In this special episode, Karthik Chidambaram, Driven podcast host and the Founder & CEO of DCKAP, narrates his personal experience with hosting these interviews, while taking a look back and reflecting on the journey of the podcast, sharing some of the standout moments he experienced while interviewing our guests, as he laments on the new year to come.
We’re excited to continue the Driven podcast well into 2024, with a great lineup of industry experts and inspiring leaders who will share their stories, offer insights on what they’ve learned along their journey, and inspire others who might learn from them to pave their own way to success. Subscribe and follow along as we elevate the podcast into a brand new year ahead.
From all of us here at the Driven by DCKAP podcast, we wish everyone a Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!
Karthik Chidambaram: Thank you for joining the Driven by DCKAP podcast. This
is our last episode [of the year]. So, what we thought we will do is just
tell the story of the Driven by DCKAP podcast.
So, we have been doing this podcast for a while. So we thought, okay, let's
just start a new season, meet with guests, and the idea of the podcast is to
be driven. How can we be driven? And that's something all of us like.
So we said, okay, let's just start reaching out to guests and see if they
would be interested. And, well begun is half done. So, we just got really,
We reached out to Lisa Pope, the president of Epicor, and we were very lucky
and also fortunate to have her as a guest. And then, she agreed, and then we
set up having her as a guest. And then, she agreed, and then we set up the
conversation and then things followed.
So that was very interesting. That's how it all got started, in a way. But,
sometimes, you know, doing podcasting can be time consuming. And you also have this
question- hey, should you do a podcast or not?
But then, there's definitely a lot of learning for all of us, and even for
me personally. Because when you interview these guests, these are really
accomplished people in different industries, and you learn a lot. So, that's
been a joy for me, doing this podcast and hosting this.
I feel like I learned a lot interacting with the guests. And I also had an
opportunity to meet some of them in person, so that was great.
The next guest we had on our show was Kevin Kalish with Sunrise Electric,
the Vice President there. He's one of our customers, so it was a little more
easier for us to get Kevin. And it was great chatting with Kevin and also
learning about his experience working with DCKAP.
And, as you know, once you have some really big names on your show, it
becomes a little more easier to reach out to other people and bring them on
to the podcast. And that's exactly what we did.
Since DCKAP serves the distribution community, we thought we will reach out
to NAED, which is the National Association of Electrical Distributors. So we
got lucky to get NAED. We had Ed Orlet, who's the interim CEO of NAED then,
and we also had Satya Sanavarapu, who's the technology director there. So we
had them on our show.
So, once we had NAED, we thought, okay, let's reach out to NAW, which is the
National Association of Wholesale Distribution. So, we were lucky to get
Eric Hoplin. It was awesome chatting with him from Washington, D.C. So that
And we also were very lucky to have Brent Bellm, the CEO of Big Commerce, on
our show. The past relationships really helped bring these guests onto the
Driven by DCKAP podcast.
After we got Brent, we reached out to Roy Rubin, who's also a great friend,
the co-founder of Magento. I happened to travel to LA, and I met with Roy in
And then, after we interviewed Roy, we thought, okay, let's also have Mark
Lavelle, who was the CEO of Magento and now who runs Deep Lake Capital, who
sold Magento to Adobe Commerce for over a billion dollars.
We had Mark Lavelle on our show. Mark's a great friend and I learned a lot
working with Mark, or working together with Mark, and it was great to have him on the
Driven by DCKAP podcast, and he was kind enough to share his learnings.
And then, as our last guest, we also had Dirk Beveridge, the founder of
UnleashWD, who does the ‘We Supply America’ tour. He takes his RV and travels around America. It
was awesome to have Dirk on our show as well.
Karthik Chidambaram: We were lucky to get Lisa Pope as our first guest. One
thing which I really enjoyed chatting with Lisa on is how she kept
progressing in her career. Her career journey was very inspiring.
And also her advice to women, women in the workforce and the work she does
for women in the industry, in the distribution industry, in the tech
industry. That was very inspiring. And she's somebody everybody can look up
to in terms of how to keep progressing.
Obviously, when you are working for different companies, or when you work
for a company, you're going to hit roadblocks. But then, how do you navigate
those roadblocks and how do you keep progressing in your career? I thought
that was very interesting, chatting with Lisa.
