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Craig Cooke – St. Regis Mohawk CEO, Rhythm Interactive

On Sept. 18, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development named the winners of its Indian Progress in Business or INPRO Native American 40 Under 40 awards. Among them was Craig Cooke, CEO and co-founder, of Rhythm Interactive Inc.

Rhythm Interactive is a full service interactive marketing agency with a 21st century approach to marketing and advertising communications. “We strive to create immersive brand experiences for our clients by delivering optimal solutions that combine marketing strategy, experience design and elegant technology. Typical solutions include a comprehensive Web site, e-mail marketing, search marketing and social media campaigns.”

As CEO, Cooke’s workload includes the formulation and execution of corporate strategy, business development, forging strategic partner alliances, overseeing production of large projects, top-level account supervision and general management.

Away from his business life, and as an enrolled member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Cooke is committed to his family’s well-being and strives for excellence in all that he does. One look at the road to Cooke’s success proves this.

Cooke is his family’s first generation off the reservation. Growing up in a suburb of Los Angeles, Cooke describes how he and his family had assimilated into mainstream society. “My connection to my heritage was loosely established as a kid. As I grew into my teenage years, my connection grew stronger as family members on and off the reservation would visit. One of my uncles made a strong effort to connect me with my heritage as he was extremely proud of our identity.

“I grew up in family businesses which nurtured my entrepreneurial spirit that I believe are inherent in many Native Americans. I started working at an early age and quickly came to the realization that I wanted to own my own business one day.”

Cooke studied business at Cal Poly Pomona and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in operations management and a minor in marketing. “I place a high value on my college experience, both academic and with various campus activities.”

Not wanting to focus only on work, Cooke also pursued interests that created value. “Another aspect of my passage into adulthood was my experience in learning martial arts. It helped to instill strong discipline, confidence and appreciation for a healthy lifestyle. The confidence gained from this experience helped me to dive into activities and endeavors without fear.

“Towards my last half of higher education and shortly after graduation, I immersed myself into the world of computers and multimedia. I taught myself design, programming and internet technologies with a passion. Within two years after graduation, I started my own company combining my music background and Internet knowledge. Lacking significant monetary resources, it took perseverance, discipline and plain hard work to navigate the first five years in business.”

Cooke appreciates being recognized with the 40 under 40 award. “First I would like to say that I am honored to be recognized by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. This highly-regarded organization helped me significantly during the early years of my business. I believe I was selected for the 40 under 40 distinction mainly through my accomplishments in business and my volunteer involvement in helping to advance our Native American community.

“I congratulate the other recipients as well. We live in interesting times and it is more important than ever that our generation and the upcoming generations strive for excellence and advancement of our people and our country as a whole. Much has been accomplished to establish our place in the world. Yet at the same time, we must continue to make progress and keep a watchful eye to retain sovereignty of our nations and our overall country as the forces of globalization continue to encroach upon all of us at a rapid pace.

“Today many successes have been reached but many challenges remain. The journey has been interesting to say the least, arduous at times but exciting and fulfilling overall. However, I am only in the middle of my journey and I look forward to see where it takes me.”

For information on Rhythm Interactive, visit the Web site.