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Venture Atlanta 2020

A 2020 Venture Atlanta Panel with Jay Bailey, Duriya Farooqui, and Barry Givens

So many things go into building community. I know that’s true. But it wasn’t until I was backstage at Venture Atlanta 2020 that I really realized how much the intangibles matter.

I was at the conference to host a panel about Building Unique and Powerful Innovation Ecosystems. It was an exciting opportunity. The topic is a passion for me and the panel was composed of Jay Bailey, Duriya Farooqui, and Barry Givens. Each one of these excellent people is helping to shape the Atlanta innovation community, and I call each of them a friend.

This was the first event in the eight months since the start of the COVID lockdown that would be live and in-person (distanced and safe). As soon as we got started, I felt what I’d been missing all these months — true community and the sense of connection that is so necessary for changing paradigms and building unique opportunities. That’s what we were here to talk about and do — bring people together from all corners to create connections and have authentic conversations in proximity with one another. …


Atlanta United’s Catie Griggs Bridges Generations to Lead the Team Behind the Team

“I did play soccer. I was terrible.”

While she is a senior executive for Major League Soccer club Atlanta United FC, Catie was humble and honest about her personal soccer skills during this live session of the Disruptor Studio podcast recorded during this year’s DIG SOUTH virtual event. But it is clear she has a passion for the game and knows how to embrace the spirit and energy of this sport.

Catie Griggs is one of the most influential sports figures in Atlanta. She might not be a star player on the soccer pitch, but in her role as the head of business operations for Atlanta United FC, it’s fair to say that everything (outside of the actual soccer itself) rolls up under her leadership. …


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Photo by Eric & Niklas on Unsplash

In business, we often undervalue the power of creativity and those who make it possible

We all have creative DNA. It’s the instinct and capacity for ideas that exist outside the status quo, the confines of our environment or industry, or even historical ‘best practices.’ We all have it. For some of us, exercising it is natural. For others, tapping into it takes a courageous act. Regardless of how you feel about putting it to work, your creative DNA is an essential part of your capacity for innovation. Whether micro or macro, progress doesn’t happen without new thinking.

The problem is, creativity is rarely viewed or embraced properly, particularly in the business environment. There’s a long-held misperception that creativity lives exclusively in the realm of the arts. That presumption believes that, even if it has a place in a corporate environment, creative DNA dwells in a very specific realm — like the marketing department or among those whose job it is to lead brainstorming sessions. …


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The Cast of The Baker and the Beauty at SCAD aTV Fest

How my life journey prepared me to be an innovator and change leader

I did not expect to open the door to my origin, culture, and pride at the Savannah College of Art and Design aTV Fest in Atlanta. As part of this festival celebrating television arts, science, and design, I was able to attend a sneak preview screening of The Baker and the Beauty, an ABC TV romantic comedy-drama centered around a Cuban family.

As I sat in the dark theater watching the pilot episode, I was quickly drawn into the celebration of Cuban-American culture. (Oh, the food!) The show centers on a middle-class family that owns and operates a bakery in Miami’s Little Havana (Atlanta’s own Buena Gente Bakery made some of the pastelitos in the pilot). …


Photo by Mathias Jensen on Unsplash

How Kat Cole and Ben Chestnut Inspire Greatness

As I continue to explore the DNA of an innovator it is clear that the most inspiring leaders have a special ‘X factor’ grounded in their authenticity. But what keeps them authentic? What lets them be laser-focused on achieving what may sometimes feel impossible? What enables them to be able to stay inspired while inspiring others to follow?

It is purpose.

These individuals, people like Focus Brands’ Kat Cole and Mailchimp’s Ben Chestnut, are purposeful in what they do. …


Alex Gonzalez with Marc Gorlin at the Dig South Tech Summit

Why entrepreneur Marc Gorlin is an inspiring innovator and leader

It was the day before our keynote fireside chat at the Dig South Tech Summit in Charleston, South Carolina. I was checking into the hotel and although Marc Gorlin was nowhere in sight, he was very present. The front desk associate noticed I was registered as a speaker for Dig South and asked me what I was speaking about.

“I am hosting a fireside chat with the CEO and founder of a company called Roadie,” I said.

She immediately said, “I met him! He checked-in earlier and gave me a Roadie hat. He was so fun to talk to.”

That moment was a perfect example of Marc. He takes every moment as a chance to tell stories or create stories about his company. He embraces new connections with amazing authenticity and has an incredible ability to connect through this genuine interest in people and to transform every moment into a platform to tell the story of Roadie. It could be on stage in front of thousands, on TV in front of millions, or one-on-one at the check-in desk of a hotel in Charleston. …


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Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

Impactful, lasting innovation requires a willingness to be uncomfortable while embracing needed disparate ideas.

It’s ironic, but a picture-perfect day with my son provides an ideal example of how important it is to be confusion tolerant. As someone who works in innovation and strategy, I understand the progress that can happen through discomfort. And a college visit provided a great opportunity to share that with my son.

We were walking on the lawn of a college campus. …


Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Five Ways to Remain Focused, Efficient and Impactful

We are in unprecedented times with a public health crisis that is impacting the lives of families all over the world as loved ones are impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic is also causing a major economic crisis as the economy struggles causing massive job losses, crippling many small businesses, and straining large companies.

It is easy to see why leaders and professionals in corporate growth, innovation, and marketing functions feel vulnerable. …


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Photo by Sean Mungur on Unsplash

It was like falling off a cliff. Life went from “business as usual” to a state of chaos and confusion when the reality of COVID-19 hit our lives. Are we safe? What if I get sick? What about financial security? Is there a new normal? What if…what if….what if?

During times of crisis, it is hard to think about tomorrow, much less figure out how to shape it. …


Alex Gonzalez describes the Innovators DNA at Tedx

I’m a contradiction…and I talked about it at Tedx

How do you rate yourself as an innovator?

Even more interesting, what is the one word that describes you?

I’ve asked this question of myself. The short answer is I’m a contradiction.

I’m an immigrant. The child of a single parent growing up in not the best neighborhoods or circumstances. Yet I was oblivious to the challenges inherent in those formative details. I ignored “you can’t.”

I diagnosed myself with “Corporate ADD.” I joke about the terminology, but here’s the point — I did all the status quo tasks well. …

About

Alex Gonzalez

Innovation, brand, and corporate strategist with more than 25 years of experience in corporate, entrepreneurial, and civic roles. @disruptorstudio @atlchamber

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