Grit, The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success – Skyler Ditchfield

Grit, The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success: “Lead by example” With Skyler Ditchfield CEO of GeoLinks and Phil Laboon

It’s imperative to never forget that you’re only as great as the team you’re surrounded by. Thus, lead by example. Meet with your team as much as you can and tailor how you communicate to each person individually. Become a leader they can believe in, and always make them feel valued.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Skyler Ditchfield. Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO of GeoLinks, the Fastest Growing Internet and Phone Provider in America. Within his company, Ditchfield is passionate about cultivating the best company culture around — one that combines respect, collaboration and a “best idea wins mantra.” His dedication and work ethic have earned him various accolades in including “Top Innovator in Diversity and Inclusion”, “World’s Top 5 Best Businessmen of 2017”, and 2018 “Entrepreneur of the Year”.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path

My“entrepreneurial roots” began at the age of six selling food, video games, lemonade, and basically anything else I thought people might buy, door-to-door and on the side of the road. One of my favorite stories to look back on was when I was about 7 or 8 and my elementary school decided to band candy. While other kids at school complained, I looked at this as an opportunity. I proceeded to buy candy off premise and sell it to my fellow students at a 1000% markup — I ended up bringing in about $30 a day, which in the early 90s was a lot! The school did eventually catch me, and I had to stop.

I first really dove into the world of technology at the age of 13 when I set up a bulletin board system (BBS) with my cousin, and no co-founder and CTO Ryan Hauf, to service 200 members of our local community with dial-up Internet. Throughout my childhood, I became increasingly fascinated with long-distance communications and computer networking. Directly after high school, I accepted a Network Engineer II job at the Private Network Management Center (PNMC) of MCI Worldcom in Silicon Valley servicing high-level clients such as JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Quotron, Reuters, and more. Although I was the youngest technician at the maximum-security PNMC, I was quickly promoted to Network Engineer III after exceeding the entire staff in router reprogramming. When the company relocated to the East Coast, I was one of two employees offered a transfer. Ultimately, I declined the offer and returned to Ojai where I proceeded to build a network business from scratch with $550 in startup capital.

While there were bumps along the road, my path was a natural progression to eventually starting my own ISP.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Hard times have occurred all along the way, both personally and professionally. From a professional standpoint, when you first start a company, money is one of your biggest problems. You have to be able to have enough money to get your company off the ground while simultaneously supporting your family. As you get bigger, so do your challenges. Every time you hit new benchmarks, you have to reinvent yourself. This can be painful at times, such as outgrowing certain team members, completely overhauling a system or process, changing your direction etc. Some people have a hard time keeping up with that.

Luckily life experiences have enabled me to adapt quickly to change. From surviving multiple business failures that left me facing massive debt and ruined credit, to battling severe life-long health issues, each chapter in my life has taught me how to fight back harder and ultimately have the confidence to overcome anything. Being an entrepreneur undoubtedly requires grit — but if you can learn to own that, you will become successful.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I have always believed in myself and listened to my intuition. For example, we reached a point about two years after starting our company, where we were literally just weeks away from being completely out of money. In my gut, however, I knew that there had to be a game-changing deal coming through any day; mind you, until you have a signed document in your hand, nothing’s real. Thus, I decided to follow my intuition and push the business ahead as usual, so we wouldn’t kill our fast-growing momentum. It turned out my gut was right, and we had a massive business-saving deal come through just days before we would have completely been out of all cash. When I find my back is against the wall, I feel empowered, because I know I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

In addition to everything I’ve mentioned thus far, to be successful you have to be willing to do anything and everything to get your company off the ground. For example, when GeoLinks first started, I did everything from sales, to technical support, to helping built the network, to physically deploying installs. I was never afraid of the number of hours or work it took to accomplish something. Nonetheless, there are certain things you have to sacrifice that can be tough to stomach, such as time away from family. There has to be grit and determination in you to overcome that, or you’re not going to make it. There will always be challenges in businesses. Successful people fail many times over– those failures, however, become part of the growth of your business. You have to have grit to stomach those many storms and weather them.

So, how are things going today? 🙂

Busy! But everything I’m working on is very exciting.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)

  1. Look at Past Successes — Look back on a time, no matter how small, where you thought things looked bleak and grim, yet you found your way out of it. Then build upon that as you embark on bigger challenges moving forward. For example, if I’m sitting here and looking at a 2 million budget shortfall with only a week to figure it out, I could view it as incredibly daunting. However, if I reflect back to when I was in a similar position but with only $200,000, and I remember how I overcame that challenge, I can use that to give me the confidence I need to solve this new problem.
  2. Do Research — The Internet is an amazing resource; read articles; search for case studies; see how people before you overcame challenges. Knowledge is power.
  3. Get Outside Opinions – This is something I consistently do, even if I don’t ultimately agree, other’s opinions can give you new perspective. I like to gather as much knowledge and feedback as I possibly can to ultimately shape and form my own stance — then, I make a decision, and own it.
  4. Get Physical — Not with others, but with yourself. When I push myself physically in the gym, for example, I mean truly wear myself down, I am forced to clear my mind and find a way to push through. This is a great reminder of the power of the mind, and that with enough concentration and grit, I am capable of pushing through anything.
  5. Own Your Mindset — Take a position that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Own that mindset, and you will find a path out or way to success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?

Our first investor that came in, Tom Krause, built a very successful company from scratch. While I believe I could have gotten here on my own eventually, his expertise and guidance have greatly accelerated my success. His innate ability to mentor objectively allowed me to bypass most entrepreneur’s steep learning curves. I am incredibly grateful for that.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Absolutely! GeoLinks has officially partnered with CENIC, AlertWildfire, WIFIRE, and others to deploy wildfire detection, prevention and situational awareness systems across California. Statewide expansion of this proven system would offer strategic advantages for early fire detection, situational awareness for first responders, fire mapping, predictive simulations, and evacuation planning. Rapid investment in this shovel-ready system would soon save lives, property, habitat, and infrastructure across California, and the state would see an almost immediate return on its investment. Additional partners that would benefit from this effort and so might be approached for financial support are the insurance industry, technology accelerators, and local community organizations. While we are deploying this system as we speak, we need further investment to take it state wide as quickly as possible.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Everything GeoLinks sets out to do — from closing the digital divide, to helping deploy wildfire detection, prevention ,and situational awareness systems, to offering pro-bono circuits to Red Cross shelters during times of disaster — is aimed at ultimately bringing goodness to the world. Yes, we are a business, so we must earn capital, but the way I see it, the more we grow, the more resources we have to help and give back.

What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?

In today’s modern workplace, culture is paramount in attracting and retaining top talent, thus it’s imperative to never forget that you’re only as great as the team you’re surrounded by. Thus, lead by example. Meet with your team as much as you can and tailor how you communicate to each person individually. Become a leader they can believe in, and always make them feel valued.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I founded GeoLinks with the mission to close the U.S. Digital Divide. I am determined to bring connectivity to every unconnected Anchor Institution in America over the next 7 years. To accomplish this goal, I am aggressively looking to change the landscape of Internet across America by influencing the reform of broadband funding and spectrum policy on both a state and federal level.

Outside of work, I would say help people better understand one another. I find that whenever it comes to politically charged debates, from republicans vs democrats, to gun control, to immigration, many times if you get the rhetoric and anger out of the way, people want the same thing, just want to go about it in different ways. Today’s media and climate has created such a charged environment, that we either shy away from topics or come across in an aggressive manner. Both of these are unproductive, and create a continuing divide among people. We need to come together, open our minds, and get a better understanding of one another.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s lifeLife is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On twitter at @SkylerJesseD — or follow GeoLinks @GeoLinks_USA.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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Mogul’s Top 1,000 Companies with the Strongest Female Leaders in 2018

Thank you Mogul for recognizing GeoLinks has one of the “Top 1000 Global Companies with the Strongest Female Leaders in 2018”!

 

Mogul’s Top 1,000 Companies with the Strongest Female Leaders in 2018

Mogul is thrilled to announce the 2018 Honorees for the Top 1,000 Companies with the Strongest Female Leaders.

