Dan Beldy, Venture Capitalist

Dan Beldy

There was much intrigue amongst my classmates about the veterans in our class. I mean, who didn’t want to be a Top Gun pilot?! And who was tougher, the Navy SEAL or the Army Ranger?

Dan, aka PT*, was one of those vets in my class. Just a normal guy getting an MBA while raising small children with his lovely and fun wife; all while many of us were over-served on Thursday nights at pub.  

Dan and I have spent the past 20+ years touching base on investment and business ideas, potential new ventures and board roles, and so much more. His approach is one of wanting to help and serve. He’s always making introductions and using his network to help others. He’s a true leader and I’m thrilled to have him on as MENTOR dna guest!

* Dan’s flight school buddies named him PT after the character Perfect Tommy from the 80s sci-fi comedy classic “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension”

Dan Beldy is a Partner at Canapi Ventures. Dan has spent the last 20 years in technology and finance as a venture capitalist. Previously, Dan was a managing director at Steamboat Ventures, the venture capital affiliate of The Walt Disney Company, where he led the U.S. venture team. Prior to that he was a partner at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, the first venture firm to focus exclusively on software investments. Dan is also a founder of Airwing Ventures, and co-founder of PowerPlant Partners.

Dan has been involved with several successful companies as an investor and advisor including GoPro, Edgecast, acquired by Verizion, Vobile (HKEX:3738), Method, acquired by Ecover; upLynk, acquired by Verizon; Playdom, acquired by Disney; FreeWheel, acquired by Comcast; Greystripe, acquired by ValueClick; Employease, acquired by ADP; and Starmine, acquired by Thomson Reuters.

Earlier in his career Dan was an F/A-18 fighter pilot and instructor in the U.S. Navy, and served with the Brazilian Navy during an exchange program. Dan has a B.S. in Computer Science with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from The Wharton School. He enjoys family and friends, golf, triathlons and is an avid Springsteen fan. Dan has completed 290+ carrier landings, delivered 25,000+ copies of the NY Daily News, and has completed a triathlon at Alcatraz and a marathon in Antarctica.

Steve Scalia, CEO Tanner Pharma Group

Steve Scalia, President Tanner Pharma Group

Steve Scalia and I became fast friends during our days at Penn. I considered him my ride-or-die and through the years we’ve been by each other’s side through highs and lows in career and life. 

Steve’s ability to listen…and I mean truly LISTEN, set him apart from most. He remembers seemingly minutiae details through our conversations and brings them back around years later when I’m on the phone late night with him discussing business strategy, career moves, or the challenges of raising kids.

He’s incredibly talented at learning through the eyes of others. He’s a consummate student and takes lessons learned from everyone around him and  applies them to his own teams and businesses. You won’t find anyone more loyal than Steve, as evidenced by his partnerships with friends he’s known since elementary school days. 

We share some good laughs and you’ll see that this charming Southern man delivers what he says to his team and businesses.

Steve Scalia’s bio

Steve leads all global business activities at Tanner Pharma, with responsibility for commercial growth, strategy, cross-divisional support functions and compliance.  In addition to overseeing the operating company, Steve is a leading member of the Tanner Risk Council, the Corporate Governance Leadership Team, the Executive Leadership Team, the Senior Management Team and the Tax & Corp Structure Advisory Committee.

In his previous role with Bourne Partners (Tanner Pharma’s parent company), Steve served as an Operating Partner with oversight of portfolio company operations for BurnsAdler Pharmaceuticals, Theramed Pharma, EnviroMaster-Tampa and Tanner Pharmaceuticals.

Prior to joining Bourne Partners and Tanner Pharma, Steve co-founded and launched three start-up motorcycle dealerships that included exclusive franchises for Harley-Davidson, Honda, Suzuki, Aprilia, Buell, Bimota and Excelsior-Henderson.  Start-up included business planning, franchise application, bank & SBA financing, real estate acquisition, real estate development, construction management, recruiting & hiring, budgeting, and business operations policies & procedures (HR, IT, Security, Facility, Accounting, Compliance and Inventory Management).  In his final year as a Harley dealer, his dealership achieved the Gold Bar & Shield award from HDMC, the most prestigious award given to the Top 20 dealerships (out of 770) in the US.

