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Interview with Alexander Deeb, Co-Founder of ClassHook

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Interview with Alexander Deeb, Co-Founder of ClassHook

Alexander Deeb is the co-founder and CEO of ClassHook, the #1 website for incorporating educational scenes from popular TV shows and movies into academic lessons. ClassHook has two components: 1) A curated library of over 7,000 videos organized by topic and aligned to educational standards; 2) a discussion platform that teachers use to create interactive learning experiences for students, such as facilitating live discussions, creating video comparisons, teaching vocabulary, and designing lesson plans. Teachers in over 20,000 U.S. K-12 schools today use ClassHook to make learning more relevant, engaging, and tangible. Alex is a strong believer that education and entertainment are not separate; they can be used to enrich learning experiences for students, spark new ideas, and lead to better conceptual understanding of abstract concepts. In his free time, Alex enjoys going on hikes, playing video games, reading about science, and learning new languages.

Where did the idea for ClassHook come from?

I was in a business idea brainstorming session with a couple of friends, and I wondered how I can find content within videos. I like to read to learn new things, and many times I’d come across videos but wouldn’t want to watch them to get the information I needed. I brought the idea to my friend and now co-founder, Joyce, and she suggested applying this “video search” technology to education. We would help people find the best educational videos, not just those that were ranked at the top of the YouTube algorithm.

I reflected on my schooling up to that moment and thought about the impact that the best educational videos would have in a classroom: greater student enjoyment, more knowledge gained, and less time wasted on activities that don’t add value. I reminisced over the times my teachers would show short clips from TV shows and movies like The Simpsons and The Office. The lessons from those videos stuck with me and created the impact I wanted to create. The guiding question for ClassHook then became: How did teachers find these amazing videos from popular media, and how can we help them use these videos more frequently in class?

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Every day is different. I’m both a leader and an individual contributor, so like many other entrepreneurs, I wear multiple hats and touch all different areas of the business. My schedule usually follows this general formula:

Morning: Go to the gym, get ready for the day, get some work in (reviewing work, catching up on email, maybe even some coding). Sometimes meetings start around 8 – 9 AM.

Late morning / afternoon: Various meetings with teams/departments, prospective customers, potential partners, and prospective interns/employees. Often I’ll have small pockets of time to read email, follow up on an action item from meetings, and address messages from the team. Usually I’ll fit lunch in there somewhere.

Late afternoon / night: More meetings. Follow up on action items from meetings, future planning, and working on tasks to support our goals in product, marketing, engineering, and sales.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The key to bringing any idea to life is to set both a goal and a timeline for that goal. Without a timeline, it may never come to fruition.

When I have an idea, I spend some time brainstorming, researching similar solutions, and fledging out how it will look and feel. It could be a new feature, a new market to consider, or an improvement to existing processes. Then I share with other people to get feedback and perspective. I usually ask my co-founder, Joyce, first. I also ask people who would be beneficiaries of the idea. These conversations usually lead to improvements and different approaches that I had not thought about. At this point, I determine if it’s worth pursuing further. If not, I will put it in the backlog as an idea to consider in the future. If so, I will start developing action items to bring it to fruition and a timeline for rolling it out. I will do all of the legwork in the beginning, like creating mockups for new features, because I need to convey the idea as clearly as possible. Once the timeline is in place, I’ll prioritize it with other items in our roadmap and then bring together the resources to release it.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The decentralization of the web is a great thing. I believe it will allow for fewer restrictions and more freedom for creators and builders. Today, a few big companies hold a lot of power on the web, and that’s not the way the web was meant to be. I do agree there are situations in which centralization is important, such as regulatory and economic issues, but there are others, such as communication, where a centralized system is not necessary.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am an avid gym-goer and wake up at 5 AM to go to the gym before I start my day. It fills me with energy and is a healthy way to prepare my body and mind for the work day. Plus, I feel good that I’ve already gotten my exercise in!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Focus, focus, focus. It’s easy to get caught up in calls, meetings, and tasks that either add minimal value or don’t add any value to your business. Make sure to stay focused on work that will clearly take the business forward. Otherwise weeks can go by, and you won’t know exactly how you are making your company more successful. I made that mistake for too long, and I’m a lot more thoughtful about how I spend my time. Remember that you are in control of your own time.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Crypto currencies are great in theory, but today they are not actually currency; instead, they are investment vehicles. This is also illustrated when people invest USD to get crypto in the hopes that its value will increase. Then, just like traditional stocks, they will sell high and gain a return. As long as crypto is tied to traditional currencies like the USD, I don’t think it will be able to stand on its own as a currency.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Pitch my company! Practice telling people all about your company in a concise way. Strike up conversation with strangers in unexpected places like waiting in line. Doing so helps you develop confidence and communication skills. You want as many people in the world to know about you as possible, and who better than the founder to convey your vision?

