Gary Garth – CEO & Co-Founder, White Shark Media

As the CEO and co-founder of White Shark Media, I’m responsible for guiding the company’s strategy and growth. I have over 15 years of experience in online marketing, sales management, and executive leadership.

My early day projects, where I acquired my skills within sales and business development, include establishing several B2B call centers in Denmark and specializing in telecommunication sales for providers such as: Orange, Telia Sonara, and Hi3G. The call center projects involved managing hundreds of agents, and gaining over 100,000 new B2B customers.

My marketing experience comes from being director of agency sales for the Danish division of Europe’s largest radio station: Radio NRJ, where I developed the entire media agency program, managed a staff of 40, and tripled the overall advertising revenue over a 5-year period.

Given the nature of my profession, I’m, of course, a Google AdWords Certified Individual in Advanced Search and Display Advertising. I’m also a Bing Ads Accredited Professional and Google Analytics Certified, but my true passion is sales and business development, where I currently channel most of my energy towards these areas of White Shark Media.

After only 3 years of existence, our rapid growth has resulted in White Shark Media being awarded the Google AdWords™ Premier SMB Partnership, as of July 2014. Since Google AdWords™ Premier SMB Partners are a hand-picked group of strategic partners that meet Google’s most stringent eligibility and training requirements, very few agencies have this privileged recognition.

Similarly, Microsoft recognized our proven track record and success with marketing campaigns for small businesses. As a result, we engaged in an alliance to become part of their selective Bing Ads Authorized Reseller program.

1. How do you define success?
First and foremost then, success is a definition of what one wants to accomplish, i.e. what is your greater purpose, what drives you, and what are you really passionate about? If you manage to fulfill these personal aspirations, then you’re a success in my book. It doesn’t matter if society thinks otherwise.

2. What is the key to success?
I’ve practically read all books possible on the subject, from Tony Robbins to Napoleon Hill. What I’ve learned and experienced, first hand, is that success is a composition of multiple behaviors (and sacrifices). More specifically, here are the 6 steps that I consider relevant to attain success:

Step 1: It’s not sufficient to only desire, want, or strive for success. These are just words or empty promises. Instead, you must understand WHY you want success and how important it is for you.

Step 2: You must truly understand your current position and acknowledge that a change in actions/behaviors are required for you to produce a different outcome.

Step 3: You must change your conditions and surround yourself with people who share your notion (if not possibly physically/geographically, then via books, videos, blogs, etc.) As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather, flock together.” Make sure to get the right influencers in your life.

Step 4: Study and duplicate the mental syntax of someone who’s already successful within your field. Then replicate all of their values, actions, habits, behaviors, etc., when they’re operating to discover their “blueprint for success.” And remember that, often, the devil is in the detail, which is why you must go all in with the approach, with almost surgical precision, in order to anticipate an equal or greater outcome.

Step 5: Consistency! Don’t commit to the goal or your dream. Instead commit, religiously, to the daily activities and sacrifices needed for you to, over time, reach your B.H.A.G. (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). People often fail with the activities when meeting adversity, but that’s when the real growth and progress happens for you, why continued efforts without pause are a requisite for your success. Remember that people are often rewarded in public for what they’ve practiced for years in private!

Step 6: Be humble and work harder. Don’t give up just because you’re ahead of the curve or you’ve met your target/goal. Great leaders are “productively paranoid” and always work as if they were in second place. There’s always some college graduate or startup out there who wants to have your seat at the table.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I actually don’t consider myself successful (yet). I’m a long way from meeting my personal/professional goals, at the current point. With that being said, then I always appreciate the progress I’ve made over the recent years, of which only fuels me with the confidence and energy needed to continue the progress.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
My WHY and reminding myself daily of the goals, steps and reality of my situation, e.g. I read out loud a personal commitment letter that I wrote to myself every morning when I get up, and every night before I go to bed.

Furthermore, reading about other leaders inspires me daily with new thoughts, different perspectives, and strategies to move forward.

