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StartCo "Demo Day" in Memphis

It’s going to be an exciting week for startup businesses in Memphis with the StartCo “Demo Day” this Thursday, August 21st (Orpheum Theatre)This year there are 16 new and exciting companies in the graduating class from 4 different accelerators. 

               

Seed Hatchery – Information Technology Accelerator     

Troopto- Company that provides private crowdfunding for the workplace         

Phase – Schedule multi-player games without the hassle                      

Pickle – Crowdsource any opinion in less than 2 minutes                          

Well Done – Full featured tablet POS for independently-owned restaurants                 ORB - High fashion backpacks designed to protect                            

Upstart – Women-Led Tech Accelerator

Play-Tag – Smart Bluetooth dog tag and LED alert system                          

eDivv – A marketplace for trading excess beauty products                         

Cabsolutely – One cab dispatch API to rule them all                          

Barter Sugar – Bartering platform for small businesses to trade goods & services       

Sparkgap – Logistics Technology Accelerator  

Graph Story – Graph database-as-a-service

Extra Rail – Airbnb for the railroad industry 

Logistadvise – Platform that matches companies with supply-chain transportation     

Sky High – Social Innovation Accelerator  

FuelFilm – An accelerator for the film industry (non-profit)The College Initiative – Prepares students for the application & college experience (non-profit) ·       

Care2Manage – Simplifies organization & management for families caring for aged loved ones.

CoreFire Commandos – an interactive game & web-based portfolio to track the progress of students   

This is my second year as a mentor for Seed Hatchery/StartCo and I must say this year is the most fun I’ve had so far as a mentor. This year’s Start Co. “Summer of Acceleration” got off to a quick start with a “speed dating” session back in May when we (as mentors) got introduced  to all 16 companies and their founders and got a chance to hear their “elevator pitches.” All of which took place  in a few short minutes which was challenging! But admittedly, it also forced all of us (as mentors) to listen carefully, focus on understanding the business model quickly and determine the viability of the business and if we could be of assistance.   

The funny thing is  the company I liked the most coming out of the speed dating session (that I didn’t actually work with) was Play-Tag which sells the smart Bluetooth dog tag and LED alert system. Why did they catch my eye? Ok, I have to admit, I am a crazy dog person (my wife and I  have a 15 year black lab (Casey) and I'm keenly aware of the importance that pet owners place on their dog’s security as well as having a locator system in place in the event that they should they wander off. But also, as a businessman who understands cash flow and profitability, I know that revenues from  pet products, services etc. have grown dramatically through the years. In 2014, pet products now represent  a multi-BILLION industry with enormous opportunity to develop profitable niches. With such a unique product in such a large industry, Play-Tag sure looks like a winner to me.   

Casey stops by my office

Another company I did get a chance to spend some time recently with is Barter Sugar and its founder Layla Tabatabaie. Layla is a native New Yorker, very smart, loads of enthusiasm with a great concept. I really like her idea of small businesses bartering for different items and services and reducing some of the tedious, old fashioned methods we currently use for acquisition. Ironically enough, "bartering" as a means of exchanging goods and services has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and has simply brought into the technology age of the 21st century with Barter Sugar and its platform. I see lots of opportunity developing key niche markets for Barter Sugar in the future (college students, entrepreneurs etc.) and with an initial  low cost of overhead, it would not surprise me if Layla and her company make Barter Sugar into a major StartCo success story in the future.


Posted by Jay Myers at Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Value of Strategic Planning

This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in a two day strategic planning meeting in Philadelphia with the USAV group. As noted on their website, USAV is the leading association of professional audio-visual (ProAV) integrators serving clients in over 80% of the top metropolitan areas in the country with leading-edge AV solutions. 

ISI has been an active member of the USAV group since 2007 and over the past three years have been a part of the Dealer Advisory Council (DAC). ISI’s involvement with USAV has been beneficial on many levels (for both companies) but particularly with ongoing professional development and nationwide support services. 

As I was sitting in the various meeting sessions this week, it got me thinking. Why does an organization need a strategic plan? And why develop it in August? Is there a better time to do it?  And what is strategic planning exactly? More importantly, why are so many of leaders reluctant to take the time to do it even when there is so much on the line? 

It occurred to me that if there ever was a time to develop a strategic plan in the Pro AV/VTC industry it is now.  As we all discussed as USAV members, we have been dealing with so many things changing in our industry:

  • Eroding profit margins (on services and hardware) 
  • Increased competition (from larger firms)
  • The challenge of converting salespeople to solutions selling (not boxes) 

All of these are important issues but those were just a few. Even after devoting two solid days of concentrated effort, it was quite evident that we couldn’t possibly cover all the issues and challenges that could/should go in USAV’s strategic plan for 2014-2015. But we put forth a gallant effort. And maybe that’s the point. We put significant effort into looking at our future and seeing what we needed to do to be successful. Rather than running from the industry problems and challenges, we have identified them and developed plans to deal with them. 

Enjoyed catching a Phillies game with USAV group...even after I got hit in the hand by a foul ball. 

Candidly, we certainly didn’t have all the right answers (and probably didn't even know all the right questions either) but we did plot the course and the direction we are going. I think it’s a good game plan not just for USAV but for ISI as well. That is why I will be working closely with ISI’s management team  to develop our 2015 strategic plan that hopefully will assist us in navigating these challenging times.


Posted by Jay Myers at Friday, August 15, 2014

ISI Partners With Vidyo

After several years of evaluation and research, ISI formalized an agreement last week with Vidyo, a scalable software-based video conferencing solution that puts HD-quality, multipoint video communications within reach of anyone using any device, anywhere. All that’s needed is an Internet, LTE or 4G connection to join in a lifelike and collaborative meeting experience. 

It is obvious to all of us at ISI that the  video conferencing industry has moved beyond providing expensive legacy hardware and dedicated networks to being able to provide a powerful, flexible and scalable software-based solution that is also cost effective. What we see with Vidyo is a product that is easy to use and manage and provides HD-quality video communication for anyone using any device, anywhere. We think that’s pretty cool and it doesn’t take a genius to determine that it's where everything is going in our industry. There is more emphasis on software and less on hardware.

It's little scary but truthfully I’ve wanted to see it for years. Why?  Because, simply put, from an owners perspective, a software company that creates intellectual property is worth a whole lot more than a hardware company that is susceptible to physical products becoming commoditized. 

