Michael Sabat has worked in the messaging space for nearly a decade. He started working with SMS campaigns in 2008 as an account manager at Mobile Commons. That company grew quickly, became the dominant software platform for SMS communications and was acquired in 2014.
In early 2017, Michael started @Mssg (At Message), which is a messaging platform that helps organizations do their best marketing with their biggest fans. @Mssg is a software platform that helps digital marketers use Facebook Messenger for marketing and communications outcomes. Michael is working to establish Messaging as a Marketing channel and teaching marketers how to launch messaging campaigns.
Michael’s Challenge; Don’t underestimate your worth. Raise your prices if you’re spread too thin.
Raji Sankar is opening a restaurant in Pittsburgh and came on the show to share her insights from more than a decade in the restaurant industry.
Raji co-founded Wholesome International in 2004, a multi-concept restaurant development company, which owns and operates Choolaah Indian BBQ restaurants and franchised Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurants. She is co-CEO and is responsible for people, operations, and infrastructure.
Previously, she co-founded and sold a technology company, co-founded a media company, and held leadership positions in technology and media companies in Pittsburgh.
Raji’s Challenge; Hire a coach that can help you accomplish the specific goals you are chasing.
If you liked this interview, check out my interview with Bill Fuller from the Big Burrito Group and my other conversations with movers & shakers in Pittsburgh.
Kelauni Cook transformed her life by learning to code. She came to Pittsburgh to attend a 12-week coding bootcamp called The Academy.
Now, she heads Black Tech Nation and is developing on the Ethereum network. We discussed race and access in tech. We also profiled her story and eclectic collection of job titles. Kelauni grew up in Chicago and attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., before moving to North Dakota, where she studied to get into a program for sociocultural anthropology.
We end up talking about blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
Kelauni’s Challenge; Invest in Bitcoin!
Taylor Monahan is building MyEtherWallet, an open-source, client-side interface for generating Ethereum wallets & more. Her technology is making it easier to interact with the Ethereum blockchain securely.
We had a great discussion about ICOs, early stages of learning about blockchain, and how to stay secure in the Wild West of crypto.
Taylor’s Challenge; Don’t be dismissive of someone asking for help. Self-awareness will make this easier.
If you liked this interview, check out all of my interviews with people building the future of blockchain technology projects.
Since 2007, Audrey Russo has served the technology business sector for southwestern PA as President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, the oldest and largest technology trade association in North America.
With a background in information technology, operations and finance, Audrey facilitates interaction across all sectors of the regional economy, which she believes will only succeed and grow through technology innovation and commercialized disruptions across every platform and experience.
She previously worked for large multinational Fortune 500 companies (Alcoa, Reynolds Metals), as well as at MAYA Design.
Russo earned her Bachelor of Science from Ohio State University. She also has a Masters in Public Administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Affairs. Russo also co-hosts TechVibe Radio on KDKA 1020 AM Friday nights at 7 to explore technology companies and entrepreneurial issues.
Audrey’s Challenge; Open the door for someone else to get a customer. Use your contacts, influence, and buying power to make a meaningful difference for someone’s business.
Nudge by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
1984 by George Orwell
Remaking Post-Industrial Cities: Lessons from North America and Europe by Donald K. Carter
CEO Steven Clausnitzer, prior to Forever Labs, spent 15 years mentoring and developing top-talent at fortune 500 companies including American Express and Wolters Kluwer. He has extensive experience in strategic growth, commercialization, and team leadership.
Dr. Mark Katakowski received his Ph.D. in Medical Physics from Oakland University. He has over 15 years experience investigating bone mesenchymal stem cell therapies for neurological disease, and an extensive scientific publication record.
Dr. Katakowski was first to demonstrate that microRNA functions as an intercellular communication molecule between brain tumor cells. This work led to his finding that bone marrow MSCs communicate with the nervous system via blood-born exosomes. Dr. Katakowski's hypothesis that bone marrow cell degradation contributes to aging and age-related disease is the founding principle of Forever Labs.
Steven’s Challenge; Find someone over the age of 70 and ask them if they’d be interested in accessing their 35 year old biology.
Mark’s Challenge; Be mindful of your physical existence and your body’s natural processes.
Tren has studied the most successful people on Earth and distilled their wisdom into a new book. I love reading his blog posts and his commitment to concise communication.
