David M. Traversi

David M. Traversi (born 5 May 1959 in Petaluma, California, USA), is an American investment banker, executive advisor, writer, speaker, entrepreneur, and leadership innovator. His book, The Source of Leadership: Eight Drivers of the High-Impact Leader, has been hailed as defining the “new leadership paradigm.”
Education and Professional career
Traversi was born in 1959 and raised in Petaluma, California. He attended St. Vincent de Paul School through his sophomore year in high school and then transferred to and graduated from Petaluma High School in 1977. In 1981, he graduated with honors from California State University, Chico with a B.S. degree in Business Administration, and in 1984 he graduated from the King School of Law at University of California, Davis, with a J.D. He passed the Alaska (1984) and California (1985) bar exams, and then practiced as a trial lawyer for two years with Burr, Pease & Kurtz in Anchorage, Alaska. While in Alaska, Traversi was a mediator for the Anchorage Conflict Resolution Center.
In 1986, Traversi returned to school to pursue an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley. In 1988, he graduated with honors. While at Berkeley, he practiced law for one year and worked the other year in the acquisitions department of McMahan Real Estate Advisors, a San Francisco-based pension fund advisor.
After a brief stint as a lending officer with Citicorp Real Estate in New York and San Francisco, Traversi joined Montgomery Securities (now BancAmerica Securities) in 1989 to start and lead its corporate finance efforts in the real estate, homebuilding, and property services sectors. Traversi spent the next seven years there, ultimately as General Partner and Senior Managing Director, building an industry-leading real estate corporate finance practice. Clients included Sam Zell’s Manufactured Home Communities (now Equity LifeStyle Properties) and Equity Residential, Donald Bren’s Irvine Apartment Communities, David Murdock’s Castle & Cooke, Schuler Homes and its ultimate acquirer D.R. Horton, Macerich, and KB Home. Traversi also co-managed the firm’s financial services technology practice.
In 1996, Traversi left Montgomery to join as a senior executive heading up the company’s investment banking and business development efforts. In 1997, he joined Sirrom Capital Corporation, an NYSE-listed investment firm in Nashville, TN. After launching Sirrom Capital West, the company’s western U.S. operations based in San Francisco, he moved to Nashville, TN to assume the post of President of the parent company. He led the 1999 sale of the company to Finova, then an NYSE-listed public company and one of the largest non-bank commercial lenders in the nation.
Traversi then teamed with Carl Stratton, formerly the Chief Financial Officer of Sirrom Capital, to form 2020 Growth Partners, LLC, since renamed Traversi & Company, LLC. Traversi & Company was originally formed as a strategic advisory firm serving clients across the nation, but has evolved over the years into primarily an executive coaching firm, offering strategic advisory and merchant banking services as well. Stratton left the firm in 2002 to launch his own company, Carlton Services, but often collaborates with Traversi on strategic advisory assignments. Traversi & Company has remained active since its inception, notwithstanding the fact Traversi has started several businesses in the interim. Since 2006, and particularly with the publication of Traversi’s book, The Source of Leadership: Eight Drivers of the High-Impact Leader, Traversi & Company has emerged as one of the premier strategic planning and executive coaching firms in the nation.
Later in 1999, Traversi co-founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of PRE Solutions, Inc., a private company funded by ITC Holding Company, based in Valley, AL. PRE Solutions, based in Norcross, Georgia, ultimately grew into the nation’s largest electronic processor of prepaid telecom services before being sold to InComm in 2006. Traversi left as CEO in 2002, relocating to California to be closer to his sons following his 2001 divorce from their mother.
In 2004, Traversi joined with Herb Dwight, former Chairman and CEO of Optical Coating Laboratories and founder and former CEO of Spectra-Physics, and George Hsu, inventor of the electromagnetic compass, to form Sensor Platforms, Inc. Sensor Platforms is a fabless semiconductor company serving the sensor industry. Traversi served as Chairman and Chief Financial Officer until 2006. He raised $1.33 million in initial funding from the North Bay Angels, and subsequently raised $6.6 million from Newbury Ventures and ArrowPath Venture Capital. The company, based in San Jose, CA, is currently in development stage.
In 2010, Traversi launched Traversi Capital Advisors, LLC, an investment banking subsidiary of Traversi & Company. Traversi Capital Advisors, a member of FINRA/SIPC, offers private placement and mergers and acquisition advisory services to small and middle market companies with between $5 million and $500 million in the following industries: business services, financial services, IT and software, manufacturing, clean technology, media and entertainment, food and beverage, real estate and building, lodging and hospitality, and sports and recreation.
The Source of Leadership
In September 2007, New Harbinger Publications published Traversi’s The Source of Leadership: Eight Drivers of the High-Impact Leader. Of the book, Lewis Coleman (President of DreamWorks Animation SKG) said, “This book signals a new age of leadership…” Stephen M. Ross, founder, Chairman, and CEO of RELATED, says, “This book is the leader’s ideal antidote for a world that is getting more complex and faster by the minute.” Beverly Engel, best-selling author, says, “At a time when the business and professional world - and our country - is in dire need of excellence and integrity in leadership, Traversi has written a powerful guide to help transform ordinary leaders into extraordinary ones.” Jerry Weissman, best-selling author, calls it “an illuminating set of guidelines for any leader.” J. Michael Chu, founder and managing partner of Catterton Partners, says the book is “a must-read for any executive interested in succeeding in the future.”
Board Service, Licenses, and Affiliations
Traversi has served on the boards of a number of companies and organizations, including Schuler Homes, Fiberstars, PRE Solutions, ACA Financial, Sensor Platforms, E-Myth Worldwide, Haas School of Business Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, Wells Fargo Center for the Performing Arts, and United Way of Sonoma-Mendocino-Lake Counties. He has been a member of the North Bay Angels since 1999. He is licensed to practice law in California and Alaska, and has a California real estate brokers license. He holds FINRA Series 24, 27, 79, and 63 licenses. He has a lifetime teaching credential from California Community Colleges, and in the late 1980s and early 1990s, taught real estate and finance courses in the evening program at College of Marin in San Rafael, California. He is also a Universal Life Church minister.
Since the 1980s, Traversi has spoken to many audiences and run workshops with many groups, including private and public corporations, industry associations, community groups, and university classes. Topics include leadership, negotiation, finance, real estate, housing, and economics, as well as the personal drivers discussed in his book.
Traversi was a major extra in the 1998 motion picture Heartwood, starring Jason Robards and Hilary Swank. His character, “Talbot’s Henchman,” was featured in two scenes with Robards and Swank.
In 2003, Traversi, with his current wife, launched an art gallery named “pieces” in Healdsburg, CA. The gallery carried the work of Northern California emerging artists, including Traversi’s abstracts and abstract figuratives, as well as several lines of hand-crafted jewelry. Upon the birth of their daughter in 2005, they sold the gallery. Traversi continues to paint, selling his work primarily on commission basis.
An avid student of wine and wine collector, Traversi wrote a monthly column, entitled The Wine Press, from 2000 to 2004, in the Kenwood Press, which serves the Sonoma Valley in California.
The Source of Leadership: Eight Drivers of the High-Impact Leader (2007) ISBN 1-57224-508-5
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