When anyone with a laptop and a dream can start a business, hard assets are no longer the main determining factor in success. In the 21st century, communication is currency. The five people profiled in this article have all uncovered innovative ways to communicate faster, better, and more clearly...or to help us do so. They range widely by industry and purpose, but they all have one thing in common--a counterintuitive approach to getting their messages heard in the midst of an ever-growing cloud of noise.
1. Neil Mody
Neil Mody had always prided himself on being a connector. But after he sold his first startup nRelate, the number of requests to meet grew to be unmanageable. Neil looked for a solution to his problem. Failing to find one, the perpetual entrepreneur created his own. What he came up with is a new technology called SpareMin that allows people to broadcast notifications of their availability during open pockets of their crowded schedules. The result is a true ability to fit everyone in. Neil Mody is on the cusp of doing one of the last things we tend to deem impossible in our progress-obsessed age--take back control of our time.
2. Eric Samuel Green
As an executive for companies like Gap, The Limited, The North Face, Cole Haan, and Charming Charlie, Eric Samuel Green became troubled by the disconnect he noticed between the high fashion lives of his colleagues and the realities of his customer base. As such, he embarked on a mission to "decode the science of style". Beginning with a series of easy-to-digest Internet video clips, and continuing through a highly anticipated series of books and other forms of media, Eric has become known for his ability to make anyone feel that they can live a life that is as stylish as any New York fashionista, regardless of their background, location, or budget.
3. Dorie Clark
In many ways, Dorie Clark is the entrepreneur's entrepreneur. This bard of business has repeatedly worked her way into centers of power and influence, while simultaneously building hordes of diehard fans. To write her now classic business books Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future and Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, Dorie sought out, interviewed, and fostered friendships with some of the most prominent people in the world. Today Dorie Clark is a consultant for companies including Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, DHL, Fidelity, Yale University, and the World Bank and is one of the most coveted speakers on the professional circuit.
4. Zvi Band
As a design-focused engineer, Zvi Band was always irritated by the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems businesspeople had to use to manage their ever expanding circles of real life and virtual connections. Eventually he couldn't take it anymore, so he created Contactually. Zvi's new platform was guided by a single imperative--to be a tool that businesspeople actively enjoy using rather than being forced to use it. Contactually connects to preexisting accounts and calendars in commonly used platforms such as Gmail and Outlook and uses email to identify new leads for users through targeted questions. The startup has attracted a tremendous amount of buzz in a relatively limited period of time, which has resulted in the company raising $13.83 million to date.
5. David Shriner-Cahn
As an entrepreneur who regularly works with other entrepreneurs, TEND Strategic Partners' CEO David Shriner-Cahn found himself increasingly frustrated by a phenomenon he calls the "Coaching-Industrial Complex". While he still has a great deal of respect for many people who call themselves business coaches, he became seriously concerned about a surge of dubiously qualified advice peddlers giving all-in-one solutions to complex business problems. Fueled by this observation, David was inspired to shift from focusing solely on one-on-one consulting to establishing carefully facilitated groups in which successful entrepreneurs give nuanced feedback and support to one another. He started his popular podcast "Smashing the Plateau" to serve as another vehicle for his message, and it too has caused a real perception shift in the business community. Most recently, he is putting his counterintuitive message into a book called Fire Your Business Coach, which has already attracted the attention of prominent nonfiction literary agents. By focusing on the role of community in communication, David Shriner-Cahn has brought age-old values to the hyper-modern world of always-on connectivity.