A.J. Mirabedini, CEO
Immigrants and entrepreneurs have lots in common; resilience, hard work, self-dependence, never say die attitude, high risk tolerance. GKIC CEO, A.J. Mirabedini is both, an immigrant AND an entrepreneur. After leaving his home and family in Iran as a teen to attend college, A.J. never looked back. He worked and paid his way through 4 years at The College of Wooster in Ohio, graduating with a degree in Marketing and communications. Immediately after college the entrepreneurial flame was ignited in him as he turned down an internship at the United Nations (the safe path) to invest in and work for a start-up magazine in their advertising department (the risky entrepreneurial path). After a year, the magazine went out business and his investment up in smoke. This only drove A.J.’s hunger to figure out this game of marketing, advertising, and making money to new heights and he did what any entrepreneurial loving soul would do. He started consulting with small businesses, providing marketing guidance and resources to support and sustain their businesses. The entrepreneurial path since then is the only path A.J. has known and been on.
His path would take him through many opportunities and through many rough patches, all giving him the insights into what made certain entrepreneurs successful while others struggled. He threw his savings into a dot com company and was ready to roll that out just as the dot com crash happened. He spent 7 years building his first company only to have every last penny of the profits embezzled by an office manager. A very expensive lesson in the school of hard knocks that left him with again with 2 choices… either give up and take a job or rebuild his business bigger and better. It was at this time that he learned the principles that we call Magnetic Marketing and cracked the code to attracting, retaining and converting prospects into clients. In just a few short years, that business grew to a national firm working with hundreds of clients nationally, creating lots of record profits, jobs and a lifestyle that A.J. had dreamt of.
A.J. brings over 30+ years of entrepreneurial, marketing, sales, and money-making life-skills to GKIC. He always knew that he thought differently than his family and friends, knew that he was willing to sacrifice things that they weren’t, knew that working all those long hours and long weeks would pay off which is why at GKIC, he finally feels like he has found his home.
Nick Loise, President, comes to GKIC after being a successful entrepreneur, marketing and sales executive, info-marketer and lifelong student of Dan Kennedy and GKIC. He originally saw Dan Kennedy in 1994 at a Success International event in Arizona, and he’s been hooked every since. He has owned and operated two separate businesses, one that is still in operation today.
Nick has implemented the keys principles of Magnetic Marketing and Direct Response Marketing into all of his business and professional endeavors. He has served as a top marketing executive at companies ranging in revenue size from $1 million to $1 billion.
Nick was an early adopter to the digital marketing side of the business in the early 90s and used this online platform to acquire new customers and gain market share over his competition. He also instituted direct response marketing into all of his companies and industries (even in many industries where direct response marketing was unheard of) and used that to acquire leads and customers and drive revenue and profit.
He has been an adjunct professor of marketing at a Chicagoland university, teaching both undergraduates and graduates, as well as guest lecturing on many different stages and online platforms. He resides in Park Ridge, Ill., with his wife and two children. Nick brings his passion for small business and entrepreneurs to his work every day.
Dave Dee, after graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Communication, started his career in radio as promotions director and copywriter and salesman. Dave, an entrepreneur at heart, wanted to work for himself and opened up a small chain of magic shops and a karate school before deciding to make his dream of being a professional magician come true. After diving head first and applying GKIC marketing, Dave went from doing three shows a month to averaging over 25 shows a month in less than 90 days.
He parlayed that success into an information marketing business where he sold products, seminars and coaching programs that helped entertainers market and sell themselves more effectively. Other business owners, including many GKIC members, took notice and started asking Dave for his help and guidance. And from that his consulting business blossomed. For over 16 years, and now at GKIC, Dave has been inspiring and teaching entrepreneurs and business owners how to have more successful businesses that give them more freedom, money and personal fulfillment.
Dan Schober, CFO, has over 25 years of professional experience in corporate finance working for Fortune 500 companies in the consumer products and medical device industries. Dan’s first experience as a small business entrepreneur was as a bookkeeper for his family’s hot dog vending business in New York. After his dad retired from the City of New York he opened a family business selling hot dogs. The business grew and the family opened 2 locations in upstate New York. After doing this for a few years the family further expanded the business by signing an agreement with one of the local owner/operators of a Dunkin Donuts location to sell donuts at the local day camps.