When determining which companies to include, Mogul focused on the following criteria: current programs implemented within an organization to promote female leadership, the percentage of women on the board and in executive positions, and working conditions that best fit a working mother’s needs.

In an age where women’s issues are at the forefront, and where only twenty-four women were on the 2018 Fortune 500 list, Mogul is honored to highlight the below one thousand companies that are taking strides to bring gender parity to the workplace. It is our hope that more and more companies over time will follow in the below companies’ footsteps, and thus, eventually increase the overall percentage of female executives.

Many of the companies included are established, and are the leaders when it comes to setting the bar for creating office cultures that include paid leave, no harassment policies, and mentorship programs to elevate the next generation of female executives. Alternatively, you will also find the hottest female-founded startups that are establishing safe environments for women from the company’s inception.

Whether you are a recent graduate seeking a new position or a seasoned professional looking to make your next career move, we hope this list will guide you in your search. You can’t go wrong with one of the below companies, and we congratulate our 2018 Honorees.

 

To view the full list visit:

https://onmogul.com/stories/mogul-s-top-1000-companies-with-the-strongest-female-leaders-in-2018

 

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Six Options For Finding Local Talent In Los Angeles

Six Options For Finding Local Talent In Los Angeles

 

Hiring talent can be a difficult task — especially in Los Angeles — because while there are a lot of places to look, it can also be difficult to find the right match. Sometimes the perfect match may be looking for you, and sometimes the perfect match isn’t looking at all. Additionally, there are so many different kinds of talent out there that it can feel impossible to swim through all of the options to find just the right person. Having an area or two to focus on can really help improve the odds.

We asked members of the Forbes Los Angeles Business Council for their advice on where to find top talent to fill open positions. The next time you’re looking to hire someone, consider one of these tools or approaches before narrowing down your search to a few individuals.

Local experts share their tips for finding talent.ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

1. Facebook

Facebook isn’t just one of the most wildly successful social networks online; it’s also a place to post your jobs and find qualified candidates. So many of us spend so much of our time on Facebook that it’s a natural place to let people know that you’re hiring. – Ken GoodwinPacific Preferred Insurance Brokers

2. TechFair

Participating in the TechFair organized by the city of Los Angeles is great. It had big local companies in attendance, which attracted many job seekers and in turn led to more great resumes for us!  – Anna NguyenovaTubeScience

3. Referrals

Turn to your company’s best employees and ask them for referrals. That really can be the best way to get a full or accurate read on a person. Resumes these days can often be inflated and rarely ever paint a clear picture of a candidate’s full potential — or lack thereof. – Skyler DitchfieldGeoLinks

4. Local Meetups

Using Meetup (now owned by WeWork) is a great way to network and meet fellow specialists who can themselves help or refer someone to you right in your neighborhood. A few people create their own and drive relevant prospects to it! – Zaid AmmariPPC Masterminds

5. Indeed And Linkedin

I have two resources that I regularly use. One is Indeed, and the other is Linkedin, which I use for finding full stack developers and other talent for our company. Mainly, I will advertise on Indeed and then do follow-up research on Linkedin to see more information about each applicant. It is not easy to find full stack developers that are available and local, but this seems to work pretty well. – Ron BerkesManufacturingChina.com LLC

6. Your Community
I find participating in your community really helps. Specifically, speaking at my alma mater (USC) has been a great way to attract extremely promising candidates — from MBAs to people fresh out of college. –  Brett CrosbyPeerStreet
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Six Professional Organizations In Los Angeles You Should Know About

Six Professional Organizations In Los Angeles You Should Know About

 

Professional organizations can greatly benefit any business professional. It’s an opportunity to get together with like-minded people in your industry and talk about the things that matter to you in the work. It can be great for networking as well as garnering new information that you can then put to use. A business owner may even feel inspired to come up with new ideas to implement.

We asked members of the Forbes Los Angeles Business Council what professional organization they would recommend to help strengthen the business side of things. The suggestions below are just a subset of what is available, so it is encouraged to do research and seek out additional opportunities for networking and professional development.

