Evan Cagner is a seasoned CEO and advisor, currently running the company TechBlue. An alumnus of Cornell University, Evan graduated with a dual major in economics and computer science in 1995. During his time at that institution, he was also an active member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
Throughout his professional career, Evan has proven to be extremely savvy with technology. He is a multidisciplinary professional who has created the ability to grow and modernize all areas of business at the various companies that have employed him in his past roles as the chief executive officer and the chief operating officer. Evan’s stated goal is to drive shareholder value in whichever business he heads by creatively accelerating sales, as well as maximizing process and efficiency through bridging technology with the human workforce. He prides himself on always being able to listen to stakeholders and taking decisive action when the situation calls for it.
Evan is a volunteer and a member of the Board of Directors for the Sunrise Association, an organization that helps children suffering from cancer to go to camp each summer. He is also a member of the Cornell University Council and the Red Bear Angels, a venture capital and private equity firm that invests in technology and entrepreneurs that originate from Cornell.
Where did the idea for TechBlue come from?
The idea for TechBlue was inspired by all of my previous business and personal experience. I have been successful at identifying problems even in times of crisis, seeing several moves ahead on the chess board, and tying strategy and gut instinct together to recommend and implement solutions.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am a very early riser. My best thinking occurs early in the morning, mostly because there are no distractions until the rest of the world wakes up. I start every day with a physical workout of some kind. For example, I love to bike, practice yoga, play tennis, and workout with weights. After that, I always try to block time in the day to work on the fundamental operations of the company and then take meetings to work out the current business of the company.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Sometimes ideas require brute force to implement because they do not sit well with others. Those are usually the best ideas. Change for the better can often be uncomfortable. I also find that testing out how different business processes connect with people, and how those people collaborate with each other is usually the best recipe for bringing an idea to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I actually believe that the remote and distributed work trend is exciting for companies and the larger workforce, but it’s important to understand how to harness everything positive about it.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Discipline. The only way a new idea becomes reality is through discipline.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to be more trusting of others in order to help guide me to success, as opposed to thinking I had to do everything all by myself.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Eating healthy food makes you feel mentally and physically stronger and more capable.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Push, push, push. Do not take ‘no’ for an answer until it absolutely is the answer. Sometimes people want to say ‘yes’ and it just takes some more convincing to get them to that point.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
At every opportunity, I expand my network of business contacts. Even if you aren’t in need of a person’s services at the time, you never know when a situation might arise when their friendship could be beneficial. This has happened to me many times over the course of my career.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There was a time in my career that I assumed some of the business ventures I was working on would continue indefinitely. I learned the hard way that nothing is forever. Everything changes. My acceptance of that fact is how I overcame that failure.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would recommend getting into ghost kitchens. If my hunch is right, they will be incredibly popular in five years or so.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spent a little more than $100 taking an important colleague out for a good lunch. The food was delicious, and my colleague and I got a chance to catch up on each others’ lives and careers.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use Calendly all the time. It auto schedules meetings for others to sync up with my calendar. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I heartily endorse The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. It explains how to accomplish big things by breaking them down into small successes. It’s a good book for any executive—or even anyone involved in a project of any description—to read.
What is your favorite quote?
“No idea is dumb.” I truly believe that sentiment to be true. However, I don’t think that quote is attributable to any one person, though.
- Discipline is key to achieving anything worthwhile.
- It pays great dividends to eat healthy.
- Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer until ‘no’ is absolutely the answer.
- Trust in others to aid in your success.
- Don’t assume that your current venture will continue indefinitely.
- No idea is dumb.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.