Another reason ISI has partnered with Vidyo is that both companies share mutual success in the healthcare marketplace with telemedicine. Vidyo’s telemedicine platform is gaining acceptance in emergency rooms, ICUs and patient rooms for neurology, pulmonology, cardiology, psychiatry and other applications Software-based healthcare solutions can be integrated with the Vidyo™ platform to improve clinical workflow and enable remote consults.  They will also allow medical experts to connect in minutes from any location to observe and interact with a patient, check vital signs, and review lab data much as if they are at the patient’s bedside. And for a price that health care professionals can afford! 

Everyone at ISI is excited about the many opportunities s that Vidyo and software based solutions can provide our clients and prospects and are looking forward to success for the balance of 2014 and beyond. 


Posted by Jay Myers at Monday, July 14, 2014

Nashville Tech Scene is Hot

This week I had a lot of fun attending a summer mixer for technology professionals hosted by CentreSource which is a full service digital marketing agency based in Nashville. CenterSource is an INC 5000 company (2011 and 2012) that has been in business for over 10 years with a wide array of clients from start ups to healthcare to non- profits. Pretty impressive! They also have a really cool headquarters office in a historic old home near downtown Nashville.

CentreSource is just one of many thriving technology firms in the Nashville area which has seen significant growth since ISI opened our office in Franklin (nearby suburb) in 2005. Whether it be in web development, cloud computing, managed services or a myriad of IT solutions, Nashville has rapidly become the destination of choice for the best and brightest in the tech world.

As I mingled through the crowd (over 150 attendees), I spoke to tech professionals who had moved to Nashville from places like Washington DC, California and New York all telling me that they see significant opportunity in the Nashville area. They also noted how community organizations like the Nashville Tech Council and the Entrepreneur Center reinforced their decision to move to the area by demonstrating long term commitment to startups and growing technology in Middle Tennessee now and in the future.

After leaving this very fun event I must say I was newly inspired to work even harder with my team to grow ISI's business in the Nashville area and take advantage of a serious market opportunity. Looking forward to some exciting times ahead in Music City!

Posted by Jay Myers at Wednesday, July 2, 2014

FedEx Retiree Club Luncheon

This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking about my new book “Hitting the Curveballs” to members of the FedEx Retiree Club (FERC) at their monthly luncheon. I must admit that when I was initially contacted about doing this presentation my first thought was- why would they want to hear me speak? 

Certainly, it wasn’t lost on me that the FedEx name in Memphis is very well-respected (by me and thousands of other Memphians) and with over 30,000 local employees, they do wield considerable influence with many organizations and businesses in the area. Also, I have been keenly aware of the fact that FedEx has been a loyal ISI client since 1998 and have really helped me grow the company particularly back in the early days. But I was still wondering why would a bunch of retirees want to hear me talk about topics like dealing with crisis and growing a business during the Great Recession? 

The answer became more apparent to me as I did my presentation and realized that many of the concepts that I discuss in my presentation relate to not just growing a business but life itself. Everyone, retired or working,  is challenged with crisis in their life from time-to-time. It is an inevitability. Business and life aren’t always perfect sometimes. But as I discussed in my presentation (and book) what separates successful people from others is their “response” to those challenges. Successful people establish a mindset that crisis can be viewed in a positive way and that it actually represents an opportunity to grow and improve oneself (and a business as well). 

Another topic that really hit home with the FERC members was “Creating a Legacy” and giving back to the community to groups like the Ronald McDonald House and Catholic High School and the Education that Works program (ETW). As noted, ISI is proud to support the patients and families of St. Jude Hospital through the Ronald McDonald House as well as providing financial assistance to ETW students to obtain a college prep education at Catholic High School. Two distinctly different programs that are helping young people to improve their lives, now and in the future. Supporting these kinds of organizations can provide an unimaginable sense of fulfillment and I'm glad I was able to share that with the FERC members.  


Posted by Jay Myers at Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Healthy Business Means Healthy Employees

I recently read a Linked-In  post that my VP of Engineering recommended to me titled 6 Ways to Save Your Life -- and Your Company. It was a really interesting read that got me thinking about a lot of things (including my own mortality) but also what it takes to build a company that has long term sustainability. And how do you do that in today’s volatile business  environment when companies like ISI are going out of business every day? 

Certainly managing ISI’s finances are a day-to-day challenge (just like it is for any business) and no doubt made even more difficult in today’s hyper competitive professional AV/videoconferencing marketplace. But are there other aspects of the business that also need to be addressed to maintain sustainability? Is it good enough for the company to be just financially healthy? What about the health of your employees as well? And shouldn’t that include not just their  physical health but mental as well? 

Seems like common sense to look into these kind of issues but why do so few of us actually do it? Why do we let so many of our employees drag on with an unhealthy lifestyle, worn down by repetitive tasks and become burned out, pre-diabetic shadows of their former selves? I know just the thought of this happening at ISI bothered me so I really looked at what we could do about it in the future. 

I know I don’t want ISI to contribute to any employees health problems- now or in the future. Period. And I know I certainly need the help of every ISI employee to be successful it in the future. So what strategies did I pick up after reading this article that could help ISI  to become a more sustainable business in the future?  What are the six areas we need to look at to have ISI employees healthier and happier in the future? 

1) Sitting Disease - Sedentary lifestyles are the #1 cause for heart disease and diabetes. Movement is health so we’ll be looking at incentives for employees to take up walking at lunchtime and encourage “walking” meetings with our staff  to avoid constantly sitting at their desks. 

2) Quiet Time - Employees who get the chance to regroup and reflect are more productive over the long haul (creativity, focus etc.) Simply getting 20-30 minutes a day to clear an employee’s head makes sense to me so ISI is going to support the-is initiative as a part of each employee’s daily regime. 

3) Snacking to Health - Many of the soft drinks, snack foods, candy bars, donuts etc. that are currently available in the ISI break room are loaded with calories, fat, sugar, etc. which are convenient but certainly not good for the waistline. In the future, we will be offering healthier options for employees including more fruit, nuts, water, etc. We can’t preach good health if we aren’t practicing it as well. 

Not this extreme but you get the idea

Not this extreme but you get the idea

4) Core Strength in the Conference Room - The local YMCA has many options for helping employees with physical fitness and personal training so ISI will be looking at offering discounted memberships to employees. We certainly can’t force people to  get physical exercise but we can let them  know we are supportive of their interest in achieving a healthier lifestyle. 

5) Flexible Work Schedules - ISI will continue to support our  telecommuting strategy in place for our design engineers, procurement staff, etc. to work from home in order to help with family needs, logistics etc. Very proud that this strategy has been working successfully for over a year now so we will be continuing a successful strategy. 

