Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?
Well, I am a reluctant entrepreneur. When I was young, I would hear people talking about money and cars, and I found it really boring. I also noticed a disturbing lack of ethics where all these businesspeople talked about is how they got money out of somebody. That’s what I associated business with, and I wasn’t interested. I was interested in exploring the world — and then, quite frankly, exploring the universe. That’s why I went to the Kennedy Space Center and worked on the Hubble Space Telescope and Galileo projects. I loved it, and the only reason I moved on was that the space program was in decline and my mentors there said, “You should leave.”
The reason I started my own business is because I wanted a great place to work. I wondered if I could create a company that I would want to come to work at. That was my first company, Open Network, and for six years I did a good job of making it a great place to work. But then we raised investment money, and I didn’t enforce the culture strongly enough. The company started behaving differently than I ever imagined, in ways that were even embarrassing to me. So I left.
So, when I started FairWarning, I understood that if I’m really going to have a great company that’s going to stand the test of time, I have to stay in control of the true north of the company, our virtues, values and vision. That’s my primary role today: to instill these things in our culture and never lose control of it again — and to recruit people that believe in it, too.