Steve began his career in the pharma industry, holding sales and management positions at Upjohn Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacia Corp.  He holds a degree in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania.  In his free time, he enjoys traveling with his family, extreme sports (though not very extreme anymore), endurance sports and supporting charitable causes.

What first year board members should and shouldn’t do

What first year board members should and shouldn't do

Through my conversations with friends who serve on boards, we all chuckle when we think back to our freshman board experience. Most of the time, you walk into the room not knowing a single person, so it’s like the first day of middle school. 

Sage advice given to me was:


During your first year on a board, keep your trap shut...likely for an entire year....unless someone asks you a direct question or tasks you with something!

Now that I’ve served on numerous boards, I understand why.

Most boards rotate members every 1-2 years. Some have board classes with 2-3 people rolling on/off in the same time frame. Healthy board governance that I’ve experienced stipulates that board members have specific terms and only extend their terms under extenuating circumstances. As board members roll off, new members take their place, staggered across years. This way, board culture and the organization’s history get passed down through the classes. This is critical to ensure knowledge transfer as well as healthy cultural continuity and longevity. 

With new members rolling on and off, each board’s dynamic is so fluid  from year to year. Prior to joining a board, you’ve likely asked questions like:

  • How many committees are you expected to join? 
  • What’s the rapport with the CEO? 
  • How involved does the board get with the rest of the organization?

As the newbie, go deeper and take the time to get to know the personalities, working styles, and governance policies. Spend time with other board members outside of board meetings. Learn as much as you can about policies, history, board dynamics and nuances.

During your first year, you’ll most likely join a committee with more seasoned board members, so use those committee meetings as an opportunity to piece together the various decisions and strategies that have been introduced over time. Really take the time to understand the mission and vision of the organization.

After the first year, you’ll start to gain a really good feel for the board dynamics so that you can feel confident contributing in a productive manner. 

Liz Leung

Liz Leung, Executive Coach

 When I hung my own shingle as a strategy, marketing and tech consultant, Liz Leung was my first client. She’s a fellow Wharton alumna and we bonded immediately when she hired me to work on a new printer launch. Liz is a humble leader and never seeks the spotlight. 

Epson is a Japanese company and Liz leveraged her Chinese background and understanding of Asian cultures to ingratiate the executives in Japan. She studied Japanese and approached the parent company’s executives with deep and authentic reverence. In 2011, Liz was asked if she would shift her attention to help turn around the Latin America consumer printing business. She’d repeatedly gained executive buy-in for strategic initiatives in a positive and constructive manner – all while maintaining a big picture approach. She immediately started learning Spanish and while keeping the entire Latin America product team intact, she led them to turn the Epson printing business around with the introduction of its big tank printer EcoTank. That technology transformed the Latin America consumer printing market and pushed Epson to teh number 1 market share position in the region. 

Liz’s advice for her 30 year old self:

  • Find a mentor or mentors. People who act as your tour guide within an organization, but also act as your mirror to reflect immediate and direct feedback
  • Plan. Observe what it takes to achieve the success you want within your organization and formulate your plan. Share that plan with your mentors and have them hold you accountable.
  • Network. Within and outside your organization. Be authentic. Give back.  

About Liz Leung

Liz has over 20 years of leadership experience in a wide range of corporate functions. Most recently, Liz has been a marketing executive at Epson America, a Japanese owned technology company based in Long Beach, California. During her tenure at Epson, Liz has been responsible for the go-to-market strategies and life cycle management of product lines accounting for up to $700M in revenues. She has also led various successful new product market entries in both North and Latin Americas, achieving top market share position within a few years after the product introduction. As general manager of her product lines, Liz has managed a large team of product managers in both Americas, and played a leadership role in many large-scale, organizational development initiatives. As a corporate leader, she has regularly partnered with various functional groups, including Finance, Operations, Legal and Sales, to achieve the organization’s objectives. Earlier in her career, Liz led the Corporate Strategy department at Epson, and worked as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.

