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Ricki Fairley

Marketing executive Ricki Fairley was born on June 17, 1956 in Washington, D.C. to Wilma Holmes and Richard Fairley. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 1978 with her B.A. degree in English. She went on to receive her M.B.A. degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 1981.

Upon graduation, Fairley was hired as an associate brand manager for McNeil Consumer Products Company in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. She then worked as an associate brand manager at Nabisco from 1984 to 1988, and as senior brand manager at Reckitt & Colman from 1989 until 1995. In 1995, Fairley was named vice president of marketing for the SEGA Channel, and from 1996 to 2000, she served as marketing director for The Coca-Cola Company. She then worked as vice president of marketing for Chupa Chups USA from 2000 to 2003, and as partner and strategist for PowerPact, LLC from 2003 to 2005. In 2005, Fairley was hired as partner and senior vice president of strategy and planning for IMAGES USA, and promoted to chief marketing officer and partner in 2009. In February of 2012, Fairley established DOVE Marketing Inc., where she serves as president.

Fairley is the president emeritus of the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association, is a member of the Dartmouth Committee on Trustees, and serves as board chair of Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company. Fairley has also served on the boards of the Latin American Association, Ne-Yo’s Compound Foundation, and Move This World. She manages the relationship between the Links, Inc. and the White House Office of Public Engagement as a member of the National Women’s Issues and Economic Empowerment Committee, and is a member of the Silver Spring, Maryland Chapter of the Links, Inc.

Fairley holds the Leadership Award from the Creative Thinking Association of America, was named a Top 100 Marketer by Black Enterprise magazine in February 2011, and is a member of the 2011 Class of Leadership Atlanta. She received the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) 2013 Multicultural Excellence Award for the African American radio advertising for the Obama for America campaign.

Fairley has two daughters, Amanda and Hayley; both are graduates of Dartmouth College.

Ricki Fairley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 31, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.069

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/31/2014

Last Name

Fairley-Brown

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

Dartmouth College

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Business

Academy Of The Holy Cross

Keene Elementary School

St. Anthony Catholic School

St. Michael the Archangel School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ricki

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

FAI04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Negril, Jamaica

Favorite Quote

No Is Never The Answer, It's Always How.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

6/17/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hot Fudge Sundaes

Short Description

Marketing executive Ricki Fairley (1956 - ) was the founder of DOVE Marketing Inc., and worked as a brand manager and senior marketing executive at top corporations for over thirty years.

Employment

McNeil Consumer Products Company

Nabisco

Reckitt & Colman

Sega Channel

The Coca-Cola Company

Chupa Chups USA

PowerPact, LLC

IMAGES USA

DOVE Marketing, Inc.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ricki Fairley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley talks about her paternal great-grandmother's memories of Frederick Douglass

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley talks about her paternal family's emphasis on education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley describes her father's educational experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ricki Fairley talks about her parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ricki Fairley describes her parents' personalities and her likeness to them

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ricki Fairley talks about her sister and immediate family

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley describes her upbringing in Silver Spring, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley describes her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers her father's emphasis on Ivy League education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley talks about her early interests and activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley remembers her first exposure to black advertising

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley talks about her father's involvement in her career

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley remembers her experiences at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ricki Fairley talks about her early literary interests

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ricki Fairley remembers traveling with her family

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley recalls her arrival at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley talks about the black community at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley remembers adjusting to college life

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley recalls her influences at Dartmouth College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley remembers the all-black cheerleading team at Dartmouth College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley recalls her decision to attend the Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley reflects upon her father

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley recalls her experiences at the Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ricki Fairley remembers her internship at the McNeil Consumer Products Company

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ricki Fairley talks about her first marketing position at the McNeil Consumer Products Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley describes Johnson and Johnson Products' response to the Chicago Tylenol murders

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley remembers marketing Children's Tylenol and CoTylenol

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley remembers working for RJR Nabisco, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers her experiences at Reckitt and Colman plc

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley describes the collapse of the Sega Channel

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley recalls the discrimination against mothers in Corporate America

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley describes her role at The Coca-Cola Company

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley recalls establishing the Idea Works think tank at The Coca-Cola Company

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley remembers creating the Dasani bottled water brand

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley recalls developing the Coke Cards promotion