Lisa Pope: I think it does start with content, right? So be seen as a
subject matter expert, an industry expert, have that as your core and your
backdrop because that does get noticed. I mean, in my company we always say
who would you have in your lifeboat, right? And for me it's going to be
people that have that deep, deep capability and product or industry,
depending on your background.
So, I think that's, number one is make sure that that doesn't somehow not
become important. Second thing is clearly network and to me that's
internally and externally. So internally cross functionally, I would say if
I look back at my career, a number of the promotions I got were put in front
of a group of people that weren't in my chain.
So, people from services or finance or other areas of the company and they
said, what do my chain, so people from services or finance or other areas of
the company and they said, what do you guys think about Lisa? Do you think
she's ready for the next level? And if that feedback isn't positive, yes.
She's very collaborative. She's punctual with everything that we need done,
she gets done on a timely basis. Customers love her. That feedback trickles
back and I think more companies use that today.
I know in our company now to get promoted to a Vice President, our executive
team does review those candidates and we feel that's important because that
is a position in the company that is going to be speaking externally and
being involved with customers and we want to make sure that there is that
cross functional alignment.
So don't ignore, I mean, really focus on those collaborative relationships,
and make sure that you're not treating your pre-sales or services people and
if you're in software differently or if you're inside the company, same kind
of thing, making sure that you've got a very good internal network and then
clearly external matters as well. And not because, not the LinkedIn type of
network where how many connections do you have. But getting involved locally
with business or with an industry association, I encourage our sales reps to
do that. So, they're involved with whatever industry they're selling into.
But that network can also help mentor you. So that would be the next piece
of the three would be finding a mentor that can sort of help guide your
career as you're making changes. They can help you decide how to get more
visible and how to sort of stay more visible.
And then finally, don't be afraid to volunteer for maybe something outside
of your wheelhouse a little bit. Sometimes in a company there'll be an
opportunity to step up into something as a learning experience.
I always found that to be very helpful in terms of being considered for the
next level again, because you get that opportunity to get out of your maybe
wheelhouse and get some more cross functional background and then ultimately
performance does matter. So you've got to still execute on your role,
perform at a high level.
But I think just performing at a high level doesn't get you there nowadays,
right? It is really about having that whole ability and that package, if you
will, cross functionally and being able to lead.
Karthik Chidambaram: I also had a great time interviewing Kevin Kalish, one
of our valued customers with Sunrise Electric. He was talking through his
career progression and he was in real estate. He talked about the 2008-2009
financial crisis and that real estate did take a big hit.
And that's around the time period he shifted gears a little bit and got into
distribution. I thought that was interesting because oftentimes in life,
change always happens. And change is the only thing that is constant.
We have shared this multiple times again, and when situations are not going
your way, and when the times are not good, you've got to take another
direction and try something different. And I thought how Kevin shifted gears
from real estate and onto distribution was very interesting.
Kevin Kalish: My uncle owned an electrical contracting business. So they
were kind enough to share some office space.
And when my business started to, you know, fiddle away because of what was
going on in the market, you know, with the 08/09 real estate crash, they
walked in one day and said ‘we have this Estimating Software, do you want to
try this?’ And so that's how I got into the electrical contracting business.
Karthik Chidambaram: It was great to interview Ed Orlett and Satya
Sanivarapu with NAED.
Talking to Ed was fascinating because he talked a lot about history. When I
asked him, hey, what's the book you're reading? He went through historical
books, which he's been reading, and how history is very fascinating. I
thought that was pretty cool.
And it was also great to learn from Ed, the role of NAED and how different
distributors, even though they compete with each other, how they're able to
be a part of the same association and contribute to each other's growth.
That was very interesting.
And talking to Satya, who's a technologist, he brought in a great point,
where it's not just about the technology you buy, but it's about the
technology adoption. I thought that was great.
Ed Orlett: The great thing about NAED is almost all of the industry leaders
are there at our events and within our membership. And that's, I think
that's it. We have the heft of the industry, but we do also want the breadth
of the industry as well.
Satya Sanivarapu: If I may just add one more aspect. So, as I'm looking at
it, as I look at the distribution industry, there is a need and a want, as I
mentioned before, to digitize.
