Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Lisa Calhoun, CEO of Write2Market


Lisa_Calhoun1Continuing my series of successful entrepreneurs sharing their thoughts on personal questions about how they build the person that builds their business.    Today, my good friend and past president of EO Atlanta Lisa Calhoun provides her thoughts.  Lisa Calhoun, recognized as 2012 “Female Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Stevies, builds industry leadership agency Write2Market around the core values of listen, learn and lead. Catch up with her on a personal level at

What gives you the most personal energy?

Yesterday I was absolutely buzzing after meeting with three entrepreneurs and advising them on their industry leadership campaigns. One flew in from Denver, and is CEO of an energy tech company that operates in 70 countries. Next, the CEO I had lunch with runs a pre-revenue health-tech start-up. And the afternoon was spent with a leading inventor from Chattanooga closing out his series A around.

All three are facing substantial challenges being recognized for what they are: the absolute industry leaders in their field. And hiking through the landscape of how to make that happen, and seeing it happen, always brings me “power joy.”

When I want to center myself, I write or I take just pictures. Creating things calms me. That’s been my habit since I was six years old. Most of what I write or shoot gets tossed, but I got to experience the act of creation first, which was the important factor.

You can get a sense of what I mean by looking at the pictures or reading my journal at my personal blog,

What do you avoid because it drains your personal energy?

I never avoid things because they drain my personal energy.    My energy comes back; I can burn it as long as I make time to recharge.  Use it or lose it, I say.

Networking and running, for example, are seriously taxing for me different reasons. But rather than “avoid” them I try to “schedule” a regime that makes sense for me. I absolutely love some of the things that I find draining.

If I want to completely recharge, I put on a back pack and disappear into a forest. But sometimes the draining things are so much fun, my backpack stays on the hook for long periods of time.

Do you have a personal mastermind group? Can you describe how they give you energy?

I am devoted to my EO Forum. EO stands for Entrepreneur’s Organization, and it’s a global group of 8,000 company founders. The way the organization works itself, you belong to chapter (I belong to Atlanta with 130 members) and then you belong to small group called a Forum. In the forum, you meet monthly and air issues confidentially and collaboratively. I’ve been with my current forum for a couple of years, and the inspiration I get from close, reality-based, confidential connections with their world-class entrepreneurship is invigorating, enlightening, and simply beautiful on an aesthetic level. If you’re an entrepreneur, consider joining this association—you can find out more about it at

What competitive advantages do you have as an individual that has made / will make you more successful than the person you are competing against in business?

I don’t care about being MORE successful THAN the organization I’m coming against. The killer competitive advantage I have as a leader is that I’m competing with myself and I’m looking for absolute scale. I drive that message home at my business Write2Market, too. It’s why we created our own software to track our ROI for clients, for example.  Our core values at the company are LISTEN, LEARN and LEAD, but we measure that in how much industry leading media exposure, conference speaking engagements, and critical industry awards our clients win.

I believe the relevant information is to know your OWN scale and scope, whether you found companies or are leading teams or functions. I think a lot about this (more at

Given where and who I am, my competition is with me every day in my last best work as a leader at Write2Market and as an industrial teller of true tales. That’s the bar.  I don’t call on the “competition” alone—I call on my best vision, I call on legends like Merlin, I call on archetypes. And since I work on a national level in two terrific fields—technology and energy—I have plenty of data points on how I did in real time, and constant inspiration on doing better. I guess it’s how “we did” versus what we “dreamed to do.”


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