George Nicholas

George Nicholas
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George Nicholas is a New York-based business writer and communications consultant. Contact him at georgenicholas@mindspring.com.

Collecting Earthly Treasures

Presented in partnership with PURE Insurance, our sixth column on CEOs who are notable collectors features SAS’s Jim Goodnight.

Weatherman Collects Tools of the Trade

Continuing Chief Executive’s series on leaders with notable collections, meet Joel Myers, owner of 6,300 weather instruments.

CEOs, Should You Buy a Sports Team?

Over the past decade, owners who have sold teams saw their val- ues increase by between 7 and 11 percent annually, depending on the league, according to Scott Milleisen, head of JPMorgan Chase’s Private Bank Sports Finance Unit. Much of the growth resulted from richer media-rights agreements in recent years, he adds.

Why CEOs Buy Sports Teams and What They Do With Them

Some CEOs buy a team to fulfill a life-long fantasy. Others do it to run a different kind of business. Some want to bring a team to their city and others to keep one from moving away. Meet some of the business chiefs who have become team owners.

CEOs Who Ride the Wind

Greek mythology’s Icarus, using wax wings, crashed because he flew too close to the sun. But a fair number of today’s CEOs harness the wind to skim across snow, ocean, surf, sand or paved surfaces at 40-plus miles per hour, even uphill.

The Paragliders

KAVU’s Barry Barr about to launch his paraglider.

KAVU’s Barry Barr about to launch his paraglider.

Barry Barr, CEO of KAVU True Outerware, got hooked on free flight when his father, a pioneer during the infancy of hanggliding, duct-taped him to his chest and they ski-launched down a mountain in Sun Valley. Now a paraglider, he has been flying in the Americas, Europe and the Pacific over the last 23 years.

Barr tries to paraglide everywhere he goes and he encourages the company’s staff to drop everything and get outside when the weather is good. In fact, there’s even a contest for the KAVU employee who sleeps outside most often during the year—the prize is a pair of ski passes.

Dirk van Rees of Courtroom Visuals landing after paragliding off Basalt Mountain in Colorado.

Dirk van Rees of Courtroom Visuals landing after paragliding off Basalt Mountain in Colorado.

Dirk Van Rees, president of Courtroom Visuals, has been paragliding for 10 years and flies all over the world. He also flies tandem, taking along family and friends for fun, or flying with tourists over Aspen and Snowmass for a paragliding tourism service.

Jeff Hamann of Hamann Companies flying his powered paraglider over the Pacific Coastline in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Jeff Hamann of Hamann Companies flying his powered paraglider over the Pacific Coastline in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Jeff Hamann, president of Hamann Companies, flies a powered paraglider, which includes a motor backpack unit to give thrust to a climb. In the last eight years, he covered almost the entire distance between Arizona and Panama, and he expects to fly the remaining parts by year’s end. On a recent group trip, he flew over the nearly impenetrable rain forest of Panama’s Darien Province, home to crocodiles and FARC guerillas.

The Windsurfer

David Troup of Solinus windsurfing off the coast of Maui.

David Troup of Solinus windsurfing off the coast of Maui.

“When it’s windy and I’m in the office, my staff wonders why I’m there and not out sailing,” says David Troup, CEO of Solinus. A windsurfer for the last 30 years, he sometimes hits 44-plus miles per hour and somersaults up to 40 feet over waves.

Troup hauls his gear on business trips and surfs between meetings. An extreme sports omnivore, he also does stand-up surfing, giant slaloming, snowboarding, kiteboarding, skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, sailboating and flying. When he was 15, he raced in the Windsurfer World Championships.

The Skydivers

Dave Afre of Apollo Innovations skydiving in Florida.

Dave Afre of Apollo Innovations skydiving in Florida.

The challenge of jumping out of a plane 13,000 feet in the sky and plummeting to earth at 160 miles per hour has helped Dave Afre of Apollo Innovations “sweat the small stuff and overcome those self-limiting beliefs we hold, sometimes.”

Peter Shankman skydiving over New Paltz, New York.

Peter Shankman skydiving over New Paltz, New York.

Entrepreneur Peter Shankman has skydived over 220 times, all over the world, “whenever I’m in a city with a drop zone. Sadly, it’s never enough.” He’s also completed 13 marathons and seven Olympic distance triathlons.

Brandon Radcliff of Specialty Watercraft skydiving in Florida.

Brandon Radcliff of Specialty Watercraft skydiving in Florida.

As Brandon Radcliff, president of Specialty Watercraft, makes his safety check before a jump, he says to himself, “No. 1. Gravity is non-negotiable; No. 2. For everything else, see No. 1.”

