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Catalyst MINDS Features Steve Cooper: Advice From The Trenches

High-tech executive offers insight for entrepreneurs on how to adapt and thrive

Catalyst for Thought is a local nonprofit organization with a goal to advance the community by educating and motivating individuals to create, develop and act on their entrepreneurial ideas. Through its MINDS series, Catalyst for Thought seeks to create a unique synergy between featured speakers and a small group of local entrepreneurs to empower each individual to help create solutions that affect society and inspire others.

A recent luncheon with local executive and entrepreneur Steve Cooper focused on lessons that he’s learned over the years, and what it took for him to pursue his various entrepreneurial ventures. Cooper entertained an intimate group of 10 other local professionals with his stories of success, as well as challenges “from the trenches.” At the end, he answered several questions from the guests.

Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper

With more than 38 years of experience as a vice president, president, CEO and chairman of many successful companies in the semiconductor, software and medical device industries, Cooper chose to tailor his talk to focus on the “trenches,” sharing both his many successes as well as failures as an entrepreneur.

“Make decisions,” he said. “Don’t be a company that merely toggles back and forth. When you make a decision it will soon be clear if it’s right or wrong, but at least you’ll be moving in a direction.

“An entrepreneur should never be afraid to fail. You can learn as much from your failures as you can from your successes.”

Some of Cooper’s more memorable successes in his own career include aiding Intel through an immense period of growth from 1973 to 1980, as well as helping start Inogen Inc., the leader in portable oxygen concentrators for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“The worst way to start a company is to create a technology looking for a problem to solve,” Cooper said.

He advised instead to start with a need or problem, and then figure out how you can develop the technology from there.

“Don’t be afraid to continually reinvent yourself,” he said.

Cooper holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UCSB, where he currently serves as a UCSB Foundation trustee, a member of the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Cabinet and a member of the advisory board for the Technology Management Program.

He believes in giving back to the community through philanthropy and in his work coaching young executives, and for that reason he founded High Tech CEO Advisor, where he enjoys sharing his experience to help other entrepreneurs learn how they can achieve their goals.

Click here for more information about Steve Cooper and his current endeavors as a High Tech CEO advisor.

Catalyst for Thought’s next event — on Sept. 28 — features Kathy Ireland, a Santa Barbara native, former supermodel and successful entrepreneur and founder of kathy ireland Worldwide. Ireland’s topic is “What Problems Are You Solving” and the event will be held at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara, in partnership with Davies. A cocktail reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with seating at 6:45 p.m. and the program starts at 7 p.m. No late admittance is permitted.

Tickets to the Catalyst for Thought event are $15 with online RSVP by Sept. 27 and $20 with online RSVP or at the door by Sept. 28. Click here to RSVP.

Click here for more information about Catalyst for Thought. Connect with Catalyst for Thought on Facebook. Follow Catalyst on Twitter: @CatalystSB.

— Carolyn Turner is a writer for Catalyst for Thought and works at Avalan Wealth Management as its client care director.

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