Making Waves at C-Level

Jon Jarrett is the director of engineering technology and systems at Orbital ATK. When others say their job is not "rocket science"....Jon's job is rocket science.

In this episode Jon shares his successful career journey and talks about how being entrepreneurial inside a job is key to success. He has held a variety of positions in his career, and discusses the importance of mentors and networking.

Jon is also on the board of PLM World. PLM World is an independent, not-for-profit organization, with the mission of being the voice of the user in providing an open forum for the exchange of ideas within the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software product environment.

Being involved in an industry group has proved to be paramount to the success that Jon has found in his career. In this conversation he talks about how he got involved, why he continues to be engaged in the organization, and ways that attendees at the 2016 PLM World Conference (or those attending any event) can maximize their experience.

Direct download: CTED_171.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:08am EDT

Michael O'Neal was guest number seven on the "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" Podcast. He is continuing to do great things as a leader in the world of podcasting, and his show is has continued to be a top ranked business podcast.

In this episode Michael shares his thoughts on being a solopreneur, and tells more of his own journey to success. He founded his podcast as a way to reach people and talk with people in a variety of industries. His show has not only become a core part of his business, but it has opened up countless doors and allowed him to build his network and brand.

It is rarely easy to be a solopreneur. There are many upsides, but there is many tough parts as well. His efforts to reach success has taken a long time. You cannot just create courses to get rich on a new platform without having experience. Too many people jump on the band wagon of Periscope (or other new tools) and try to sell classes on how to get rich, without having ever gotten rich using that tool.

Michael would not want to be launching a podcast in today's environment. It is so competitive, and it is hard to convert people to listen in a world with so many people hosting shows. It is very noisy out there. His show is about to hit the three year mark, and the Solopreneur Hour now has nearly 3 million download (and is growing). He wants people to know it is slow growth if you want to reach success, and you need to honor what has come before (for podcasts, it is old media: TV, radio, film, etc...). As the skill sets of podcasters gets better, the more people will listen to podcasts.

This is a great conversation that will inspire you to embrace your own journey as an entrepreneur, solopreneur, or anyone with the entrepreneurial spirit.

Direct download: CTED_170.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32am EDT

Julia Taylor Cheek is the CEO and Co-Founder of EverlyWell, a digital health startup that offers consumer-ordered diagnostic tests and easy-to-read results.

Prior to founding Everly Well in summer 2015, Julia was the Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy at MoneyGram International, a $1.5B company that operates in 200 countries. As the youngest VP in the company, she worked for MoneyGram’s CFO for several years, leading multiple corporate transactions, restructuring projects, and special projects for the CEO. Before that, she served as the founding Director of Strategy and Operations at the George W. Bush Institute and played a key role in building the organization from just a handful of employees to the Presidential Center that you see today at Southern Methodist University.

After attending Vanderbilt, Julia started her career in management consulting at Deloitte and went on to earn an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School. She also is a former multiple World Champion equestrian, officially retiring in 2009. In her free time, she can be found at local coffee houses or any place with good queso.

If you are thinking about making the leap to being an entrepreneur, you need to listen to this episode, as Julia shares a lot of great advice for anyone who has that calling to start a company.

Direct download: CTED_169.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:31pm EDT

Brian Kurth is the founder and CEO of Revere Software ( He and his company work with associations, alumni associations, large non-profits and corporations to connect knowledge seekers with subject matter experts.

In 2001 Brian was in traffic wondering if there was a better way than fighting the uphill battle of the "corporate grind". A year later he started his first company. Today, with his third business, he loves the freedom. He is excited about Revere and what they bring to their clients, and you can tell in hearing his story that he has a true passion for being and entrepreneur.

Direct download: CTED_168.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32am EDT

Eliz Greene is an expert helping people get past being busy and stressed while helping them become more productive.

She comes from a family of entrepreneurs, as both her parents owned small businesses, and her first jobs were working in each of those companies. After college she spent time in the insurance business and non-profit sector, but soon launched out on her own to start a dance studio.

In 2000 everything changed. Eliz suffered a massive heart attack while 7 months pregnant with twins. Both she and her daughters survived, but it changed her life forever.

For more than a decade Eliz has been a leading expert educating people on heart health and how to manage stress. Through her work she discovered there was little data on job stress and the different ways men and women deal with the pressures of work and life.

Eliz Greene has now embarked on a multi-phase study and the results are fascinating. She now speaks to association and corporate audiences on managing stress and handling the facade of work / life balance in a world that rewards being busy (often regardless of the results).

If you have ever felt overly busy and stressed out you will relate to the discussion on this episode.

Direct download: CTED_167.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55am EDT

Bejan Faramarzi was born in Boston and raised in San Antonio. He went to UT Austin where he started off in Business and Pre-pharmacy. After taking an improv class and meeting a fellow filmmaker, he became passionate about film and he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Theater. He then went on to shoot films in Los Angeles, New York, Montreal and is now primarily based out of Austin, Texas.

This is a great episode as you can hear his passion for being a film maker and he has great stories about his journey.

His company, Space Fire Films is in the process of making their first feature length project. In addition to having a new start up, he is also raising money to produce the film (Check out the kickstarter campaign. Thom invested right after the interview)

No matter your industry you can be inspired by those entrepreneurs who have a passion for their field of work. Bejan is a great example of someone we will look back on in ten years and say... We first heard of him on Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do.

