Time-Management: Bandwidth | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Time-Management: Bandwidth | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice 

Over ten years ago, I spent a month south of America; Mexico. With no smart phone, tablet, or laptop. So I frequented an internet café. Paid a fee. And then listened to the familiar sound of dial-up. It was fun, a throw back, minus the frustratingly slow page loads. In hindsight, whatever I attempted to do in that café would be limited by bandwidth. So is true in life. 

Too often, we lose interest in daily routines, processes, and patterns, which are extremely helpful. The trick is to maintain perspective. We want new, difficult, and larger responsibilities. We often think like the early settlers of the 1900’s in the great land grab, instead of land, we are grab up responsibility. Too often in pursuit of our American dream we dig wider and not deeper; this can lead to a bandwidth issue. If we were computers, it would be like having dial-up and 40 applications open at once.

Ways to know if you are exceeding your personal bandwidth?

If you are accomplishing everything and people wonder what you do, you are safe. But if you look stressed out, are forgetful, moody, and have no time for friends, family, and other, there is a good chance you need to adjust your obligations. You are exceeding your bandwidth. Remember the people you work with are not your loved ones, and an over investment can lead to stress. Spending time with loved ones (Friends & Family) is an example of a healthy counter balance and can produce eustress, good stress. Too much of anything follows the Law of Diminishing Returns, even healthy counter balances. Work hard, work smart, and work long hours, but do not become a workaholic. The days are long, but the years are short; A workaholic loses sight of family, friend, future, and the big picture. There is nothing wrong with working 60-100 hours a week if relationships with family, friend, and other are also healthy. Each of us has 24 hours a day, eight to sleep if you want, and 8-14 to work. That can be 6-7 days a week. Just as long as you have counter balances.

If you are exceeding your bandwidth because of P.R.?

Remember you must network; networking builds trust. Trust leads to contacts, contracts, investors, partnerships, supply chains, everything. Just remember to keep a healthy perspective. If investing time in these relationships is negatively effecting your family, friends, and other, think “calendar synchronization.” Ever left a job and thought I will keep in touch with those friends, but never do? This is an example of “calendar synchronization,” relationships that exist because of schedule, goals, or professional network alignment. Investing time in these relationships is a must, but like many things, guided by a cost-benefit analysis (CBA). When these mutually beneficial relationships AKA “calendar synchronizations” are taking too much time from friends, family, and other adjust your time investments. Friendships and family must be invested in, especially if you are working 60-100 hours a week, 49+ weeks a year. They are your Rock of Gibraltar. When you keep important things at the top of your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to-do’s/goals, you will always be working on the right problems. Scaling up/back work is the right kind of problem to have; saving your family/marriage is not.

Life is full of chaos and disorder as is, do not bring additional chaos into your life by exceeding your bandwidth. If there is too much wind, build windmills, if there is too much rain, build a rain catcher, and if there is too much information and not enough bandwidth, close some applications. How do you scale back once you are deeply rooted in things that rely heavily upon your human energy, knowledge, position, and authority? Pivot.

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Outsourcing: The British Are Coming! | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System…If this had been an actual emergency…Attention…This…Is…Not…A…Test!

Outsourcing: The British Are Coming! | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

I mean the Indians (India). I mean the Chinese. I mean anyone willing to learn English, meet quality standards, and save corporate America/Europe money. So the entire competitive-developing world IS coming. They are not coming by horse, by boat, or by plane; they are coming by fiber optics. They are not coming. They are here.

Put down your television, iPad, iPhone, video game consoles, and get out your books. Not for you, it is too late for you. Get them out for your kids. Your kids are competing in a flat world. Competing for traditional American-middle jobs, that are no longer American. Teach your kids science, math, language, manners, customer service, leadership, business, anything. Teach them anything. Traditional middle jobs are shifting up and down. What this means is the traditional middle jobs that many middle class Americans use to be able to obtain with little to moderate skill are disappearing overseas. What is left is the even less technical jobs below and the slightly more technical jobs just above. So this new middle is shifting. Your kids have to be smarter, faster, more educated, and slightly more ambitious than you were to capture the higher middle. This will not happen without your help.

All cultures are built by the behaviors that are awarded and punished. The American culture does not award hard work, intelligence, and delayed gratification nearly as much as it does their opposites. It is so much more appealing in our culture to work hard at keeping up with “the shows,” your video game castle, and have intelligence in all the wrong areas. The great thing about Americans is they have incredible powers of concentration. Unfortunately, Americans so often concentrate on the wrong things. The elephant in the room is that the ratio of American achievers to the rest of the world’s achievers is changing. The playing field is leveling, because the world is flat. These other achievers are competing for traditional American jobs and the competition is heating up while Americans are sitting in the “pot of past success” like a slow cooking frog. A perfect storm is brewing and it does not bode well for Americans. Extraordinary companies are built on a critical mass of extraordinary people. The same goes for families, communities, cities, and countries. This education and ambition gap that is emerging is a quiet crisis, like I said it is a perfect storm. If America does not make fundamental value changes in regard to education it very well could be the next Rome.

