The ONE tool that has transformed my fitness!

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In July of 2016, I started to experience severe back pain.   Today, I still have chronic back pain and it’s slowly (and I mean slowly) getting better due to the fact that I started to exercise again.  Having said this, there is one important tool that I have been using that has really transformed my fitness experience.  This tool is the fitbit charge 2.  I love all things tech and I can’t believe it took me this long to discover this fitness watch.  It’s a game changer for me and it has really changed the way I look at my fitness and overall health on a day-to-day basis.  Below are the 6 features I love about the watch:

  1. It’s cheaper than the Apple Watch – For only $129.95 (plus tax) you can get yourself one and it has a lot of the same functionality.  The mobile app is specifically designed for fitness and I like that the fitbit just tries to perfect this one particular area.
  2. It tracks your steps, floors, miles and active minutes – This simple concept is a great motivator for me.  You can set your step goal (mine is 10,000 per day) and it’s really interesting to monitor how your doing throughout the day.  Also, the watch tracks how many floors you’ve climbed, miles you’ve traveled, calories you’ve burned and total active minutes. (See screenshot 1)
  3. It records your sleep – I really love this feature.  Sleep is really important to me and with 3 kids I need all the quality sleep I can get.  I am really impressed with how the watch knows when you’ve had restless sleep and/or quality sleep. (See screenshot 2)
  4. It displays your exercise goals for the week – You can set how many times you would like to workout for a given week.  When you exercise on a specific day you can drill down on a specific exercise routine performed and determine how many minutes, calories, average beats per minutes and fat burn you’ve recorded. (See screenshot 3)
  5. It monitors your heart rate – You can analyze your heart rate at any time of the day and you can also learn what your resting heart rate is as it compares to the general population.  If you are very competitive this is a great feature to see where your at compared to the likes of marathon runners, etc.
  6. It can remind you to be active every hour – This is another gem for me because I work in front of a computer all day.  Therefore, the watch can remind you to get up and move around every hour to ensure you meet your daily step goal.

To be honest, there are many other features that the fitbit is equipped with.  The 6 features above are the ones I use and pay attention to on a daily basis.  As a tech enthusiast what I am most impressed with is how it collects all my data and organizes it in a very user friendly-easy to understand manner.  This is data intelligence for your fitness.  Understanding this data is very useful in my opinion and this watch is very addicting.  I highly recommend the fitbit charge 2, as it has really helped me understand and appreciate my fitness and health in an easy and practical way.

5 Secret Shortcuts for a family of 5

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Since the birth of my third child; my beautiful son, life has been extremely busy and well…complicated.  I don’t have a real schedule anymore, I have newly found back pain and I am trying to plan my days as best as possible.
I am trying be efficient during working hours (because I can’t work at home anymore) and a decent Dad and husband when I return home.   When I return home it is absolute chaos and trying to organize and maintain peace around the house is not easy.family_photo

 

As a result, my wife and I have incorporated 5 shortcuts that have helped us out considerably.  Below are 5 game changer services that our family could not live without.

 

 

  1. Shipt (https://www.shipt.com/) shipt-logo-stacked-screen-color-rgb-250x310– A grocery delivery service.  This service is sooo convenient and very affordable.  For only $99/ year you can select your groceries (on a mobile app) and have them delivered to your door step during a window of time.   What I mean by window of time is that they will deliver groceries from let’s say 12 pm – 3 pm or 5 pm – 7 pm.
  2. ubereats-logo-largeUber Eats (https://ubereats.com) – This is probably my favorite one.  Uber Eats is relatively new in the Miami area and it’s basically Uber for restaraunt delievery.  Not only can you have food delivered to your house but you can choose from fine restaurants around your area.  If your not up for Pizza or fast food this is great because you can order from some really nice places with great food.  Uber Eats also gives you an estimated arrival time and sends you push notifications on your mobile device with status of delivery.  Great service.
  3. ba_logo-02_stackedBlue Apron (http://blueapron.com)– My wife really likes this service because sometimes she likes to cook.  Blue Apron sends you all the ingredients you need (along with a great recipe) to make gourmet meals.  The ingredients they send are very fresh but it does require a little work to cut up ingredients, etc.  The ingredients do not arrive cut or minced and therefore it does require some prep work.  However, having said that you only get the ingredients you need for the meal and therefore there is no excess of ingredients, which in my opinion is great.
  4. sirgallowaylogobigSir Galloway Dry Cleaning (http://sirgalloway.com) – I am not sure if this professional dry cleaning service is only in Miami but they have free pickup and delivery for dry cleaning.  For all Miami-ians, try it out!
  5. unnamedPrime NOW (https://primenow.amazon.com) – This service is great for the emergency items you may need for the kids.  This is especially true for items you forgot as parents that you may need for your child’s school work.  This is a great emergency tool and you can literally order almost anything.  There is $20 minimum so you will be required to purchase other items if you are only looking to buy one thing.  The mobile app also maps where the delivery is and gives you an estimated arrival time as well.  Really cool!

