Building any company is the same as building a team, and its CEO is a leader, visionary, coach and deal maker. A good CEO understands their own strengths and surrounds themselves with strong competent people who can collaborate and work together. What differentiates the company from every other company? Does the company need to raise capital? That’s the CEO! The CEO has the vision, and sets the moral compass as well as the business compass. Meet Gary Olson who advocates that the CEO makes or tears down the company, and believes “I don’t need to know everything; I just need to know who to call!” Principal of GHO Group—an independent consulting firm that specializes in planning and designing media production facilities for broadcast and cable companies, corporations, educational institutions, and cultural organizations—Gary is a thought leader, industry expert, published author and active practitioner in IP based broadcast design.
A Humble Beginning
Gary has an eclectic background and is one of the few people who has never been a full time employee for anyone else in his professional career. Instead, he has always worked for himself building his own businesses. Gary’s career has been spent solving interesting challenges that typically bring together computer and video technologies. He was involved with Teletext as it was being introduced in the US. Moreover, he was on the team that created the first interactive satellite video conference network and launched the first satellite business television network. While he was engaged launching a satellite transmission facility and part of the team launching the first video fiber network, he was asked to design a new shopping network.
Gary used this opportunity to start his first company. Along with a smart team, Gary began designing and launching new satellite and television cable networks. In the early days of Internet, the team designed the first live cable news network with a person doing real time on air research. As Gary’s company continued to grow, they received requests from visionaries starting television networks in countries that did not have commercial television, but only state TV. They designed and launched the first commercial television in Trinidad and successfully designed, built and launched new national television networks in Czech, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. Each of their projects presented unique technology challenges.
A Renowned Leader in Technology Implementation
Gary believes his company attracts visionary thinkers who have interesting new ideas in media and are looking for a technology group that understands and can build their ideas. GHO Group uses its broad experience to benefit its clients, sharing best practices in design, addressing budgets and schedules with special attention to crafting the process to assure best results for its clients’ needs. GHO is a recognized leader in technology implementation. Its design philosophy is based on sustainability and the understanding that this type of opportunity and investment has to be “future-proof.”
GHO has been providing unique, practical and cost-effective solutions to the challenges faced in building new facilities or implementing new technology strategies. GHO builds the bridge between technology and business, working with a new vision and converting it into a reality. The firm manages the expectations of senior management and stakeholders throughout the execution of a project.
The GHO team brings a unique blend of experience to the job: highly skilled professionals with a foundation based on real-world applications. With a portfolio of over US$950M in media based communication, television, telecommunications, and internet related technology projects managed, the GHO Team applies risk analysis, program and project management and tight fiscal management to clients’ project.
As a strategic adviser and project portfolio manager, Gary identifies the requirements to achieve the goals and resources that will bring the vision to reality. He works closely with an organization, using their internal resources, preferred service providers and approved contractors. GHO functions as a senior project administrator coordinating the implementation process and strategy.
An Accidental Entrepreneur
While one may imagine from whom he draws his inspiration, Gary proudly says it’s from his father. “My father was a small business man. When business was good he would complain how busy he was. When business was bad, he’d complain how bad it was. I once asked “I understand when business is bad, but how can you complain when business is good.” His response was “You will understand when you have your own business!”,” Gary recalls.
Gary says he did not choose this path, rather it chose him! There were thoughts that he would continue in the family business until one day the phone rang. Gary was asked to join an innovative program in the NY City high school system, establishing a video production class, teaching and running the studio. “At the end of the school year the phone rang again – and, the phone continued to ring and I kept saying yes. Each call was a new challenge and typically something innovative that had not yet been done,” he adds.
Encouraging and Empowering People
Gary believes in recognizing strengths in people and encouraging and empowering their development. This creates a team that solves problems. Letting go is hard! Someone may do it differently, but different is not wrong. Talking about one of his memorable incidents, Gary recalls days when his responsibility on a central European project was to help the new local senior management. He explained that a large organization was like a pyramid, if you are at the top you can see what’s happening across the organization and manage. If the pyramid is upside down because the manager is also doing everything, they are crushed by the weight of the organization. His colleagues embraced the concept and went on to become successful managers.
Continuously Reinventing Every Step of the Way
When asked to advise the budding entrepreneurs, Gary replies, “Entrepreneurship is doing everything that needs to be done to be successful. Behaving like an executive when there’s no real business is a recipe for failure. Not all entrepreneurs make good CEO’s. Know your own strengths—maybe the right thing to do is hire one.”
While concluding, Gary says he has been accused of re-inventing GHO and himself every few years. GHO is once again going through change now. This change is moving Gary into artificial intelligence and a new industry sector of Public Safety and National Security. GHO is applying its extensive media knowledge to an industry overwhelmed by video and struggling to analyze it for useable information in the prevention of incidents and attacks.
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