America’s collective eye has lost the plot. It is time for a sense of urgency and commitment to educational excellence that will see America into a third generation of success. America will burn like Rome, metaphorically speaking, if its human capital does not improve. I know this sounds harsh, but it will be even harsher if it comes true. Home, school, neighbor, community, reduce your electronic connectivity consumption and get back to your grass root hardworking, always improving selves. If America does not improve its human stock over the next 20 years, there is no contingency plan, the gap between rich and poor will become a gulf; social, and political rest will inflame. To avoid this we need to change our global footprint fast. For starters, we need “new middle” in the pipeline, STAT.

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Entrepreneur: Move Without The Ball | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Entrepreneur: Move Without The Ball | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Eager to start your own business, read on. Remember Pete Rose? Most hits in MLB history. Guess who has the most at-bats? Pete Rose. Much of business is trying, failing, re-calculating and trying again. Iterating. People say all the time, if I had a million dollars I could make my idea work. Very bad idea starting with a million dollars, before you have moved without the ball. This country is ripe with reasons and excuses of why we cannot develop our ideas. Yes the spotlight is on the ball, but every entrepreneur moves without the ball.

Before money benefits, movement is essential i.e. a business plan, seeking applicable knowledge, networking with potential team members, founders, and investors, identifying potential pain points and customers, deciding if you are building a business, a feature, or a product. These actions are steps that set about a chain reaction, very similar to how enzymes cascade into reactions in the human body. Many of these steps are precursory and do not interface directly with the outcome, yet without them there would be no outcome. Too often Americans over emphasize the true downside of blowing it. Think of Pete Rose, or all the game winning shots by NBA basketball players that did not win the game. Think of every entrepreneur that has tried something and failed. I guarantee an internal note was made, a calibration took place, a lesson was learned inside each person that tried and failed. An iteration. Each action (good or bad) is movement toward your dream, company, or product. These movements, motions, patterns, strategies, routines are rarely noticed, well, until the company is viewable through a rear-view mirror and well before money enters the picture. It is impossible to guarantee whether a product will thrive or die (product market fit), the only thing you can guarantee is that you do your part with what you said you were creating. Swing the bat, strike out even, just get up and swing the bat as you said you would. Do not sit on the sideline and talk about how and what you would do if you had the team, resources, opportunities, or trust fund. Talk is cheap, just start moving without the ball. On a side note, some ideas do require millions in seed funds to activate them. If that is your idea, then move to Silicon Valley or another community that supports those size ventures. Many technological or biological ideas require significant start up capital. Most other verticals allow entrepreneurs to activate with significantly less.

Movement instills trust in your networks and gives you an opportunity to take a shot. We have all failed; failure is not to be feared, standing still when no one is passing you the ball is. Each failure is like a key on my key ring. And inside my mind is how each key turned the lock. Movement without the ball is the color of survival, it is the color of entrepreneurship, and it is the color of success. Every competitive advantage that leads to success at the individual level is fungible, except, moving without the ball. Flip a coin three times and you do not know if you have a fair coin, flip a coin 1000 times and you do. What is an ingredient in the secret sauce? Move without the ball.

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Leadership: Truth Out Of Order | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Leadership: Truth Out Of Order

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

It is hard listening to others not directly connected to your industry, profession, or project, but a lesson in humility and judgment, nonetheless. Note, not all voices should be heard equally. If you listen through the lenses of hubris instead of confidence, you will often listen with impaired hearing, and misinterpret facts, findings, judgments, trends and hunches. Hubris is one of the worst blinders. Listening to others with less expertise takes a measure of humility; however, the proof is in the pudding. Additionally, a Level 5 Leader is classified by exhibiting humility. We have all received a piece of information from an associate, employee, or customer that became the intellectual bridge to the answer. Truth out of order. Often this outside perspective can provide providential wisdom that accelerates our thinking toward a calibrated stance. You cannot predict truth out of order you can maintain a posture that recognizes its existence.

Truth out of order is not a confirmation bias; it is valuable information from an unlikely source and often out of order. Family, friends, and associates are additional authors of truth out of order. Do not forget, what is correct today is wrong tomorrow. Markets, cultures, and assumptions change. Data is misinterpreted and patterns hide. What about the future set? Often in the form of bits and bytes, rarely in fully developed form, truth, hides in the mouths of the unlikely.