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Partnerships with other, larger companies. We initially intended to partner with startups who had many synergies with ClassHook because we felt they’d be more willing to do so. But a wise mentor of ours told us that larger companies have many of the product and marketing pieces already figured out, including a larger user base, so it’s worth partnering with them. So we took that approach and have partnered with SSO providers such as Clever and Google Classroom. These partnerships help us onboard thousands of new users onto the platform each month, not only because it makes login easier, but also because they help promote ClassHook to their existing customers.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My last company was a failure. It was called NoProb Software, and we made desktop software for Windows to help college students stay productive in their studies. As a software engineer, I spent so much time building new things and not nearly enough time talking to users and marketing our products. I also didn’t pick up on the trend of SaaS solutions phasing out traditional desktop applications. Overall, we didn’t sell very much, and I spent years building software that few people have used. We did have some success when we released mobile apps: our homework planner app reached over 10,000 users, and we partnered with Lenovo and Orange UK to distribute it in their respective app stores.

I ended up closing down company and walked away with many lessons that I’ve applied to ClassHook: 1) Understand the customer pain very well; 2) use low-cost (time and money) ways to get validation for your assumptions; 3) talk to users frequently, and involve them during the building process; 4) create a business model early so you can be sustainable in the long term.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Recycle Runners – an app that hires exercise runners as volunteers to collect small electronics recycling from homes and bring them to a nearby recycling facility. Runners get their exercise, and electronics recycling becomes more sustainable and accessible to a greater number of people.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Not even $100; I spent just $15 on this snap-on strainer. It makes straining water from pasta and other foods so much easier and saves a lot of time, especially because I cook a large batch of food upfront then eat it throughout the week.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I love Calendly; it saves me so much time with scheduling meetings! I just send out a link with my availability and have them book time. Since I started using it, I can count on my finger the number of times I’ve had to list out my availability in an email to schedule a meeting.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation” by Steven Johnson

This book gave me a deeper understanding on how innovations form and suggests ways you can increase your capacity to create innovation.

What is your favorite quote?

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I’m naturally meticulous, and this quote helps me focus on the bigger picture when I need to get in that mindset. I interpret the quote in this way: push the boundaries of what’s possible regardless of what happened or how you’ll make it work.

Key Learnings:

  • Focus on activities that actually move your business forward. It’s easy to be occupied with activities that don’t add value.
  • Create mutually beneficial partnerships with other companies to grow your business.
  • Tell everyone you can about your business. As a founder, you’re the best salesperson and marketer.
Originally published on IdeaMensch.

Interviews

Interview with Dmytro Serhiiev, Co-Founder of PDFLiner

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Interview with Dmytro Serhiiev, Co-Founder of PDFLiner

Dmytro Serhiiev is the co-founder and CEO of PDFLiner, the most easy-to-use document management tool to fill out, sign, and share documents online. Under his leadership, PDFLiner facilitated over $500K ARR in transactions to date and empowered over 100K customers, taxpayers, real estate agents, and sole individuals across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. Dmytro earned communication networks and information security engineering degree from the Telecommunications Academy. Dmytro also worked as a SaaS marketing consultant (setting goals and creating project marketing teams). During that period, he has also been teaching Marketing and SEO in IT schools. In addition to that, Dmytro created an affiliate site network for Amazon and was an Amazon seller before launching PDFLiner.

Yet, PDFLiner is trusted by over 100,000 users, and it also earned a 5/5 rating on G2Crowd, which puts PDFLiner in the top-5 highest-rated PDF software according to reviews on g2.com

Where did the idea for PDFLiner come from?

While working with contractors, partners, and other departments, my colleagues from Tonti Laguna Group and I looked at the world of document management services and found a problem – an existing PDF ‘bloatware’ was far from user-friendly. Almost every industry technology solution was outdated and overpriced software (some didn’t even have free plans or trials). And I got hooked on creating an online platform to work and manage PDF documents, providing accessible, online editing ability to customers (no software, no installation, no downloads needed). PDFLiner’s goal is to provide customers with electronic document management (creating and editing files, adding electronic signatures, filling out forms, PDF conversions) and a security-sharing documents system (document sharing, locking and unlocking PDFs, cloud storage).