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers initiating The Coca-Cola Foundation's sponsorship of the Essence Music Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley remembers The Coca-Cola Company's advertising deal with the 'Tom Joyner Morning Show'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley describes her work at Chupa Chups U.S.A.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley remembers marketing pasta during the low carb diet trend

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley recalls marketing Hillshire Farm to the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley describes Hillshire Farm's relationship with Steve Harvey

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley remembers the impact of her breast cancer diagnosis

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley remembers her work on President Barack Obama's reelection campaign, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers her work on President Barack Obama's reelection campaign, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley talks about founding DOVE Marketing, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley talks about the future of black advertising firms

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley describes her company, DOVE Marketing, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley talks about her breast cancer advocacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ricki Fairley reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ricki Fairley talks about her father's perspective on her career

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley talks about the support for black entrepreneurs

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley reflects upon her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

6$6

DATitle
Ricki Fairley talks about her paternal great-grandmother's memories of Frederick Douglass
Ricki Fairley recalls the discrimination against mothers in Corporate America
Transcript
They're from your [paternal] great-grandmother, I guess right?$$Yes.$$Okay. What was her name?$$Her name was Cora Wilkinson.$$Um-hm.$$And--$$So you've got her letters, that's really--$$Yeah they are very, very cool, handwritten letters. She tells the story of moving to Washington [D.C.] when she was about twelve and her dad was actually run out of Charleston [South Carolina] by the Klan [Ku Klux Klan, KKK]. He was very kind of rebellious and kind of a (background noise)--you know, and they owned--the family owned a oak farm in Charleston and he was kind of run out of town and fled to D.C. and built a house in Anacostia [Washington, D.C.] using the oak from the farm and they were sitting on the porch one day and Frederick Douglass happened to walk down the street and walked up and knocked on the door and said, you know, "Who built your house? I just bought the land next door and I'm looking for someone to build a house." And her dad, I guess my great-great-grandfather said, "I built the house from my farm in Charleston." He's like, "Well build me a house." So he actually built Frederick Douglass a house next door. And her letters talk about how she was afraid of Frederick Douglass because her--him and her dad used to argue at night sitting on the porch. Her dad would always talk about him because he had--was like I think somewhat of a womanizer and always had white--had several white wives. They would have these arguments over politics or whatever and they always would kind of wake her up from sleep arguing about stuff. It was probably--you know, that was their relationship, I don't think it was mean, I think it was sort of how they talked to each other, it was fun. But it distur- it disturbed her as a kid and she told these stories like I don't know they woke me up again and I don't know what they are fighting about, I wish they would shut up and the letters are pretty funny. But, but that was sort of the story there and then later there is actually an area in Annapolis [Maryland] called Highland Beach [Maryland], you know Highland Beach? It's a black beach, so Frederick Douglass actually bought this peninsula in Annapolis called Highland Beach and sold the land to black families to have--to let them have a beach house. So, my--so, I think Highland Beach was established in 1896 [sic. 1893] and so somewhere in there our family did buy land there. So we have some land in Highland Beach.$$Yeah I think it was all--it was purchased in Douglass' name from what I recall on the tour, you know Douglass died in 1895--$$Yes.$$--but his son [Charles Douglass] actually managed the development (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Managed the development, and actually his daughter [Rosetta Douglass]--he never lived in the, in the house there. There is a house there that's his house but his daughter did--lived in the house and the house is like a museum. It's a very, very cool place to go to, and--$$Right, I think Mary Church Terrell's descendants operate the museum.$$Yes and she lives next door, Jean [Jean Langston], yes.$$Exactly.$$So they all grew up with my parents.$$So Douglass would argue about his--his girlfriends.$$His girlfriends, his politics, whatever and the way Cora described it, it was like gosh they are arguing again, now what are they talking about. I think she was probably like a young teenager.$$What--what was your--now this would be--Cora would be your great-grandmother so it would be your great-great-grandfather (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes, yes, yes.$$--who was arguing with Frederick Douglass. Do you know his name?$$No but I can tell you later, I can look it up.$$He was the one who was chased out of North Carolina [sic.] by the Klan (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Out of North Carolina, yes I do have his name I just--forgive me, I have a really great memory but I just don't have same day service (laughter).