Lastly, I’m also a sucker for motivational books, videos, and movies. Every day, usually at the gym in the morning, I listen to motivational speakers in my headphones (favorites are Les Brown and Tony Robbins) of which unconsciously helps me drive the right decisions throughout the day.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
That the best way to succeed in life is by helping other people. If you genuinely want to help people, whether it’s your customers, partners, employees, managers, or any other, you’ll eventually be recognized for your efforts and good things will come your way.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
For me, my work is also my hobby and passion, and I, therefore, spend a great deal of time on it. However, I always find time to go to the gym daily (usually 5am in the morning), and I normally crunch 2 books every month. Lastly, I always prioritize, making time to spend some quality time with my 3-year-old daughter. I rarely watch TV, but if I do, then there’s usually an NBA game or tennis match in action!

7. What makes a great leader?
A great leader always leads by example, communicates to his/her team effectively without criticism, but rather as coaching.

Furthermore, it’s absolutely pivotal that a leader always ties initiatives and strategies back to the WHY, i.e. Why are you/we doing this, and how does it benefit our stakeholders?

Equally important is that a leader masters the art of delegation and empowers his/her team with the right resources and support for them to meet their KPI’s and objectives.

This, of course, all falls back to the overarching quality of a great leader: To onboard the right team of diversified professionals who all share the vision of the company or organization.

As one of my favorite authors, Jim Collins, says: “Great leaders always start with getting the right people on the bus, and the wrong people of the bus.”

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Take a lot of different jobs/projects early on in your career, in order to discover what you’re really passionate about. Don’t start a career in a certain field because you’re guided in such direction by parents, friends or counselors.

For the sake of living a happy life and becoming successful in your profession, it’s crucial that you work in an arena that motivates you to do better, make a difference, and challenges yourself at a daily level.

As Laszlo Bock (from Google) says in his book Work Rules!, you’ll spend more time working than doing anything else in your life. Therefore, make sure you’re operating in a field that you’re passionate about, and work for an organization that values your contribution!


This interview is an excerpt from Never Give Up by Jason Navallo.

Tom Deierlein – Co-Founder & CEO, ThunderCat Technology

Tom Deierlein is a West Point graduate, successful serial entrepreneur, Airborne Ranger, combat-wounded military veteran, and philanthropist who co-founded the TD Foundation. He is passionate about leadership development, business ethics, sales, overcoming adversity, and helping others less fortunate, both locally and globally.

Tom was recently named “EY Entrepreneur of the Year” and is the co-founder and CEO of ThunderCat Technology, a systems integrator that specializes in data center solutions for the Federal government. Founded only 7 years ago, ThunderCat is already ranked #60 on the “VAR 500” and was named by Forbes as one of “America’s Most Promising Companies.”

Tom has been a single digit employee and C-level executive at many successful startup and early-stage companies, including as chief operating officer of Dynamic Logic, a digital media startup he helped to bring from a 7-person operation with less than $1M in revenues into a 125 person, clear market leader. He helped lead the acquisition of DL by WPP in 2005. Previously, he was the NYC branch manager for NetGravity (IPO in 1998 and now a part of Google).

Tom started his career in sales working for Johnson & Johnson and Parametric Technology Corporation in the mid-90s. Tom is also a partner in a real estate investment firm, Bull Run Properties, LLC, based in Kansas City, Missouri. A Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, Tom is a retired U.S. Army major and “Operation Iraqi Freedom” veteran. Graduating from USMA, West Point in 1989, Tom spent nearly five years in the military, first earning his Airborne Ranger qualification and then onto various leadership positions with the Berlin Brigade. In late 2005, Tom was recalled to active duty serving as a civil affairs officer in East Baghdad. After graduating from the JFK Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, he helped manage over $290 million in reconstruction and economic development projects.

In September 2006, he was shot by a sniper and critically wounded. After 8 months of intensive care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the VA Polytrauma Spinal Cord Rehab Center in Tampa, Florida, Tom returned to the business world in June 2007. He has been quoted and featured in The New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Parade, FOX News, MSNBC.com, SmartCEO, and NBC Nightly News.

