Phil McKenzie on Empowering Remote Workers by Letting Go

In Chapter 7 of 20 in his 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, entrepreneur Phil McKenzie answers "What Skills Are You Working on Right Now to Get Better at Your Job?" McKenzie shares how he is working on letting go of project management responsibilities and handing them over to remote project teams working all over the world. Between time differences and cultural connections, McKenzie finds it is time to give his overseas teams such as one in Mumbai, India, a chance to lead their own projects.

Philip L. McKenzie is the Founder of Influencer Conference, a global content platform that brings together tastemakers in the arts, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and technology to discuss influencer culture. Previously, he led an influencer marketing agency and was an equities trader at Goldman, Sachs & Co. He earned an MBA from Duke University and a BBA from Howard University.

Mike Germano on Balancing Service and Self to Live a Fuller Life

In Chapter 5 of 23 in his 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, VICE Media Chief Digital Officer Mike Germano answers "How Are You Learning to Better Balance Service and Self in How You Live Your Life?" Germano shares just how much changed in his life when he learned his wife was pregnant with their first child. He notes how before it had been about serving others and then, with the baby on the way, it made him realize he needed to take care of himself. This meant putting family first and making time away from the office. It also meant putting a higher priority on eating healthier and exercising more regularly. He notes how selling his business helped give him financial freedom to better balance work and home and, with this, actually be able to give more at work each day.

Mike Germano is Chief Digital Officer at VICE Media, a global youth media company based in Brooklyn, New York. Germano joined VICE Media via its 2013 acquisition of Carrot Creative, a social media agency he co-founded and led as CEO. 

Mike Germano on Identifying Sources of Strength and Struggle

In Chapter 21 of 23 in his 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, VICE Media Chief Digital Officer Mike Germano answers "At This Moment in Time, What Are the Sources of Strength and Struggle in Your Life?" Germano shares how his wife provides him the support he needs to succeed professionally and how time spent with his son makes him stronger. He also shares his struggle with wanting to please everybody and worrying about too many outsider requests can cause him to lose focus.

Mike Germano is Chief Digital Officer at VICE Media, a global youth media company based in Brooklyn, New York. Germano joined VICE Media via its 2013 acquisition of Carrot Creative, a social media agency he co-founded and led as CEO. 

Matt Curtis on How to Find Common Ground in a Negotiation

In Chapter 17 of 20 in his 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, Matt Curtis answers "What Role Do Negotiation Skills Play in Your Work?" Curtis shares how he negotiates often in his work and how being being a patient, friendly active listener helps him find common ground and win-win outcomes in negotiations. He finds this is especially true negotiating common ground working with government, given concessions are nearly always part of a negotiation.

Matt Curtis is the director of government relations at HomeAway Inc. Previously he was deputy to Austin mayors Lee Leffingwell and Will Wynn. He has represented the City of Austin at the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities. In 2011, Curtis joined the Harvard Kennedy School Urban Policy Advisory Board to work on national best practices facing American cities. He earned his bachelor's degree in radio, television and film from the University of North Texas. 

Courtney Spence on Learning to Do More With Less

In Chapter 5 of 20 in her 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, nonprofit CEO Courtney Spence answers "How Are You Learning to Do More With Less?" Spence shares how having a new responsibility of raising a girl in kindergarten has shifted budget toward her schooling and away from eating out at restaurants. Spence also finds she does more with less at work by graphing resource commitments to projects.

Courtney Spence is founder and CEO of Students of the World, a nonprofit empowering a diverse network of student and emerging filmmakers to apply storytelling skills in purposeful work. She is also the Founder and CEO of CSpence group, a creative agency building millennial-focused content and programs for brands. Spence earned a BA from Duke University. 

When to Stop Bootstrap Funding Your Business and Get Investors

In Chapter 6 of 15 in her 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, entrepreneur Hattie Elliot answers "What Informed Your Decision to Stop Bootstrapping Your Business and Pursue Outside Capital?" After years using her own money to fund the business, Elliot opens to taking outside investment capital. While still capable of bootstrap funding the business, the emotional and physical stresses prove another reason to change direction and raise money. 

Hattie Grace Elliot is the founder and CEO of The Grace List, a social networking company that creates destination events and experiences to forge lasting personal and professional connections across its young professional members. Elliot graduated from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she studied economics, philosophy, and politics.