$$No this is good because it gives people a clue. That's why I asked the question just to give people a clue because if you don't know his exact name that's all right (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) I have it though, yeah, we have--$$Yeah, okay.$$--a great recording and actually--actually what we've been able to find is that they--they all went to Oberlin [Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio].$Do you have kids yourself at this point?$$So, in--my daughters were born in '85 [1985] and '92 [1992]. So I had Amanda [Amanda Brown] when I was at Nabisco [RJR Nabisco, Inc.] and I was the--I should have told this story back then but I was the only woman in the office that had kids--had a kid. I hid it until I was six months pregnant. I just kept putting safety pins in my skirt. And, you know, I was pretty thin so I could sort of get away with it for a while until one day I threw up in my plate at the lunch table (laughter) and I had to finally tell them that I was pregnant. It was a major deal, I was, I was a month away of getting promoted; they promised me that I would be promoted to brand manager and the VP of marketing took me out to lunch that day and said, "Ricki [HistoryMaker Ricki Fairley] you have done a disservice to this company. We were banking on you, we were going to invest in you, we were going to promote you but now you got pregnant and I have no guarantee that you're going to come back. So and if you tell this conversation to anyone, it's between me and you, I am not going to be able to promote you now and if you reveal this conversation, I will deny it." So I went back after lunch--I'm, whatever, twenty-nine years old go back after lunch. My boss was a woman. The women in the company all wore suits with ties. A couple of them were married, most of them were not married, never had kids, weren't even thinking about it. The women before me were hard core.$$They wore men's suits and ties?$$They wore like (gesture)--they were hard core. They were not about to even think about having a baby. And my--so I had a woman boss, and she had a woman boss, and then we had a male boss on top of her who had five kids, whose wife stayed home. And so, so I went to my boss and I told her what happened and she was like horrified so she went to her boss and her name was Valerie Friedman--she went to her boss and he went to bat for me, the guy with the five kids and he reported to the VP at the time and he went to bat for me and I got promoted like three days later, eight months pregnant. But it was a fight and even then when I came back from maternity leave, they did everything possible to challenge me and they gave me an assignment where I had to travel every week to see if I would--if I could stick it out. And literally my mom [Wilma King Holmes] at the time was--I would literally get on a plane in Newark [New Jersey], fly to D.C. [Washington, D.C.], throw the baby at my mom, check the baby's luggage--Amanda's luggage on the plane and then I'd run and get on another plane going where I was going and my mom would take the kid and the--get the luggage and take the kid. And we did that for about six months until I proved myself that I was going to be able to work with a baby. And, for the first six months of her life we did that and then I had a live in nanny after that. They did everything possible to challenge whether I could have a kid and work too. So, and I was determined so, then I had Hayley [Hayley Brown] at Reckitt and Colman [Reckitt and Colman plc; Reckitt Benckiser Group plc] right when I started the trade marketing department and it was a new day and I said, "You know what, the kid is attached to the boob, the boob has to go on the road, the kid goes with the boob." I forced it on them and literally I would have the people working for me pushing this stroller and we would go on a business trip and one guy his name was Tim [ph.] and he's like, "I got the stroller today," because someone would carry my briefcase, somebody would take the baby but I took her everywhere. I travelled with her until she was off the boob for a year and I travelled with Amanda when she was out of school, we would all go, everywhere. So, you know, I was like--it was a different, you know, corporate environment and, and I tried to open the doors for other women to have babies because it was not heard of.$$So it's possible to do that, it's just the culture of the company that makes it difficult to--$$Yes, yes and in those days they didn't know it, their wives stayed home. They went home and dinner was cooked and the babies were in bed and they were happy campers. They didn't have a concept for a woman, "You know I've got to go get--my kid is sick, the school just called and I've got to go get my kid." That was not a concept for them and I think the women around me we just okay, we're going to deal, and teach them how to deal.$$So they were out of touch.$$Yeah they just didn't know. They were men--white men who never had to think about it, right.$$And their reaction--initial reaction was to stress you out.$$Yeah and so but I mean I had to have a live in nanny because I travelled and I had to make choices. I had--I had a live in nanny that lived with me from when Amanda was about six months until she was five and then we had a nanny until we moved to Atlanta [Georgia] until I'd say she was about eleven and then I had a nanny--and when they, when they--Amanda turned sixteen and could drive because at that point it becomes a driving thing. Amanda said, "Okay mom I'm done with nannies, I can drive now." So I said okay and we gave up the nanny. It was like a family decision, "All right well the nanny does these five jobs. Which one are you going to do, 'cause the jobs aren't going to go away." So, but, my kids are still very close to our one nanny that we had the longest, Holly Ann [ph.].

