Mirror Review sat down with Jeff LoCastro, the Founder and CEO of Neener Analytics to discuss his thoughts on leadership and its challenges. In the following excerpts from that interview, Jeff shares his thoughts on leadership and how a leader can fight and overcome challenges to succeed in the present competitive business world.
A Leader is Visionary, Focused, Persistent, and Leads by Example
Who is your ideal leader and why?
I don’t think that I have a particular leader whom I’d classify as my “ideal.” In my opinion, all leaders are flawed in some ways just as all people. I admire leaders like Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, and Henry Ford. Steve Jobs was terrifically focused on his company and products. Perfection was not the goal for him—it was imperative. Similarly, the billionaire Sam Walton still got $5 dollar haircuts from the corner barber and drove around in a beat-up 1979 Ford F-150. He followed his vision to make affordable items available to regular people and made it a reality in the form of Walmart. And Sam lived his credo.
Similarly, Henry Ford didn’t invent the car but manufactured the most economical way to build it: the assembly line. He passionately believed that not only everyone should own a car, but that everyone can own one if the costs were controlled and assembled efficiently. This approach to production lowered the cost of materials and the final product, which changed American vehicle accessibility, the world around him, and the course of history.
The truth is—not everyone is cut out for leadership and that’s a good thing. But if you seriously want to lead then find something to lead: a small project or a big one. Own it, build your team around it, and live that project. Love it and hug it until culmination, learn from it and do it again and again.
Building a Great Team of Great People
Tell us something about your team? What is the important job of any leader?
This is a great question. I think the most important job of any leader is building the team; leaders don’t lead alone. Great leaders build companies that are driven by a greater purpose; something of which exceptional talent wants to be part. Great teams need purpose and that purpose should be clearly communicated by the leader. Look, great people are attracted to things bigger than themselves; a passionate march toward something that they feel they can give their heart and soul to and that will live on well beyond their involvement. Great people are drawn toward endeavors/companies that serve a transcendent purpose. Great leaders set those markers, chart that course, and instill that passion into their team.
But what always ends up as #1 priority is putting great people in the right place to succeed. Great leaders attract talented people and put them in a position to win.
Utilizing Small Data to Make Decisions with Higher Accuracy at Neener Analytics
Introduce us with Neener Analytics? How your company marches ahead of others?
What if you could sit each customer down with a psychologist and just ask them, “Are you really going to pay us back?” At Neener Analytics, we’ve developed a regulatory compliant decisioning analytics to help banks lenders, insurance companies, and other risk-focused businesses to make better decisions and understand specific individual risk outcomes (not scores or behaviors) for thin-file, no-file, and credit challenged consumers. Our click-based product line uses only 1-click of the consumer’s social media. Additionally, our chat-based product line or ARIA (World’s First Augmented AI Chat-based Risk Decisioning Tool) can accurately decision an applicant in as little as a 3-min chat. To date, we have never had a default reduction of less than 27% and never had a volume increase of less than 28%. Not once. It works every time.
Unlike other analytics firms, we focus on ‘Small Data’, not big data. Everyone to this point has been using big data: aggregations or pools of affinity to create correlations masquerading as an “individual” prediction. However, we utilize the AI & Deep Learning that creates an individual matrix on each consumer that manifests in binary outcomes, not scores or behaviors. Our system makes decisions about the applicant in exactly the same way that human beings make decisions about other human beings. Not based on what they talk about (big data), but rather how they talk about those things (small data). ARIA is exactly like a human, except better; with less bias and higher accuracy. No one else has cracked this code.
A Path Leading towards Continual Expansion of Decisioning Capabilities
How do you see Neener Analytics in the future? What change do you wish to implement?
Presently, we are operating in 11 countries and I can see us owning specific market regions in the next 10 years. We’ve already built out 2 product lines, each delivering 5 decisioning products. We have another line slated for 2020 and are on track with a new line each of the next 5-years while continuing to expand our decisioning capabilities. I want people to be their own data. We are pioneering the idea of the consumer as their own source of data, which is the future of all consumer engagement. I want the individuals to be able to tell their own story, to base it on who they are, to be able to chart their own course and take back the decisions of their life and open up a new world of opportunities. With what we’ve built, the average consumer can walk into any bank and the banker will greet them with, “Hi! I know you!” instead of “I don’t know you. But I know people like you.”
We have plans to open global offices connecting banks, lenders, insurance companies, real estate companies, and others to target 4 billion potential consumers worldwide.