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Interview with Ken Hagan, County Commissioner



Interview with Ken Hagan, County Commissioner

Originally published on IdeaMensch. Source

A Hillsborough County native and lifelong resident, County Commissioner Ken Hagan was first elected to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners in November 2002. He was re-elected in 2004 and again in 2008 to serve District 2. In 2010 and 2014, he was elected to represent county-wide District 5, and returned to District 2 by popular demand in 2018 and 2020. In fiscal years 2003, 2004, and 2010, he held the position of Chaplain. In fiscal years 2005, 2006, and 2007, he was Vice Chairman. He was chosen by his peers in fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010 to serve as Chairman.

Additionally, Commissioner Ken Hagan serves on the Florida Association of Counties Board of Directors, Hospital Authority, Tampa Bay and Company, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, and Tampa Sports Authority. Commissioner Hagan has also chaired the County’s Transportation Task Force.

Commissioner Ken Hagan has helped set strategic policy around the use of federal and state workforce funds to retain and expand small and mid-size businesses, ensuring that aid and attention are given to the important industries in Hillsborough County. since 2010. He has focused on helping Hillsborough County in the ongoing recovery from the Great Recession and is now fostering economic recovery while the county navigates the difficulties of COVID by recruiting and diversifying to higher paying jobs in energy, technology, e-commerce, manufacturing, and arts and culture.

During these unprecedented times of health and civil unrest, Commissioner Hagan strives to provide public and private leadership that works in a respectful and bi-partisan fashion to get things accomplished. Commissioner Hagan believes that the extreme “cancel culture” and “no compromise” perspectives advanced by many in the current political arena undermine the community’s stability, safety, and prosperity.

Commissioner Hagan has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Tampa. He and his wife, Susan, have a son, Jake, and daughter, Elizabeth, and beloved two rescue dogs, Gator and Gryffin.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I saw that my community needed strong leadership from my involvement in local affairs as a resident and voter. I knew that we needed a focus on development of local economy to keep our business community thriving and that the role of the county commissioner was an integral one. Frankly, I’ve never been the type to sit on the sidelines when it was in my ability to contribute meaningfully. Of course, before I entered the political area, the first thing I did, of course, was to make sure that Susan was on the same page. Once we decided together, I was 100% in.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As an elected official I’m on duty and on call 24 hours a day.

The most important thing I do as a commissioner is to stay in touch with my constituents. On a daily basis, my staff and I are speaking with citizens about how we can help them. It could be a particular vote on a particular issue, a complaint about taxes, a problem with a sidewalk or a street light, are just a few things that commissioners address daily. To be effective at my job, I need to make good decisions based on good information. I spend time reviewing data and statistics or reading reports from my staff. Meetings are a major part of my job. Commission meetings, special sessions, and public hearings are all crucial to do my job right. I spend many days attending community functions as well—neighborhood meetings, business openings, school activities, and club meetings. Also, having meetings with my constituents so that they are well-informed.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’m a lifelong problem solver and very effective at reaching across the aisle to get things done. I am confident in my ability to assess situations and implement solutions; this is what people expect from their leaders.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The recent growth of small businesses and entrepreneurship across all sectors: tech, retail, hospitality, and tourism. This is just as important as new industries coming into the region like energy, manufacturing, and healthcare etc. We need good jobs that can provide a good wages and benefits for our families.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I keep a tight schedule and ensure that work gets done. I don’t let the little things slip through the cracks and miss deadlines. This is important as we need to be accountable for our time and efforts if we want to be effective public servants and provide value for our constituents.

