AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “They’d pass the book around the class, and when it got to me I’d fake having a stomachache or go to the bathroom,” Landes recalled. His eighth-grade guidance counselor suggested he enroll at a trade school instead of high school since college seemed unlikely. Today, Landes serves as president and CEO of Fetch Technologies, an El Segundo firm where he must read, make deals and count millions of dollars in revenue. “It’s a long-term thing,” Landes said of his disability. “I’ve learned to exploit it for my benefit and those around me. In life, you’ve got to accept you have things.” Those things include typical ADD symptoms such as impulsiveness and speaking out of turn. “Through my experiences, I’ve learned to channel those difficulties into strengths,” he said. “I have a lot of energy. I’m highly motivated. I have an unyielding desire to succeed in the face of difficulties and obstacles. It’s made me more compassionate, understanding, less fearful.” Landes is animated while sitting at his office desk. His 6-foot-8 frame seems hardly able to contain his energy. Landes, 51, joined Fetch in 2004 to run the business side of a company founded by scientists. Under Landes, the private firm has grown from 10 employees – Landes was the 10th – to 45. Revenue increased from less than $1 million to more than $5million, Landes said. And he expanded the company’s client base beyond government agencies to include commercial customers. Landes said he expects growth of 100percent next year. In January, Fetch will move into nearby office space more than twice as large as its current 6,200-square-foot location. The added space is needed to house the expected 60 employees the company will have by January, Landes said. Fetch develops complex software that extracts information from countless Web sites and organizes the data to appear as if it’s all from a single source. “We’re a precision extraction technology. We don’t deliver you the Web page, we deliver the data,” Landes said. “We revolutionized the task of information gathering. This was previously a menial task. When you want to go to hundreds and thousand of sources, you can’t do that manually.” For example, when an agent at the AAA searches for a low-fare hotel booking or travel package, the system uses Fetch software. Steve Minton, Fetch’s chairman and co-founder, said Landes was one of a number of CEO candidates the company considered. “But none of them had Robert’s track record,” Minton said. That track record has mostly focused on sales. But Landes’ professional experience goes beyond that to include playing professional basketball and founding a dot-com. Looking back, Landes noted the challenges he has faced, including his learning disability and a major injury in college. “I seem to continually have to overcome adversity,” Landes said. In the 10th grade, Landes suddenly “no longer had academic problems,” he said. “Once you recognize a deficiency, you start to create an internal and external structure of support to mitigate weakness and enhance strengths.” Landes went on to prove his eighth-grade counselor wrong by enrolling at College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. Landes was on a full athletic scholarship. He studied sociology with a minor in psychology while playing on the college basketball team. In his junior year, Landes broke his back because of a repetitive stress injury. He spent a year of training and rehabilitation and was able to play his senior year. After earning his bachelor’s degree in sociology, Landes played professional basketball in Britain for a year. In his free time, he sold commodities over the phone from London. “I was hooked,” Landes recalled. “I loved selling.” In 1982, after completing a year of professional basketball, Landes joined his brother’s New York importing business. Called Landes Silver, the firm sold imported silverware, crystal and china to Bloomingdale’s and other retailers. “I was in charge of business development and my brother was in charge of operations,” he said. But by 1987, Landes left the business “over a family dynamic.” Landes then worked in sales for several years for another New York silverware company. In 1992, Landes took a job as vice president of national accounts for LA Gear, a youth- oriented shoe company based in Santa Monica. His biggest challenge was to promote a new specialty brand for men. By the time he left in 1995, Landes was LA Gear’s executive vice president. “I left because the company wasn’t doing well and it was on its third reorganization,” he said. “So they had to downsize the business. I didn’t like that. I’m a builder, not a downsizer.” After leaving, Landes had what he described as an epiphany. He was driving from his Pacific Palisades home to Brentwood when he noticed people on a street corner hawking $10 maps of movie stars’ homes. “I said I wonder if I could start an Internet company ? where you can reach the stars?” he said. By December 2006, Landes had founded Celebrity Sightings, a Marina del Rey firm that used the Internet to connect teens to exclusive celebrity content and even chats with stars. “I ended up selling the company for millions of dollars,” he said. The Web site eventually went dormant and now is a pornographic site. Before selling Celebrity Sightings, Landes began serving as CEO of software company Guidance Solutions, a Marina del Rey firm building corporate Web sites that allowed for online commerce. “Guidance had eight employees and $750,000 in revenue,” Landes said. “Three years later, we had $22 million in revenue and 225 employees.” Landes cashed out of Guidance in 2004. He then went into semi-retirement. He did some consulting work, but mostly spent time with his wife and three children including becoming a carpool dad. In 2004, Landes began consulting for Fetch. At the time, Landes was considering running a company again, and Minton and his partners were debating whether Landes was an ideal fit for their firm. Minton recalls one day when he was away from the office, but needed to check a voice message left for the company. The message was left on Landes’ cell phone. So Landes gave Minton the password. Minton found himself in the awkward position of having to listen through Landes’ other messages before finding the one he was looking for. “I was trying not to snoop, but there was a succession of people – some of them business people and some of them personal friends – and they’re like, `Robert, I really appreciate all the help you’ve given me,”‘ Minton said. “People really trust Robert and he’s really a terrific person. ? By that time, I was pretty convinced we had a good relationship. But (those phone messages) pretty much sealed the deal.” email@example.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By Muhammed El-Hasan Staff Writer Robert Landes describes his business success as a “miracle.” Landes grew up in New York with non-diagnosed attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity. In elementary school, Landes had trouble reading.