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Oklahoma entrepreneur maintains his focus

BY DON MECOY Published: January 24, 2010
/articleid/3434286/1/pictures/829271">Photo - Ryan  Whitaker, co-owner and chief technology officer of Element Fusion at his office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney
Ryan Whitaker, co-owner and chief technology officer of Element Fusion at his office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney
It was just an incredible experience.

Q: Do you have any minor vices?

A: I struggle a lot with people who don’t have the same drive or determination or productivity that I have. I’m really big on productivity. It’s disappointing when people kind of fall short of their full potential. That’s something that you do with at any workplace. When you’re the manager of people who aren’t living up to their full potential, you want to do everything in your power to get them up to that level of potential. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s disappointing when it doesn’t work.

Q: Do you have a pet peeve, some little thing that just irks you?

A: The lack of acknowledgement in people of how good they have it in the world right now. ... It really does kind of bother me how much people don’t understand how good they have it. They don’t understand the things that have been given to them.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: I see myself still with Element Fusion. I have no plans to ever change course from this. I love what I do here. It’s an amazing blessing to be able to say that you love what you do, and I love what I do here. I love the people that work here. I love the products that we’re building together. I love seeing other people, like our 100,000-person user base, using the things that we’re creating. I love seeing it helping so many people. It’s really, really satisfying.

Q: Do you read much?

A: To be honest, I don’t read a lot beyond the Internet. Not that I don’t think it’s valuable. I do read about five or six books a year. The reason behind that is I have a piece of advice that I gave to myself four years ago after dealing with the effects of information glut in my life — information coming from so many different sources that I felt like I was being inundated. It was at that point in 2006 that I said to myself: From this point forward, I am going to create more than I consume. Watching television or watching movies, I can’t remember a single beneficial thing that’s come from my time doing that. It feels to me like a waste of life when I could be creating something or helping somebody.

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Personally speaking

Position: Co-owner, chief technology officer at Element Fusion.

• Age:

Family: Wife, Lindsey, and three boys, Owen, Alec, and Chase.

Education: Computer science degree from Baylor University.

Hobbies: Photography, power lifting.

Most extravagant purchase: Pickup with top-of-the-line off-road equipment.

Next company product: "That’s top secret.”

Quote: "I like the idea of giving back to the community. It’s the community that ultimately gave us what we have.”


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