Chris De Ved . President and Co Founder . Self Made Insights Co. Dior Men

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“For as long as I can remember, my father would introduce me to colleagues and friends and say, “Pay attention to this guy/girl, they know what they’re talking about.”  He developed my muscle to notice talent and learn from it. I grew to understand coaches come in all shapes, sizes and colors; and mentorship should be highly valued.”

Chris De Ved 

President and Co Founder .  Self Made Insights Co.  Dior Men . Norcross, Georgia ,. University of Georgia - Terry College of Business .  Marketing .  Huntington’s Disease Society of America

Who are your biggest influencers and mentors personally & professionally and explain why? For as long as I can remember, my father would introduce me to colleagues and friends and say, “Pay attention to this guy/girl, they know what they’re talking about.”  He developed my muscle to notice talent and learn from it. I grew to understand coaches come in all shapes, sizes and colors; and mentorship should be highly valued.

I’ve been lucky to have two mentors who have been particularly generous with their guidance and investment in my growth.

There is a special place in startup heaven for Eric Musser, Managing Director at PegaSystems and formerly CEO at OpenSpan.  Eric has been a guiding light for me and my partners since the first weeks of our venture 6 years ago. Countless times we’ve faced seemingly impossible situations and after an hour session over coffee on a Saturday morning with Eric we leave with a game plan and the confidence to move forward.  

Dave Cormack was my youth soccer coach.  He’s also a very successful software executive and entrepreneur.  I worked for Dave in a sales role at Brightree while he was President and CEO.  I call on my experiences working for Dave at Brightree daily, both in building out our processes across functions and in developing my own leadership style.  For over 20 years now, Dave has been a source of advice and support and someone who’s success I aspire to.

My two partners, David Burrell (Chief Executive Officer) and Blaise Pericas (Chief Innovation Officer) are easily the most influential people on me professionally.  I don’t think I really knew what it was to work until I met these guys - both of them have other worldly work ethic. David is a visionary and has situational intelligence like no one I’ve ever met.  Blaise’s ability and passion around user experience is inspiring and he has impeccable taste and style. I would walk through fire with these guys.

It also helps that my wife Christi is a badass.   Being the spouse of an entrepreneur takes a special person, we require a lot of patience and support, which she has no shortage of.  On top of that though, I learn things from her professionally all the time. It’ll be the end of the day, and she’ll be at home on a call with a client, and I’m always super impressed with how sharp and confident she is.  I’d trade for her style on just about every front any day.

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Your mantra? My father was at a leadership conference in Barcelona seven years ago and my family and I met him there on the backend of the conference for a vacation.  I arrived as they were wrapping up the conference, and in a classic example of my father’s “pay attention to this guy” move, I was introduced to a 34-year-old speaker at the conference who had already built and exited his first company.  At that point I still worked for Brightree, and while I loved working there, I had this immense pull to build something of my own. I had no clue how to even take the first step, so I asked him, and he told me “Rip the Brakes off.”

That stuck in my head and I wrote “Rip the brakes off” on my mirror and used it on my alarms in the morning. It fueled the momentum, energy and fearlessness I needed in the early stages of starting a company.  To me it meant that the only thing in the way of you achieving your dreams is your own hesitations - so break the pause button.

Now, six years into being an entrepreneur, my challenges are different than those I faced when I was first involved in starting a company.  With a few storms and near-death experiences in my back pocket and a new one waiting around every corner, the biggest threat to me achieving my goals is if I buckle to the pressures and chaos that comes with entrepreneurship and simply give up.  I think at my current stage in my career there is immense value in a focus on endurance and execution, so my current mantras are “Keep Going” and simply “Just do your job”. I know that if I keep my head down and keep executing eventually I’ll reach the next stage of my development.

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What are the lessons you've gained that profoundly shifted your direction in business? Probably discerning the difference between talent and ability - with partners, employees, potential customers, and most importantly, myself. My partners and I had a lot of faith in our own talents once we decided to build software.  We went in with a lot of speed and recklessness it led to a lot of 'failing forward,' because we didn't have the experience to turn our talents into the ability of building and selling B2B software solutions.

