash has been in search of the answer to that question his entire life. It’s what makes him successful, kind/caring, and able to turn around almost any situation in business (i.e. think spinning straw into gold.)

Ron joins us today to talk about his incredible journey and share the hard lessons he learned in 30+ years as an executive, VC, entrepreneur and board member. He takes you on a very candid and intimate look at his life starting from his humble beginnings, life in the Army, wisdom he has gained from industry giants such as Ross Perot, and his current position as CEO and Chairman of Pivot3. Listen, learn, laugh, and enjoy!

Show Full Transcript

[Start of Transcript]

Jason Treu: Hello! This is Jason Treu and I have a fantastic guest here today, Ron Nash and He is the C.E.O and Chairman Pivot3 and he has a bio that is so long, that if I read it to you, you would be here, probably, for the next hour and so now, I will put that in the show, you know, so you can check that out on LinkedIn, he has a lot of wisdom and knowledge and we’re going to really get inside of where he came from, who he is now, how he manages other people, a lot of other fantastic insights. So, Ron welcome to the show.

Ron Nash: Thank you. I’m glad to be here and I’m glad that the audience is showing up and hope I can be helpful and they can learn something today.

Jason Treu: I’m sure they’re going to learn a lot today, you know, so one of the questions that I want to understand, is you growing up, so how did you grow up? Where did you grow up? Just you know, I think the listeners and idea of a little bit of your background.

Ron Nash: I grew up in Atlanta Georgia and that area and I think formative wise, part of the formative of my experience goes back to my Parents as most everybody does, but my Parents were each the first in their general families the first to graduate from high school. So, I mean there was a big difference. I mean my, both of my Grandfathers, one was an Electronics Technician, and one was a lineman for AT&T, the telephone company. So, you see the nerd Gene was kind of in-there and they are going to start that market technology but nobody had ever had that formal education, and both my Parents, just happened to have burning desires to get education. So, they got out of high school, Mum, went to Secretarial school, which was what women do a lot in those times for a year and then my dad went into the Military got the G.I. bill and then married and he and Mum worked through, you know, getting him through college and so, putting him through college was something where they worked in the day, they had paper routes in the morning, and in the evening, they had gone to school in the day. And I was born, when he was a freshman. So, they were carrying a kid around at that point in time, we lived in what today, you would call, the projects in Federally subsidized housing in Atlanta, and so I come from that stock and I see my Grandparents and my Parents and my siblings and my kids and I just see the difference that education makes in a family, and the trajectory with which they do, and when you have that embedded deeply, and you and I think also from my Parents and Grands, that they had a burning desire to succeed; far and away from what anybody around them had done.

Jason Treu: Where do they come from?

Ron Nash: That I don’t know, because I, just think they are both individual people, when I look at their siblings and their Parents and somehow, they both got this gene, obviously, you know, intense desire to achieve and succeed and I think they passed it along to their kids and so, that’s part and parcel formative great gift that I was given by my Parents.

Jason Treu: So how did you get in the technology? Obviously, I can see the heritage in your hair but is that is that one of the reasons why you decided to go down. The education wise to go into technology?

Ron Nash: Yeah! I mean, my Father was an Electro Engineer and so you know, we had that and in Georgia, Georgia Tech at that time was the preeminent University Education and I was good in school in all subjects, pretty much, but Math was different, there were so few people that were really good in Math and Math was easy for me, now you know, I mean Math was great I enjoyed it but, I didn’t have a passion necessarily for it. I really liked writing and some other things, but math was so easy and it was evident to me by people telling me and Teachers and Parents and such saying that I was distinctively good in Math. So, you ought to go into the thing where you’re, you know, with the tip of the spear, where you’re the best in the world, or have a chance to be one of the best in the world. So, I think that led me into technology.

Jason Treu: And so, after you get out of school, want to take me into getting your first job…

Ron Nash: Well, (this route in that) I got out of undergraduate school with an Engineering Degree and then I went in the Army and so I was in the infantry about as far away from technical ideas as you can see here we are in Brute force and Bron and that type of stuff and as an infantry man, and I was lucky enough to get the best assignment in the United States Army for an infantry man which is in Washington D.C. at Fort Meyer, there is a unit called, the Old Guard of the Army. It was actually George Washington’s first infantry unit, it traces its heritage to it, and today, although it’s a formal infantry unit, it does the ceremonial duties at Arlington National Cemetery in the White House. So, when you’re doing a full honor funeral, burying one of our heroes, they did that when some Prime Minister comes to visit the President and you have troops lined up on the White House lawn, I got to do that, so as an infantry man, it’s pretty cool when you can sleep in a bath with sheets and have a warm shower every day, that’s a blessing for someone in the infantry. But coming out of that, I had expected after my Military service, just to go back to Atlanta, Georgia Tech had a placement office that would help Alumni get jobs, and I expected I would go back after that and get jobs and actually, someone called me on my quarters one night, it was a recruiter for Ross Perot’s company E.D.S. and Ross was hiring lots of Military people during that time, because a lot of talented people were coming through the Military, and I called and said Would you like to come in and talk for a job? The answer was sure, you know, they were the only people that called and you know it was pretty easy and I talked to them and Ross seemed to be a pretty magnetic type of personality and his company was doing well and they offered me a job. They offered several cities that I could go to, to work. I chose to go to New York City and Manhattan, to a Southern Boy, this was a big change in New York, that evolved I picked it because I thought it was the toughest competition, it was working in the brokerage industry, in the financial district on Wall Street in New York, and to me, that kind of seem to be the top of it, you know, if I wanted to compete, why didn’t I go to the major leagues?

Jason Treu: Back to your family. Now they continued to go to the next level and tried to get outside of their comfort zone.

Ron Nash: That’s right just try something new and try to say and I mean New York was different for us, you know, somebody they’ve grown up in the deep South. It was quite different and you had to learn different ways to do things and you had to kind of adopted different style of persona just to get along and it really broadened you like you say it challenges you but it broadened me, there’s nothing more fun than learning. I mean there’s nothing more fun that seeing something that you don’t know how to do and then figuring it out and you figure out how to do it; I mean to me that’s so fantastic and so thrilling and when you go in a new culture, it challenges. Later in my career, I moved to London I was running the European operations for another Ross Perot company and same thing with the cultural differences of overseas; you know there was business which was challenging but then you put this all that low layer of culture and heritage and such like that. On top of it, made it more challenging but when you can do it, it’s much more satisfying.

Jason Treu: And how did you end up meeting Ross and where did you meet him personally and you really actually having interaction, what point during your time in E.D.S?

Ron Nash: I think it’s during the first part in the orientation E.D.S. was a services company and if you think about services companies, they all need a sort of evangelical type leadership; because services companies are inherently trying to say to their customer, look we can do this better than you can do it. Well how can you do that, you can have smarter people, you can have automation and you have tools but essentially, you can motivate your people better and so in services companies, if you look at it, if they don’t have highly motivated people, services companies are going to fail. I mean nobody likes to you know nobody’s going to have a service companies with people that are just kind of turning the crank and going through the motions they want to have somebody that gosh, have contract with those people because they have the greatest people, there so you know excited about what they’re doing, they’re so talented and Ross was good at that and so at E.D.S. they had a multi-day new employee orientation session. I mean it was almost like a part of it was part of it, it was like up pep-rally time I mean some ways you know, some people would look ask and it and think you know this is a little you know drinking the Kool-Aid type stuff but it was kind of thrilling at that time you, know I’m thinking gosh, these are bunch of people that are going to you know just work hard every day and they’re going to you know they’re going to push themselves every day and push each other. It was a tough environment they pushed each other to succeed but it was fun you know.