6) Change, Or You Will Lose - A final thought that closed out the article which really stuck with me and I think it’s true. ISI won't be able to hire and recruit the best talent in the future unless they believe they'll get healthier by working with us. 


Posted by Jay Myers at Wednesday, June 4, 2014

GROWCO 2014 in Nashville

This past week I had the unique opportunity to attend Inc. Magazine’s 2014 GROWCO Conference that was held at the Omni Nashville Hotel. GROWCO is a 3 day event for entrepreneurs and business leaders who are looking for insights, strategies, and inspiration that can help them to achieve significant growth with their companies. 

I remember attending the first GROWCO Conference in Orlando back in 2009 and got a lot out of it so attending the event in my own backyard only made sense to me. Besides that, with an ISI office in Nashville, there seemed to be some good networking opportunities that could benefit us locally as well. And even though I personally was only able to attend one of the three days of events, I have to say that  it was not only a good use of my time but it also money well spent. I also liked the fact that  my VP of Sales and our design engineer attended the conference with me as well and both were equally enthusiastic about what they got out of it. 

One breakout session I particularly enjoyed was hosted by Clint Smith and Michael Burcham (Nashville Entrepreneur Center) where they discussed how “Great Companies Combine Culture and Community for Profit and Purpose.” It made me think about a previously mentioned  long term goal I have for ISI which is not to just be successful but significant as well

Without a doubt the best speaker of the conference (when I was there) was Bert Jacobs who is the co-founder of “Life is Good.” Bert did a masterful job of not only describing the humble beginnings of the company selling t-shirts in dorm rooms and the streets of Boston but also the premise behind the smiling stick man and the power of positive thinking. I love the story about his mother gathering her large family (6 children) around the dinner table each night and asking each one of them to “tell me something good that happened today.” What a great life lesson to pass onto your children.  I also really admire the work that Bert and his brother John are doing with their Life Is Good events (Pumpkin Festival etc.) that is raising money for organizations like Camp Sunshine which has been set up for children with life threatening illnesses and their families. Bert concluded his presentation with the deeply emotional  story of the Life is Good employee who was seriously injured in last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and producing the commemorative “Nothing is Stronger than Love” t-shirt.  Knowing how Life is Good operates, it was no surprise to learn that 100% of the profits generated from their now best- selling t-shirt will go to provide prosthetics for the bombing victims. The world needs more people like Bert and John Jacobs and the Life is Good company!  I am so glad I was able to hear his incredible story and  I think I speak for everyone who attended GROWCO 2014 in wishing them continued success for many more years to come. 

The last speaker of the afternoon was Mark Cuban who is the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team and star of the hit ABC TV  show “Shark Tank.” The format was more of a casual Q&A session but in keeping with GROWCO’s theme of being “audacious” Mark Cuban did not disappoint the conference attendees. All the major networks, CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN and others picked up on Cuban’s  audacious remarks regarding bigotry and related issues. He made some good points that sadly got taken out of context and muddled by the media. What I thought was even more interesting was how candid Mark was about how he made his money and the values he is trying to instill in his children (hard work and a lack of entitlement) which is similar to my own philosophy with my kids. I also found his comments about the “student loan bubble” very disturbing since he believes it is this country’s #1 economic concern. On a fun note, I loved his stories about Shark Tank and the different personalities on the show as well as the competitiveness amongst the “sharks.” No wonder it’s the most watched family show on TV today. Whether you love Mark Cuban or hate him, he is definitely someone that gets your attention. 

A fitting end to a great conference!  


Posted by Jay Myers at Thursday, May 29, 2014

Success Isn't Enough in Business...Be Significant

This past week, I was happy to get the chance to return as a guest on the Small Business Advocate Show with my buddy Jim Blasingame. As a long time member of the SBA "brain trust," I always enjoy getting the opportunity to talk with Jim about what's going on at ISI and the many challenges of running a small business in today's challenging marketplace.

This topic of this past show was one that is near and dear to my heart which is how to take your business from success to significance. Maybe I'm crazy, but starting and growing ISI has never been about the money for me. Never has been, never will be. It's always been about making a difference in people's lives. 

One way ISI tries to make a difference is by sponsoring the Education that Works program (ETW). As an ETW company, ISI pays the tuition for an inner city student to get a college prep education (by attending Memphis Catholic High School) that they otherwise couldn't afford. In return the student works one day a week at ISI doing basic office work (scanning documents, filing etc). It is our hope that by giving the ETW student a chance to see what a successful company looks like (teamwork, ethics, etc.), they will someday use that positive experience to help shape their own successful future.

Another way ISI is giving back is through the mentoring program with StartCo which is an accelerator program for startup businesses in Memphis. This past week I got the chance (as a mentor) to have an initial meeting with over a dozen startups to get a feel for their businesses and what ISI could do to help them. I must say it was really impressive to see companies from all across the country (California, New York etc.) in Memphis to tell their story and the "speed dating" format definitely kept me on my toes.

I met with people from lots of interesting companies like Play-tag that utilizes smart wearable technology to connect puppies to people, products and services. And Fuel Film Memphis who wants to develop and grow successful independent filmmakers in Memphis. Also, the College Initiative who is working with high school students and teachers to develop programs because "every child deserves the opportunity to go to college."

Lots of impressive concepts and entrepreneurs and hopefully with some solid mentoring from ISI a number of them will move on to a successful future. Not a bad way to make a difference in people's lives. The financial success of ISI has allowed me to provide my family and for the families of my employees. But beyond that financial successful, having societal significance means even more to me because it means I've truly improved the world around me. 


Posted by Jay Myers at Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Leadership Lessons from the Pittsburgh Pirates

This past week I listened to an interview on "Leadership Lessons from the Pittsburgh Pirates" which recently aired on the Small Business Advocate radio show (hosted by my buddy Jim Blasingame).

I must admit that my initial reason for wanting to listen to the interview had a little something to do with my lifelong passion for the game of baseball but my other motive was for pure business reasons - ISI needs me to be a better leader in 2014 than ever before- pure and simple. The bar has been raised and I need to up my game. So what did I learn from the interview?

1) Embrace Hardship- Some are paralyzed by it- others grow through it but everybody has to deal with it at one point or the other.

2) Invest in Farm System- Don't look for "quick fixes" in building a sustainable business. The Pirates patiently built their current team through farm system players which resulted in them reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

 

3) Strengthen Mental Self- resetting mental conditioning on a regular basis recognizing that the mental part of the game is just as important as the physical part.

