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.

Chris Jones – Founder & President, Plant Therapy

Chris Jones is the president of Plant Therapy, the fastest-growing essential oils company in the nation. He founded the company in 2011 after identifying a need for high-quality, direct-to-consumer essential oils and aromatherapy products. The results have been astoundingly successful, and in 2015, Plant Therapy earned a spot on Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 500” list as the 31st fastest-growing private company in America.

Yet, the essential oils industry is a far cry from where Chris once saw his life heading. As a young man, he was en route to pursuing a career as an airline pilot when his father became terminally ill. His college education cut short, Chris went home to care for his family and led his father’s fertilizer business.

Since that time, Chris has been a self-employed entrepreneur. He ran several businesses before buying a small beauty products company from his mother-in-law, an aromatherapist. Chris found it challenging to find quality, essential oils for use in the products. Many were overpriced or of low-quality, and most companies sold the oils through multi-level marketing.

Chris was certain there was an increasingly strong market for high-quality essential oils at affordable prices, and in 2011, he launched Plant Therapy. Under Chris’s stewardship, the company has experienced a three-year growth of nearly 8,000% and now has around 35 employees. Plant Therapy has outgrown four commercial spaces and is now planning to have a 40,000-square-foot facility by the end of 2015.

1. How do you define success?
There are lots of different kinds of successes, so such a broad question is hard. I think my ultimate goal is the same as most other people: To find joy. I don’t think success is a destination, but rather a journey. If I am finding true joy (or peace of mind) in my current situation, I would say I am being successful. For financial success, I would say when my passive (investment) income exceeds my living expenses, I am successful.

2. What is the key to success?
I think for both personal and professional success, most of the answers are the same: Treat others how you would like to be treated. Don’t cheat. If you screw up, fess up to it and learn from it. Play fair. Don’t quit just because it’s hard. Be honest. Don’t cut. Try your hardest. Be respectful. It’s okay to fail.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I actually never really thought about it. I never really had a “plan.” I have always just lived my life based on instinct and what was currently going on. When I went to college, I was never a very good student but planned to become an airline pilot (now I am so glad that didn’t pan out). While in school, my self-employed father got sick. We didn’t know what was wrong, but I was the only one that knew anything about his business. I moved home to help him run it while we figured it out. He died of cancer within a couple of months, and I did my best to keep his business afloat. I learned way more about business and life in the next year than I had in my previous 20+ years combined.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I have 3 daughters (soon to be 4) and an incredible wife. They are really my motivation. I have a fear of failure, but it is more of a fear of letting them down, rather than a fear of judgment from others.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
That it is okay to be me, flaws and all. I don’t have to try to impress others or live within their confines. As individuals, we have unlimited potential, and once we stop trying to please others all the time or try to keep up with others, life becomes much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
What spare time? Just kidding. My daughters are still young, so they get most of my off work time. We spend the nights and weekends as a family. We enjoy camping and swimming. We spend many winter evenings in the hot tub. I also enjoy golfing and boating, but don’t make as much time for it as I would like.

7. What makes a great leader?
Being able to inspire others. I think it is the leader’s responsibility to make his people feel good about themselves and also help them to find joy in their lives. The vast majority of lessons taught and learned are done strictly through example. People need to talk less and do more.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Be open-minded and teachable. I have owned multiple successful businesses, and every single one came as a result of different circumstances in life, not a conscious decision to get into that business. When I got into the essential oil business, it was because I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a very small beauty products company with a minimal investment. I saw an opportunity for growth and jumped on it. You can learn important life lessons from everyone. Don’t discount someone just because you don’t see them as successful.


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

Ralph Erenzo – Founder & Managing Member, Tuthilltown Spirits

Prior to starting Tuthilltown Spirits, New York’s first whiskey distillery since prohibition, Ralph’s business Extravertical Inc. provided technical production and event services to corporate and media clients such as ESPN, Ford and Danskin for projects that required technical skills developed over his 25-year rock climbing career. Ralph built and managed New York City’s first public climbing gyms, including The ExtraVertical Climbing Center on Broadway. His dream of a “climber’s ranch” near the largest rock climbing area in the east was set aside in favor of producing high-quality spirits. Ralph’s writing and commentary have been featured in national media including Op-Ed columns for The New York Times. His work at the state level resulted in the passage of the Farm Distillery Act in 2007, which permits New York farms to establish distilleries and sell their agricultural spirits on site. Tuthilltown Spirits is a founding member of the American Craft Spirits Association, for which Ralph sits on the board of directors, and is chairman of the legislative committee, which works at the federal level to support the craft distilling industry nationwide.

1. How do you define success?
A satisfactory outcome in one’s effort at some goal, which is not always the same as the specific goal a person starts with. Happiness with an outcome.

2. What is the key to success?
It’s a key ring: persistence, flexibility, gumption.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I always wanted to achieve success in something, but not always the same or one single thing.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Belief in a concept or goal, and the willingness to get up when knocked down and continue the struggle.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Changing a plan is not the same as giving up. Things change, plans change, but still have forward momentum. Quitting is an end.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spare time? Reading, driving.

7. What makes a great leader?
Again, “gumption” (the ability to see a need and the temerity to believe you can do something about it). Also, the willingness to sublimate personal, specific desires for the benefit of an overall goal of those being led.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Success, most often, takes time. Be alert to opportunity. Your education gave you a valuable framework upon which to build your future, but the world fills out and colors the final result. Expect change, use it, and never give up.


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