Direct download: CTED_166.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:44am EDT

The world of work is changing. With upwards of 50% of the workforce moving to contractors or solopreneurs, what do people need to know?

Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers published in January 2013. He also authored the book Personal Branding for Baby Boomers: What it is, How to Manage It and Why It’s No Longer Optional in September 2015.

He has been featured on, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Career Pivot was selected for the Forbes Top 100 Websites for your Career. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at two successful Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit.

Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn

Direct download: CTED_165.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:59pm EDT

April 1, 2009 I was laid off from my corporate marketing job. It was the height of the great recession and other employment options were non-existent. On that day I decided to follow my dream of self-employment and begin my creating my own career path that would not tie my future job status to someone else's company.

Becoming a professional speaker and master of ceremonies was a long-time dream, and something I had planned to eventually pursue. With a young family to support, making such a leap had seemed too scary, but with no other employment options I began to build my own solopreneur existence, and I have never looked back.

As the job market continues to be awkward, there are more and more people who are making the move to becoming solopreneurs (some by choice, others by circumstance). This is not an easy existence, and while I have worked hard and had some great opportunities, each day I start over at the bottom of the hill.

I have learned a lot in seven years. Here a few important lessons I have discovered.

Eight Tips For Solopreneurs

1. You are in sales. No matter what your product or service, if you work for yourself you are responsible for revenue generation. Sales is the life-blood of every business, and to lose sight of this is a recipe for failure. Doing good work is not enough in our noisy world. Anyone can access social media and claim credibility in your industry, so thinking reputation alone will generate new business will limit your future. Invest the time to learn sales and marketing skills, and then take action. Selling is hard work (that is why sales professionals in the largest companies earn so much money), so be ready for the time and energy you will have to put in to generate results.

2. Most friends in your network will not help you. We are taught that all opportunities come from people, and thus we falsely believe the people in our networks will refer us business or hire us to serve their company's needs once we launch. The reality is that most people you know are not thinking about you or your business. While people generally intend to help others, the reality is many of your friends are caught up in their own day-to-day lives and do not remember you are trying to build your company. Do not expect a huge line of people who will be active in supporting your efforts.

3. A few contacts are worth their weight in gold. While not everyone will be a recourse to help connect your business to success, there will be some people who will move mountains to see your find new customers. These rare souls who go out of their way to refer you, promote you via word-of-mouth and social media, and who buy your products (sometimes when they do not even have a need for your service). The people are to be cherished. The weirdest part is that the ones you think will be your supporters often will disappoint you, and the most random friend will become your champion.

4. Get involved in your industry association. Solopreneurs are busy and often feel they do not have the time or the money to participate in their industry trade groups. I found my involvement with the National Speakers Association to be the key to my success as a speaker. It is not that my membership in the association got me any direct business, but my activity exposed me to information and to other people who were living their lives in the business. Having friends who are successful in your area of expertise means you do not have to reinvent the wheel.

5. Watch your expenses closely. Too many who come out of corporate jobs are used to large budgets and not experienced at being the person who has to pay all the bills. I have seen too many solopreneurs who believed that investing a lot of money on websites, coaching, database programs, marketing videos, and other expensive services would bring about fast success. I spent as little as possible on everything when I was starting out, and would upgrade to higher levels as I could afford it. This meant that I did not always have the best of everything (and often used other providers who were just starting out), but my realistic attention to cash flow kept the expenses in check.

6. Say "Yes" to Networking. I find a lot of small business professionals and solopreneurs who are obsessed with protecting their time. They skip networking in one-on-one situations or at larger events with the rationalization that they committed to working on their business. They worry about their calendar activities to a level that they are missing out on opportunities. While most people you will encounter will not become valuable resources, some will have the ability to change your future. You cannot pre-judge events or people, so make it a habit of saying yes to being involved with others and over the long run it will pay off. And remember, networking is a long-term thing, nobody is going to help you the day they meet you!

7. Make sure your family is on board. Being a solopreneur often means you do not get to shut off work at home. The concerns of stability and money issues can be overwhelming, and if your spouse and children are not part of your journey, it will create problems. While some people have their significant other actively involved in their business, this wont be ideal for everyone. Regardless of if they work with you or not, you have to keep them in the loop as to how things are going. The more I communicate with my wife about how things are going in my business, the more she seems to understand what burdens I face on a daily basis.

8. Help others win. Be the person who is actively working to be a catalyst for success. Find small ways to serve other solopreneurs in their journey to build their businesses. Do more than "like" a post (that only shows "I saw this"), but instead re-post and promote things others are doing (this shows you are trying to help). While they wont all return the favor, never keep score. Find ways to promote the businesses of people you know (and some you don't know) if you believe in them. Every action you take is a brick in the permanent wall of your reputation, and those who work for more than self-interests will find more people will do the same for them.

Studies have shown that 40% of the workforce will work "solo" at some point, doing project work, consulting, or building their own business. That is a big shift in the way we all will view careers. The long-term company job might become the exception. You may be a solopreneur, but you cannot really do it all alone. Build a community of people who will bring mutual support to all. Self-focus will limit your long term success.

Direct download: CTED_164.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:59pm EDT