The “New Golf” of Silicon Valley

Sergey Brin has kiteboarded along a 40-mile path in San Francisco Bay and built a sailboat that can be kite-powered. Larry Page kiteboard-raced against Sir Richard Branson between two British Virgin Islands. The Google founders’ passion for kiteboarding has encouraged a wave of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to begin kiteboarding, one of the newest of the extreme sports.

Bill Tai, a partner in Charles River Ventures, who converted to kiteboarding from windsurfing 10 years ago, is another Pied Piper for the sport. He has drawn hundreds of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs into kiteboarding. They include: Trip Adler, Jared Friedman and Tikhon Bernstam, co-founders of Scribd; Josh Williams, CEO of Gowalla; Johann Schleier-Smith, co-founder of Tagged; Ed Baker, CEO of Friend.ly, Tim Hickman, CEO of Hard Candy Cases, Susan Coelius Keplinger, COO of Triggit; and Scott Painter, CEO of TrueCar.

Among its enthusiasts, kiteboarding has become known as the new golf of Silicon Valley.

The list keeps growing. Tai’s annual kiteboarding and tech networking camp drew more than 150 founders and executives of high-tech, startup companies in 2010, compared with 80 in 2009. He also created a snow-kiting camp that was attended by three dozen participants this year.

Among its enthusiasts, kiteboarding has become known as the new golf of Silicon Valley. Scott Painter of TrueCar, who has attended the kiteboarding camp for the last four years, says he was kiting before it became a sport. Nearly 20 years ago, he was “an odd sight, sand-surfing down the beach in Santa Monica in my Army boots.”

Elsewhere, Brian Beveridge of Greenridge Business Systems, kite-skis on frozen lakes in Canada in temperatures hitting -40 degrees, including wind chill. He ranked second in a 2010 Worldwide Speed Kiting contest, reaching a speed of 55.3 knots. Other active kiteboarding executives include Dave Morin, CEO of Path; Ken Howery, managing partner of Founders Fund; Konstantin Othmer, CEO of SpeedPad.com; and Jim Pitkow, CEO of Attributor. Sir Richard Branson tried to kiteboard across the English Channel for his 60th birthday, but didn’t make it because of bad weather.

Kiteboarding is not for the faint of heart. Once Tai was kitesurfing under the Golden Gate Bridge and broke his kite. Tangled in his lines, he was swept out into the Pacific Ocean and had to be rescued by the Coast Guard. “I thought I was toast,” Tai says. Undeterred, he was back on his board a few days later.

CEO Ed Baker of Friend.ly kiteboarding in the Bay Area.

CEO Ed Baker of Friend.ly kiteboarding in the Bay Area.

Bill Tai of Charles River Ventures jumps as high as 25 feet when snowkiting.

Bill Tai of Charles River Ventures jumps as high as 25 feet when snowkiting.

TrueCar’s Scott Painter preparing for a day of kite skiing

TrueCar’s Scott Painter preparing for a day of kite skiing.

Susan Coelius Keplinger of Triggit, snowkiting

Susan Coelius Keplinger of Triggit, snowkiting.

How to Reward Top Performers

The old rank-and-yank system pioneered by GE and others has given way to more sophisticated methods of identifying and retaining talent.

What CEOs Need to Know About Hardball Negotiating

The negotiation is moving along nicely and it looks like a deal will be reached -- but suddenly the opposing party makes a stiff demand. What’s going on? You’re encountering a tactic commonly used by hardball negotiators, authorities say. It’s what one of them calls the “hovering pen strategy” and another, the “ninth inning zinger.”

Six Do’s and Don’ts for a Win-Win Negotiation

This continuation of What CEOs Need to Know about Hardball Negotiating explains what to do, and more importantly what not to do, in order to get the outcome you want in tough negotiations.

Extreme CEOs

Being competitive in the C-suite often translates to being competitive on the racetrack (or field, slopes, waves, or air) and these CEOs take their extracurricular activities seriously. These leaders thrive flying jet fighter planes, scaling mountains, skydiving and racing motorcycles.

CEOs Who Work Hard and Play Hard

These business leaders take their leisure time seriously.
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CEO1000

CEO1000 Tracker

From the schools they went to to the types of companies they run, CEO1000 is tracking the trends among the CEOs of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies.

CEO CONFIDENCE INDEX

CEO Outlook Dips Further Amid Midterm Elections

Chief Executive’s most recent reading of CEO confidence in future business conditions slipped from 7 out of 10 in October to 6.9 in November. It was a new low for 2018 as business leaders begin to prepare for a possible downturn ahead.
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BEST & WORST STATES FOR BUSINESS

Best and Worst States For Business

Are you looking to relocate or expand? Evaluate each state's strengths with Chief Executive's 2018 Best & Worst States for Business.

CEO OF THE YEAR

CEO of the Year

Once a year, we celebrate the achievements of a CEO, honored for his or her success in and dedication to business, shareholders and customers.

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