I also stay on top of data, business trends and public policy matters. I’m always trying to learn more, particularly about Hillsborough County can continue to lead the Tampa Bay region. As one of America’s most diverse economic regions, we need to continue to attrack opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators. My current focus is on economic diversification and job creation from good, stable industries.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I’d tell my younger self to not be so hard on myself and to focus on the positive things in life. I am often too focused on trying to be perfect and that prevented me from enjoying many of life’s great pleasures and successes.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

We should be thinking about how to implement a low-risk, high-reward transportation system for our community. That means more sidewalks and bike trails in some areas and less traffic on the roads. It’s both a key economic issue and quality of life issue and improving it will make a huge difference for us going forward.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

As successful public official: sometimes in politics, it can be easy to create an echo chamber. I find it important to ask for advice from people outside my circle, and ensure we look for new and fresh perspectives. Obviously, I bring a core set of beliefs, but I find alternate viewpoints help to build consensus and understanding around big decisions.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

As someone whose job it is to advocate for the citizenry, I make sure I am putting myself in front of as many people as possible. This means attending community events, meeting with my constituents, networking with business owners and reaching out to local organizations like chambers of commerce and civic groups. I always remember that what I do is just one part of the bigger picture, and it is important to stay close to folks in their world. My job is to help generate revenue for the city, county, and state. Local governments are mostly funded by sales tax so I’ve always made sure that our local businesses have products that will sell in an ever-changing market.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

There have definitely been some disappointing votes, but I have never lost one that I didn’t feel like I left it all of the field. The times that I have had setbacks as a public official have often presented me with new opportunities. When working to represent the community and having to collaborate with others, you’re going to have to compromise. Sometimes those compromises aren’t to your best advantage but are necessary to set the stage for something in the future. Also, you learn a lot from the challenges you face, and they help increase your knowledge on how to do things better.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Show up to your community Chambers and business organizations but also don’t forget to build one -on- one relationships too. Also, don’t forget paid networking / communities for professionals to share stories and industry – even political — advice. Something like a social media platform but specific to an industry so that the community members can see instant value.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I took my wife out for a date night. Keeping a happy family life makes everything else better.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I’m an Apple guy so I rely on their products like the iPhone and iPad for most things. When I travel, even though I now carry two devices (one for work and one for personal use), if I had my choice only one would exist as it’d be nice not having to deal with working across different operating systems.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I’m a big fan of biographies and autobiographies. I like to pick up books about people who had an impact on their community or the world in some way, shape or form. Everyone should read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson if they haven’t already as it’s an interesting look into how our economy was not only transformed by his vision of what computers could be but also influenced how we interact with one another every day.

What is your favorite quote?

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau

Key Learnings:

  • Political success starts locally.
  • Seek advice from outside your immediate circle.
  • Use challenges as opportunities to learn and succeed in the future.


Interview with Jack Carlson, Founder of Rowing Blazers: History, Tradition, and Innovation



Interview with Jack Carlson, Founder of Rowing Blazers

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Jack Carlson is the founder and creative director of Rowing Blazers, a fashion brand that combines classic American style with a contemporary edge. Jack Carlson, a former national team rower, and scholar of history draw inspiration from vintage sportswear and traditional Ivy League fashion. His passion for design and fashion, combined with his unique background. Jack Carlson has resulted in the creation of a brand that stands out in the industry.

Can you tell us about your background and how you became interested in fashion?

I’ve always had a passion for fashion and design, even while pursuing my other interests. I grew up in Connecticut and started rowing at a young age, eventually competing at the national level. While studying history at Harvard, I became interested in the traditional clothing worn by rowers and began to collect vintage rowing blazers. This sparked my interest in fashion and led me to start designing my own clothing. After completing a Ph.D. in archaeology, I decided to pursue fashion full-time and founded Rowing Blazers in 2017.

What inspired you to start Rowing Blazers?

I wanted to create a brand that celebrated the rich history and tradition of American fashion, particularly the preppy style of the Ivy League. At the same time, I wanted to bring a contemporary edge to classic designs and challenge the boundaries of traditional fashion. I was inspired by the vintage rowing blazers that I collected and wanted to create my own versions that were both authentic and modern.

Can you walk us through the design process of creating a new collection?

The design process always starts with research and inspiration. I spend a lot of time looking at vintage clothing, archival photographs, and historical documents to get a sense of the styles and aesthetics of a particular time period or culture. From there, I sketch out ideas and work with my team to refine the designs and select fabrics. We always strive to balance classic elements with modern twists and unexpected details. It’s a collaborative process that involves a lot of trial and error, but we always end up with something that we’re proud of.

How do you stay true to your brand’s identity while also keeping up with current fashion trends?