Tren Griffin is an executive at Microsoft. Before joining Microsoft, Tren was a partner at the private equity firm Eagle River which makes investments telecommunications businesses and startups. He previously worked as a consultant in Australia and Korea. He writes a weekly blog and has published 7 books.
Tren’s Challenge; Study Charlie Munger and be a learning machine. Any year that you don’t reject a view you held, is a wasted year.
A Dozen Lessons for Entrepreneurs by Tren Griffin
Connect with Tren
If you liked this interview, check out previous episodes with Wealthfront founder Andy Rachleff and Li Jiang, and angel investor and venture capitalist.
I love meeting people who beat the odds. Anthony Vennare was supposed to be a “dumb jock”. He wasn’t supposed to open a gym and find profitability within 2 months. He wasn’t supposed to raise millions of dollars to get more people working out. He wasn’t supposed to sign deals with massive healthcare companies and turn the world of digital content writing on its head.
Luckily, no one told him.
Today, Anthony is the co-founder and CEO of Fitt – a media and technology company that connects people to local health and fitness activities. They’ve got big plans for the future and anyone in the content & branding game needs to study what they’re doing.
I got him for 40 minutes over the weekend and hustled to get this episode out ASAP because it got me so fired up. Hope you enjoy it.
Anthony’s Challenge; Leave behind everything in your life that is stuck in the status quo. Write down a plan and execute on one step every month in the new direction.
So excited to share this mix with you. Totally Normal is a young DJ on the rise in the Pittsburgh scene.
Make sure to stick around to the end for our interview about his development as an artist.
Connect with Totally Normal
If you liked this interview, check out the last time we went in the mix, featuring DJ JRod.
Amy‘s dating app, MeetMindful, has almost 1 million members. It is one of the fastest growing dating sites in the world, and is connecting like-minded singles interested in mindful living, health and wellness, and personal growth (unlike the typical swipe dating apps).
Based in Denver, MeetMindful is a Techstars Boulder alumni, has grown to 16 employees, and has raised $3.7 million in capital from top investors, and world-renowned mindfulness teacher, Tara Brach.
Amy's journey towards mindful living started after years of growing early-stage startups in New York. She wanted to put that same ambition and drive inwards towards herself, so she quit her job, sold all her possessions, and bought a one-way ticket to travel through India, Thailand, Bali, and Cambodia for an entire year to expand her mind, body, and spirit.
Amy’s Challenge; Look up and start paying attention to the world around you. See if it makes you feel more connected to the world around you.
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
Lean Startup by Eric Ries
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
Feminine Genius by LiYana Silver
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success by Jim Dethmer & Diana Chapman
Connect with Amy
If you liked this interview, check out my other top episodes.
Nomiku launched its first Kickstarter campaign in 2012 after Lisa and Abe Fetterman, Nomiku co-founders, decided to create their own sous vide machine that was affordable, well-designed, and powerful. Nomiku had a total of two successful Kickstarter campaigns raising over $1.3 million and are proud to manufacture our product locally in San Francisco.
Sous vide technology, before Nomiku came along, was expensive and unwieldy, which in itself made it very limiting to who could actually experience sous vide. Only those who could afford to the tech could replicate their experiences at the restaurants at home, and even then, they had to work with industrial grade equipment that was unnecessary for home use. And those who couldn’t afford the tech - which was upwards of $1,000 at the time - would only be able to enjoy sous vide cooking to restaurants (and only restaurants that they knew used sous vide).
Today, Nomiku has developed an easy to use and affordable product that lets anyone cook like a professional chef and experience a new way of cooking alongside a community that makes cooking better together.
Lisa’s Challenge; Do one small thing that pushes your company forward TODAY.
Connect with Lisa
If you liked this interview, check out all of my top interviews.
John Rosso is the CEO of Sandler Training by Peak Performance Management. He is recognized nationally as a business-development expert, specializing in executive-sales consulting and sales-productivity training as well as the best-selling author of Prospect The Sandler Way.
John is a dynamic, enthusiastic speaker who informs, entertains, and motivates presidents, CEO's, other senior managers and sales professionals. More than 50,000 sales professionals have listened to John speak, and more than 95 percent rate his content and presentation of sought-after selling solutions the best they've ever heard. His authentic, real-world approach to the sales process speaks to visionary business leaders who want the freedom success brings.