The truth of the matter is that all these services can be utilized whether you have kids or not.  If you have kids, oh my gosh it is a God sent.  What amazes me the most is how dependent my family and I have become on technology.  It is really cool to see how matter of fact these services have now become.  To think that we will think of the autonomous car one day the exact same way.  Very neat 🙂

 

 

My journey through ABC’s Shark Tank

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This article is about my journey through the ABC show Shark Tank selection process and how I almost made it onto the show.  The product I was pitching was CONCIERGEpad and it was cool to have the idea validated by the show.  I was one round away from taking the trip to California and it was a great experience to say the least.

 

The initial telephone interview

I submitted my information via email back in March 2015 and thought nothing of it.  I really thought I would never get a call back. 2 months went by and one day in May 2015 I received an email from ABC casting that I was being considered for the show.  Oh my gosh how cool I thought.  I watch the show religiously and I’ve always had an urge to be on the show.  Anyways, I immediately replied back to the email and setup my first telephone interview with casting with hopes of moving on to the next round.  The following day I had my telephone interview and the woman conducting the call had a lot of questions for me.  To be honest the company was in its infancy stages so I felt like I could not answer all the questions adequately.  Especially questions around financials.  We spoke for about 30 minutes and she liked the product so she officially moved me onto the next round.  Right there on the spot!  This was a very interesting time for me as well because I think it again validated that the idea behind the product was a good one and that I should pursue it as a business regardless of what happened.

 

2nd Round: filming and getting to know business

This was a great experience.  It was very intriguing to talk about the product and all the functionality that was part of the product or yet to come.  To the left is a picture osharktank_filmingf the filming I did on a Saturday at one of our clients facility.  The opportunity to work with a videographer was great and a lot of fun but the real opportunity was understanding the young business at a deeper level.  The reason I say this is because Shark Tank has a detail (and almost exhaustive) application form; sprinkled with granular questions about the business.  While reviewing and answering the questions on the application I was able to really think through about what it is I wanted from this business and how it can penetrate into different verticals.  It really helped me analyze the business from a strategic standpoint and identify product market fit.  I was honestly very pleased with the amount of reflection I had to go through to be able to answer each and every question appropriately.

 

3rd Round: No call back

Yes, that’s right.  I never received a call back after filming my short video and submitting my application.  I really think the business was not there yet too, so to not get a call back was not a total shock.  There were questions that I could not speak to because the business was an early startup.  The one positive again about this experience is what I gained from taking the time to think through what I wanted from this business and what journey we could now embark on…because thanks to ABC Shark Tank the idea was validated and it reinforced the product was ready for sale!

Trying to be more authentic in 3 ways

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Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free. – Eckhart Tolle

Being authentic is an important trait that I admire in people who demonstrate this quality on a continuous basis.  When you are truly being yourself (quirkiness and all) is when your true brand shines.  I recently listened to the book Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk on Audible and this was an important topic he discussed in great detail.  Vaynerchuk emphasized how important being your true self is even if it means people not liking you.  He goes on to mention that there will be people who do like you for who you are and those are the people you want to be connected to.  It is better to have this black and white division of people who do and don’t like you as opposed to trying to be everything to everyone.

This notion of being authentic or free is something that I have been trying to work on both personally and professionally.  I can’t tell you how many times I consider NOT doing something because of how someone may react or what someone may think.  I am not being real to myself in these scenarios.  The trick here is to look deep within yourself and commit to being genuine with respect to your thoughts and beliefs.

Below are 3 things I’ve been trying to work on to seek more freedom and happiness in my own life.

