John W. DenBoer is the CEO of Smartbrainaging. John is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. John provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Smartbrainaging. John W. DenBoer joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has recently awarded Smartbrainaging with our Impact Company of 2019 award. We are delighted to have John join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview and our popular “speed round” as well.
John, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview about your company, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. What is the “elevator pitch” for Smartbrainaging?
We help prevent and mitigate dementia through a innovative combination of cognitive, occupational, and physical therapy.
2. What is the key to your company’s success?
A unique combination of perseverance, innovation, and compassion.
3. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
Have a well thought-out plan that you run by many trusted advisors. Realize you are taking a calculated and significant financial risk. You most likely not succeed, so plan for that. Also plan for succeeding, because your life will change even more dramatically then if you fail. Prepare those that you love for this journey – as much as you can. And, most of all, have a really really really great reason for doing what you doing (i.e., not money), because, quite often, this will be all you have.
4. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Be as honest as you can be with yourself. This will often be very difficult, so encourage trusted others to be honest with you. Listen to them even when you don’t want to.
5. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at Smartbrainaging, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
It’s vital. Your need to treat all customers like gold, but particularly your early adopters – ideally, they are the ones that shape the company. In the end, the only way they are going to be fans is to make an awesome product that solves a big need in their lives and/or the lives of people they love.
6. In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
You really have to – you have no other choice – if you don’t, you fail, and failure is not an option. I do so by devoting time early in the morning or late at night to staying on top of the high-level changes in the field. I don’t try to do that high-level between 8-6 – there is no time and I’m too distracted with the day-to-day of the company.
7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead Smartbrainaging?
In the end, it all comes back to serving people. Probably the single biggest why for me is seeing my Grandma suffer from dementia – she was the person I loved the most in this world and I couldn’t save her. That experience galvanized me to fight against dementia in any way that I can.
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
I love books ; many have really shaped me. I think the biggest ones for business that relates to business is The Alchemist. From a purely technical perspective, anything lean process is very helpful.
9. When communicating with your staff, can you tell us the most important thing you do so that they are able to carry out the objectives that you set forth at Smartbrainaging?
Communicate clearly, consistently (people often need to hear the same thing multiple times), and directly. Say what you mean but don’t say it mean. I have learned to be very direct, which is not often easy for me. It’s important, as I don’t want any ambiguity in my direction.
10. Can you explain what leadership means to you?
Having the courage to make tough decisions and take responsibility for the outcomes of those decisions. Setting the vision and empowering your employees to feel that it is a shared vision. It’s easy to be a leader when things are good, but, often in start-up world, being the leader is the worst position to be in. You have to relish the pain of it, or it will eat you alive.
We would like to have some fun and do a “speed round” with you! We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only.
Here you go!
1. In three words or less, what makes a successful CEO?
Pain, Growth, Dedication
2. Describe your business in one word?
3. Describe your customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee?
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about your company?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
Helping older people.
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Openness, Focus, Perseverance
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at Smartbrainaging?
Amazing, Fun, Painful
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
Stressed, Confident, Spiritual
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English language?
John W. DenBoer, thank you so much for sitting down with us for our DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping our readers learn more about what it takes to be a leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Smartbrainaging, nothing but the best.
John W. DenBoer, CEO of Smartbrainaging, The Leader Roundtable Interview Series