The mind of entrepreneur always thinks beyond the sixth sense. Find your passion and the persistence will come much easier, says Ray Solnik (Ray) President – Appnomic Systems, Inc.
Appnomic Systems is not a new name for us: today it's a global brand in the IT Industry. Indiamanthan had an opportunity to have a conversation with Appnomic's President, Mr. Ray Solnik. We had a nice conversation, asked various questions and he has given his experiences in the form of answers below.
Here is the Interview with Mr. Ray Solnik (President – Appnomic Systems, Inc.)
Would you like to share any important lessons you have learned in your life?
There is one thing that sets apart most of those who are truly successful and those who are not. That one thing is persistence. One does not need to be the smartest, the fastest, and the best to achieve great things. It is the commitment over time, the learning that happens over that time that is what separates the winners from the losers. Find your passion and the persistence will come much easier.
Kindly brief us about yourself?
I am an entrepreneur born of a long line of entrepreneurs. My work and life are about passion and having meaningful experiences, contributions to the world and others. I do this through my work in technology mostly focused around Internet technologies and my relationships with others. I look to share love and passion and to experience the same from others in all I do.
What Are You Doing To Ensure that You Continue to Grow and Develop in your life?
I am relentless pursuing my passions. I ask lots of questions. I am also seeking to understand and then share my understanding. I am very social and look to learn from all those with whom I interact.
What kind of essential qualities does a person require to become a successful leader?
A high EQ (emotional quotient) can be enormously valuable and helpful. I believe, even more than IQ.
Beyond these are many minor qualities that help anyone achieve success – good time management, attracting high performing people who can help the leader achieve success, and many others that are included in all varieties of leadership books. In my experience, none of those really matter if the Passion and Persistence are not there.
What are your achievements that you are proud of?
Finding and living my passions. Sharing the same with others.
A number of carrier "wins" like: being a part of building and taking NorthPoint Communications public and then selling the business to AT&T; leading the AT&T WorldNet Consumer Internet business from investment mode to cash generation with enormous financial, employee, and customer successes along the way; the $20 million investment in Concentric Networks that yielded many multiples on behalf of SBC (now AT&T), and many more.
My long and loving relationships with family and long time friends.
Are There Any Degrees/Certifications That You Recommend For Your Career?
I believe enormously in education. In today's world with many publicly highlighted successes of those who have made decisions to pursue a career instead of education, I get concerned that too many young people believe education is not as important as it really is. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs are examples of enormously talented people who chose to pursue their careers instead of formal education. For very one of these types of people, there are literally millions of the rest of us.
Education teaches us knowledge and, more importantly, how to think, problem solve, navigate the world and it's inevitable vagaries that will confront us in life. Education requires hard work and commitment and illustrates those qualities to others – which can be very important when seeking employment or in other life endeavors. Education opens doors that may not otherwise be open without this "ticket" in the door. For those who have a strong education, they are better suited to recover from setbacks. Most statistics suggest that the more education, the more successful, the more financially capable a person will become.
I feel lucky and blessed to have had the opportunity to study at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the American College in Paris, and the University of Michigan. And, yes, I do believe my masters in business administration has been valuable in my career and is a degree I recommend for people who have a passion to explore through the process we call business.
What can professionals do on their own to help India become a developed country?
Find an Indian based company to help succeed. For companies in the IT Services industry, find software technologies to complement your talented people and increase their productivity, job satisfaction (remove the mundane repetitive work that is not so interesting for them), and ability to serve clients with lower cost, higher quality. Step in and get involved! There are enormous opportunities in tech, energy, manufacturing, ecommerce and more! Just do it!
Who has most influenced you in your life so far and why?
While maybe trite to say and while I have many heroes and mentors, as I've matured, I have realized the power of my genetic make up and the role models of my parents.
My father is an enormously ethical, steady, patient man. He has always put family first – including the employees of the company he ran who I believe he essentially considered family. While not as educated as he deserved to experience, he values education enormously and figured out how to fund bachelors and masters degrees for all three of his sons. He was an environmentalist before that term was even invented. My dad has set a role model, I do not believe I'll ever be able to fit. I am so proud of what he has accomplished and the low key way he has pursued his love and passions.
My mom is a relentless, passionate woman. She is full of energy and verve for life. She almost can't sit still. Whenever I've needed help the most, when I've been the most down in life, she has been there to support me and help me through to the next phase of life. I'm sure a large portion of my stick-to-itiveness is a result of her genetic contributions to my make-up and my observing the results of her persistence.
