Courtney Nichols Gould - Obscure Influences

Courtney's career has revolved around startups across a variety of industries. Courtney helped build and launch the first fast pass for airport security and cofounded SmartyPants Vitamins Inc (2015 Inc 500 #308), a leading preventative health care brand. She is an advisor to various stage startups across a variety of industries including ReChar, DadLabs, HAH. She is committed to helping with access to clean water, board member Blue Planet Run, Founding Well donor, charity: water.

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Jillian Richardson - Unlonely Planet

Jillian is committed to creating connection and community by organizing places where people feel seen, heard, and valued. As a professional community builder, public speaker, and writer, Jillian is most known for being the founder of The Joy List, a weekly newsletter with the mission of reducing loneliness in New York City and eventually the world. She's been sending it out every Monday morning for over two years, helping people build connection to both place and each other. In addition to her successful career in freelance writing and community consulting, Jillian has just released her first book, titled Unlonely Planet.

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Dan Nester - Whatever it Takes

Dan Nester, President, and Chief Executive Officer co-founded Polaris Logistics Group in 2013 after 13 years at a large Third Party Logistics company. Dan brings a vast range of experience to Polaris, including the development and expansion of a broad customer and carrier base. He is responsible for operations, training, sales and accounting for the organization. He also serves as a mentoring resource for his entire staff, helping them develop their logistics skills and ensuring that they provide optimal customer service. A proud resident of Toledo, Ohio, Dan graduated from the University of Toledo in 1998. Dan is active in his church and has raised thousands of dollars for local charities.

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Chester Elton - Leading With Gratitude

One of today’s most influential voices in workplace trends, Chester Elton has spent two decades helping clients engage their employees to execute on strategy, vision, and values.

In his provocative, inspiring and always entertaining talks, #1 bestselling leadership author Chester Elton provides real solutions to leaders looking to manage change, drive innovation, and lead a multi-generational workforce. Elton’s work is supported by research with more than 850,000 working adults, revealing the proven secrets behind high-performance cultures and teams.

He has been called the “apostle of appreciation” by Canada’s Globe and Mail, “creative and refreshing‚” by the New York Times, and a “must read for modern managers” by CNN Elton is co-author of the New York Times and #1 USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling leadership books, All In, The Carrot Principle and The Best Team Wins. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide.

Elton is often quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Fast Company and the New York Times. He has appeared on NBC’s Today, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, National Public Radio and CBS’s 60 Minutes. In 2017 Global Gurus research organization ranked him as #15 in the world’s top leadership experts and #10 in the world’s top organizational culture experts, and he is a member of Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches (MG100), pay it forward project.

Elton is the co-founder of The Culture Works, a global training company and is a board member of Camp Corral, a non-profit for the children of wounded and fallen military heroes. He serves as a leadership consultant to firms such as American Express, AT&T, Avis Budget Group and Procter & Gamble. He is most proud, however, to be the father of four exceptional children-more exceptional now they’ve grown up and left home.

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Justin Forsett - Empowered by Family

Justin Forsett is a former NFL running back and now a successful entrepreneur. He played 9 years in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, and Denver Broncos. His best season came in 2014 as a member of the Baltimore Ravens when he was selected to the Pro Bowl.

Now Justin is an entrepreneur. He is the founder / CEO of ShowerPill. ShowerPill is a business that has been featured on Shark Tank, Fox, CBS, NBC, and Cheddar. The Company’s products, includes a body wipe proven to kill 99.9 percent of germs. ShowerPill has taken off with availability over 1,000 locations including Target, Crunch Fitness, Pharmaca, and UFC Gyms. Investors and advisors of ShowerPill include many professional athletes including Jonathan Stewart, Steve Smith Sr., Ronnie Lott, Kyle Juszczyk and Prince Amukamara.

ShowerPill's mission is to inspire and empower people to live their best life. Justin believes that the cornerstone of this mission includes the commitment to give back. ShowerPill has been on the ground to offer needed help during the crisis at Flint Michigan, Hurricane Harvey (Texas) and Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria.

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Chris Barbin - Embracing The Grind

Chris is a serial entrepreneur and investor with more than 25 years of experience across a dozen startups, private and public companies and various social enterprises. He is currently a Venture Partner at GGV Capital in San Francisco and Shanghai, as is a sought after expert on company culture, team building and what it takes to scale a business. He has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos and Beijing, among many other events, and is a contributor to

Chris began his career in the mid 1990’s at Grainger, a Fortune 500 industrial supply company that he helped launch into the Internet age with - one of the first B2B e-commerce platforms that is now generating north of $5B in annual sales for the company. From there he moved to webMethods, where as SVP of Global Services he helped grow the company valuation from $50M to a $10B company, and all the way back down to reality through the internet bubble.