Michael Olsen on Striking a Balance Volunteering and Making a Living

In Chapter 10 of 20 in his 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, management consultant Michael Olsen answers "How Has Volunteering Impacted Your Learning and Development?" Olsen learns early the importance and reward of volunteering his skills and time. Now in his 30s, he gains a pragmatic point of view on life that he first needs to make a living to support himself and his family. While this may mean Olsen volunteers less in the short term, it also pushes him into a health care career helping others so long term, through work and volunteering, he can make a difference.

Michael Olsen is a management consultant at Accenture. Previous to Accenture, Olsen earned dual MBA and MPH degrees at Emory University in Atlanta. Olsen earned a BA in symbolic systems from Stanford University and spent the next five years founding an IT consulting company, Redwood Strategies. 

Adam Geller on Finding Work That Brings Out Your Passion

In Chapter 2 of 22 in his 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, education technology entrepreneur Adam Geller answers "When Are You At Your Best?" Geller finds he is at his best when he is passionate about the work he is doing. He feels it when he is excited about the problem he is working to solve. He does not mind staying late at work as long as he believes in the work he is doing.

Adam Geller is founder and CEO of Edthena, a video platform enabling online teacher coaching, peer review, and group learning. He is a recent Education Ventures fellow at the Kauffman Foundation and the founder of Teach For Us, a network connecting Teach for America corps members and alumni. He earned a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a MA from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis.

Finding Meaningful Work in Elementary Education

In Chapter 2 of 22 in his 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, elementary charter school network CEO Preston Smith answers "What Makes Your Work Meaningful?" Smith shares how he gets fulfillment helping kids and families come together around a shared education purpose. Teaching elementary school creates lifetime bonds between Smith, his students and their families serve to constantly remind him of the bigger mission in his work long after he has left the classroom teaching for a CEO job.

Preston Smith is co-founder and CEO of Rocketship Education, the highest performing low-income school system in California. After graduating the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Smith joined Teach for America. After three years teaching 1st Grade, he founded a district school in San Jose and became its principal. Smith was selected as a member of the 2010 class of Aspen Institute New Schools Fellows.

Preston Smith on Taking Better Care of Yourself After Starting a Family

In Chapter 22 of 22 in his 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, elementary charter school network CEO Preston Smith answers "How Are Your Personal Priorities Changing As You Get Older?" Smith shares how he is learning to take better care of himself to make sure he is capable of serving his family and business. Raising two kids and going through a burst appendix health scare, Smith makes a point to set personal wellbeing priorities and routines to keep balanced in how he lives his life.

Preston Smith is co-founder and CEO of Rocketship Education, the highest performing low-income school system in California. After graduating the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Smith joined Teach for America. After three years teaching 1st Grade, he founded a district school in San Jose and became its principal. Smith was selected as a member of the 2010 class of Aspen Institute New Schools Fellows. 

Louise Langheier on How to Learn and Develop a Hard Work Ethic

In Chapter 2 of 21 in her 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, social entrepreneur Louise Langheier answers "Where Did You Learn Your Work Ethic?" Langheier shares how she learned her work ethic at an early age from people she admired, including her role model parents. Over time, she learns from people give their all to something and rise to the occasion in moments of crisis.

Louise Davis Langheier is founder and CEO of Peer Health Exchange, a non-profit that trains college students to teach health education in public high schools. Louise was selected as a member of the 2011 class of Aspen Entrepreneurial Education Fellows, and was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2012. She graduated from Yale University.

Mark Graham on Learning Work Ethic from Two Working Parents

In Chapter 5 of 15 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, media executive Mark Graham answers "Where Did You Learn Your Work Ethic?" Graham learns his work ethic from his mother and father.  To give his family a yard and good schools, Graham's father chooses a long, 55-mile commute over being close to work and still finds ways to make school events for the kids. Graham's mother teaches him the value that comes with working close to home and, over time, staying active as a community volunteer.

Mark Graham is currently a managing editor at MTV Networks. Previously Graham worked in editing and writing roles at New York Magazine and Gawker Media. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English. 