4) Emphasize Leadership and Accountabilty- The Pirates established a leadership council (players only) that oversees player behavior, commitment to teamwork, etc. and holds them accountable for their actions. Really good stuff and made me think that as the leader of ISI, I ultimately set the tone, mood and direction for the company and need to be mindful of that on a daily basis. Past success in a hot market has been great for ISI but as I once heard "even a turkey can fly in a tornado." It takes a special leader to successfully lead a company through difficult and challenging times.


 

 

Posted by Jay Myers at Thursday, May 8, 2014

Gathering of Eagle Scouts in Memphis

This week I got the chance to attend a reception sponsored by the local Boy Scout office (Chickasaw Council) for all the Eagle Scouts in the Mid South area. I must say the event was not only a lot of fun but was also very well-attended (over 125 Eagles) representing Scouts of all ages, walks of life and professions. I even met a former coworker from my high school/grocery store days (John Reagan) who I haven't seen in 40 years! That was special.

As I greeted various people, it made me pause and consider what a special event it truly was. Eagle Scouts- the best of the best. What's the percentage of Scouts that earn the rank of Eagle? Only about 5% of all Boy Scouts do according to the NESA. It is indeed an exclusive club we all belong to and something to be proud of. I know for me it has been one of the highlights of my life.

As I got a chance to pause and reflect on my Scouting days, I was reminded of the many important values that were instilled in me all those years ago on my trail to Eagle that continue to guide me in my professional life as the owner of ISI. At an early age, I learned about the value of teamwork, organization, perseverance setting and achieving goals. We were taught to "be prepared" (the motto) and to remain trustworthy, loyal helpful, etc. in the face of adversity. As a Scout, I was learning these skills by being a patrol leader leading a group of scouts on a backpacking trip. Now, as a business owner, I'm putting these same skills and values to the test every day as I lead the staff of ISI. While the arenas may be different, the fundamentals still remain the same. 

I can truthfully say that I have used many of the skills that I learned from my Scouting days every day since I started ISI. For that, I'll always be grateful for those wonderful lessons learned.


Posted by Jay Myers at Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Entrepreneurship Alive and Well in Memphis

This week I got a chance to visit with a number of people involved in the local entrepreneurship community in Memphis at the StartCo mentor reception. StartCo is the parent organization of the Seed Hatchery where I helped out as a mentor to several early stage technology firms back in 2011.

 

Memphis regularly lags behind the rest of the nation in economic indicators, and much of the money injected into the city are “poverty dollars.” But listening to Andre Fowlkes and his team at StartCo this week, I'm convinced that they want to change that and will seek to build on Memphis’ unique strengths and opportunities, find the region’s entrepreneurial potential, and continue to learn how to best grow the Memphis economy. 

 

Lately, there's been  a lot of buzz in the startup world about how startups stimulate job growth. A healthy company that employs dozens or even hundreds of people works wonders for a local economy and culture (read about Zappos and the Las Vegas startup scene). With that in mind, a lot of organizations are popping up in different regions with the goal of encouraging entrepreneurship and stimulating economic growth.

In the startup tech world, all too often gets very focused on individual companies and their products. Start Co is unique in that they are thinking about how to best help their city first and are leveraging local tech entrepreneurs to do it. That's worthy goal and I'm looking forward to helping them achieve it.

Posted by Jay Myers at Sunday, April 13, 2014

State College of Florida Presentation

This past week, I got a chance to speak (not once but twice) on my experiences as an entrepreneur at State College of Florida (SCF) in Bradenton, Fla.  SCF is a large school (over 27,000 students enrolled) and different from other schools in the area, it is an open-enrollment college whose average student age is 28 years old.  Many of the students are working part-time or even full-time which is a much different situation than a typical university student. Given those dynamics, I must say I found (in both my classes) that the students were not only fun, focused and fully engaged in my presentations but were a delight to speak to. Maybe it’s because they have so many other things going on but maybe it’s because they simply wanted to be there. For whatever reasons, the classes really responded to both my presentations. 

In the second class, the class professor (Clint Day) pointed out that the many obstacles that ISI has had to deal with over the past 18 years were fairly typical of successful entrepreneurs. Clint even drew the depiction of a roller coaster ride on the class whiteboard to reinforce the realities of the entrepreneurial life. 

Since we met for over two hours, many topics were discussed in my presentation that included issues like  building a quality business plan, identifying sources of capital and the value of a buy-sell agreement when setting up a business partnership. All key topics to nail down when trying to get a business off the ground. Also, many of the students were quite surprised when it was disclosed that I owned only 17.5% of the company when ISI first got started in 1996 due to the financing arrangement with the private investment group (and my business partner). The class also seemed intrigued that it took almost two years for me to gain 100% ownership of ISI and not without a painful, almost fatal partnership divorce. 

Other topics that the SCF students seemed to have the most interest (no surprise here) in was the embezzlement crisis of 2003 (discovery of $250,000 employee theft) and the summer from hell in 2007 (when we lost 80% of ISI's sales team) Those are two stories with a lot of  interesting drama for sure but it also seems a lot of people (students included) like to hear a good inspirational story every once in a while. The SCF students also seemed to appreciate ISI’s ability to use major crisis to not only survive in the most difficult times but actually thrive. In these tough times, people like to hear about the positive stories to come out of the economic crisis. 

I always get energized by these kinds of presentations with college students because they are still early on in their careers and I have the opportunity to share my experience with a captive audience. Many of them may go on to start their own businesses one day and I think that's why they respond so enthusiastically. While my practical lessons may not be rocket science, they can have a powerful impact on a fledgling business.  


Posted by Jay Myers at Thursday, April 3, 2014

Balanced Life and Leadership Excellence

I have to admit I do a lot of reading in my spare time and particularly like reading business books that I think can help me do a better job as the CEO of Interactive Solutions, Inc (ISI). One such book I just finished titled "Balance Life and Leadership Excellence" written by my friend Madan which  is not only a really good read but it also focuses on an issue which has been important to me since I started ISI which is BALANCE. As I read Madan's book I must say that it provides practical ideas to not only unleash leadership and creativity on the job but also enjoy a rewarding, healthy life off-the-clock.

On a personal level, as ISI celebrated our 18th anniversary this past week (March 11) it gave me a chance to reflect on not only our success as a business but also the sense of pride I take in knowing that I never sacrificed my family life for company success. Despite all the challenges of starting a new business and the many obstacles we faced through the years, I never missed any of my kids activities through the years whether it be the many Boy Scout camping trips, swim meets, basketball games, school plays etc. I was at each and every one of them with and am so glad I did. Interestingly enough, as time went on, I discovered that the more balance I achieved in my personal life with my family it not only didn't penalize me in my professional life but actually enhanced it as ISI continued to grow and prosper.


