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IAM1863 – Innovator and Author Shares About Resiliency to Community Leaders and Healthcare Advocates

Podcast Interview with Howard Brown

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:
In this episode of IAMCEO Podcast, Howard Brown, an entrepreneur, author, mentor, stage IV cancer survivor, and international bridge-builder, discusses his journey, experiences, and the resilience that drove him to be an innovation leader and healthcare advocate.
  • CEO Story: Howard's life journey changed direction when he attended entrepreneurship school. He built his foundation at NCR, a major training company, and then dived into the start-up environment. A self-proclaimed “tech guy”, Howard enjoys innovating and monetizing ideas.
  • Business Service: Howard focuses on healthcare and mentoring.
  • Secret Sauce: Howard credits his resilience and ability to look at things differently as the key to success. He emphasizes the significance of sharing hope amid the prevailing darkness in the world.
  • CEO Hack: Howard suggests cutting out negativity and finding a “happy place” where one is stress-free, to help with forward progress.
  • CEO Nugget: His advice is to lead with kindness, which would subsequently earn people’s respect.
  • CEO Defined: For Howard, a CEO is a leader of people who ensures they buy into his vision and then encourages them to make it happen.
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Howard Brown 00:00

There's moments that you, in leadership that you have to, have all different types of qualities. But I think a really important quality is to lead with kindness. If you lead with kindness, they're not going to get any hurt. You got to be strict sometimes and you got to be demanding, but you do it with kindness.

It makes all the sense in the world. And you earn people's respect that way. And you become a leader that you should be. So that's my nugget.

Intro 00:23

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the IAMCEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:50

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. And if you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year.

We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them. Business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, or what I like to call the CB nation, architects who are looking to level up their organizations this month, we are focused on leadership management and coaching.

When we think of leadership management and coach, we often think of doing all of the things, but often it's a person that's able to build up their team. That's able to cultivate a creative and innovative culture so that people can excel and actually be their own leaders. So that's why this month we're focusing on those three big topics because they make a huge impact on the organizations that we're part of.

Now, you'll hear some of those topics this month, of course, some really great perspectives on how people are even defining leadership, which I think is extremely exciting. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the IAMCEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is from the I am CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Howard Brown of Howard, it's great to have you on the show.

Howard Brown 02:09

Awesome. So glad to be here on this lovely fall day.

Gresham Harkless 02:12

Yes, excited to have you on and talk about all the awesome things that you're doing and your book and so many phenomenal stories and impact that you've been able to have. So, before we jumped into that, I went to read a little bit more about Howard. So you hear about some of those awesome things.

And Howard is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, two-time stage for cancer patient. survivor, international bridge-builder and mentor. He shares the keys to leading a resilient life that drives successful business innovators, community leaders and health care advocates.

Howard shares the values of survivorship for cancer in life and mentorship as leadership and entrepreneurship of all kinds. And Howard is the author of Shining Brightly, a memoir of resilience and hope by a two time cancer survivor, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Interfaith Peacemaker.

Howard, again excited to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community.

Howard Brown 03:01

I am and I'm just Howard. I'm here to motivate, educate and inspire.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:06

Oh, let's make it happen then, Howard. I absolutely love it. So I guess I know I touched on a little bit when I read your bio. I know we talked a little bit offline, but I wanted to rewind the clock here a little more on how you guys started with all the awesome things you're working on.

Howard Brown 03:17

So as far as my career or the book?

Gresham Harkless 03:20

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Career and what led you to the book, because I know the book is part of, it's part of your memoir, correct?

Howard Brown 03:25

It is my whole life. So, yeah, I absolutely. So, I grew up outside of Boston and just public schools and have a twin sister, and that kind of, that's important a little bit later.

But really the thing that changed the trajectory of my life was Babson College. Babson College is the number one school for entrepreneurship, And I really hit my lane there. I was going to a liberal arts school. I transferred in and I made optimized my time at Babson to learn.

And at that time in the late eighties, you came out of Babson. You joined a big training program at one of the big computer companies. I joined NCR corporation, and then you built your foundation. And then once AT&T bought NCR, I jumped into the startup game. I'm a technology startup guy. I want to be able to innovate and make an idea, monetize it and basically bring it out to the markets.

Gresham Harkless 04:16

Nice. I definitely appreciate you sharing that and especially hearing that journey. I love how, again, sometimes people get those opportunities and sometimes, they have them, but they don't take advantage of them. Sounds like you've been able to do that.

Howard Brown 04:27

Absolutely. So, entrepreneurship takes many flavors, shapes and kinds, and you just have to be able to understand how your business works, how it basically markets, how the engineering talks to customer service, talks to sales. It's a team sport. Building a company is a team sport, and that's what I learned most.

Gresham Harkless 04:45

Yeah, absolutely. And I imagine from, going through the journey of the startup world as well to probably taught a lot about, the nuances, the different aspects of, running a business, growing a business, making sure that, comes to fruition, I guess you could say.

Howard Brown 04:59

It takes determination. It takes a dream, but it also takes mentorship. It takes some lucky breaks. If you're raising money for a raw startup and you got to put your life on the line and you got to be able to sell others to write checks in your favor. And that's not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of fortitude.

