FAILURE: Accept. Learn. Overcome.
FAILURE: Accept. Learn. Overcome.

Phoenix Rising Summit Events

2016 Phoenix Rising Summit - Learn from Failure to Create Success

9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN

Previous Summit Events

2015 Phoenix Rising Summit

Carlson School of Mananagement, University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN
Speaker List with Video Links

Matt Hunt

CEO Stanford & Griggs and Co-convener of The Phoenix Rising Event


Welcome and The Reailty of Failure: Data, Emotion, & Different Geographies  


Many organizations prefer not openly share the details or frequency of their failed initiatives. Through some research we are able to piece together a sense of how frequently failure is the outcome and what we should expect from a success rate for our innovation initiatives. When failure is a much more common outcome that most of us would expect, planning for only success can have dire consequences to both the individual and the organization. By addressing this fact upfront we can learn to better deal with the emotions that surround failure and understand that these responses can vary greatly across geographies.

Stanford & Griggs is a Strategy and Innovation Consulting Firm. Matt has over 20 years of business and technology experience with large companies, small companies and non-profit organizations.  Matt consults with organizations large and small on building internal innovation capabilities and delivering innovation initiatives.  He also writes and speaks on the issues surrounding innovation, risk and the role of failure. See more on his blog at



Rajiv Tandon, Ph.D.

Entrepreneur and Co-convener of The Phoenix Rising Event


Opening: Failure is an Integral Part of Innovation, The Work Ahead, and Closing: Next Steps

Success comes from doing many things well, Failure; on the other hand can evolve from any one of a multitude of things that go awry. Failure, like an inoculation taken in small doses, steers our enterprise towards an ultimate success. This conference is designed to meet an unmet need in the area of Innovation.


Rajiv is a serial entrepreneur who has been involved with EdTech since its inception, including Adayana, an Inc 500/5000 fastest growing companies for five years in a row.  Twin City Business Magazine listed him as one of the “200 Minnesotans You Should Know” for his focus on “EduTech.” He is in the process of launching another venture.


He held several positions at National Car Rental including corporate VP also serving as President of the American Car Rental Association.

As a Bush Leadership Fellow, his doctoral dissertation became the basis of the earliest and very successful program in Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas where he was a tenured Professor. He was awarded the Edwin M. Appel Prize by the Price-Babson Program, Boston "for bringing entrepreneurial vitality to academia".



Jonathan I. Freed

Consultant, Social Media


My Experiences: Riding on the Shoulders of Others


What do you do when your direct marketing agency that grew rapidly over 20 years is dissolved? This presentation will share the candid story of that failure, the lessons learned and how it changed the outlook on success and the future.


Jonathan has over 25 years of building and leading traditional and online operations through steady growth and market expansion. He currently consults on the use of Web 2.0 tools using social media to help enhance operations, community development, user experience, design and branding.  Through coaching and consulting, Jonathan has produced web solutions, social networking plans, ecommerce, and social media training to clients such as Best Buy, Digital Wagon Train, Nice Signatures, Children’s Hospital Minneapolis and the American Refugee Committee.


Jonathan has also consulted with Helix Health, the first US genomic medical practice, creating live Clinicasts (webcasts) to physicians, patients and other healthcare professionals, and producing training videos for third world nurse practitioners and midwives.



Kari Kehr

Intrapreneur / Social Entrepreneur


My Experiences: Building a Sustainable Nonprofit Requires More Than Passion

This presentation is about the difficulty of shutting down a nonprofit that you founded to help single people financially during their battle with cancer.  For Kari this was a personal journey after she lost a close friend to the disease and saw firsthand the stress and anxiety that the medical bills and expenses created.  Fuel Your Fight was her mission to help others in similar circumstances but she quickly learned that in the non-profit world you need far more than passion for a cause and an innate ability to raise money. Kari continues to support other nonprofit organizations that help in the fight against cancer.

Kari has led a diverse career including creative advertising, account management, strategy development and innovation. She leveraged her skills within Best Buy, Target Corporation, Sony Electronics, Windog Consulting and now Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. When multiple people in her life were diagnosed with cancer, she realized she needed to do something big to make a difference in the fight against cancer. She has completed five 3-day 60-mile walks for breast cancer and now has moved to supporting LiveStrong, an organization that helps people living with all types of cancers. To date, Kari has raised over $150,000 for cancer organizations. Kari holds a B.A. in Design from St. Cloud State and a mini-MBA in business from University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN



Maureen Ramirez

Policy & Research Director, Growth & Justice


My Experiences: Resiliency and Reinvention

This presentation will share the story of failure and personal crises with radical honesty. These life events while making up a complicated personal narrative also provide myriad opportunities to learn the practices of empathy, tolerating ambiguity and asking for help. It is a story of resiliency and reinvention.