Liz studied at Cornell and Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania. Before entering Wharton, she was a wedding dress designer. Liz is an avid gardener, travels extensively, sings in a jazz ensemble, and enjoys podcasts. Her daughter, Tess, is a professional ballerina in the Smuin Contemporary Ballet in San Francisco, California.   

Fred Croshal – Music Industry Sales & Marketing Exec

Fred Croshal 2021

Fred is a dynamic music industry leader who makes friends everywhere he goes. I’ve learned a lot about leadership through how he carries himself in meetings with teams, artists, and other executives. Fred treats everyone the same; whether you’re an intern or Madonna, he truly cares about people and he’s parlayed that into a successful career that continues to allow him to work with big-name artists. 

I joined the Sony Music softball team in my early 20s under the nudging of Fred, who was our team captain. He was always a hard-charging, fun-loving, encouraging captain. He taught me that healthy teams, relationships, and organizations can and should be nurtured outside the office. Life’s about blasting great tunes and dancing around a bit, right?  

MENTORdna with Meesh Pierce

About Fred Croshal

Fred Croshal is a 40-year music industry veteran and founder/CEO of Croshal Entertainment Group, one of the premier independent music-marketing companies in the industry. 

Croshal began his career as a retail sales representative at local record stores in the San Francisco/Bay Area before securing his first position at CBS Records. Soon after he obtained executive positions at Sony Music Distribution and Columbia Records, working with artists such as, Michael Jackson, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Stevie Ray Vaughan and many more. In 1996, Madonna hired him at the Maverick Recording Company, where he soon became General Manager, overseeing all departments including; Sales, Press, Radio, Marketing, Creative, etc. on a daily basis. At Maverick Recording Company Croshal was able to build and nurture the careers of artists like Alanis Morissette, Deftones, Candlebox, Michelle Branch and more.

In 2003, Fred took his vast knowledge of sales, marketing, and promotions and founded Croshal Entertainment Group, a marketing and management company that could provide an infrastructure and alternative way for artists to release their music competitively. Croshal Entertainment Group has sold upwards of 6 million records independently to date and has helped guide releases from artists like Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Herb Alpert, Collective Soul, Gnarls Barkley, Jason Mraz, Crosby, Stills, and Nash and many more. In 2017, Fred was featured as one of Billboard magazine’s “Indie Power Players,” a short list of top influential music professionals leading the industry.

The role of a board of directors

old school board room

I’ve been a joiner and doer my whole life. I first was asked to join a non-profit board in 1999. At the time, I had little to no idea what serving on a board really meant. I just suspected that I was being asked to do a bunch of free work. And while that’s partly true depending on the organization and its makeup, over the past 21 years of board service, I’ve learned that serving on a board is much deeper than that. 

I’ve since served on a variety of boards and advised many corporate c-suite executives. My learnings are from both non-profit and corporate settings. 

The board’s job is to protect and uphold the mission and vision of the organization it serves. 

The board typically has one employee – the Chief Executive – and ultimately, the board’s role is to act as guardrails for the organization, checking and balancing the CEO’s decisions against the organization’s mission. A nuance that’s sometimes missed by someone new to board service is the natrual tension between the board and CEO. Oftentimes, the boards members know the CEO personally, but ulitmately, the board is the CEO’s boss. Nurturing a strong and healthy working relationship with open lines of communication is critically important and I’ll touch on that in a different article. 

