This is Craig Keefner and I think it is fair to say I’ve had (and are currently on) a fairly interesting career path. But looking back at it critically, the one big takeaway for me has been the people I have gotten to work for (good and bad), what “stuff” I got to learn, and what I got to learn from them.
Currently I work for Sandy Nix of CTS. Sandy began with Frank Mayer originally “way back” and after going out and starting her own business she has developed a very strong offering in
the healthcare space for patient check-in. Hospitals like Johns Hopkins are clients. I came to work for Sandy partly because I was ready to do something different (at age 56) and while I had always poked and pulled at the healthcare segment, I had never had the opportunity to fully immerse myself in it. Along with the kiosk site, retail and thinclient,
It’s the first time I have worked for a woman though I have never considered that element before. Sandy is passionate about her business and my job is to help the company execute her vision. Occasionally I might disagree and I let her know, but I support her 100%. I think it is probably her passion that I have learned the most from.
Back in the late 90s the first big notable I worked for was Irwin
L. Jacobs. I had just finished working my biggest kiosk project ever at Gift Certificate Center and Bill Veeneman (another entrepreneur in Minnesota. Jacobs envisioned a liquidation auction site (before ebay) for close out goods and the website provided real time auction.
The biggest kiosk project (Target Club Wedd) was headed up by Ben Kilgore in programming who is now the CTO for Blizzard. Minnesota is an interesting place and when I first moved there I worked for Art Lazere over at Northgate (competitor to Dell and Gateway). Nice article from 1997 on Apple and Northgate.
Those experiences were invaluable and shaped my life. I worked for some big companies too like Northwest Airlines and IBM. I learned I didn’t want to be employed by a large company I think.
One of my longest tenures was working with Rick Malone in Denver. A very focused individual. I remember just prior to coming to work for him I was “tasked” at a major retail tradeshow for giving Jeff Bezos of Amazon a tour of the show floor on self service. Mr. Bezos was on a Segway trailing me while I led him around. Jeff wanted to see everything and he was very excited to see all the technology.
I was about start working for Rick so I figured a little early wouldn’t hurt and made our way over to Rick’s booth to introduce him to the up and coming Amazon man. Rick was talking to another prospect though and I was unable to interrupt him so he could meet Bezos. Ten years later Rick was hoping to build those lockers that Amazon uses now. I learned more about kiosks at KIS than even I wanted to know. Thanks!
Sometimes you can be too focused and you can miss the opportunities which are right there in front of you ready to meet you.
I’ve been extremely fortunate and dare I say a bit lucky. I have worked for people that I learned things “not to do” but fortunately they have been the exception.
When you get the opportunity to work with exceptional people, take the time to study them. Forget your ego for a minute and concentrate on learning.