 

  1. Not holding on to grudges – This is the most important area for me.  Letting go of all grudges regardless of the circumstances relinquishes any anger or resentment towards that individual.  Also, trying not to place judgement on people and respecting them for who they are is critical as well.  By letting go of that emotional baggage I think I will encounter more inner peace.
  2. Being honest with myself – Being really honest with myself and others is important as well.  This is especially important when you make a mistake.  Owning up to your mistake and being honest about it is a surefire way to freedom.  We all make mistakes and it is better to face up and talk through them.  Also, it is really important for me to be honest with others as well.  This does not have to be in an abrasive manner but it is good to speak your mind if there is a misalignment with another person’s point of view.
  3. Do what you say or preach – Part of being honest with yourself is to hold yourself accountable for things in your life.  Therefore, if you say you are going to do something then hold yourself accountable and do it.  If you commit to something (even if you don’t like or enjoy it) then finish or complete it.  The key here is to act in a responsible manner and holding your self to a certain standard.  I believe that people want to be associated and do business with someone who is reliable and can be counted on when they need you.

I am not trying to be a Yogi here but I do feel I need to work on again being more authentic.  I need to be more authentic with myself, my wife, my friends and more importantly with my kids.  I want to set a good example for them and I need to demonstrate this trait on a continuous basis.

Working towards a flywheel business (with enthusiasm too)

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My conceptual idea of a flywheel business is one that continues to capture market growth in an automated way.  With each proverbial flywheel rotation the business creates new growth  and selling opportunities that will help it prevail long-term.

With our 2 latest products the goal in mind has been to automate and streamline processes as much as possible.  For example, with CONCIERGEpad we have tried to make the on-boarding process automatic for a new user.  A new user who wants to use or test drive the service can signup with their own username and password and log into the software in minutes.  Also, the user has the ability to customize the product with their own business colors and logos.  The entire process is standardized, universal and again automatic.  There are other internal systems that we are trying to incorporate to leverage as much automation as possible.  The idea here is not to be a robotic company but rather to position ourselves in the best way possible to sell and scale.  My personal belief is that you don’t want to spend all your time engineering when starting up.  It is easy to fall into this trap.  Of course, a software business has to maintain the software but minor tweaks and updates is what’s necessary.

If you are not deeply invested into engineering and you have software that can function on its own this presents a unique and special scenario enabling the company to function like a flywheel business.  You can now really focus on selling the software and putting it in front of as many eye balls as possible.  Now it’s just Iterate, rinse and repeat.  Around and around that flywheel goes…

A note on enthusiasm.  I also think that enthusiasm needs to be part of this flywheel model as well.  Enthusiasm or interest should serve as the lubrication or maintenance in this process.  Often times a new software product will be interesting and new but with time not so much.  When the enthusiasm is decreased the desire to innovate and keep the rotations going are impacted.  The “oomph” always needs to be there.  This is why a key component to this model in my opinion is the passion or desire to make the product work and be successful.  This is what initiates movement and keeps it going.

The importance of saying “No”

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“It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much” — Steve Jobs

To say “No” to a friend or relative is difficult, now imagine saying “No” to a colleague or client.  Indeed, a very awkward and difficult thing to do but it is essential if you want to have “laser-like” focused-growth in your business.  There are 2 scenarios where saying “No” is essential and important.  The 2 scenarios are the following:

 

  1. Clients asking for changes or new features that are not product fit– This one is a big one for me and most of the time we tell our clients we cannot change or add a new feature.  If it’s a bug, of course we will address it.  If it’s something minute, I get it.  If it will benefit everyone on the platform, I understand.  But if it’s a unique change for one client then we say “No”.  The problem with always saying “Yes” to your clients is that you will never be able move your product along the development road-map.  You will incur massive tech debt.   There is always a way to address your client gently; to not offend that person.  I am definitely not saying to scream: “Hell No” when a client asks for something that is not a fit, but rather, to tell him or her that it’s not a feature the company can work on at the moment.  There is always a discussion around this topic with respect to keeping customers happy.  When you say “No” to a customer it really has nothing to do with support.  In fact, I think that support is a 2 way street.  My definition of support is to address every question or issue my customer has within reasonable limits.  Remember, a business is in the “business” to make money and you have to make decisions to keep it around.  If you were to coddle every customer (which would be great) then you may not be around for long.  As a result,  that customer will not benefit from your product anymore.
  2. Bad prospective clients – Yes, I mean saying “No” to a new client.  There are some clients that are not worth pursuing.  You can generally sense if a potential client is problematic before you engage in business and it is better to terminate the relationship if its going to cause problems down the road.  Again, some clients ask for unreasonable amounts of support.  To me, this can drain a company’s resources.  This to me is losing or wasting time, which ultimately is losing the business money.  Also, there are some clients that are not effective communicators.  If a client does not respond to phone calls, emails or are just too busy I stay clear of them.

