A discussion on Developing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs: Innovating Primary & Secondary Education in America with Marc Ecko, Don Moody, John Petry, Leonard Brody. Moderated by Ira Sockowitz.
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Leonard is a highly respected entrepreneur, venture capitalist, best-selling author and a 2 time Emmy nominated media visionary. He has helped in raising millions of dollars for startup companies, been through one of the largest Internet IPOs in history and has been involved in the building, financing and/or sale of five companies to date. Much critical acclaim has followed him in his endeavors. At Onvia (where he was part of the initial executive), the company was voted Canada's number one startup in 2000 and subsequently closed a $240 Million IPO on NASDAQ. In 2004, Leonard co-founded NowPublic.com which is a pioneer in the field of user generated news. The company was named by Time Magazine as one of the top 50 websites in the world, was inducted into the Newseum in Washington and was recently acquired by the Anschutz Corporation. Currently Leonard sits as the President of the Clarity Digital Group responsible for overseeing one of the largest online news conglomerates in the world including Examiner.com and Now Public, which between them, share over 20 million unique visitors a month and over 200,000 contributors.
Leonard also acts as an advisor to venture capital funds in the US, Europe and Asia. Throughout his career, has also advised several companies including, the Associated Press, Alliance Atlantis, Derby County Football Club and MTV Enterprises. In addition, he was the Senior Technology Advisor to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Trade. Currently, Leonard is a Senior Advisor to the Canadian Ministry of International Trade and a Director of Canada's largest technology association, CATA. A highly sought-after public speaker, Leonard has lectured at universities such as Stanford, the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and the Gordon Business School in Johannesburg. His insight has been requested by companies such as Forbes, Warner Music, as well as, the governments of countries such as India, Israel, Ireland and South Africa. He has spoken at conferences throughout the world and his work has been featured in such publications as Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, the BBC and the New York Times. Recently he was given the award as one of Vancouver's Top 40 Under 40. He is co-author of the best selling books, Innovation Nation: Canadian Leadership from Jurassic Park to Java and Everything I Needed to Know About Business...I Learned from a Canadian both published by John Wiley and Sons.
Leonard holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts from Queens University, a law degree from Osgoode Hall and is a graduate of the Private Equity Course at the Harvard Business School.
From his beginnings in fashion to his recent entries into the worlds of publishing, art, gaming and multimedia, Marc Ecko continues to break the boundaries of conventional wisdom and further solidify his role as the navigator of popular culture.
While others are content to imitate, he chooses to innovate. Marc's goal is not to chase what's already out there, but to establish a whole new category of branded products and services that are immediately embraced as cutting edge and credible.
His journey began in the mid-80's while still a high school student working from a makeshift design studio located in the garage of his parents' New Jersey home. Armed only with an airbrush and his custom graphic designs, Marc quickly built a loyal fan base and in 1993, at the age of 20, founded ecko unltd. Since then, the company has grown to included *ecko unltd. apparel and accessories lines, the contemporary Marc Ecko Cut & Sew collection, ecko red girls line, Zoo York, Avirex Sportswear, Complex Magazine and Complex Media, as well as a videogame and multimedia division, Marc Ecko Entertainment. Last year alone, Marc's full-scale global fashion and lifestyle company reported worldwide retail sales of over $1.5 billion.
Simultaneously, Marc has dedicated himself to a number of social consciousness initiatives, including significant work with youth domestically and internationally and a dedicated role in reversing the plight of the world's rhino populations. Sweat Equity Enterprises, a four-year after school design education and mentoring program is his most personal initiative to date.
In recognition of his achievements, Marc has been honored with a 2006 MTV Video Music Award for "Best Videogame Soundtrack," and is frequently included in such lists as Details Magazine's "Most Powerful Men Under 40," Stuff Magazine's "Style Icons" list, DNR's power list, and New York Magazine's "Influentials" list. He has also gained international notoriety for his various efforts to disrupt the status quo, from two successful graffiti-based court battles against the city of New York, to the 2006 "Tagging of Air Force One" viral video campaign, and his purchase of Barry Bonds' record breaking 756th homerun baseball, the fate of which he turned over to the public in a groundbreaking online vote.
Marc, age 35, is married with three children and is currently building an estate, "Stronghold," in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where he resides.
When "WordWorld" creator Don Moody discovered his wife was pregnant, he decided to pursue life differently, most importantly, living by example and practicing citizenship. Aligning his life with the progression of his childâ€™s life, Moody set out to develop an innovative television show that addressed childrenâ€™s literacy and taught valuable life lessons.