Jason Treu: What did you work from Ross to time there, what are the Philosophies you end up taking from him? that really helped you on your journey?

Ron Nash: Well I think, Ross is a good, basic leader he distinguishes between Leadership and Management and he you know he kind of talks about Management being almost manipulative type stuff or leading is inspiring people and so he’s got that he’s got the state down about leading people. He clears all the things out of the way that would impede you from being a success and then challenges you to be a success. He’s all about energy, He’s all about working, He’s all about doing something. He trusts new people, you trust young people, they give you a chance to do things I was doing things in my 20s that they never said a lot of 20year old. A lot they shouldn’t allow a 20year old do.

Jason Treu: But were you doing during that time?

Ron Nash: Well I mean I started out technical and went into business and then I ended up working for this guy Glenn Sale, Dr. Glenn Sale that was the Vice President that was kind of the cleanup man. If anything in the company got messed up, you know if there was a software development project that was a year overdue, there was a customer that was mad at them and was going to sue them you know after they tried to rescue it and this was like the get you know the big ugly That way the end of a last resort to clean things up and he had just a you know a few people he had three people working for me the time I was the fourth. And all of them had Ph.D. but me. So, I came in and somehow, they picked me to do that and so I just got to do a lot of assignments with cleaning up much of things and so what it taught you is that kind of mistakes that people make in business and how to rectify them quickly and how to get action fast and it was great experience.

Jason Treu: What mistakes time did you learn people making what really stepped out for you?

Ron Nash: I think the thing over and over that I saw was that people that, the people that were leading the effort that was in trouble, they weren’t bad people, they weren’t bad human beings, they weren’t evil people, they weren’t dumb people, they were really good people but they just were focused on the wrong things. Typically, they had blinders on and they were focused on sub-subset of it my undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering was about optimizing a system and you learn when you optimize a system, you don’t optimize each piece; you might have one piece working at a sub optimal way, but that makes the whole system throughput better and these people just had blinders on and they were kind of doing what their Managers told them to do or their incentive program told them to do. They weren’t just opening their view and say wait a minute, what am I doing for the whole company? Is this building a great company, it’s just doing what’s right for the customer and they just didn’t have that in mind they were just following this thing, just following the contract not a letter or something like they are rather than stepping back and saying what we really need to do here? What’s right? And so, when I got in these scrambles to clean things up, first thing I had to do is just kind of sit back and take a big view and say what’s right to do? What’s the right thing to do? And once you figure out the right thing to do, then you can figure out OK now, in this system, how do I get this right thing done and who was to do what?

Jason Treu: So, who are your Mentors? you know when you were growing or during this time right now really made an impact on your life?

Ron Nash: Well I think Mentors change; that and you always think I mean when I read about things, people talk about Mentors and they talk about them as people that are older, people are more experienced, and when you’re young that’s true. I mean your Parents and your Teachers and your Ministers and Coaches and now all these are your mentors you copy them and emulate what they’re doing, you listen to what they say but you also observe what they’re doing and I think both of those have equal input it’s how they as well as what they say but then as your career gets going, you turn around to a different view, I came to be that I had Mentors that maybe weren’t that work for me that were younger than me, they were less experienced but they had particular skills that were better than me and if your place so where early in my career I looked upward for inspiration as I got higher in the organization, it was easier to look downward for inspiration and see what my peers were doing or what people and organizations were doing.

Jason Treu: Who taught you that? I mean how did you figure out to take a look at in a new perspective?

Ron Nash: I think once I got to be a C.E.O, it got you to be, lonely is the wrong word because you know everybody kind of caters to a C.E.O. but there is some aloneness to being a C.E.O. There are things sometimes that you want to discuss, that you don’t really know where the audiences used to go to your Boss and now you kind of don’t have a Boss. So, you know and so you’ve got to figure out another outlet where you can have discussion and where you can have give and take in everything like that and so you have to look downward and take pieces of it to different people at different times and so it was just a practical reaction I think for me for finding out how do I do better? How do I learn? There was more to be learned at looking at the people around me and the organization than it was for trying to you know look at some other C.E.O. of a company 10times my size and try to learn from something like that it was just a practical way to learn and so I continue my learning but my Mentors changed over a period of time from those in support you know superior positions to me to those in support.

Jason Treu: Of this it’s only now is the pain of doing that force you to take a look in a different way you’re getting more isolated for being at the top.

Ron Nash: Yeah, I wasn’t learning, I mean I was doing the job but I wasn’t growing as fast and I just learned if you’re not growing and you’re not changing, you’re not getting better; you’re kind of getting behind. The world changes, the world gets tougher every day, that competition gets tougher. So, if you’re not stepping it up, you’re not making it. I found myself just that was it wasn’t all just luck on autopilot I was working hard but I wasn’t getting any better I had to find an outlet for an intellectual stimulation to get better and I found it in the teams that were working for me

Jason Treu: Do you see now people you’re mentoring working with another company those Executives, do you help them see that, because a lot of times I see people not doing anything. They’re just feeling alone and they’re not stepping outside the organization. But for other people it’s a lot of problems and challenges south especially as they climb up the quarter ladder.

Ron Nash: When I talk to people, I talk about that particularly because and I talked about in this company way in a company this company that put a 3years is doubling almost every year and we had a company meeting and I talked to people I said you know it’s hard for a company to double every year its but it’s a really neat thinking when you’ve got that big of a market and that hot of a product that things are going well but it’s next to impossible for a person to double their intellectual capability every year. So, we have to try to figure out how do we how do I mean it’s a daunting task if you think of this year on that level. You know a certain level next year I have to be twice as good, twice as good, maybe I’m a 45year old person and I have to be twice as good in 12months, I mean that’s you know a daunting challenge and so I said, we’ve got to help each other, we’ve got to hire a lot of other smart people, we’ve got to do a lot of things; as are our companies not going to continue doubling if we don’t learn how to learn and so we just you talk about it and you tell people about it.

Jason Treu: How open you think people are that message not only open to taking action that’s the key.

Ron Nash: I think it varies. I think the A-players and the best people look at that and they start salivating and lick their lips and so they think wow! this is fantastic place to be, I had to be here at this point in time. Some people in middle thing, you know get a little lip service, like you know try some of the glass happy at the cynics say you know. You know that’s a bunch of B.S. from the guy at the top get out just ignore it. But you’ve always got you know a spectrum of people and my hope is that over time we open up more people than we have today, that we get more to buy and that next year, when it come back and we doubled again and I come and say OK look we’re in the last year we talked about doubling we’ve done it again. Now you’ve got to do so and so over time I’m hopeful that will open up more and more of those people because we’ll only be strong if people get stronger.

Jason Treu: So how do you look at that leadership one wasn’t really figured out is it because a lot you know. As the C.E.O. of a company, people are not coming up to you for the most part telling you you’re doing things wrong because there’s an intimidation factor you’re the Boss. So, how do you keep someone at that level? Keep yourself sharp and have people pouring out to you need to work on the hard truth, how do you surround yourself with those types of people? What do you have to do in order to get them actually to give you that information?

Ron Nash: Well, you have to recruit good people but then you have to tell them that’s part of what you expect from them; you have to say look, I don’t have all the answers and I’m going to take us off in a wrong direction from time to time and you are empowered to grab me and get me by the collar and sit me down, I mean I’ve had people that are in my group, grab me by the collar and said look Ron, you’re going to sit down in this conference room, you’re going to shut up for a half an hour, I want to go over the white board, I’m going to explain what you’re saying is wrong, you’re not going to argue with me, you’re going to listen to me for half an hour at the end of that time we’ll have a conversation, OK let’s go. And cash isn’t that important, isn’t that valuable to have people empowered to do that.