When everyone is blind, the one-eyed man is king. Keep your eyes open for truth out of order. Where is the Mason Dixon Line concerning whom to listen? Avoid the know-it-all. Use discernment. Process information through your background, education, and the books you have read. At the end of the day, you can make any piece of information work if you believe in it enough. Without trust, there is no risk-taking, and without risk-taking, there is no innovation.

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Leadership: What Is The Role Of A CEO? | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Leadership: What Is The Role Of A CEO? | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

To bring the outside to the inside and then to maximize the insides’ performance to cope with the outside.

To attract buyers and visibility a CEO orchestrates teams that define, innovate, position, re-position, create value propositions, competitive advantages, and comparative advantages. Through processing, supply-chaining, outsourcing, insourcing, in-forming, etc., evolution of an inside occurs. Something with walls, ceilings, and floors. A distinct inside and outside air. This service/product is introduced to the world through press releases, marketing, branding, advertising, public relations, networking, & sales. The CEO must first have an inside and then find a way to bring the outside to the inside.

We have built it and they are coming. A CEO manages processes, vision, mission, & values in order to steer the ship toward its specified target. Planning, re-planning, burning plans, flattening, correcting, directing, coaching, hiring, re-hiring, winning, losing, analyzing and learning in order to maximize performance. Two simple tasks of a CEO bring the outside in and maximize performance in correlation to external demands.

Customer Retention: Pain Points | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Customer Retention: Pain Points | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

How easy is it to find a niche? Easy. Especially if you can diagnose pain points. You know, get downstream from a product or service and find the gaps between what is thought to be delivered and what is delivered; between reality and expectation. The easy targets are bad customer experiences, high fees, and little to no innovation.

I love when I walk into an establishment and the employees are trained to make my experience memorable, to deal with me no matter how difficult I become, and have the ability to sidestep processes in order to get me to solutions. More memorable are untrained employees, with little to no people skills or ability to solve my problem. The outcome: bad customer experience. Identify the logjam where customers are having a high incidence of bad customer experiences and you have a pain point. A competitive advantage. Ceteris Paribus this is a prime reason to start a business.

You have gas stations, grocery stores, retailers, restaurants, and health clubs that you frequent. What happens when the service provided is disproportionate to the cost? Maybe droves of potential buyers find the fees too high. Price is a pain point and depending upon the product, lower fees can be a competitive advantage. Beware; as the incumbent realizes there is a competitively priced product in the market, he may start a price war leading to “the race to the bottom,” a price war leading to lower and lower prices. To avoid a price war, be strategic, methodical, and wise with your pricing. Use analytics when possible. Do not put yourself out of business.

Products with little to no innovation (assuming they are not a dead invention like a Walkman) can be modified to produce a competitive advantage. Augment the product or presentation. Once again, being downstream as a consumer has its advantages. Identify where the current product or service is lacking and create innovative solutions that match customer profiles and needs.

A quick brainstorming session with friends, over cheese & wine can produce the pain points for your next business venture. Start by identifying the gaps between expectation and reality. If the current solution is marred by bad customer service, high fees, and little to no innovation you may have found your next business concept. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me or Harper’s Hut Blog.

Startups: Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Startups: Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

In 2014, I had been sensing it was time to jump into business full time. My wife and I had been enjoying a cush DOE job that paid well and had some great perks. At work at 8:30, home by 4:30. Weekends off. For a season, this job helped us to stabilize and pay down debt and to enjoy time together. In December of 2014, I started feeling as if it was time to become a full time entrepreneur. It was going to be a big risk. Deep down, I knew staying there would be an even greater risk. No longer was I going to be able to do the one-foot-in type of entrepreneurship. I knew I would need to give up the teaching job, and say “no for now, but not for ever” to my music pursuits and dive in to business. I sensed it was time, but had a child on the way and felt it would be irresponsible to leave a secure job with no backup plan to find my entrepreneurial niche. In March of 2015, we lost the pregnancy. This awkward pause in life gave us a moment to reevaluate what to do next. Thankfully, we had begun the process of reducing our burn rate over the last year and my wife’s income was just enough to give us room for a “takeoff.” Through much thought and discussion within the month, I turned in my 1-month notice and launched myself into business. Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.