Based on more than two years of personal research, Moody realized literacy television shows would be much more effective if words were brought to life. He remembers thinking "Wouldnâ€™t it be cool if the word 'shark' swam off the screen, or if the word 'ice' actually froze in front of you?" From there, "WordWorld" was born and under Moody's direction, evolved into an innovative children's show that has received praise from children, parents and educators alike.
Moody's personal history is woven into the "WordWorld" fabric. Moody grew up with two other siblings raised by his mother in a single parent home. Based on his own childhood experience, Moody understands the importance of introducing effective literacy techniques early to a broad audience of kids. After his mother moved her family to a better neighborhood, a creative community helped raise and positively influence Moody. In fact, many of his childhood friends helped shape "WordWorldâ€™s" ensemble cast of WordFriends.
Prior to creating "WordWorld," Moody founded Moody Communications, a Manhattan-based advertising agency that serviced a variety of accounts in entertainment, internet technology, telecommunications, fashion and investor relations. Moody handled the branding, advertising, merchandising and licensing business for Jones New York, Verizon and US Banker, as well as for licensees of Disney, Warner Brothers, Lucas Films, "Barbie," "South Park," and "Bananas in Pajamas." At the same time, he independently created, developed and produced "Bobby Blu," an animated children's property for Wal-Mart, to air as a television series on the Fox Family Channel.
Moody is the recipient of a Graphics Design Award from the Museum of Modern Art and attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
John Petry is a Partner at Gotham Capital, an investment partnership. He joined Gotham Capital in 1997. Previously, he was a Research Analyst at Opus Capital, a value oriented hedge fund. From 1993-1995, he was an Associate in Corporate Finance and Private Equity for Conning and Company, an investment banking firm specializing in the insurance industry. Mr. Petry holds a B.S. (1993), cum laude, from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Petry is a co-founder and the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the Harlem Success Charter School.
Co-Project Director & Executive Vice President Public Affairs, The Ready to Learn Partnership; CEO, The Phoenix Consulting Group:
Ira Sockowitz has combined a career in law, politics, communications, and logistical planning to obtain a unique blend of strategic planning and management know-how. By integrating skills in initiative management, public policy research, strategic communications, and project administration, Ira has earned a reputation as an effective leader who achieves his employers' and clients' mission-critical goals.
The Phoenix Consulting Group is a full service public affairs, communications and event planning firm, based in Washington, D.C. and operating throughout the world. As the chief executive of Phoenix, Ira provides strategic counsel to clients on legislative and regulatory issues as well as communications and public relations issues. In addition, he provides protocol and dignitary management services to senior officials of governments, corporations, and associations.
Prior to starting the Phoenix Consulting Group, Ira was Managing Director of Strategic Planning Group (SPG), which provided public affairs and business advocacy services to corporations and associations. As well, Ira planned and managed several special events ranging in size and scope from the Presidents of the eight industrial world powers (the 1997 Denver Summit of the Eight) to a three-day festival for 150,000 people (as the Black College Reunion) while with SPG.
Having joined the Federal government as a Presidential appointee, Ira served as Special Counsel at the U.S. Department of Commerce under the late-Secretary Ron Brown.
Prior to joining the federal government, Ira presided over both trial and appellate proceedings as an Administrative Law Judge for three years.
Ira began his career, and gained eight years of experience, in the legislative process. Starting as a Legislative Assistant, Ira served as counsel to one Member and the manager of a legislative staff for another Member of the New York State Legislature over the course of five sessions before going on to spend one year lobbying before the Legislature. Ira subsequently served as a Legislative Counsel for New York City's Office of Management and Budget for two years.
A native New Yorker, Ira received his law degree from Union University's Albany Law School and his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton. Ira did not complete his course of study for a Masters of Public Administration in order to accept a Presidential appointment in 1993. In May of 1991, Ira had published an extensive review and analysis of 200 years of public policy options, legislation, and case law regarding New York State's real property tax.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, does tenacity trump intelligence? NowPublic.com co-founder Leonard Brody thinks so. He says entrepreneurial success depends on "taking ten punches to the stomach and getting up for the eleventh," citing Google and FedEx as early failures that became wild successes.
"In this country if you're tuned out in eighth grade," says fashion designer Marc Ecko, "it's a wrap." He underscores the importance of providing young people with educational alternatives like Sweat Equity Education, a youth development program that introduces students to graphic, product, and industrial design.