Know Your Network: Dustin Finkel 00BBA

Goizueta alumni hold more than a coveted degree from Emory; they also boast a wealth of life experiences and business know-how. In this ongoing series, EmoryBusiness.com will share their sage advice, which you can add to your own toolkit.


Dustin Finkel
CEO, Founder, and Top Ka-Pop!
Ancient InGRAINed Snack Co, makers of Ka-Pop! Ancient Grain Snacks

Who inspires you?
I am inspired by those who serve in the military and our veterans. They literally give up everything to protect our freedoms around the world, help others and defend what’s right. There is a level of courage and honor there that is beyond me, and I’m humbled by their commitment. My friends and family who are active military or veterans are some of my closest friends and most trusted advisors. I see those qualities of integrity and selflessness spread throughout their lives.

What’s on your music playlist?
I have the most eclectic music mix. I started a Pandora station when it first launched, and it has everything from country to classical to pop and rap. I love the randomness of it.

What’s the best career or life advice you’ve ever received?
“Good Enough Never Is.” Mediocrity kills innovation and greatness. Think about what Steve Jobs did – he cared about every little detail of the consumer experience, down to the screws used in the iPhone. From a personal perspective, I try and remember a quote I used while at Emory quite a bit, from Dave Matthew’s 😊 –  It’s “not where but who you’re with that really matters”. Finally, while I don’t live up to this as much as I would like, to try and remember that the time with our loved ones is limited. Work will always be there.

What type of hobbies or activities do you enjoy outside of work?
I am a sports nut. I love playing any sport at any time. I am also huge into fitness and nutrition. I am a certified CrossFit coach and love training with those wanting to improve their physical fitness. I am also trying really hard to make meditation a habit – it is an amazing experience when I stay with it for a dedicated period of time. Finally, with as much as I work and travel, I love hanging out with my wife and two sons – they are the world to me.

Define success in terms of what it means to you.
Success to me is about setting a difficult goal, working my tail off to get it and then achieving that vision.  It’s tremendous satisfaction and contentment knowing that you gave it your all and kept working, kept optimizing, kept moving towards the prize. And then allowing yourself that time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and be grateful for those that helped you get there.

Share the way you work through a complex problem.
I always start with the end goal in mind. If I don’t know where I want to be in the end…deciphering anything in the problem is going to be nearly impossible. I then prioritize the variables that are going to be the biggest impact – and I leverage my network to help me think through solutions. I am an eternal student and find I get to better solutions when I am learning from others. I can’t tell you how many coffees, lunches or happy hours I have set up during any given week! I always have a pipeline of them on the calendar, because I can guarantee you – there will always be a problem for which you should seek advice! Having the humility to ask for help is one of the most powerful tools available in our arsenals.

What is your favorite app on your phone or digital tool?
That’s a tough one as there are apps I love because of how frequent I use them (i.e. unfortunately, the United app), but I have two (cheating) that I love. The first is a crosswords app. I love the intellectual stimulation and problem-solving aspect. It is a great way to escape but keep sharp. I also love my meditation app – Meditation Timer & Log.

What is your best GBS memory?
I have too many to share, but my favorites were the interaction with the professors and administration. Whether it was Andrea Hershatter, Ruth Beane, or any of my professors, they were so incredibly supportive, giving with their time, and enjoyable to be around. I loved being at Goizueta and Emory as a whole.

What is your biggest challenge? (Personal or Professional)
The biggest challenge is managing the incredible time demands of my startup. We are a team of two, so there is nowhere else to lean when it hits the fan. Which is pretty much every day. Anyone looking for a job in Boulder, CO?

How do you ensure you take time to renew yourself mentally, physically and spiritually?
Working out and meditation. I also do love, although it is infrequent to just sit on the couch and watch meaningless TV. However, my favorite is being with my kids and wife.

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