John Terry

Technology entrepreneur and electrical engineer John Terry was born on September 29, 1966 in Norfolk, Virginia. He grew up with his mother, Deborah Kathleen Terry, and his grandparents in the Liberty Park public housing project in Norfolk with his two younger siblings. Terry dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player. However, he could not stay on the school team because he had to work to help support his family. His high school guidance counselor helped him win a scholarship to Old Dominion University where he earned his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1988.

After graduation, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio to work at the NASA Lewis Research Center. He was an experimental research engineer whose work focused on satellite communications. Terry connected his signal processing undergraduate research with his NASA communications research for his master's degree on array signal processing, also known as MIMO technology. While working at NASA, Terry attended graduate school and earned his M.S. degree from Cleveland State University in 1993. After NASA, Terry worked at Texas Instruments as a satellite systems engineer in 1995. Next, he attended the Georgia Institute of Technology and received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering and research in 1999.

Terry started working at the Nokia Corporation's Research Center in Dallas, Texas just before he finished his Ph.D. degree. He worked his way up and eventually became one of Nokia's principal scientists where he worked to improve Nokia’s wireless service. In 2001, Terry founded his own company, Terry Consultants, Incorporated (TCI). The company specializes in helping businesses develop and apply new wireless technologies. Terry owns or co-owns more than seventeen issued and pending patents. In 2004, he spent a year as director of WiQuest Communications for baseband systems engineering and in 2005, he co-founded Witivity, which helps customer's use of broadband wireless technology.

Terry has published two books, Blind Adaptive Array Techniques for Mobile Satellite Communications (1999) and OFDM Wireless LANs: A Theoretical and Practical Guide (2001, with Juha Heiskala). He has received a number of awards including the 2002 Black Engineer of the Year Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution in an Industry. He has published several articles and taught classes at Southern Methodist University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Technology in Helsinki, Finland. Terry has also been very active in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE). Terry and his wife, Barbara Terry, reside in Virginia. They have three sons, Amiel, William, and Shalamar and one granddaughter, Arianna.

John Terry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 13, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.236

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/13/2007

Last Name

Terry

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Old Dominion University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Cleveland State University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

TER04

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Teens, Adults, Professionals

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Youth, Teens, Adults, Professionals

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Costa Rica

Favorite Quote

I came. I saw. I conquered.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/29/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Technology entrepreneur and electrical engineer John Terry (1966 - ) founded Terry Consultants, Incorporated, a company that helps businesses develop and apply new wireless technologies. He is also the owner or co-owner of seventeen issued and pending patents.

Employment

Lewis Research Center

Raytheon TI Systems

Nokia Corporation Research Center

WiQuest Communications

Terry Consulting

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:7032,138:20016,342:25122,467:26084,514:26380,519:31750,547:38895,704:46358,858:47320,883:49466,941:49984,950:63520,1086:64880,1108:66612,1127:77220,1357:89570,1584:103650,1853:106686,1939:116928,2114:117568,2130:117824,2135:119168,2162:121472,2219:123904,2321:131072,2494:131392,2500:140076,2614:143770,2722:146825,2778:148645,2822:149035,2831:149360,2838:154040,2951:154300,2956:154625,2962:162382,3040:162767,3046:163152,3053:163614,3060:164230,3069:166541,3091:172613,3255:175511,3392:175787,3397:184274,3670:185171,3694:192550,3728:197742,3844:202054,3951:202494,3957:204958,4040:206102,4064:217245,4237:219522,4297:219867,4310:226767,4549:227319,4564:229044,4602:230493,4642:240070,4750:240466,4758:244228,4866:245350,4891:245812,4900:246076,4905:250816,4962:260644,5209:263290,5255:263731,5261:264676,5278:271900,5337:272894,5357:282395,5551:283637,5582:291365,5825:291779,5833:295850,5941:296402,5950:296678,5955:308810,6045$0,0:14904,319:23465,394:24440,423:26915,483:32315,611:32915,625:39429,676:40430,699:42894,758:43433,766:43741,771:45512,798:45820,804:48284,908:49208,931:49670,938:50902,951:52673,968:53058,975:53443,981:60859,1048:61175,1053:66502,1172:67658,1193:69426,1230:77722,1425:82618,1539:83094,1546:89360,1567:94258,1701:95870,1740:102820,1863:103120,1924:107470,1997:114210,2046:120650,2156:124150,2253:124990,2314:132404,2417:136280,2507:138180,2546:141860,2552:142420,2564:144900,2614:149745,2671:161690,2863:165048,2935:168406,2992:170888,3034:181840,3204:182488,3214:187888,3327:191632,3407:195910,3413:196630,3427:198214,3477:198862,3505:199150,3543:201598,3576:204838,3657:206782,3700:208294,3752:221840,3932:225782,4023:227242,4055:227899,4065:228629,4132:233340,4168:247994,4393:253006,4433:254938,4480:255274,4485:255694,4503:263784,4581:275276,4779:280826,4897:289440,5040:294180,5150:295740,5202:307663,5353:308433,5455:314747,5555:316364,5576:330183,5768:335147,5881:338578,6003:346495,6093:357145,6365:362604,6410:365607,6483:371844,6615:372537,6625:373384,6643:381010,6757:381318,6762:391790,6971:393099,7001:413120,7352:413360,7357:413600,7362:414560,7384:415100,7394:416780,7435:419940,7454
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Terry's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Terry shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Terry talks about his mother's side of the family, part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Terry talks about his mother's side of the family, part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Terry talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Terry talks about his grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Terry recalls his childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John Terry describes some church experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John Terry remembers early troubles in school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Terry describes his childhood friends and his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Terry talks about attending integrated schools