Conrad Doucette on How Starting a Family Affects Music Career

In Chapter 7 of 17 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, musician and digital strategist Conrad Doucette answers "When Does Playing Music Fit Into Your Career Now That You're a Father?" Doucette shares how starting a family and becoming a father has shifted short-term career goals from playing music to finding work to support the family. Long-term, Doucette notes how he still aspires to work as a professional musician and keep it a key part of his life.

Conrad Doucette is a Brooklyn musician and the drummer for the band Takka Takka. He has performed with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, The National, Alina Simone, and many other leading acts. When not performing music, Doucette is the communications and brand director at music licensing and publishing startup Jingle Punks. Doucette earned a BA in History from the University of Michigan. 

Idan Cohen on Building a Company Where Employees Love to Work

In Chapter 5 of 13 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, technology entrepreneur Idan Cohen answers "How Has Your Entrepreneurial Experience Helped You Grow as a Person?" Cohen finds starting and growing his company Boxee has that him about people and what sacrifices he is willing to make for others. In the six years growing the company before it sold to Samsung in 2013, Cohen finds reward knowing he helped create a place to work and a company culture that made a lasting positive impact on his employees.

Idan Cohen is a technology entrepreneur and product management leader at Samsung Electronics. He co-founded Boxee, which was acquired by Samsung in early 2013. 


Erik Michielsen: How has your entrepreneurial experience helped you grow as a person?

Idan Cohen: I think you learn more about people. You learn more about your priorities. You learn more about how much you are willing to sacrifice for what you set out to do. You learn about strengths and abilities that you didn't think you had. I think that especially looking back now after the acquisition and looking back at six years of building Boxee, the most significant thing that we did was create an amazing family with an amazing culture. It’s just--People got connected in many different ways, and, you know, the culture is a little quirky and a little weird, obviously, like maybe in any place, but the connection between the people was fantastic.

And I've seen companies that spend more time after work going out drinking together, and they spend more time doing activities or-- so it seems like they are connected, but I think that we managed to foster some kind of weird, very straightforward Israeli culture mixed in with young, local, American, New York experience and people. And it worked really well. I was extremely touched when everything went down, and one of the guys from Israel that decided-- so the team is moving here, and he decided not to move. And he wrote an e-mail back, and he said, you know, "I really hope that one day, I'll be able to say, no, Boxee was not the best place I ever worked in."

And I heard that from several other people in many different ways, and it was very hard for people to do this because they understood that something might change in the process. And they got emotional, and they felt really-- that it's-- you know, this time was significant in their life, and I think for me, suddenly that struck me, how-- like, being able to affect people's life in that way. You know, way more than eventually what we built, that-- you know, products come and go, services come and go. But I hope that the experiences people had together are the one thing that actually stays, not what they built. And I think that that, for me, was extremely touching.

Lauren Serota on Thinking About Your Biological Clock At Age 30

In Chapter 20 of 21 in her 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, creative director and educator Lauren Serota answers "How Are Your Personal Priorities Changing As You Get Older?" Now 30 years old, Serota shares how she thinks differently about her relationship and starting a family than she did when she was in her late twenties. The biological clock considerations for having a family now are more real in her own life. As her friends' kids grow into 6 and 7 year-old children, she starts to think more seriously about having kids. She also comes to appreciate the lifestyle she has built for herself in Austin that has allowed her to balance working at frog with teaching design.

Lauren Serota works as an associate creative director at frog design. She is also a teacher at the Austin Center for Design (AC4D). Serota earned a bachelor's degree in industrial design from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

Nina Godiwalla on How Life Changes After Having a Second Child

In Chapter 5 of 18 in her 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, author and entrepreneur Nina Godiwalla answers "What Challenges Have You Faced Raising Two Young Children While Working Full Time?" Godwalla shares how having a second baby has significantly changed her social life. With the added responsibility at home, working mom Godiwalla and her husband realize that the reality of having a second child is that your social life, from date nights to seeing friends, will get constrained. Nina Godiwalla is an expert on diversity, leadership and women in the business world. She is CEO of Mindworks, which provides leadership, stress management, and diversity training to companies all over the world. She is also a bestselling author and public speaker. Godiwalla earned an MBA from Wharton, a MA from Dartmouth and a BBA from the University of Texas.


Erik Michielsen: What challenges have you faced raising two young children while working full time?