Chris is most widely known for his leadership at Appirio, a global cloud services business that he co-founded in 2006 and led for 12 years as CEO. Appirio was one of the early pioneers in cloud computing and grew to 1,200 people in 5 countries. It was eventually acquired by Wipro Technologies in October of 2016 for $550M. During Chris’s 12 year run at Appirio, he and his team won multiple ‘Best Places to Work’ awards for Appirio’s corporate culture and was named a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer.

Chris current sits on the Board of Trustees at Bates College in Lewiston ME, his alma mater. He also holds advisory board positions at Studio Science (a design and innovation consultancy in Indianapolis) and Southern Grist (Nashville’s #1 craft brewery). He also has a portfolio of personal investments including PlushCare, YouBet, ANT Financial, and Eaze.

In addition to his work at GGV and consulting, he is also an operating partner at Thunderboss (a lakeside bar and grill in Green Lake WI that he built and opened with his wife in 2018), as well as two tequila businesses - (a premium tequila business focused on a direct to consumer model), and Compoveda (his own private label tequila).

Chris and his wife Lori live in Winnetka IL, Green Lake WI and on United Airlines trying to keep up with not only their businesses but also their three kids.

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James Waldinger - Unorthodox Influences

Mr. James David Waldinger, J.D, MBA, is the CEO and Founder and of Artivest. Prior to forming Artivest, Waldinger was a portfolio manager with Clarium Capital, a large global macro hedge fund established in 2002 by Peter Thiel, co-founder and former CEO of PayPal. He also served as the lead analyst on Thiel’s initial Facebook investment in 2004. Prior to his positions with Clarium and Thiel, Waldinger worked with a variety of internet and technology startups in advisory, investment, and operational roles. He is licensed to practice law in the state of New York and currently holds FINRA Series 3, 7, and 24 securities licenses. He received his JD and MBA degrees from Stanford University and his BA from Yale University.

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BJ Lackland - Success From Learning and Adapting

BJ Lackland has spent nearly 20 years as an investor in and executive at startups, raising or investing over $200 million. As an investor, he’s been a VC, an angel, and is now the CEO of Lighter Capital, where he has overseen over 550 alternative investments in early-stage tech companies. As an executive, he’s been on the executive team of three companies, including as the CFO of a public energy tech company.

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Barry Saywitz - A Mothers Influence

Barry Saywitz has 25 years of experience in the real estate industry. He began his career in the late 1980s with Grubb & Ellis, and then with Howard Ecker & Co., in Orange County. In 1992, Mr. Saywitz became a partner in the West Coast operations of Howard Ecker & Co., and in 1994, he purchased the outstanding stock of the company and changed the corporate name to The Saywitz Company. Mr. Saywitz now oversees all of the management and ownership responsibilities for the company, in addition to becoming involved with the negotiations of selected transactions throughout North America. Mr. Saywitz has been named one of the top commercial real estate brokers in Southern California for the past several years, as well as one of the top commercial real estate brokers in the country by several national real estate publications. He has also been named as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in addition to numerous other industry accolades. He is a much sought after speaker and an editorial contributor to numerous real estate magazines.

In 1996, Mr. Saywitz founded the CORE Network, which today is a worldwide organization of real estate companies. The CORE Network is one of the largest commercial real estate brokerage organization in the country, with affiliated offices in more than 100 cities throughout the United States. Mr. Saywitz served as Chairman Emeritus of this prestigious organization, which transacted more than 35 billion worth of real estate last year.

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Ro Gupta - Passionate About Your Career

Ro Gupta is the CEO of Carmera, the world’s only 4-dimensional index of city streets, accessible to anyone. Before Carmera, he created data products and helped grow web commenting network, Disqus, to 2 billion users. Prior to that, he held digital roles at Disney. Earlier on, Ro was a management consultant for corporations and NGOs in San Francisco, Sao Paulo, New York, and Mozambique. He also advises startups such as Autonomous Tractor Corp. Ro studied Civil Engineering/Operations Research at Princeton and received an MBA from Northwestern. Ro was born in Calcutta, India, and lives in Brooklyn, NY with his family.

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Tony Galati - Religion Intertwined with Success

Tony Galati is an information technology professional, entrepreneur, teacher, and business leader who is revolutionizing vocational education with the founding and growth of MyComputerCareer a remarkable career college for new Information Technology professionals.

From opening its first campus in 2008 to construction of six additional campuses in four states and its current national expansion in the online learning space, the MyComputerCareer team has proven again and again that the correct skills training, conceived and delivered in a manner that is sensitive to the needs of students more than educators, supported by high standards of excellence and accountability, can effectively and economically change students’ lives.