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Terry describes the early computers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Terry talks about his first two jobs, as a paper boy and at a neighbor's candy shop

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Terry remembers the men he knew in his neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Terry talks about Lake Taylor Senior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Terry talks about how experience on the basketball court taught him valuable life lessons

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Terry talks about the politics of basketball and his high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Terry recounts his awkwardness as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Terry talks about how he continued to push himself academically which led to him being hired at NASA

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Terry describes how he was admitted to Old Dominion University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John Terry talks about his brother's feeling of competitiveness and inferiority

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John Terry describes his experience at Old Dominion University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John Terry talks about his graduate work and NASA

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Terry describes his research about signal processing and satellite communications, part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Terry describes his research about signal processing and satellite communications, part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Terry explains wireless communication and matching electronic signatures between electronic devices and satellites

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Terry describes his early jobs at Texas Instruments and at Nokia Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Terry describes leaving Nokia for a start-up company

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Terry talks about starting his consulting business, part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Terry talks about starting his consulting business, part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Terry discusses why he did not want to use venture capital to fund his company

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Terry shares his plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John Terry talks about his heroes in the black business world

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John Terry describes his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John Terry describes his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - John Terry shares about his wife, son, and how he would like to be remembered

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John Terry talks about how he continued to push himself academically which led to him being hired at NASA
John Terry describes leaving Nokia for a start-up company
Transcript
(Unclear) Did you do the prom and all this sort of thing?$$I worked, worked the night of the prom. Interesting, I was, I never went to a graduation until I got my Ph.D. So I wouldn't go. I didn't go the high school graduation, didn't go to the my college graduation, didn't go to my master's, didn't go until I got my Ph.D.$$Okay, now was that a conscious decision?$$It's a conscious decision.$$So you had tracked yourself to go after a Ph.D.--$$No, no, actually, when I first got my high school, when I got my high school, when it was time to graduate and I was just, I just, just would challenge myself. I said, anybody can get a high school education. That's not really anything that be all that proud of, you know. Why am I rushing to go to this thing? And I didn't have a date, and I mean that's probably one of my main reasons why I didn't go. Then it kind of followed through to college. I mean I, even though I got inducted into the National Honor Society in college, and I was like the only, maybe one, I was like only two black guys, you know, in the whole (unclear) class in my sophomore year. You know, I started, you know, starting to feel like, yeah, I was really starting to do something that wasn't that easy to do. And I really started to feel a little bit proud of myself, but I still wanted to keep that edge. And when it was time to go to graduation, I said, well, you know, any old clown can get a BS in electrical engineering, you know. And I had a job at NASA lined up. And so then I went to NASA and, you know, they, you know, they had on-campus program where, you know, the university professors came and taught at a univi--and taught at work. So we didn't have to leave work. We could (unclear) right at the on campus. I mean I didn't go to the campus till like, you know, I had to go pick up my diploma. And that was the first time I had to go on (unclear). So then I thought, nah, that's not like a real college experience. You know, I was making up these excused why I didn't go to graduation till I went to Georgia Tech. And that was the whole, I mean it was all about trying to keep pushing myself to the, you know, to my limits. And then the whole time I'm playing basketball, playing against D-1 [Division One Basketball] ballplayers, killing 'em. I mean like, I'm like, I can see how good I would a been because I filled out. I got bigger and stronger and