Posted by Jay Myers at Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Carrot Principle and How Employee Recognition Makes Financial Sense

This past week, I attended the National Systems Contractor Association (NSCA) Business and Leadership Conference in Las Colinas, Texas. It had several great speakers and insights being shared but the one that really hit home with me this year was the presentation by Adrian Gostick who is the co-author of  “The Carrot Principle" which is about using recognition to engage and retain employees. 

In Adrian’s presentation he challenged all of us to think about the notion that if we want to run a high-performing company, we can't afford employees who are just along for the ride. From corner office to the cubicles, our work forces must be fully engaged. In other words, they must be "all in," To understand how some managers are able to get their employees to commit wholeheartedly to the company's culture, Adrian (and co-author Chester Elton) teamed up with Towers Watson, a performance-improvement consultancy, to analyze the findings of a global, 300,000-person work force study conducted during the worst of the recession. 

They found that today’s high-performance organizations have a distinctive kind of culture in which employees believe in their leaders and in the company’s mission, values and goals. These employees are not only engaged but enabled and energized. In short, they are all in. This has lead these companies to astonishing results — average annual operating revenues three times higher than companies lacking such a positive culture. 

Adrian talked about how savvy managers in a high achieving culture know when to INSPIRE and not REQUIRE in dealing with their employees as well as knowing when to CHEER and when to CHALLENGE. them. He also made a point that employees don’t “leave companies”  they leave “managers.” It was all definitely food for thought and strategies that I think ISI can use in 2014 to help us to not only achieve our goals for this year but for many years to come.


Posted by Jay Myers at Monday, March 3, 2014

In "The Age of the Customer," Customer Service Reigns Supreme

I've been reading a new book this week written by my good buddy Jim Blasingame titled "The Age of the Customer." Jim is the creator and host of the award winning "Small Business Advocate Show" which is the worlds only weekly radio talk show dedicated to small business and a show I've been fortunate to have been a guest on several times as part of the SBA "brain trust" Jim also recently provided a great cover quote for my new book "Hitting the Curveballs."

As I'm reading Jim's book I'm finding it to be an interesting (and scary) read that identifies an epochal shift in the business world causing the 10,000 year  "Age of the Seller" to be replaced by the "Age of the Customer" If that's not enough to try and grasp it also goes into how relevance is replacing competitiveness as the coin of the realm and how a business's future will be increasingly decided at the "moment of relevance" Scary stuff for many small business owners but actually makes a lot of sense to me when I think of ISI's future.

But in 2014 how does a business like ISI stay "relevant"? How do we make the transition from  the "Age of the Seller" to the the "Age of the Customer"? It seems to me that it all starts with two words - CUSTOMER SERVICE - which has been the hallmark of the ISI brand since the company was founded in 1996. 

The way I see it a company will stay relevant in the AV/VTC industry when it's not about the AV products and hardware but the support we provide for them. Consider that we have discovered that 80% of ISI's customers and prospects have already done the product and pricing research(on the Internet) to get an idea of what they want and what they can afford BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING! 

It's no longer a sellers game in 2014- its the customers game and the only way to win?  Its old fashioned but i think ISI  earns it by communicating value in our service(design, engineering project management, programming, tech support etc) Make it about the people, not the products. Given the shift to the "Age of the Customer" it  should make 2014 an interesting and challenging year for ISI.


Posted by Jay Myers at Monday, February 17, 2014

AV Strategy in 2014 at NSCA Business and Leadership Conference

ISI is off to a great start in 2014 receiving a  $400,000 order literally the first business day of the year (after the holiday break) which has never happened before in the company’s 18 year history. Hopefully it will be a sign of things to come as we work hard to rebound from a challenging 2013. But as the CEO of a technology company in 2014, what can people like me do to give our companies the best chance for success? Since we had an off-year in 2013, do we simply hope that 2014 will be better? And is hope really a management strategy?  I don’t think so. 

For that reason and a few more I made the decision to attend the National Systems Contractor Association (NSCA) Business and Leadership Conference for the past several years and am really glad I have done so. As the owner of ISI, I believe it is my responsibility to make sure I educate myself as much as possible about what it takes to be a successful company in these challenging times. "Use your resources" has always been my motto and the NSCA BLC is definitely one for ISI. 

This year’s BLC will cover various issues like balancing employee accountability, company leadership and creating a positive work environment.. There will also be a session on turning the IT/AV convergence from a serious problem into a serious opportunity. That’s good stuff that should help ISI not only in 2014 but for several years to come.

The closing speaker for this year’s conference will be the author Daniel Pink who wrote a number of bestselling books  including “A Whole New Mind” that I read a few years ago. In his book, Pink  predicts the future of business will be moving from a logical  computer-based age to a creative empathetic one that sees the “big picture” through creativity and innovation. Should be a fascinating presentation!  


Posted by Jay Myers at Friday, February 7, 2014

Hitting the Real Curveballs at the New York Yankees Fantasy Camp

Yankees Fantasy Camp has been yet another incredible experience having been a part of it for the 3rd time in the past 7 years. Really fun being able to "disappear" from my day job as the the CEO of ISI and live out my my childhood dreams of being a major league baseball player

Without a doubt the most meaningful experience this week at Fantasy Camp has been reconnecting with my old friend, Gus Gussack who recently celebrated his 90th birthday and is a 10 time Hall of Fame Fantasy Camper. Interestingly enough, Gus was born on December 7, 1923 and was enlisted in the US Navy at 18 years of age a few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At the time, Gus was regarded as a good baseball prospect (by the then New York Giants) but had to forego his dreams of being a big league ball player to serve his country and subsequently start a family. 

In an effort to "reconnect" with the game, Gus decided to participate in his first Yankees Fantasy Camp (at the recommendation of a close friend) years ago and has attended over 10 different camps in his career. That is the sign of a true baseball fan! Gus made a decision to honor his past and be part of the game he has loved since he was a young man by reaching out of his comfort zone and trying something different. I wonder how many of us would make a similar choice?

It's funny how you can connect with someone (or something) that touches your heart. I know for me, the New York Yankees Fantasy Camp organization has been allowing me to connect with my childhood fantasy for over 7 years now and for that,  I'll always be grateful.