A lot of experience was needed to turn our talents into the ability for creating viable technology products with a definitive product/market fit. And the lesson of learning what it really takes to make it happen has gotten us to where we are today and will be important for future innovations that we take on.

What exciting project are you working on? We unveiled a new software product on April 15th at a conference in Nashville. The product is called the Insights Suite and it helps customers save time and money when purchasing survey responses.

Prior to launch, I spent 6 months working with the software development team and Blaise Pericas, our Chief Innovation Officer, designing the requirements for this new product and hoping we were right about the product/market fit. The launch was a success, and we have spent the last 5 months doing a lot less hoping and more listening; analyzing usage and user feedback to improve the experience for our buyers.

We prefer listening over guessing and it has allowed for me to shift more focus to building out the marketing and sales processes, so our business capitalize on the software services.

Favorite spots to frequent for business connections in Atlanta/National/International and why? Many of the most important and long-standing relationships I have, have come from the Atlanta soccer community.  There’s a great network of soccer players in Atlanta that are talented both on and off the field. For most issues or needs that arise in my life, there’s a very good chance the first person I’m calling is someone I met on the field.  There’s a strong culture of building each other up in the soccer community that I think is pretty unique.

What's been your most successful approach in building business relationships? I think bringing energy and passion into your work will attract and initiate a lot of relationships.   Consistently doing what you say you’re going to do helps maintain a relationship and being thoughtful and providing a unique point of view deepens the value of a relationship.  

Books you've enjoyed and what's the takeaway from those books?

Mastery - Robert Greene

Mastery outlines the lives of some of history's great figures, like Leonardo Da Vinci and Charles Darwin, and highlights common traits and strategies they utilized to reach the top of their respective field.  This book made me realize that achieving greatness is less so about being born special, it’s about finding your sweet spot and committing to it 100%.

The Celestine Prophecy - James Redfield

The Celestine Prophecy is about growing your awareness of the larger connections in the universe moving around you.  It made me believe (or at least half believe) that there is some deeper meaning to coincides that we experience. This book has caused me to pursue relationships and opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have. For example, when I first met David Burrell, my business partner, he told me a story about a poem that he carried around in his wallet as a credo of sorts.  As he pulled the poem out to show me, I said “Is it “If”?” A poem I memorized in 6th grade that always stuck with me, and it was. Attributing some higher meaning to that moment and leaning into developing a relationship with David has changed the trajectory of my life.

If - a Poem by Rudyard Kipling

This is the poem I mentioned above - For me, it’s my definition of what it is to be a good man.  There’s a line in this poem for every tough moment in life.  If I’m ever feeling shorted or worn out with my path in life, I read this and it is an instant remedy and guides my path forward.

What type of digital magazine or periodicals do you enjoy? I consume most of my information from podcasts. I listen to two to three hours of podcasts a day, mostly those that contain long form interviews with leaders in business, health and fitness or entertainment.  With long form, you get enough time with interviewees that they all eventually become human, and their success stories all seem attainable. I find them calming, and the stories I hear on podcasts influence most of my decisions, purchases and strategies that relate to my career, health and family.  Some of my favorite podcasts are: The Tim Ferriss Show, The Moment with Brian Koppelman, Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman, How I Built This with Guy Raz and WTF with Marc Maron.

What legacy do you want to leave behind? I’d like to be remembered as someone who took on big challenges both personally and professionally with courage and style.  And if I learned anything along the way - shared it with others in the same pursuit.

It's also important to me that I be as good of a parent as the one's my wife and I had.

Chris DeVed’s Images Photo Credits: CDeved Headshot Images1 and 2 - photographer

Images 3 and 4 - 5 and 6 -

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Interviewed by: Maryan Aiken. Publisher. Founder. CEO. CityBox Media . Listening to Spotify. Strut. The Chamber. Lenny Kravitz

The Dior Men are the trail blazers, the movers and shakers.  It's the perfect blend of entrepreneurs, business owners, and business professionals throughout Atlanta known for their business engagements, sense of style, community & philanthropic activities.

Every month CityBox Media celebrates and honor an exciting & dynamic group of Dior Men starting June through November 2018

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