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Every day is different from others. Basically, I start my work day at 9 AM by reading the news to be updated with what’s going on in the market. Also, I regularly catch up on emails, calls, and meetings. I like to pop into meetings happening around to get a sense of what’s being worked on and connect with the PDFLiner employees.
For a lunch break at 2 PM, I’m often out meeting with different CEOs and founders of other SaaS solutions to discuss business strategies or just share the pros and cons that happened lately. After lunch, I’ll meet with various members of my executive team to discuss new horizons.
I try to head home around 6 PM at the latest to spend time with my family and spend time on hobbies, after which time I’ll log back on to finish up my work from the day.
This schedule gives me time to enjoy some of my hobbies and just relax after a long day. I have found that I am more productive and creative when I structure my time and tasks.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Collaboration and cooperation. When I have an idea, I pitch it to my team to brainstorm and discuss the opportunity. We grow quickly at PDFLiner – if someone has a good idea, I give the green light to that idea to start testing the hypothesis for successful results and see how we can make it into action quickly. I’m passionate about creating an environment where the best idea always wins. Healthy debate is welcome, but once we make a decision, we are committed to a common goal.

What’s one trend that excites you?

It’s exciting to watch industries revolutionize with new technology. Especially how people are going from the “Age of Digital Transformation” to the “Age of AI”. It’s really great how companies understand true AI and start using it to improve the performance and processes within SMEs and large global corporates. We in PDFLiner are using AI technology as well!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Self-education is the one habit you need to cultivate because it drives productivity, pushes you to new heights, and lights a fire underneath your feet as you carve your own path. That commitment to continuous learning leads you to everything else. Here are five why this habit leads to success as an entrepreneur:
1) It saves time and money
2) It gives confidence
3) It opens opportunities
4) It brings joy
5) It level-ups your gray matter to be better at business

What advice would you give your younger self?

Relationships are everything. People you talk to and engage with matter a lot. Surrounding yourself with good people is one of the main factors to your success in life. Connect with those who share your values, have similar mindsets, and want to succeed. You can learn something new from everyone, and you should treat everyone with the utmost respect.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I’m going to be the most successful man in the World, all other achievements would pale before mine. Someone disagrees with me, but it’s true.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Start sharing your journey with the public. It might seem strange, but it will lead you up and open new doors for your business, from finding clients to getting new partnerships or investors. I spend my days making new connections to learn from conversations with unique points of view.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Testing hypotheses and scaling up those ideas that showed success during testing. We always do a lot of research and tests to find new ways of growth or recruit new customers and raise awareness. And we spend a ton of time trying different marketing tactics until we figure out what works best, and then we run with it. Once we drive customers to our site, we focus on it. And this happens to all ideas. We test and drop away if the results are bad, and we try and implement if it shows promising results.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Hiring the wrong people. The people who lack experience in the hope that I can grow them, or people who don’t meet the PDFLiner’s culture. Today, I spend more time interviewing and drilling down into the qualities and knowledge we’re looking for with anyone new we hire. I want to make sure people believe in our product and want to grow with PDFLiner and are in it for the long term. Employees are everything.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Bookkeeping service is a direction that is always in demand and is now gaining momentum. If you are an accountant or bookkeeper (or know how to hire them) who wants the freedom and autonomy of running your own business, take advantage of modern technology to start your own online bookkeeping service. And PDFLiner can help with going paperless by keeping your invoices, contracts, tax forms in one place.
This also extends to online legal services – a great niche to start a business.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

As you know, Ukraine is struggling with rashists (russian troops) for its freedom and democracy, so since the war began, I have donated to Ukraine’s defenders regularly. And the best $100 I recently spent also was to support Ukraine.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Google Search Console and Google Analytics are always open on my laptop. I like them. They show the actual state of affairs with site traffic and transactions, which allows you to gain valuable insights, and find growth points, or vice versa – fix something if there was a drawdown.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

In my top books, I put ‘The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement‘ by Eliyahu Goldratt and ‘Who: Solve Your #1 Problem’ by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. These two books are the perfect match, as you’ll figure out what to do and hire someone to do the job right.

What is your favorite quote?

