PROOF, formed in 2013, helps businesses analyze and understand customers, including their emotions, motivations and preferences. Businesses can use these insights to make decisions
about messaging, predict customer behavior, measure success and do strategic planning.
Responsibilities: As CEO and founder, Gooding, 37, drives his company’s vision and oversees all management facets of the business, which employs five.
Getting started: Gooding caught the entrepreneurial bug in high school, when he actually got into trouble for starting a business. He started another one in college that “went pretty well.” He got an MBA and worked in mergers and acquisitions for almost 10 years. That stint provided valuable insights that paved the way for Proof.
Gooding realized that companies had a firm grasp on why most costs shifted — most costs, that is, except media and marketing. As he researched the situation, he discovered a potential business niche between the creativity of the marketing/advertising world and the balance sheets of the businesses he examined. That niche was research.
“I sort of fell in love with brand philosophy. I found that nobody was really doing any lucrative research around who a company is — how you talk about yourself and what your value proposition is.”
Five-year goal:“I’m going to develop a tool that will make it seem like you can read the (mind of) the person across from you.”
Gooding said he wants to help salespeople close business by giving them the right words to say based on the type of person they’re speaking to — words that bring the highest probability of success.
Family: Wife, Stacey; son, Jameson, 3
Little-known facts: Gooding, a baritone, was a vocal performance major in college and has sung all around the world, including in Carnegie Hall. He also describes himself as a history geek, particularly when it comes to Chinese history from the second to fifth centuries.
Song that best describes his leadership style: “Going the Distance” by Cake.
“It’s upbeat and high-energy, like me. And it is indicative of what it takes to be successful.”
And, he added, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Community involvement: Gooding is passionate about educating youths and about entrepreneurship, so his involvement includes being a mentor with MECA Challenge, which teaches primarily inner-city high school students to think like entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship, Gooding said, “is how greatness happens.”