Unleashing the Full Potential of Millennial Leaders

This month’s breakfast meeting featured a well recognized guest speaker to accompany Il Forniao’s wonderful pastries and delicious coffee.  Jason Ma is Founder, CEO and Chief Mentor for ThreeEQ, Inc., a premier provider of personalized, 1-on-1, top-tier college counseling, personal development, and career success coaching services for the motivated millennials, teens, and tweens of select high-net-worth parents worldwide. ThreeEQ also provides high-powered global business growth and human capital success consulting services for multinational corporations and institutions. Jason is listed as one of the world’s top experts, an elite college and career success coach and mentor for high achievers, and a sought-after speaker and thought leader on education and business.

Originally from Hong Kong, Jason began his talk by outlining the colorful aspects of his past career with multinational firms and startups in the U.S. and China. Coming from a tech business background and having traveled over 2 million miles worldwide, he described the re-invention of his career to mentor and counsel our “Next-Gen Leaders”. This led him on a 2,000-hour team journey to research, plan, write, and publish his book Young Leaders 3.0, which was released late 2014 and in which he shares part of his teachings to “unleash the full potential of next-generation leaders”.

Jason Ma is also a member of the B20 Employment Taskforce, one of the five B20 task forces that lead engaging and recommending policies to the G20, the premier forum for international economic cooperation led by the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies. He’s also been a Forbes contributor on elite college prep and admissions, unconventional education, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

Some of the questions that the CEO attendees asked during Mr. Ma’s discussion:

  • “What is the best way to unlock the potential and cure ‘millennials’ disease’ among employees?”
  • “When mentoring young leaders, what are the key traits that you’re looking to instill?”
  • “How important are mentors in the lives of successful leaders?”
  • “Regarding relationships with next-gen leaders, are the traits of trust, credibility, and authenticity critical?”

Mr. Ma’s advice for next-gen leaders:

  • Increase learning capacity and continuously learn: Information is now accessible at the touch of a button… focus on expanding your learning and processing capabilities.
  • A jar can’t read its own label: Seek mentors who can help guide your decisions and actions and provide feedback. Find a quality coach/mentor for different aspects of your work and personal lives.
  • On authenticity and purpose: Work towards goals with a greater purpose and keep your messaging and branding authentic and honest.

Many thanks to Jason Ma for generating a wonderful discussion and addressing a topic many business leaders struggle with today.




From Love of Wine to a Successful Business

Turrentine LogoOur August CEO Club speaker was Steve Fredricks, CEO of Turrentine Wine Brokerage.

Steven treated us to insights behind the veil of industry secrecy, personal insights on his career progression, lessons learned along the way, and what the future might hold for his industry and other consumer product firms.   We were also graced with the presence of his daughter, Haley, who was enjoying summer vacation and hearing her dad speak about his life and CEO career.

BACKGROUND: Steve shared many observations that support the need for the bulk wine brokerage business, and then listed the challenges in delivering consistently and profitably on that need.  He then shared his journey from growing up in LA to studying at U.C. Davis, and discovering the science behind making wines in a Viticulture class. He decided to combine his business major with the science of wine to create his own personal major.  After graduation he worked in wine production in the USA and in Australia, and then in sales/marketing for a winery.  Subsequently, he became a devoted reader of the Turrentine Wine Newsletter.

SUCCESS: Steve shared that his organized, regimented, and consistent work style served him well in the business world, especially when he started in an entry-level sales position with Turrentine Wine Brokerage.  (First he had to convince the owner to hire him, which took some persistent and consistent work on his part!)  He used these skills and characteristics to be successful as a bulk wine broker, working his way to the top over a 20+ year career with Turrentine Wine.  Today, Steve is the President and majority owner of the business.

Turrentine_Steve-FredricksLEADERSHIP SHIFT: As he became the leader of the organization he had to shift his thinking by learning to listen to his employees more, and not always putting the customer first, as was his training.  He also had to learn to use some quiet time, to BE the leader, to think globally, and to build relationships with his employees.  All elements of thinking long-term for the business, and not just closing a sale himself, which brought him his original success and recognition.  He also learned to read more: about business, psychology, and economics.  NUDGE and HABITS became some of his favorite books.  Today he is happier watching his brokers do satisfying deals for clients, than doing those deals himself.  He is looking beyond to future generations in his role as leader.