In Fall 2006, a foundation was started by Tom and others to assist children impacted by war Iraqi and Afghan Children. This includes the children of wounded warriors and fallen heroes. To date, they have provided more than 50 life-saving surgeries, more than $200,000 in school supplies, and more than $25,000 in vitamins. Additionally, Tom is a certified peer mentor with the Wounded Warrior Project, and mentor with Care Coalition. He coaches other severely wounded and disabled Special Operations Command soldiers. Tom is also a founding board of advisors member of Troops First Foundation. Lastly, Tom serves on the board of directors for The Joseph Riverso Foundation, a scholarship fund for student athletes named in memory of his elementary and high school friend who lost his life on 9/11.

Tom earned an M.S. in Systems Management from the University of Southern California in 1993, and an M.B.A. from NYU Stern School of Business in 2000. He lives with his wife Mary Beth and three boys in Garden City, NY.

1. How do you define success?
At its core, the definition of success is simple: It is setting, then achieving goals. For many people, that may equate to professional successes or financial successes. For others, success is being the best possible mom or dad. It could be a high school student trying to make the basketball team sophomore year after getting cut as a freshman, or a nonprofit trying to prevent veteran homelessness. The goals and objectives are vastly different, and they can be personal and silly (solve the Rubik’s Cube in under 5 minutes), professional (have my own business), or financial (pay for my three childrens’ college education).

Whenever I think about success or become too narrow-minded and focus on financial or professional goals, I also come back to this poem that hung on my refrigerator in NYC for about a decade. This poem is often misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson but written by Bessie A. Stanley around 1904:

“To laugh often and love much;

to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;

to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self;

to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded”

There is a new movement afoot to get Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary to change their definition to include “happiness.” So, for anyone reading this, I would simply encourage them to come up with their own definition of success. Then, set up a series of goals and interim milestones to achieve your vision for your own success.

2. What is the key to success?
To me, the key to success is in the definition itself: setting goals. If success is goal achievement, success starts with setting realistic and meaningful goals. When I was a 13-year-old, I set my first real goal: I wanted to go to West Point. I spent the next 3.5 years focused on that goal. That led to a series of shorter goals to make that happen, everything from getting an “A” on an exam or a class, to becoming captain of the track team or president of the Ski Club – all of the little things I knew I needed along the way to hit the big goal.

But if I had to point to one single trait or characteristic, the one “key” of successful people, it would be grit. To be successful, you must be resilient and persistent. A Ph.D. at Wharton, Angela Duckworth, has studied uber achievement and developed a grit scale. It is a bigger determinant than IQ and EQ and all other factors at predicting success. She defines grit as “sticking with things over the very long-term until you master them.” In a paper, she writes that “the gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.”

In my opinion, anyone studying success or looking for one single key, must also study the work of Angela Duckworth and the concept of GRIT. If allowed to give “keys” plural to success, and I do believe there are a few vs. one, then I will mention them as well. As mentioned already, successful people set (and write down) S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic and Timed) goals, and are persistent. Here are a few other traits and behaviors I found in my research, that have worked for me over the years, and I think worth emulating:

– Be positive and surround yourself with success-oriented people. I definitely feed off quotes and motivational phrases. Sign up for a few of those newsletters or follow them on Twitter. If you’re having a bad day, reflect on a quote.

– Educate yourself. Constant learning and voracious reading on your chosen topic. Put down the TV remote and pick up a book, article, or white paper.

– Find a mentor or coach to develop, advise, help and encourage you.

– Maintain a to-do list to prioritize and focus. This makes it easier to say “no” to distractions.

– Volunteer and help others. It will help them, and trust me, help you even more.

– Network physically and digitally. My mom loved the phrase “no man is an island.” You are going to need plenty of friends and connections to help you along the way.

– Eliminate the words “luck” and “unlucky” from your dictionary. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.

– Seems self-evident, but there are no shortcuts. You must work hard and stay focused. I remember at West Point during my first summer of basic training, we did road marches, and there were various quotes along the way posted on poles and trees. One of my favorites, 30 years later, remains “the only place where success comes before work is the dictionary.”

