Alex Hern-CEO of Tsunami XR

Alex Hern has been an entrepreneur for more than 25 years. During his career, he has focused on early stage companies and on the incubation of technology companies. Mr. Hern co-founded and served as a Director of Inktomi Goldman Sachs-led IPO (INKT), which powered and was the search technology for MSN, Yahoo and AOL.

The Art of Focus with Alex Hern

Nov 26

 

Alex Hern:

So, at the beginning, don’t let ‘I don’t have the resources like

this guy that’s on this podcast to go do twenty things, to

delegate all this stuff to other people.’ Well, take a minute,

go find some people that might want to do it for equity,

because there are a lot of people that will do it for equity,

and then delegate those things that allows you again to

focus on the things you need to focus on.

 

Daniel Budzinski:

Welcome to The Art of Success podcast. I’m your host

Daniel Budzinski and I’m excited to be interviewing

personalities from all different backgrounds

on how they’ve learned and earned success.

 

Our goal is that the stories would equip you to achieve

success both personally and professionally. Please note

that there may be explicit words or conversational topics in

this podcast. So, if you’re underage or listening with a child

please be aware of this.

 

Lastly, please note that all the views, beliefs and opinions

are not always a reflection of the host’s.

 

Ok, let’s jump in. Alex Hern, welcome to the Art of Success.

 

AH:

Thank you for having me.

 

DB:

Been looking forward to this conversation. I really enjoyed

our pre-call, and some of the challenges you had put out

there on principles you live in your life and business.

 

But you’ve got a lot. We’ve got a lot that we can talk about

and you’ve got a lot that you’ve done in your past, so maybe

start with a little bit of how you’ve gotten to where you are

today and maybe some of those really awesome milestones

for our listeners.

 

AH:

So, I have been a serial entrepreneur. I started very early. In

my first company that I started I actually licensed from

Marvel the characters from the Marvel Universe for internet

use and internet search. And what I was trying to do was

start a kid’s safe search engine. And this was back in the

early days of internet era 1.0. So, I actually found a

technology that at UC Berkeley that had been DARPA

funded. And I contributed my license to all the Marvel

characters for internet use and for search use. They

contributed their IP and we started a company called

Inktomi. And Inktomi became the first big search engine

company before Google.

 

So, Inktomi was the company that powered search for MSN

for Yahoo and for AOL search. So when you type in the box,

we actually brought you back the answers and what that

opened my eyes to was this big universe of DARPA funded

technology at universities.

 

DARPA stands for the Defense of Advanced Research

Projects Agency and universities often apply for grants when

they’re trying to build future technology.

 

In this case the technology that they were developing was

scalable super-computing and there were two big projects.

One at Berkeley called Now Network of Workstations, and

one at Illinois called Cal, a former Berkeley guy, called a

Collection of Workstations and they were the first people to

really innovate taking small computers and networking them

together to tackle big problems.

 

The country was trying to build a missile defense shield

 

and you had to track in all those missiles like missile

command. But there wasn’t enough supercomputing to

make that possible, so DARPA was sponsoring work that

would allow people like the folks at Berkeley to build that

type of technology. We reapplied it and use it and applied it

to the internet because to us it was just about documents

and was like a giant container or filing cabinet that kept

getting bigger every day.

 

Every time somebody added something, and we applied that

technology to manage and track the web. And as the web

got bigger you could just add another Lego to it and expand

the way that you searched it and crawled it and brought back

the answer.

 

I spent the majority of my career taking that type of an

approach in finding technology in universities, spinning it out

or at research institutions and commercializing it.

 

DB:

Man, that is super fun. Tell us a little bit about what you did

with organization that got acquired by Hewlett-Packard.

 

AH:

So that was a company that we started. I actually wrote on a

white board ‘air traffic control for security.’ And that’s what

my team and I often do. We start from the very beginning,

you know, looking for big problems that need to be solved.

 

In this case there were too many securities. Computer

security on this had started because people were plugging

holes if you will, right. So, think of it as every time something

came up that was a new vulnerability somebody would stick

their finger in the dike, build a new piece of software and

create a new type of security software to solve that particular

problem.

 

The problem with that approach is that there’s nothing that is

a top-down view of all of it. So, we wrote on a white board

 

‘air traffic control for security’ and the idea became what is

now category Enterprise Security Management or ESM.

