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CEO Spotlight

CEO Spotlight: Dr. Apollo Emeka of Apollo Strategy Group

Dr. Apollo Emeka

Can you share with us the story of how you came to be a Green Beret? 

Dr. Apollo Emeka: I wanted to be a part of a military unit that I felt could make the biggest impact in protecting America, but in a way that didn’t require us to get into large scale, conventional confluence (like sending tens of thousands of troops overseas). I wanted to gain the skills of the most elite soldiers on the planet (my love of Jason Bourne may have played into the decision a little too). Green Berets are all about making big things happen with limited resources, and I wanted to perfect that skill. Making the decision is just the beginning, though.

The first step to becoming a Green Beret is to pass a 3-week selection course that is physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. Of the 500+ soldiers who showed up to my selection class, about 180 of us were selected. From there, I went to airborne school, and then it was on to the Special Forces qualification course. The Q Course, as we called it,  was about 14 months long and included instruction in a foreign language, combat tactics, leadership and survival, and culminated in a month-long realistic exercise. This is when I earned my Green Beret, but it’s not when I stopped learning. Being a member of a high-performance team requires a commitment to never ending growth and development.

With your achievements during your time there, what would you say are the secrets to your success?

Dr. Apollo Emeka: Most of what we are asked to do as Green Berets is incredibly difficult. Our missions forced us to prioritize ruthlessly, plan thoroughly, and prepare meticulously. I learned to work smarter not harder without compromising our outcomes.

Meeting the demands of the mission was always easier when the synergy on the team was the best. I love people and I always focused on creating and maintaining energy within teams that would help us achieve our mission with ease.

Are there any learnings from your time with the military that you found invaluable for your business?

Dr. Apollo Emeka: Absolutely! I learned that most people are capable of way more than they think they are (including me!). So often, the leaders we work with have ambiguous or weak goals. As a Green Beret, I’ve been to countries where we were tasked with making proficient soldiers out of people who lack confidence and resources. These people were transformed by the act of setting and pursuing ambitious goals.

I also learned the power of thinking about the obstacles and limitations most likely to threaten success long before we encounter them. That way, we can develop contingency plans with our clients that help us ensure the success of the desired business outcomes.

And finally, I learned that every problem is a people problem. Building rapport, guiding through change, and forging high-performance teams nearly guarantees success in most instances. It’s a simple task, but not an easy one.

Do you have any advice for people who want to succeed in business?

Dr. Apollo Emeka: At Apollo Strategy Group, we know that success in business is dependent upon the ability to do three things well: Prioritize, Leverage, and Execute.

Prioritizing is all about deciding what big things must be done. Leveraging is all about working smarter, not harder to make the work easier. Executing is all about following through to make sure it gets done. In other words, make it big, make it easy, make it happen.

Can you share with us your beginnings in LA?

Dr. Apollo Emeka: I moved to LA right after my first deployment overseas. I was a high school dropout determined to earn a doctorate and make it into the FBI. I battled my way through community college and eventually made it into the FBI and earned my doctorate from USC. I totally changed gears and quit the FBI when my wife and I built, scaled, and sold a business.

You have great passion for LA. Can you tell us more about that?

Dr. Apollo Emeka: My love for LA was not immediate. It’s an amazing place, but it’s definitely what you make it. It took me nearly a decade to find my true happy place here in Pasadena, just outside the city. It’s where we live, and where our headquarters is.

But I eventually found that every opportunity in the world exists right here, in a ten mile radius. From business, to food, to culture and geography, it’s all here. I really fell in love with the area when I got super intentional about cultivating my networks of my favorite people, places, and things. It helps to have a wife who was born and raised here. Now it’s hard for me to imagine being anywhere else.

Where do you see the direction of minority-led startups that have their roots in LA?

Dr. Apollo Emeka: LA is one of the most diverse places on the planet. It’s the perfect place for minority-led startups because you’re likely to find somebody who looks like you, talks like you, and shares common life experiences who will be eager to help make your startup successful. In addition to the support and opportunities in Los Angeles, there are also an unending number of problems to tackle here. From boredom, to mental health, to the impacts of climate change, to homelessness, the problems here are obvious inspiration to generate innovative market solutions.

Are there any particular projects you would like to see for minority-led startups in the near future?

Dr. Apollo Emeka: I want us to take it all on. Whether it’s in established industries like real estate, or emerging sectors like AI automation and the Metaverse, I want us to tackle it all. Regardless of the age of the problem, I especially want minority-led startups trying things that have never been done before. The unique perspectives of these founders and leaders make them the perfect candidates to drive innovation.

Growing your roots in LA has been instrumental to your success thus far. Can you tell us more about how?

Dr. Apollo Emeka: LA sets a lot of global trends. WHat might be weird in the midwest, is cool in LA. People here are more open minded to ideas that break from the norm. Our approach to building high-performing leaders and teams definitely breaks from the norm. We might’ve had a harder time getting traction in an environment that isn’t used to so much change and… well.. weirdness.

What is your advice for people starting out in LA?

Dr. Apollo Emeka:  Like I said before, LA is what you make it. If you want it, it’s probably no more than a 20 minute drive (and four freeways!) away. So the most important piece of enjoying this area is understanding yourself really well. What lights you up? What types of people do you want to surround yourself with? How do you want to spend your free time? If you can answer these and other questions about yourself, you’re going to love it here.

Have you read?
How Adopting New Technologies Can Help Improve Employees’ Job Satisfaction by Nyasha Gutsa.
3 Essential Aspects of Meaningful Working Partnerships by Timothy M. Franz, Ph.D.
Stefanos Sifandos’ Philosophy on Life, Career, and Relationship Success.
Commercial Executives’ Smartest Investment: What They Already Have by Dave Irwin.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Spotlight - CEO Spotlight: Dr. Apollo Emeka of Apollo Strategy Group
Anna Papadopoulos
Anna Papadopoulos is a senior money, wealth, and asset management reporter at CEOWORLD magazine, covering consumer issues, investing and financial communities + author of the CEOWORLD magazine newsletter, writing about money with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. You can follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or connect on LinkedIn for musings on money, wealth, asset management, millionaires, and billionaires. Email her at