1. Who is your hero?
My father really is my personal hero. He was born into modest circumstances and through hard work, perseverance and integrity built a successful career, ultimately becoming CEO of the American Heart Association. He showed me that hard work, focus, and listening were all keys to being successful in leading an organization. He also taught me that no one can be perfect so don’t expect perfection, but expect effort and willingness to continue to improve. He taught me that we make things happen through people, not over them. He also encouraged me – and still does today – to try to improve upon what he accomplished as a son, husband and father.
2. What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
The most important advice I’ve received relates to market timing. I’ve learned that timing is the difference between having a science project and having a true business application.
3. What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
This is where my obsession with timing comes from – early on in my career I was with a company that had a great technology, but the market and enabling technologies were not yet there to support. Ever since I have made the market timing factor the key consideration when I’m deciding what company to work for.
4. What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Coffee comes first, no question. Once I have my cup of coffee in my hand, I do a quick scan of email and reply to any front-burner issues, and set aside the others for closer examination later. Similarly I do a quick scan of my network on LinkedIn to catch any interesting updates and share my own. Once that’s done I complete my daily workout so I’m energized, refreshed and ready to hit the bigger items on my plate.
5. Who is your company's target customer?
We are completely focused on the retail sector. We have customers ranging from global giants to regional retailers all over the world. Any retailer, whether on-line, brick-and-mortar or both, is a potential customer for us.
6. What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Cash is absolutely king. The more cash you give up, the more you lose control of your own destiny. My advice is to examine every decision that would require cash and ask yourself the hard question of whether you can delay that action by 90 days. You’d be surprised at how much you can get accomplished while still deferring a lot of cash-intensive projects.
7. Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their business to the next level?
Find a trusted person that you can share your concerns with, whether that’s a peer or a trusted advisor. Make sure it’s someone who is willing to tell you what you don’t want to hear. And make yourself listen with an open mind, even when it’s a message that’s hard to accept.
8. What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
You can’t make financial success your only benchmark. Being an entrepreneur is what you do – not who you are. You have to look at the overall quality of your life: are you a good spouse, parent, child?
9. What is your favourite quote?
“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” That’s Henry Ford. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said that to my kids.