Richard K. Howe – CEO, Inuvo, Inc.

Richard K. “Rich” Howe is a 25-year operating, marketing, and M&A executive who has identified, defined, and implemented numerous breakthrough uses of information with applications in marketing, risk, and fraud, delivered both online and off. He has been a C-level executive and board member in companies ranging in size from startup through billions in annual revenue across three continents.

Rich is currently the chairman of the $55 million annual micro-cap public internet marketing technology innovator, Inuvo, Inc. (INUV), which he grew from $39 million in 2009. Previously, Richard was chief marketing, M&A and business strategy officer at public billion dollar mid-cap marketing services leader Acxiom Corporation (ACXM), where he led the company’s transition into big data consulting and digital marketing services, successfully growing its business units to $300 million in annual revenue.

Prior to Acxiom, Rich was the general manager of the $110 million annual revenue marketing services division of public mid-cap analytics & software powerhouse, Fair Isaac Corporation (FIC), where he led the transition to online services. Before joining Fair Isaac, Rich founded and was the CEO of private Internet search pioneer, ieWild Inc., which he sold to HNC Software, a public company (HNC) innovator of fraud technology and software, where he had worked in both sales and product leadership capacities.

Rich has been involved in more than 10 M&A transactions, totaling many hundreds of millions of dollars. The transactions have involved websites, marketing agencies, consulting firms, digital marketing companies, and numerous other online and offline information technology businesses. Additionally, he has successfully undertaken the turnaround of three under-performing business units and companies.

1. How do you define success?
Success is achieved when shareholders are making money as a result of a company’s ability to introduce a product or service that has added value to their clients’ businesses.

2. What is the key to success?
Creating a work environment that is stimulating, respectful, collaborative, focused and devoid of politics.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
Success is a combination of controllable factors like “education” and “hard work” and ”perseverance,” and random factors like “timing” and “luck” and “location.” Of all of these, perseverance stands out as a key trait, and it has been my experience that almost every successful individual I have come across has had “determination” in their DNA from the get-go.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The fear of failure.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
As a manager, always remain calm in the face of adversity. Tomorrow often brings with it a new solution.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I ride motorcycles, ski, play golf, and travel with my family.

7. What makes a great leader?
Intelligence combined with great people skills. These two things translate into respect, and people will follow individuals they respect.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Learning doesn’t end with college. Make education a lifelong pursuit. Every engagement or project or interaction provides an opportunity to learn. Listen, then talk.

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