10 questions for Keas CEO Josh Stevens

October 17, 2013: 1:34 PM ET

The CEO of health and wellness company Keas discusses his greatest achievement and the businessperson he admires most.

Interview by Chanelle Bessette

131017131654-josh-stevens-240xaFORTUNE -- Fortune's annual Brainstorm Tech conference brings together the best and brightest minds in tech innovation. Fortune periodically turns the spotlight on a different conference attendee to offer their personal insight into business, tech, and entrepreneurship.

Josh Stevens is the CEO of health and wellness company Keas, which aims to improve employee wellness programs for large businesses. Keas helps employees improve their health by making the process socially engaging. We asked Stevens 10 questions about his work and his personal life. his greatest achievement, his first job, and the superpower he would like to have most:

Fortune: What business or technology person do you admire most? Why?

Josh Stevens: Tom Reifenheiser -- he led the media, telecom, and technology finance group at Chase Manhattan Bank, and he's also the person who gave me my first job in business. He was at the bank for 30 years when he hired me and taught me that business isn't just about products, pricing and services; rather, it's based on trust and relationships. As a result, I saw how deals are really closed -- developing and maintaining a long-term relationship with people. Tom had years' worth of history with his clients, and they consistently turned to him for advice and counsel about their own endeavors, not just for credit or equity financing.

Is business school necessary for entrepreneurs?

No -- it probably hinders more than it helps. It's also expensive -- entrepreneurs could start businesses with the money they'd otherwise spend on business school and learn more.

What is the best advice you ever received? 

Listen. Execute. Add.

What is your greatest achievement?

Being a job-creator during the roughest period in America's economic history since the Great Depression. One of the most rewarding parts of being an entrepreneur is providing jobs and investing in people -- giving people day-to-day resources, allowing them to provide for their families is perhaps one of the greatest privileges I've had.

What is one characteristic that every leader should possess?

The ability to be open-minded, so that one can reserve the right to get smarter.

What do you do to live a balanced life? 

I give myself dedicated time daily to read, walk, and think without distractions. I need all three to be recharged and balanced.

What was the most important thing you learned in school? 

To discern and separate the narrative from the facts. In life, in books, in everything.

What was your first job? 

A credit analyst for corporate loans at Chase Manhattan Bank. It wasn't my first choice, it was actually my "fallback." I had always wanted to be a high school history teacher but wasn't hired at the schools I applied to. At the time, I felt bummed about taking a "fallback" job, but in retrospect, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I stepped into the world of business and never looked back.

What do you do for fun? 

I have a vegetable garden -- it's completely organic. I built raised beds that stand four feet off the ground so that I can garden standing up (much better for your back). I try to keep my garden stocked with my favorite veggies year round. While the San Francisco fog can make it tough, it's a fun challenge to work around: how to get high garden yield out of foggy San Fran.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? 

Flying -- a handy superpower, especially for avoiding traffic. As James Taylor says, it "hurts my motor to go so slow."

Posted in: ,
Join the Conversation
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.