Growth & Justice is a communications and advocacy think-tank in St Paul.  Maureen provides policy recommendations and strategies to make Minnesota’s economy more just and more prosperous.


She earned a master’s degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from Marquette University. She was awarded a Bush Leadership Fellowship in 2014 and is enrolled in the Executive MBA program at the Carlson School of Management. In 2007 she became the first Latina elected to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota.  



Bill Wilder

Intrapreneur / Entrepreneur


My Experiences: Intrapreneurship; Similar challenges, Different Landscape

This presentation is about the learning from a major failure within a large company that led to the successful turnaround of another major business within the same company.  It will share the challenges of intrapreneurship and difficulties of launching a start-up inside a multi-billion dollar corporation.


Bill is a seasoned operational and corporate leader.  Most recently Bill was the Chief Operating Officer for First Advantage, the world’s largest background screening organization.  Prior to this, Bill held various leadership roles within Best Buy including his last three years orchestrating the turnaround Best Buy for Business’ direct sales division.  Bill is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, has a MA degree in Acquisition Management from Webster’s University and a BS in Mathematics from Greensboro College.  Bill is also a proud veteran having served from 1990 - 1998.  He is currently working on the creation of a new business scheduled to launch in August of this year.



Brandon Rowberry

Managing Director 7RVentures and Managing Partner of Maverick Partners


The Landscape: Building a Sustainable Innovation Culture

This presentation will share what it takes to build a sustainable innovation culture based on broad experiences of creating, investing, launching and growing dozens of businesses generating billions of dollars.


Maverick Partners is a private equity firm focused on educating business owners how to raise capital and 7R Ventures invests in promising leaders/companies in the healthcare space.


Previous to his current businesses he was the Vice President of Innovation Strategy with UnitedHealth Group where he was leading enterprise-wide innovation and management of the internal venture fund for the (Fortune 20) $125 billion healthcare company. While at UHG he was responsible for growing a broad healthcare focused portfolio. Prior to UHG Brandon developed, launched and ran new businesses for other Fortune 500 corporations (Circuit City, Hallmark Cards, Honeywell, McKinsey & Company) as well as starting a few of his own. He also led the development of strategies and capabilities to enable those companies to innovate and grow more effectively.  His recent appearances on ABC, NBC, FOX and other news outlets underscore his commitment to driving long-term growth via great leaders.



Diane Rucker

Strategy and Entrepreneurship Consultant


The Landscape: Mapping of Failures

There are many (many!) ways that a venture fails.  Based upon broad based research of failures, this presentation will present the most common ways to screw up an enterprise. It will map those common causes of failure to the six themes of the entrepreneurial process. The objective being not only to prevent these  situations from happening but a conscious effort  to fail faster to move on to another better idea.  Sometimes, failing quickly is the right path!


Diane is an expert on regional ecosystem development.  She has extensive experience in technology, and has worked with the automotive industry and the data storage industry in design engineering, operations management, product management, and technology transfer.  She has just completed a joint project with the MIT Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship and the Harvard Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness.


Diane has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Academy of Science, and has held various leadership positions on the board of the MIT Club of Minnesota.



Don Hall

Author: Generation of wealth


The Landscape: Failure is not Forever, Neither is Success!

Of course success is possible after an earlier failure;but the reverse is also common.  In our success celebrating society, we often ignore or downplay the perils of failure after a success. This presentation will illustrate this truth with many examples from local history. The lesson learnt: In building a new enterprise nothing can be taken for granted.  Setbacks and Failures serve the purpose of ongoing vigilance in a field filled with uncertainty and risk.  


Don has been involved with High Tech Computing industry from its earliest days.  His latest book Generation of Wealth chronicles the history of innovation and successes as well as failures of companies and larger than life personalities in the Upper Midwest.


He has served in various financial and administrative positions at companies such as Control Data, Data 100 and First National Bank of Minneapolis. He has also been involved in the entrepreneurial scene as a board member as well as an investment advisor.



Kim Valentini

Founder, Smile Network International


Building the Right Mindset: Listening to the Little Voice Inside

What do you do when your high-powered corporate executive career comes to an abrupt halt? This is a presentation of a gut wrenching setback and subsequent decision to take your life in a new direction. It means deep soul searching, learning to dream big, taking risks and listening to that little voice inside to identify your life’s purpose.


Kim is Founder of Smile Network International that has 24 medical surgical sites on four continents. More than 3,000 children have received the gift of life-altering surgeries. Eleven years into this journey, her travels have taken her to the far corners of the earth and off the beaten path. She has met foreign dignitaries, traveled to remote poverty-stricken villages, climbed mountains, slept on dirt floors, celebrated with many and cried with a few. She has met thousands of people along the way and her life has been blessed and is profoundly richer for having crossed paths with so many remarkable human beings. One hundred and forty-four passport stamps later, she is a different person as a result of this work.



