Monica Eaton-Cardone is a noted entrepreneur and industry leader, co-founding numerous successful companies. She’s earned a reputation for developing effective, innovative business solutions. She specializes in product and technology system development, eCommerce retention, and agile process design. Monica is the co-founder of Chargebacks911 and Global Risk Technologies, serving as COO and CIO respectively. These companies help online merchants prevent chargebacks and combat friendly fraud to ensure sustainable, long-term growth. Monica has been featured in Forbes, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CBS News, Fox News...and now, TruPath!
What's most exciting to you at this point in your career?
The unknown! Our company relies heavily on innovation. Solutions of the past, no matter how effective they were, quickly become obsolete. I love that we are constantly evolving, looking for effective ways to address modern threats. I thrive on discovering new solutions that no one else has thought of yet.
Give me an example of when you inspired people with a vision.
A couple years ago, we hit a slump in sales and revenue due to metaphorical changes in the industry. Rather than laying off some of the team to cope with decreased production requirements, we got together to figure out how to create a new revenue stream. We established a plan that would strengthen our stance, regardless of the climate change within our industry.
The vision was simply "create success." We ended up launching a new service that solved a different, even larger, problem presented in the industry. Not only did we keep every job intact, but we ending up having to add more staff as a result.
Inspiration begins with yourself. It is a decision to succeed at something, not a decision to not fail. It’s a decision to not give up until you find a way to create success.
How do you build "culture" within your organization?
Culture is a huge element for us. Actually, we were just recognized for our efforts by Entreprenuer.com. We were awarded a coveted spot on their first annual Top Company Cultures List.
Like any other business, Chargebacks911 strives to create a productive work environment and an empowering culture for our employees. We rely on many traditional team building activities while trying to accomplish that goal.
- We recognize and celebrate birthdays each month.
- The company provides two, 30-minute personal training sessions each week for those who are interested.
- Team members take turns making food runs and eat lunch together.
- Telecommuting is made available to those who are interested in working remotely.
- Our company created a community service and scholarship program called Get Paid for Grades. Team members are given the chance to interact with scholarship participants and help teach valuable life lessons.
- We regularly participate in charity run/walks. We recently completed the Tough Mudder obstacle course.
- Even those with limited athletic ability enjoy our kickball tournaments. ;)
How would you describe your leadership philosophy?
I do not subscribe to the belief that the climb to the top needs to be lonely. It is a team effort that is fueled equally by dedication and comradeship.
What's the greatest compliment you've ever been given in your time as a leader?
Hearing that someone wants to be like you is the greatest compliment a leader can receive. It is incredibly difficult to maintain the balance between work and empathy. Where a 'no-excuses' approach is requisite to get results, you cannot lose sight of the fact that your team is not made up of machines!
This is also the example we all hope to set for our own children. It is a motivation that requires consistent effort in the eyes of a naturally fickle audience. :) In other words, your good works, efforts and examples must always remain ahead of the mistakes you will make—despite your best efforts to avoid regret.
Tell me about how you've scaled your organization. What was a defining moment or decision you made that put you on that path?
When we first started Chargebacks911, we thought we’d run the business as a consulting service. Merchants could contact us with their problems and we’d offer advice.
It quickly became evident that consulting with merchants wouldn’t be enough. Merchants needed a comprehensive solution. They needed to outsource the task so they could focus on the day-to-day responsibilities of growing their business.
Once we changed the scope of our services, the business changed drastically. In just three years, we added more than 300 employees and experienced 679% growth. This rapid growth earned us a spot on the Inc. 5000 list as one of America’s fastest growing companies—two years in a row.
Share with me one of your greatest accomplishments while being incredibly resource disadvantaged.
Chargebacks911 was actually created out of necessity. As online merchants, my business partner and I struggled to manage chargebacks. In fact, we lost our processing agreement with the bank because chargeback rates had escalated so quickly.
We tried to get help from “professionals,” but there just weren’t quality solutions available at the time. So, we became self-taught experts on the subject and managed to stabilize our finances.
At the time, our “business” was just two chargeback experts, trying to decide what to do with all this newly acquired knowledge. With virtually no resources at our disposal, we managed to do two very impressive things.
First, we were able to convince industry members of our expertise. The same bank that had revoked our credit card processing abilities turned to us for assistance. Would we please help their other merchants keep chargeback rates low?
Second, we drew the attention of a well-respected media outlet. The New York Times contacted us for an interview.
All of a sudden, our expertise was high in demand from just about everyone!
How do you invest in yourself to increase your impact?
I am an exercise enthusiast. Not only do I appreciate the health benefits, my leadership abilities are enhanced too. For me, it is not as much a physical endurance, but an exercise for mental toughness and focus.
Exercise is like a reset button for my stress. I am able to better focus on my employees and their needs, rather than my own challenges.
I recently had the opportunity to combine my love of physical exertion with another passion—team work. I convinced several employees to join me in the local Tough Mudder obstacle course challenge. I loved seeing everyone push themselves both physically and collaboratively. It was a truly inspiring experience!
How does consistent learning and curiosity show up in your organization?
Our company lives or dies by innovation. Technology, industry regulations, and fraud tactics are always evolving. We must be in a constant state of adaptation to stay one step ahead.
I love watching our team embrace a culture of learning. Not only are employees eager to participate in company-sanctioned educational opportunities, they actively look for ways to improve their own understanding of industry trends.
Employees feel comfortable presenting their ideas and strategies for success. We are all constantly learning through trial and error as we test out new solutions and evaluate their effectiveness.
What's one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs who are just starting to hire C-Level talent?
Focus on finding someone who is a good fit for your company. Don’t get tunnel vision with the job description. There are tons of people out there with the skills you need. Finding someone with the skills and personality that will best suit your company will be the challenge.
Determine which characteristics are needed to lead your team to success. Weight hard skills verses soft skills. Hard skills, or abilities acquired through training and education, can always be taught. Soft skills, or interpersonal skills, are harder to encourage if they aren’t a natural instinct.
How do you attract the best and brightest?
I meet them half way! It is my job to match their skills with interest and passion. People who are passionate about what they do want to work around others who think and act the same way.
We have a 'zero negativity' policy in our company. We work with people we like and respect; this is more important than sheer talent.
The goal is to never be the smartest person in the room. We don't hire employee numbers; we hire talent, potential, and passion.
At the end of the day, work should not feel like work. If you love what you do and enjoy being around the people you work with, it becomes a part of life that helps you grow and achieve genuine satisfaction. It's one thing to have a job, it’s another to really know that you are a part of something bigger.
If you could go back to when you were just starting out at your organization and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you tell yourself?
There is one thing I tell myself every day: your perseverance will be rewarded. This is a mantra I had to adapt early on. There will always be challenges, road blocks, and detours. How will you handle those difficult situations? Will you give up? Or just keep pressing on?
Challenges seem abundant in the beginning, primarily because you haven’t developed adequate conflict resolutions skills yet. Perseverance is a necessary personality trait, one that will be put to the test often!
TruPath is an executive search firm that finds mid to senior level executives in mission critical roles at your organization. This interview is part of our executive interview series, where we ask CEO's a series of questions about their leadership philosophies and practices. Contact us if you'd like to recommend a CEO to interview, or if you're looking for a leader to join your team.