Passion and Persistence are Keywords for Great Success

Ray Solnik President – Appnomic Systems, Inc.
Passion and Persistence
Passion and Persistence

The mind of an entrepreneur always thinks beyond the sixth sense. Find your passion and persistence will come much easier, says Ray Solnik President – of Appnomic Systems, Inc.

Appnomic Systems is not a new name for us; today, it's a global brand in the IT Industry. The StartUp City Magazine had an opportunity to have a conversation with Appnomic's President, Mr. Ray Solnik.

Edited excerpts of the interview are mentioned below:

Here is the Interview with Mr. Ray Solnik (President – Appnomic Systems, Inc.)

Mr. Ray Solnik President – Appnomic Systems, Inc.
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. 

Success is distinguished by the enduring commitment and continuous learning that unfold over time, setting winners apart from those who fall short. Discover your passion, and persistence will naturally follow with greater ease.

Kindly brief us about yourself.

I am an entrepreneur born of a long line of entrepreneurs. My work and life revolve around passion, encompassing meaningful experiences and making valuable contributions to the world and those around me.

I do this through my work in technology mostly focused around Internet technologies and my relationships with others. I seek to spread love and passion, aiming to reciprocate the same warmth and enthusiasm in all my endeavors.

What Are You Doing To Ensure that You Continue to Grow and Develop in your life?

I am relentlessly 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?

Passion.  Persistence.

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 matters 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.

Numerous victories stand out, including contributing to the growth and initial public offering of NorthPoint Communications, ultimately selling the venture to AT&T. Additionally, there's the leadership journey of steering the AT&T WorldNet Consumer Internet business from an investment phase to a cash-generating powerhouse, achieving significant financial gains while ensuring employee and customer satisfaction. Another notable achievement is the $20 million investment in Concentric Networks, which yielded substantial returns for SBC (now AT&T), among other noteworthy successes.

My education.

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, and Steve Jobs are examples of enormously talented people who chose to pursue their careers instead of formal education.  For every 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, and navigate the world and its 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 endeavours. 

Education serves as the key that unlocks doors which might remain closed otherwise. Individuals with a strong education are better equipped to bounce back from setbacks. Statistical data consistently indicates that the higher one's level of education, the greater their likelihood of achieving success and financial stability.

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 master's in business administration has been valuable in my career and is a degree I recommend for people who have a passion for exploring 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 and higher quality. 

Step in and get involved! There are enormous opportunities in tech, energy, manufacturing, e-commerce and more!  Just do it!

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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 bachelor's and master's 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 in. I am so proud of what he has accomplished and the low-key way he has pursued his love and passions.

My mother is an unwavering, fervent woman. She brims with boundless energy and a zest for life that keeps her constantly on the move. Whenever I've faced my toughest moments and hit rock bottom, she has been a pillar of support, guiding me through the darkest times and helping me transition into the next chapter 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, Malcolm 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 is a key member of the Appnomic Systems leadership team and also owns some of the highest-performing Great Clips chains in the United States. Appnomic is poised to become one of the premier companies in our industry, and Great Clips is already there!

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 regard 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 in 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?"

In that instant, I discovered the solution, and that very answer has since been a driving force behind my persistence and success in numerous subsequent ventures. I conveyed to Todd that my decision was not merely a choice. My emotional and physical responses to the situation made it undeniably evident that I had no other option but to leave; it was not a matter of 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, or the opportunity "looked on paper", it was not for me, and it was better that I continue to search for a 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 an opportunity if the passion alignment is there. 

I am grateful for Intuit's and Scott's remarkable success and for the valuable lessons I learned from my departure.

What are your thoughts on the education system in India? What measures should be taken into consideration to improve its quality?

Although I don't possess extensive direct experience within the education system itself, I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge through my interactions with numerous technology technicians whom I've supported and led throughout the years.

My impression is there is something in the education system that is not enabling or encouraging the creative problem-solving and initiative required to be as successful as possible. 

I would like to see more of these behaviours 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 get things done well.  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, CEOs of our customers, our middle managers, and our front-line employees serving customers every day.  I enjoy this interpersonal experience and listen from them. 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 is responsible 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.

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