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CEOs Speak

Author: Charlie Katz

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CEOs Speak is where CEO’s open up to what it takes to reach the pinnacle. What drives them, what sustains them, the challenges they face and the lessons they’ve learned through their long difficult journey. Join Charlie Katz, Bitbean's Executive Creative Director as he interviews the dynamic thought leaders who are building some of America’s most successful companies.
65 Episodes
How has predicting the weather changed? Learn from the "most accurate man in weather” as he was named by The New York Times. Dr. Joel N. Myers is considered the “father of modern commercial meteorology” and the nation’s most respected authority on the business of meteorology. Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AccuWeather, he has been recognized in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurs book as one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history. He is a proven visionary leader, founding the company in 1962 and successfully establishing AccuWeather as the largest and fastest-growing weather media company as well as a global leader in weather-related big data, business, and predictive analytics. Dr. Myers continues to champion global business growth at AccuWeather while helping others.
Alexandre Douzet is the CEO of Pumpkin Pet Insurance.Alexandre has an MBA in general management, an MS in direct marketing, and a BS in economics and business administration. Prior to Pumpkin, he was founder and CEO of Ollie, and before that He is also a competitive athlete and has completed several Ironman competitions.
Nancy Leavitt is the woman behind the award-winning Nancy Leavitt Agency, LLC, a woman-owned business through American Family Insurance in Bellingham, WA, which has provided auto, home, business, life, and other insurance in the Pacific Northwest for almost twelve years. In that time, she’s developed thousands of policies, serviced hundreds of claims, and touched the lives of thousands of residents in her community.
In this second podcast with Gary Schoeniger of The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, Gary digs deeper into a discussion of his "entrepreneurial mindset theory."  To explain this theory, he shares that he "wanted to understand how people with no particular advantage in their life, managed to rise above their situation, to create some modicum of meaning and prosperity in their life. "
Dr. Kennette Thigpen, or Dr. K as many have come to call her, is a Corporate Mental Health Consultant and Speaker. She has spent the last 15+ years helping hundreds of companies of all sizes, in multiple industries, from around the globe develop, implement and integrate mental health strategies by developing tailored initiatives, delivering training, and speaking. In doing so, she is able to help companies experience a more resilient, productive, and engaged workforce.Her innovative methodology when working with companies has awarded her the IChange Nations award for Women Who Add Value and as a Distinguished Leader. She is an International Psychologist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who graduated from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and East Carolina University.
Brian Harris is the CEO and co-founder of MedRhythms, a digital therapeutics company that uses sensors, music, and software to build evidence-based, neurologic interventions to measure and improve walking.
In a multi-billion-dollar law enforcement organization, Jonni Redick oversaw large-scale civil disturbance, natural disaster response coordination, and oversight, and managed thousands of personnel within daily operations. A 29-year veteran, rising through the ranks of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) from county clerical worker to breaking through the “less-than-one-percent” ceiling for women of color in executive leadership in law enforcement.Her progression from front-line police work to executive leadership generated her passion for cultivating trust and legitimacy in organizational cultures. She now builds 21st Century leaders as the founder and CEO of JLConsulting Solutions (JLCS) where she works with police executives in law enforcement and public safety, CEOs in corporate, government, and nonprofit businesses.She is a thought leader in law enforcement and educates public safety and law enforcement leaders across the country. Jonni Redick is also the author of “Survival Guide” to Law Enforcement Promotional Preparation and the forthcoming book “Black, White & Blue: Surviving the Sifting.”
Ryan Novak is the 32-year-old owner of Chocolate Pizza Company, Central New York’s largest chocolate maker that has grown from a small-town chocolate shop into an emerging national brand. The company’s signature, products Chocolate Pizza® and Peanut Butter Wings® are gourmet chocolate gifts for business or personal occasions made with the highest quality Swiss-style chocolate. They have been enjoyed by A-list celebrities, hall of fame athletes, music legends, top political and business executives, and chocolate lovers from 6 continents. In 2016, Chocolate Pizza Company was named “Business of the Year” (less than 50 employees) by Centerstate CEO, the area’s largest business development association covering 12 counties in Upstate New York. Ryan has a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship from Syracuse University where he also played college football. He is a 40 Under Forty awardee and was honored as “Young Alumnus of the Year” by SU’s Whitman School of Management. Ryan is married and resides in his hometown of Marcellus, New York.