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Nelson Mandela

Key Learnings:

  • Ideas, both good and bad, are the basis for Growth. Test all hypotheses over and over again, and implement everything that works best.
  • Surround yourself with good people that share your values. The relationship is the key.
  • Success is a goal, and the process of getting there is a learning experience. Never stop self-educating.
Originally published on IdeaMensch.
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Interview with Kent Krabill, Lawyer

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Interview with Kent Krabill, Lawyer

Kent Krabill is a highly regarded trial lawyer representing clients in a variety of complex commercial, environmental, real estate, and others.

Kent graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Arlington while working full-time. After graduation, Kent became a teacher and taught children with disabilities and 6th graders for two years while starting a family of his own. To pursue a childhood dream, he moved to California with his family and became a lawyer. This led to a successful academic career with graduation honors of magna cum laude from Pepperdine University School of Law. While at Pepperdine, Kent served as a law review editor and writing instructor and excelled in moot courts and mock trials. He subsequently clerked for Chief Judge Edith Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Kent’s exceptional work has earned him the admiration and esteem of his peers, having been selected as a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters from 2010-2015 and as a Texas Super Lawyer for 2020-2022. He is also a driving force behind the firm of Lynn Pinker Hurst & Schwegmann, LLP. That firm has been ranked amongst the elite Commercial Litigation Firms in Texas by Chambers and Partners.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I always dreamed when I was a kid about being a lawyer, but always a criminal defense attorney. I was really attracted to defending. I don’t know why I was always drawn to that. But I have no background of education in my family at all. I’m the first one to go to college, so there was nobody I knew that was a lawyer or anything like that, especially in a criminal defense situation.

I kind of had that in my mind growing up as a kid watching TV shows — I guess Perry Mason, and I loved Atticus Finch [from the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird] because who doesn’t love Atticus Finch? I always thought that was cool, but as I got going in school, I was really good at math and science, so I kind of got filtered toward the sciences and engineering. And I was a good football player, so I was going to play football in college.

My senior year in college, I got hurt playing football and so I had no more scholarship opportunities. I started in engineering, but I didn’t go back to school until I was 26 because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I worked construction until I was 26. When I was 26, I went back to college.

While I was going to school, I flirted with either medical school or law school. But my wife and I had been married for quite some time. I was a little bit older and I thought, “Ah, I don’t want to go to school. I’m too old to go to law school or medical school.”

Then we had our first baby and my wife wanted to stay home. And so that’s how it happened. There’s nothing magical about it. She wanted to stay home. I need to figure out a way to make money. I thought: Maybe I’ll go to law school.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

At any given time, I have 20 to 30 cases going on. So I don’t think I have a typical day. You have your cases at all different phases. My typical day is, I look at my phone and computer and go.

I have associates who do the work for me. Let’s say the beginning of a case, pre-suit. A client calls me up and says, “I have this problem.” Sometimes the problem is they got sued and we dive right into it, but let me give you the pre-suit. The client has to tell us the story and give us all the documents and I’ll call an associate in and we analyze it. We get through the documents, we interview people, we put it together.

Now we’re going to file suit, we’re going to send a demand letter. Usually it’s a demand letter you send to the bad guys, you’re like, “Hey, you’re doing this. This is wrong. You need to pay us back or stop doing it or we’re going to sue you.”

Once that happens, I review and revise the demand letter. I might have a follow-up, a call with the client and say, “Is this really what you want? Is this what you like?”

Then we sue. I send off that letter, the opposing attorney calls me and negotiates, “This is all B.S. It’s not true. Blah blah blah.” Or, “You’re right. We’re going to stop.” That’s part of my day too, those calls with opposing counsel.
Then we file suit, but you have to draft petitions, you’ve got to have motions, you have discovery, depositions happen. My day is filled with setting up, preparing for depositions, preparing for hearings, and reviewing and revising motions. People are in and out of my office all day — associates, paralegals — because we have teams that do it all.

You have mediation that happens with every case. We prepare for mediation, where we go try to solve the problem with a mediator without having the court’s involvement. That usually fails. Sometimes it settles, but it usually fails. Then you have your motion practice and eventually you have a trial. Our trials are usually three days to three weeks, sometimes they’re longer. I’ve been in five-week trials — that’s my longest one.

