3 LA tech entrepreneurs share their secrets to success

by Joyce Famakinwa
August 27, 2018

Most qualities that make for a successful entrepreneur — tenacity, vision, a proclivity for risk-taking — can’t be bottled up and sold. Still, the people on top have a few rules and rituals that have helped pave the path to success.

Sure, you could crack open a self-help book to find out how the best and brightest operate. Or you can get the answers straight from the source. The LA tech scene is brimming with the entrepreneurial set, so we asked a few local leaders to weigh in. Here’s what they had to say:

 

Alli McKee
Founder and CEO

Improv has gained a reputation as a great way for business leaders to strengthen their communication skills. Stick founder and CEO Alli McKee agrees, having found that improv was key to unlocking her creativity and building her confidence. Her company, Stick, is a visual communication platform that aims to fill the blank pages of emails, meeting slides and presentations by auto-generating images based on the text written by users.

 

What’s one habit you follow that has contributed to your success?

Studying improv comedy has helped me more than any startup advice out there. When I go to my Sunday night class at Westside Comedy Theater, I can't think about anything but the present. It's like meditation — but funnier.

 

What inspired that habit?

When I started Stick, I didn't think I should do anything outside of the startup — just seven days of focus. The reality is that the grind wears down your energy and your creativity if you don't let up every once in a while. I signed up for Improv 101 thinking it would be a good way to build my creativity back up but ended up discovering an entire art form that has taught me how to listen more deeply, how to unlock my confidence and how to trust myself to find the answers.

 

Carlton Bale
Founder and company strategist

Cutting through the clutter with a detailed plan in place may not seem like sexiest lifehack, but it works. Carlton Bale, ZED Connect’s founder and company strategist, said he relies on organizational skills to keep him on point and productive. Calabasas-based ZED Connect’s platform tracks a driver’s hours, routes and locations, making it possible for owner-operators to streamline fleet management.

 

What’s one habit you follow that has contributed to your success?

A continual organization of problems and their solutions is the skill that's enabled me to launch ZED and gain the early backing of a Fortune 150 company. Whether I'm in a customer meeting, an internal company meeting, or reading an article on the plane, I constantly search for problems and immediately jot down two possible solutions. But the real value only happens through a continuous organization. During my “first Monday of the month” review sessions, I take an hour to categorize the new opportunities and combine them with the backlog from the past couple of years, coming up with the underlying large-scale problems and solutions that span companies and industries.

 

What inspired that habit?

I learned this skill growing up on a small family farm. Throughout the years, my grandfather refined his annual harvest plan, saying that half of the problems that happen during a season can be avoided through proper planning at the beginning of the season.

 

James Segil
President and co-founder

Everyone knows that it’s all about who you know. But James Segil, the president and co-founder of Openpath, thinks it’s about who you know well — and forging meaningful connections that last. This attitude, he said, has been key to his success at Openpath, whose app allows employees to gain access to their offices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, as well as schedule lock times and manage permissions.

 

What’s one habit you follow that has contributed to your success?

I am a connector and believe in planting relationship seeds and letting them grow. Getting to know new people, doing unsolicited favors and just trying to be helpful in general ends up coming back in unexpected ways. That random person you met and were nice to or helped out ends up being someone who helps you in an unexpected way later in life. I try to look at the big picture and put myself out there, be kind, helpful and interesting. Good things happen.

 

What inspired that habit?

I was inspired watching both of my parents move here from South Africa when I was three years old, not knowing anyone, not having any family here and watching them build a life filled with love, friendships and success. This demonstrated time and time again the benefits of good karma. If you're always connecting people and helping them then you're always paying it forward and, you end up with a pretty steady stream of love and help always coming back to you.

 

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