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 🙂

 

 

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.

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.

A Customer Service lesson

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Today is billing day, so this means all the invoices that pertain to my business(es) go out to clients.  My accounting process is a little sporadic and should be consolidated but as of right now it consists of 2 different accounting systems (Freshbooks and LessAccounting) and a manual process.  For 2016, I would like to organize my accounting framework, as accounting can become very messy if not addressed promptly and correctly.  My story has to do with my manual accounting process and a payment mix up with one of my clients.

 

My manual process is to create an invoice as a PDF document and then to send the invoice out as an attachment together with a nice personalized email.  In my opinion, this creates a personalized touch and it creates an opportunity to address any issues a client may be facing, etc.  As soon as I sent out my email to this one particular client I received a phone call from her stating that there was a problem with payments.  She stated to me that they had paid one extra month already and this invoice should be voided.  Essentially, she paid for an extra month in error.  I keep a pretty tight grip on my books (even though this process is manual) and I abruptly interrupted her to explain my process.  A few minutes into immediate response, I suddenly stopped and let her continue on with her explanation.  My client communicated to me “X”, “Y” and “Z” reason for the mix up and she recommended I go back and reconcile the accounts to make sure all was correct.  After we ended our phone conversation I went back and looked at my books and sure enough she was outstanding one month.

 

The truth of the matter is that when she started to explain her situation I was initially very frustrated.  The key take away with respect to this scenario is to quickly think about how we can make any negative issue into a positive one.  From a customer service standpoint if I don’t get paid this month and agree to void this month’s invoice she will be a happy client.  Plus, she has been my client now for about 3 years so why not void the invoice regardless?  I proceeded to tell my client that this month would be free (mix up or not) and I hope I was able to gain some goodwill.  I can tell you she was happy with our discussion and at the end of the day that is the most important thing.

 

Did I address this issue appropriately?  Would you have done the same thing?  Please let me know by providing a comment below or emailing me at rene@onlinerene.com, as I would love to hear how you would have handled this situation.

Balancing Business and Family

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Trying to make it in this tech world is not easy.  It’s a grind.  Operating 2 startups and working at a mature business is insane work at times and it’s no coincidence that this leads to complications at my home sometimes.  I often ask myself: what it is that I am working towards?  Sure, money is a motivator but is it a legacy that I want to leave behind?  Is it that I want to show my friends and family that I am successful?  I love what I do and I absolutely have a passion for the software space.  There is nothing like solving a complicated problem by hacking some code together to make something work.  The best part is that you are in full control.  Whatever you tell this piece of code to do it will do it.  I love that 🙂

 

Clearly, I enjoy the technology industry.  I can tell you I have been through many highs and lows during this business journey but it has been very fulfilling.  I have rubbed elbows with some of the finest businessmen in the tech industry and I have worked with Google’s development team in Cambridge, MA.  I have also felt demoralized after failed ventures and I have lost money due to poor decisions.  However, the inner personal growth experienced during this quest is invaluable and the lessons learned unforgettable.  The issue with this type of reflection sometimes is, it is private.  Trying to capture and communicate these experiences with family and friends is a difficult task and that is why balance is so important.  That is why I am committed to implementing more of a balance in my professional and personal life moving forward.

 

I have laid out a plan to provide more of this balance mentioned above.  I have started to institute 5 strategies on a weekly basis to help balance my life more effectively.  They are the following:

 

  1. I plan out my week on paper every Sunday night.  This helps me organize my week better and it helps me start thinking about objectives for the week ahead.  The more organized I am the more discretionary time I have because I am not in a reactionary type of state.  Nothing really hits me by surprise when I following a strict schedule.
  2. I only stay up late ONCE a week.  I used to stay up late multiple days a week and my sleep suffered.  I have learned that a good night’s rest is very important and it helps make better decisions the following day.  Plus, if I am staying up late often, I am not spending time with family as a result.
  3. I exercise twice a week at a minimum.  This is by far the most important change I would like to make for 2016.  Health is really important when it relates to business.  In my opinion, you not only feel better and are in a better mood but your mind is clearer as well.  It also has a downstream effect because you also feel more inclined to eating well.
  4. I’m trying to be more present.  I wrote an article about this the other day, which you can find here.  I am making an effort to give people more of myself when I am with them.  This is especially true with my kids!  I am trying to give my wife, children and friends all of my attention.  I am trying to be more intentional with my time; if I make a decision to have lunch with someone then my intent is too be there 100% and to listen and communicate with 100% focus.
  5. Checking up on one friend per week.  I have to admit that I have fallen out of touch with a lot of friends over the years.  I have been so consumed with business and having a family that it’s difficult to make time for friends.  When you are trying to make it out there it is difficult to put these issues into perspective.  At the end of the day, your connections with friends and family are very important and should be part of a balanced life.

 

There are a list of other strategies that I would like to implement in my life in 2016 but I think this is okay for now.  I have to take incremental steps to create good habits moving forward.  I am definitely feeling a little more zen after writing this article, lol.  If you have some strategies that you think can help me or someone else please share by leaving a comment below.  You can always email me at: rene@onlinerene.com

 

Start IT Up eBook

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My personal thoughts and strategies for tech startup companies

“My personal thoughts and strategies for tech startup companies”

If you subscribe to my blog on the sidebar of the website I will personally send you the FREE Start IT Up eBook and a personal case study of a venture that failed for me and the lessons I learned.  Thanks and I hope you like it!

Being Present

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“Be where you need to be, when you need to be there”

Are you always present when you’re somewhere with someone?  In this mobile era, it is easy to get lost or distracted by continuously checking your email or social media accounts.  Just the other day my family and I were at a restaurant and everyone was on a device.  My wife on her phone and my 2 daughters on tablets.   I personally was checking my email on a Friday night like if it was that important.  It is amazing how many people are the same when getting together to share quality time together.

 

As of today, I am making a commitment to be more aware of being present when I am with family, friends and professional peers.  When I meet with someone I will try to give them my undivided attention and really be PRESENT.  When working on a particular project or task, I will make it an effort to give it my full attention.  The key here is to be intentional and giving people more of YOU.

 

I think if we institute being more present at our meetings, lunches and family outings we will benefit in our relationships.  We will also be better listeners and that is something that is very noticeable and a rare quality we find in people these days.  I am interested in what other people think about this notion of being present and please contact me if you have any suggestions or recommendations at rene@onlinerene.com