Few ideas are entirely the product of one person. Most insights are actually synthesized from a variety of teachings and influences that came before. You put it all in a blender, shake it up, throw in some of your own mojo and every now and then something interesting comes out.
In that respect we’re all shaped by the people that help us. They give you something to think about and if you’re lucky they instigate perspectives of your own.
I’ve been lucky enough to have many people shape my thinking over the years. Some, profoundly so.
Here are some of the ones I’m most indebted to. A big thank you to all, and the countless others I’ve met along the way.
Founder & CEO, XcelleNet
Dennis founded XcelleNet which became the industry leader in systems management for large-scale remote and mobile systems. XcelleNet completed an IPO in 1994 and was later acquired by Sterling Commerce. Dennis also co-founded Sales Technologies, a pioneer in field sales automation software that was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet. In 1994, Dennis was named Technology Entrepreneur of the Year, an award sponsored nationally by Ernst & Young, Inc. Magazine and Merrill Lynch. Recently Dennis has been General Partner of CIMCO LLC, an investment management company and early stage venture fund. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Reveille Software.
Side note: Dennis is the one who fished me out of McKinsey and opened my eyes to the entrepreneurial world. Those invaluable lessons from Dennis and the “XcelleNet Mafia” made a huge impact that continues to this day. I think many of us out there would agree.
CEO, Reveille Software
Bob is CEO of Reveille Software and a member of their Board of Directors. Earlier, he was VP of Marketing Solutions with Interwoven, Inc. and General Manager of MediaBin, a digital asset management company that he helped build and sold to Interwoven in 2003. Bob was also VP of Marketing and Product Management at several Atlanta-based software companies focused on enterprise content management, sales force automation and mobile communications, including XcelleNet.
Side note: Where would I be without Bob? For the last 15 years, Bob singlehandedly pointed me in the right direction, he always seems to know where the dust will settle. An astonishing level of insight, and profound humanity, that draws out the best in everyone lucky enough to know him. Great taste in music too.
Former CEO, Neiman Marcus
Mr. Marcus has more than 35 years of experience in the marketing and retailing field, 30 years of which were spent at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas, where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from 1979 to 1988. Over the past 25 years, Mr. Marcus has advised and assisted small companies seeking to leverage emerging e-commerce technologies and the Internet. Mr. Marcus also devoted considerable time as both an advisor and investor in several early stage companies including XcelleNet.
Side note: Richard is an amazing example of somebody who literally doesn’t have enough time to go around, especially on small-fry stuff from guys like us. But he always comes through with a helping hand. He doesn’t have to, he just does.
Mike is Co-Founder and Partner of Catalysta Partners LLC, which helps early-stage companies launch new products, develop teams and create sustainable revenue models. Mike was VP of Sales at XcelleNet where he drove revenues to achieve #24 on the rank of INC 500. Mike has more than 25 years of experience launching and building fast growth companies including InvoiceLink (acquired by BCE Emergis in 2000), Constructware (acquired by Autodesk in 2005), Revenue Technologies (acquired by Oracle in 2007) and Advectis, Inc. (acquired by Xerox in 2007). Mike is a frequent guest speaker at Emory’s Goizueta Business School.
Side note: In terms of “keeping it real”, Mike is the master. Back in the day if I ever relapsed into corporate McKinsey speak, Mike was the first to set me straight. Nobody nets it all out better, just plain clever and always witty.