 

Posted by Jay Myers at Friday, January 24, 2014

The Power of Relationships and New Beginnings

 Last week I had the honor and privilege to speak at the Kramer USA national sales meeting in Clinton, New Jersey. Kramer USA provides products for audio, video and computer signal processing and routing. Kramer has been a supplier of ISI's  for a long time and they asked me to come speak. What a great group of people and I had a ball!  Its funny but as soon as I arrived at their office I had a feeling I belonged there. I instantly felt like I was  part of the Kramer "family."

As I mingled with the group enjoying food and refreshments while watching the NFL playoff game, it struck me that one of the secrets to Kramer's success in the PRO-AV industry through the years is the same thing that has made ISI successful all these years later -  RELATIONSHIPS. Kramer cares about relationships just like ISI does. Whether the relationship is with ISI as a business partner supplying us with state of the art video switches, routers or control systems or the personal relationships like the friendship I have with the Kramer USA President (Dave Bright). It's all about connecting with the people. It seems to me that successful companies like Kramer and ISI foster relationships with people that transcend products, competition, pricing, etc.

The theme from the Kramer USA last week was about creating  "New Beginnings" for the company and I personally think they're off to a great start. They've got a beautiful new office, several exciting new products and renewed enthusiasm for the future. But best of all? They still care about both the personal and professional relationships that made it all possible.


Posted by Jay Myers at Monday, January 20, 2014

How Giving Back Gave Me a New Outlook on My Business in 2014

It’s funny how the best laid plans don’t always work out the way you plan for them to sometimes. Take the way 2014 started out for me when I was awakened from a much needed holiday nap to be informed (by my wife) that we had to rush to downtown Memphis to feed 18-20 needy families at the Sisters of Charity house. At first I must admit I wasn’t wildly enthusiastic about the prospect of doing this (particularly on New Year’s Day) but as we made our way downtown my attitude quickly changed. 

As a business owner going into 2014, I spent the holidays thinking and obsessing  about all things business including my company’s growth strategy, rebounding from a tough 2013, continued economic uncertainty, etc. The usual stuff guys like me worry about because that’s what we are paid to do. Yet for the 18-20  people my wife and I are serving a simple chicken dinner to that afternoon,  their worries are on a very different, very basic level. They are hungry and simply need something to eat. 

A few minutes after our arrival I observed that they also appreciated someone coming down to simply help them. I recall one lady who must have said “Happy New Year” to my wife and I three or four times while we were there.  Really? How happy will her New Year be? Yet her definition of happiness is much different from many of rest of us in Memphis - the fortunate ones. That simple gesture of wishing us “Happy New Year” and thanking us for a hot meal served as reminder (to me and my wife) about what is really important in life and that my worries in business are child’s play compared to other people’s worries. 

As I write this blog, I am getting prepared for ISI’s annual kickoff meeting offsite in Tunica, Mississippi which we have done for more than 10 years now. I must say, as always, I am looking forward to the meeting and what the new year may bring. But I also must admit that I am looking at the new year in a different way since my visit to the Sister's of Charity house. There is no doubt that my company (and I) have significant challenges going into this new year with a slumping video conferencing/audio visual industry, widespread cuts in technology spending, etc. Yet somehow I know we will do what we’ve done for over 18 years now and meet the challenges, grind it out every day and get the job done. And my hope and prayer is that we also take the time during the year to pause and consider what’s really important in our community and in life. I know I will.

Posted by Jay Myers at Thursday, January 9, 2014

An Entrepreneur's Reflections on 2013

As we just wrapped up yet another year, it gave me pause to reflect on the many experiences (both high and low) that made up the year 2013. From a professional standpoint, 2013 will go down as one of the most challenging years in recent memory for my company (ISI) as we fought our way through unparalleled turmoil and change in the videoconferencing industry, layoffs at major suppliers (Cisco and Polycom) and significant cutbacks in government grant programs (key sources of revenue for ISI).

Yet amidst all of these challenges and chaos, both my company and I survived and advanced (like a college team in March Madness). In fact, my employees came out of 2013 adopting a new theme for 2014 which is "with great adversity comes great opportunity"  Given that kind of attitude, I'm already feeling next year will be a great one for ISI!

 

From a personal standpoint, my wife and I experienced moments of great sorrow in 2013 attending way too many funerals of both good friends and employee family members. Very sad. You go through a year like this and it reminds you that life is way too short and you need to be grateful for every moment you have on this earth. We also had moments of great joy in 2013 attending 2 graduations in two weeks in June with our daughter Katie graduating with her undergrad from SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) and our son Jordan earning his MBA from DePaul University. Very proud of both of them and I have to say as a parent it doesn't get any better than that! Finally, I'm real excited that on January 10, 2014 my second book Hitting the Curveballs: How Crisis can Strengthen and Grow Your Business will officially hit the bookstores. Really hope my book can help other small business owners and entrepreneurs not only survive the current difficult economy but thrive!

 

 

Posted by Jay Myers at Wednesday, January 1, 2014

ISI Gives Back: Why Charitable Giving is Good for Business

I recently was honored to get a chance to speak at the University of Memphis as part of the "Know Good - Do Good - Thrive" program sponsored by the Fogelman College of Business and Economics. The program was designed by executive in residence Harry Smith to promote the basic concept that "if a professional does the right thing on a continual basis, he or she will be successful." Makes sense right? 

Tuscaloosa, Alabama tornado devastation in 2011

In preparation for my speech, it got me thinking about why this concept is so hard for many business owners and professionals and so easy for others. Is knowing good and doing good so hard? And can you actually thrive as a result of doing business like that? I know at my company (ISI) we have always stressed that community service is an obligation, not an option. We even set up a program called "ISI Gives Back" which allows ISI employees to identify charitable causes (of their choice) for the company to support with time, money or both. Through the  past few years, some of the recipients of this program have included the local Ronald McDonald House, the Alabama Tornado Relief Fund and St. Patricks Catholic Church.

St. Patrick's Church - serves the 3rd poorest zip code in the U.S. (yet sits across the street from the FedEx Forum)

Is that knowing good and doing good? You bet! But there is also a practical side to doing good which can translate to a return on the investment (ROI). As an example since ISI started the "Gives Back" program, the company has experienced dramatic revenue growth from $11m to over $20m with record profits and thriving in the worst economic environment in 80 years. It seems that the more the company has continued to give back to the community the past several years the more our business has continued to grow. Why is that? 

Since 85% of our business comes from repeat customers, it seems ISI clients continue to appreciate not only what we do as a company but also how we do it. As a business owner, it doesn't get any better than that! There is another benefit from the "ISI Gives Back" program. Based on my experience, employees appreciate working for a company that isn't in business to just make a profit but to make a difference as well.


