Ric Elias is the CEO of Red Ventures, a marketing services company that grew out of Elias' long experience in business.

Why you should listen

Born in Puerto Rico, Ric Elias came to the United States for college knowing little English, as he writes in his online bio . So what did he do? "I adjusted my schedule and took only classes that dealt with numbers my entire first year," he says. "I'd always been decent at math, and things like calculus and accounting were non-lingual. I was able to buy some time to improve my English skills." His facility with numbers has led to a wide-ranging career in business and finance.

Elias is the CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures, a firm that helps large service companies acquire new customers online. He began his career in General Electric Co.'s Aerospace Division, then worked at the marketing services company CUC International (later known as Cendant). Prior to founding Red Ventures, Ric served as president of Spark Network Services, a promotion and data company held by Cendant.

"I'm a frustrated athlete," says Elias. "To me, business is the Olympics for non-athletes. It comes down to loving competition; figuring out whom we should compete against and how to beat them."

Ric Elias’ TED talk