Members of Forbes Los Angeles Business Council share their favorite professional organizations.PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

1. Digital LA 

Digital LA is a group for entrepreneurs, technology executives and startup founders across verticals to connect. Kevin Winston, the creator of Digital LA, creates weekly events across LA on topics ranging from blockchain to health care technology to food influencers. Kevin puts on Silicon Beachfest, which is an annual/bi-annual multi-day conference for LA’s best to connect and attracts people from around the world. – Robert BrillBrill Media Company

  2. Local Chamber Of Commerce

The local Chamber of Commerce hosts frequent networking events and often publically recognizes the great work done within their communities, ultimately making the companies or individuals more visible to the community and beyond. – Skyler DitchfieldGeoLinks

3. Young Presidents’ Organization

Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) is one of the better organizations to be associated with. It is the leaders and titans of industry, and they have an incredibly rigorous selection process, making it a great place to network and lean on other thought leaders. – Lucas PolsSpark xyz

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California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks Awarded $87.8M to Expand Rural Internet in California and Nevada

CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On Tuesday, August 28th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially released the results of its Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) auction, allocating $1.488 Billion to close the United States’ Digital Divide. Innovative award winning telecom, GeoLinks, headquartered in Camarillo, California, received a total of $87.8M to expand rural internet in California and Nevada, making it the largest auction winner in the state of California, and 5th largest winner in the nation overall. Ousting big telcos such as Verizon, Frontier, and AT&T, this is the first time the largest winner of CAF in California has been an independent operator and not an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC).

“GeoLinks’ founding mission is to close the U.S. Digital Divide,” said GeoLinks Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “With this promise of capital from the FCC, GeoLinks will be able to further expand our network into rural areas of both California and Nevada, ultimately providing more than 11,000 rural locations with Internet at 100 megabits per second. We are excited that this new infrastructure will also reduce the cost of bringing high speed broadband access to anchor institutions such as Schools, Libraries, Hospitals, and Community Colleges. You can expect to see GeoLinks fully close the digital divide in California in these areas in the next 2-3 years with the help of our corporate partner the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). From the beginning it was expected to see the incumbent providers take home big portions of the total fund. However, I am absolutely thrilled that our company, a mid-sized ISP with true rural beginnings, was able to secure the largest grant in CA and be in the top 5 nationally. Not only does this secure a bright future for the rural communities we will service, but it also allows our company to have a secure future and bring more jobs into our local economy.”

As stated by Chairman Ajit Pai in the FCC’s formal release, the successful conclusion of this first-of-its kind auction is great news for the residents of these rural communities, who will finally be able to share in the 21st-century digital opportunities that broadband provides. By tapping the mechanisms of the marketplace, the CAF II auction served as the most appropriate and cost-effective way to allocate funding for broadband in these unserved communities, bringing the highest-quality broadband services to the most consumers at the lowest cost to the ratepayer.

“As part of its efforts to promote ubiquitous broadband access for all Americans, the FCC created the CAF II auction to enable Internet service providers to build and maintain infrastructure in unserved areas throughout the US,” commented GeoLinks’ General Counsel and VP of Government Affairs and Education Melissa Slawson. “I am elated to see that a capable company of our size was granted substantial funding to further propel our mission connect rural California, Nevada, and beyond.”

More information is available at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/903. A map of winning bids is available at https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/caf2-auction903-results/

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Lexie Olson at [email protected].

GeoLinks

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is the Fastest Growing Telecom in California and a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally awarded for its innovative Internet and Digital Voice solutions. Ranked in both 2017 and 2018 as one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in America on the Inc. 5000, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Digital Voice, SD-WAN, Cloud On-ramping, Layer 2 Transport, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

GeoLinks’ accelerated success is largely due to its flagship product, ClearFiber™, which offers dedicated business-class Internet with unlimited bandwidth, true network redundancy, and guaranteed speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network is backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support. With an average installation period of 4 to 7 days, GeoLinks is proud to offer the most resilient and scalable fixed wireless network on the market.

