Apr 19, 2017
John Kelley, Chair and CEO of CereScan discusses his
early career, and how the Xerox sales and leadership
him for a lifetime of leadership growth and challenges. He
discusses turnarounds, startups, ethics, culture, team support,
interdependence, and the power of delegation and trust. He also
stresses the importance of diversity of expertise, and the work
ethic. Finally, he
discusses leadership in the field of brain imaging, and the
application of big data to inform more effective treatment for
severe brain injury and neurological disease.
[2:20] John went to MU, then was drafted into the
Army, and served as a radio operator. In the business world, he
received great sales and leadership training at Xerox, where he
stayed for 11 years. He used the principles he learned at Xerox,
later, at several companies, and now at CereScan.
[5:07] Through his initial Xerox training, John found
confidence in himself, and an ability to take on conflict and new
things. After seven years in sales, developing interpersonal
skills, he felt ready for a leadership role. For five years he was
in what he calls, retrospectively, management practice. In the
third chapter of his development, he took on big challenges such as
turnarounds, both financial and ethical.
[9:43] John describes how to avoid ethical problems
by doing little things right every day, making course corrections,
and encouraging interdependence. Good people do not let people
down. The collective wisdom of the group ends up helping out each
individual. The team is important, under the right leader.
[13:45] Leadership is doing a lot of small things
consistently well, around the big things. John writes hand-written
notes to people, and gives and asks for feedback as quickly as
possible. Prick small problems before they become big ones. Ask,
“What could we have done better?” It’s extremely important to have
a culture of “we.” John shares a story where he could have cashed
in, but didn’t.
[20:50] John believes in letting poor performers go,
and hiring winners. Good people win. They should be diverse and
have different opinions. John goes out of his way to have the right
people on the bus. At CereScan, and on their board, there are “no
jerks allowed.” Make sure you have high-performing teams, and
delegate to them.
[24:28] John discusses the variety of brain medical
professionals, and the difficulty of the problems they attempt to
solve within their silos. So many problems are missed. John
explains how the CereScan methodology was developed, examining a
broad range of patient issues, with the best data scientists in
Colorado, to find neurological bases of many apparently
psychological issues, for optimal treatment.
[32:11] John talks about the cost savings, and
world-wide accessibility, of migrating the data to the secure
Amazon Cloud. The more doctors contribute to the data, the better
is the information available. This will give doctors and their
patients around the world, access to the world’s greatest brain
analytic data, without traveling to specialty research
[35:22] John discusses the tech meltdown of 2000,
which sent many C-level executives to prison, and the more recent
banking recession, and where boards went wrong. Boards should
include diversity, bona-fide CFOs, GMs, etc. John describes his
experiences with great boards. You need to have a collection of
people with different perspectives, including a knowledge of
[39:43] John played baseball at MU. He describes his
thoughts on teams, and tells a story about the need always to be
prepared before you are called to play.
[42:11] Having the best arm in the Big 8 doesn’t mean
you are ready for the Major Leagues. See where you stand relative
to the gold standard. Look in the mirror realistically about your
John A. Kelley, Jr. has been the Chair and CEO of CereScan, a
functional brain diagnostics company headquartered in Denver,
Colorado since 2009. Previously, John served as the Chairman,
President, and Chief Executive Officer of McDATA Corporation, until
its acquisition by Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. in 2007.
Prior to McDATA, he served as Executive Vice President of Networks
at Qwest Communications International after it acquired US West.
His tenure at US West included President of Wholesale Markets,
Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Large Business and
Government Accounts, and President of the Federal Systems Group.
Prior to US West, he was an Area President and a Vice President and
General Manager at Mead Corporation.
Mr. Kelley has been a member of the board of
directors of Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ), and Emulex Corporation (NYSE).
His private company board work has included, Aztek Networks, Stored
IQ, Circadence Corporation and 3 Leaf Networks.
Mr. Kelley has been a frequent keynote speaker
focusing on technology, leadership, best practices management, and
corporate ethics on a local and a national level.
Mr. Kelley holds a B.S. in business management from
the University of Missouri, St. Louis. He served in the U.S. Army
from 1970 to 1972.