Jason Treu: You got to stay open to that you have to get just if you meet with them. No, you’re open to that feedback and then receive the feedback because otherwise people won’t do that.

Ron Nash: That’s right yeah and you can’t cut them off and you’ve got to listen to them and everything like that I thought it our company meeting in January, this company meeting I said look you know we’ve all got to help each other. I said I gotta learn how to be a better C.E.O. I’m going to be a C.E.O. in a company is going to be twice the size next year. I got to grow this year, I need your help to have helped me grow and some people were just stunned that a C.E.O. would say something like that.

Jason Treu: Because a lot of people that are that successful at that and the tip of the spear got there because they’re narcissistic, they’re working right hard and people like that are not open to feedback, they say they are, but they’re not.

Ron Nash: That’s correct! A lot of leaders of particularly in the Entrepreneurial space are visionary type people that probably have big blind spots but then they have something they’re focused on that’s really right and true and that thing just drives them forever and they know or all the other stuff and that works for a while but I think to build a truly great company, you have to have that visionary leadership but you also have to have somebody that is open to grow. Somebody Scarlet is just there are just very few people that are just come right out of the box and can go for decades and decades and leading and building a great company doing the same thing over and over again. I think growth and intellectual growth and intellectual honesty and stuff like this just very important.

Jason Treu: So, haven being on the board and giving feedback to people that are running the company, take me through that, like how is that trying to get feedback and have them implement it.

Ron Nash: It’s hard to be on a board, I’ve done a lot but I don’t want or I wasn’t asked or lots of it we’re talking as I’m an expert and seen a lot of well expert I mean I’ve made some mistakes up learn from that mistakes. Smarter than the average maybe but it’s hard because on a ball on a board really that the board has almost like a barbell type thing one level of our board to focus on strategy, long-term thing, project, some general processes but then every once in a while, something not going right has to dive in and say essentially, that the one question that the board have is does do I have the right leader? You know and how do I to dive in then now unfortunately lot of board members are kind of Meddlers, they’re much more comfortable getting into the mind of how you run a company efficiently or something and then they are sticking to what they need to be which is the long-term strategy right and do I have the right team?

Jason Treu: what you think matters? is it the fears here that people might be able to execute it, that then you know that yeah 22

Ron Nash: It’s again, it’s back to leadership when you when you get to be your first leadership job, all of us I think and I did this and everybody, you immediately think OK I’m going to get everybody to do everything the way I do it, and that’s the wrong step. You know nobody is ever going to do things the way you did them but you’ve got to get them to do is, get them to do things better than you did them in different ways.

Jason Treu: And you’ve got to look at the first lesson, we’re trying to get people to do it your way.

Ron Nash: Because I would start to tell people they were doing some way and say well why don’t you do it this way and then they would say well no I’m doing so and so I would have back and forth at some point in time in the conversation, I just sit back and thought wait a minute, you know what he’s talking about is really better than what I was talking about. You know and I’m the leader and Gosh! He’s got a better way than me even Gosh! I guess you know to go with the flow and do that that’s better for all of us and then I started thinking, well maybe other people have better ways to do it than I was doing it so you kind of detach from your own way of doing and I think in Boards, it’s that way too. A lot of times the board people have operated companies before, they’ve tried to do with, they’ve something has worked for them and they’re giving you that suggestion which is great but they’ve got to let you run on your own thing. I mean one of the most Valuable things that I got out of board members was sometimes, I would go and say OK the company has this challenge of this opportunity and here’s the plan, we have to do it and I take that to the Board and I have a Board member say Ron, I don’t know, it just doesn’t smell right, I can’t put my finger on it, you know everything you said was right, I don’t disagree with anything you said but my gut feel it’s just I don’t know if you’re I don’t know if that’s right or not I go back and look at all and I found that when I went back and look at it, maybe a third of the time I found out I had done a lot so that’s a fantastic advice but the only advice the person gave me was, I can’t tell you what it is just go check your stuff you know and so that’s what I think as a Board member, you treat you have to tell you try to bring the benefit of your experience and you have to tell the Management team, this pattern I’ve seen before and I’m uncomfortable that this pattern is optimal and I can’t tell you what the right pattern is, I can’t tell you how to redo it, you know the business you know far more than I do, but go back and check in with it and if you’re more right than wrong in those things that’s valuable contribution from a board member.

Jason Treu: What we do as the C.E.O. and also means the Chairman of Board that your own or do you have more numbers that are more meddlers or that are trying to get into them in order to get them back the whole being more the strategy and long-term vision.

Ron Nash: Well you talk with them just like you talk with anybody else and you try to get them to grow up into the right position and such like that and if you can’t then you have to change, it’s you know, it’s funny that you think of changing your Boss is but that’s kind of what you had to do at times you know because they Board is the Boss of the C.E.O. they pick a C.E.O. out and you know but sometimes if you don’t if the Board’s are not working right, you need to get it working right, you need to get the best out of all those people and such like that it’s another team and teams have to work well for the organization to survive. If you have bad dynamics on your Board, it’s going to not work well for the organization.

Jason Treu: So, I’ll like to know what time does it in your career what’s been one of your darkest days you know how you overcame it, get to the next level, what exactly happened?

Ron Nash: I think in the easy examples, the company Pivot-three that I’m with now, which is a fantastic company that’s doing fabulously well, I was an early investor in this company and a Board member and over a period of time, the company was growing but it got into a position with the leadership that was and with the leadership of the Board, where in a few years ago, it was affectively, financially mismanaged and was bankrupt and it was within days of closing. And so, I was frustrated I mean I had I been a participant in this. I was on the Board, I was an investor, if it closed I was going to lose all the money that I’d put in for my own the investment.

Jason Treu: How are you feeling at that point? It’s not just losing money, it’s the feeling that goes along letting people down.

Ron Nash: yeah it was letting people down. I felt an obligation to the people at this company, to preserve their jobs, I felt an obligation to the customers, to that had bought from us and trusted us to support our product and stuff on an ongoing basis that an obligation to the financial people and everything I was just frustrated and so I dove into try to do a rescue plan and the rescue plan in a company like that, when the good thing was about that the product was good the technical people were talented and the market was huge. And those things are hard to get, so hot it was just it was just financially mismanaged and so the rescue plan…

Jason Treu: Did you come up with the plan? Did you get people?

