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The Future of Communication Technology: Jeff Horton Of FreeWave Technologies On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

An Interview With David Liu

Great bosses are rarer than great opportunities. Once you have experienced the difference between a manager and a leader, you will know agree.

The telephone totally revolutionized the way we communicated with people all over the world. Then we moved from voice to data: text, email and video calls have all changed the way we interact. ….So What’s next?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Horton, CRO @ Freewave Technologies.

Jeff grew up in North Georgia, graduated from Kennesaw State University and has spent 30+ years in the Telecom Industry. Jeff joined FreeWave in April of 2022 with sales experience in Satellite, Mobility, Internet Security, Optimization, DPI, SD-WAN and Mobile data.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started my career the “good old fashion way”, I networked into G.E. through a college friend whose father was a VP in the Appliance Division. I turned a summer internship into a full-time position while attending college. G.E. helped me finance my education and launched my career post-graduation. I moved from Appliances to Consumer Electronics to Cellular Phones. Ericsson invested and eventually purchased the division from G.E.. My first 17 years in sales came from this lucky break. Who you know is as important as what you know.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

My career has been nothing but interesting, I have attended four Super Bowls, four US Open Golf Tournaments, two Master’s Tournaments, traveled internationally and worked with some of the greatest salespeople and Customers in the communications industry.

However, the most interesting and memorable experience was visiting Israel many times and spending my free days exploring the country and the holy city of Jerusalem.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You never get what you want. You never get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate!

I actually learned this lesson at my first job. I accepted a fry cook position at a fast-food seafood restaurant. It was a terrible job, my mother made me change out of my work clothes in the garage before entering the house. “The smell was just too much.” Anyway, after working there for several weeks, they hired two new cooks. We were hanging out one night after work and I found out they both were making $1.50/hour more than me. I was very angry to discover this. When I went home, my father asked me “how was work”, I told him I was quitting. He asked Why? I told him they were paying new employees more than I was making. My father said quit if you want, but don’t be mad at your boss or the new employees, they negotiated a better deal. The next day, I told my boss I needed a $1.75/hour raise or I had to find a new job. He gave it to me on the spot. The lesson is you get what you negotiate.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My Mentor was Dave Korb. I reported to Dave at GE, Ericsson and Cincinnati Bell. Half of my career we worked together. He was a leader that respected risk taking, innovation, creativity and winning. His motto was “easier to get forgiveness than permission.” I tested that poor man time after time. Dave taught me the value of being enthusiastically optimistic. He always planned on winning, beating the plan and maximizing the compensation. He always had a smile on his face and was happy to support his team. He inspired people to go above and beyond. He was a fantastic coach and mentor. Most importantly, he was a person of high integrity and morals. He always led by example with great respect for his team. I grew to love and respect this man so much and I am one of hundreds who would say the same thing.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have always believed it is better to give than receive. I have been blessed in my life and my career. I am thankful every single day for all the gifts in my life. I always tried to give everything I could to the people around me. I have invested in people with a focus on making their life better. Work should be fun and exciting. We give so much of our lives to our careers it should be rewarding, fulfilling and a pleasure.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

FreeWave is an intelligent edge computing ecosystem that connects your remote assets with ease and transparency — delivering actionable data through a single pane of glass. Freewave’s fusion solutions provide multiple pathways to move data from remote or stranded assets to our edge for analysis or onto the cloud or data lakes. One size doesn’t fit all anymore. In order to drive lower total cost of ownership, we provide flexibility and multiple paths to move data to the place where automated decisions can be made. We provide traditional 900 MHz, cellular and satellite options.

How do you think this might change the world?

FreeWave removes the technological, financial and environmental barriers between users and their remote data so they can drive levels of performance they’ve only ever dreamed of. Companies need to be better quality, faster decisions, lower costs to survive and thrive in the global economy.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

With Data driven operations, there is a lower reliance on human physical presence. Human physical presence is reduced. This has an evolutionary societal impact. Human reliance for onsite success gets removed as we leap forward to full automation and autonomy. How do we train, retain and attract employees to drive data analytics and innovation?

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

The costs to integrate multiple connectivity paths has reached an inflection point to allow for hybrid networks to replace old technology with a high ROI.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Our success is measured by solution innovation, marketing and support of the relationships. Listening to the “voice of the customer” is key as you truly have to understand what problem you can solve and the value you add with automation. Raw data isn’t enough anymore and How Much or What Temperature won’t cut it. Our customers need actionable remote sensing and automation that prevents liabilities, lowers costs, reduces errors, and not just informs them to take action.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

The pandemic has changed humans and the economy profoundly. It brought about a great resignation, rapid changes in the way we work and where we work, and what we expect from our employers. As a result, many industries are left with millions of open positions while demand for the optimization of real time data has increased. Companies are having to innovate and automate the workplace for greater productivity and efficiency. Our solutions help companies overcome the labor shortage by leveraging IOT technology and real time data to automate decisions and actions. We can turn data into knowledge and knowledge into action without human resources.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started My Career” and why?

1 . If you have choices, pick the boss, not the company. Nothing fuels success more than a leader that will coach, mentor, care and support you.

  • Great bosses are rarer than great opportunities. Once you have experienced the difference between a manager and a leader, you will know agree.

2. A bad idea executed fast and flawlessly is better than no decision or inaction.

  • Fail Fast and Learn, it will always save you money and provide knowledge &wisdom you did not already possess. Fortune favors the bold.

3. If companies spent as much time interviewing exiting employees as they do pre-hiring, they could retain good employees and fix internal issues. Blind Spots are sometimes caused by pointing the light in the wrong direction.

  • It amazes me that companies let great people walk away without understanding how to prevent the next loss. Turnover is very expensive, and companies should invest in prevention. 48M people resigned during the pandemic. Did anyone learn anything.

4. Hire your competitor’s best salespeople you will getter stronger while they get weaker.

  • I have never regretted hiring top performers and retaining them. It is amazing how undervalued competitor’s best employees can feel.

5. Don’t schedule a meeting with three or more people without an agenda. I have lost thousands of hours sitting in meeting with no agenda. Time is valuable, invest your time and don’t waste other people’s time.

  • We are all guilty of scheduling reoccurring meetings and not preparing in advance. This can become a productivity killer and people will not show up prepared to engage with you.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

A career coach recommended that I read the book, Leadership and Self Deception. We all have blinders on and there are things we can’t see. That book changed the way I looked at and interacted with people.

I would tell any people leader to look at your employees as humans. Treat them the way you want them to treat your best customer. Look past someone’s flaws or performance and find their potential. Give your lowest performing salesperson the same time and attention you give your best. Go all in to help your people succeed. Employees want to be successful; they want to be respected, appreciated and supported.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Please follow Jeff Horton and Freewave Technologies on LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

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David Liu

David Liu

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David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication