Reimagining the future came as Ben closed-out over 15 years of corporate turnaround work in the financial services industry. The idea of sitting and drawing ‘X’s’ thru names on yet another organization chart in a large company had just lost its appeal after 6 turnaround assignments – the last one wasn’t supposed to be a turnaround – it just turned out that way.
Earning his MBA from Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, Ben went the corporate route, heading to New York and a Fortune 500 Company. Next stop was a smaller company in Cleveland. In his first reinvention, Ben started a consulting company (after getting fired the first time in his late 20’s and deciding to go on his own).
About 5 years and two challenging partnerships later, the consulting business got reinvented into a software company. Developing custom software for large companies proved an interesting opportunity. By the mid-1980’s, software was getting pretty capital intensive and Ben had invested every dime he had in the growing company. To finance growth, he took on some debt just as his customers in the financial services industry were headed into a big downturn. A venture capital financing went ‘sideways’, pushing Ben and his company into insolvency. He talks today about his narrow brush with personal and corporate bankruptcy and how he sold the company to a former customer, covered the debts and dodged the bullet.
Temporarily losing most of his entrepreneurial enthusiasm, it was back to the corporate side…first working for the people who bought his company where he learned that when they start ripping your ‘baby’ apart, it is very tough to stay in the game. Then into the turnaround fray, working for three large financial services firms over 15 years.
With lots of hard-won corporate and entrepreneurial experience, Ben’s next reinvention came by finding a way to give back and grow at the same time. He became an executive coach and facilitator for CEO peer-groups. At about the same time, he decided to launch a parallel practice designing and facilitating leadership team learning laboratories. The programs include strategy, team alignment and management by objectives.
Along the way of life, he’s shot tens of thousands of shotgun shells at clay targets – chasing Skeet and Sporting Clays in tournaments around the country. He plays guitar now and again – a remnant of youthful days performing in a 9-piece blues band to pay college expenses. A basement full of woodworking equipment does not get as much use as he’d like it to get and he has the obligatory stationery bicycle down there that doubles as a clothes hanger too much of the time.
He’s living his mantra – Current / Connected / Involved / Relevant – and, in 2010 decided it was time for yet another reinvention. While continuing to speak, run workshops and facilitate CEO Peer Advisory Groups, Ben launched CEOIQ, an online resource for entrepreneurs, CEO’s and organization leaders who won’t make time to go to a three-day workshop and need more than a Google search. CEOIQ is an online, virtual world incarnation of the real-world workshops and seminars Ben created and led successfully for over 10 years. CEOIQ is a portal for 21st Century Leaders to use technology to extend their knowledge, skill and leadership assets. Leadership Team Members of CEOIQ can learn and grow actively, in their own time and their own way, using the tools at www.CEOIQ.com, a membership based website and virtual community designed for them. Ben and his wife Rita divide their time between Maryland and Florida, spending as much time as possible with five grandchildren.