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My Experience With Penji (+25% Promo code) Unlimited Graphic Design Service

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Penji review with promo code

The graphic designer hiring process comes in many forms. Within the past 5 years, unlimited graphic design services became a desirable alternative, offering graphic design work on a monthly subscription. Penji is a Philadelphia-based startup that offers this unique business model.

You can submit as many design projects as you want via their online portal, and they’ll complete your requests one at a time until your queue is complete. This type of service promises to be a great added resource for teams to improve productivity.

Sounds too good to be true? We thought so too. So, we signed up to see for ourselves.

Quick Summary

As with any service, there are pros and cons. To help with your graphic design hiring decision, we decided to condense what we found in a bulleted list below. Here’s a quick summary of our review of Penji’s unlimited graphic design service.

Pros

  • Easy and quick to create design projects
  • Storage for all my requested designs
  • VERY fast turnaround on most projects. I expected just 1 draft in 24 hours but instead received 3 drafts. Revisions were sometimes completed the same day I submitted them.
  • Helpful features such as a revision tool, ability to invite team members, brand profile, and more
  • Upbeat communication from everyone I interact with
  • A dedicated and responsive account manager who replies within a few hours

Cons

  • Can’t call or talk to designers
  • Best if you have design projects ready to submit
  • Not available as an app

Overall Experience

Penji’s “unlimited” design model is a great choice if you have the right expectations going in. The service is affordable for growing businesses and their output is reliable. However, if you’re expecting to be on-call or face-to-face with your designer, this type of service is not for you.

Compared to designing yourself, hiring freelancers, or using Fiverr, Penji is a much better service and value by a long shot. Their team of designers lived up to the promise and exceeded my expectations.

Thinking of trying Penji out for yourself? Here’s a special promo code for Owner’s Mag readers:

Use the Penji promo code “OWNER25” to get 25% off your 1st month.

Disclaimer: we receive a commission when you use the code.


PENJI FULL REVIEW

We put Penji to the test by signing up, requesting a designs, and examining the results. Here’s how it went.

Signing Up For Penji

Signing up for Penji was a relatively quick and painless process. All of my questions were answered in less than 5 minutes by customer support via Intercom and another 2 minutes to complete the checkout process.

Communication with Penji’s Support Team

How fast and reliable a company’s support team is before you are an active customer is a reflection of what’s to come. If they’re unresponsive now, it will only get worse once I’m a customer. I hit up Penji’s customer support team via their Intercom chat popup and got a response within 30 seconds, which is pretty good. I asked basic questions and the agent seemed knowledgeable.

Communication as a Customer

All communication is done online through Penji’s proprietary online portal. That includes revisions, feedback, and answering any questions my designers may have.

Communication with Designers

I was assigned 1 designer, Billie, and communication was with her was easy. If you’ve used any messaging platforms like Slack, Facebook Messenger, or Discord, you’d be familiar with this form of communication.

Billie was responsive, attentive, and always seemed to have a positive attitude no matter how demanding my requests were. She had many questions about the projects, which I tried my best to answer as a customer. Though the back and forth took longer than I wanted, I realized she was just being thorough to get the design done right, which I appreciate.

Communication with Account Managers

I was assigned an Account Manager, Charmaine, who was very quick whenever I needed something. It usually takes just a few hours for me to get a reply via email from her. When I had an issue with one of the projects, she quickly stepped in and helped resolve the situation.

1. Choose a Package

All the packages are laid out with monthly, quarterly, and yearly pricing. Starting at $399 per month for the Pro plan, you’ll be able to make unlimited graphic design requests with a 24-48 hour turnaround. As your design needs grow, you’ll have the Team and Agency packages to choose from.

2. Checkout

The form is straightforward and easy to fill out. Checking out was a breeze and took about 2 minutes.


3. Submit a Design Project

Clicking on the “+ Create new project” button, I’m presented with a visual chart of all the design categories they offer. They offer an extensive selection of options and even the ability to request a custom project.

