Episodes

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Zack DeFord joined me to discuss his experiences as a lifelong gamer, and how his younger brother was bullied while playing online games. Zack's desire to make gaming safer and more fun for his brother led him to start Smerf, and that authenticity has served him well as he's built the company. Zack and his co-founder, Ben, have developed Smerf to be a critical identity and social layer across gaming platforms, and they're being noticed by some of the largest gaming companies in the world. We talked about his experience engaging with the CEO of one of them early in Smerf's life.

I've also seen Zack mature so rapidly as a founder becoming the CEO of a company with incredible potential to impact millions of gamers in a positive way. It's such a pleasure to get to work with him through Operate. Enjoy this conversation!

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Cat Berman and I met several years ago, so it was fun to finally have a recorded conversation. She is inspiring in her leadership of CNote and bringing more impact to the financial services world through the products that they offer.

Community financial institutions have impact in their communities. It's central to who they are as businesses. They engage and support the people where they are based. CNote works with them to get credit for the lending and banking they do in their communities, which is often ignored by larger financial institutions and even the broader market.

This was so evident during PPP, where community banks all over the country rallied to support their local businesses, delivering twice as much support volume than their market share for financial services. 

Enjoy a passionate entrepreneur and her mission to drive more impact. It was a fun conversation and we're excited (at BankTech Ventures) to be on the journey with her and her team. 

And thanks to BankTech Ventures for sponsoring.

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Jason Yeh and I had a super fun chat about founders, how to help them better tell their stories, and some great examples he's seen. We also talked about the changes in the venture capital landscape in the last year, and what's likely ahead. He's spent a lot of time internationally as well, especially Brazil, so we discussed his experiences there.

Jason was early at MLB Advanced Media 15 years ago, was an investor and entrepreneur in residence at Greycroft, he’s been a founder multiple times himself and now works with as many others as he can help at Adamant. He puts out great content, too, on social media, his podcast, FundedPod, as well as his weekly newsletter, adamant.beehiiv.com.

Listen to this one to hear why he loved delivering pizzas earlier in life, as well as what he's learned being part of Delta Airlines' Technical Advisory Board.

Learn about show sponsor, BankTech Ventures, here.

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Bradley Leimer and I were destined to meet, and we finally did in NY earlier this year at Finovate, where we were on a panel together entitled "How Community Banks & Credit Unions Can Embrace Change to Compete In A Digital World."

We both determined that we'd have a lot to talk about after the panel, so we decided to record it.

Bradley is a career innovator and fintech champion. He is the co-founder of Unconventional Ventures, advisor at Gauss Ventures and ambassador at Invest Tokyo. He is also an author and podcast co-host, who shares his expertise in promoting innovation and financial wellness. His book, Beyond Good, challenges leaders to focus on doing good and that their businesses and they can do well through that.

Listen to our conversation and the many elements about making banking better that we discussed.

And thanks to sponsor, BankTech Ventures, which is helping community banks to invest in and benefit from the most innovative startups in bank and financial technology.

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This episode was a bit of a "turn the tables" one, as Kiah Haslett is an accomplished and energetic journalist who covers the banking industry. She's done so for 10 years, and you can find her at Bank Director, where she's Managing Editor. Kiah has covered the full spectrum of banking from policy, strategy, trends, technology and M&A. She has a unique vantage point for what’s happening in banking and bank technology, and we covered a lot of ground in this conversation.

Listen as we discuss topics like "what is a bank (really)?"; "what do banks do (really)?" & "how do banks make money?"; and what's ahead for banks and rapid digital transformation in the industry. She calls on bankers to be far more curious than they tend to be, as a way to help them evolve.

She also has a fun origin story of how a game introduced her to money, ownership and even M&A.

Find Kiah here or here.

Learn more about BankTech Ventures here.

 

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Mark Forbis joined me on the podcast and we covered a lot of ground about culture, innovation and the history of technology in banking. He is the former Chief Technology Officer of Jack Henry, one of the largest technology companies in the banking industry, and he’s also a current Board Director at Incredible Bank in Wisconsin and Citizens Bank in Arkansas, as well as companies like Teslar Software, Digital Check Corp and InvestorKeep.  

Mark is one of the original folks in fintech and banktech, starting his career at Systematics, which became FIS. Then he had a long career in banking technology, which we discussed.

