Mark Peter Davis – Managing Partner, Interplay Ventures

Mark Peter Davis is a venture capitalist, incubator, and author of The Fundraising Rules. He’s the founder of Interplay Ventures, a venture partner at High Peaks Venture Partners, and a co-founder of Kohort, DevSpark, Founder Shield, and Venwise. Prior to that, Mark was a venture capitalist at DFJ Gotham Ventures, where he invested in information technology companies. He has a B.A. in Economics from Duke University and an M.B.A. in Venture Finance from Columbia Business School.

1. How do you define success?
Obtaining happiness.

2. What is the key to success?
This is a difficult question, but I suspect it’s a mix of 1) understanding what dynamics make you happy, and then 2) pursuing a life structure that facilitates those dynamics.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I’m an optimist, so I always assumed I would be. “Assuming” and “knowing” are, however, very different things. While there were times when I doubted my assumptions, in general, with enough persistence, I expected a good outcome.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
When I was younger, I was motivated by achieving a goal. I aimed to overcome to reach an arbitrary destination. Now, I fight to continue doing what I enjoy most: innovating.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Difficult to pick the greatest, but here are a few things that have formed my approach to life and business: “The more you give, the more you get.” “Say what you’re going to do and do what you say.” “Nothing is business, and everything is business, if you’re in the right business.”

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Entrepreneurship is my hobby—and it also happens to be my job. I consider all of my time the same. I’m either working on one passion or another—just some other people would call it work. What I enjoy doing includes spending time with my family, starting companies, reading, playing Rockband, and writing.

7. What makes a great leader?
I’m not sure that I am one. If the question was, “What makes a great leader?,” then the answer is most definitely supporting the team in their effort to achieve a common goal.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Until you know what you want to do, obtain generalist skills. Once you know what you want to do, back into a plan to get there. Out-hustle anyone who tries to hold you down.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

Mark Casady – Chairman, LPL Financial

Mark Casady is chairman of LPL Financial. He joined the company in May 2002 as COO, became president in April 2003, and became chairman and CEO in December 2005. Previously, Mark was managing director, mutual fund group for Deutsche Asset Management, Americas (formerly Scudder Investments). He joined Scudder in 1994 and held roles as managing director, Americas, head of global mutual fund group and head of defined contribution services. He was also a member of the Scudder, Stevens and Clark board of directors and management committee. He is former chairman and a current board member of the Insured Retirement Institute and serves on FINRA’s board of governors.

1. How do you define success?
By how we help others be successful. Sort of the network effect of joint success. The more success my customers, employees, or my family has results in more success for me.

2. What is the key to success?
Hard work. Knowing what you are trying to accomplish with others and not stopping until you attain your goal or beyond.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I have always been very focused and have tried to give any activity my all. I am still wondering if I will be successful!

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
My motto is “one step forward.” I don’t worry about getting all adversity solved today, just some part of it. Eventually, you overcome it by pushing ahead.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Be good to others. Nice guys and gals do finish first, so keep your elegance and humanity.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love spending time with my family and friends. Boating on Cape Cod or taking long walks wherever I find myself are enjoyable. I also like to travel, especially to new places, to understand other cultures and people.

7. What makes a great leader?
Awareness of others’ needs and goals. Getting alignment and trust are critical to leading.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Look for experience in areas where you are passionate. Try it, and if you don’t like it, you can always change later. Your early career is all about getting experience, so get as much as you can the first few years out of school.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

Maria Clawe – President, Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College (HMC) is led by Maria Klawe, HMC’s fifth president, who began her tenure in 2006. A renowned computer scientist and scholar, President Klawe is the first woman to lead the college since its founding in 1955. Prior to joining HMC, she served as dean of engineering and professor of computer science at Princeton University. During her time at Princeton, Klawe led the School of Engineering and Applied Science through a strategic planning exercise that created an exciting and widely-embraced vision for the school. At Harvey Mudd College, she led a similarly ambitious strategic planning initiative, “HMC 2020: Envisioning the Future.”