– Sacrifice. You must have the willingness to sacrifice in order to succeed. Say “no” to short-term pleasures and distractions. Some people call this self-discipline or self-restraint. The reality is that if you focus on long-term, meaningful goals, it will require sacrifice and hard work along the way.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
As I get close to 50, I am thinking more about having an overall successful life vs. some of the goals and successes I may have had in life. So, this interview comes at an interesting time as I have been reflecting quite a bit the past month.

I think it is arrogant to say you “always knew” you would be successful. I can say that during my life when I set certain life goals, I certainly have had it in mind that “I always knew” I would be successful. At age 13, I decided to go to West Point, and plenty of people thought it was foolhardy, but I knew I would do it. At 17, when I decided to become an elite Airborne Ranger, plenty of people didn’t think I could do it. However, I knew I would. It took me three tries, but I did it. When I decided to get an M.B.A. part-time, there were plenty of reasons to stop or quit, but I knew I would do it. I am not a good swimmer, but I always wanted to do a triathlon. I waited a long time to try, but once I signed up and started training, I knew I would finish. In the end, I have failed many, many more times than I have won in life. But being successful does start with a mentality that winning or being successful comes with many false starts and many setbacks along the way. You must be resilient and bounce back from them. Even the profession I chose, sales, comes with many more no’s than yes’s. Someone closing 10-20% of all the sales cycles they start is at the top of their company. A baseball player hitting 30% of the time is an all-star. It is all a matter of perspective and, as pointed out earlier, it is important to view success in the long-term and be unphased by short-term setbacks along the way to achieving goals and objectives.

Albert Einstein once said, “I think and think for months, for years; 99 times the conclusion is false, but the hundredth time I am right.” General Patton said, “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” So, maybe this is a long way of me saying that I think only quitting is not being successful. I know that I will never quit something important that I put my mind to, so, therefore, maybe I do know that I will successful on important goals since I never quit.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Focusing on the original goal itself again becomes the key factor. If you took the time, energy, and effort to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal, then you must go in realizing that two things are true. First, there will be roadblocks and obstacles along the way. Second, if it were easy and simple, everyone would do it. Negative thoughts and self-doubt are a cancer. If you let them start, they will grow exponentially and kill your dreams. They are inevitable, but catch them early and stamp them out quickly. They will creep back, so kill them again. They will keep coming back. Kill them, over and over. Do not let them win. We all get shots against our self-confidence, ego and belief in our goal. That is natural. Just don’t let them bring you down or keep you down. I almost got kicked out of West Point after being arrested plebe year and I, then, thought about quitting myself, and a few times cried myself to sleep. But I didn’t quit. At Ranger School, you need to be in the top 1% just to be selected to attend, and then only 1/3 complete the course. I failed twice but kept trying. While in the course, I thought about quitting every day. On the second day of climbing Mt. Ranier, I literally thought about quitting with every single step. After being shot by a sniper in Baghdad and lying in a hospital bed at Walter Reed for 8 months, I certainly had some dark days. But in each case throughout my life, my focus on the long-term goals and reading motivational quotes kept me from quitting or giving in to negative thoughts.

People call it many things like drive, ambition, focus, competitiveness, mental toughness, or intestinal fortitude. But it is actually simple – don’t quit. 99% of people do, and if you want to be in the top 1%, don’t. I can’t explain it any clearer terms than that. Grit.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
My parents taught me to have values, integrity, and to work hard. From an early age, I had chores and jobs including delivering newspapers, caddying, and babysitting. Those chores were inspected and repeated, if not done to standard. Those jobs in elementary school taught me to work hard, be dependable, and rely on myself to get things done. My parents expected A’s in school, and for me to put in the effort to earn them. There is a difference between support and helping. My parents supported me, but didn’t help me with my goals. They supported, encouraged, and made me believe in myself and my abilities, but they didn’t actively help. I had to do it on my own.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I have three young boys – ages 5, 3 and 1. I enjoy spending time with my wife and family. I also enjoy traveling, and I have been to 46 states and 52 countries. I also enjoy playing (or attempting to play) golf.