In 1994, John founded Peak Performance Management, Inc. an authorized Sandler Training Center. With 250 offices worldwide, Sandler is the global leader in sales and sales management training.
John’s Challenges; 1. Be an ongoing learner. 2. Find 2 or 3 business mentors that you can talk to regularly.
To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities by Paul Stoltz
Connect with John
If you liked this interview, check out the rest of my interviews with sales trainers and masters.
Dan Munro is a writer and speaker on the topics of innovation, cybersecurity, and policy as they intersect with one of America’s largest industries – healthcare. Starting as a Forbes Contributor in 2011, Dan has since appeared in a wide range of globally recognized publications.
His first book was published in 2016 and he is also a Top Writer on Quora (five consecutive years).
I’m fairly certain that Jordan is a human, but I’m not sure. He has traveled to 32 countries, lived in China for 18 months, trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is a private pilot, SCUBA dives, and speaks Mandarin Chinese.
He’s also founded Debt Maven, a platform for middle market borrowers, lenders, and service providers to transact with each other for debt capital financings.
Jordan previously spent six years in cross-border investment banking advising global corporates and private equity firms on M&A deals up to $250 million. From pig farms to printers, and car components to cardboard boxes, Jordan worked on deals in a wide array of industries.
Jordan’s Challenge; Start something today. Speed is better than perfection.
Connect with Jordan
If you liked this interview, check out previous episodes with Larry Gioia where we discuss connecting the dots or Scott Rogerson where we discuss starting a search fund.
The world is a funny place. Every once in awhile, you run into someone cut from the same cloth as you. Whenever you find someone like that, i recommend recording a podcast together!
My guest, Li Jiang is a venture capital specialist, angel investor, and a co-owner of the San Francisco Flamethrowers. After leaving investment banking, he moved to Silicon Valley and has amassed a portfolio of angel investments and a family of entrepreneurs to support.
As a student, Li founded a student storage and shipping company and grew it into Northwestern University’s largest student company.
You’re gonna like this interview.
Li’s Challenge; Go and try to help someone without any way for them to repay you. Ask them to pay it forward.
Newspapers and other forms of old media are struggling to adapt to to this new world of digital media. In their stead, pioneering creators like Foo Conner are rising to report, document, and move our collective conscious.
In this interview, we cover Foo’s activism, how he’s gone about growing his massive social following (2 million readers a month, 115k Twitter followers, 500k YouTube subscribers, and more than 50k email subscribers), and his commitment to supporting cultural drivers like Thrival and Randyland.
In addition to serving as a cultural curator, Foo is a willing connector and intent on building bridges.
Say hi then next time you see this professional party crasher around Pittsburgh.
Foo’s Challenge; Write to your heroes. You'll be shocked who responds.
Connect with Foo
Amazon's HQ search, Reaction Videos on YouTube, and more.
Iba Masood founded her first startup at 22 as a fresh college graduate in the United Arab Emirates. The initial goal was to connect recent grads in the Middle East to employers. Now, she and her team have evolved TARA into an Artificial Intelligence platform for recruitment and project management.
Iba was part of the Y Combinator Winter 2015 class and is a past winner of the MIT Global Business Plan competition, a finalist of MassChallenge and recipient of the Arabian Business “Young Achiever of the Year” award. Gulf Business named Iba one of the 30 most influential individuals under the age of 30 in the Middle East, and she’s the youngest person ever to receive a Cartier Women’s Initiative Award.
Iba’s Challenge; Read a book that is completely outside your area of expertise or comfort zone.
If you liked this interview, check out previous interviews with futurist Kevin Kelly on the technological trends shaping the future and virtual reality evangelist Robert Scoble.
Joe Bender, Decentralization Engineer - ConsenSys
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Joseph Bender is a decentralization engineer, solidity developer, blockchain evangelist, Ethereum aficionado, and all-around CryptoNerd. After graduating, he moved to New York to follow his passion for blockchain and began employment at ConsenSys. ConsenSys is a venture production studio building decentralized applications (dApps) and various developer and end-user tools for blockchain ecosystems, primarily focused on Ethereum. At ConsenSys, Joe is technical lead in the alignment circle working directly with Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin. He oversees development of a full stack product including various decentralized applications, developer tools, and protocol layer frameworks.