4. Fill Out the Request Form

Next, I filled out a short form detailing what I want designed. For those of you who hate long forms, this one from Penji is easy to follow and doesn’t ask too many questions. Most of the questions are actually optional so you can be as descriptive or non-descriptive as you like.

My test projects

As a digital publisher, we produce content on a daily basis and always have a need for on-brand graphic design. I created several projects to test how well-rounded Penji is and how they handle both simple and complex requests. A simple banner should be difficult, but can they handle a complex infographic with lots of texts and imagery?

Here are my test projects:

  1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners
  2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy
  3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic
  4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition

Despite creating four projects, the entire process was quick and smooth. It only took a few minutes to create them and their internal platform was lightning fast. At this pace, I can see myself submitting multiple projects on their platform with ease.


Turnaround Time

I expected at least one draft the next day. What I didn’t expect were three drafts ready for review. To give you a comparison, most freelancers and design firms we’ve hired take several days to submit just one draft.

After reviewing the designs, which were surprisingly good considering it’s the first draft AND had a 24-hour turnaround, I realized how they did it. Every project had a different designer. I wasn’t assigned just one designer. It was like having my very own virtual design team.

4. Requesting Revisions

Though the designs were good, I still needed a few revisions. The drafts were turned around usually the same day or by the next day. Their support agent actually told me it will take 24 hours to turn around revisions. The revisions that took 24 hours were typically much more involved.

Overall, revisions were quick. Most came back within a few hours after I submitted them.

My one gripe would be that I prefer to have some sort of real-time chat with my designer or at least have a Zoom call. That’s one thing I like about working with my freelancers. Whenever they were online, we could just have a back and forth conversation to get the revisions across. I can’t do that with Penji.

Built-in Revision Tool

Penji has a built-in revision tool that lets me click anywhere on the design to leave a revision. I found this incredibly useful and enables me to pin-point what I want to change.


The Results

It took about 1 week to go back and forth with revisions and edits for all 4 design projects. At the end of the week, I received the final drafts for all three. Here are the results of the three test projects.

1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners

This far exceeded my expectations and will more than do for the blog I’m writing about DSLR camera equipment. I think most designers would probably just stop with 1-2 icons and graphics for this design. My designer decided to add the tripod, three lenses, drone, backpack, and a whole entire stage lighting kit.

I didn’t ask for those, but I’m impressed with the quality of the design. No revisions needed. I approved this project on the first try.

2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy

For this project, I asked my designer Kei to do a custom illustration of a man vacuuming his floor. He actually drew it up and sent me a rough sketch first before he started coloring it in. That was an extra layer of care and attention to detail I wasn’t expecting. Needless to say, I approved of his drawing and he delivered this draft the next day.

Revision

Everything in this graphic was hand-drawn and then colored digitally. Like the first project, I couldn’t think of any revisions except asking him to put the texts “Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy” on the graphic.

He went the extra mile and designed the text to fit the graphics. See for yourself above. Details like these I would have had to harass my freelancer and he would try to nickel and dime me for every revision. Great work Kei!

3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic

My designer Jave’s first draft amazed me because of how much detail he put into this project. I had asked for an isometric graphic with various tech products laid out on an isometric glass plane. I honestly thought my description may have been a bit too vague, but he understood my vision even better than I did.

4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition)

My designer Billie gave me 3 versions of the magazine cover. I don’t like version 1 at all. It looks too templated. I personally like version 2 and 3 and left revision notes accordingly. The coronavirus image was entirely her idea and I love it.

Revision

This project took a bit longer than the others because my designer Billie had questions and we had a lot of back and forth. I didn’t mind at all since she was asking good questions that I should’ve included in my design request. Overall, I appreciated the extra time she took to understand me and the project better.

About three days later, I received another draft which blew everything before it out of the water.


Final Verdict

All four projects were completed within two weeks and I was impressed with how they all turned out. If I had paid hourly or per project, these would’ve easily cost me well above $1200+ to get done, and probably taken weeks.

With Penji, it took just a few days and I paid a fraction of what I would’ve paid elsewhere. Definitely impressed with both the turnaround, quality, communication, and value this startup has to offer.