Ron Nash: Yeah you just know, I did with the team but I led the rescue plan and I had again doing turnarounds probably early in my career for Ross Perot. I’d say one of the things that a turnaround you have to do is, you have to establish a trust level of all parties. You’ve got to talk to all the people and so I had to go talk to the bank, I had to go talk to our vendors, that we weren’t paying our customers that we were slow and delivering things out to our people that were worried about losing their jobs and I had to say look, here is a plan; we can’t snap our fingers and change theirs instantly but we can change it in two years and here’s how we can be in 2years and if you do these things in 2years, I’m going to ask the bank to do theirs, I’m going to ask the vendors to do theirs, I’m going to ask the employees to do theirs and ask the customers to do theirs and if everybody buys and it locks arm that will commit to two things: No1, we’re going to be explicitly open and transparent. We’re not going to lie to anybody, we’re going to show everybody where we are, we’re going to report to them how we’re doing on the plan and we’re going to say; if you trust us, let’s go on day by day, month by month and if we make progress, trust us in 2years, we can be out of the US we can have all the money paid back, we can have our company have a solid financial footing and we can be off and running. And so, you’ve just got to get everybody to buy and all the trust basis and then you’ve got a monitor and then you’ve got to execute on the plan and so we did that and be executing a plan and in less than 2years we’ve been in the plan. We paid off the stuff all the debt we had been paid off, we paid off all the vendors, and you know nobody lost of Penny and the saying of the vendors It was fantastic. But it’s all about laying out a plan that you can do being very explicit and open with the people and being very, very honest and forthcoming about where you are and what’s working and what’s not. I mean I went to the bank a couple of times that 2year period and said, I know I told you that I would get this deal and I would collect this money, but I’ve got a payroll next week and I just don’t have the cash. I need you to help me and because I hadn’t done enough stuff over the time the banker said OK I’ll cover you on that one and then we’ll go and then we got going and then I closed my deal, got my money, paid him back and you develop that trust relationship. And so, once you do a plan like that, you execute it now what it does is it getting credible foundation the people at this company the ones that have been here a long time; they just think man nothing can kill us. I know, we know we were in that dark spot and we know we’re in that tough time and we know odds we’re totally against us to succeed and we did it together, you know they gives a credible foundation for the future.

Jason Treu: So, opening up trust and transparency is the key to getting out of that you are back in the E.D.S days I learned cleanups

Ron Nash: Absolutely!

Jason Treu: Is that the person it was going to be working with about clean ups, did he teach you that at that point or did you observe?

Ron Nash: Yeah. He probably taught me that and then another thing I’ll tell, He was one of the best Mentor things I’ve ever had. He was a, as I said, he was a Ph.D. in operations or just a brilliant guy. He was very, very, tough. He was very very; He was a strong ego you know he would go way out and he would you know assess situations and he was like a Bull in a china shop, he’d go in and say OK look you’re doing this wrong. You’re an idiot get out of here. So, it’s out I mean it’s really, really, tough on people and such like that and that’s just kind of not my nature; I’m soft-spoken, maybe I’m from the south and when I try to get along I can tell people right or wrong but I got to do it is a different way and I remember one time, we had been working on it was a part of the company that was working well and he had been working on it I had to cut out the work and with it with him and we were supposed to make go make this big presentation about our recovery plan to this big audience of like 25people you know half of which would be peace in the company and everything and so we’re ready to go when the day before he said I got something else coming out of town Ron you go and give the presentation that said are you kidding me? like 25years old you know are you kidding me? You know, I can’t go you know there are a listen to me oh yeah he said he you know it you know exactly; he said you can do and I said No they’re not going to listen to me, there’s not a chance you know and he said OK look; he said what I did he said you know me and I just kind of went into this thing like I was an actor almost and said Oh you’d walk in the door and say OK I’m here to save your sorry asses and you know go in this abrasive way and here’s why you’re idiots and here are the 5-things you need to do and I’m going to tell you this and I’m going to save you and you ought to be happy that I’m here otherwise you lost all your money, this thing would come crashing you know I go through this rant kind of thing and he’s back laughing cause I’m kind of impersonating him you know and at the end, he says perfect. He said just go say that and I said go and look it up go that’s they’re not going to take it from me I’m a 25year old kid you know and I got you know I got 6 Vice Presidents there, I got all these people. They’re not going to listen to me, there’s not, there’s not. He said look trust me, he said go in there and act like me, he said just act like me, he said you just did it. he said just think that you’re in a play, you know how I did it, get away from your own persona of how you feel confident and just act like me at a play and see what happens. I said it’s not going to work, he said look if it doesn’t work I’ll catch you; no harm, no foul. I’m the one that told you to do it, just go do it and act like me and I go in there and I tried that and acted like him and it worked. I mean I had these people like eating on my hands, I mean I was stunned and I have these you know 50year old VP’s and OK Ron if you were here what would you do about this one? All great advice, thank you! And I’m just startled but what it told me was how far from the persona of how I felt about myself as a person and how strong I was, I could extend that range way outside of my comfort zone and get away with it. Now, it’s not a license to steal but still, it told me that I can look at people that have different abilities and styles from me and I can pick particular pieces of their style that works in particular situations and I can just adopt that style even though it’s not part of my persona, if it’s the style that works in a situation, that I doubt that and so it was an extraordinarily valuable mentorship lesson for me just to learn that.

Jason Treu: To be stepped way outside our comfort, to step away out of the comfort zone

Ron Nash: And also, not just step out and also emulate things that other people do that worked. You know and do that on a style wise and basis and everything like that. And so, I think that’s applicable to public speaking you know so many people don’t like to speak in front of big groups and such like that and because they think something’s going to happen and it’s going to be negative for them and all but you know a public speaking just look at the best public speakers in the world and copy what they did, you know and it will work for you. You know so it was they act like me, it was a very strong thing that every member throughout my career and it has allowed me to borrow the best of what a lot of people do and to use it in my own work.

Jason Treu: And model after success. So, it’s not as all the time the model of model but why reinvent the wheel that’s our follow them along the way.

Ron Nash: That’s right and just get the mix that works with a particular situation. If I’m in situation X, I might be very aggressive and if I’m a situation Y, I might be very understanding and accommodating and look at the situation and think about what’s the situation? What’s the challenge? What is the mix of leadership skills that will work best in this situation? And then think about who has the OK this is what I need to act like in this situation.

Jason Treu: And obviously over time you got more confident, you took pieces of what he did, and put your own style with it.

Ron Nash: Sure! You internalize it in then do it and so I was never as aggressive as he was but on the other hand, I had to be a lot more aggressive than I was and it was a that became a part of me. And it became second nature after a while.

Jason Treu: So, let’s go back to the E.D.S. days. So, what lead you to the next step in your career? When did you decide to leave E.D.S? What exactly happened and how did you take it to the next level?

Ron Nash? Well as I said, the last few years at E.D.S I was a trouble shooter. You know and so I would fly into these troubling situations and clean them up fast, get them going in the right direction and then hand them off to somebody else to run and then I would come back and kind of like the gunfighter you know discipline you know blow the smoke off the end of your gun barrel. But the gun back in the holster and wait for the next call, to go to the next gun fight. You know and so that was it and so I was learning a lot but it was very satisfied. But there was another part of me that wanted to build things, to build organizations to build people, change things and I’m confident.

Jason Treu: Where did that come from?

Ron Nash: I don’t know, I just think this is part of my persona, that it’s just something I wanted to do. I wanted to, it wasn’t ownership, it was just building and helping people. I knew a lot of times when I was doing the troubleshooting. I’ll see people and I would think I mean I ended up laying people off a lot of people the times you know and I knew I wasn’t perfect in doing that, and I knew I was doing the thing that had to be done but I would be looking at thank you OK if these 25people, I’m just going to cut these people off, these people right here because that was the right thing to do under the intense pressure to get the thing righted as fast as possible. Out of those 25people, if I had time, I knew that 6-8 of them speak or are potential superstars and I just tossed them away and so I knew I was being long term somewhat ineffective with their inefficient with resources and people and such and if I had time to develop and change some of those people, they could be stars later and so it’s just that part of me that wasn’t satisfying and so I left to join, you know try to run a startup you know with you know six or eight people sort of going from you know running thousands of one thousand people to six.

Jason Treu: And why would you do that? It is easy to go to another big company that resume your job as work this was you wanted to build a company up?

Ron Nash: But I just wanted to build something that gets a step back and say, I build that and I helped do it I put my stamp out and everything.

