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Monday, February 17, 2020

Executive Insider

CEO Spotlight: Jack Plotkin, CEO at Cardinal Solutions and Harvard Graduate

Jack Plotkin

Jack Plotkin is the founder and CEO of New York-based Cardinal Solutions, an investment and advisory firm focused on mission-driven companies. Throughout his two-decade career, Jack has advised Fortune 500 companies and contributed to technology start-ups, reshaping them in leaders in their fields. Jack is a graduate of Harvard, where he studied economics and computer science.

What are currently the fastest growing trends in the technology industry?

As things are becoming more automated, transparent, and personalized, we are seeing a real focus on data science, AR/VR, AI, and, in the coming years, quantum computing. It’s amazing to see things that were considered science fiction just a decade or two ago now become a part of everyday life. Self-driving cars, digital assistants, machine learning, and virtual reality were fictional when I was growing up – now they are real.

What are some opportunities and challenges that your industry is facing with technology?

The workforce is becoming more globalized, and there is an increase in telecommuting, both of which are an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity here is finding the most talented people in a broader pool. The challenge is that it’s becoming more difficult to create and maintain a company culture and social fabric. One promising trend that maximizes the opportunity while minimizing the challenge is virtual and augmented reality. This means that the future of the office revolves around telecommuting and virtual office visits.

What inspires your vision and ideas towards your work?

I believe that the work we are doing is incredibly exciting and intellectually challenging. We advise business leaders and make game-changing investments that put us in a position to be at the forefront of innovation. The aim is to continue expanding as we generate solutions that have an impact not only in the short term but in the long term as well.

What are the most contributing factors to the success of your Business? What are some of its biggest wins?

One of our biggest strengths is that we have relationships with thought leaders across industries and geographies. It’s a key advantage in the global economy where the difference between failure and success often comes down to execution rather than simply ideas. We have continuously built and nurtured partnerships, and we are seeing the dividends of that strategy daily.

Can you recall the hardest moment during your time at Cardinal Solutions? What did you learn from that experience?

When the company was still in its infancy, we had one very critical client that was facing a series of existential threats. We rolled up our sleeves and focused entirely on their needs and success. This was the right decision not because it worked out, but because it showed our loyalty to our client, which is something that always has and always will define our identity.

How do you make sure that your customers/clients have the best experience?

Our mission is to empower our clients to get to the future faster. This means asking difficult questions and addressing challenges head-on. Evolution can be painful but by being honest, forthright, and transparent, we can ensure that our clients make the most informed decisions possible.

What are some ways in which you motivate others?

When motivating others, I think it is critical to really connect with your audience’s values and highlight how those values relate to the company’s ultimate goals. What is a fundamental truth we can all agree on and how does that truth connect to our objectives? Understanding what your team cares about, what makes them show up to work every day, and what makes them tick is crucial. A mistake I have seen leaders make is projecting their own values onto their teams. Tapping into what drives each team member and relating that to the company’s goal is a more effective path to lasting motivation.

What advice would you give to those within your industry?

Be empathetic and mindful. It is so important to be able to understand the other side without closing off that possibility by prematurely imposing our own agendas – that is the key to finding common truths and rowing in the same direction.


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Anna Papadopoulos
Editor, writer, teacher, consultant. Advocate for plain language, journalism, free speech, and tolerance. Feminist. Based in Sydney, Australia.
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