Recognized as a thought-leader in closing the digital divide, GeoLinks proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.

More about Connect America Fund Phase II Auction:

A total of 103 providers ultimately won support in the CAF II auction to expand broadband across 45 states. The funding, which will be distributed over the next 10 years, will connect 53% of all rural homes and businesses with broadband download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second. 19% will have gigabit service available. And 711,389 locations—all but 0.25%—will have at least 25 Mbps service available.

Contacts

GeoLinks
Lexie Olson, [email protected]

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Five Ways To Cultivate A Positive Company Culture

Five Ways To Cultivate A Positive Company Culture

POST WRITTEN BY Skyler Ditchfield

CEO of GeoLinks, the Fastest Growing WISP in America named 2018 “Most Disruptive Technology” for its ClearFiber™ Network.

Shutterstock

Curating a productive and positive company culture starts from the top. Thus, a company’s CEO must lead by example day in and day out. Here are five true and proved ways that as a CEO, I have found effectively create and maintain a positive company culture.

1. Hire Smart

People are the foundation of culture. Thus, it’s imperative to create rigorous hiring and vetting processes to weed out those who are not cultural fits from the get-go. For example, our company does a multipart interview that puts candidates through both a skills test and cultural review panel. We recruit interviewers across a variety of our departments to weigh in. At the end of the panel, once the candidate has left, each team member gives the candidate a culture score on a scale from one to ten — one being not a fit, ten being a great fit. If even one member gives an unqualifying score, six or below, we do not move forward. Being a “cultural fit” in our eyes means the candidate demonstrates attributes that suggest he or she is positive, innovative, respectful, accepting, a team player and has the ability to leave their ego at the door.

2. Give Shout Outs

Recognizing and commending both individual and team wins is extremely beneficial to team morale and culture. I offer these shout-outs through various avenues including emails, verbal shout-outs in the office and individual meetings.I’ve noticed that when people feel recognized and appreciated, it increases not only their energy and happiness but their overall motivation and productivity as well.

3. Work Hard, Play Hard

University of Warwick found that happy employees demonstrated a 12% spike in productivity, while dissatisfied members of organizations showed a 10% decrease. Thus, live a little folks! Schedule interdepartmental company get-togethers, host office parties, let your team go a little early on a Friday — do things that appeal to the social side of your team, and it will pay off two-fold in both the short and long term.

4. Acknowledge Personal Milestones

I don’t mean that you should only acknowledge that Susy hit her sales goal that month. What I mean is take the time to get to know what is going on with your team outside of work! Ask questions, check in weekly, have a genuine conversation that isn’t work-related once in a while. If you know Jack’s daughter has her middle school graduation on Thursday, let Jack leave early so he can get a good seat. Realize that most people work to live, not live to work, so supporting their life outside of work life will make them not only grateful, but excited to come to work to share what’s new in life with their team!

5. Encourage Your Team To Take Risks

Verbally encourage your staff to take risks, ensuring them that failure is OK. This inspires innovation and shows employees that they are trusted. Great things never came from staying inside one’s comfort zone — and getting new or different results means you must stop doing something old. If you do have an employee who “fails” or makes a mistake due to trying something new, compliment their efforts and brainstorm together what can be learned or changed in the future.

With the country’s unemployment rate at a staggeringly low 4%, it’s essential to retain good employees when you find them. With clear statistics supporting the notion that overall workplace happiness directly correlates to a company’s productivity and bottom line, I believe companies need to focus now more than ever on cultivating and maintaining a positive company culture. Still not convinced? Consider that disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion, annually. Case and point.

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You Are Only As Great As The Team You Are Surrounded By

You Are Only As Great As The Team You Are Surrounded By

Posted on 

In our quiz above we gave two ideas about how to motivate workers and inspire successful teams. But there are of course other ideas. I recently had the opportunity to talk to Skyler Ditchfield the CEO Geolinks. He shared with me some additional ideas about the top ways successful CEOs lead large teams.

But there are of course other ideas. I recently had the opportunity to talk to Skyler Ditchfield the CEO Geolinks. He shared with me some additional ideas about the top ways successful CEOs lead large teams.