faster at the same time. So I'm like playing against guys playing Division One right there, and I'm like twenty-two, twenty-three, and I'm killing 'em on the court. I'm faster, stronger, they can't check me. I can shut them down. So I was like, ah, you know, I coulda, you know, it was important to know that I could a, I coulda went to college and played D-1 ball And it was important to me to prove to myself. Again, that whole experience, when I learned not to let other people determine my value for my decisions. So I started only doing things for myself and being able to prove that I coulda played D-1 ball was a thing that I always wondered about. And then, but when I start, and then I got into my career at NASA, I came from Old Dominion [University, Norfolk, Virginia], and Old Dominion's okay for the Southeast coast, but NASA people are from Purdue [University, West Lafayette, Indiana] and Notre Dame [The University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana] the Ohio State [University, Columbus, Ohio], University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois], all these big, big schools. And here I got tossed back in that same familiar environment where I had to prove myself again which is just the right breeding ground for me to excel. And that first year, I won an award, an achievement award for saving the government like 300,000 dollars with an idea that I worked on.$$At Old Dominion?$$No, no, this is when I had just graduated from Old Dominion. And this is my first year at--$$Cleveland [Ohio]--?$$It's NASA Glenn [Glenn Research Center] now. It's NASA Glenn now. It was NASA Lewis [Lewis Research Center] at the time I was there. And that was actually a really interesting program because NASA purposely went out to create diversity in their recruitment. And so it was a whole bunch of us. And there used to be a picture at the, at--what's the Cleveland Airport? I can't think of it. Hopkins? Is it Hopkins or something?$$Yeah, I think so.$$Yeah, the Cleveland Hopkins Airport [Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, Cleveland, Ohio] and it was a picture of the whole group. And I was the only one, always missing our group. I was always working and missed the photo shoot. But that whole group of people, it's interesting if you ever can get a copy of that and you track, you know, they went to the University of Puerto Rico [San Juan, Puerto Rico]. They got people from all over the country, from schools up in New York, if you track the careers of that group that came into NASA at that time, myself included, all of them are doing very well, very well. But at the time, it was an unpopular decision. They thought they were just, you know, these kids, you know, you just, they're just some sort of diverse, some sort of affirmative action, you know, number crunching thing. You know, these guys will never be successful, but everybody from that group, and it was like twenty or thirty of us because I know at least, at least ten personally. Almost all of us got our masters. Some got their Ph.D.'s. Some went on to be lawyers. In that whole group, and it was a very good program. I mean NASA should be very, very proud of themselves.$$(Unclear) There's a group that needed opportunities.$$Yeah, well, but just to give us an opportunity. Remember, all of us had graduated. We (unclear), you know, we had to have at least a 3.0 from a university. It was not like they were just, you know, throwing away the roads for us or anything like that. But we showed to have a lot more initiative and drive than some of the other folks.$How would summarize your experience at Nokia [Nokia Corporation, Nokia Research Center, Dallas, Texas] though? I guess, you left in 2004, but, to form your own company?$$Actually, I left to go to a start-up company, but, yeah, my experience was very positive. I mean I, leaving Nokia was the hardest thing I ever did because when I left, I was extremely happy. I mean I was, you know, I had just, you know, I had really just got my principal scientist. You know, I was trying to work on being a Nokia Fellow. I, you know, I was hot. I mean everyone knew me. There was, you know, even the guy, there were people on the board of Nokia that knew my name, you know, when I left. And so I wasn't unhappy. I mean I was quite, in fact, I was quite--all my friends were there, people I had worked with, some of my friends that I worked with at TI [Texas Instruments Incorporated] came over. So we had been working together, ten, twelve years. Then this, but I was, again, never quite one to just sit on my past laurels. And the guy who was the vice chair of the standard a S111G (unclear) which is the current Wi-Fi [Wireless Fidelity] products that you buy today, he started, who had, he started a start-up company and said, John, I need you, and I need you. And at the time, I thought, and I had a lot of respect for him at the time as an individual, as a, you know, as a technologist. And we had worked through some critical battles doing the standard procedure. And I thought it was somebody I could trust. And so I decided to take a chance and start the start up thing. I would get offers all the time from people who wanted to come to their start-up companies. I still get offers from people to come work for their start-up companies. So he wanted me, he, he said, I could be, you know, you pick whatever position you want, you know, You can be vice president and anything but president because he was the president. I could be anything I wanted, you know, I had like free rein because he needed my reputation to give the team credibility because I was known in the industry. And everyone knew, you know, I had the book and things like that.