But Penji isn’t without its flaws. The service definitely isn’t for everybody.

Who would benefit:

  • business owners
  • marketers
  • agencies
  • creatives with consistent design needs

If you don’t have a consistent need, the bill will start racking up after a couple of months and you won’t see the value in the subscription.

However, if you do happen to fit their target demographic, then there’s no better alternative out there. The speed and quality of their work easily rival other services I’d ever used. For $399 per month, this is an absolute steal.

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Best Apps for Blogging

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Internet Live Stats estimates that there have been more than 400,000,000 blogs written this year. You can expect more bloggers to publish more posts to add to the growing number of blogs each day. While blogging platforms have made it accessible for writers to post their blogs, apps have also become necessary to their blogging efforts. But which apps should you use when you write, publish, and even promote your blogs? Check out our list below.

Blogging Apps: Writing, Editing, and Reading

1. Grammarly

Grammarly should be every blogger’s best friend. Before you publish your blog, it’s important to edit it for your readers to enjoy. You want to publish a well-written blog for your readers, and with Grammarly’s help, you can do that. Fortunately, the editing software isn’t only available on the desktop. You can download the app and edit anytime when you’re out. 

Plus, one of the best things about Grammarly on your phone is it has a built-in keyboard. You can edit as you write.

Download the Grammarly app here.

Price: 

  • Free, 
  • Premium (starts at $11.66/mo)
  • Pro (starts at $12.50/mo)

2. Evernote

Sometimes the writing muse comes at random times, and you don’t have a pen or paper to write down your thoughts. Fortunately, you can use a note-taking app without getting stressed over finding a pen or paper. While a built-in app could do the trick, what if you download an app that will sync your notes anywhere? That’s where Evernote comes in. You don’t need coherent thoughts when you jot down notes. Let them all flow, and access your notes again on your computer when you’re ready to write them down.

Get the Evernote app here.

Price: 

  • Free
  • Premium ($7.99/mo)
  • Business ($14.99/user/mo)

3. Pocket Thesaurus

Another blogging utility app you should have on your phone is a pocket thesaurus. Sometimes, when we write blogs, it can be challenging to find the correct word. And you should have a thesaurus ready to help you find the best words for your blog. With the many thesaurus apps available on any app store, the Pocket Thesaurus is a must-download. You can access this offline. Plus, it’s not heavy on storage since the app is less than 20 MB.

Get the Pocket Thesaurus here.

Price: Free

4. Pocket

Any blogger knows that reading is essential when writing. Not only will it make you become a better writer, but it broadens your knowledge about a particular topic. Pocket is one of the best apps you’ll download on your phone. Not only will it curate the topics you need, but you can save articles that you would have no time to read in a snap. You can even listen to articles as you go.

Add Pocket in your smartphone here.

Price:

  • Free
  • Premium – Annual ($44.99/yr)
  • Premium – Monthly ($4.99/mo)

5. Quora

One of the many techniques bloggers use to find topics is through Quora. You can find relevant questions there and get inspired by what users post on the site. Who knows, their next question can become your new blog post? Perhaps you’re writing a blog post and need to source answers from other people. You can go there and possibly use their responses as the content for your blog.

Get the Quora app here.

Price: Free

Productivity

6. Trello

Organize your blogs by using a kanban board like Trello. You can monitor your blogging process by moving cards to different lists on one board. But, if you want to get more out of Trello and integrate apps on it, you can upgrade to their plans.

Get the Trello app on your phone here.

Price: 

  • Free 
  • Business Class ($12.50 billed monthly; $10/mo billed annually) 
  • Enterprise (ask for a quote here)

7. Focus-to-Do: Pomodoro Timer & To Do List

Distractions can hinder our blogging. Whether you have a deadline or need to publish a new blog soon, a Pomodoro timer can keep you motivated. This one by Focus-to-Do isn’t only a timer, but it’s also a to-do list. Here you can list down the tasks you need to do for the day. From there, you can start the timer and focus on completing that task. Plus, to make sure that you’re blogging, you can even block apps that distract you.