Instantly I closed doors. I had fallen sickly prey to the belief that having many doors open was a safety net and responsible. Closing doors brought clarity and confidence. Stuck at the juncture between hope and fear I chose to hope that I was sensing a divine beckoning into business. My spouse and both sets of family were on board and supported this transition. I knew I could navigate through the unmanageable obstacles, because of my past business experiences. Start where you are. Quickly I identified an idea that had proven successful in parts of the city. Shaved ice. It was low barrier, low cost, and low competition. The market was fragmented, there was one dominant player and there were huge geographical areas with no providers. Not having much money, we chose shaved ice as our fountainhead. Most of the legwork I completed from my car and house; I had a make shift office in the corner of the living room. I found a helpful resource online about the products, competition, and industry; I read it and began.

It is funny, before we made this transition, we sold my high maintenance RX8, which averaged 10-12 miles a gallon and required high-octane gasoline to purchase a Honda Insight Hybrid. Little did we know this change was a foreshadowing of the amount of driving I would be doing. Use what you have. We created a business plan and started seeking out investors. We started raising money with a business plan; eventually we switched to a pitch deck. We learned quickly from those willing to advise us and read many books. I used my business background, my dad’s ability to build, my family & network for investors and co-founders and we went to work. I started blindly, but quickly realized I needed help, so I started asking questions and making phone calls and through a meeting with Larry Wofford at TU I was introduced to The Founder’s Dilemma by Noam Wasserman, which was an incredible resource.

I built and executed the plan, my dad built the huts, my wife brought home the bacon and helped me with tasks in this business and our other business, our business partners did their part and we were off the ground in less than a month with our first location. Do what you can. We used our own skills and added talent around us with little strengths’ overlap. Through this, we were able to create a more complete team.

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. When you “see the writing on the wall”, focus on the gaps. Inside these gaps are “pain points.” Start your own entrepreneurship based on these “pain points” or customer needs. Find your competitive advantages in these gaps. Do not bet the farm. Squeeze as much of the risk out of the venture as possible, in essence de-risk risk. In new ventures have the ability to fall forward and be ready to acclimate your life to turbulence. Mange your team, time, and money with all due diligence, find your bearings, and keep your eyes on the new horizon. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me or Harper’s Hut Blog.

Time Management: Never Eat An Elephant In One Bite | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Time Management: Never Eat An Elephant In One Bite

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

The Law of Conservation, energy can be changed but always conserved, right? At constant temperature for a fixed mass, the absolute pressure and the volume of a gas are inversely proportional, Boyle’s Law, right? I guess I learned these things in college Physics, but the true take away was that you cannot eat an elephant in one bite.

Larger than life are most adventures, ventures, projects, dreams, and plans. If I am 5 inches away from an elephant, I say I am looking at a gray mass, but 20 feet away I can say, ah, that is an elephant with specific parts and motions. When I back away from the “elephant” I can categorize, classify, organize, and orchestrate bites.

When I step back from my own business ventures, I see a leap, the runway, the landing. If I truly want to gain traction with these movements, I might categorize or label the corresponding events and sequences. I might tag events according to priority, content, status, or category. Anything to clear my mind for a focus fire, soon I will have traction and craziest thing is, traction begets traction. I do not advise eating several elephants at once, until you have an idea of how many meals one provides.

Never recommend an elephant for dinner, until you and those guests are prepared to have elephant for leftovers. School, marriage, buying a house, finding the right career are some of life’s elephants. Give yourself time with the big things in life. Plan, work your plan, and throw your plans away when necessary. Not many things are once and done, and sometimes things are thousands of steps long and years in the making. Life gets complicated so eat your elephants gracefully. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me, or Harper’s Hut Blog.

The Hind Sight Dress Up | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

The Hind Sight Dress up

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

If there is one thing learned from being a recording artist for 10 years it is the hind sight dress up. Anyone that has recorded music, started an organization, or spearheaded a project knows the truth behind the statement. In a studio, track-on-track, take-on-take, session-after-session a beautiful product is whittled into existence. Only after the product is fully produced, mastered, and packaged do we talk about how we walked into the studio laid down a few tracks, laid down on the couch, and wham, out came a masterpiece; the hindsight dress up. Easily forgotten are the pre-studio takes and mistakes, bad takes, wasted tracks, and the other miscellaneous nuts & bolts of innovation. Have you heard others talk about how beautiful things are and how everything rather snapped together nicely? Well good for them and I am calling their bluff. Something that was not beautiful talked about as only ever being beautiful is a hindsight dress up. 

