Jeremy Geelan – Chairman & CEO, 21st Century Internet Group Inc.

Jeremy Geelan, a domain expert on the future of the future, is chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc., a collection of innovative websites and social applications, all of which reflect the fundamental importance of the Internet in 21st-century business, politics, education, entertainment, and culture. Core values revolve around the guiding principle of co-intelligence, in that “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Educated at Cambridge University and trained at the British Broadcasting Corporation, Jeremy’s professional stock-in-trade is to anticipate and explore alternative social and technological futures, and from among them, to pinpoint and then help showcase and evangelize only the most promising and productive alternatives. He writes profusely and speaks all over the world about cloud computing, big data, the Internet of things, and the trajectory of collaborative technology (which he calls co-technology) in the second decade of the 21st century.

He is the founding editor-in-chief of the following publications: Web 2.0 Journal, Social Computing Magazine, Cloud Computing Journal, and New Paradigms Journal—and served, since its inception in 2008 to the 13th Cloud Expo in November 2013, as conference chair and resident emcee of the International Cloud Expo series, which is widely acknowledged to be the largest cloud computing event in the world. He is also the winner of the Roundarch 2006 Interactive Experience Award, “given to companies and individuals that best represent the advancement of Web experiences through the integration of user-centric design and advanced technology.” Formerly president and COO of Cloud Expo, Inc., Jeremy is now an executive academy member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and a founding adviser to Kaazing Corp.

1. How do you define success?
Success is nothing more really than having a strong sense that the life you have lived has left the world around you a better place for having had you alive.

2. What is the key to success?
The key to success is to always, wherever possible, stick to doing what only you do uniquely well, thereby making yourself and your services indispensable.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
A sense of success is part nature, part nurture. I was born blessed with many gifts, and grew up in a family that called out achievements big and small, and inculcated in me a taste for piling them up!

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The knowledge that all things are ultimately possible and all hurdles, over time, surmountable. No one expressed it better than Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
In February 2011, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the deadliest of all the cancers, and the one with the worst prognosis: a 5% survival rate after five years. It didn’t seem fair to me that I was suddenly not going to be 80, nor possibly even 60 years old. So I accepted major invasive surgery, and afterward, chemotherapy, trading two years of my life for the prospect of gaining 10 times that. The lesson: if the return on any investment is 10x, make it unhesitatingly. The worst that could have happened was that I died on the operating table, the best that I lived for 20+ more years. In that event, it looks very much as if I won the bet. Not many people have managed ever to kick pancreatic cancer in the butt; how about I tell you more about it in 2020?

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Marathon running and reading (though not at the same time)—and listening to music, always music.

7. What makes a great leader?
Great followers.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
You have arrived at the edge of a great and glorious cliff: beneath you, the most global job market in the history of humankind stretches out in every direction. It is yours to explore, it is yours to impact, and it is yours to astonish. What are you waiting for?!

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