6 Things You Didn’t Know About
Leapfrog’s Claire ‘Yum’ Arnold

By Amy Hyatt Fonseca
Susan Fonseca Lanham

Atlanta business icon, Claire ‘Yum’ Arnold serves as CEO of Atlanta’s Leapfrog Services Inc., a company that leverages Fortune 500 technology to a broad array of businesses and nonprofits. In a previous post, we shared with you how Arnold embraces her inner compass to achieve success. But there is so much more to this influencer.

Here are six more things we learned from Claire ‘Yum’ Arnold, you might not know:

  1. ‘Curious’ is embedded in her DNA. “My paternal grandmother traveled around the world when she was young, but never went to college. She always regretted it. Then, once she got her kids through college, she moved to New York and received a degree in gerontology when she was 74-years-old. She worked on Governor Rockefeller’s commission for aging and lectured until she was 89. And my maternal grandmother went to Oberlin and graduated in 1896. She was a concert violinist with the San Francisco Symphony. She probably didn’t get what we call a traditional college degree, but she was educated.”
  1. Her advice to startup newbies is… “Don’t get paralyzed with over analysis. When I started this, I didn’t have a big pot of money but I had creditability. I didn’t take any money. I did it totally bootstrapped. To me, the conundrum is how to help people who have a great idea but no balance sheet do it. In this business, we don’t have hard assets. Our assets are people. Banks don’t fund people. So to me, the challenge [for anyone] in a service business is how do you get funding?”
  1. She believes VC funding isn’t always the best funding. “I sometimes think if you get VC funding, the fund has a life…If you’re doing something for the long term, sometimes you get caught, and it takes you in a direction you don’t want to go. Often, you don’t maintain control of your destiny. For me, working for myself is how I managed to have a family and have a balance.”
  1. There are other avenues of funding for women (and men)… “Women have gotten funding through traditional means. I was on the board of Venture Atlanta, and I’ve seen women go through the same rigor. I don’t think anybody has a pot full of money. I think any investor wants to invest in things where there’s a return… Other funding sources—ask friends, family, and other entrepreneurs. Also, look into Kickstarter campaigns.”
  1.  She’s a voracious reader of nonfiction. Here are a few things on her bookshelf. “The Book of Andrew by Charles Cale Lehman & Bruce M. Gregory. It’s out there. It was channeled through a psychologist. It explains things in Christianity that always gave me issues. The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin. It’s fiction but makes you look at everything differently. The Accidental Superpower by Peter Zeihan. It’s about the US and where we are with natural resources and how it’s going to drive the future. The Revenge of Geography by Robert Kaplan. He’s an expert on Central Asia and how geography influences the global scene. Daughters of the Samurai by Janice P. Nimura. It’s about five women sent to the US from Japan to learn Western ways and teach them to Japanese men.”
  1. Even with all her successes, she still values Role Models. “One of my biggest inspirations is President Carter. I was asked to help build his platform. Before he announced his run for governor, I was on his think tank. I worked for him both times he ran for president, by writing letters and stuff like that. While he may not be remembered as the greatest president, he is the finest past president we’ll ever see. It’s about how he uses his social capital and world stature to make the world a better place…”
    “Also, there was a woman at Mary Baldwin College, who was the Dean of the College and the Acting President my senior year. Before her time, she was a full-time mother, she taught a full course load, and she had the greatest sense of humor and perspective. She was a wonderful Role Model. I stayed in touch with her until she died at 98.
    And I would say my father’s mother was a role model because of her lifelong learning and curiosity.”

That’s 6 things you didn’t know about Leapfrog’s Claire ‘Yum’ Arnold. Chime in and let us know your thoughts. What would you like to know about this Atlanta business icon?


Amy Fonseca

Prior to catching the Women@TheFrontier bug, Amy was a research and clinical speech-language pathologist interested in the impact of technology on individuals with disabilities. Today, she is a wife, mom, lover of words, Co-Founder and Managing Editor for Women@TheFrontier.