Gresham Harkless 05:20

Yeah, absolutely. Could you take us through a little bit more on what you read about in your book and, how you've learned so much from there?

Howard Brown 05:26

Sure. Sure. So, in Silicon Valley in the nineties, we're still in dial-up modem here. All right. We're still in landlines. Cell phones were getting a little more popular. The flip phone internet bandwidth was still, 28 modems and then growing from there we didn't have, 3g, 4g, 5g networks.

So bandwidth was a constraint at that time. And so we were learning, it was web one O., mobile phones were coming a little later. I said, we're living in the Sony Walkman. So you under different constraints today, we're digital. And we just think it all magically happens on a cloud and, bang, you're in business and I have a website up two seconds later.

That's not how it all worked, but still the pace is fast. Who, matters who, matters. So Silicon Valley and that network is really important because you need to leverage that network to get to certain partnerships, raise funds, be able to go to market correctly. So, all those life skills I learned a Babson came into play, and you have to be able to be prepared to actually be disappointed and be told no.

And pick yourself up and we all get knocked down for various reasons and we'll get into my health situation and all that. I got knocked down more than most, but getting knocked down in business, you've got to be able to put a bandaid on it and get up to fight another day.

And that takes real, real resilience and great learning. And that's life learning. Some of that's not school book learning. That's real-life learning.

Gresham Harkless 06:50

Yeah. And a lot of times, that's where the true learning happens. I think they says, the thing about life is you get the, I guess the test first and then you get the lesson later.

And a lot of times you're not necessarily able to prepare for that like you can in school.

Howard Brown 07:04

Yeah, really cool experiences. I met Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn before LinkedIn was LinkedIn, met the Google guys and they didn't even have the best search engine in 1996. And that was a company called Alta Vista with the Digital Equipment Corporation, but they were smart and they leveraged things that they didn't have and they brought priority placement and to the market.

There were so many search engines and look who won the war, they did, right? And there were many social networks before Facebook. MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook won that war. But it's just truly amazing. I was living in a pretty heady time, and it was just fast-moving. Almost too fast-moving. We were sprinting.

And life's a marathon, business needs to be a marathon to profitability and community service. We were sprinting for sure.

Gresham Harkless 07:48

Yeah, absolutely. And that, I guess impacted some of your health and some of the things that happened. Is that correct?

Howard Brown 07:55

It did. So as you mentioned in my bio, I got struck down by stage four cancer twice in my life. I am blessed, lucky and grateful to be alive.

And once when I was 23 coming out of school and starting my first job with NCR corporation, I had about a year or two in, I got promoted. And I noticed a little bump on my cheek and long story short, I got diagnosed with stage four T cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and told that I didn't have very good if I can make it.

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And I was failing all my chemotherapies. And I'm cutting the story way down. You have to buy the book because of the deeds are in there. But my twin sister gave me her bone marrow lottery ticket. Miracle number one. Her bone marrow saved my life. I had tons of chemo, tons of full body radiation, and I survived.

A death sentence really. And I came out and out of that and I moved to California. So basically rebuild, repair, get some sunshine, some waves, and the west coast. And that's where I basically built Humpty Dumpty version 1. 0 all over again.

I had to build my confidence again, my emotional strength, my physical strength, my financial situation and relationships. And that makes you resilient. That makes you mentally tough. And I embraced all of that.

Gresham Harkless 09:05

Yeah, that makes so much sense. And I almost feel like that's part of your secret sauce and having those experiences and being able to shine brightly and to be able to see that is, I'm a big believer and it sounds like you might be too that life, a lot of times things that happen sometimes it's the perspective that you have after things happen and sometimes even when you're going through it and have that resilience to shine brightly.

As you said so well, sometimes it's just being able to maybe look at things in a different way or understand as I like to say, things don't happen to me that happen something for me.

Howard Brown 09:32

My last chapter is called Sharing Hope. And we can share a hug and now outside of COVID, you can share love, you can share a coffee, but sharing hope is what we need because there are a lot of things in darkness out there in the world, war in Ukraine, shootings at schools, right? Maybe it's Elon Musk taking over Twitter and it depends where you feel on that, but it doesn't bother me.

But we got to share hope because hope is that fuel that carries us forward and it's carried me forward in life, in business and in family. And that's what I want people to take ahold of that fuel and grab just a little bit of that light and move hope forward. And then we're going to be okay.

Gresham Harkless 10:09

Yeah, absolutely. So, I wanted to switch gears a little bit. You might've already touched on this, but I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you, that has made you more effective and efficient.

Howard Brown 10:21

This is really, really important because What I learned, okay, is that I cut out the negativity and it made me actually more productive.

So, I didn't dwell as we're human. Listen, we're human. We get angry. We have emotions, but through the whole cancer stuff, I really tried to cut out as much negativity and I'm carrying that forward and that actually helps my productivity because I'm not using my brain on stuff that's wasted.

And so I'll pass that on is that if you can limit or eliminate some negativity out of your day, you'll have a better day. You'll get more done. That's my CEO hack.