Tom Marnik, Director, Worldwide Consulting - ANSYS
Over 25 years experience in all aspects of the enterprise software business including product strategy and development, marketing, business development, pre and post sales support, and implementation.
Chris Wilmer, Founder & Co-Managing Editor - Ledger
Christopher E. Wilmer is the co-founder and managing editor of Ledger, the first peer-reviewed journal for scholarly research on blockchain technologies. He is also a professor in the Chemical & Petroleum Engineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh, whose research group focuses on computational materials discovery. He has published 25 peer-reviewed articles has co-authored a book on Bitcoin called “Bitcoin for the Befuddled,” which is published by No Starch Press.
If you liked this interview, check out my other blockchain interviews.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has used data from the internet -- particularly Google searches -- to get new insights into the human psyche.
Seth has used Google searches to measure racism, self-induced abortion, depression, child abuse, hateful mobs, the science of humor, sexual preference, anxiety, son preference, and sexual insecurity, among many other topics.
His book, Everybody Lies, describes his research and argues for social scientists to make greater use of internet data. It was a New York Times bestseller and received widespread media attention.
Seth’s Challenge; Read a book per week for the next year.
If you liked this interview, check out my most popular episodes.
Scot MacTaggart is the creator and host of The Pitchwerks Podcast. Having logged more than 20 years in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship, Scot has built a diverse portfolio of experiences helping businesses of all sizes to get to the next level.
If you're in sales, biz dev, marketing, product management or politics, The Pitchwerks Podcast is a fast, easy way to sharpen your tools each week.
Scot’s Challenges; 1. Find the reason why you can unleash your creativity. 2. Determine the reason you’re doing what you’re doing.
Connect with Scot
Joe Calloway has no time for BS real estate gurus standing in front of Ferraris.
Instead, he’d prefer to offer his perspective. He’s built a $40,000,000 real estate portfolio through hard work, persistence, and patience. Being raised by a single parent in a two bedroom, low income apartment in Mt. Oliver doesn’t usually breed success, but Joe Calloway’s story is anything but usual. Joe went from those unfortunate circumstances to being the largest single family home buyer in Pittsburgh.
With little direction in life and few marketable skills, Joe enlisted in the US Navy in 1997. Using his military reenlistment bonus, Joe bought his first property in 2004. For his early projects he served as investor, contractor, designer, and property manager, giving him first-hand experience which proved to be invaluable.
Joe formed RE360 in 2009 and has grown the company’s rental portfolio to 270 units with a monthly gross rental income of $229,000. 2014 alone saw the rags-to-riches Calloway invest $5 million and purchase 72 homes, making him the largest housing buyer in Pittsburgh for the second year in a row. Not bad for the poor kid from Mt. Oliver.
Joe’s Challenge; Don’t rely on traditional sources if you are unhappy with your current position. If you want something great, you have to make it yourself and get creative.
Connect with Joe
When you are on a mobile device that does not use blockers against ads and trackers, YOU ARE PAYING $23 per month just to load the tracking and targeting scripts for ads. It’s a payday for both advertisers and your telecommunications provider.
This was part two. Don't miss part one!
NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking (Washington Post)
Mobile Ads Cost you $23 per month (Medium)
Basic Attention Token Raises $35 Million in 30 Seconds (CoinDesk)
This interview has been split into two parts to make it more digestible.
If you liked this interview, check out the rest of my interviews with leaders in the blockchain and crypto space and my interview with Kevin Kelly about technological trends.
Mark Leslie was the founding Chairman and CEO of Veritas Software. During his tenure as CEO, the company went from 12 employees to 5,500 employees deployed globally, and from a revenue base of $95,000 per year to $1,500,000,000 per year. In 2000, Veritas was the 10th largest independent software company by revenue, third largest by market capitalization, and achieved the distinction of becoming a Fortune 1000 company.
From 1980 until 1990 he served as president and chief executive officer of two Silicon Valley high-tech start-up companies. His prior experience included sales management, sales executive, systems engineer, and OS programmer.
Mark Leslie is a successful retired entrepreneur and continues to be active in the Silicon Valley community.
Connect with Mark
The Sales Learning Curve by Mark Leslie & Charles A. Holloway