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Alan Fitzpatrick, 
Alan is the co-founder and CEO of MailVU.com, a company based in North Carolina that has created an efficient way to send private video emails to anybody anywhere. MailVu also provides embeddable widgets and an API for integration into other websites. As a technology executive, Alan Fitzpatrick is passionate about creating new products, processes and systems. He specializes in video mail, video email, video messaging, VoIP, IP Video, telecommunications services, engineering, and executive management in public and private companies.

1.     What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful leader to possess?
A leader must have a clear vision of where the company is heading and how to get there.  Being ability to articulate that vision in concise, concrete terms, and conveying a mental picture of what the team and individuals will achieve is key to obtaining buy-in and commitment from the organization.  Since the CEO is also the face of the company they also have to be the chief salesperson to external audiences. I believe the leader needs to have expertise in the operations of the business, not being afraid of getting their hands dirty doing the work. The leader should not only serve as the management leader but also as a knowledge leader. This builds respect from the team and helps build a loyal following.  If the leader will answer a customer care call, participate in problem solving, test new features, or cold call a prospective customer, it sets the example for the team.

2.     Can you describe your typical day as a CEO?
A typical day for me involves talking with the larger customers and prospects, working with Marketing on messaging, strategy, and results, and working with product development on new features and timelines. I believe the key factors for any business are developing products that customers want, that they will continue to use over time that they are willing to pay for, with a profit margin to the company.  Without these things you don't have a business.  As a result I spend the bulk of my time on product and sales/marketing.

3.     How do you foster innovation in your company?
Our company is just a year old and we are constantly innovating and expanding our product set.  A great thing about customers is they will tell you what they want!  By having personal communication with our largest customers I get the feedback firsthand with no filters.  We don't always build what the customer requests as a one-off, but we probably build 90% of what they want as it applies to the product in general and is marketable to other clients.  The day you stop innovating is the day the company starts to die.  

4.     How do you manage your work-life balance?
There is no distinction between work and life.  The business is integrated into my daily life and I'll work any day, any time, as needed.  But I'll also take time off for personal things at any time.  It's more a matter of getting things done than trying to differentiate between separate work and life events. We don't have a defined work schedule, but employees are expected to reply to emails and calls every day, and at any reasonable non-sleeping hour.

5.     What changes do you see in the next 5-10 years for business owners and entrepreneurs?
Some of the changes include that fact that information availability is so easily accessed on the Internet, and with social media, feedback and reviews spread in minutes.  You can't hide or conceal issues.  This will drive improved performance and customer service across the board for businesses; otherwise your business will die.  Technology is reshaping everything we do, from marketing with coupon sites, to social media, to communication, and the anytime-anywhere expectation of customers. I also see the cost of most services and products continuing to decrease as price competition unfolds with advent of instant access to information. A good example is a customer in a retail store looking up pricing on their smartphone. Think of what Amazon has done to retail.  It's pretty tough to justify premium pricing to Amazon or Netflix unless you offer something else of concrete value to the consumer.  Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Blockbuster were never able to justify premium pricing.

 

 


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