Another thing to note is that a “No” from a prospective client to You is beneficial as well.  I believe that a “No” is better than a “I don’t know”.  Think about it, if you are trying to understand status with a prospective client and the answer is always “I don’t know” you continue to waste time and energy following up by writing emails or calling them on the phone.  But a “No we are not interested” is final.  This eliminates following up and the company can move in another direction swiftly.

I hope this article helps someone who struggles with saying “No” to customers when it’s appropriate.  To be honest, I still fall into this trap from time to time and I have seen others fall into this scenario many times.  It is okay to say “No” when it’s justified.  And remember there is always a gentle way of saying it.

5 most important principles of business success

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I write and think a lot about the software business. I am passionate about this industry segment and find it very interesting and self-fulfilling.  Over the last 12 years I have learned a lot about the business and I have experienced many successes and failures.  I measure success in business in 2 ways: profit and growth.  Below are the top 5 characteristics I’ve seen in software businesses that bolster increasing profits and growth.  I try to employ these characteristics or principles in my business everyday and I am sure I still need more practice on some (or all) of these.

  1. Continuous Commitment– This to me is by far the most important principle.  The most difficult thing to do is to work and move ahead when times are difficult.  It is easy to get things done (or write a blog post) when everything is going well.  The real challenge for businesses or entrepreneurs are when times are not ideal.  For example, I sometimes find it difficult to start my day because I did not sleep well. I have 2 kids and I can tell you that while they are my world they can be exhausting.  In the theatrical world there is a saying that goes: “the show must go on”, which means that actors must perform at a high level on stage regardless of how they feel emotionally.  In my opinion, it’s the same in business.  There is a commitment to perform at a high level with your clients or customers on a daily basis.   If you demonstrate this continuous commitment to excellence I guarantee it will propel company profits and growth.
  2. Passion for work– This characteristic is the most evident or obvious to people when a working relationship is initiated.  Clients can tell if you love what you do.  When there is passion for work it permeates and flourishes in every facet of the company.  Moreover, people want to be around a business that has a passion for the work they create.  Think about it, when you work with people who are passionate about their work, they genuinely care about you and your needs.  This type of scenario for a business leads to customer satisfaction, which inevitably creates more profit and growth.
  3. Monetary Awareness– This is a principle to be mindful of in both business and personal life.  To me monetary awareness is the practice of intentionally thinking through purchases or spending habits.  This type of awareness may not lead to profits directly but can serve as a guard rail to ensure financial stability.  If the business is spending money irresponsibly then the company will fail due to cash flow, etc.  Ultimately, this has a direct impact on the bottom line and future of the company.
  4. Eagerness for Learning– I wrote an article about the importance of “Tinkering” a couple of weeks ago.  It is imperative that we never stop learning or “playing around” with new concepts in our respective industry.  When we are constantly seeking out knowledge we become more creative and formulate new and interesting ideas.  Simply stated, knowledge is power. We’ve heard that saying a thousand times.  The more you acquire the more it can influence your products and other vertical opportunities.
  5. Take Action– Plain and simple some people never take action.  There are a lot of people that over analyze next steps and get caught in a “paralysis by analysis” scenario.  Having said this, there is a difference between taking action and being in motion.  A person in motion is someone who is always busy but never produces results.  Motion in this case is not calculated action and is doing something just to stay busy.  In other words, nonsense work.  Taking action is thoughtful and calculated.  It is well thought out and time limited.  Once you are content with a decision and your gut is in accordance the action is taken.  In my opinion, it is better to make a decision and fail then to not initiate an action at all or be in a motion loop.