Tony has been guided by a few core principles that permeate his organization and explain much of its success:

1. Be of service and seek to lift others

2. Always behave in both a legal and ethical manner

3. Prove it—scale it—track it—improve it

4. Act with integrity and respect for others

5. Pray hard, work harder, and have fun

Fixed on the mission of student success, decisions are based on how it will aid or impact students’ prospects, not merely for graduation, but for job placement, advancement, and long term career satisfaction.

Despite his love for teaching and the industry he had chosen, Tony observed that not everything in his professional world was as he thought it should be. Too many students were dropping out of career training that could change their lives. Others completed the training but were unsuccessful at transitioning into the IT field.

Tony and his organization take pride in a model for what proprietary vocational education can and should be in the 21st century; a positive, affordable option for adult learners for whom traditional college is impractical or simply out of reach.

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Shari Costantini - Educational Mentorship

Shari Dingle (Sandifer) Costantini is a renowned expert in the healthcare industry, with 29 years of experience in strategic leadership, nursing and international nurse staffing. She is a strong advocate for creating supportive work environments in which healthcare workers will thrive and improve patient outcomes. Shari founded Avant Healthcare Professionals in 2003. Avant has placed thousands of international nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists through the United States. The company, which has grown an average of 40 percent annually since inception, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator in healthcare staffing.

Costantini and Avant have been recognized by Inc. 500/5000, 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies in North America, E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year Winner 2017, 100 Most Influential People in Staffing, SMART Award Winner 2017 and Florida Companies to Watch 2012. She serves several organizations, but most notably is the immediate past chair and board member of Orlando, Inc.; a board member for the Orlando Economic Partnership; and a board member of the Rollins College Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship. Shari is a founding board member and chair of regulatory affairs for the American Association of International Recruitment.

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Michele Buster - Taking Chances

For some people in the world of food, it isn’t about composing a dish or a cocktail or overseeing a balanced wine list. For some people, it’s just about one thing, one love amidst the trove of food and drink products. For Michele Buster, for the past 26 years, that one thing is cheese.

Recently dubbing herself the Head Treasure Hunter when asked what she actually did, Buster has spent many years cultivating expertise in specialty foods of the Mediterranean. Like most people who fall hard for cheese, Buster fed her passion with firsthand experience, living abroad in Italy and Spain, tasting their rich array of cheeses and observing local artisanship with her own eyes. As any good traveler does, Buster built her career on bringing home the treasures she’d tasted abroad and being the voice of the people who made them. Over the past decade, she has been instrumental in shaping the emergence of European products in the American marketplace. She has done this noble work alongside partner-formed Forever Cheese, which focuses on cheeses and specialty products from Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Croatia.

When not sourcing products in Europe, Buster frequently travels across the United States, conducting classes and tastings for specialty stores and restaurants. A respected part of the cheese community, she is a member of the prestigious International Guilde des Fromagers. The PDO Sao Jorge Consortium in Portugal inducted her as an honorary member, and she was also recognized with an award from Murcia, Spain, for being the person who most stimulated the agronomy of the region.

Buster has been written up on numerous occasions from the Philadelphia Inquirer and News Day to trade magazines like Culture as well as the prestigious Travel and Leisure where she was asked to talk about one of her favorite places in the world. She was featured on the cover of Cheese Connoisseur Magazine and most recently, was profiled by the Wine Spectator as a “One-Woman Flavor Crusade.”

In an era where regional and local flavors are at the forefront, Buster is the kind of passionate champion every product needs.

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Simon Berg - Driven by Creativity

Simon Berg is CEO of Ceros, a technology company with a cloud-based platform that empowers brands like Red Bull, United, Conde Nast, and Universal to create bespoke digital experiential content without coding. Simon’s path to CEO has been unusual: after design school turned him down, he started working on an agency production floor at age 16, helping magazine publisher clients design and produce their print issues.

As publishing moved into the digital era, Simon became a master of craft across both print and digital, which served as a catalyst for his 20-year ladder-climbing journey to CEO of the same agency: Group FMG (now BORN). As CEO, Simon led the charge to sell the agency in order to build and grow Ceros, a technology platform he incubated while at Group FMG.

Today, Ceros has 200+ employees across five continents working with more than 400 consumer and B2B brands.

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Jon Morris - Influence of Selfless Mentorship

Jon Morris is the founder and CEO of Rise Interactive. Under Morris’ leadership, Rise has received recognition for excellence in client service, innovative marketing campaigns, and commitment to culture, including acknowledgment from Inc. 500|5000 Fastest Growing Companies (nine-time winner), Ad Age (Best Places to Work in Advertising), Fortune Magazine, and more. Morris has been personally recognized as a leader in technology and innovation on the Techweek100 list the Crain’s Chicago Tech 50 list.

