Entrepreneur and technologist Joe Rogers is the Founder and CEO of WorkDone.ai and Co-Founder of RGB Projects Inc., an IBM business partner. For over 20 years, Joe has been launching and operating businesses from scratch to full scale international operations; producing continuous sales and profit growth along the way.
Fortune 1000 companies within the insurance, energy, healthcare and financial services industries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and throughout the U.S. have leveraged Joe’s expertise and experience. In late 2017 it was time for a fresh challenge.
WorkDone, Joe’s latest venture, is an AI Digital Workforce Platform that utilizes patent-pending Expertise Capture technology which empowers organizations to seamlessly train software agents to automate tasks and transactions between major software platforms.
DigitalAMN scored an interview with AI Ethicist & Process Whisperer, Joe Rogers, where we discuss leadership, career and technology.
How did you get started along your career path?
I was self-employed straight out of college as a contract programmer. I quickly formed a consulting company, hiring programmers and managing projects. It was like getting shot out of a cannon working with superbanks across Southeast Asia and oil companies in the Middle East.
As the consultancy matured, I split my time to create a packaged application software company – my first customer was the largest privately held company in the world at the time. The implementation went so well that within three months of going into production they decided to install our software in their South American financial service center.
In 2005, I co-founded RGB Projects with two other independent ECM consultants. That’s where my career shifted as I transitioned to focus on higher-level management setting long term direction and vision.
Were you always interested in technology?
It was pretty much inevitable. My formative years coincided with the early days of tech when the Apple II was released and IBM and Microsoft battled for the desktop. I started Harvard at 16 and declared computer science as my major. I took some time off in the middle for maturation and work experience – I used to joke that I wanted to be able to legally drink a beer when I graduated college.
Upon graduation, I lucked into a job at FileNet which pioneered document imaging and workflow using client/server architecture which was new at the time. This experience honed my skills, allowing me to transition from a coder to an architect to other technical and non-technical roles. Technology appeals to me because of the cognitive and creative inspiration required to build something from nothing.
What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
Early in my career I made a point to say “Yes” to everything, knowing I would figure it out later! I forced myself to take risks which led me to where I am now. I’m doing it again over 20 years later with WorkDone by leveraging new tech like machine learning and blockchain while raising with equity crowdfunding to ultimately have a positive social impact.
What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made?
In the mid-90s I was focused on my niche and watched ‘the internet’ train leave the station without me. I was more of a skeptic who wanted to wait and see if this interwebs thing would actually catch on – which it clearly did.
What do you think is your greatest strength as a leader?
When I make decisions it’s crucial for me to check my heart as much as my brain, sometimes more! Historically, my brain has led me into some horrible rationalizations, whereas my heart has never led me astray. Incorporating my heart into my decision-making has been the best way to stay true to myself and not get led astray by shiny objects.
What do you read?
I’m in a book club to make sure I stay on top of my reading. Just finished Pitch Anything; I prefer purpose-driven reading, which includes lots of business and social psychology books to learn new perspectives and ideas.
Could you share a secret behind getting to where you are now?
My standard operating procedure is the Golden Rule – to treat others as I want to be treated. For me it’s important to conduct myself in a way that minimizes regrets, then, if by chance something goes sideways, there’s still a strong foundation of mutual respect. I’m still in close contact with friends from my grade school and university days which serves as a proof (I think!) that this philosophy works.
Who’s someone you admire?
As a kid I dreamt of being an astronaut so I’d love to have a coffee with Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist and author. He’s fun and a great conversationalist.
What’s your superpower?
My connection to my heart.
What’s some advice you’d give to younger Joe?
Relax, younger Joe! In the 90’s I was a workaholic with no work-life balance and no connection to anything greater. I was essentially a bull in a china shop – zero self awareness. There was no way I could have succeeded and gotten to where I am now without my meditation practice and my connection to my heart.
*Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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