Ryan Brown, 38

1 Posted by - October 15, 2015 - 2015, Sarasota-Manatee

CEO, XByte Technologies

Ryan Brown has had a whirlwind of a year so far in 2015.

It started with a major job promotion, when he was named CEO of Bradenton-based xByte, one of the largest resellers of refurbished Dell servers and equipment in the country, with $20 million in sales. Brown was vice president of sales at xByte for five years before that. He lived in Virginia, and relocated with his family to Bradenton for the new position.

Brown, while confident in his ability to oversee the company’s operations, systems and most importantly, products and services, is in a tough spot: He replaces xByte founder Tom Santilli in the CEO role. Santilli, who left to spend more time with family and on philanthropic work, built xByte up from the living room of his Gainesville house to an industry leader in a decade. That success is hard to duplicate.

Brown says his overall goal is to improve on what Santilli did, not change for change’s sake. The biggest learning curve so far, says Brown, is being sure he takes time to listen to all sides when making decisions.   

“In the beginning I was a bull. I just charged ahead,” says Brown. “I’ve had to pull back a little bit.”

— Mark Gordon

Q&A

Name: Ryan Brown

Age: 38

City of residence: Lakewood Ranch

Twitter handle: @xByteIT

Employer: xByte Technologies

Title: CEO

Birthplace: San Diego, Calif.

Years on the Gulf Coast: 3

Marital status/children: Married with two kids

Alma mater: Virginia Tech (we were beating Ohio State at halftime.)

Best place to network: IT Conferences. I’ve experienced a lot of success by running into influential IT people I know and then they introduce me to other influential people.

Coolest business experience: I recently went on a three-day camping retreat/workshop with other business leaders. There was very limited access to email/phones, which allowed for greater focus, sharing of ideas and thinking.

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. A team who believes in a common vision can overcome hurdles. When people don’t believe in the success of the company, they will let hurdles turn into walls.

One website that makes your job easier: Summary.com converts business books into quick summaries of the key points. Most business books only have a few good pages of info. I used to dog eat those pages. Summary does that for me and turns it into a five-page quick reference guide.

One community group you’re most involved with: Spiceworks. It’s amazing how many different events that I attend and run into people I know from Spiceworks.

Favorite off-hours activity: Running with my kids. I get to spend time with my kids and get quiet time to myself at the same time. It also has a side effect of getting into shape.

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Steve Jobs and John C. Maxwell: They are both truly inspiring people and I would like to hear unfiltered stories about their success. 

What you would be doing if you could pick another career: Professional poker player. It is the perfect balanced of being smart, understanding psychology of people and taking risks.

Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done: Skydiving. I actually have a fear of heights and still jumped out of the plane. Well…  I may have been pushed out. I went tandem and the person attached to my back definitely pushed me out of the plane after we rocked forward. Sometimes in business and skydiving, you need a gentle nudge.

What’s at the top of your bucket list: Running a marathon. I started doing some long distance runs a couple years ago, but I let life interfere. 

What new skill would you like to learn: Mergers and acquisitions. As we look to expand, we are looking at buying or merging with companies. I would like to learn best methods for selecting companies for acquisition and then how to evaluate their worth.

Who would play you in a movie about your life: Tom Hanks. He is down to earth and successful.

If I had a magic wand I’d: create world peace. I know it sounds like a Miss America answer, but nothing else would give me more opportunity for success now and give my children more opportunity for happiness in the future. From a business standpoint, world peace would remove fear from many and give them confidence to expand their business. Being in the IT field, this opens up enormous opportunities. For my children, this gives them a more civil world where they can travel with less potential of problems.

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