Leadership Lessons from Young Digital Founders

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK – “I think AI will co-create our reality,” said Aaron Nicholson, co-founder of Studio Transcendent who was at the IBM Think Leaders meetup last October 4 at Rise, along with Ita Ekpoudoum, founder and CEO of Tigress Ventures and Josie Hines, co-founder of Art Frankly.

Nicholson’s Studio Transcendent is a maker of premier virtual reality experiences with focus on cinematic storytelling for many big clients.

Asked how he started, he said candidly, “I could never get a job.” Reflecting on his most trying times, he said, “I wanted to quit a lot of times, (because I found out that) people would not act as rationally as I would expect them to act.”

He shared some of his insights about leadership and learning:

  • Have the ability to learn and apply what you learn
  • We need to be information absorbers
  • You need to know (how to do) apps now, hinting at how the educational system doesn’t teach it unless you’re taking a tech course.
  • Listen to signals (akin to gut feel)
  • There are two types of people in this world: Those with no ideas and those with so many ideas and how it’s hard for both because we only have so much time every day. But get your hands on one thing. Go make it.
  • I don’t believe in competition. It makes me tense, less creative. But I believe in collaborating with them later.
  • On closing (a deal), relax. Let them be attracted to you

Originally from Nigeria, Ekpoudoum said she founded Tigress Ventures to help women entrepreneurs, professionals and investors to help themselves and each other. She honed her people skills from her work in the financial and technology companies such as Goldman Sachs and American Express as well as TravelClick.

“We pair visionary entrepreneurs with accomplished professionals who know to turn ideas into realities, helping entrepreneurs scale their business and providing professionals with high impact advisory and leadership development opportunities,” she said.

Her thoughts on leadership:

  • I had an idea years ago but didn’t know anything, so meet people; go out of your industry
  • On sales: you have to articulate your business in 30 seconds
  • If you have a strong team you can scale

Hines of Art Frankly talked about what seems to be a Linkedin for artists.

Art Frankly is an online jobs and recruitment platform for the visual arts community to seek and post jobs, list spaces and discover other opportunities while building a professional presence.

It serves artists, curators, researchers, gallerists, students, and creative professionals in one place.

What’s his advice for the rest of us? He thinks giving appreciation is important. “I have consultants who work full time and appreciate the work they do for me.”

Hines said he gets helps from a “hodgepodge of different sources.”

The meetup was moderated by Robert Schwartz, Global Leader of Strategy & Design, IBM iX.

Dennis Clemente

Shuttling between New York and other US cities, Dennis writes about tech meetups when he's not too busy working as a Web Developer/Producer + UX Writer and Digital Marketer.

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