Greg has written and produced over 400 articles, podcasts and interviews focusing on stalking founders, early stage startups and technology and their stories. He is also active as a mentor at Founders Space and the so-called Media Ninja for SF New Tech – the longest running SF meetup where he manages presenter and media relationships. Greg is a former Product Marketing Manager and Regional Business Manager for Japan at Applied Materials. He also holds a position at the Japantown Task Force (JTF) where he consults with Japantown clients on behalf of the JTF in Marketing and Promotion. Greg personally consults and mentors startups and new business ventures in product management, operations and marketing.
The “Wise Up!" Q+A series features insightful interviews with innovators, disruptors, game-changers and leaders across industries that we work with here at Wise Public Relations, could be a client, reporter, influencers, vendor, partner, etc. We'll ask some questions as it pertains to the individual's line of work, and then a few 'softball' questions on the individual's interest outside of work, like travel, food, music, books, etc.
Check out Greg's responses and enjoy!
Who was your favorite manager? and why?
My favorite was a man named Dr. Richard Savage. He was the president of my first startup company and he influenced my direction as an engineer, designer and marketer. He introduced the Good, Fast & Cheap concept. Take any two and the result is the inverse of the third. For example, if you want something Good & Fast - it isn’t going to be cheap. He not only influenced my career and thinking, he also became a lifelong friend. It doesn't get any better than that.
What is your most poignant professional moment?
I still laugh at this in a sick way. My management called me up on the conference room phone (I could tell it had a hollow, cave-like tone) and said “we have an assignment for you. You need to help our largest customer.” Being a helping guy, I naively said “Sure." What that “sure” turned out into a year escapade in Oregon where I basically lived for a year, solving engineering problems for our biggest customer. That stint probably made the corporation $500M to $1B dollars in future orders.
What was the inflection point in your career that led you to your current role?
At a big company, I was a Regional Business Manager for Japan and that was around 2009-2010. I was in a middle management role. (Note to self: Middle Management in a big corporation is a lousy place to be. You are sandwiched between Director who have equity stakes in the company and too senior to be a frontline manager. So, we parted ways and that sent me on the path that I am currently on. I found a gig as a Social Media Manager through a new medium called Twitter). A friend in Osaka saw a tweet from the CEO of this cross-cultural company and that’s how it started. This cross-cultural company was basically a startup. Part of social media is content creation and I got hooked up with SF New Tech (the oldest Meetup in SF). I started streaming video and that is where my love for video blossomed. I noticed the ability to capture people’s product pitches and how they handle questions was fascinating to me. I met the founder of Nerd Stalker, Adolfo Foronda, when he was listening to one of my stream and he asked me if I wanted to do a podcast. I said what is a “podcast.” I quickly found out. I found the love, like Adolfo, of capturing the stories of these entrepreneurs and startup products. And that is what I do today.
What is the most interesting thing about your job?
I feel the most interesting part is the people I meet who are entrepreneurs in start-ups aka just darn smart people. The stories about how they got into their situation and each story behind that is unique but similar. It is that self-similarity amongst all of them that I see daily that amazes me.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
I think I have gratitude for everything that has happened to me in life. Having gratitude has made me very grounded and respect the journey. One of my close and respected friends call me very “Zen.”
What volunteer groups are you associated with?
I am on the board of the SF Japanese American Citizens League - human rights and educational organization. I am the PR/Marketing person for the Cherry Blossom Festival in SF - the largest festival in Japantown serving 200,000 visitors. I am also on the advisory board at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo. Also offer my service in Audio/Visual to our Buddhist temple.
Who are the three people you’d invite to dinner?
(Those who are currently alive)
George Lucas - to learn about film.
Sir Richard Branson - to talk about building Virgin.
Arianna Huffington - to learn about building a media company.
(Those who have passed)
George Washington - to get the inside scoop on the revolution.
A Japanese Shogunate - pick one.
Kukai - who brought Buddhism to Japan.
Boy that would be an interesting table!
What are your best memories of grade school/high school/college/graduate school?
Freakin’ just graduating. Probably Graduating from graduate school when my mom was in the hospital was my most memorable. Worst memories? Graduating graduate school when my mom was seriously ill in the hospital.
Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence on your life?
Tell me about them. My grad school advisor, Dr. Debbie Bloch was a strong influence. She grilled me on my writing. I sucked at writing, so she actually told me, “Greg, don’t even bring another paper to me unless you screened it at the Writing Center.” As I recall, that motivation improved my writing dramatically.
Who has been the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
Back to Dr. Richard Savage above. I worked for him at his startup company and then we became very close friends. Rich and his wife Susie has been a constant friend in my life through all the trials and tribulations. He has never wavered supporting me throughout.