IVCA Profile Q&A: Robert Jordan, Founder of RedFlash and The interim-CEO/interimCFO network

IVCA Profile Q&A: Robert Jordan, Founder of RedFlash and The interim-CEO/interimCFO network

December 8, 2010

CHICAGO - “ Reflections and intuitive advice is hard to come by, so author Robert Jordan sought out the best quotes to create his new book How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America.  Jordan surveyed the Midwest landscape for entrepreneurial insights on start-ups, business circumstance and just plain wisdom.

Robert Jordan, who is also the founder of his current businesses - “ RedFlash Press and The interimCEO/interimCFO network, was interviewed recently about his new book.

IVCA: Congratulations on the release of your new book, How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America and the book's launch on November 16th at the Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Bash 2010. What insights or feedback did you receive from that launch?

Robert Jordan: We have heard from founders and attendees alike that they loved the Entrepreneur Bash. There were 23 co-hosting organizations who invited thousands of their members, and we've heard from most of those organizations that they would like to host another event next November. We chose the date to coincide with the Kauffman Foundation's Global Entrepreneurship Week, and in fact we were one of a handful of events where Kauffman chose to directly endorse the event.

One thing that really stood out for me, as I had a pretty unique vantage point from the stage, was being able to observe the audience while they were listening to the founders talk. There were points when it seemed to me like the entire audience was literally leaning into the speaker - “ they were that in tune with, or hungry for, the advice the founders were sharing.

I also believe, as I did before the event, that it would have been impossible for the event to take place without the active support of so many leaders in the community, including people like Fred Hoch, Michael Alter, Ed Longanecker, Ted Wallhaus and Nancy Munro.

IVCA: The book itself is basically inspirational quotes straight from business success stories in the Midwest. What is it about the Midwest entrepreneurial sensibility that makes this insight worth quoting?

Jordan: I think there is a sensibility - “ to use your word - “ that may be unique to the region. I can certainly say that the level of humility and reticence talking about oneself was very high. At the same time, the insights and advice shared in the book apply to people across the country, and I think that is a testament to the region. What we really learned through the interviewing and publishing process was that this book is about more than the Midwest. It's about the Heartland. That may sound strange, but if you are coming from the heart, you can talk to anyone.

IVCA: What event, incident or inspiration prompted you to write the book?

Jordan: A couple things inspired me to write the book. First was a generic book of quotes that I read while waiting for a flight at the SeaTac airport in Seattle. I kept thinking that what would really inspire me would be to learn firsthand how incredibly successful company founders really did it - “ how they launched and grew their companies, and how they overcame the inevitable obstacles. We all hit roadblocks and I very much wanted to know how they got past them and how they really triumphed over big obstacles.

With the seed of that idea in mind, I came back to Chicago and talked with good friends in the venture community - “ Ellen Carnahan, Michael Krauss, Tom Churchwell, Chris Girgenti, Matt McCall, Jim O'Connor and Steve Vivian - “ and they not only encouraged me to proceed but also agreed to act as a committee to help vet the founders who should be interviewed, and then acted as moderators for the first interview event at the Four Seasons Hotel in September of 2008.

IVCA: Who gave you the most inspiring or surprising insight in the research and writing of the book?

Jordan: That would be Raj Soin, founder of MTC in Ohio. But frankly there were so many - ˜a-ha' moments with the founders that there are too many other good examples to cite. And for Raj- ¦well you are just going to have to read his Q&A.

IVCA: What has changed the most for entrepreneurs, in your opinion, post the tech revolution of the 1990s and how has it changed the marketplace?

Jordan: Entrepreneurship is now very democratic and the cost to enter into business has never been lower. Funding sources have broadened. There are more resource-rich places and organizations than ever before, and it simply is no longer the case that if you have a good idea you have to go to a VC fund or you can't launch.

IVCA: You've been an entrepreneur yourself when you launched 'Online Access' and currently you are running two ventures you founded, RedFlash and interim-CEO/interimCFO. What is a quote that you keep close to you in regard to your entrepreneurial philosophy and why?

Jordan: If you really want to know what has me focused and jazzed right now, it is the prospect of seeing the book on the New York Times Bestseller list. My most inspiring quote is something Vince Pettinelli said after 'How They Did It' came out. Vince was interviewed in the book for his success launching, growing and ultimately selling People-Serve. Vince told me that he looked forward to working with me - ˜as the book takes the country by storm' and I printed that out and see it on my desk every day. I think that about sums up an entrepreneur's mindset - “ seize the day. And I think I'm a great example of having been influenced by the quotes in the book to just move forward no matter what.

IVCA: In the United States, businessmen, entrepreneurs and internet founders have taken on the status of heroes, both for their ideas and wealth accumulated from those ideas. What leadership role in the American culture and society do you think these individuals play in the context of true inspiration and why?

Jordan: I think it runs the gamut from entrepreneurs who are selfless and truly inspiring to those who exit stage left never to be heard from again. To borrow a phrase, when choosing founders for the book we sought out individuals and their insights that would move, touch and inspire. It would have been easy but not very inspiring to simply report that someone had amassed a fortune. That tells us nothing. Far more important is the connection that can be made between these 45 individuals and the readers who can look at the experiences, relate to them, and get a jolt of inspiration and a bit more courage to do what they need and want to do in their own lives and ventures.

IVCA: Finally, why do you think your book will make a great gift during the holiday season?

Jordan: Thank you for that lob shot. My suggestions is that while popcorn or candy is still nice to give, its empty and no one will remember you gave it to them. Giving a gift that is meaningful and that could change and inspire a person- ¦ that's a true and enduring gift.