Gresham Harkless 10:55

I love that CEO hack and I appreciate you sharing that.

Howard Brown 10:57

The other thing is a smaller hack, but it's big for everyone is find your happy place. So find a place where you're stress free. It could be yoga, cooking travel. For me, it's the basketball court.

I feel stress-free. I played 2, 3 times a week and I actually contribute that to my healing. And that healed my mentally, helped me physically. And if you find your happy place. Go there. Go there a lot. As much as you can.

Gresham Harkless 11:19

Absolutely. And so what would you consider to be what I like to call a CEO nugget? So this is going to be a little bit more word of wisdom or piece of advice. It might be something you would tell your younger business self or potentially you might tell somebody that was reading your book or potentially back in your startup days.

Howard Brown 11:33

there are moments that, you know, in leadership that you have all different types of qualities. But I think a really important quality is to lead with kindness. If you lead with kindness, they're not going to get any hurt, right? You gotta be strict sometimes and you gotta be demanding, but you do it with kindness, it makes all the sense in the world and you earn people's respect that way and you you become a leader that you should be. So that's my nugget.

Gresham Harkless 12:00

Yeah, I love that nugget. And again, I love just how it's in alignment with everything that you've done the cutting out the negativity because I think it's sometimes there's a narrative that in order to be lead to be effective leader that you have to be roof fish. You have to be this. You have to be that.

But I think when you start to change that narrative, just start to do it in a different way. Sometimes. And what's the narrative or what's considered, the way that it has to be done that it starts to create more and more opportunity for people to do the same thing as well too. You create that culture around your organization.

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Howard Brown 12:28

100 percent thank you.

Gresham Harkless 12:30

Absolutely. And so I wanted to ask you now, my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So, Howard, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Howard Brown 12:40

So be being a CEO to me is a leader of people and making sure they buy in on that vision, that vision to actually take you where you want to go. So whether it's a CEO of a nonprofit, CEO of a for-profit business where whatever you're doing as a CEO, you are a leader okay? Of men and women.

And they're gonna follow and make sure that vision is pure and that you can get there. Or keep trying and that's what happens. Sometimes the dream doesn't come true right away. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes you've got to keep climbing that mountain. But, If that's your dream, get the resources.

Get the backing, get people to follow you and do it as a team. It's a team sport. That's what it means to be. So you're a leader of teams and go bring it together and go make it happen.

Gresham Harkless 13:25

Absolutely, I love that. And so many times I say you gotta, we have to remember that we're running a marathon and a lot of times you see and have that vision, it doesn't come to fruition in day one. It doesn't mean that you have to throw in a towel.

You continue to have that by, you can see how to leave. You help people to sometimes even see the forest for the tree, see where they're going, see like how the things that they're doing contributes to that overall vision as well, too.

And that's when you can definitely, see some success within yourself and your organization.

Howard Brown 13:52

Yeah. You use a sports analogy that the Golden State Warriors won 73 games, out of 82 and they didn't win the championship, right? They were obviously the best team, but they didn't take it to the finish line.

But meanwhile, the four out of the last eight years, they've taken home the trophy. So, again, it's an experience and then you got to get over those hurdles, get around those hurdles, take a two steps back from those hurdles. There are hurdles in life and you just got to get around them through them over them as you can.

Gresham Harkless 14:17

Yeah, absolutely. And that's why I love, everything that you're doing because it helps to, I think, look at those hurdles in a different way and sometimes be able to realize that there is opportunity to get past those hurdles when you hear somebody that's been able to do that.

Howard Brown 14:30

For sure.

Gresham Harkless 14:31

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Howard, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So, what I want to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best people can get out of you, get a copy of your book and find about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Howard Brown 14:47

Gresh, this is a great platform. I really appreciate you. I'm going to put on my shining brightly glasses because when it shines brightly, you got to have shades. So I'm big in mentorship. I've been a mentor of a little brother and I look up, look to my mentors. And they give you guidance, and so that's the extra bonus nugget that I'll throw in there.

People can get ahold of me at I'm responsive. Anything you want to talk about in chapters on the book. I have downloads on survivorship mentorship interfaith that are just dialogue guides.

And also I'm speaking lots of different places. You want to contact me about, podcasts or stages, please do and just share appreciation to come on and be sharing with your listeners, your audience today.

Gresham Harkless 15:31

Yeah, absolutely. I definitely appreciate you. I didn't have my shades, but I did put my hands up because it was shining very brightly. So I truly appreciate you, Howard, for all the awesome things you're doing times you took out today. Of course, we're gonna have the links and information in the show notes as well, too.

But, I say this once and I'll continue to say it again. I feel like sometimes you don't know to be able to get over hurdles as possible until you hear people that are able to do that. So I thank you so much for sharing obviously your journey, of course, talking about your book and creating that because that allows people to know that there is a way to get over those hurdles and there is resilience that could come from that.

So thank you so much, my friend, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Howard Brown 16:06

You do keep on shining.

Outro 16:07

Thank you for listening to the IAMCEO podcast, powered by CB Nation in Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at IAMCEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Check out the latest and greatest apps, books, and habits to level up your business as This has been the IAMCEO podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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