Jason Treu: That went to the opposite sort of carrying something down now you’re up is that a building.

Ron Nash: Absolutely! Opposite and it was stunning I mean after all Miles after about six months almost left and went back to a big company because I was used to I was at a certain level at a big company and so when you get a certain level, the pace changes fast. As  you’re seeing, it’s not that you’re taking credit for everybody’s work but that the amount of things flying by your eyes is fast and you know when a person company we’d have a meeting we’d say OK what we need to do these are the three top things we need to do OK Are body grades OK well let’s go do that well no I’m but everybody was busy but me and so they all started going to do I mean so I felt like after about 6months that I was just like marching through a swamp with concrete overshoes. Things were going in the right direction but they’re going so slow compared to what I was used to seeing and I was thinking I was a failure and then one of the things that got me out, I went to some meeting of C.E.Os of startup companies or something and I start talking with these other C.E.Os and I’m telling what I’m doing and they’re saying oh man you’re a superstar and I’m thinking what??? This seems to be going slow as crystal, on oh you’re going you know my whole measurement system on myself was wrong and I had to readjust the measurement system in that first yeah, I did it through meeting other people in the same

Jason Treu: gain some perspective from now, that helped you see what was going on your life.

Ron Nash: That’s correct! That’s correct! You get a different perspective and again the ability to step back and look at a little more objectively with a properly made all the difference in the world and so I don’t back and built start up and you know and so I’ve alternated big company and small company, big companies are fine because the problems are more challenging. I mean the you know them the harder problems are the ones that surface to the top and I like big leadership task. When you’ve got a lead 3,000people or something is very different than leading a dozen people and you know so, I like that but also, I like the small company thing where we just got our team and everything that bonding in a small company is so much more.

Jason Treu: So, you lead this company, you know what happens to the start-up?

Ron Nash: Yeah it was it was successful. And you know I think ultimately got acquired and I went to another one and another one and I after 14years of running start ups, Ross was starting his second company, Perot Systems and I went back for another round at that time, or Meyerson was the C.E.O. at that time and I had been more accurate.

Jason Treu: How did he recruit you back? Obviously, that’s an interesting story. Did he call you out of the blues?

Ron Nash: Well actually the third company I was running more happen to be an investor in OK you know and I stayed in touch with him and when Ross ran for President in 1992, He brought Moore Dan to be C.E.O of Pro systems and so the company the third startup we sold sort of Shortly after that and Moore and said look, you know I’ve got a lot to do over here why don’t you come over here with me at Borough systems and so I came into there and so that’s how I connected with it.

Jason Treu: What were you doing with process at that time?

Ron Nash: Let’s say, I had several jobs, it to kind of to pin it on our organizational structure for a while we had 4people that ran America and 4people that ran Europe. Team basis, I was one of the 4 in the America’s team. And then next we went to a geographical functional organization and I ran Sales and Marketing and then we kind of went back to geographical and I moved over to London and I was running Europe in Asia geographical. So, I was to pin to the Bundy organization at the time that idea was it’s a great run, a lot of smart people got to do a lot of fun thing.

Jason Treu: What did you learn from Moore? What did you take away?

Ron Nash: And He’s very different than Ross. Moore is creative, he’s like a Philosopher in the you know he’s got stuffed into the technology industry or something like that you know it’s in some ways a total mismatch of the industry at all but the strength that he brings, the strength of this creative stuff he would get a number of different people outside, I mean there was this company that we acquired that I worked with him on acquired and hired anthropologist. I mean with the tech who do you know that has ever had a business that hired anthropologists you know much less in the technology industry but what they did is, they hired anthropologists to study human behavior kind of like Margaret Mead looking at the Aboriginal people or something and try to figure out what people were doing and use that for product development and I mean it’s really and it really was that they were really smart people and it really worked but I’m thinking costs more time how did you ever figure that out how did you even consider the fact that bolting on a company of anthropologist to a technology company could make sense. But they would give breakthroughs, they would get breakthroughs like one of the National rent a car with us it was our customers and they are one of the ways the  anthropologist study that they would put literally put cameras like in the real power lot and they would watch customers and their facial expressions as they came down, and you know if you go to (not clear) and they say OK you’ve got to rent a car and you’re slot your cars in but B12 and you’ll walk into B11 and this is a piece of crap old car and you look at be allowed on there, it’s a nice car nice and shot it is you’d really rather have it you’re stuck with B12 they pick that up off the T.V. screen, (Wow) And so they came to national I said a big differentiator you can have let people select their car. You know just like people select their car a certain you know if they if they say oh there’s a new Buick so and so and yeah, I’ve seen that ad on T.V. I want to drive one of those and you pick the Buick, you know that people are going to be happier and more loyal. Anthropologists I mean, how could you figure that out, you know and that’s one of the things that Moore did and one of the things I learned from him he, yes, he did not like incremental progress he just like breakthroughs for it things and he would just sit there and try to get new people to come in and new ideas and new everything, until he got a breakthrough idea. And you know and that’s hard to do too that’s a very, very different than the driven nature of Ross it was bang, bang, bang, action, action, action you know.

Jason Treu: How did they both get along because they have their different styles?

Ron Nash: I think the combination of the two of them was powerful when they were working together, which they were yes you know I think they had some ethical basis and business basis that they connected but they had very different styles and I think the company was stronger because of it when they both were involved working.

Jason Treu: So, then you got to the end at E.D.S, what did you do at that point because you obviously decided to leave.

Ron Nash: Well once I had this was I was so I was living in London in the late 90s and that was when the .com time, If you think of all these startups and everything and so I was a Senior Executive in Perot Systems and you know so Senior Executive in the technology industry and I would have all these recruiters call me and I mean the calls would typically be you know so I’m aware they’re running a few thousand people and doing all this stuff and they would say Ron you know we got this start up out in Silicon Valley and it’s ready to go public. We’ve already got the S1 drafted but we need a senior technology leader, a C.E.O. and if you come over to this thing and I can be C.E.O. within 60days, we’ll be public probably 5-6hundred million valuation and as the C.E.O. your share will be $32million and it’s like well 6months work $32m? You got my attention, you know what do I have to do and you know and well tell me a little about the company like what’s the revenue? Well it’s really pretty revenue, we’ve got about $30,000 revenue but you know it’ll come later and I’m you know I’m kind of rolling my eyes and I would say like OK how many people you know there are in the company? they’d say something like 17 or something and I’m kind of scratching my head and everybody in the US was kind of caught up in this .com stuff and but when you’re over in London, it was just enough distance; I’m thinking this it sounds crazy. I actually flew to Silicon Valley couple time and looking at these things and kind of scratching my head thinking how can this thing be that way that much and all but they were and so what happened was a friend of mine was a guy named Barry cash in Dallas who was successful in the semiconductor industry and they’re very successful picture capital investor and stock all very with what’s going on type question and he said to me it’s a credit he just nailed it he said look, they aren’t lying to you that that is happening. He said it is happening, they are taking these little bitty companies their I.P.O. going in for those values and that’s effectively, if you can sell your stock has to drop, that’s that that you would get he said Now here’s the question he said we all think it’s kind of a scam deal and it’s kind of like musical chairs How long’s the music going to play? He said, if you come along and one of these companies and you I.P.O. it and it stays up the valuation stay up there for long enough you get out a lock up and sell some of your stock you can make a ton of money but if you come along join one of these companies in the music stops playing this craziness stops, you’re going to be really sad that you left a big position at Pro systems to join this company that’s probably going to be wiped off the face of the earth and he said, I said OK that makes yes and he said Have you ever thought of being instead of just a business guy a future capital investor and that started my connection with joining in to west which with a firm where Barrett was. And so, I joined that instead of taking one of these little bitty couplings thank goodness, because these you know they did the music that stopped playing in like the spring of 2000 and stop playing with a thud.