Together, they have both shown unconditional love to my brothers and me.
Ben Franklin, Geoffrey Moore, Clayton Christensen, Gurumayi Chidvalasananda, Jim Collins, Steven Covey, Malcom Gladwell, Peter Russell and some others are among my other mentors and heroes who have influenced my life enormously.
Where Do You See Yourself In A Couple of Years From Now?
Silicon Valley as a member of the Appnomic Systems leadership team and owner of among the top performing Great Clips chains in the United States. Appnomic will be among the very best companies in our industry. Great Clips already is ;*)
Can you tell us about a Role Model who Inspires you and why?
Geoffrey Moore and Clayton Christensen are among the world's greatest intellects in regards to innovation and bringing technology, the benefits of technology, to the world's masses. Their contributions to the field are immeasurable and have guided me along the way of my career, my pursuits bringing the Internet to life, and in my understanding of the world around me and the possibilities to solve among the greatest, persisting problems on our planet.
What are the Most Important Decisions that You Have made along the Way?
I was an early employee at Intuit – now a billion dollar software company. Scott Cook, the founder and CEO recruited me. He is a great person. After six months I quit. 3 months after the company went public with an IPO.
By all external measures, I was walking away from one of the best career opportunities of my life. A dear friend and classmate from Stanford asked me, "Ray, how did you know what you were facing at Intuit was not a challenge to confront and overcome? Why didn't you hang in there versus quitting?"
At that moment, I knew the answer and the answer to that question has helped me persist and succeed in many future endeavors. I let Todd know, my decision was not a decision. My emotional and physical reactions to my experience there made it clear, I had to leave. It was NOT a choice.
Later in life, I learned that I do not have a passion for financial software or financial services – where I spent the first ten years of my career. No matter how good the job, the company, the opportunity "looked on paper", it was not for me and it was better that I continue to search for company where I could pursue my passion. Since that time, having known how bad a reaction I could have in the wrong situation, I have learned that the pain and frustration of the chaotic technology start up is easily survived and turned into opportunity if the passion alignment is there. I am thankful that Intuit and Scott are as successful as they have been, to have had an opportunity to learn the lesson I did from leaving them.
What are your thoughts on the education system in India? What measures should be taken into consideration to improve its quality?
While I do not have much real exposure to the education system per se, I do have lots of experiences with hundreds of technology technicians I've supported and led over the years. My impression is there is something in the education system that is not enabling, encouraging the creative problem solving and initiative required to be as successful as possible. I would like to see more of these behaviors from talent emerging from India. Also, self-initiative and risk taking are skills that can be taught, or at least encouraged, in my opinion, and I think there could be more of that here.
What Are Your Strongest Professional Skills/Attributes?
As I was once told by a manager I enormously respect and admire, "I'm a planner AND a doer." It can be a unique quality to have someone who can be a good analyst, thoughtful problem solver, organized leader and also a "get-it-done" person who knows how to, well, get things done. I have both those attributes.
I'm passionate about what I do – if you haven't already got that message ;*)
I am always looking for the best answers in the time allotted – from wherever it will come. I enjoy talking to the people who clean the office, CEO's of our customers, our middle managers, and our front line employees serving customers every day. I enjoy this interpersonal experience and listen, listen, listen. THEN, I take what I learn and I ACT on it to improve the business.
About Mr. Ray Solnik:
Ray Solnik is president of Appnomic Systems, Inc., based in Sunnyvale, California. He has responsibility for leading Appnomic's presence in North America. Ray brings twenty years of deep technology experience in the cloud computing sector, managed network services, and data communications. Prior to joining Appnomic, Ray founded and headed a technology consulting and interim executive placement firm, Buena Vista Business Services, where he provided strategic and business development consulting services as well as interim executive leadership to technology companies including Symantec, Xerox PARC, Samsung, MarketTools, Zoomerang, CrowdFlower, myGengo, and others. Prior to Buena Vista, Ray was president and COO of OpSource, an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) company that operated over 200 enterprise and web applications on behalf of clients (acquired by Dimension Data – a $4 billion systems integrator), Chief Development Officer of New Edge Networks (acquired by EarthLink), and president of AT&T's consumer Internet services business, AT&T WorldNet. Earlier in his career, Ray worked in the financial services and financial software sector at American Express, Intuit, and Credit Union Capital. He has a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in business administration (MBA) from Stanford Graduate School of Business.