I have the privilege of leading the team here at VSO. My duties as CEO range but I’m at my best when I am collaborating with customers and teammates developing new ideas or solving meaningful problems.
Over the last 20 years my experience has been in entrepreneurship and venture capital. Many of the team at VSO have been my colleagues in a variety of ventures, however, most of my focus has been in working with large, data intensive environments and the particular business challenges which come along with them.
The idea for VSO came from John Birch (JB), a colleague from my Novus (acquired by IBM, 2007) days. At the time, I was looking to dive deeper into cloud computing, and JB’s idea seemed like a great marriage of working with people with whom I enjoy and an area of technology which greatly interests me. The veteran perspective was also a major draw as I believed from my study of history and my venture capital experience there was a significant untapped potential in the US’s investment in its military men and women.
Over my career I’ve been able to work with some exemplary leaders and teams. When we designed VSO, the founding team and I wanted to put a singular focus on culture, hence our “First Principles”. People always ascribe the “No Jerks” principle as my major contribution, and perhaps it was, but my most heartfelt of the principles is probably “We Won’t Waste Time” as it strikes to the heart of what I think about life and how precious it is. When I see people invited to a meeting they don’t need to be in, emails going unanswered, people not listening to others on call, or lecturing on subjects they know little about, not reading what someone else wrote, I’ve always thought, “How dare they?”. That person might have a kid at home they promised to shoot hoops with; a friend they want to spend time with; a wife or husband to enjoy a dinner with; a workout they want to fit in, etc and this person is wasting their time and potentially not allowing these important moments to happen. Wasting time has both a detrimental effect to the mission and culture of the organization, but more importantly to people’s lives. People don’t hate their jobs because they are hard or challenging. They hate their jobs when the work they perform is not meaningful or allowed to be meaningful. Don’t waste time because you are wasting lives.
That is a loaded question. I’ve been blessed with a lovely wife, Paula, and family. We enjoy being together and have had many adventures. We tend to be a very active crew with hiking, swimming, traveling, school, and sports. I suppose I will highlight perhaps the most unexpected part of my life outside of VSO: I’m an Oyster farmer. It’s a long story.