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7 Questions with Chuck Allen
7 Questions with Chuck Allen
Name: Chuck Allen
Current title: CEO
Current organisation: knnct Markets Corp.
Chuck has over 20+ years of experience in working with and creating dramatic growth for early-stage technology companies in the CEO/COO/President role. He has also lived and worked extensively internationally as well as domestically. Chuck has been the founder or key team member of a number of transformative technology companies that have developed technologies or platforms that dramatically transform an environment that functions only off-line to a digital environment that operates digitally and are faster, easier and more conveniently for everyone involved including knnct, Ommatee, Gedex, Solium, ShipbyChoice, Max Systems and Paradigm. Chuck has been instrumental in successful exits
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Obviously, when you're the leader of a SME, you have to wear a lot of different hats. And the smaller the organization, the more hats you need to wear - while still ensuring that others in your organization continue to wear their hats and contribute as well. My latest venture, knnct Markets, represents the first time where our business has been based on B2C model - and this has really opened my eyes to the challenges of marketing DTC and to do with the challenges of COVID-19 - and honestly, it has been one of my greatest challenges. Marketing and onboarding consumers creates challenges far beyond what I had experienced previously. And for those that have been doing it for a while, complete respect for everything that you do.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had been a M&A lawyer working with a large multinational and I found that I was enjoying the business aspect of my role far more than the legal aspect. And when a friend of mine asked me to join him in a new start-up in a sector that I knew nothing about, I jumped at the chance. I had to learn everything I could about the sector and to create a business plan and then implement that business plan - it was absolutely incredible. And I've never looked back.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I'm one of the strange people that wakes up early and goes to bed early. I wake up, meditate for a bit and then take my dog for a walk. Read the newspaper and then start reading emails from overnight. Then take stock of my day and figure out what meetings i have and what i want to accomplish that day. When i work on projects, i focus on the project and don't check emails or social media - i try to zone out on that project. In a perfect world, i get to have dinner with my wife - but some days there's stuff that needs to be done so i make certain that it's done before i eat. Read, watch a bit of TV - and then to bed.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
That planning is wonderful but there's no substitute to putting in the time and effort to get something actually done. And I pride myself as a person that gets stuff done. That and all that planning can go to crap very quickly so you are better capable of creating Plan B, C, D etc.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Good to great. I was completely blown away by the idea of setting larger goals and being willing to fail to achieve those goals. We've set some really big goals for Q2 and I don't know that we will get there, but I'd rather have a road map for what I want to accomplish than flounder and not accomplish much of anything.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
It takes a team to succeed - and you need really bright people around you that want to accomplish something really great. But to attract those people and keep those people, they have to believe and you need to empower them to succeed. And I think that a big part of leadership is giving the power to succeed in their role and to help the company to succeed. To do that you need to value them as persons, what they do and their opinions/insights/experiences.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
For me, it's a story about overcoming perceived shortcomings. I don't consider myself to be a very salesperson - my wife is the exact opposite and is very good at it - and so I typically avoid direct selling. But what I've come to discover, that selling is about knowledge and passion. And have also come to realize that I have both of those in massive quantities. And so while i have tended to shy away from direct selling (and still do), when i do get together with others and have the chance to tell them about what we do and how we do it - whether a potential or current client or to raise capital - i know now that i can win the day because i know my subject matter and am incredibly passionate about my business. And I firmly believe that it's in all of us to overcome what we perceive as our weaknesses or shortcomings and I hope that someone else hears this and rises above and realizes that they can be really good at whatever they want to be good at.