Lead by example

1. Know that first, and foremost, you must lead by example. If you haven’t done what you’re asking them to do, it’s highly unlikely for them to do it unless they are following in your footsteps.

1. Know that first, and foremost, you must lead by example. If you haven’t done what you’re asking them to do, it’s highly unlikely for them to do it unless they are following in your footsteps.

Money doesn’t necessarily inspire everyone

2. Money doesn’t necessarily inspire everyone. People are often more motivated by recognition, and fear of letting down their peers. I find it incredibly beneficial to overall morale to issue constant public recognition and praise for both individual and team wins. I do this via company-wide emails, verbal shout outs in the office, and 1 on 1 meetings.

2. Money doesn’t necessarily inspire everyone. People are often more motivated by recognition, and fear of letting down their peers. I find it incredibly beneficial to overall morale to issue constant public recognition and praise for both individual and team wins. I do this via company-wide emails, verbal shout outs in the office, and 1 on 1 meetings.

Be ok with accepting failures

3. Innovation is fostered by embedding the culture of being ok with accepting failures.

3. Innovation is fostered by embedding the culture of being ok with accepting failures.

Respond to different personality types

4.Adapt Management style to respond to different personality types.Know that you will have to adapt your management style to different personality types — not everyone communicates or receives in the same way.

4.Adapt Management style to respond to different personality types.Know that you will have to adapt your management style to different personality types — not everyone communicates or receives in the same way.

Clearly define both individual and team goals

5. You must clearly define both individual and team goals — in order to lead your team in the right direction, it’s important for everyone to understand where you’re headed. Team goals also help peers motivate peers. I see this happen within my sales team daily. And, at the end of the day, make sure your team knows that if they’re struggling to reach said goals, that you’re always available to help out and brainstorm possible resolutions. For example, if I have a sales rep who is up against a tough deal, they know they can come to me to brainstorm innovative ways to push it across the finish line.

5. You must clearly define both individual and team goals — in order to lead your team in the right direction, it’s important for everyone to understand where you’re headed. Team goals also help peers motivate peers. I see this happen within my sales team daily. And, at the end of the day, make sure your team knows that if they’re struggling to reach said goals, that you’re always available to help out and brainstorm possible resolutions. For example, if I have a sales rep who is up against a tough deal, they know they can come to me to brainstorm innovative ways to push it across the finish line.

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“You Are Only As Great As The Team You Are Surrounded By” With Skyler Ditchfield CEO GeoLinks

By: Breana Patel

I had the pleasure of interviewing Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO of GeoLinks, the Fastest Growing WISP in America. His dedication and work ethic have earned him various accolades in including “Top Innovator in Diversity and Inclusion”, “World’s Top 5 Best Businessmen of 2017”, and 2018 “Entrepreneur of the Year”.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

One of my favorite stories to look back on was when I was about 7 or 8 and my elementary school decided to ban candy. While other kids at school complained, I looked at this as an opportunity and bought candy off premise to sell them to my classmates at 1000% markup. The school did eventually caught me, and I had to stop.

Fast forward, and I took my first real corporate job as a Network Engineer II at the Private Network Management Center in Silicon Valley servicing high-level clients . When the company relocated to the East Coast, I declined the transfer offer and returned to my home town of Ojai, California where I proceeded to build a network business from scratch with $550 in startup capital. I grew the company to nearly 3M within 4 years (in a town of only 8000 people) and then sold my shares. Following this venture, however, things plummeted.

Over the next few years, I experienced multiple business failures that left me facing massive debt and ruined credit and my health also took a toll on me placing me for long stays in hospital. Then came what I call my restart button. I found out I was going to be a dad.

With replenished motivation, I found a whole new lease on life. I regained my health, and aggressively got back in the I.T. space allowing me to climb out of debt.

Fast forward a few successful startups later, and I founded California Internet, now GeoLinks, with my cousin Ryan Hauf. We are now the fastest growing fixed wireless provider in the country, and the fifth fastest growing overall telecom.

How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?