Nina Godiwalla: I have to say what happened for us, what fell off the bottom is, where we are challenged is, with the second kid, especially, it cut off our social life a lot, it cut our social life significantly. So we used to have it to where, “Okay, I’ll take it. You go out tonight. I can go out with my friends later,” so we weren’t doing a lot of things together, because it’s usually, when we travel, we’re gone for work, so it doesn’t really justify we’re not gonna take a vacation, and we don’t leave our kids and go on a vacation together, but our time together, after the second child, has been cut significantly, just spending any time together alone, or going out and socializing.

We’re actually both fairly disciplined people, so we just see this as a situation, whereas I know a lot of other friends will say to me like, “Oh, you have to still socialize and do all sorts of things,” and I just, I do—I enjoy being with my kids, and, to me, I see it as, for the next couple of years, it will be this way, and even with my husband, when we’ve had our first kid, we said, “Oh, we’re gonna do a weekly date night,” a month, weeks later, and I thought, “Maybe we’ll do monthly,” we don’t do either.

Maybe it has only been a couple of years now, but it doesn’t bother me that much, and he has more of a kind of a discipline, logical mindset too where we both kind of see it as this is just it is what it is right now, and we’re not gonna, probably not spend a lot of time alone, it’s gonna be the four of us together and just deal with it, and we’re not gonna spend a lot of time with our friends, and when we do spend time with friends, it’s when we have the whole family together, and it’s just this chaotic—it’s they have their two or three other children, we have our two children—our conversation is so broken. You just started to say something, and then someone’s kid is screaming over, so it’s these broken conversations that there was no real in-depth conversation, but at the same time, it is what it is right now.

Erik Michielsen: Is that something where you have to just kind of feel out other couples and their kids and figure out, “Are we all okay in this environment here?”

Nina Godiwalla: I think other parents get it because they can’t have the conversation either. They are really trying. Before I had kids I was one of those unforgiving people where I really felt like, “Can they—?” I still remember it, I have a friend that I could hear her baby crying in the background, and I was thinking, and I’d be in the middle of telling her something, and I thought, “Can she just not leave the kid for a minute or two and let me finish talking or telling my story?” And it’s just interesting, as a parent now, I mean I see things so differently, like if I hear someone’s kid crying, I’m like, “I will talk to you later.” I just I don’t want you to have to try and listen to me and listen to the kid screaming at the same time.

My mindset is so different. Before, I was very harsh on parents, so I had a long way to come, and now I’m just incredibly forgiving. If I see somebody with like a kid on a plane, I try and let them know like a million times that whatever their child does is perfectly fine because I won’t fly with my children. I don’t bring my children on a plane, and everyone always makes fun of me because I fly, I’m flying for business and they’ll say, especially on the East Coast, like, “Do you really have children?” Because I fly here fairly frequently, but none of—and I have a lot of friends here, and they said, “I’ve never seen your children, like this is mysterious that you really have children.” “Oh my God, I don’t fly with my kids.” I mean that’s my—and so it’s that sort of I know what a challenge it is and I don’t even wanna go there. (laughs)




Fabian Pfortmüller on Honing a Socially Conscious Business Model

In Chapter 15 of 18 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, entrepreneur and community builder Fabian Pfortmüller answers "What Are the Challenges of Making a Socially Conscious Business Sustainable?" Pfortmüller notes the tradeoff of making a product that sells versus a sustainable product that sells. He notes short term sacrifices that occur given higher prices for sustainable products, but how this gradually erodes as community trust is built with customers as the product stories are shared and embraced. Fabian Pfortmüller is co-founder of Holstee, a socially conscious online marketplace, and Sandbox Network, a global community for young entrepreneurial people. Pfortmüller graduated from Columbia University.

Michael Margolis on Living Better by Deciding What Matters Most to You

In Chapter 13 of 17 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, educator and entrepreneur Michael Margolis answers "How Are Your Aspirations Changing as Your Experience Grows?" Margolis shares Lao Tzu wisdom on adding to your life by taking away or subtracting things. Margolis adopts this philosophy in his own life as he learns to say no, to set boundaries, to managing information technology streams and battle the oft competing priorities of serving others while taking care of your self. He shares what it is like to go through a process of finding what matters to you in life and how he is working his way through it. Michael Margolis is founder and president of Get Storied, an education and publishing platform dedicated to teaching the world how to think in narrative. He earned a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Tufts University.