And while they compete with each other, they do realize that this is more of
a journey to go along with only because it’s digital, it’s new for
everybody. And from that standpoint, one company's learnings could be very
beneficial for another.
Karthik Chidambaram: I learned a lot from all these guests, but then, one
thing which I found fascinating was my interview with Brent Bellm. I met
them at BigCommerce headquarters in Austin, Texas. Brent was very welcoming.
Again, we have met before. We had a relationship, so it was easier for us to
reach out to Brent. He's the CEO of a public company, so that was special.
It was great to learn from Brent, running a public company, or what does it
take to go public? That was very interesting.
But one thing I did find very fascinating in chatting with Brent… Sometimes
you have preconceived perceptions of people, and it may not always be right.
Brent's a very smart guy. He has a bachelor's from Stanford, master's from
My question to him was, Brent, you should have been a very smart kid growing
up. And I thought he had really rich parents, because obviously to go to
Stanford and Harvard, you’ve got to be rich. Or at least, it takes a lot of
But then, I was really surprised with his humble beginnings, on where he
started, middle of nowhere in southern Illinois. Father was in farming.
Mother was an elementary school teacher. Neighbors looked down on him. But
then, kids can react to it in multiple different ways. He reacted to it by
working hard. I thought that was very interesting and it was also very
Brent Bellm: Seeing my mom's struggle, seeing us struggle as a family, you
know, sort of lit a spark in me. I can think back to when I was five or six.
I was always a curious kid. But I also needed to create my own sense of
being worth something.
I didn't get that from the community I was living in. You know, relatives
aren't around, the neighbors look down on us and kids react to that type of
situation in a variety of ways. I reacted to it by working hard and saying
well, at least in school, here's a place where I can do well and you know,
get my math assignment done first.
I cared more about getting done first than I did getting everything right.
But if I could get everything right too, then that was a bonus.
And, you know, so I just worked hard in school. And the broader family, my
mom, again, she's an elementary school teacher. So I got some affirmation
from her that that's good, but certainly no pushing, and broader family back
home in Illinois let me know they were proud of me when I did well in
And by the time I got to middle school, I was then kind of old and mature
enough to realize that there was a way out. Like, I wasn't stuck going to a
local college, even if that's what everybody in my kind of high school did.
Like my high school was a big but lower middle class high school. And I
think in my graduating class, only three people went to college outside of
the state, including myself. So nobody else went outside the state. And
there was nobody in the college or in my family saying to me, hey, you
should aspire to something big.
It was certainly the polar opposite of a school that would feed people into
elite out of state colleges. But when I started looking at, all I knew was I
didn't want to go to, I wanted to get out, I wanted to get away, right? I wanted to move out of state.
And when I started doing my own research in the colleges and the whole
world…I'm going out of state. I don't know where, but I can go anywhere.
Karthik Chidambaram: Eric Hoplin was very interesting as well. The CEO of
NAW, again, he's based in Washington, D.C. He travels a lot. He was kind
enough to give us time. We had a great chat.
One thing I found very interesting during the interview is, I asked him
about lobbying. Hey, what is lobbying and how do you lobby? And that was my
question to Eric, and he laughed.
But then, the answer he gave was very interesting and it was good learning
for me. Because sometimes, when you think about lobbying, you might look at
it as not a great word, or you might look at it as something which is not a
good thing to do.
But then, Eric had a great perspective with respect to lobbying. He said,
hey, lobbying is also about educating the people in power, educating the
people who are making decisions, because they may not know everything about
the distribution industry, and they might pass a law, which really affects
the distribution industry, because they just don't know about it.
So, it's about education. So, he was able to tie lobbying with education,
and I thought that was very interesting.
Eric Hoplin: Some people think about lobbying as these, you know, terrible
people and D.C. is the swamp and all of that. But think about if you're a
member of Congress, and I think about my home member of Congress from rural
Minnesota, her name is Michelle Fischbach.
She represents roughly a third of the geographic size of Minnesota. And, you
know, lots of small towns like the one I came from, population 7,000, and
she's got to know everything about the businesses in that huge district.
