Pittsburgh Quarterly Contributors
Chris Allison

Chris Allison

For 16 years — 10 of which as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer — Chris led Tollgrade Communications Inc. from technology startup to public company to being recognized as one of the Best Small Companies In America by Forbes, Fortune, Business 2.0, Bloomberg Personal Finance and Industry Week. In the year 2000, sales of Tollgrade’s centralized telephone test systems reached $114 million. That year, its value on the NASDAQ exchange also reached $2 billion. For his efforts, Chris was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young, as well as by the Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association. Chris was also named CEO Communicator of The Year by the Public Relations Society of America.

Chris has been a columnist for Pittsburgh Quarterly since the magazine’s inception in 2006. His column, “To Boldly Go” deals with the subject of innovation. For his writing, he is a two-​time nominee and one-​time winner of the Golden Quill Award by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania.

Image and Reality: When They Don’t Match

There’s a saying in Texas, “He’s all hat and no cattle.” I don’t know why I was thinking about Texas as I flew aboard a US Airways flight bound for Ireland. It’s probably because I had just read Doug Parker’s Letter From The CEO in the in-​flight magazine, Attaché. Parker’s obligatory dear-​dummy letter…

You’ll manage — Summer 2008

Mark Twain referred to golf as “a good walk spoiled.” I think of golf as more of a journey of revelation. It reveals whether you really want to do business with someone as you watch his behavior during a round. Or, as an unknown golfer said, “If there is any larceny in a…

Fit vs. Fat vs. Finances

Every saturday, I sit in somber amazement and watch some tattooed, wide-​body pile on his body weight in eggs, biscuits and sausage gravy onto a plate fresh out of the warming tray. My favorite part comes when he douses the whole monstrosity in cheese sauce.
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You’ll Manage — Spring 2009

Like everyone, I’ve been watching a lot of Paul Newman movies lately. A couple of his performances made me think about CEOs and how they seem to get better with age. It particularly strikes me when I watch him play two different Eddie Felsons in “The Hustler” and “The Color of Money.”
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You’ll Manage — Fall 2009

Sabatino “Sam” DiBattista dreamed of revitalizing sleepy little Bellevue as a means of improving not only the business at his Bellevue restaurant, Vivo, but the merchants around him on Lincoln Avenue. His dream slowly became a crucible as the forces of easy money and lax lending practices converged against him just when he…

The Graduate(s)

It seems that every autumn, I start worrying about my kids. My wife and I don’t have children, so “my kids” are my current and former college students.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Entrepreneur

Oscar Levant, pianist, composer, actor and native Pittsburgher, once quipped: “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.”

The Art of the Haberdasher

It’s been almost six months since John Lohr, a salesman from Brooks Brothers, passed away, but I keep thinking about it.

I, Teacher

Early in Isaac Asimov’s speculative fiction classic “I, Robot,” a little girl named Gloria becomes more attached to a robot named Robbie than to her own parents. Originally wary of Robbie, Gloria’s parents grow to love and respect the tin man after it saves their little munchkin’s life by sweeping her away from…

Billionaire by mistake

Thanks to a computer glitch in our online brokerage account, I knew what it felt like to be Mark Zuckerberg for a glorious few days.
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