If you're following innovation in banking and fintech, you'll enjoy this conversation.

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I’m excited to bring back the podcast with Alice Frazier, CEO of Bank of Charles Town (BCT).  Alice is one of the most progressive leaders in community banking, and leads her bank that way. She’s active with the ICBA as its current Chair of the Policy Development Committee,  and previously served as Secretary,. She is also active in her state with the Community Bankers of West Virginia and  Virginia Association of Community Banks, where she is a past Chairperson.

We had a great discussion about her bank, the last 2 years of challenges and opportunities, how her bank has adapted and thrived, and how she's planning for the next seasons for it.  We also discussed her leading role in investing in BankTech Ventures, a new fund in which I'm involved.

The episode is also sponsored by BankTech Ventures, the first strategic investment fund designed by the community banking industry for community bank innovation and investment. BankTech identifies leading products and technologies for community banks, and works with the founders and management teams to maximize the impact for community banks and their businesses. If you’re a bank looking to innovate and invest in the future, or a founder who wants to work with community banks, reach out to BankTech Ventures – banktechventures.com

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Doug Holte is the Founder and CEO of Agile Workweek Investments, his startup that is investing in disruptive technologies and modernized properties for a more efficient and agile workweek.  Doug’s inspiration for AWI was not Covid, but rather accelerated by it; the changes he began to see in how people want to live and work started several years ago.

Doug has had an illustrious career in commercial real estate, most recently as President of Irvine Company for over 10 years, and a longtime senior partner and West Coast leader at Hines.  He’s also currently a senior advisor to a new proptech venture capital fund, and on the board of important Orange County organizations such as UCI Beall Applied Innovation and CEO Leadership Alliance.

He is a visionary with a huge heart for an inclusive, collaborative and supportive community that works for everyone, and he leads by example in his efforts there.  I’m always inspired by our conversations and appreciate his friendship. Doug is also a great storyteller, which you'll experience in our conversation.

It is so exciting to see him building on the vision he has, and to have him on the podcast.  Hear about the inception of AWI, Doug's amazing journey into the entrepreneurial realm, and how everything has now changed in how most of us will design and live our (work) weeks moving forward.

Thanks also to show sponsor, Collective Genius, for helping high performance teams to be agile, aligned and more effective.

 

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Fred Thiel is currently the CEO of Marathon Digital Holdings (NASDAQ:MARA), a digital asset technology company that mines cryptocurrencies with a focus on the blockchain ecosystem and the generation of digital assets.

He is a respected expert and frequent speaker on FinTech, digital assets, Blockchain, bitcoin, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, venture capital and private equity and digital transformations of companies and industries.

Fred has over 25 years operating experience leading companies in digital assets, semiconductor, data communications, Internet, IoT, AI, as well as digital media and software. His breadth of knowledge and experiences is incredible.

As a CEO, Fred has led companies through rapid growth to IPO, repositioned companies for high-value exits to strategic and financial acquirers, led M&A and roll-up strategies.

Fred and I go back nearly 20 years to when I first moved to Southern California, and I’ve always enjoyed his friendship and perspective – we always can cover a lot of ground and topics when we meet. It’s exciting to see him now at the forefront of digital assets, and he shared some great wisdom and insights in this conversation!

Thanks also to show sponsor, Collective Genius. Their Peak Planning program is the ideal one to build your unstoppable high growth team.

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Dave Ferrera is currently the General Partner of Treadstone Holdings, a venture studio focused on catheter-based diagnostic and interventional radiology technologies.  They work with doctors and entrepreneurs and use or create intellectual property to develop new companies.  Dave is a board member for a number of early stage medical device companies as well.

Throughout Dave’s career he’s been a researcher, product developer and technologist in medical devices, so he’s well-suited to run a venture studio.  He is an engineer by training, transplanting here from the east coast many years ago.

He’s also a recent book author – releasing “Innovation in Translation – How Big Ideas Really Happen” earlier this year.  We had a good discussion about it and how it came to be.

Dave and I talked about how we've both launched venture studios and why we try to take on multiple projects at the same time. Dave also described how he thinks about developing ideas and finding ones that solve real problems - so useful for entrepreneurs to learn!

Thanks also to show sponsor, Collective Genius - if you want to build an unstoppable team for your high growth company, you should meet them and learn about Peak Planning.

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