As a leader in the digital marketing community, Morris has mentored several entrepreneurs, with a significant focus on the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge, a renowned business plan competition where Rise itself got its start. Morris also regularly shares his expertise as a guest speaker. He has presented on main stages and at workshops and webinars for organizations such as Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, American Marketing Association, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Forrester Research, Online Marketing Summit, iStrategy, and Vistage.

Morris earned an MBA with high honors, graduating first in his class from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a bachelor's degree from Kenyon College.

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Luke Acree - A Mothers Influence

Luke Acree, President of ReminderMedia, is a sales fanatic, a marketing evangelist, and an expert team builder. Luke has worked with tens of thousands of business professionals over the years, helping them understand how to connect with their client database in a way that generates leads, secures repeat clients, and captures referrals. In 2003, ReminderMedia launched American Lifestyle magazine, a one-of-a-kind, customizable marketing tool. Since then, Luke has led ReminderMedia to over 30,000 clients and has expanded the product line to include turnkey social media management, digital magazines, e-mail marketing, and analytics. Along his path from software engineer to leader of a multimillion-dollar company, Luke has shown an uncanny ability to analyze tough problems, deliver solutions that drive revenue, and foster success for the business.

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Michael Rolph - Love and Leadership Through Marriage

Michael Rolph is co-founder and CEO of Europe’s fastest-growing payment, marketing, and loyalty platform, Yoyo.

Michael started his career at Barclaycard, First Data and PayPal. Prior to founding Yoyo, he was a founding member and Director at Anthemis Group, the specialist FinTech advisory and investment firm. During his time there, he advised multiple start-ups like Azimo and The Currency Cloud in their early stages, established players like Vocalink and Skrill, as well as several banks on digital innovation, investment, and M&A.

He is currently an advisor to Firestartr and has previously been a mentor at Seedcamp, the early-stage funding company and a non-executive director at The MoBank Group.

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Sundance DiGiovanni - The Influence of Education

Sundance is a seasoned executive, recognized thought leader in video game culture, and veteran creative director with more than 18 years of experience in the media, technology and video game industries. He co-founded MLG in 2002 with Mike Sepso, with the goal of creating a company that would reflect both his lifelong passion for gaming and his deeply competitive nature. Sundance currently serves as the CEO of MLG, focuseing on the long-term growth of competitive video gaming and the various distribution channels that are helping to bring this burgeoning sport to an ever-growing community. Prior to co-founding MLG, Sundance was Worldwide Creative director at Gotham Broadband, a broadband media pioneer. He is a veteran creative executive and has worked closely with a wide variety of brands, including AOL Time Warner, DirecTV, Sony, Pfizer, Nortel Networks, and Sprint.

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Cory Tholl - Being Remarkably Unremarkable

Cory Tholl is the President and CEO of Klymit. Cory is a visionary and execution minded entrepreneur who joined Klymit pre-revenue in 2008 to lead R&D. Cory became President/CEO of Klymit in 2011 and quickly turned the company into a profitable and high growth outdoor brand. As a patent holder with an engineering and business mind, Cory leads the overall corporate strategy and thrives on profitable high-growth execution.

Cory has an MBA and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University with an emphasis on product development. He has taught at BYU and enjoys collaborating with the local universities to give back to the community and to help Klymit grow.

Cory is a family man who thrives on taking products from ideation to market. He is passionate about creating jobs and is focused on producing an exciting return for investors. Cory enjoys all aspects of the outdoors and spending time with his wife and 5 children outside. He also finds joy in volunteering with his church and other community organizations.

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Isaiah Hankel - Overcoming Life Obstacles

Isaiah has a Ph.D. in Anatomy & Cell Biology and is an internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant. He is an expert in the biotechnology industry and specializes in helping people transition into cutting-edge career tracks.

Isaiah believes that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life right now, you should make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.

Isaiah did his undergraduate work at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and received his Ph.D. in Anatomy and Cell Biology from the University of Iowa. Since graduating, he has been advancing his career in cell biology and business coaching. In the last two years, Isaiah has given over 250 seminars in 20 different countries throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia and North America.

Isaiah has worked with numerous leaders in the biotechnology industry, including Lilly Pharmaceuticals, Leinco Technologies, Orflo Technologies, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Cellerant Therapeutics, Miltenyi Biotec, McCord Research, Expert Cytometry, Tree Star, Amgen, Celgene, Ambrx, BD Biosciences, Baxter Bioscience, Pfizer, Roche, and Genentech. He has also presented at Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Cancer Research UK, University of Amsterdam, German Cancer Research Center, Pasteur Institute, Curie Institute, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, University of Tasmania, University of Sydney, University of Western Australia, and many other prestigious institutions.

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