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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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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Core Competencies: The Key To The First Door And More | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Core Competencies: The Key To The First Door And More

If you missed it, the world is flat, thanks to the fall of the Berlin wall, the rise of internet, the Y2K debacle which we outsourced the fix to India, among other things. Read The World Is Flat. Businesses core competencies distinguish it from its competitors. That little business you have going on called You, Inc., must embrace its own core competencies. You are selling, but who is buying? If you never have a problem finding a job, there is a good chance you are an “untouchable.” Which is a good goal. Maybe you got there by being special, specialized, localized, or anchored, but certainly, you have transferable core competencies.

So who is buying You, Inc.? The answer to this question defines the core competencies you will aim to acquire. These core competencies will get you into interviews, an entry-level position, and keep you hired, for a couple years. America’s middle-class jobs are changing. If you do not plan to use an entry-level position as a springboard into greater responsibility, you might as well sell Polaroid film, because that job will likely be on the cusp of automation, digitization, or outsourcing. Here today and gone tomorrow are many traditional middle-class jobs. According to Friedman, the US job market follows a bell shaped curve, with middle-class jobs occupying the mean and everything within one standard deviation with high- and low-end jobs occupying two and three standard deviations from mean. The “bell” of the bell shaped curve in the US encompasses the middle-class job markets. As globalization continues to move, dismantle, and create jobs, so too the “bell” will shift and shimmy. As the dust settles, a new mean will be defined; extremely high- and low-end jobs will remain two and three standard deviations from the mean and middle-class jobs will once again be the “bell.” If this does not happen, yes, America is screwed. (A dumbbell shaped job market with a higher frequency of high- and low-end jobs is not healthy.)

Once inside the first door, become “special or specialized” continuously learn more about your job and the jobs vertical to yours. Business is hard pressed to outsource, digitize, or automate the responsibilities of its “A” players. Be “localized or anchored.” Being rooted in a community can buffer you against foreign competitors. How will the global economy outsource, digitize, or automate a masseuse? Planet Earth is not the Sixth Element, yet. However, nothing is safe; I hope you realize this. Nothing. Before the fiber optic highway connected the US to unconnected parts of the world, kids in developing countries had little hope of using their skills to compete in the US marketplace. Now traditional jobs are easily outsourced to anywhere on the planet, product or service, assuming connectivity. Competition 3.0 is here. Ten years ago, some of the brightest kids in my college classes were foreigners. Many of the dumbest and laziest? Americans!

If you find your way into an entry-level position. Learn from those around you, horizontally and vertically. Be a sponge, a life-long learner and grow into positions that require more expertise. Do not settle into jobs that are on the cusp of outsourcing, digitization, or automation. Yes work your way up and appreciate the climb, but do not settle. Stay hungry; do not get complacent. At You, Inc., always be improving and adding to your core competencies.

Continuous development of your core competencies does not ensure that your inevitable downsizing is less like sand slipping through fingers, but it will give you confidence and additional competence, which are transferable among verticals. I once had a job where every few months my boss would enter my office and say, “remind me, why we need you?” This boss loved me and battled for my position more than I can know. Why was I so naive to think that being great at what I did would create loyalty among the owners? Loyalty is a relic in a global marketplace. The only loyalty an owner will ever show you in a global economy is to give you a chance to take on the responsibility of two or more people at the price of one. If loyalty is what you seek, continually manage more for less and you will always have it. This is the new race. Be mentally nimble and vigilant and run faster, harder, smarter than the competition.

The new name of the game. Increase your competencies and travel beyond the first door, out of reach of outsourcing, digitization, and automation. You might even aim to be “untouchable,” extremely employable no matter the vertical. When you venture beyond the competencies required at the first door, newly acquired competencies are transferable and linkable. When the mission is lofty, 20% of the road is behind and 80% is in front. Set high standards for yourself and never be satisfied with the status quo. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me.

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.