CHALLENGES: Steve then shared some of the challenges he faces leading the business into the 21st Century.   These include leading multi-generational workforces, with competing motives and different values.   Shifting cultures as the environment changes and the company needs to change to survive, adapt, and thrive.  He has invested in improving internal communications amongst all employees, create pathways for future partners/leaders, shape the future culture and nurture teams, and reinforce behaviors that build long-term client relationships.   Steve is challenged to know each employees’ needs and motivations, focus everyone on the ingredients for business success, establish operations globally, meets client needs to integrate more closely into their supply chains, and anticipate the next trend in the wine business.

SUMMARY: Steve summarized his comments by declaring that he is a lucky guy, able to travel the world, interact with people different cultures yet common interests, own his own business, and lead the company for the next generation to enjoy!

The CEO Club of Marin thanks Steve Fredricks for sharing with us as our August 2015 featured speaker!

Chris Kitze’s 8 Secrets to Building Successful Businesses

Chris Kitze
Chris Kitze shares his business wisdom with the CEO Club of Marin.

This month at the CEO Club of Marin, we were pleased to have Chris Kitze, CEO of Safe Cash, as our guest speaker. Chris has had a long career of building and running successful businesses, so I posed a simple question to him: “What does it take to be successful in business building?”

His answers seemed to flow naturally and were insightful as always. Here is a brief recap of his response.

Paul Herrerias:  “You have started, invested in, or been the CEO of at least five businesses.  You have successfully led two IPOs and several M&A transactions.  You have many people who would drop what they are doing and come join you in your ventures if you asked them too…what is your secret to being successful in business building?”

Chris Kitze:   “I have been blessed with a good sense for where consumer markets are going.  Additionally, I have been a student of business building and learned a few things over my career that I can share with you today…critical ingredients for business growth and value.  Here are my secrets:

1) First, find great people.  Only hire A-players who will bring in some other A-players.  (Hire B players and they will attract C players…soon D-players will take over and kill your business.)  Use a tight screen for hiring and build the best team you can.

2) Think Strategically.  Keep the big picture in mind and share the vision constantly.  Know where the company is going and where it is today on this journey.  Startups quickly go thru transitions and business cycles that take traditional companies 50+ years. Keep an eye on your strategy and progress.

3) Run your business by the metrics.  Pay critical attention, in real time, to your data.  Have good data and work to get all the information…though you will never have it.  “Test and then Invest” is our motto.

4) Be in communication with your customers.  They will tell you how to improve your current product…and your next product.  Analyze every sale.  What worked?  What didn’t?  Call your customer and ask.  And keep it simple: KISS!

5) Be hands on.  Don’t delegate everything.   Work the balance between leveraging your time and protecting your company, customers, vision, values, and profits. Pay attention to your business and get involved.  Remember: employees can take care of the easy ones…we get the hard ones!  You need to be involved to solve the hard problems.

6) Be honest with yourself….so you can be real and solve real problems.  This is what business people do…solve problems.  Combined with being hands-on, we can solve the hard problems.  Solve them right away!  Don’t let them fester.  And have good lawyers at hand.

7)  Be persistent and totally honest with everyone.  Trust is at the core of everything a business is allowed to do.  More importantly than technical skills and abilities, or college degrees, is our trustworthiness.

8) Stay open to changing your business, plan, products, and/or services.   Morph continually. To survive, adapt, and thrive!

Earth Activist turns profitable entrepreneur

Today Founder/CEO of Nutiva, John Roulac, spoke to the CEO Club of Marin about “What it’s like to be CEO of my firm.”  John shared his journey from serial entrepreneur turned earth activist turned successful business leader.

John Roulac shares his challenges and successes as the Founder/CEO of Nutiva.

Mr. Roulac founded, among others, nutritional food bar, hemp textile, and super-food companies.  His latest creation, Nutiva, is flirting with the $100mm revenue mark, and has achieved 60+% GROWTH annually.  Nutiva has been recognized globally for its products, mission, culture, and growth. Their products can be purchased today at Whole Foods, Costco, GNC, many specialty stores, and online (Amazon.com or Nutiva.com).

Left to right: Thomas Sheppard, Joe Delaney, Roger Sramek, John Roulac, and Paul Herrerias.

Mr. Roulac shared his learnings and insights on sustainable agriculture, carbon balancing, earth-friendly policies, hemp production, nutrition, super-foods, and finally, how to grow a successful business.

When asked what advice he would give to a hypothetical CEO taking over his business today, he responded with three insights for organizational success:

  • Stay true to the mission (and culture)
  • Keep innovating
  • Grow EBITDA

SNO LogoMr. Roulac will be speaking at an international conference on Environmental and Social Reform on September 4-5, 2015.  (www.SoilNotOilCoalition.org)

The CEO Club of Marin, founded by Paul Herrerias, meets on the Second Tuesday of each month, and is by invitation only. (www.CEOClubofMarin.com).