For us, it’s not about following trends, but rather creating timeless pieces that will never go out of style. Although we draw inspiration from the past, we don’t limit ourselves to it. We’re always looking for ways to innovate and push boundaries while staying true to our brand’s core identity. We’re not interested in fast fashion or disposable clothing – our pieces are meant to last and be treasured for years to come.

Can you tell us about a particular challenge you faced while growing Rowing Blazers and how you overcame it?

One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is scaling the business while maintaining the quality and craftsmanship that we’re known for. We’ve had to find the right partners and suppliers who share our values and are able to produce our garments to our high standards. We’ve also had to be very strategic about our growth, taking things one step at a time and not rushing into anything too quickly. It’s been a learning process, but we’ve been able to grow the business in a sustainable way that we’re proud of.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own fashion brand?

My advice would be to stay true to your vision and never compromise on quality. It’s also important to be strategic about your growth and not try to do everything at once. Start small and focus on doing one thing really well before expanding. And always be willing to learn and adapt – the fashion industry is constantly changing, so it’s important to be flexible and open to new ideas.

What’s next for Rowing Blazers?

We’re always working on new designs and collaborations, but we’re also focused on expanding our brand beyond just clothing. We want to create a lifestyle brand that encompasses all aspects of American style, from furniture to home decor to travel accessories. We’re excited to continue growing and evolving while staying true to our brand’s identity and values.

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Jack Carlson’s passion for fashion and history has resulted in the creation of a unique and innovative brand that stands out in the industry. His dedication to quality and craftsmanship, as well as his commitment to sustainability, sets Rowing Blazers apart from other fashion brands. To stay up to date with Jack Carlson and Rowing Blazers, you can follow him on LinkedIn.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Gracie Cedres

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Interview with Gracie Cedres: Insights on Entrepreneurship and Work-Life Balance



Interview with Gracie Cedres, Founder of G.R.A.C.E.

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Gracie Cedres is the founder and CEO of G.R.A.C.E., a company that provides virtual assistance and project management services to entrepreneurs and small business owners. With a degree in communications, Gracie has always been interested in helping others succeed in their businesses. Her passion for helping entrepreneurs led her to create G.R.A.C.E., which has been helping entrepreneurs and small business owners increase their productivity and profitability. In this interview, Gracie will share more about her journey as an entrepreneur and the success of G.R.A.C.E.

Can you tell us about yourself and your journey as an entrepreneur?

Sure, my name is Gracie Cedres, and I am the founder and CEO of G.R.A.C.E. I have always been interested in helping others, especially entrepreneurs and small business owners, succeed in their businesses. After completing my degree in communications, I worked as a virtual assistant for various entrepreneurs and realized that there was a need for high-quality virtual assistance and project management services. That’s how the idea for G.R.A.C.E. was born, and since then, I have been working hard to help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their goals.

How did you come up with the idea for G.R.A.C.E.?

After working as a virtual assistant for several entrepreneurs, the idea for G.R.A.C.E. came to me. I realized that many entrepreneurs were struggling to manage their time effectively and needed high-quality virtual assistance and project management services to help them become more productive and profitable. I saw an opportunity to help entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing them with top-notch virtual assistance and project management services, and that’s how G.R.A.C.E. was born.

What are some of the challenges you faced in starting and growing your business?

One of the biggest challenges I faced in starting and growing my business was finding the right team members. It’s important to have a team that shares your vision and is passionate about what they do. I also faced challenges in marketing my services and reaching out to potential clients. However, I overcame these challenges by networking, building relationships, and creating high-quality content that showcased the value of my services.

What is your vision for G.R.A.C.E. in the next five years?

My vision for G.R.A.C.E. in the next five years is to become the go-to virtual assistance and project management service provider for entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide. I want to expand my team and services to be able to help more entrepreneurs and small business owners increase their productivity and profitability. I also want to continue building strong relationships with my clients and providing them with top-notch services.

Can you share with us some of your favorite success stories from working with your clients?

