With the mercury soaring outdoors and nary a breeze blowing by the waterfront, the June 26 Jersey City Tech Meetup (JCTM) featured a hot, interactive indoor discussion featuring three cool CEOs amid the comfortable indoor AC system at the Harborside Atrium.
- Moderator: Ben Yurcisin of Jersey City Tech Meetup)
- Cea Pender, CEO of Salvation Wellness, a modern day apothecary (offering CBD-infused and other products) and wellness-focused business offering holistic healing services.
- Aaron Price, founder of the NJ Tech Meetup and CEO of Propelify Innovation Festival, now in its fourth year with the 2019 edition slated for October 3 on the Hoboken waterfront. Propelify has been called the SXSW of the Northeast, celebrating tech entrepreneurship and featuring businesses and individuals coming together to explore innovation and creative ideas.
- Michael Burghoffer, CEO of PicoSolutions, a diversified group of businesses focused on educational programs including STEM, entrepreneurship and 3D printing, as well professional training and consultative services. Pico recently relocated from downtown Jersey City to the new Kearny Point development.
All three CEOs discussed a wide range of helpful tools that they use in their businesses to keep teammates organized and on the same page. That discussion transitioned into a range of tech tools that each executive found helpful on an individual basis to enhance their own personal efficiency and effectiveness. Many of these are outlined and briefly summarized below.
- Wunderlist – a cloud-based, collaborative app that facilitates creating to-do lists, setting due-dates, reminders and assigning tasks to others, including employees.
- Slack – makes teamwork easier by allowing users to create various channels for sharing messages, tools and files. The company also recently completed a successful IPO on the NYSE.
- Asana – a work management platform utilized by teams for staying organized and focused on projects, goals and daily tasks.
- Trello – a collaborative work tool featuring boards, lists and cards to help teams stay connected and on-track.
- FollowUpThen – a productivity tool using a simple, flexible email address that interfaces with any email system and on any device. Helps clean up your inbox and facilitates follow-up efficiency.
- HubSpot – a full stack of software for marketing, sales and customer service. Comes with a completely free CRM at its core.
- Streak – a tool that easily filters, sorts and groups your data in any configuration. Allows you to see upcoming tasks across all pipelines. Essentially, a CRM built into Gmail that also helps manage workflow.
Below are some observations from the panel discussion:
- Better use of tech productivity tools has allowed Burghoffer to significantly cut back on his typical work week from as much as 90 hours in the past to roughly half of that. He’s a father of young children and his wife and kids clearly appreciate having him around more as a result of his significantly improved work efficiency.
- Taking meditation breaks throughout the day is important to keep Burghoffer better focused as well as more present and mindful in the workplace. Pinder also cited meditation as an important daily tool in her life. She typically listens to an 18-minute recording before getting out of bed in the AM.
- Price and others that CEOs should be cognizant of their own personal time efficiency and the ROI of their contributions to the overall organization. It is critical to use technology to save you (and the company) time, which is limited.
- When deciding whether or not to bring in new hires and/or purchase a technological tool for the enterprise, a chief executive – especially one running a small company – should weigh the importance of delegating various tasks to others for the overall betterment of the organization, especially bottom-line profitability.
- Company leaders should know what they’re personally capable of and if it’s advantageous to hire someone that complements your skills and it’s a good investment of resources, including money, then it should be done.
- Sometimes it’s best to outsource the hiring process to another organization that is skilled in identifying good candidates. If relying on another company to handle this, they should be familiar with the company’s core values to make sure this is potentially a good fit. Once promising new employees are identified, the CEO and other team members can meet with the final roster of choices to make the ultimate yay/nay decision on who will join the organization.
- CEOs should think of costs in terms of percentages of total revenue, rather than in absolute levels. Obviously, weighing the positive impact to expected future operating results is an important decision that company leaders must focus on when deciding whether or not to acquire a tech tool for their business, or hire an additional employee.
- CEOs should also plan ahead about how they foresee new employees meshing and collaborating with existing team members, especially if they will be joining functional teams within the company.
- Effectively using data and analytical tools are important to the success of many businesses, especially in today’s competitive and fast-moving digital world. Below are two that were discussed and recommended by panelists.
- frederick (www.hirefrederick.com) is an automated marketing tool that a growing number of small businesses are using to enhance operating results by tracking customer interactions…when they purchase and what they buy. Among the specific functions listed on its site: increasing repeat business, generating more online reviews and selling more packages and memberships.
- Frontdesk.Ai (www.frontdesk.ai) is a responsive tool designed specifically for small businesses to help them scale. Its Sasha application interfaces instantly via text message with customers. For example, it can manage a company’s appointment calendars via booking software, compiling a list of booked, changed or cancelled appointments.
- CEOs should use mathematical algorithms to help them know when it’s necessary to pivot corporate strategy in a more profitable direction.