$$So this is the WiQuest Communications [Allen, Texas]?$$Yes.$$Okay. And they're in Allen, Texas. So you had to move from--$$Really, it's not that far from here.$$All right--.$$So, and it wasn't a move so to speak. I just started driving to a different location.$$Because Nokia's in the area too.$$Nokia's is the area too, just in a different direction.$$Okay.$$WiQuest is probably about five or ten minutes somewhere--they moved recently, somewhere from this location. And Nokia is a good hour away.$$All right. So, well, how did things go at WiQuest?$$It didn't, it didn't turn out as well I'd liked. One of the things you find out when you work for people that are privately owned, a company, because it's privately owned, they can do what they want to, you know. They can do whatever they like. It turned out that, you know, the person that I left the company, left Nokia to go work for because I thought he was an honest and upright person, turned out that he wasn't as honest and upright as I thought he was. And it put me in a situation where I had to make a choice that, whether or not, you know, could I continue to work with him? He, there was a situation where the chip wasn't going out on time. He had made promises to the board that I had no control over. I was telling him, you know, if we were behind, that we needed more people. When you get, you know, people working sixty and seventy hours, it's a breeding ground to make mistakes. I was communicating to him that things needed, we needed help and I needed more senior people. I had only fresh out (unclear) people in there. And I was working to wire, and I'm tired, they're tired. It just, we just need, you know, you just need more horses. You know, to pull this cart. But they were trying to run the cart as fast as possible with as few horses as possible to keep the same money. And so to me that was a conscious decision on their part. And then my thought was, if you don't, do that gamble, and you get a chip out that, and with this reduced cost and you get bare gains at the end when the company sells, but if you, if it fails, then you take the responsibility as the management that decided that I was gonna play my card this way. But they tried to have a scapegoat. And so when it failed, for all the things that I said that might happen, did happen, and then they tried to get, point the blame on me, even though it was someone that worked on my team but wasn't working for me at the time. So they just needed someone, they couldn't blame him. He was too low on the totem pole for the board to say, well, why do you have a fresh-out determining why fifteen million is gonna be profitable or not profitable, right? They weren't gonna tell the board that they made the mistake because then the board would replace them. So they needed someone high enough up that, you know, to show that, and all they did, they tried to demote me. Basically, I told them my requirements for me to go to work at this company was I would only report to the president because that's the only person I knew. So he tried to demote me so he can show to the board that, you know, hey, I got this situation under control. They didn't say it was my fault, but they tried to infer it was my fault. He really knew I didn't do it, and the fact turned out, it was done before I even got there. And he wanted to infer that he did that and that was coming right at the time where I took a seventy-five percent pay cut for six months to help the company through the troubled waters. And that came right, you know, once they got the money, you know, you do these things because you think people are committed to you just like you're committed to them. It taught me a valuable lesson and in the middle of our conversation, he couldn't even look me in the eye like I'm looking you in the eye. But if you think I was the one that really failed you, you could tell me, John, you, you know, I brought you on, you're supposed to have been, you know, this hot shot guy, yada, yada, yada. And he, he's looking down at the floor, looking at the ceiling, can't look me in the eye because he can't be proud of himself. But see that goes back to lessons I learned when I was a kid. Don't do anything that you can't stand tall and own up to later on. You know, I could sit right there and look him in the eye and say, well, what is, what's going on? And so then they had put me in this situation where this is the first point in my career I would have failed, my whole career. I mean and then did it so haphazardly, they could care less how it affected me personally or whatever. And, in fact, they did it with vengeance in their minds. They really wanted me, they thought I, you know, up until that point I was hands-off because I was so important to the company. In fact, I was on the web page at one point. I mean I was, I was in their executive summary by name. There were only two names in the executive summary, there was the president and my name in the executive summary when the company started, the only two names mentioned in the executive summary. That's how important I was to start out with. And here they were trying to put me in a situation where I was gonna report to somebody ten years less than me.