Our company has a strict policy to leave all egos at the door and always adhere to a “Best Idea Wins” mantra. This encourages team work and levels the playing field so that pride doesn’t get in the way of moving the business forward. When all else fails, however, it is the job of management to remind everyone of the common goal and allocate tasks accordingly to role and skill set.

Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on retaining talent today?

In today’s modern workplace, creating and maintaining a positive company culture is paramount in attracting and retaining top talent, thus it’s imperative to never forget as a leader that you’re only as great as the team you’re surrounded by.

Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”?

1. Know that first, and foremost, you must lead by example. If you haven’t done what you’re asking them to do, it’s highly unlikely for them to do it unless they are following in your footsteps.

2. Money doesn’t necessarily inspire everyone. People are often more motivated by recognition, and fear of letting down their peers. I find it incredibly beneficial to overall morale to issue constant public recognition and praise for both individual and team wins. I do this via company-wide emails, verbal shout outs in the office, and 1 on 1 meetings.

3. Innovation is fostered by embedding the culture of being ok with accepting failures.

4.Adapt Management style to respond to different personality types.Know that you will have to adapt your management style to different personality types — not everyone communicates or receives in the same way.

5. You must clearly define both individual and team goals — in order to lead your team in the right direction, it’s important for everyone to understand where you’re headed. Team goals also help peers motivate peers. I see this happen within my sales team daily. And, at the end of the day, make sure your team knows that if they’re struggling to reach said goals, that you’re always available to help out and brainstorm possible resolutions. For example, if I have a sales rep who is up against a tough deal, they know they can come to me to brainstorm innovative ways to push it across the finish line.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

You need to get them to buy into your vision. Reward your team with recognition and make sure you curate genuine relationships so they care about who they are working with and for. Also, if you have bad employees, get them out, fast. Don’t tolerate people that are not absolutely excited to be there.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The first story that comes to mind happened a few years ago when one of the telecom tower owners we were working with was having major permitting issues with a state agency. In an effort to ward of compliance regulators, the owner released cougars to literally stalk and surround his tower. Maybe not the story you were looking for, but I found this quite comical.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I founded GeoLinks with the mission to close the U.S. Digital Divide. I am determined to bring connectivity to every unconnected Anchor Institution in America over the next 7 years. To accomplish this goal, I am aggressively looking to change the landscape of Internet across America by influencing the reform of broadband funding and spectrum policy on both a state and federal level. GeoLinks has successfully connected more schools than any other ISP in both 2016 and 2017, and we became an instrumental lobbyist in the passing of AB1665, the Internet For All Act, that brought $330m in new funding to the state of California.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.

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GeoLinks Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

GeoLinks Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

GeoLinks was officially recognized and welcomed to the community on Thursday, July 12th by the City of Camarillo, the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Charlotte Craven, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, Supervisor Kelly Long’s office, and fellow Ventura County Businesses. In honor of the occasion, GeoLinks hosted a public Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House at our headquarters in Camarillo. Check out highlights from the event below!

 

 

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Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin recognizes GeoLinks by presenting CEO Skyler Ditchfield with an award.

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Camarillo Mayor Charlotte Craven presents certificate of recognition to GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield

 

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Nancy Phillips of Supervisor Kelly Long’s office presents award to GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield

 

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City officials, community members, and the GeoLinks team gather in the GeoLinks Game Room to hear pre-ribbon cutting recognition speeches.

 

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GeoLinks Headquarter’s Game Room

 

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GeoLinks team, lead by CoFounders Skyler Ditchfield, CEO, and Ryan Hauf, CTO, get ready to officially cut the city’s ribbon.

 

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GeoLinks team, lead by CoFounders Skyler Ditchfield, CEO, and Ryan Hauf, CTO, cut the city’s ribbon.

 

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A group of the GeoLinks team are welcomed to the city!

 

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GeoLinks team members celebrate during an open house after the official ribbon cutting.

 

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Community members celebrate during an open house after the official ribbon cutting.

