Exeleon Magazine

Khris Thayer: Optimizing Digital Relevance

Khris Thayer OPTIZMO

An influential leader is a leader that strives to make a positive impact on people affected by seen and unseen decisions.  In fact, good leaders are good listeners and inquisitive about what makes people tick, encourage people to play to their strengths and provide opportunities to strengthen their weaknesses.

Good leaders use this diagnostic approach to provide clarity and purpose through decisive and independent thought. Khris Thayer, CEO and Co-founder of OPTiZMO Technologies, is an ingenious example of an influential leader. He implements his thought-leadership style through seeking and providing opportunities for others.

Additionally, he proactively contributes in leveling-up his team’s knowledge and experience.  He says, “I make a conscious effort to empathize without sacrificing high standards in order to appease.”

Facing the music— like a real leader

Khris’ earliest memory as a leader is mostly centered around music. Growing up in a small town in rural Texas, it was difficult for him to find creative outlets.  But reflecting on his formative years made him realize the importance of manifestations through adversity. This eventually led him to excel in his personal growth and interests.

As he tried to create an outlet for himself, he soon realized that there were other people all around him looking for the same thing: Inspiration.  They needed a catalyst and he wanted to be that for them.  Khris shares, “I listened to other young people talk as they were looking at albums at a local record shop.  While they were buying albums, popular within the culture of the area, I would hear them comment about wanting to find something new.  They would complain about everything sounding the same or that their parents didn’t like it.”

There were plenty of options for new music to be discovered, and Khris took this as a cue for him to lead people towards a free and open-minded perspective. He recalls, “I walked over to a nearby demo stereo and began to play music that I found interesting.  Music not found on any of the top sellers.” He would play the most random albums and after a few weeks of doing this, he made more friends than he ever wanted.

There was a gravitational pull as he explained his reasons for creating music and finding inspiration to influence his own writing. This was the first time he cognizantly realized that  people want to be led, but not forced into following.  Khris believes that “we all want to be inspired by people who are unapologetic about what drives them.”

Inspiration is contagious and we want to follow people who are deliberate and passionate.  Those same friends are still his friends now: bandmates, roadies, his unpaid marketing team, his creative consultants and production engineers, and lifelong fans of anything that he has pursued throughout his life.

A happy chance with his passion

Music has always been a means of catharsis for Khris and integral to his success and sanity.  The discipline and focus required to create music, write songs, identify patterns, inspire emotion, and take people on a journey has played a positive role in his life. It also created a positive impact as it taught him about leading and influencing people to a desired outcome.

But it was a fortunate stroke of serendipity when he was introduced to the email marketing industry. Coincidentally, around that time, his friend and CTO/ Co-founder, Grant Fern had started a think-tank passion project.  This led them both to discuss business ideas, concepts, and philosophy.  After years pondering a company together, they decided to collaborate and make things happen.

He believed that the market needed a better and more reliable solution for managing the collection, storage, and distribution of email suppression lists.  As a result, he and Grant decided to focus on workflow automation and efficiency. Eventually, they built a team dedicated to customer success and this was the impetus for creating OPTiZMO.

Sharing his idea about the name of the company, Khris shares “As with a lot of companies, the name resulted from some back-of-a-napkin doodling, playing around with the word, Optimize. Eventually, Optimization-Gizmos led to the company name, OPTiZMO.”

As a CEO, Khris believes his role is to build a competent team, empower and facilitate them with the tools that they need to succeed, and then let them do what they do best.  So, while he is often involved in day-to-day operations, his leadership focus is providing strategic guidance according to the circumstances.

Eyes on the real prize

For Khris, his people are the real assets as he treasures them dearly. From the beginning, he had his vision set on hiring highly entrepreneurial, self-motivated people with expertise in their respective fields. “Results-driven autonomy has created an environment that supports both personal and professional growth for individual team members while inspiring camaraderie and collaboration as a team,” he adds.

Additionally, Khris is driven and passionate to ensure optimal client experience and satisfaction. His focus is simple, impactful and progressive on three key areas: providing the best data management and compliance technology; delivering world-class customer service and support; managing scale while not sacrificing service for growth.

Khris’ journey has been an exciting and adventurous one and rarely, if ever, a straight path.  It has been a challenging route of many ups, downs, curves, and crossroads towards success.  But, he is not really one for regrets, as he thinks it is difficult to say if there is anything that he would do differently.

However, Khris always strives to improve and become better through experience and learning.  “I try to remain cognizant of my responsibility to my partner and my team.  I try to remain humble and open to learn from those I lead and those who lead me.  I’ve been fortunate in that many of those, the ones I lead and who lead me, are one in the same,” he concludes.

His biggest experiential advice

Adaptability, mindfulness, and gratitude are rare qualities that should warrant more attention in the context of business and leadership.  Khris suggests aspiring business leaders to be adaptable to market trends and changes in the business and pivot quickly and decisively.

He also thinks it is more important to make moves and changes in the right direction than it is to be right about an initial direction or idea.  Additionally, being mindful of your actions and decisions impact those you lead.  Khris repeatedly emphasizes on being responsible for outcomes and leading by example.

Gratitude is another important ingredient required to cook your delicious success story. Khris also says, “Positive outcomes are often the result of learning from negative outcomes.  Be grateful for the learning opportunities, but do not focus on the negative.  There is almost always a silver lining.”

Lastly, be deliberate: say what you mean and mean it when you say it.  “Your clients, partners, and team members will respect you for it and it will, likely, earn you goodwill to get you through the moments when you misstep. Work environments may change, but these philosophies never will,” he concludes.

Optimizing for the future

With over 15 years of experience, Khris still has a fascination for his company and is very excited about the future. As thought leaders in the digital marketing industry, he believes his team  are in a great position to anticipate the challenges of the future and rise to meet them head-on, while expanding the business offerings.

“We prepare for this with a sense of cultural readiness as we scale our team to meet the demands of our growing and ever-evolving company,” he shares. Moreover, he will also be focusing on international growth in 2022 and beyond.

A few of his other priorities are to enhance the SaaS platform, scale the infrastructure and team, while continuing to create more value through diversification of OPTIZMO’s product and service offerings.

Lastly, he is looking to expand his OPTiZMO’s network of cross-platform integration partners. “We are always innovating and incubating new business models and ideas,” he concludes.

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