Focus on writing your blog by downloading the Pomodoro timer here.

Price: Free

8. IFTTT

Automate your blogging efforts by using IFTTT. Let IFTTT work its magic because, in one click, you can let IFTTT publish and promote your blog. Write without any distractions as IFTTT helps automate other processes that might take time when done manually.

Make blogging easier by downloading IFTTT here.

Price: 

  • Free
  • Pro ($3.99/mo)

Utilities

9. Google Drive

Bloggers may not know it, but cloud storage is an essential app for blogging. After all, you don’t want to store your documents, but you might need to upload photos that you’ll use when you upload your blog. And one of the best cloud storage applications out there is Google Drive. All you need is a Google account, and you’ll get 15GB worth of storage. Plus, you can access your Google Drive anytime and anywhere you’re writing.

Get Google Drive here.

Price:

  • Free (15GB only)
  • 100 GB – $1.99/mo
  • 200 GB – $2.99/mo
  • 2 TB – $9.99/mo

10. Rev Voice & Audio Recorder

If taking notes isn’t your favorite thing to do, you can record what you want to write on the Rev Voice & Audio Recorder. Your phone will have another voice recorder, plus the app has a transcription service available. You will have to pay for it, though. But if you need your thoughts transcribed before writing your blog, it’s a nifty feature when you don’t have the time to transcribe on your own.

Download the Rev Voice & Audio Recorder here.

Price: Free (Transcription service: $1.25/minute)

11. Hootsuite

After publishing your post, you should promote your blog so readers from other platforms find your blog. What’s great about Hootsuite is it has a free option, where you can connect three social media apps. You can even schedule up to 30 posts on the Free plan as well.

Promote your blogs by downloading Hootsuite here.

Price: 

  • Free
  • Professional ($19/mo)
  • Team ($99/mo)
  • Business ($599/mo)
  • Enterprise (Custom pricing)

12. Canva

Images are important to your blogs. In fact, any blogs with images get more views than those that don’t. And you need a design app on your phone like Canva. You can edit photos, choose royalty-free images, and create graphics for your blog.

Download the design software here.

Price:

  • Free
  • Pro ($9.99/mo)
  • Enterprise ($30/mo/person)

You can also check out our list of the best Canva alternatives.

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Lincoln Project Co-Founder Accused of Online Harassment

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John Weaver is widely known as a longtime Republican strategist and co-founder of the Lincoln Project. However, at the moment, he’s also known for online harassment. According to 21 young men, Mr. Weaver sent them provocative messages online, often mixed in political talks. 

For anyone, it’s a great feeling to be noticed by the person we admire, not until the conversation makes us uncomfortable. In this case, a prominent figure messaged his young followers, offering help to work in politics. That sounds great. Not until he makes sexual remarks to the young men. If that line is crossed, it’s time to raise red flags. 

‘Victims’ Comes Forward

Several young men confessed they felt preyed upon after experiencing an exchange with the influential older man. It turns out Mr. Weaver sent sexual messages to at least ten young men. In a more explicit message, he would offer professional and personal assistance in exchange for sex. A message shows Mr. Weaver wants to “give advice” in exchange. He says, “you help me … sensually.” 

Last summer, social media posts surfaced about Mr. Weaver being involved in relationships with men. However, John Weaver, who has a wife and two children, denied the claims. After the allegations gained public attention in mid-January, Mr. Weaver released a statement acknowledging “inappropriate” messages that he had sent. He also apologizes to the men for the uncomfortable experiences. 

However, John Weaver says that he believed all of the interactions were consensual. He further added that he wouldn’t return to the Lincoln Project from the medical leave that began in the summer. Despite Mr. Weaver’s claims, his online behavior based on interviews with the young men and screenshot was not “consensual.” In many cases, it only shows aggressive and unwanted messages.

Different Encounters with the Influential Lincoln Project Figure

A 14-Year-Old

One of Mr. Weaver’s solicitations involved sending messages to a 14-year-old, asking questions about his body while in high school. This exchange continued for four years, turning into more pointed comments after he turned 18. 