Jason Treu: That you enjoyed, what it’s worth your time you know what was your big takeaway from that experience?

Ron Nash: Well I think one of the you know the one of the strongest things we were always trying to figure out how do you get giant deals? You know because, there are a lot of deals you can invest in and maybe make a little money but the ones that drove fund performance and we’re the ones that are you know you’d put money in the company would be worth billions and so, we went back and studied the pattern of giant deals that we all thought giant deals would be something that when like his team showed up at our office to invest again they would say oh we got a great idea, we’re revolutionize this industry and we’re out the lightbulb would go on we all say oh yeah that makes sense we’re going to do it every day and that wasn’t the pattern at all we studied the pattern of giant deals and when you start a company and say if you say OK here’s the product on them make, Here’s the industry I’m going to attack, here’s how I’m going to and here’s the business model many years and that’s Plan A and they go out there and start it and it kind of isn’t working and you think oh man! This is not working we’ve got to set different OK let’s do plan B and you change the industry, change the product, change the business, that doesn’t work you go to Plan C. Play B OK, these big successes average between halfway between Plan B. and Plan C. So, if when they showed up at our office, that was Plan A, what they succeeded was halfway between B. and C. So to me, it said the management team and the Board have to be agile and they have to be open to say something different maybe a different way to take this technology and if I had a different market and it’s not so much of just putting blunders on and executing the first break in what you think some brilliant idea is executing about why you’re doing it it’s looking around and say and maybe I’m not in the right industry, maybe I don’t exactly have the right to, maybe I need to repurpose this, maybe if you change the yes but it to me was a big strong west at about agility you have to always be stepping outside yourself to look at yourself and look at your company and say and maybe we don’t have it all right yet feels like it’s working but is there anything else we can do to make it be twice as fast or twice as easy?

Jason Treu: Fantastic it’s out to sleep over your career progression of learning implementing, break it back in the anthropologist with people that we’ve seen something new angle, taking a step back trying to look at massive list just as you did right here and then how did you figure out when people were coming in front of you, whether they were agile you know I mean what did you ask them specifically or what do you to figure out the people that would have a higher chance of executing what you thought was going to be plan B. or C. in the business way.

Ron Nash: I think the thing you have to do and this is something you have to do as a leader if your people are going to try you want your people to try things and to accept the risk and to fail also. I mean you don’t want to fail but if you’re accepting risk, you’ll always fail and if you scramble over everything like that and so you have to bill as an investor, I bond with the people like OK I’m on this team, I’m in this with you, we’re going to take these risk, we’re going to try somethings, it’s you know some are going to work, some are but they don’t work we stop doing that. When they do work, we do that one and we’re going to do this but you’re not going to be perfect. So, I’m not expecting you to come in here and go straight to the stars. I will bond with you, I’ll be in the game with you, I’ll be in the boat with you. We’re you know establish that personal trust with them and that says to them, it allows you to fail in a way if you have to, if you’re trying a big thing and you stumble and pick yourself up and go do something else and start running again. So, I think it’s a personal trust, it’s interesting at Pro systems, one of the guys that Moore had was a guy named Bob Wilson who was a very creative communications and advertising such type person and he came in one day to our leadership meeting of the officers and said, you know I’ve got a kind he’s got a concept called Game Balance, he said if you think of a Pro football team on Sunday afternoon when they play, they don’t learn that much; where they really learn is on Monday when they run the films of the Sunday game and they run in slow motion and they say OK let’s look at this play and run in a slow motion and the other teams linebacker breaks through sacks the quarterback OK who missed the block, who did something wrong, he said you learn in analyzing failure. And so, what I’d like to do is film in business some of the things when we fail, so we all can learn from it and everybody said Yeah what a great idea, fantastic idea, Bob and he said OK great! All right now I got to who’s going to volunteer to let me film their failures? for years everybody folded their arms. Wait a minute, do I really want to be put on videotapes, play and I mess this up you know, I was an idiot, I don’t know what I want to do and so he had no takers and then there came a time about. It was 6months or a year later I think where we were chasing a big international company to try to make a sale to it and it was in Europe and I was overseas when I was over in Europe and then we all so we’re chasing its partner in the US and so two thirds of the officers of the company were involved in this chase and we worked really, really hard and we all did everything we could and at the last minute our competitor cut their price by like 30% and just under bid you know and we lost and so I was just devastated. I was over in Germany and so I called Bob and I said Bob look, you know we just failed, we just lost this sale maybe this is one we can film and he said OK. I want everybody to fly to Dallas immediately, I’ll get the videotape guy and so we all fly into Dallas and they film and they film me. If you think of 60minutes when like Mike Wallace was interviewing some swindler in this when there was a lie to it how they zero lies away from his eyes to his mouth, that’s the way they film this thing and all of us looked terrible, I mean I had deep circles under my eyes and I looked like I had just been with up because I had you work so hard and lost this thing you know and all of a said this reading stuff about you know I did A and B and C but I just didn’t think D was that important you know, if I just worked harder by just one more that might have been the thing that got us over the and the reality of this film, I mean it was incredibly powerful because you had all these VPs saying I thought I had it, but I didn’t cover every base and we started using that film with orientation classes to let people know that even VPs sometimes fail and the thing that made it really needed 60days later the company that had dropped their price tried to gain back in negotiations all that they had cleared, and they didn’t sign a contract and the customer called us back and we got the contract. So, it was even better in the long-term but the gritty reality of that and that’s what I like to say to the new employees; you know that all of us have challenges, all of us have things that we bring that we’re going to do well, but none of us have all the answers and we all had to help each other and doing this, we all had to learn, we ought to look objectively at ourselves and at others and when we do that, we’re going to be a much more powerful organization.

Jason Treu: Doing a postmortem is really important especially when things don’t go well.

Ron Nash: Right, it’s very important, that’s when you learn. Here’s the things that trip to some.

Jason Treu: Interesting! So, I know you’ve done you know mergers and acquisitions, that’s why I wanted to ask you, know how, what do you think are the keys of being successful? In a merger and acquisition, what do you think people do that actually mess them up? Because, you know in today’s world, there’s a lot going on and financing such work, people be interested in your perspective.

Ron Nash: I think the easy things and in transactions, are looking at out of the technologies merged out of the business as merge the two and of all things those things are the easy things the difficult things are the intangible things like the cultures of the companies and styles of the companies and such. So that whenever you acquire a company, I mean you want all those people and maybe there’s some idiot there that you don’t like, that you want to live but situate you want all of those people and you envision them all working, just like your team works. But they come from a different background, a different culture than your team and so, you’ve got to be open to merging some things in the culture, and in the styles, in the process, in the methodology and a lot of these things you’ve got to be open to do that because you’re acquiring of the people, I mean the tangible assets like the technology if you buy or if you’re buying a factory or something those things transfer you know very well. But you also want people to get back to the saying about the agility that a management team has to have, you want those people, you’ve got to merge they have and that’s the challenging mergers is making those people who like it they have a company, and they were growing a company, and they had a vision of success at that company, and they you know they didn’t think they will be acquired by A.B.C. Company and it suddenly out of nowhere A.B.C. Company acquire some of their kind of shaking their head, wow! I have to adopt a different vision.