She's got to understand what's happening with farming, because farming is a
big issue. She's got to understand global issues and trade. There's a
thousand issues that her constituents care about and that matter in the
country, and no one person can be an expert in all of those things. And so,
the key to being good at lobbying is really to be good at education.
Because, at the end of the day, if a member of Congress doesn't know what
distributors do, doesn't know how maybe the rules they're putting in place
might impact those distributors and therefore might impact those employees
and therefore might impact the broader economy. If they don't know, you
know, they're going to do things that could potentially actually be harmful
when they think they're doing good.
And so really, the role of lobbying is spending time getting to know people
and educating them on the things that matter most for our industry, our
economy and our employees, and our customers. So, NAW is the voice of the
wholesale distribution industry in Washington.
And, you know, there's been many times where some issues have come up that
were gonna have a dramatic impact on our industry. You know, I think about
one is, there was a bill, last, or about a year and a half ago, called the
Build Back Better Bill. And when it was first written, it was a seven
trillion dollar remaking of the American economy.
And, as part of that, we were going to see massive tax increases on all
distributors, on all of their customers, on all of their suppliers, and it
was going to have an enormous financial impact on the economy. And so we
went to work, to start educating lawmakers about those impacts.
In fact, we brought CEOs from distribution companies in Wisconsin, for
example, out to Washington D.C., met with lawmakers, talked about how these
massive tax increases would impact their business and the economy. And
lawmakers ultimately listened, and, you know, we had initially defeated the
bill, And lawmakers ultimately listened, and, you know, we had initially
defeated the bill, went from 7 trillion down to zero.
I think they ended up passing something, you know, under a billion, which,
you know, is still a lot of money, but it didn't contain the massive tax
increases our members were facing. And so, we called that a win. So, that's
an example of the sort of things that we help shield our members from.
Karthik Chidambaram: So, Roy Rubin, co-founder of Magento, we were lucky to
have him on the Driven by DCKAP podcast as well.
So, I reached out to Roy, told him, hey, I'm going to be in the LA area.
Would you mind if we meet again and do a recording for Driven, and he
readily agreed. And it was a fascinating conversation. It's always nice to
do this in person with the guests.
I didn't have a place to go to in LA or do the recording. So, we just rented
a temporary office space close to where Roy was living. And then we did the
recording there. I thought that was pretty cool.
And Roy talked about how he traveled. He took a break after he sold Magento.
He took a break for like a year, a year and a half. He traveled with his
family. He didn't really know where he was going. He just took his wife,
kids. They just traveled the world.
They stayed in one country for a few weeks. Another country for a month.
They just kept traveling the world and he encouraged all of us to do that. I
thought that was very interesting.
Roy Rubin: It was life changing for us as a family. I had no agenda. I had
no calls. I had nothing, which was what I wanted. I wanted nothing. I wanted
quiet and peace and to just spend every minute of my day with the kids.
And, yeah, and it was a lot of fun. And, you know, we discovered new places
together and we, you know, we bonded. You know, in hindsight, it was the
best decision we ever made, and I highly encourage people to do that.
Take the time, I don't know about 14 months, but take some time away from
the day to day, if you can, to do this with the family, because it's a real
bonding and uniting opportunity that is rare, and I feel fortunate to have
had this time in life to do that.
Karthik Chidambaram: Mark Lavelle, the former CEO of Magento sold Magento to
Adobe for over a billion dollars, and who now runs Deep Lake Capital, and
who's also the CEO of Maergo.
Mark's a great friend. I've really learned a lot in my many interactions
with him. And it was awesome to have Mark on the Driven podcast. There are a
lot of learnings, especially Mark's leadership, leading from the front.
Mark's always traveling, he's on the road, and how he built a team, how he's
able to empathize with the team, how he built a great culture, all that was
very interesting, chatting with Mark and learning from him.
Mark Lavelle: And that's what a leader does: project that passion for a
strategy that assembles people that can do what I think a lot of people kind
of start with incorrectly, which is execution. Well, this is what we're
going to do. This is how we're going to go do it.
That's hard. And that's important there. But you can waste a whole lot of
time and money starting there, unless you understand what you're going to
do, why you want to do it and who you're going to do it with.
And so that's where we spend a lot of time as leaders, I think, the good
ones, is thinking about, ‘Why are we doing this? Why does it matter? And who
are the people we need around us to make it happen?’