Then you’re in trial and trying to juggle all the other cases and survive while you’re in trial. Because obviously you’re paying attention to one case during that time. A lot of time in the evenings, I’ll spend an hour or two while I’m in trial on my other matters, call back clients, email them back. I always let them know we’re in trial so they know.

Every day is different and I love that because I’m driven to distraction anyway. I’m an ADHD child and I love having all those balls in the air all at once. For somebody like me, that’s awesome. It keeps my brain occupied and I have systems to not get lost. Since I’m 55, I know how to stay on task even though my brain likes to bounce around to a lot of different things.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Discovery is insane. It’s gotten so voluminous because of the way every single communication is saved by companies, by individuals. The exciting part of that is there’s artificial intelligence involved with reviewing documents now, and we’re starting to see that. That helps, and I hope AI eventually saves clients money. A huge amount of money and litigation is being spent on discovery needlessly.

The one exciting thing is over the years, the federal rules — and now we’ve seen the Texas rules — start to adapt where there’s more transparency in the process, and you just have to give the other side everything that’s relevant.
However, there are big battles over that: what’s relevant, what’s related to the case, what’s not. There’s millions of dollars spent on these large cases that, I think, for nothing because the reality is we know the key docs at the beginning or the bad guys have the key docs within a few weeks or months. Everybody knows there are a few documents that are really, really important to the case. Everything else is just kind of noise.

Then we spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, on cases fighting over all the noise, all the other stuff that might be there. Maybe there’s a smoking gun.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am an incredibly disciplined person. In law school, I left my house early every day and ended late. I’d come home and eat with the kids, go for a walk with the kids, put the kids — they were babies — put them down and then work.

I did that basically until I became a partner at the law firm. I use a lot of spreadsheets. I have a spreadsheet for every case that has the full life of the case. It has all the rules and it has everything that has to be done. It’s got boxes to check and assign who it needs to be assigned to.

I think organization’s a big key because nothing in a case ever goes as you think it’s going to go. You have to have the road map of where you think it’s going so that you can adjust.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Just relax. Just relax and take it as it comes rather than always being so worried about everything. It’s hard, because part of the worrying is what makes me good at what I do, but it doesn’t make me a good human and it doesn’t make me healthy. I’ve had to balance that and I’m not the best at that. But COVID has been really helpful to me, because it forced me to break my routine and stay at home. And I’m an office person; I never liked working from home, ever.

Maybe the advice is, “Kent, if you’re going to get into this career that’s in constant conflict, go do yoga first. Go learn yoga, learn mindfulness first.” Maybe that’s my advice. I wish I would’ve been like my son. I wish there would’ve been COVID when I was in college and I could have figured this out before I jumped in.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I don’t believe humans have free will. Most people do [believe it]; I don’t. I’m a scientist and I believe in determinism and I don’t believe we have free will at all. That’d probably be one. Well, I wouldn’t say most, but I would say a lot of people don’t agree with me.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

A long time ago I read in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I’m not recommending, but he did say in there that there’s the gift that’s space between the stimulus and the response.
At the time I thought it was profound. The good part about meditation or yoga is, when you practice it, you actually see that. You actually have the tools with the breath and mindfulness to allow that space between the stimulus and response to be productive. Whereas I spent my entire life training my mind where my reactive mind just reacted, react, react, react. And that’s just a really bad place to live.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Our firm has tried to recruit out of the big firms after someone’s had a year or two experience because they’re really good at identifying talented people and paying them a lot of money out of law school. Those people, if they’re our type of lawyers, won’t last at the big firm. They’re just too hungry. They’re first chair. They’re the ones who are going to fly the plane. They’re going to drive the bus.

People like us don’t take orders from other people very well. We’re the hired gun, we’re the horse in the gate ready to be let go, but we need somebody to flick it, let us go, and then we’re going to run. But if you want to be a part of a huge meandering inefficient team, big firms are great at that. If you want to be strategic, like special forces, and go in and win the case and lean with a lean team, that’s us.

That resonated with me. I’m a first-chair trial lawyer. I’m a type A personality. I’m never going to be a good follower. I’m a leader and I will solve other people’s problems. That was my mentality and it was a perfect fit for me.
It’s not a fit for a lot of people at our firm. We don’t have all the safety rails and wires to keep you safe. We fly without wires. We’re flying without the net. It’s lean, it’s efficient, and it’s fun. So negative recruiting really works well.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

It’s hard because I don’t have a lot of failures. I may have losses, but I’m thinking of a big failure to overcome. I would just say the biggest failure in my life was quitting college my freshman year. That delay of eight years of returning to college, it always puts you on another track. You’re always the old guy in college. We waited to have kids, [then] you’re the older person with kids. You’re the older person in your law school. You’re the older person starting at your law firm and your group.