Serving on a board doesn’t necessarily mean doing a bunch of work that the organization’s employees should be doing. Of course, organizations in early stages, fundraising mode, or in the midst of M&A activity will find its board committees very busy. During crisis times, the board’s role may shift into more “hands-on” coaching or even rolling up of the sleeves to do important work. But I learned from a wise advisor that the board “shouldn’t catch a cold.” This means that board members shouldn’t be in the day-to-day grind and decision making. They need to stay focused on supporting and guiding the CEO. 

When I served as board chair for the Wharton Club of Southern California, our mission was to establish and nurture networking opportunities for our 5000+ alumni and maintain a strong sense of connection to Wharton’s Philadelphia program. For the university, its main interest was to develop and maintain strong connections to its alumni for fundraising purposes. I deeply believe that an organization needs to provide some sense of connection or value in order for donors to come forth. It’s why Sally Struthers was so successful with Feed the Children. 

It was abundantly clear to me that through the use of technology, we could achieve both goals of serving our alumni with meaningful networking events to maintain that strong connection to the university and providing the school the important alumni data. This was the virtuous cycle we wanted! Of course, the university eventually could take it further, analyzing recency, frequency and monetary spend – basic customer lifetime value (CLV) metrics – to find alums more likely to be involved in capital campaigns, speaking on campus, mentorship, but that’s a separate topic and takes us into a deeper dive into what CLV means for a university. 

After a solid run on this software platform for ~10 years, 30+ alumni clubs around the world were enjoying more engagement and growing their networking opportunities. Unfortunately, the platform developer got into some spat (not sure!?!) with the university, leading the university to cut ties entirely. 

What now?! 

The university’s decision left our club in an interesting and challenging position. We were a standalone non-profit entity not directly or legally associated with the university, so we were free to make our own decisions. When the university chose a new software platform, they were keen on our club migrating as we’d been their key tech influencer across the globe. But the new platform didn’t have the basic features we needed to run our club – member directory, event ticketing, member discounts, an event calendar. 

IF the board wanted to uphold the mission and vision of the club to provide networking opportunities to our constituents, this new software choice was a non starter. However, we also appreciated the university’s position of wanting all of its clubs to be on a singular platform. 

The difficult decision was made to stay our current course, breaking away from the university’s technology transition. Our club and its volunteers had worked too hard to build up our membership, event calendar and networking groups and the board’s role was to protect our mission. So we did. And the club remains one of the most active Wharton alumni clubs in the world and it’s likely it will migrate back to the school’s tech given their platform’s feature expansion in the past 5 years. 

While serving on another board, we were faced with a CEO who started displaying traits and behaviors that weren’t aligned with the organization’s mission and vision. While subtle at first, the CEO became more brazen with misaligned decisions, direct threats and outbursts that were highly unproductive and jeopardized the organization’s future. Through months of heated discussion and debate amongst ourselves, with advisors and counsel, the board held firm that protecting the organization was of utmost importance. While this led to a tumultuous and emotionally draining season, looking in the rearview mirror so many years later makes it abundantly clear that the decision to transition the CEO was the right one. The organization continues to thrive, remaining laser focused on its key mission. 

Mentor DNA faviconKey points: 

  • A board’s purpose is to protect the mission and vision of an organization
  • A board’s job is to hire, fire and manage the CEO + nominate the most qualified future board directors that bring diversified thinking to the table 

Before you join a board, get really clear on why you want to join and what your role as a board member is.


Mentor DNA faviconResources on what the role of a board of directors:

Jeff Ayeroff

Jeff Ayeroff

Jeff Ayeroff is a music industry legend. Besides the interns, I was the most junior person at the WORK Group when Barbara Jones hired me as her assistant. I answered a TON of calls, sent a billion faxes, and had the chance to sit in on meetings with Jeff and his Co-President Jordan Harris, as they discussed marketing strategies for the likes of Fiona Apple, Jamiroquai, Mercury Rev, Sponge, amongst so many others.

His renegade approach to management resonated with me, and it’s Jeff who taught me to beg for forgiveness rather than ask for permission. I wasn’t your typical Wharton grad…I didn’t go into banking, consulting, or accounting. I passed up the big bank paychecks to work in the entertainment industry, went back to Philly for my MBA, then went straight into the tech startup world when I graduated with my MBA. 