Jason Treu: How to do that how to get the cultures and especially the new people coming in maybe they are at Executive level, acquiring company people to work with for a long time and that’s it’s difficult when the trust factor is different and cold so how to go about doing those things, what steps does someone have to take in order to make that a reality? It’s nice to talk about it, that’s why I think most people fail.

Ron Nash: That’s right! The first thing is mix people up. I mean just gotta mix people up. I think you’ve got a fire some people out of the company just acquired promote them to some job in the acquiring company and vice-versa and just shuffle the deck a little bit and mix people up. Let people know that this is a meritocracy right off the bat and say we’re going to take the best of the best and give them the best jobs and they’re going to do the most forward. And that is the way that we’re all going to succeed here, and that’s a big thing. Secondly, you got to be a listener, you got to listen beyond that thing. It’s one of the things that I see Executives, the mistakes they make a lot is they get impatient and they just don’t look in-depth. You know we’re all we’re all vulnerable to a fast-talking person that says OK I got all the answers and here they are; you know and you’ve got to look past that and so, when you acquire a company, you don’t want to be vulnerable of somebody that you’ve got to look at what they were doing and you might be doing it a different way, but you’ve got to look 2-3levels. They can see what’s the real positive gain, what’s the uniqueness that they have, how can I use that, and you’ve got to look deeper at all it touches a little more tangible.

Jason Treu: That’s Fantastic! A couple last questions. Yes! and so success to you is what?

Ron Nash: On the other day to have fun and have some more challenges, every day on this earth is precious, every day is different, it’s just fantastic. I come to work in the morning, I think what I’m I going to learn today?

Jason Treu: Pressure makes people do what?

Ron Nash: Good or bad things depending upon how you react to it; like pressure can make you clarify your thinking, pressure can make you work harder, pressure can also put acid in the pit of your stomach and eat you from the inside out, you got to learn how to deal with it properly.

Jason Treu: Leadership is?

Ron Nash: Making people see that they can be better than they are today and listing them in a calm a common cause to do something great.

Jason Treu: And then finally, Mastery is?

Ron Nash: Well, I don’t think you ever master anything, I just don’t think you do. This world changes too much, I don’t think you ever master anything. You can get better or worse, my objective is just to get a little better each day at whatever I’m doing.

Jason Treu: That’s fantastic! Thanks a lot Ron, we appreciate that you’ve dropped a lot of jams and wisdom on the audience today and we have all of those things in the show notes, you can learn more about Ron at You will have all those things in the show notes all the winks. Thanks again Ron, for coming on the show today, we appreciate.

Ron Nash: Thank you, I enjoyed talking with you very much.

[End of Transcript]

In This Episode:

  • The impact his parents had him and their burning desire to succeed
  • Serving in the Army in the same unit as George Washington’s first infantry
  • Why getting outside your comfort zone is critical and so is seeking out the toughest and best competition
  • The philosophies and information he took away from Ross Perot and Mort Myerson?
  • How to find mentors at any stage of your career
  • How to spot bigger investment deals as a VC or angel investor
  • The biggest leadership blindspots and how to move beyond them
  • How to turn around any situation in business and the #1 strategy that will help you (and an example to hit it home)
  • How National Rental Car used anthropologists to make a huge business decision
  • Why doing a post-mortem after any major event is very, very important (i.e. why watching NFL game films on Monday morning are the way to the biggest breakthroughs).
  • How to handle mergers and acquisitions
  • Why forming personal trust with your peers and direct reports is linked to your success
  • Why modeling after success works, and how to do it authentically


“You have to continue to do new things and get outside your comfort zone to in order to get to the next level of success. This also brings you the ultimate satisfaction.”

On mentors:

  • “How they live is just as important as what they say.”
  • You can also find mentors that work for you, and are younger than you. They have a particular skill set that is better than yours. So learn from them.”

“Ask yourself…’Is this the right thing to do for the (customer, company, employees, etc.)?’ and then get the right systems and people, and go do it!”

“How do I get better? How do I learn more?”

“I have to learn how to be better a CEO. I need your help.”

On Board member’s feedback to executives:

“It’s about the long-term strategy and do I have the right team in place.”

“The key to any turning around any company is to build trust with every party involved inside and outside the company.”

“When you are stuck, ask yourself, “What would a person do I admire, and then act and model it. You can internalize it as you go a long and integrate into your own style.”

“Plan A changes to Plan B and half way to C. That’s the sweet spot of giant deals.”

“Leadership is making people see they can be better than they are today.”


If you enjoyed this session with Ron Nash, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Ron Nash at Twitter!

Click here to let Jason know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

References Mentioned:

  • Ron Nash LinkedIn bio
  • Pivot 3 –  radically simplifes the datacenter by collapsing storage, compute and network resources onto a powerful, easy to deploy solution that would reduce cost, risk  and complexity.
  • Ross Perot – American business magnate and former politician. In 1962, Perot founded Electronic Data Systems, a company he sold twenty years later for $2.4 billion. He went on to set up Perot Systems in 1988. An independent presidential candidate in 1992, he received 18.9% of the popular vote, the highest percentage for an independent or third-party candidate since 1912.
  • Mort Myerson – After joining EDS in 1966 as a Systems Engineer trainee, Morton rose to the position of President, and ultimately led EDS through its acquisition by General Motors in 1984. After retiring as GM’s CTO in late1986, he pursued private investment opportunities working with Richard Rainwater and coaching Michael Dell. In 1992, Morton joined Perot Systems (PSC) as Chairman and CEO. During his tenure, PSC revenue grew from $100M to $1B with $90M in profits.
  • EDS – was an American multinational information technology equipment and services company headquartered in Plano, Texas. It was acquired by HP.
  • Perot Systems – was an information technology services provider founded in 1988 by a group of investors led by Ross Perot and based in Plano, Texas, United States. A Fortune 1000 corporation with offices in more than 25 countries, Perot Systems employed more than 23,000 people and had an annual revenue of $2.8 billion prior to its acquisition in 2009 by Dell, Inc. for $3.9 billion. Subsequently, Dell Services was acquired by NTT DATA in November 2016.
  • Georgia Tech
  • US Army
  • Thanks to Liz Cies at Idea Grove for all her help.


Ron Nash brings senior leadership and experience as the chairman and CEO of Pivot3. He has held numerous leadership roles at both start-up and enterprise information technology companies including ExoLink (acquired by Alliance Data Systems), Advanced Telemarketing (now Aegis Global) and Rubicon (acquired by Cerner), Perot Systems (now Dell Services) and EDS (now HP Enterprise Service). More recently, he served as a partner at InterWest Partners, investing in successful breakthrough technology companies like Pivot3 and Lombardi Software (acquired by IBM).

On your phone? Click here to write us an iTunes review and help us reach and help more people!

Jason Treu is an executive coach. He has "in the trenches experience" helping build a billion dollar company and working with many Fortune 100 companies. He's worked alongside well-known CEOs such as Steve Jobs, Mark Hurd (at HP), Mark Cuban, and many others. Through his coaching, his clients have met industry titans such as Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis, Chris Anderson, and many others. He's also helped his clients create more than $1 billion dollars in wealth over the past three years and secure seats on influential boards such as TED and xPrize. His bestselling book, Social Wealth, the how-to-guide on building extraordinary business relationships that influence others, has sold more than 45,000 copies. He's been a featured guest on 500+ podcasts, radio and TV shows. Jason has his law degree and masters in communications from Syracuse University

Introduction to Executive Breakthroughs (Episodes 0, Parts 1-5)

I’d like to extend this formal introduction to Executive Breakthroughs — where I’ll bring the leading executives, entrepreneurs, experts, venture capitalists, angel investors and industry titans to dig into maximizing your leadership potential and mastering key skills and mindsets for top performers and rising stars.