David Collins

Vice President & General Manager, TRACOM Group


Building the Right Mindset: The Resilient Personality

High level of personal stress has become the new norm. A failure or setback can accentuate the situation even more. When people are feeling overwhelmed they are unable to cope with the adversity and are often paralyzed by inaction. Based on the latest research on brain function, this presentation will focus on techniques entrepreneurs and innovators can use to improve their own resiliency and that of their organization. It will provide practical advice to not just bounce back from the inevitable challenges but bounce forward to even greater success.


David began a career in the learning and development field working with a number of startups and early-stage companies.


David joined The TRACOM Group in 2003 to lead the sales effort and later bought it from its corporate parent, with two partners. The company is a more nimble organization with a track record of innovation and product development.

He is the co-author of the SOCIAL STYLE & Versatility Facilitator Handbook.  In recent years, David has been a featured writer, speaker and expert on how mindset affects individual and organizational performance.   Most recently, he led a webinar on Building Resilient Leaders for



DeAnna Murphy
President of Strengths Strategy

Building the Right Mindset: Mining Failures for Elements That Can Springboard to Success

Within every failure there are many mini-successes; things that you did right, things that worked. These mini-successes can be used to envision future possibilities.  This presentation will leverage the strengths-based tool of Appreciative Inquiry to help you reframe your failure, identify your own success patterns, understand the value of those shining elements and leverage them to become a springboard for the next possibility.


DeAnna is President of Strengths Strategy, a leading strengths-based and strengths application organization with strategic partnerships developing in 20 different countries.  Strengths Strategy activates individuals/teams to effectively apply strengths to increase innovation, mitigate weaknesses, solve problems, and maximize productivity; consequently bringing disruptive innovation. DeAnna is an international speaker, author, and global leadership development and team strategist with over 7,000 hours coaching and facilitating experiential learning programs. She has led psychometrics and curriculum design teams, including their coach certification program.


DeAnna is an ICF member, with advanced degrees and certifications from Brigham Young University, the Coaches Training Institute, FranklinCovey, and the Gallup organization. She served on Gallup's Strengths Advisory Panel, as well as directed the Strengths Based Leadership Institute. Her first book is scheduled for 2015.


Dan Cohen, M.D.

Co-Founder, BodySound Technologies, Inc.


Building the Right Mindset: Get Out of Your Way!”

This presentation will cover some rarely discussed neurologic and psychological constructs that sheds light on what’s underneath our ego. It will pose questions for you to determine if you are presently operating from the “right mindset” and are positioned for success.


Dan is a Neurologist and a serial entrepreneur. He co-founded Round River Research Corp. to study the healing and psycho-spiritual effects of synchronized sounds, vibrations and electromagnetic fields. He is the inventor of BodySound™ technology introduced in 2013. He holds numerous patents related to EEG signal processing, physiologic analysis algorithms and additional utility patents related to synchronized sound, vibration and electromagnetic fields and their effect on the body and mind.


Previously, he co-founded CNS until it was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2006 for $556 million. CNS, a developer and marketer of hi-tech medical products (brainwave monitors and sleep disorders diagnostic equipment) was best known for its consumer products, the Breathe Right® nasal strip and FiberChoice™ chewable fiber supplement.



Hassan Syed

Founder & CEO at Bir Ventures International


Resources: Ecosystem Services for Innovators

No man is an island.  An entrepreneur can avoid failure and achieve success by drawing upon a broad ecosystem of tools and supporters. This presentation has a model that provides development tools and mentor links to aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators.  These are based upon best practices that have been developed for the various segments but have been brought together in one place.


Bir Ventures is a technology incubator that brings ideas to reality. Using lean startup practices, Hassan has led a collaborative network of professionals from diverse backgrounds to develop tools to launch new products in the market.


He led a global team on the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) project that currently is in use by 800+ zoos worldwide. He is a technologist who worked as the Chief Information Officer at International Species Information System.


Charley Grady

Financial Consultant


Resources: Caveat Emptor: Bullet Proof your Enterprise

There is an enormous gap between the knowledge and information that is available to an entrepreneur and the investors seeking to invest in them. This asymmetry in information enables predatory investors to insert clauses and terms that, while seeming innocuous, can prove fatal to the unwitting entrepreneur.  This presentation will detail a few such offensive clauses so that the entrepreneur can “bullet proof” their organization.


Charley has long experience in finance, marketing, and operations. He worked at National Car Rental Systems, Inc during its growth years as well as several startups. He was one of the founders of Adayana.  During his tenure he has collected a number of tactics predatory investors use against start-up entrepreneurs.  He is presently helping young companies “bullet proof” their organization against such practices.


Charley holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Macalester College and an MBA in Finance and Computer Systems from University of Rochester in Rochester, NY.



2016 Summit - Learn from Failure to Create Success


Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

9:00 AM - 6:00 PM


Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN



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