Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

The Famous (and Funny) CBQ, CEO of Big Nerd Ranch


CBQContinuing the series of successful entrepreneurs sharing their thoughts on personal questions about how they build the person that builds their business. Charles Brian Quinn, or CBQ as most locals know him, is a very cool dude.  He is most well-known for being the CEO of Big Nerd Ranch… and you’ve got to love his shameless promotion page.

What do you do as an entrepreneur to balance your most important personal relationships (spouse, kids, family)?

One of my strengths (and weaknesses) is overcommitting to many things.  I always remember the story about the fellow on his death bed who said: “I wish I had spent more time in the office.” Hint: there is no fellow who said that. My family is always great about meeting up regularly for dinner, and we use lots of technology to keep in touch.  I have standing date nights, and regular dinners/lunches with family.  I also enjoy doing tech support for my grandparents (believe it or not), and use that time to catch up.  I use shared google calendars to plan events and while I love planning, I like to be spontaneous.  I don’t have TV/Cable, which I think helps tremendously with living in the moment.

What is your exercise routine?

I’m lucky in that my company has a personal trainer on-staff, so I schedule workouts with her regularly.  I also bicycle to work regularly.  On weekends, I go in long mountain bike or road rides, and do yoga/pilates classes.  I run and walk my dog every day along the belt line, which runs right by my home.  I haven’t yet gotten into cross fit, and I don’t wear those shoes that look like feet with the individual toes yet, but I probably will one day.

What gives you the most personal energy?

I get a lot of energy out of seeing people succeed. I love seeing the dots connect and seeing someone have a win. I am a perfectionist, so sometimes it’s tough.  An example of how I have to work at this is that I’ll see someone do something great or see the company succeed at something and I’ll think in my mind: “That is really good, but we can do better” and I have to remember to publicly celebrate the wins, but always strive to do better, and challenge myself and others to do more.  I like planting the idea in someone, or asking others to help me to help others.  My best employees who help everyone around them raise up to their level give me energy and make me excited to work.

What do you avoid because it drains your personal energy?

Sometimes when I realize I’m delaying making a decision, I’ll actually just go ahead and make it.  If I notice that I’m saying: “well, maybe I’ll just wait….” I have to stop myself and say: “OK, let’s just do this.”

How do you find ways to help others and give back?

I am very lucky in that my company regularly donates time and energy to charitable organizations and events.  In the past 6 months we participated in Junior Achievement, Joyous Toys, the TechBridge Digital Ball, and other events like 5K runs.  I also have a budget for Donations every month.  I’m a fan of efficient charities and give my money to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, and the Atlanta Humane Society.  I mentor at Georgia Tech and serve on the board of the Georgia Tech College of Computing Alumni Association.

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

My management team can handle anything.  The brain trust we have is awesomely empathetic, focused on results, and always on.  My EO Forum is also my entrepreneurial brain trust and keeps me focused on the big goals.  I also love my book club called the Captains of Industry that satisfies my business knowledge cravings.

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

I’m extremely lucky in that my father is the most logical, rational, intelligent, scientific person I know, and my mother is the most emotionally intelligent, empathetic, passionate, and social butterfly I know.  I like to think that I have both traits.  I love thinking logically and rationally, and using my intuition and feelings — along with others feelings to make the right decisions.  I’m also the most modest person you’ll ever meet.  And funny.



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