This episode is chock full of great music industry stories and fantastic lessons about the importance of company culture, taking care of your teams, and getting your hand slapped while onlookers marvel at your ingenuity. 

Jeffrey Ayeroff is an American record executive who has worked for A&MWarner RecordsVirgin U.S.Work GroupApple, and Shangri-La Music. He founded Rock the Vote in 1990 in response to a censorship campaign against artists’ use of explicit language.

Jeff graduated from USC Gould School of Law in 1971, and worked as an Entertainment Attorney before joining the ranks at A&M Records as an assistant to then-President of the label, Gil Friesen, in 1974. He became A&M’s Director of Product Management & Creative Services in 1977 followed by Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services in 1978. At A&M, Ayeroff developed visual campaigns for The PolicePeter FramptonThe Carpenters, and Supertramp, to name a few. Beginning in 1983, his duties as senior vice president of Warner Bros. Records , included overseeing marketing, advertising, creative direction and music videos for artists such as: MadonnaSteve WinwoodZZ TopDon HenleyPrince, and Dire Straits. Ayeroff earned two Grammy Award nominations in the category of Grammy Award for Best Recording Package in 1985 and 1986 for his work with A-ha and Talking Heads. His creative direction on the Stop Making Sense album cover was also included in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition, “Making Modern Music: Design For Ear and Eye.”

Ayeroff left Warner Records in 1987 and, along with partner Jordan Harris, opened the U.S. label offices for Virgin Records after an invitation from company owner Richard Branson. Ayeroff and Harris signed and marketed an artist roster at Virgin U.S. which included Paula AbdulJanet JacksonLenny KravitzThe Smashing Pumpkins and others.

During his time at Virgin Records, Ayeroff also founded the progressive-aligned political organization Rock the Vote to help increase voter turnout among voters ages 18 to 24. Through alliances with other Entertainment companies, such as MTV, Ayeroff created commercial and print campaigns with contemporary music artists to appeal to a young voter demographic. The organization supported the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, commonly referred to as the “motor voter” bill, which expanded access to voter registration. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The law requires state governments to offer voter registration opportunities to any eligible person who applies for or renews a driver’s license or public assistance. Rock The Vote also protested against the Parents Music Resource Center who, at the time, began advocating for warning labels to be added on covers of music releases that contained profane lyrics. It was reported in 2016 that Rock The Vote had registered more than 6 million voters online.

In August 1993, both Ayeroff & Harris resigned from Virgin Records after the company was sold to Thorn EMI. Industry sources said the resignations were because of a management logjam at the company and the subsequent erosion of their duties.

Ayeroff and Harris went on to co-found Work Group in 1995, a West Coast-based subsidiary of Sony Music, where they developed the careers of Jennifer LopezJamiroquaiFiona AppleLenSpongeImperial Drag, and Esthero. In July 1999, both Ayeroff and Harris departed the label six months prior to their contract expiration. Sources cited that both were unhappy with Sony after consolidation of promotion duties for all Epic Records labels under one department, in addition to Sony not allowing Ayeroff and Harris to buy a piece of the company they helped build.

Ayeroff was hired by Apple Records in 2000, as a key consultant to oversee the marketing of 1, a career-spanning retrospective of The Beatles which has sold over 30 million copies worldwide to date.

Returning to the Warner Records in 2001 as the label’s chief creative director and vice chairman, he oversaw the visual campaigns for Josh GrobanMy Chemical RomanceGreen Day, and more. Ayeroff left Warner Bros. in 2004 at the conclusion of his contract.

In 2008, Ayeroff became co-CEO (along with Jon Rubin) of Steve Bing‘s boutique label imprint Shangri-La Music. Ayeroff and Rubin also began ArtistsFirst, a creative and marketing consulting agency, which has launched international humanitarian activism with its music.