Dan continued his career in the food industry working 17 years for 3 of the largest food manufacturers in the Chicagoland area: Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods and Sara Lee. Prior to coming to GKIC, Dan was Director of Finance/Controller for Ohio Medical Corporation, a medical device manufacturer, overseeing the company’s financial planning/analysis and all financial and accounting operations for the company’s Canadian subsidiary. Dan earned his B.S. in Accounting at the State University of New York – Geneseo and a Master’s Degree in Accounting Information Systems from Florida Atlantic University. Dan is a licensed CPA in the state of Georgia and a registered CPA in Illinois.
Kim Phelan, Editor-in-Chief, is a seasoned print, digital, and live event content developer. Kim’s background ranges from association management and publishing to publishing and marketing in the construction, healthcare, and higher education industries. She has deep experience in the creation of marketing campaigns for products, services, events and courses.
Kim is a journalist and magazine editor who began her career as an award-winning publications copywriter. She has been an invited “Magazine of the Year” judge for the American Society of Business Publication Editors’ national contest for five years. Having worked eight years as executive editor and director of programs with a national trade association that serves small businesses in equipment distribution, she is plugged in to the marketing, financial and advocacy needs of small-business owners.
Joshua Burnell – Director of Digital Strategy. In the mid 90s, Joshua was working in the music industry and while in a recording studio he was introduced to the Internet. “It was love at first site,” he says. “I knew I wanted in on this and everything it is going to be.” He immediately went out and purchased books on HTML, graphic design, and anything else he could find. Always interested in technology, as a kid he would take apart any electronic devices he could get his hands on, try and understand the workings of it, and then put it back together.
Not surprising, Joshua majored in Electronics Technology, and after 11 years in the music industry he moved to a career in web development. He is responsible for having put the first Chicago Zoning Ordinance books online, and he has worked as a consultant for a number of membership organizations including The Academy of Sports Medicine and the YMCA. Joshua also served in the pharmaceutical communications industry for seven years.
He joined GKIC in 2012 and is responsible for managing the web development, graphic design, and video production team.
Johanna Morlock-Abbasi, a career marketer, began her work shortly after graduating from DePaul University. An avid runner and three-time Chicago marathon finisher, Johanna applies a constant life-learning experience in everything she does.
In addition to concentrating on and collaboratively improving the challenges she’s encountered in her 25-year marketing career, she makes time to not only enrich her home environment, she is also active in charitable work with local non-profits. She often hosts and leads fundraising efforts that significantly increase awareness and support to those needing a hand up instead of a hand-out.
After nearly 20 years with a nationally known publisher, and working closely with GKIC for many of those years, Johanna is responsible for Content Strategy and Development for GKIC products.
Mark Bromberg, Director of Operations, is a senior sales leader with over 25 years of direct and indirect business development and channel management experience. Mark’s entrepreneurial career began in college when he started his first software company, Triad Legal Software, during his junior year. Since then Mark has founded two other businesses and held channel management positions with numerous technology firms, helping them enter new markets and expand their sales via indirect sales.
At GKIC, Mark oversees the indirect sales operations working with GKIC’s Independent and Certified Business Advisors, Strategic Partners, and Affiliates. Mark’s hands-on experience is enhanced with certifications in document management and customer relationship management systems, giving him a unique perspective to help his clients and partners identify and overcome the operational challenges of their clients.
Mike Stodola, Product Implementation Director, has been in the direct response marketing world since graduating from college and immediately becoming an entrepreneur. Using Dan Kennedy and GKIC as a guide, he grew his real estate business so fast that at the age of 24 he opened his own brokerage and in less than 18 months the marketing systems he put in place kept over 30 real estate agents busy on appointments full time. He's worked with a wide variety brick and mortar entrepreneurs and sales professionals, helping them grow their businesses through effective, automated direct response marketing. These have included everything from pizza parlors to personal trainers, and insurance agents to medical sales reps.
Wil Beyers started his entrepreneurial journey directly out of college. His first business was a small web design and computer repair shop. As he worked more and more with small businesses on their web presence, he noticed a trend of these small business owners needing marketing help. This led Wil to start his own independent marketing consulting business, GenFour Media & Marketing. After five years of success in his own business, Wil accepted a position at GKIC as their Digital Marketing Director. His passion is in helping small businesses succeed through well thought-out marketing strategies and an extensive online presence.