Maria joined Princeton from the University of British Columbia (UBC) where she served as dean of science from 1998 to 2002, vice president of student and academic services from 1995 to 1998, and head of the Department of Computer Science from 1988 to 1995. Prior to UBC, Maria spent eight years with IBM Research in California, and two years at the University of Toronto. She received her Ph.D. and B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Alberta.

Maria has made significant research contributions in several areas of mathematics and computer science, including functional analysis, discrete mathematics, theoretical computer science, human-computer interaction, gender issues in information technology, and interactive-multimedia for mathematics education. Her current research focuses on discrete mathematics.

Maria is one of 10 members of the board of directors of Microsoft Corporation, a board member of Broadcom Corporation and the nonprofit Math for America, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a trustee for the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, and a member of both the Stanford Engineering Advisory Council and the Advisory Council for the Computer Science Teachers Association. She was elected as a fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery in 1996 and as a founding fellow of the Canadian Information Processing Society in 2006.

1. How do you define success?
I’m very goal-oriented so, to me, success is making progress on my key goals.

2. What is the key to success?
It’s a combination of picking the right goal (namely, something important), creating a strategy to achieve the goal, assembling a team or network to work on the goal, persisting in the face of difficulty (everything important is hard to achieve), being willing to re-evaluate the strategy when needed, and asking for help from others.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
When I was young (under 30 or so), I was sure I would be successful. As I grew older (and became more successful), I developed the imposter syndrome which was exacerbated by a serious head injury at the age of 43. So, these days I feel like a failure most of the time, but I don’t let that stop me from constantly trying to make the world a better place.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
It’s a combination of having a strong support system (my husband, my children, my sisters, and my friends) and an intensely stubborn nature. The easiest way to get me to work on something is to tell me that it’s impossible.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
That I learn more from failure than success. I hate failing, but over time, I have recognized that each time I fail, I have to learn new skills and approaches to overcome the failure.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Watercolor painting, kayaking, hiking, reading, bird watching, being with my family and friends, and being with my cats.

7. What makes a great leader?
A leader creates a community and a vision that empowers everyone to do their best work and to support each other in jointly making progress toward the vision.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Choose a workplace with a mission you believe in and that has a supportive environment and a manager you respect. Try to help others be successful. Volunteer for projects that will help you learn new skills and knowledge. Build a professional network outside your workplace. Don’t let fear of failure stop you from taking on ambitious challenges. Mentor more junior colleagues or students. You will learn as much from them as they will from you. If you can’t find work that inspires you, learn some new skills that will increase your opportunities. For example, no matter what your area of interest is at the moment, learning some computer science will make you more desirable as an employee.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

Kirk Davis – CEO, GateHouse Media

After spending his first eight years working in publishing as a circulation and marketing executive, Kirk Davis served as publisher from 1990 to 1996 with dailies located in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and California. In 1996, Kirk was recruited by Fidelity Capital (now Devonshire Investors), a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments, to become president of their TAB newspaper group in the Boston area, which was part of Community Newspaper Company (CNC). He was later named president of CNC in 1998, as the company grew to 113 daily, weekly and specialty publications, along with its townonline.com community websites serving eastern Massachusetts towns.

In 2004, Kirk was named CEO of Boston-based Enterprise NewsMedia (ENM), a multimedia company owned by Heritage Partners, Inc., a private equity firm in Boston, Massachusetts. While there, he developed a go-to-market community Web platform to serve southeastern Massachusetts towns under the domain Wicked Local.

GateHouse Media, based in Fairport, New York, acquired both Enterprise NewsMedia from Heritage Partners and Community Newspaper Company (CNC) from Herald Media in 2006 and named Kirk as CEO of GateHouse Media New England.

In January 2009, Kirk was promoted to president of GateHouse Media. GateHouse Media is one of the largest publishers of locally-based print and online media in the United States, as measured by its 78 daily publications, 261 weekly newspapers, 92 shoppers, six yellow page directories, and over 400 locally-focused websites and mobile sites. The company currently serves local audiences of more than 10 million per week across 21 states.

1. How do you define success?
Truly enjoying what you do and knowing that you are making a difference in people’s lives. Some of us have the privilege of managing others, which is a serious responsibility. Watching others grow and prosper is yet another way to define success. Managing family and work in tandem is gratifying, too—we need both working to be successful.

2. What is the key to success?
The key for me is knowing when “good enough” really is, and to be able to recognize that. That’s not to say that there isn’t always another goal worth setting, but if you or your staff feels there’s never really a “good enough,” then that’s a tough sell. Life happens in stages and so does success. One must be able to celebrate each stage—individually and with those who contributed and should share in it.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
No. In fact, I grew up worrying that I might not be. That led to me a near insatiable drive to be successful, measured by promotions and hours worked, getting ahead at a young age—the wrong things. I was on a “treadmill” that was happy to sustain my running until I figured out what I was running to. Eventually, I had to figure that out.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I certainly possess a competitive nature, but if I’m being totally honest, I want to lead. Most often, the adversity I face presents challenges for others as well. I have always sought to have as much leadership responsibility as possible because I will commit whatever it takes to work through it. I’ve always wanted the ball in my hands with only seconds left in the game.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
That leadership is leading while being led. People may not always want to lead, but they sure appreciate being able to contribute. A leader who can draw out those “inputs” will get to better decisions and have more support for them.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spending free time with my family. Then, if time permits, I squeeze in tennis, running, travel, reading, theater, and dreaming of the next big idea.

7. What makes a great leader?
A great leader thinks about where we are, yet has a realistic view of where we could be. A leader combines aspirational notions with a practical road-map to get there, and provides inspiration, education, and the right tools to achieve our potential.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Focus on balancing what you’ve learned with what you’ve yet to learn in doing your job. Most of the time it’s the “people-related” skills that trail education. I think you need to learn the truly powerful dynamics of emotional intelligence, along with being reasonably smart. Also, it’s not so much about “friends and likes” as it is about “connecting.”


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

Dr. Kevin Prine – President & CEO, Outreach International

Dr. Kevin Prine is the president and CEO of Outreach International, an organization that has been permanently abolishing poverty for more than three decades. Previously, he was a director and partner at Tradebot Systems and Tradebot Ventures, one of the largest and most successful trading firms in the world.

He was also an entrepreneurship and business strategy professor for almost 20 years, with the typical list of publications and atypical top 1% national student evaluations. During that time, he also built and led a Students in Free Enterprise (now Enactus) team that won the USA National Championship (out of 500 competing universities) and placed second (out of 34 countries) at the World Cup in Paris, France.

1. How do you define success?
The full expression of the potential of the self in combination with magnifying the potential of others.

2. What is the key to success?
The ability to focus on the actions that bring about joyful personal outcomes, rather than activities that temporarily eliminate boredom/sadness/pain.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
“Successful” is a dynamic path, rather than a static destination. I continue to try to make progress and enjoy my surroundings and companions on that path, but I’ve never thought of myself as having achieved success.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The illumination from the lanterns held by others.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
A = (G + D + T) L

Humans can achieve Anything, but that achievement is largely a function of Genetics (and epigenetics), Drive, and Time. Additionally, for reasons we don’t seem to understand or be able to control, a periodic Luck factor intervenes.

And so, for example, even if I am not blessed with the perfect genetics to be an outstanding athlete, with enough drive and time, I’m still able to become world class. Too often, we forget about this important combination of factors, or, we focus on only one of those elements, including praying for a miracle during final exams.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Making measurable progress in at least a couple of areas (for example, investments or physical challenges), balanced with being mindfully present.

7. What makes a great leader?
Traditional intelligence. Emotional intelligence. Strategic intelligence. Finding oneself in the right place at the right time.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Consistently put yourself in situations where you can over-deliver on the expectations of others.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.