I don’t know if this counts as “spare time,” but I also run a small non-profit, The TD Foundation, which “provides aid to children directly affected by war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to children of wounded warriors and fallen heroes here in the U.S.”

7. What makes a great leader?
I feel it breaks down into three major areas:

1. Values and character: People want a leader they trust and who makes the right choices, regardless of the consequences.

2. Concern for your people: Genuine concern and desire to help them be their absolute best, personally and professionally.

3. Decisions: Willingness to make decisions, including the hard ones, and be held accountable for them.

4. Results: Without success, the other three don’t matter.

I also believe that great leaders exhibit 11 principles. Back in the summer of 1985, when I first entered West Point, there were many pieces of “knowledge” that the new cadets (incoming freshmen or plebes) were required to learn and repeat verbatim, on demand, by any upperclassmen that inquired. It required hours of studying and memorization. It took self-discipline to remember them word-for-word, and then confidence to repeat them under pressure, when asked. During the first week, these bits of knowledge included some fundamentals like “The Mission of The United States Military Academy,” “The Code of Conduct,” “The Honor Code,” “The Corps” and “11 Principles of Leadership.”

The “11 Principles of Leadership” were first developed in 1948 and published in an Army field manual on leadership, in 1951, more than 60 years ago. What’s fascinating is that they are still taught, basically unmodified, ever since. Today, they are still used by all the U.S. Armed Forces, at all levels in basic training, including the Marines, Air Force, and Navy.

I enjoy going back to these principles frequently when I reflect on my own performance and look for areas of improvement:

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement

2. Be technically and tactically proficient

3. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

4. Set the example

5. Know your people and look out for their welfare

6. Keep your people informed

7. Ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished

8. Develop a sense of responsibility among your people

9. Train your people as a team

10. Make sound and timely decisions

11. Employ your work unit in accordance with its capabilities

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Nothing takes the place of good, old-fashioned integrity and hard work. But I guess it goes back to the advice I give for someone to be successful in any life endeavor. Successful people set (and write down) S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic, and Timed) goals, and are persistent and have the grit to complete those goals. Here are a few other traits and behaviors I found in my research, worked for me over the years, and I think worth emulating:

– Be positive and surround yourself with success-oriented people. I definitely feed off quotes and motivational phrases. Sign up for a few of those newsletters or follow them on Twitter. If you’re having a bad day, reflect on a quote.

– Educate yourself. Constant learning and voracious reading on your chosen topic. Put down the TV remote and pick up a book, article, or white paper.

– Find a mentor or coach to develop, advise, help and encourage you.

– Maintain a to-do list to prioritize and focus. This makes it easier to say “no” to distractions.

– Volunteer and help others. It will help them, and trust me, help you even more.

– Network physically and digitally. My mom loved the phrase “no man is an island.” You are going to need plenty of friends and connections to help you along the way.

– Eliminate the words “luck” and “unlucky” from your dictionary. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.

– Seems self-evident, but there are no shortcuts. You must work hard and stay focused. I remember at West Point during my first summer of basic training, we did road marches, and there were various quotes along the way posted on poles and trees. One of my favorites, 30 years later, remains “the only place where success comes before work is the dictionary.”

– Sacrifice. You must have the willingness to sacrifice to succeed. Say “no” to short-term pleasures and distractions. Some people call this self-discipline or self-restraint. The reality is that if you focus on long-term, meaningful goals, it will require sacrifice and hard work along the way.


This interview is an excerpt from Never Give Up by Jason Navallo.

Shawn Hansson – Founder & CEO, Logic Integration Inc.

Shawn Hansson is the founder and CEO of Logic Integration Inc., a Lone Tree, Colorado audiovisual and automation firm specializing in the design and installation of easy-to-use technology for homeowners and business professionals.

Since the company’s inception in 2004, Logic Integration has been recognized for numerous accolades under Shawn’s leadership. This includes recognition as a multi-year honoree of the Inc. Magazine’s “Fastest Growing Private Companies in America,” “Colorado Companies to Watch,” “Integrator of the Year” by CEA, in addition to many others. Logic Integration’s clients include Comcast, Dish Network, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and TW Telecom, along with many “Fortune 100” companies.