Gary Schoeniger is the founder of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI) and co-author of Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life Lessons from an Unlikely Entrepreneur. He led the development of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program and has presented about re-defining entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking at numerous keynotes, workshops, and training programs throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Stephen King is the CEO and founder of GrowthForce. From startups to working with Fortune 500 executives, Stephen brings a unique combination of vision, foresight, and experience to help small businesses run better, grow faster, and make more money. Regarded as one of the accounting industry’s top thought leaders, he’s currently serving as President and CEO of GrowthForce, one of the nation’s largest cloud-based accounting service providers.A highly energetic and motivational business leader, entrepreneur, and speaker, Steve has a passion for helping businesses and nonprofits reach their growth potential. His ability to visualize the future of accounting and assemble a highly qualified and motivated team has led GrowthForce to become one of the nation’s largest cloud-based bookkeeping, accounting, and controller service providers.
Dr. Bart Barthelemy is the Founding Director of the Wright Brothers Institute and the President of the Collaborative Innovation Institute. He was the National Director of the National Aerospace Plane Program, where he reported to the White House and was responsible for the development of the nation’s hypersonic aerospace plane. While a member of the Federal Senior Executive Service, he served as the Technical Director of the Air Force Wright Aeronautical Laboratories at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, the Air Force’s largest research and development complex. He has been a consultant to a variety of aerospace industry companies and federal government organizations, including Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, the Department of Defense and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Bart was also a Visiting Scientist at the Software Engineering Institute and Carnegie Mellon University and Adjunct Professor at the University of Dayton. Bart’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from MIT, Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering and Physics from MIT, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear Physics/Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University. Bart published High Performance, a book on high performance technology leadership in 1985, and The Sky Is Not The Limit: Breakthrough Leadership, St. Lucie Press, a book on breakthrough leadership in 1993 and Collaborative Innovation, a book on the future of innovation, Balboa Press in 2020.
William D. Novelli is the Founder of Georgetown Business for Impact, and Distinguished Professor of the Practice, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University.As a professor in the MBA program at McDonough Georgetown, Bill teaches Principled Leadership for Business and Society and Managing the Enterprise. He developed and previously taught courses in Corporate Social Responsibility and Leadership and Management of Nonprofit Organizations.He founded Georgetown Business for Impact at McDonough and oversees the program, which partners with companies, nonprofits, and government to create social, environmental, and economic impact.Bill is also co-founder and co-chair of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, a national alliance focused on reforming advanced illness/end-of-life care in the U.S.Previously, he was CEO of AARP, a membership organization of 40 million people 50 and older. Prior to AARP, he was founder and president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, EVP of CARE, the international relief and development organization, and co-founder and president of Porter Novelli, a global public relations firm and now part of Omnicom.
Andy Techmanski is the Founder and CEO of FORLOH, a new premium, technical hunting, fishing, and outdoor apparel brand with apparel that is 100% Made in the U.S.A. Before switching paths to pursue his passions for hunting and American-made manufacturing through FORLOH, Andy worked in the energy sector as CEO of Whitefish Energy Holdings, an energy construction company. Prior to joining Whitefish Energy Holdings, Andy was the Senior Vice President at Arctic Arrow Powerline Group, a consulting firm in the energy industry. On his new career path, Andy is excited to combine his passion for hunting and vision for American-made manufacturing to his latest business venture. Andy’s vision for FORLOH is for the brand to become a global leader in the hunting and outdoor apparel industry. Andy is based in Whitefish, Mont., where FORLOH is headquartered.
Christine Nguyen is a WashU student by day and a nonprofit leader by night. She is the founder and CEO of Limitless Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fighting for equitable and accessible healthcare, in loving memory of her uncle Cuong Ngo. Christine has worked in the nonprofit sector, legislative offices, political campaigns, startups, and venture capital firms. Outside of Limitless, she is currently using her experience to serve as president of the WashU Catholic Student Union and as an engagement manager for Consult Your Community (an organization that provides pro bono consulting services for small businesses).
Kenetia Lee, is the Founder and CEO of PopUP CleanUP, which started in 2016 as a hip niche commercial cleaning company offering best-in-cleaning crews to maintain cleanliness at the hottest events, festivals, races, and concerts, in Greater Los Angeles. PopUP CleanUP offers pre-event production set-up/cleaning, cleaning during events, and post-event cleaning in any indoor or outdoor event space. Our roster of events include the 2017 Los Angeles NBA All-Star Games, 2018 ComplexCon in Long Beach, 2019 Blast Pro Series and Los Angeles Marathon, working with clients like Nike, Adidas, Facebook, PopSugar and Lululemon to name a few.
