Becoming a Tech Disruptor or Innovator: What's The Secret?

CES supersession panelists share their formulas
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The panelists, from left: Shelley Zalis, The Female Quotient; Patrick "Pat" Brown, Impossible Foods; Arlan Hamilton, Backstage Capital; and, John Padget, Carnival Cruise.

The panelists, from left: Shelley Zalis, The Female Quotient; Patrick "Pat" Brown, Impossible Foods; Arlan Hamilton, Backstage Capital; and, John Padget, Carnival Cruise.

There is no greater place to see innovation, especially disruptive innovation, than at CES.

But how does one become an innovator or a disruptor? This was the mystery panelists at the "Technology’s Innovators and Disruptors" supersession conference attempted to solve.

Moderator Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, queried the panelists about the philosophy behind each of their own individual innovative and disruptive journeys: Patrick "Pat" Brown, CEO and founder of meat alternative Impossible Foods; Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of the VC firm Backstage Capital, which emphasizes the funding of companies owned by women and people of color; and, John Padget, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Cruise.

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"You need complete determination," advised Brown. "I don’t know a large number of things to run a business successfully, but making the decision to do it and having the determination to see it through was critical. Not being freaked out by failure is critical."

"I never asked permission and didn’t apologize afterward," offered Hamilton. "You have every right to be here. I wasn’t creating anything that want already there. I just saw the potential [my clients] had that no one else saw.

"But not everyone has to be the founder of a company," Hamilton added. "One of the coolest jobs is to be one of the first 20 employees. You have all the fun of working for a startup, but you get to sleep at night."

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"If you're dealing with enterprise, make sure you get support from your CEO," Padgett insisted. "The most important ingredient is getting board-level commitment to the vision. Nothing ever goes according to plan. If it goes wrong, are they behind you?"

More generally, Padgett offered advice via one-time Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl-winning head coach Hank Stram: "He said, 'Just keep matriculatin' the ball down the field.' Whatever the challenge that is out there, there is someone out there who can help you."

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