In summary, these 5 characteristics are critical to business success in my opinion.  There are clearly more principles, traits, concepts, etc that go into what makes a business click but I personally feel that these have been the most important in my experience.  I hope that this has helped someone who is trying to incorporate a better culture or business experience for their clients or employees. 🙂

 

The importance of “tinkering”

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For lack of a better term, “tinkering” to me is the practice of  working or “playing around” with new ideas or technologies in business.  The concept of “tinkering” is a very important aspect of how I look at technology and the software business.

There are always many things to do and projects to complete in any given week.  The work is always going to be there.  For sure.  However, it is important that every week I spend a little time researching new concepts or ideas that are out there.  For example, for one of my products I am “tinkering” with facial recognition technology.  I have tried many times to add this technology to one of my products but I have not been successful in doing so.  There is one particular facial recognition solution (or API): Kairos that I have been “tinkering” with for weeks.  I continuously try to find ways to make this technology more accurate so I can use it in my own products.  The point is that every week I search for a new way (or new angle) to enhance every piece of software I am working on.  The process of “tinkering” ignites creative thought and keeps the business innovative and fresh.  I had a friend tell me in college that “if your not working to get better, you are getting worse.”  This quote I believe sums up the concept of “tinkering”.

In summary, in business and in life I think this concept is very important.  If you are not constantly trying to push the envelope or staying in front of your industry, you will be like everyone else.  Don’t you agree?

 

 

Don’t be a gatekeeper

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I think it’s essential to understand every aspect of one’s business.  To know every area and how all departments work harmoniously is important.  In the software business, to understand how the technology works at a granular or line-of-code level is important to me and I have always placed a lot of emphasis on learning the mechanics of how things work.  This has a lot of benefits for sure but surprisingly it has some challenges if you’re not open to taking the time to explain the mechanics to key people in your business when you start to grow.

I take for granted a lot of the things I know about coding and again the mechanics of how things work.  Additionally, I sometimes get frustrated when a key person starts to probe about how something works and why a product is delayed in terms of rollout timeframe.  The lesson I learned this week is that some people really want (and have to) learn your product to be able to sell and understand deliverables.  It is just as important for people in your organization to know and feel confident about what they are selling as it is for you to know every little detail about the business.  My business will never scale and grow appropriately if I am a gatekeeper and I store the keys in my head.  It is imperative to share all my knowledge and to appreciate and respect the thoughts of others.

In conclusion, after much reflection about this topic I am going to try to foster all questions (probing or not) about the business.  In fact, I am setting aside some time once a week to educate personnel on products if necessary.  I learned a lot this week about this issue and it is important to place yourself in other people’s shoes, as they are not privy to the technical and inner workings of my products and company.

My 2 struggles when trying to sell

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Today I had a software demo with a major client in Miami Dade.  As I reflect on how things went I think I could have performed much better.  My 2 biggest struggles during the presentation were:

  1. Not communicating effectively – I sometimes sound confusing when delivering an answer on items I either can’t speak to or about.  For example, someone asked me how much the software cost for one unit?  This should be a straight answer but if you are selling a number of units on a massive scale the cost can vary considerably.  I can try to verbalize that (and I did) but it comes across as dodging the question.  Instead of moving past my answer, I try to answer his or her question in a different way or from a different angle.  This creates more confusion and anxiety for my potential client and I.
  2. Not trying to establish a good relationship – I am currently reading the book (actually listening to it) SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham.  Mr. Rackham does a good job breaking out the sales cycle and touches upon how to increase the perceived value of your offering in big sales.  He goes on to state that as a product’s price increases the buyer’s emotion on making a decision increases as well.  For example, if you need an overhead projector that cost $100, the emotional decision to buy this item is almost irrelevant.  The overhead projector fits the bill, is a low cost item and no one will judge you for it.  However, if you are buying computers for the whole company the decision to make this purchase is more complex.  If the buyer in this example makes the wrong choice with respect to the computer purchase he or she will be exposed, judged or even fired.  Therefore, there is a lot more to think about (or feel about it) when there are consequences at stake.  This is why a good sales person will try to build a relationship early on to make this person feel comfortable when making a big purchase like the example above.

Today’s post is a short one but I think this is an important topic to think about.  At the very least, being aware of these issues in a selling scenario is a good starting point and can help you sell more in your environment.  At the end of the day, I really like the idea of building a relationship with a buyer or client regardless of the price tag.  Coming across as a sales person just trying to close the deal in my opinion is counter productive.  I need to work on establishing these good relationships early on and I will work on that moving forward.  🙂