Posted by Jay Myers at Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nashville Startup Scene Looking Good

I recently had an opportunity to visit the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and enjoy a little holiday cheer with various EC members, supporters and mentors. Since my company (ISI) has had an office in Franklin (suburb of Nashville) for over 8 years, I thought it might be a good time to reach out and see what we could do to get involved with the local entrepreneurship community and possibly offer some assistance with mentoring, speaking engagements etc. 

  

Once we entered the EC facility that is located in downtown Nashville (Peabody Drive), it didn't take long to figure out why Google selected the Nashville EC as one of only seven tech hubs in the U.S. As part of the partnership, a “Googler” will be working with the Entrepreneur Center, sharing best practices with the center’s leaders and connecting startup companies to mentors and resources at Google offices and to the six other tech hubs: 1871 in Chicago, CoCo in Minneapolis; The American Underground in Durham, N.C.; Galvanize in Denver; Communitech in Waterloo, Ontario; and Grand Circus in Detroit.

We got to the EC around 5:30pm and upon entering the facility (in downtown Nashville) a familiar feeling came over me reminiscent of my recent trip to 1871 (in Chicago). Energy and excitement was in the air! As we walked through the very modern building, we also noticed meeting rooms full of people still busy at work in various brainstorming sessions, strategy meetings etc. No clock watchers with these companies! Even on the night of the holiday party, they were still pushing it. I have to say I was impressed. 

I also got a chance to talk to the EC membership director (coincidentally from Chicago) who explained that the Nashville facility was setup to primarily support healthcare startups whereas 1871 is focused on digital startups. Made sense to me since Nashville has more healthcare companies located there than any other city in the U.S. and healthcare is by far the hottest industry that continues to grow in spite of a difficult economy. Upon departing from the EC, I have to say I was not only impressed with what they are doing with the various Nashville startup healthcare companies but the collaboration with other Google tech hubs should be a winning combination now and in the future. The startup scene in Nashville is indeed looking good!


Posted by Jay Myers at Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Navigating a Down Year

"The ability to navigate a down year may be one of the most important traits that successful entrepreneurs need to develop in order to sustain their business over the long haul.” That line comes directly from my book “Hitting the Curveballs" and I believe it may be the most important one in the book. Why do I say this?  Because many small business owners are dealing with that very issue in 2013 as the US economy continues to experience little or no growth and the future continues to appear uncertain at best. 

Closer to home, in my industry (video conferencing and audio visual technology) 2013 has seen  a major shift from hardware to software based products at a rate like nothing I have personally seen in the past 23 year s(that I’ve been a part of it)  To no one’s surprise, but highly disappointing to ISI nonetheless , this has resulted in many of the company’s  top prospects and clients hesitant to make major purchases of AV/VTC technology. They simply don’t like investing in uncertainty. 

These series of events has translated to less than great year in 2013  for both the industry and ISI which makes running the business more challenging than ever before.  But what do you do about it? How do you keep your company on track and moving forward when sales are lagging and the future so uncertain? How do you keep your head up when so many things are going in another direction? 

I’m not sure that there is a magic formula but here’s what’s working for ISI right now: 

1) Make Tough Choices - When ISI first sensed that the industry was making a major shift from hardware to software we made key personnel decisions that resulted in not only trimming our workforce (to cut overhead costs) but moving other employees around to maximize productivity. 

2) Retool the Business - ISI has used the less frenetic pace of 2013 to retool the business and work on sales order processes, purchasing strategies, consolidating job functions(warehouse/expediting)etc. to position for future growth. 

3) Invest In Morale Boosters - When sales are slow, employees get nervous and nervous employees are typically not as productive as they could or should be. Recognize the psychological part of employee productivity and do something about it.  ISI has invested in a number of morale boosters in 2013 that include a company barbeque celebrating an employee’s 15 year anniversary as well as a book launch party/luncheon for “Hitting the Curveballs that will include employees, key clients and suppliers. It’ll be a great way to boost morale and show “we’re all in it together.”   

For a company that has experienced astounding success for the past several years it is never fun dealing with the challenges of a down year but I believe by staying positive and implementing the strategies outlined above ISI will not only rise to the current challenges but once again grow in 2014 and be more successful than ever before.


Posted by Jay Myers at Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why I Turned Down Xerox For a Straight Commission Sales Job

Even though I had a wide array of part-time jobs working my way through school at the University of Memphis(grocery store sacker, mail clerk, warehouse maintenance, IBM typewriter installer, etc.) my first real job out of college was selling offset printing equipment for Addressograph Multigraph Corporation (AM International). Even though I had just been offered a more lucrative position as an account executive for Xerox Corporation, I really felt like there was a bigger, better opportunity at AM. Why did I think that?  The simple answer was “I did my homework”  

Prior to making my decision about joining AM I had visited the local library (remember, this was 1978...way before the Internet) and read several articles in Business Week about AM’s reorganization and their new CEO Roy Ash. AM was a company that been around since the early 1900’s manufacturing addressing equipment and offset presses which had served them well for many years. But as the articles stated. the times and business needs were changing and AM was in need of a serious makeover which is where Roy Ash came into the picture. Roy  Ash was a former colleague of Robert McNamara in the legendary statistics division of the Army Air Forces and was co-founder of Litton Industries (billion dollar corp.) Ash had a reputation for being a tough minded  visionary and was actually dubbed at one time as the “human computer” for his technical IQ.

To me, Roy Ash  looked like the kind of guy that could lead this old time American company to new heights and at the ripe old age of 21 year, I smelled an ”opportunity” So even though Xerox offered a higher base salary I took the job at AM for straight commission with a draw (around $800 per month). Sounds not only crazy but risky as well since my commissions were calculated after my draw and expenses were deducted. Translation- I could easily go “in the hole” if I didn’t sell anything and have a hard time digging out of it!  And, oh yeah, living on $800 a month was more than a little tough, even in 1978.  

But that job taught me a lot of valuable lessons that I learned early on which included things like how to manage expenses as well as the return on investment for good old fashioned hard work. From day one, I learned to run my sales territory like I was “running my own business.” I did that by keeping a close eye on things like mileage, hotel rooms, lunches etc. so I wouldn’t waste money and subsequently be able to maximize my monthly commissions payments.  

I also learned that even though I was an industry rookie, I could still be successful if I committed to doing one thing: OUTWORK THEM. That mantra has continued to prove to be the great equalizer for me then and now. The other valuable lesson I learned from my first job at AM is the understanding the association between risk and reward. I learned by choosing the riskier straight commission compensation plan I was also able to reap the financial rewards that went along with that choice. That lesson would prove to be an invaluable one years later when I started my own business, Interactive Solutions,Inc.(ISI).