With more than 20 years of audiovisual industry experience, Shawn is recognized as a young leader with a strong vision. He was awarded the “Top 25 GenXYZ Influential Leaders” by ColoradoBiz magazine and “Top 40 under 40” by Commercial Integrator. He is a frequent presenter & panelist at conferences such as CEDIA, Pro Source, CES Vegas, and the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship Council’s “Business Survival Series,” and has also been a panel speaker at events throughout the A/V industry. Shawn received a B.A. in Sound Engineering from San Jose State University.

1. How do you define success?
I would define success as taking the honed skills that I have learned over the years and passing them onto others. The moment of success, when you see them get it, embrace it and then flourish with their gifts in the area that you taught them.

2. What is the key to success?
I think the key to success is striving for the best of what you do and by doing all of it with humility and the ability to listen to others.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I have always been driven and had a heavy interest in technology, even as a kid. When I was younger, I used to take apart my dad’s nice speakers and try to put them back together by the time he got home. He was always into audio and music, and therefore, had different kinds of speakers around the house. I was always curious of how they worked and what made them sound different. I eventually started buying parts at RadioShack and building my own boxes. I was also a musician pianist and a drummer. This musical background also really helped me in my career. I was working at Office Depot selling cell phones and computers. I loved meeting new people and helping them make technology easier to use. One day, a businessman asked me to fix his office computers after work. It turned out that he also owned an A/V company, and I’ve been in this industry ever since. I’m now able to take my passions and gifts and put them to use in the residential and commercial markets. I also get to take technology and put it in large homes and office buildings. Every system we install must be easy to use and reliable, which is what makes my job fun.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I read the Bible and do devotionals in the mornings. I truly believe I would not be able to run my company like this without knowing the hope and love of Jesus Christ. I also have very good mentors surrounding me that know business really well. Over the years, through different growth periods, I have had different mentors who helped me immensely. I’m also involved in a couple of different business leaders groups.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Processes and procedures must be in stone and everyone must follow them in order to grow and be successful.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Going four-wheeling in the Colorado Rockies with my family and friends.

7. What makes a great leader?
Being able to recognize people’s gifts and talents, and then fueling and embracing them. Also, being able to delegate and trust others, and then letting them do their own thing.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Give whatever job you take 110%, put others before yourself, and surround yourself with good friends and community.


This interview is an excerpt from Never Give Up by Jason Navallo.

Ron Rudzin – President & CEO, The Saatva Company

Ron Rudzin, the entrepreneur behind the luxury mattress brand Saatva, spent most of his life investing and managing businesses in the home furnishings industry. In 2007, Ron had a simple idea: Make the most luxurious and comfortable mattress possible, make it in America, and sell it directly to the customer with no retail markups. Ron quickly realized this as a truly unique opportunity to combine old-fashioned customer service with the modern efficiencies of the e-commerce world, and Saatva was born in 2009.

Saatva has since grown to be the largest online-only luxury mattress company in the country. Today, Saatva has 15 American partnering factories building our proprietary product and 103 fulfillment centers delivering throughout the continental U.S. Saatva is the original online disrupter of the mattress industry, ranked as the “7th Fastest-Growing Online Retailer” by Inc. Magazine and named to Forbes “Top 100 Companies to Watch.”

During Saatva’s tremendous growth, Ron began to notice a big difference between memory foam and innerspring shoppers. Memory foam shoppers self-identified themselves and were looking for a very specific bedding experience. Ron put the leading memory foam brand in his sightline and spent a year and a half figuring out how to bring the Saatva model to the memory foam space. Loom & Leaf by Saatva was launched in February 2015.

What Ron has cultivated in both brands is a culture of transparency and happiness, where each customer gets a great product at a great price, and with great service. This is the secret to Ron’s ongoing success.

1. How do you define success?
I’m never defined by one characteristic, so I wouldn’t describe success as achieving any particular asset. Instead, I believe in total life success, from my career to my home. This means feeling positive about what I do, appreciating the important people in my life, and sleeping well with my accomplishments and how I accomplished them.