My first job out of college was as a youth & worship pastor. Early on, I took a risk and initiated the Otis Spunkmeyer Gourmet Cookie Dough fundraiser with the youth group. A hundred unchurched kids, not fully connected to the church mind you. Terrible idea. It was very messy and this was an established church. Some members did not get their cookie dough on time; other orders were mixed up. No one finds a lemon cookie funny after imagining a chocolate chip cookie for a couple weeks. Eventually we deciphered the cryptic handwriting and identified the hundreds of buyer’s on the wrinkled, washed forms. It was my fault; first, I should have spent more time observing the leadership and deposited some money in the “mistake bank” instead of stepping off the boat with my Superman cape on. (Growing the youth group from five to 100+ in a few weeks put me in superhero mode.) Secondly, I lacked the foresight to troubleshoot the issues and the intelligence to consult fundraiser alumni to identify troublesome situations. In the end, people got their cookie dough and we were able to purchase two 21-inch IMacs for the youth group; hindsight dress up. And before I was done, the youth group added a ping pong table, foosball table, pool table, the 2 IMacs, and several gaming systems in less than a year. Sadly, I never returned to the good graces of the pastor after that experience.

Making mistakes in an established business does not have to be this painful. In fact, companies that provide no space for mistakes, create cultures of fear and limitation.

When I was a college freshman in Comp 101, I used my Resident Advisor (RA), a senior in college, as one of my term-paper references. What a huge mistake. Mr. Gogan, my English teacher gave me the biggest, reddest “F” I ever received on an assignment. Make sure you record your interviews and pick reputable sources! Comp 102 came, and then 201, then 203, followed by several years of grading science papers as an educator, and then poof I could construct a sentence; the hindsight dress up. (Gogan actually still points out my writing faux pas 10+ years later.)

In 2013, I purchased three territories of a franchise. Let me just say, plenty of things went right. So what went wrong? About that. I initially thought Google would honor my UPS stores as my business addresses. No, they penalize P.O. boxes and suites; several hundred down the drain. In the first month of business, an employee in training, wrecked his car and broke his back. I budgeted the start-up cost to be around $20,000 it ended up closer to $45,000. Several years later, it is easier to laugh about Murphy’s Law and to talk about how great and seamless the business is running; the hindsight dress up.

Much of life is a hindsight dress up. America is a hindsight dress up. Christianity is no different. Most professionals acknowledge the myriad of mistakes they made along the way, personal and professionally, and acknowledge the gains from those missteps. Still, employments, friends, families, bosses, and culture in general, project holograms that portend lives of luck, luxury, and fortunate events. Balderdash. Life, friendship, business, and everything else in between are a bit like the birthing of a child, messy. Oh, the hindsight dress up.

Parallel Thinking | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Parallel Thinking

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Every mind wanders, and other minds take the two second rocket ship to space. These are the same minds sitting to the left and right of you at meetings. So how can a group of ADD/ADHD, stargazers, narcissists, and the catatonic produce results in a group setting? Unintentionally, this group dynamic further diminishes outcomes by the production of noise, friction, and destructive interference. Dissonant cacophony. Is that the descriptor for your meeting?

In a court room a judge does her best to listen to the arguments set forth by the attorneys, but what is taking place is the posturing of two perspectives: adversarial thinking. For instance, in this approach if I think of something that will weaken my argument then I would not say it. In this system why would anyone divulge contrary findings? How does this style of information gathering get us closer to the truth? It does not. Instead of adversarial thinking, Edward De Bono Author of Six Thinking Hats proposes the constructive alternative parallel thinking. How does this relate to business owners? Instead of starting meetings from a debate mindset, with two or more stances of opposing interpretation, look in the same direction at the same facts at the same time. Parallel thinking.

Consider each new decision as a destination and each choice as the route to the destination. Without a map, how can anyone with certainty take the best route to the destination? Secondly, how can they consider themselves informed enough to travel to the destination in the first place? Parallel thinking is the building of a map. De Bono teaches organizations six directions a team must look in order to develop the map: (1) facts, neutral and objective, (2) emotional, feelings, likes, dislikes, (3) difficulty, dangers, caution signs, (4) value, benefits and positive optimism, (5) growth, creativity, possibilities and new ideas, (6) the overarching big picture, management of the thinking process, and the control of the process. When we look in one direction at the same time, decisions are more informed, teams are more on-board, and our decision making atlas is more complete.

Too often our personalities trend us toward thinking through solely one “hat.” The example is the critic or the optimist. Parallel thinking forces the thinker to think in one direction at a time. No longer does it allow one “hat” thinking, or is it my idea or yours, but instead, what is the best decision and route to that destination, according to the map that has been constructed. If your meetings are long and unproductive, ruled by the loudest most aggressive, intelligent, or highest ranking person in the meeting, consider parallel thinking. For more blogs by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me or Harper’s Hut Blog. For a more thorough understanding of parallel thinking read Six Thinking Hats.