 

Posted by Jay Myers at Saturday, November 16, 2013

My First Job: Liberty Bowl Drink Vendor

Everyone has to start somewhere. For me, my first job was walking around and selling Cokes/sodas to fans at college football games for the University of Memphis at The Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium during my freshman year of high school in 1970. It might not have been glamorous but it taught me some valuable lessons about hustling and how to spot "business opportunities." 

For starters, I learned in order to make more money you had to learn how to hustle but to be smart about it. At first, I wasted a lot of time running back getting a new tray every time I ran out of drinks and then waited in line with everyone else trying get our trays refilled. Time was truly money in those days and I quickly learned that one tray at a time was NOT the way to go. That's why I quickly changed my strategy and began to stack multiple trays at a time (as many as three) versus just taking one. While the other guys were running back up the stairs to the concession stand, I was able to just stay out there and keep selling (even if my arms were hurting pretty bad from carrying three trays at once).

Also, there was a real opportunity to make money on game nights but the secret was to find as many “partying” customers as you could. Many people came to the games with their own liquor in those days (and probably still today). But what they usually didn't bring with them were mixers! When I could spot these customers in the crowd, it was a great opportunity for my Coke/soda business and I would focus my efforts on these customers. Most of the time, they were enjoying themselves so much that they usually forgot that they tipped you $5 for $2 worth of cokes. I remember making $40 in one hour that night which was great money in that business. In the second half, I decide to celebrate my victory and instead sat down to watch the rest of the game (Tennessee versus Arkansas). 



Posted by Jay Myers at Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Value Added Resellers" Need to Add Value

As I read this article (Sell What's in Your Head, Not On Your Shelf), it made me think about the ongoing challenges that we all face in the AV/VTC industry trying to maintain company profitability amidst the struggling economy and the ongoing challenge of communicating value to our clients. With so much pressure on customers to “price shop,” how exactly does a company like ISI  define “value added”?  For us, the answer is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that the more complex the customer solution/proposal the better it is for ISI and the customer. 18 years later, ISI never has been an “item house” which is why we have always focused on hiring the best and brightest engineering and technical talent in the area. 

 

Boardroom tech installed by ISI at WMBarr with 103" TV and iPad control. So cool! 

As an example, complex AV/VTC solutions with matrix switchers, programmable audio, video recording and streaming are not products that customers are going to purchase on-line or down the street at the local retail store much less have the aptitude to make it all work reliably. It is our job as VAR’s(value added resellers) to not only protect our intellectual property (by not giving it away)  but to also constantly reinforce our “brand” by educating customers and prospects on not only the products we sell but on our expertise in designing a  high quality system that works for them for many years to come.

In the end, that expertise is the real "value-add" that we bring to the table and the reason our customers come to us in the first place. We are not limited by physical products that we have available on the shelf. Instead, our only limitation is on our ability to come up with creative and effective solutions for our customers and to communicate the value that we bring to the table as a partner.


Posted by Jay Myers at Sunday, November 3, 2013

Memphis Startup Scene and Chicago's 1871

I recently read an article in the Memphis Business Journal titled "Hard Times for Startups." After reading about the lack of investors, not enough mentors as well as questionable business plans, I must say I had mixed emotions. On one hand, since I knew several of the owners, I felt really bad about the failure rate of the local startups but was also gratified that my technology startup, Interactive Solutions (ISI) is still going strong almost 18 years later. It made me stop and think: why us? How have we survived all these years and so many others haven't?

 

After thinking about it a little further, I recognized one key ingredient that has been part of ISI's DNA since day one that can be summarized in one word: ENERGY. Since day one, ISI has always operated at a very busy, energetic pace- all day everyday. It's who we are. On a recent trip to Chicago, I noticed that same trait at a place called 1871 which is a business incubator specifically designed for high tech/digital startups. Paid for by public and private funding, over 200 startups work within a co-working space that gives them access to investors, advisors, networking events and fellow entrepreneurs to connect with. My son and I were there to visit one of his friends and arrived a little after 5:30. As soon as we got off the elevator I could feel it! I thought the business day had just started with dozens of people everywhere busily working on their laptops, brainstorming on Smart Boards, etc.

 

The difference between 1871 in Chicago and Seed Hatchery in Memphis isn't just that 1871 is a year-round, 24/7 space as opposed to a 90 day opportunity. It's also the energy in Chicago. Much like Memphis, Chicago hasn't been seen as a tech startup hub. But with the success of companies like Groupon and Grubhub, cooperation between city officials and local investors and the drive of a new generation of tech savvy Chicagoans, Chicago is bootstrapping its way to becoming the next Silicon Valley. Ultimately, if Memphis wants to see similar success, it is going to take the energy and the cooperation of the whole city to drive that change. There is no reason that Memphis can't have similar success if we provide new resources (co-working spaces, public/private funding, business mentors, networking opportunities) to foster startup culture and continue to drive innovation in our city.


Posted by Jay Myers at Saturday, October 26, 2013

Madan Birla: Another Great Business Mind in Memphis

Madan Birla, former Managing Director at FedEx, has put together his best practices for career growth and success in his latest book Unleashing Creativity and Innovation. One of his chapters on growth and success spotlights Interactive Solutions, Inc. Be sure to pre-order a copy today!  

Posted by Jay Myers at Monday, October 14, 2013

Help Balancing Your Career and Your Life

Want more balance in your business and your life? Read this article about why you need to become a mentor
Posted by Jay Myers at Thursday, October 10, 2013

Key Factors to Look at When Hiring Millennials

Based on my experience these factors really hold true when recruiting millennials. Read more about these here

Posted by Jay Myers at Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interesting Article about Motivating the Millennials

This article covers a lot of issues that I have run into with my business (Interactive Solutions, Inc) over the past few years. Millennials can be a serious asset for any business but you need to know what makes them tick. This article gives several great examples Motivating Millennials

Posted by Jay Myers at Friday, September 20, 2013

Jay's New Book Available for Pre-order

My new book, Hitting the Curveballs: How Crisis Can Strengthen and Grow Your Business, is now available for pre-order! Check it out!

Posted by Heidi Smith at Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Jay Shares Insights with Jim Blasingame

Always a pleasure to spend time with Jim Blasingame on The Small Business Advocate Show. Here's our latest conversation about overcoming challenges to grow your business <Podcast> 

Posted by Heidi Smith at Wednesday, August 21, 2013