Kevin Wilson is the CEO and President of Buzz Franchise Brands. He has held the position since July 2012. Prior to this, Kevin was a Senior Managing Director with Envest Ventures where he oversaw $160M across three funds that made 28 investments, four of which were franchisors. Before joining Envest, Kevin was a Senior Managing Director of Discovery Americas, a private equity fund based in Mexico City, Mexico. Utilizing his experience in the airline industry, he developed a business plan and co-founded Volaris, (NYSE: VLRS) an ultra low cost airline. His career includes being CEO of South African Airways Technical, the independently owned maintenance operation of South African Airways, based in Johannesburg, South Africa; the CEO and Founder of Benny’s Bagels, a franchisor of retail bagel stores based in Dallas, Texas. Kevin began his business career working for Bain and Company as a consultant in Toronto, Canada and Dallas, Texas.
Kinga Jentetics is the CEO and founder of PublishDrive, the all-in-one digital book publishing platform for e-books, print books and audiobooks for authors and publishers.She made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Media and was named one of the Top 100 European Female Founders by The Hundert. With PublishDrive, she took part in global accelerator programs of Google in Silicon Valley and in Europe. She was also nominated for the 2018 Digital Book World Awards (in a list that included Jeff Bezos). As an advocate of using new technologies such as blockchain and AI, Kinga is helping to rewrite the rules of the publishing landscape with PublishDrive by providing digital services from global book distribution to promotional tools and financial services tailored for indies. So that publishing will not be the privilege of a few but a resource for many.
Wanda Wallace, Ph.D. is a Leadership and Inclusion Expert and Radio Host. She is an accomplished keynote speaker and Managing Partner of Leadership Forum, LLC. She coaches and facilitates improving leadership by improving the quality of conversations — helping women and men advance, stick, and thrive. Her most recent work has been on helping managers break out of being the expert and build truly inclusive cultures. This work is captured in her latest book You Can’t Know It All: Leading in the Age of Deep Expertise. Wanda hosts a weekly radio show and podcast: Out of the Comfort Zone. Dividing her time between New York City and London, Wanda speaks, coaches leaders, conducts seminars, and works with teams at all levels in the global corporate context. She works around the world and is versed in leadership, politics, and strategic perspective. She helps women advance their careers as well as engages managers in the inclusion agenda. As a consultant and educator who is equally at ease in the distinct worlds of business and education, she has designed a number of highly-rated programs for high potential leaders that have been enthusiastically received around the world. For clients, she has developed and introduced a number of executive education models that combine the best of practice, dialogue, thought and action.
Chip Crunk of RJ Young

Chip Crunk of RJ Young


Chip has worked at RJ Young since he was fourteen years old. In his own words, working for RJ Young is “the only life I’ve ever known.” In 1987, Chip started officially at RJ Young as a sales representative after graduating from the University of Mississippi. In 1989, he graduated to director of sales, then eventually executive vice president, and chief operating officer.In 1995 Chip was named president and CEO of RJ Young. Guided by an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit, Chip has led the company to see double-digit annual growth — now ranking as the largest, privately-held dealer of office technology solutions in the Southeast and one of the largest in the nation. He oversees an operation that covers eight states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Tennessee, and employs more than 600 people in 30 locations.Chip Crunk serves as the president of the School of Business Board for Ole Miss, is a founding member and past president of the Nashville Entrepreneur Organization (EO) and serves on the board of directors of Fourth Capital Bank. Throughout his career he’s also been an active member of the Ricoh Executive Steering Committee, the Canon Dealer Council, and the Copier Dealers Association. He is active in community and civic organizations and enjoys flying, boating, golfing, and the Tennessee Titans. Chip and his wife Gina reside in Brentwood, TN, and have two children.
Rod Washington serves as Dallas regional president for Frost Bank, where he oversees the teams working to build and strengthen business relationships within the Dallas community. Washington joined Frost in 2007 as an executive vice president in charge of its Dallas-area real estate banking group and has more than 35 years of experience in the banking and real estate industries. Born and raised in southern Dallas, Washington serves on the board of directors of Dallas Methodist Hospital Foundation, including its Finance Committee, and the board of the Real Estate Council Community Fund and its Loan Committee, and he’s passionate about being a part of the community in which he lives and works.
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