2. What is the key to success?
I’ve found success by doing the extras and paying attention to detail. I’m always in search of my next idea or the next thing to inspire me. I’ve found that the knowledge and information that has contributed to my success tends to manifest itself outside of my working hours, often through reading or thoughtful conversations with friends, family, and business associates.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I have always been confident in my ability to achieve success in all facets of my life because I have always been willing to work hard. I was aware of this from a very young age, so developing a strong work ethic has been an integral part of my roadmap from the beginning, particularly in its application to building a business.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
We all face adversity, both in professional and personal contexts. That’s inevitable. The key to overcoming adversity is being prepared and possessing an internal protocol. I try to maintain an even perspective, recognizing that hardships or hurdles will occur, but remaining calm and reorienting myself to create a new vision when that does happen.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
My father taught me to be very humble, and his advice has stayed with me. He would tell me, “if you’re great at something, everyone will know, and you don’t have to keep telling them.”

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love the beach, playing basketball and softball, reading a hardcopy newspaper, and laughing and enjoying life with my friends and family.

7. What makes a great leader?
The most effective leaders never rely on their titles or credentials to convince others to follow them. I strive to demonstrate my vision, so my colleagues look up to me because it’s smart and effective, and ultimately because they believe in what I’m doing.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Don’t think about money for the first two years. Instead, put your head down, work hard, and learn from everyone. Also, learn to be a productive team member and make impactful contributions to group collaborations.


This interview is an excerpt from Never Give Up by Jason Navallo.

Dawn Kelley – President & CEO, Barney & Co. California

As president & CEO of Barney & Co. California, maker of Barney Almond Butters and other California almond products, Dawn focuses on expanding Barney’s growth (both domestically and internationally) in the nut butter and almond products categories, while leading the company’s day-to-day business and manufacturing operations.

Dawn has adopted the three bottom line approach of Profit, People, and Purpose, and is using these filters in short-term and long-term planning and strategies. Through vertical integration of processes, Dawn is evolving Barney to consistently be the category leader and most conscientious, quality-focused, best-valued brand on the market. Dawn is simultaneously leading the way through a transition to an organic, fair-trade, sustainable ingredient profile and supply chain (where possible).

Innovation within the almond space is an on-going focus for Dawn and the promise to deliver peanut-free (no cross contamination) almond products to consumers everywhere is at the forefront of this innovation. Dawn joined Barney in 2010 as president & CEO after overseeing the sale of her previous company, United Tote, to Churchill Downs. Dawn served as president of United Tote, a technology company and subsidiary of YouBet.com, a publicly-traded e-commerce company, and previously held senior executive/leadership positions at Orbitz.com and Careerbuilder.com.

Dawn holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Kentucky and currently resides in Maine, where she lives with her husband, three stepchildren, and two dogs.

1. How do you define success?
Being true to your own values and sleeping well at night, with a clear conscience.

2. What is the key to success?
“80% of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen. And by showing up, I also mean not being led by fear, taking on challenges, as well as the day to day.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
When I was growing up, my mom was a successful, working, single mother. She was a good role model for believing, from an early age, I could do and be anything I want. I never thought otherwise. Having said, I’m also pretty conservative financially and have a bit of bag-lady syndrome. I think that keeps me on my toes.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
One of my favorite sayings is “there’s a solution for every problem,” and my mind usually doesn’t shut down until it’s been found. There are obviously situations where you just need to let go. Figuring out those times is key.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
If you mess up, fess up. If you are dealing with good people, it will build trust. Take accountability and own your decisions and actions.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Yoga, reading, hunting through antique and flea markets for special treasures, and doing home improvements. Working with my hands is my form of meditation.

7. What makes a great leader?
A good leader manages by influence vs. authority. Your authority leaves the room when you do; Your influence does not.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Let go of ego and look for opportunities to learn from the best. Then work harder, longer, and faster than you ever have before.


This interview is an excerpt from Never Give Up by Jason Navallo.