Karthik Chidambaram: And our last guest on the show was Dirk Beveridge, the
founder of UnleashWD and who also runs We Supply America.
Dirk's journey is very inspiring. He takes his RV, travels around the US,
meets with distributors. He calls it the ‘force for good’. It was very
inspiring chatting with Dirk because you get to learn a lot of things.
I thought Dirk's always camera ready, and I asked him this question, ‘hey,
how do you be camera ready all the time?’ Because we wanted to learn from
Dirk, we also do this podcast, how do you be camera ready? And Dirk
responded, hey, it's not about being camera ready. Just be yourself, and
that was a big learning for me.
And Dirk also talked about failures. I asked Dirk, ‘how are you such a great
public speaker?’ And he talked about his failures early on in life and how
that helped him become the great public speaker he is today.
Dirk Beveridge: I remember the first two day sales training program that I,
not my father, that I was hired to do out in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with
a large, what's become a national moving organization.
And, Karthik, I won't tell you the whole story, but I'll bring you to 10:30
AM on day two. When I was fired from the stage, my client came up to me and
said, ‘Dirk, we'll take it from here. Pack up your bags, pack up your
computer. I'll take it from here’.
So, no, I was literally fired from the stage. Years ago. So the answer is,
the answer is no, I have not always been talented on the stage. I think I
still have a long way to go in terms of, but I think what it comes down to,
what it- I'll tell you this, you know, years ago, Karthik, I thought about
taking acting lessons so that I could tell stories great from the stage,
I, you know, I used to get books on jokes so I could pull jokes out and
insert them into the presentation and I- you need two or three things.
Number one, you have to be passionate about the topic. Karthik, we've got
great stuff on sales, and I still do. Sure. That’s not what I'm drawn to do
But you have to be passionate. You have to feel a calling, for getting up on
that stage. Number two, you have to study. You have to have some insight
that can move people, not from, you know, zero to a hundred. But from zero
to one, just move them to the next step.
And third, you have to be authentically yourself. And I will say this, I
tell this to people off camera again, you're getting me to say things I
haven't said on camera before, Karthik. But I'll tell people this. I am, on
stage, the best I've ever been in my career speaking today. Why? Because
it's not a speech for me anymore. It's not me talking or presenting to
What I have the opportunity to do, what I am blessed with right now is- I
have met hundreds of individuals. I've hugged them on the We Supply America
tour, and I get to tell these stories that have impacted me and that I think
can impact other people. And I think those are some of the secrets to
Karthik Chidambaram: Thanks, everyone, for watching our episodes of the
Driven podcast. And if you have not watched all the episodes, just pick the
ones you like the most. I definitely recommend that you check out a lot of
these episodes, because there's a lot you can learn from the wisdom of the
Deciding to do a podcast is easy, but executing takes a lot of effort, and
it can’t be done without a team. So I definitely want to thank Catherine
Sulskis, who runs the Driven by DCKAP podcast. She does all the coordination
and just makes sure everything is in order. So thank you, Cathy, for your
And we also want to thank Sonia Coleman for helping coordinate with the
guests, making sure we have the right guests on the Driven podcast. So
thanks, Sonia, for your leadership as well.
We can't do this without an amazing video production team. So thanks to
Gowtham Kumar for the awesome editing, making all of us look good. Even if we make
mistakes, even if there are errors, you fix them and you make it all look
good. So thank you, Gowtham. Thanks, Aadesh, for the shorts. Thanks to our
entire video production team and crew.
I definitely want to thank our awesome guests. A podcast cannot be a podcast
without the great guests we have. A big thanks to each and every guest on
the Driven show, it made a big difference to the entire season.
Thanks to our awesome listeners. We got great feedback. It's very
motivating. It also helps us do better. So thank you for the warm reception
And finally, if you have not subscribed to the Driven by DCKAP podcast yet,
please click the subscribe button on YouTube. Please click the bell icon.
You can also find us on Apple and Spotify. Click the subscribe button.
We are very excited that we had a great 2023 with awesome guests, and
looking forward to 2024. We have a great lineup of guests. Very excited with 2024.
Wishing you and your families a very happy holidays. Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year!
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