boots, is poised and smiling, and her eyes are sparkling. She
is youthful for both her age, 58, and for what she has endured.
It’s hard to believe she was ever that cowering teenager—“a
shadow,” as an old friend of her ex-husband remembers her.
Even Tana Greene doesn’t recognize much about that
girl anymore. She is now a serial entrepreneur: She’s the
co-founder and CEO of two North Carolina–based national
sta;ng companies that, together, are on target to hit
$80 million in revenue this year. Greene’s success has
brought her a lifestyle that she couldn’t have imagined in her
younger years. She and her second husband, Mike Greene,
live in a palatial, country club home on Lake Norman, just
north of Charlotte. She and Mike hobnob with the local
moneyed set. Most recently, she founded Blue Bloodhound, a
startup that has raised roughly $9 million in venture funding
from investors including Oscar Salazar, the former CTO
of Uber; Curtis Arledge, the former CEO of BNY Mellon’s
investment management and markets group; and John
McCabe, the retired head of global operations at PayPal.
The company aims to transform how hiring works in one
of the most heavily regulated, conservative, and good ol’
boy industries in the United States—trucking.
Greene’s willingness to wade into this notoriously tough,
male-dominated industry is testament to just how far she’s
come from her teenage self. And powering nearly every step
she’s taken away from the terrifying lost years of her youth has
been a dream—to build something no one can ever take away. B;LUE BLOODHOUND’S sta; is assembled in the company’s headquarters, in Hickory, to discuss the results of their StrengthsFinder assessment, a Gallup personal-strengths test that Greene is a fan of. Hiring, assembling a cohesive team, listening deeply to people, convincing them to believe in her vision and their own, and pushing
them to the ends she has imagined have all evolved as Greene’s
most important, and profitable, strengths.
“Tana is one of those people who is an incredibly good
listener, is genuinely curious about learning from others, and
uses the input she gets to inform her own experience and
improve,” says Peter Bloom, a retired partner in an inter-
national growth equity fund and an investor in Blue Blood-
hound. “Those are the people you want to bet on.”
“She’s the glue of our company,” says Mike, her husband
of 32 years and business partner for almost as long. “She knows
how to make the organization a place where people feel like
they are part of something, and contributing to something.”
Standing before her Blue Bloodhound team, Tana asks,
“Does anybody know what a unicorn is in business?” When no
one answers, she tells them, “It’s a privately held billion-dollar
Even when Greene was a little girl (then named Tana
Bateman), she got a rush from an audience. She was outgoing
and did well in school in her hometown of Chesapeake,
Virginia. At 12, she was chosen by the school principal to
read the morning devotional over the loudspeaker. By 13, she
was the student chaplain and a member of the principal’s
committee. Leadership appealed to her.
Then, in her freshman year, Tana started dating Larry,
a senior. (Inc. is not publishing his last name for privacy
reasons.) She says he was possessive from the start, but she
went along with his demands that she drop her friends and
ride back and forth to school with him instead of taking the
bus. “He was Mr. Cool,” she says.
By the summer of her sophomore year, Tana was pregnant
with Larry’s baby. Her devout Presbyterian parents organized
a big church wedding and provided Larry and Tana with a
small home to live in. Her dad helped Larry find work roofing. Five days after Tana’s 16th birthday, she gave birth to a
son, Larry Jr.
Her new husband, Tana says, was a drinker and prone
to paranoia. He was convinced Tana might cheat on him,
so he unplugged the phone every morning and took it with
him to work, she says. He’d stop home at lunch and search
the house for men. He’d lock her in a closet for the night
when his friends came to visit.;Mike Knox, one of Larry’s
high school friends, says, “He was like a stick of dynamite.
It got to the point that I wouldn’t even go around Larry
because of what he was doing to her.”
Tana tried standing up for herself, but that ended the night
she says Larry grabbed her around the neck and slammed her
; FOR BE TTER OR FOR WORSE
Tana and Larry on their wedding day in 1974. Tana’s family
planned a white wedding when she told them she was
pregnant. Remaining unmarried was not an option.
As a teenager in an
Tana Greene was a
“shadow.” Today, she’s
a successful serial