I think I turned all that into advantages because I used those years to work hard and learn and then realize when I was sitting in class like this is actually beneficial and it’s for me. But when I was 18, I didn’t know that. So I think that’s the biggest failure, not being able to take a breath and refocus and figure out how I can do it.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

It’s called The Grand Biocentric Design: How Life Creates Reality, by Robert Lanza, Matej Pavsic, and Bob Berman.

What is your favorite quote?

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” It’s been attributed to writer George Eliot.

Originally published on IdeaMensch.
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Interview with Miroslaw Mioduszewski, Digital Marketer

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Interview with Miroslaw Mioduszewski, Digital Marketer

Miroslaw Mioduszewski is an entrepreneur based out of Passaic, New Jersey. After graduating high school at sixteen, he attended the University of Buffalo, where he studied Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and Management Information Systems. Following graduation he accepted a position at a local marketing firm where he further enhanced his professional skill set.

Wanting to gain some independence, Miroslaw decided to invest in his own business venture. As the founder of an online marketing agency, he is committed to helping his clients grow through digital marketing techniques including; SEO, PPC, social media advertising, and website design and development. As an industry leader, Miroslaw and his team of professionals are primarily focused on start-up tech companies and are helping businesses thrive by creating meaningful online content.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I’ve always had a passion for the technology space, so I knew I wanted to enter the landscape somehow. However, at the same time, I enjoy the creative side of business. I attended the University of Buffalo unsure of my career path until I ended up taking a marketing course that ultimately shifted my perspective. I know then that I would be able to combine my interest in technology and business by helping companies promote their products and services.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As the CEO of a digital marketing firm my role is very collaborative and client-facing. I spend the majority of my day interacting with clients while trying to understand their vision and goals. From there, I form a team that I believe would be best suited to bringing their ideas to life. Our job is to create comprehensive strategies that will garner loyal customers. We help our clients develop effective campaigns that are reflective of their branding and company image.

How do you bring ideas to life?

As I stated previously my role is very collaborative and I heavily rely on my colleagues on a daily basis. We work together to ensure the client is happy and the campaign produces positive results. Typically if I have a new idea for a project or strategy I will run it by the team before pitching it to the client. It’s important to confirm that we have the tools and resources needed to properly execute the idea before presenting it to the client. When it comes to marketing, there are a lot of moving pieces so I need to make sure that everyone is 100 percent on board.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I think that one of the most effective marketing trends is live streaming. I think that is a way to really connect with an online audience in a way we haven’t seen before. Individuals can sign on to the platform and ask questions directly. To me, it helps legitimize your business and creates a sense of community but also transparency.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I firmly believe that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. I am a very active person and I think that regular physical activity is an important part of looking after oneself. I also think that taking the time to go to the gym or walk outside is essential to improving your productivity.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to not spend so much time worrying about the future. The truth is, there will always be roadblocks. All you can do is learn how to navigate them and try to learn something from negative experiences.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

That it is okay to change your career at any age. So many of the companies that we serve have been founded by individuals who have made a major career shift. They decided to go with their idea and take the ultimate risk. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Make self reflection a daily habit. It’s important to recognize your weaknesses and do your best to overcome challenges.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I’d have to say that our most effective strategy has been through Instagram. We often do Instagram lives and do our best to connect with potential customers on a daily basis.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Early on in my career I learnt the importance of working with the right people. It’s essential to have a comprehensive onboarding process to make sure that they will work well as a team. Education is important but attitude for me is the number one determining factor.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

This isn’t so much an idea but working in the technology space, I see a lot of companies struggling with consumer questions. I think that producing video product tutorials would be a great way to interact with consumers while also demonstrating how the product works.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently subscribed to a tech magazine. I think reading is essential to understand the latest industry trends.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We just recently started using Monday to organize our daily tasks.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years by Paul B. Caroll, it provides a really interesting take on what exactly is required to run a successful company.

What is your favorite quote?

“Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that.” — Anthony Volodkin

Key Learnings:

  • Make self reflection a daily habit
  • It’s okay to change your career direction
  • Don’t spend too much time worrying about the future
Originally published on IdeaMensch.
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