One of my favorite success stories is working with a small business owner who was struggling to manage their time effectively. By providing them with virtual assistance and project management services, we were able to help them increase their productivity, improve their marketing strategies, and ultimately grow their business. It’s always fulfilling to see my clients succeed and achieve their goals.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to educate themselves and never stop learning. It’s important to constantly learn new skills, stay up to date with industry trends, and seek out new opportunities. It’s also essential to have a strong work ethic, be persistent, and not be afraid to take risks. Don’t let failure discourage you, instead use it as a learning opportunity and keep pushing forward.

How do you maintain a work-life balance as a busy entrepreneur?

Maintaining a work-life balance can be challenging as a busy entrepreneur, but it’s essential for your well-being and the success of your business. One of the things I do is prioritize my tasks and delegate when necessary. I also set aside time for self-care activities like exercise, reading, and spending time with family and friends. It’s also important to know when to disconnect from work and focus on other aspects of your life.

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Gracie Cedres is an inspiration to entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide. Her dedication to helping others and passion for entrepreneurship has led to the success of G.R.A.C.E. With a vision for continued growth and success, Gracie is sure to make an impact in the virtual assistance and project management industry. To learn more about Gracie Cedres and G.R.A.C.E., visit her website and follow her on LinkedIn.

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Interview with Evan Cagner: Insights into the World of Tech and Entrepreneurship



Interview with Evan Cagner, CEO of TechBlue

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Evan Cagner is the founder and CEO of TechBlue, a company that provides managed IT services to businesses of all sizes. Evan has over 15 years of experience in the tech industry and has helped numerous businesses grow by leveraging technology. He is a thought leader and innovator in the IT industry, with a keen eye for emerging trends and technologies. In this interview, Evan Cagner shares his insights into the world of tech and entrepreneurship.

What inspired you to start TechBlue?

I’ve always been passionate about technology and how it can be used to solve business problems. I started my career working for a large IT consulting firm, and I quickly realized that there was a big gap in the market for managed IT services. Small and medium-sized businesses often struggle to keep up with the latest technology trends, and they don’t have the resources to hire full-time IT staff. That’s why I decided to start TechBlue – to help these businesses leverage technology to grow and succeed.

What sets TechBlue apart from other managed IT services companies?

There are a few things that set TechBlue apart from other managed IT services companies. First and foremost, we are incredibly focused on customer service. We believe that building strong relationships with our clients is the key to our success. Second, we have a team of highly skilled technicians who are constantly learning and staying up to date with the latest technologies. Finally, we are very flexible and can customize our services to meet the unique needs of each of our clients.

How do you stay on top of emerging trends in the tech industry?

I’m always reading and staying up to date with the latest news and trends in the tech industry. I attend conferences and meet with other thought leaders in the industry to discuss new technologies and how they can be used to solve business problems. I also encourage my team to stay up to date and share their knowledge with each other.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the IT industry?

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the IT industry. With so many people working remotely, there has been a huge demand for cloud-based services and virtual private networks (VPNs). There has also been an increased focus on cybersecurity, as remote workers are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Overall, the pandemic has accelerated the shift toward digital transformation and has highlighted the importance of having a reliable and secure IT infrastructure.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses?

My advice would be to focus on building a strong team and never stop learning. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who have different skill sets. Be willing to take risks and make mistakes, but also be willing to learn from those mistakes. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from other entrepreneurs who have been through it before.

What is your vision for the future of TechBlue?

My vision for TechBlue is to continue to grow and expand our services to meet the changing needs of our clients. I want to stay at the forefront of emerging technologies and continue to be a thought leader in the industry. Ultimately, I want to help as many businesses as possible leverage technology to achieve their goals.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and staying active. I’m an avid runner and I also enjoy playing basketball and golf. I’m also a big fan of music and enjoy going to concerts and discovering new artists.

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Evan Cagner is a true leader and innovator in the IT industry. His passion for technology and customer service has helped TechBlue become one of the most respected managed IT services companies in the business. With his keen eye for emerging trends and technologies, Evan is sure to continue to make an impact in the industry for years to come. To learn more about Evan Cagner and TechBlue, you can visit their website or follow them on LinkedIn.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Makayla Gordon

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