Why people are the key to all of our technological advances

Chad Albrecht loves technology, but he understands that it takes the creativity and innovation of the human spirit for technology to continue to broaden its reach.

In this month’s Uniquely Chicago feature, we take a look at Techweek Chicago, which was held in June.

The annual gathering to celebrate all things technology was an opportunity for Albrecht, president and CEO of Centare, who was one of the speakers at the event, to reinforce the importance of the human touch.

“A week-long event like this is an opportunity for people who are locked down for 40 hours a week in their day job to come out, socialize and talk about what’s happening in their field,” Albrecht says.

Anders Gustafsson wasn’t at Techweek, but he would have a lot to share based on what’s happening at Zebra Technologies Corp. The sky is the limit at Zebra, where technology is being developed to measure the temperature of tomatoes as they are delivered by truck thousands of miles away.

Zebra, the subject of this month’s cover story, had been known as a printing company in the barcode sector. But Gustafsson knew it had potential to be more so he and his team have worked hard to become a solutions provider that can take technology and apply it in nearly limitless ways.

It’s not always easy to plot the future when the map to reach it keeps changing, but Gustafsson says he and his team understand the need to be adaptable.

“You need to make sure you don’t limit your options or your flexibility,” Gustafsson says. “Most people would rather have more clarity and certainty, but it’s easy to go too far and kind of force a level of precision which isn’t really there.”

Keep on learning

Jett McCandless has been working more than 100 hours a week for more than a decade. Part of it is his deep passion and commitment to achieving success in life after a childhood in which his family struggled to make ends meet. But more of it is just an innate desire to be the best and not worry about the mistakes made along the way.

“It’s the failures and mistakes and not being afraid to make mistakes that makes me who I am,” McCandless says. “You can’t live in fear of failure. You have to be willing to make great amounts of sacrifice. That is what differentiates people from becoming successful and just being average.”

Failure is one of those things that scares a lot of leaders. Many have still not fully recovered in terms of confidence in the market since the downturn of 2008. But McCandless prefers to think of situations, where things don’t work out, as learning experiences. It’s a mindset that has helped McCandless build CarrierDirect LLC into a strong company that helps businesses in the transport and logistics industry be more productive.

“If I make the mistake twice, I call it a failure unless I learned something the second time that I didn’t the first,” McCandless says. “If not, it’s a learning experience.”