It all started when Cole Trickle Miele was 14 when he followed John Weaver on Twitter in 2015. Colin admits that at a young age, he was interested in politics. At that time, Cole supported the Republican Party. After following Mr. Weaver, he quickly received a direct message. Cole admits he was semi-starstruck when John Weaver engaged in a private conversation with him. 

During that time, he did not think of anything suspicious. But as the exchange between them continued, he became uncomfortable. The conversation often involves Cole’s looks or body. However, in March 2020, when Cole was 18, Mr. Weaver sent a message about wanting him to come to vegas. The older man offers to buy Cole dinner and drinks, wanting to “spoil” the boy. He also asks Cole to resend him his stats, or he can guess for “fun.” 

“Politics”

Another case involves Cody Balts, a recent college graduate looking for a job in politics. It also started on Twitter, where he replied to one of Mr. Weaver’s tweets. To Cody’s surprise, he received a direct message in return. Their conversation involves traveling to Chicago and mostly politics. But at some point, Mr. Weaver asks Cody what he does in his spare time. 

After answering, he ran in marathons, Cody received a suspicious reply. Mr. Weaver replied, “at least whatever we end up doing, you do it multiple times in a row.” For Cody, the exchange felt like he was exploiting his power. 

Speaker Invitation

Kyle Allen shares that his exchange with Mr. Weaver includes questions about his weight, height, clothes, and whether he’s circumcised. This type of conversation started from 2016 to 2018. Mr. Weaver also kept repeatedly pushing for an invitation to speak at the University of Ottawa, where Kyle was studying. Also, he would often use sexually explicit language to express his desire to visit. 

According to Kyle, he always tries to steer the conversation to politics. However, he says that John Weaver would always find ways to bring the conversation back to “sexual stuff.” 

Work Offer in Lincoln Project

At least two cases involve Mr. Weaver’s offer to work with Lincoln Project as he mixes in suggestive messages. One of the men, Anthony Covell, said that Mr. Weaver started messaging him last July 2019. The exchange gradually lessened, but two weeks before the Lincoln Project was announced, Weaver invited him to join the initiative. 

Anthony says that John Weaver was looking for young people who were “creative” and “invested” in the coming election. This offer got Anthony interested. However, Mr. Weaver suggested that Anthony post a “thirst trap” or send him a pic. He also asked the young man to call him for more details on the project. 

After receiving those kinds of messages, Anthony shared that something was telling him that this setup was sketchy. In the end, he decided not to call. 

To Wrap It Up

After receiving specific questions about the allegation, Mr. Weaver repeated his previous statement. He says that he’s so “disheartened” and “sad that he brought discomfort to anyone.” He further commented that he thought those were mutually consensual discussions. 

John Weaver also shared that living in a deeply closeted life, he allowed his pain to cause pain for others. He expressed his apologies to the men involved and for “letting so many people down.” 

As for the Lincoln Project’s reaction, the initiative released a statement condemning the co-founder. In the statement, they say that Mr. Weaver is a predator, liar, and abuser. 

For other interesting content, explore Owner’s Mag!

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Black History Month: 10 Black Fortune 500 CEOs

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If you think there aren’t enough African American CEOs around, you’re not mistaken. According to statistics, only one percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are black. And, in addition to that, the trend has been plummeting down over the past ten years, in contrast to the rising numbers of Asian-American and Hispanic CEOs.

With more attention being paid to diversity in the workplace, why aren’t there more black CEOs in various industries? There are several factors at play. 

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, former Black CEO of Aetna Ron Williams says the opportunity is not equally distributed. According to Williams, there are many promotions that are informally decided even before the jobs are even posted. As a result, other talents, including Black employees, don’t get a fair chance to compete.

This Black History Month, let’s take a look at some of the influential African American Fortune 500 corporate leaders.

1. Roger Ferguson Jr.

Roger Ferguson Jr. is the current President and CEO at TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services organization. Being an executive of the leading provider of retirement services in academic, medical, research, and cultural fields is not easy. Still, Ferguson has been doing a great job at it since 2008. 