Check out the introduction podcasts and toolbox editions (where I teach you specific skills and how to master your psychology) to get a better feel for what I’m all about and how I approach leadership and business mastery. Welcome!

PS: Please click here to subscribe, rate and review the podcast. It really makes a huge difference!!! (It’s fine to leave one sentence honest review and takes one minute to do it all. Thank you in advance.)

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” -Albert Einstein

“Amateurs don’t quit until they get it right. Professionals don’t quit until they know they can’t get it wrong.” -Anonymous

“The surest way to achieve success is to model someone who is already successful. If you don’t have good models, find someone who is the best in your chosen field and emulate them. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – simply learn from the best.” -Tony Robbins

“Winners take imperfect action, while losers are still perfecting the plan.” -Tony Robbins

Episode 0, Part 1 - Introduction to Executive Breakthroughs

Today we are becoming overwhelmed with the need for instant reward, immediate verification that we are significant. It’s a misguided attempt to satiate our hunger for meaning and belonging. Because we are propelling ourselves toward an emptiness that can only be filled by a constant need for temporary pleasures and distractions.

Our need to belong, understand, explore, connect to others and the world around us, lead, and express and create are foundational to the human experience.

Mastery is a journey — It’s a curious and wonderful trail — that has few, if any, guides. It’s much more than the pursuit of expert performance. It’s far deeper than high performance and the achievement of success.

In each episode you’ll learn from the most visionary, transformative and standout (and their missteps). You’ll learn how to apply the information with “game changing” tools to help you:


  • Maximize your true potential in your business and career
  • Make your unique mark in the world
  • Lead and inspire others to soar to heights they never thought possible

Blind Spots Are Sabotaging Your Success (Episode 0, Parts 2)

Blind Spots Are Sabotaging Your Success (Episode 0, Parts 3)

Why do people get stuck in the first place?

We have survival patterns and they can really hold us back because they can end up being our blind spots. Back in the “cave man” days our survival patterns actually helped us survive and stay alive. But now most of our fears are not about whether we’d be alive or dead. Now they’re fears that are irrational and they stop us from doing something like talking to a person across the room, starting our own business, leading and managing others, or speaking up at a meeting at work.

We need to turn our survival patterns into patterns of purpose. Patterns that fuel us and allow us to live our dreams. The challenge for people is to how to go about doing that, it may sound simple but it’s not easy.

It’s about going into the root of what’s holding them back starting with behavior, stories, emotions, limiting beliefs, and modeling from childhood.

Share a specific example of someone’s programming holding them back

I was doing a sales training for top producers and a woman wanted to improve. I asked her what stories were holding her back. Her story was that people didn’t like to speak or engage with her on the phone.

I asked what negative emotion come up when she’s in that situation. She said she felt guilt and shame. I asked her what’s the limiting belief she had around this. And she confided that she felt not good enough or a good person.

I asked her to look into her childhood. It turns out that her grandmother and mother would make fun of her voice. And she got pretty emotional as I brought up all of these things.

I then said here’s how you can turn this all around in less than 2 minutes.

Every client and prospect you have, I want you to tell them that the number one reason why you’re in sales is to get past exactly what you told me. That you’ve been made fun of your voice your whole life.

After that her career took off. She made more money in the next six months than anyone else in the entire team.

She was set free.


Lets dive in (brief notes)

1. Look at the behavior you want to change

For example New year’s resolutions and going to the gym. If you look to change at the behavioral level that fails very fast because you’re trying to use brute force change.

Remember your best thinking got you where you are today.

Trying to think yourself into going to work out seldom works.


2. Look at the story you want to change (about the external world around you)

Look at the story you’re telling yourself why you can’t change.

All of your stories are made up (and many of them are “conspiracy” theories.

The “little voice” inside you is telling you that can’t do it and looks for any evidence to convince you.

Most people get caught in the behavior and story loop their whole lives.

3. Dive into the deeper level of the emotional level

Emotions are key and the gateway to change.

Through vulnerability we show our true selves to people. It allows us to be authentic.

But we live in a world where we don’t want to feel any negative emotions.

What you resist you persist and the same goes with emotions.

Ask yourself: When you think about going to the gym what negative emotions pop up, what are you feeling in your body?

You need to get at the core of what’s happening.
Why is that emotion coming up? Ask yourself why.

You need to start to rumble with all the emotions and stories that show up.


4. Below the emotional level are the limiting beliefs that you have.

Limiting beliefs are stories that you have about yourself. Limiting beliefs are having an absolute certainty around whatever you’ve attached that meaning to. A limiting belief that ‘you’re not good enough’. Limiting beliefs are absolutely critical as you have absolute certainty around them.

But all stories and limiting beliefs are made up.


5. Modeling from our childhood

The final level is our biggest stumbling blocks typically happen before the age of 7 or 10.

We model the behavior of our parents, by learning, modeling and accepting.

Now you have to reverse engineer the process

What would I need to do and believe to have the behavior I want or to change the behavior?

What beliefs would I need to have to successfully keep working out at the gym?
What emotions would I need to have to be successful keep working out?
What stories would I need to have to have to keep going to the gym?

The thing that’s always holding you back is you and you have to figure it out.

What if it’s immediately obvious?
Usually it will come out eventually. I’ve never not have it happen.
Some limiting belief will come and ask yourself when was the first time you remember that emotion coming out? And you unpack that moment and reverse engineer that out.

Realize that you’re not a broken person. But understand that it’s just a pattern going on in their life that started as a child. But you can change that pattern.

1% movement of change can have immense change in your life.


Lets Recap:

  • What behaviour do you want to change
  • What stories that come up around that behavior
  • What negative emotions pop up around that behaviour
  • What internal limiting beliefs come up
  • When is the first time you ever remember feeling that way
  • Then reverse engineer the behavior you want to change or replace

Your Purpose is Really An Emotion (Episode 0, Part 4)

“Life purpose” is a pretty common phrase these days, but I have a different spin on the subject. Instead of focusing on specific tasks, projects, career paths, etc, I emphasize the importance of generating the emotions that are the most important to you and that will bring you happiness on a daily basis.

I also share with you a quick and transformative exercise you can. We look at the happiest moments in your life, draws out the most meaningful emotions and then helps you understand how to apply it in your life.

How to Build Extraordinary Relationships (Episode 0, Part 5)

I break down for you how to create extraordinary relationships very, very quickly, and create an urgency for the other person to follow back up with you. I share with you the three pillars to building extraordinary relationships and how to master each pillar with actions you can take.

It’s quick, easy and you can implement it immediately. My clients have built millions of relationships using this process.

On your phone? Click here to write us an iTunes review and help us reach and help more people!

Jason Treu is an executive coach. He has "in the trenches experience" helping build a billion dollar company and working with many Fortune 100 companies. He's worked alongside well-known CEOs such as Steve Jobs, Mark Hurd (at HP), Mark Cuban, and many others. Through his coaching, his clients have met industry titans such as Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis, Chris Anderson, and many others. He's also helped his clients create more than $1 billion dollars in wealth over the past three years and secure seats on influential boards such as TED and xPrize. His bestselling book, Social Wealth, the how-to-guide on building extraordinary business relationships that influence others, has sold more than 45,000 copies. He's been a featured guest on 500+ podcasts, radio and TV shows. Jason has his law degree and masters in communications from Syracuse University

Pin It on Pinterest