 

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Camarillo Mayor Charlotte Craven, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, and members of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce at GeoLinks

 

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Camarillo Chamber of Commerce at GeoLinks

 

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GeoLinks: Connecting Clients with Innovative Telecom Solutions

GeoLinks: Connecting Clients with Innovative Telecom Solutions

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company, competitive local exchange carrier, and regulated public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Digital Voice solutions. The company delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Digital Voice, SD-WAN, Cloud On-ramping, Layer 2 Transport, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

GeoLinks’ accelerated success is largely due to its flagship product, ClearFiber™, which offers dedicated business-class Internet with unlimited bandwidth, true network redundancy, and guaranteed speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network is backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support. With an average installation period of 4 to 7 days, GeoLinks is proud to offer the most resilient and scalable fixed wireless network on the market.

Recognized as a thought-leader in closing the digital divide, GeoLinks proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.

The Passionate Leader 

Born in Ojai, California, Skyler Ditchfield is the Cofounder and CEO of GeoLinks, which is the No. 1 Fastest Growing Fixed Wireless ISP in the country, and Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing WISP in America. Nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice Solutions, and dedication to closing the U.S. Digital Divide, GeoLinks is determined to bring connectivity to every unconnected Anchor Institution in America over the next seven7 years.

To accomplish this goal, Skyler is aggressively looking to change the landscape of Internet across America by influencing the reform of broadband funding and spectrum policy on both the state and federal levels. Believing that action fuels influence, Skyler led GeoLinks to successfully connect more schools than any other ISP in both 2016 and 2017 and was an instrumental lobbyist in the passing of AB1665, the Internet for All Act, which brought $330m in new funding to the state of California.

Within his company, Ditchfield is passionate about cultivating the best company culture around—one that combines respect, collaboration, and a “best idea wins mantra.” Both his dedication to closing the digital divide and commitment towards developing an exceptional company culture have won Skyler a variety of accolades including “World’s Top 5 Best Businessmen of 2017”, “Top Innovator in Diversity and Inclusion,” and “2018 Entrepreneur of the Year”.

Thriving on Challenges 

According to GeoLinks, the telecom industry is heavily dominated by multi-billion dollar virtual monopolies that receive massive tax credits and federal subsidies. Furthermore, the regulatory landscape and funding on both the state and federal level are tilted heavily to favor these “incumbent” providers—furthering their “perceived” monopoly status. However, GeoLinks thrives on challenges, and are aggressively working to reform and overcome these obstacles. GeoLinks’ ongoing strategy is to out-maneuver incumbent providers in competitive markets nationwide by providing a quality of service they can’t offer and maintain, and by going after businesses they either don’t want or can’t service. It’s in GeoLinks’ DNA to consistently innovate new methods and technologies that pushes it far ahead of the crowd.

Tackling Bad Patches and Preparing for a Better Future 

In its early days, cousins and co-founders Ditchfield, CEO, and Ryan Hauf, CTO, decided that they will build their Internet Service Provider (ISP) business model to compete head-tohead with all the big guys—which was not very traditional for a smaller ISP provider. GeoLinks decided that to be successful and to make its goal of becoming a major national carrier a reality, they needed to penetrate the most competitive markets.

Over the past seven years, GeoLinks’ innovative flagship product, ClearFiber™, named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, the organization’s superior customer service, and its industry leading Service Level Agreement has led the organization to become the fastest growing telecom in California.

When reflecting on the company’s rapid growth, Ditchfield comments that every struggle has been unique in its needs and solutions. In the beginning, many of these hurdles were finance-based, as the telecom didn’t have a significant financial backer. The organization had to remain as fiscally responsible as possible and fold all its revenue back into the company. As a business, it has learned that being honest and putting customers first always pays off in the long-run. So even in the case of a wrong step, GeoLinks has admitted it, fixed it, and been able to move on swiftly.

In the near future, you can expect to see GeoLinks continuing to expand rapidly delivering gigabit and multigigabit access to new markets across the United States. This also includes working on new technologies and experimental spectrum to deliver gigabit speeds to residential clients. Furthermore, leadership plans to partner with like-minded organizations to expand into sensor networks and specific projects that encompass public safety, research, education, and much more

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