Ferguson is also the chairman of The Conference Board. He also serves as a member of several boards. These include Alphabet, the Institute for Advanced Study, General Mills, International Flavors and Fragrances, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

2. Kenneth Frazier

Kenneth Frazier is the chairman of the board and the Chief Executive Officer of Merck since 2011. Frazier’s leadership guides the firm as it continues to be one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. 

According to Merck’s website, its current CEO has substantially increased the business’s investment in research. In addition to that, he has also refocused Merck’s efforts to launch and grow products that benefit society. Frazier joined the firm in 1992 and rose from the ranks. He held positions including General Counsel and President on his way to being the top executive. And for that, he earns a spot here at our list of CEOs for Black History Month.

3. Marvin Ellison

Marvin Ellison is the current President and CEO at Lowe’s Companies, Inc. and has been so since 2018. Prior to being Lowe’s chief executive, he has also served as the chairman and CEO of J.C. Penney Co. from 2014 to 2018. During his time at the firm, he guided the team to deliver sales growth, reduce debt, and earn adjusted earnings per share. 

Ellison has also held senior-level operations roles in big companies within the retail industry. His experience includes stints at Home Depot Inc. and Target Corp. 

4. René Jones

René Jones is the chairman and CEO of M&T Bank and has been so since December 2017. Jones takes pride in leading a firm that aims to make a difference in society. In the same vein, he strives to lead the bank to play an active role in making communities better places to work, live, and grow.

In his LinkedIn account, Jones described M&T Bank as “a community bank and a bank for communities.” He guides the firm to be a “glue” that binds people and fosters social change and progress.

5. Jide Zeitlin

Jide Zeitlin was appointed CEO of luxury goods firm Tapestry in September 2019. Also the chairman of the Board at that time, Zeitlin led the parent company of Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman backed by his over three decades-worth of experience in the global financial industry.

Not even a year in the position, however, Zeitlin left the corner office in July 2020. He resigned as chairman and CEO following misconduct allegations.

6. Kenneth Chenault

Kenneth Chenault served as the CEO of American Express from 2001 to 2018 and was one of the first African Americans to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Initially joining the multinational financial services firm in 1981, he worked his way up to Chief Operating Officer and President in 1997 before becoming the CEO in 2001. Chenault’s hard work landed him on the C-suite at a time when most companies are yet to exert efforts to address employee diversity.

7. Ursula Burns

Black History Month and Women’s History Month come one after the other, and Ursula Burns is the perfect person to recognize for both. Serving as CEO of Xerox Holdings from 2009 to 2017, Burns was the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 firm. 

Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a summer mechanical-engineering intern, back when she was taking up her master’s degree at Columbia University. She rose from the ranks, and when she finally reached the C-suite, she helped the firm generate $18 billion in revenue.

8. Don Thompson

Don Thompson was the CEO McDonald’s Corp from 2012 to 2015. Thompson held the reins at such a challenging time. When he sat down as CEO in 2012, he had to face the challenge of leading the company to add to almost nine years of sales gains at established stores. However, just two months into the job, the firm reported same-store sales to decline with various issues at hand, including political troubles in Europe and food safety concerns in China.

9. Rodney O’Neal

Rodney O’Neal served as the CEO of Delphi Automotive from 2007 to 2015. O’Neal’s time at the helm was not an easy ride – he took charge of the firm halfway through its massive restructuring in federal bankruptcy. Despite all the hardships, he was able to lead the firm through. Delphi got out of exited bankruptcy, returned back to the stock market, and grew sales at 45 percent during O’Neal’s final year. 

10. Clarence Otis Jr.

Last but not least on our Black History Month CEO list is Clarence Otis Jr., who served as the CEO of Darden Restaurants from 2004 to 2014. For the most part, Otis led the company’s growth that owned Capital Grille, Olive Garden, and LongHorn Steakhouse. 

While restaurant operator top execs typically come from the food and beverage industry, Otis’s background is unconventional. Before working for Darden as a treasurer in 1995, he was a securities lawyer and a JPMorgan Chase manager.

For other business related stories, you can read more here in Owner’s Mag!

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