 

And our team essentially built a piece of software that allows

IT professionals, C-suite, to really understand the overall

picture of security. We have put in the first 17 million

ourselves and then we had both the In-Q-tel which is the

CIA’s investment arm and Kleiner Perkins which is one of

the tier-one VC firms invest and the rest is history.

 

We were the only tech IPO of 2008, during the recession.

Morgan Stanley took us out and then we ended up selling to

Hewlett-Packard for what became a 1.5-billion-dollar

acquisition.

 

DB:

Oh my gosh.

 

AH:

So, I’m probably proud of that one the most. We started that

company literally two weeks before 9/11. And then had to

go through the depths of the recession and all the issues

related to the turn down in technology during that period.

 

We were able to survive it because we built fundamentally a

good company and that’s part of what I think is an important

approach is a lot of us entrepreneurs go out and build things

that are very passionate, but they don’t really do the work to

figure out if there’s actually a need for it.

 

You know, it’s ok to fail over and over and over but you’re

really should understand what the market’s all about and it’s

a good thing to spend a little bit of time, you know, figuring

out if the thing you’re building has competition, if the thing

you’re building is relevant, if the thing you’re building is too

early, because that also kills entrepreneurs. Running out of

steam because they can’t raise the capital to make it

through.

 

DB:

That’s good; I like that.

 

AH:

That goldilocks principle of just-right is super important.

You’ve got to be the right product at the right time.

 

DB:

And the fact that you were the only funded organization in

2008 or the only– what specifically was it?

 

AH:

No, we were the only IPO in 2008. Height of the recession,

right, when things were going not so good. But we were

able to make it out and then we were acquired.

 

DB:

And how fast was that turnaround from start to finish of the

building of the organization and the ideation process?

 

AH:

Yeah, that took awhile because the ideation took about 6

months, but the actual company because of it being the

recession and because it was an enterprise-focused

company: we were a B-to-B, not a B-to-C company -but they

take a little bit longer. It’s about eight years.

 

That’s another thing. If you’re going to go sell to business as

opposed to consumer, it’s a whole different ballgame. You

really have to raise enough capital and have the resources

to go call on Global 2000 or even mid-market. And that

takes a lot of time and it takes more capital than your typical

consumer play. So where you can get virality to give you,

you know, lift. In our case you got to put feet on the

pavement and go knock on doors and get people to try your

software, etc.

 

DB:

 

That’s super cool. Ok so, let’s kind of lead into what you’re

doing right now because your story is so interesting the

things that you’ve accomplished is remarkable and even

some of these principles, I really want to deep dive into

them. Tell us about Tsunami XR. Tell us about what you’re

doing, and I know you talked about some of the rounds that

you’re in right now. Share with everyone, given the high-

level detail of what it is.

 

AH:

So, we’ve built the next generation of collaboration. We’re

on a Skype call for example right now and at the end of the

day when this stops, the only thing that lives is what you

record. There’s no notion of persistence or co-presence. And

I’ll explain what those are in a second.

 

Persistence is that space lives after we get off the call and if

we go back to it, we can go ideate in it or white boards in it.

There are videos that we watch; there are notes that we

made. Maybe we ingested a jet engine from CAD and we’ve

exploded it and we’ve changed materials on an intake valve

or left a note for a colleague that’s collaborating on the next

ideation or innovation session.

 

So, in our world, these actual spaces continue to live.

Tomorrow I can pick up exactly where we left off or

tonight or at any time and I can meet you back in that same

room or I can go there by myself, continue to work.

 

Maybe you’re in a different time zone and you pick up where

I left off right. So, these spaces persist. They live and

breathe. You can undo unlimited undo’s because we journal

everything that happens in them. And so, it’s for the first

time you really can collaborate with someone as if you’re in

the same space without being in the same space. It’s not a

screen share.

 

The second part of it is this notion of co-presence. Co-

presence means that while I’m in that room with you, this

 

virtual space I can go and do what I want to do, and you can

go and do what you want to do, or I can follow you.

 

So that’s like how we behave in the real world. If you and I

are in a breakout room or in an office together and I’m

writing on one white board you could be writing on another

one or preparing a power point while I’m doing that. We

don’t have to be doing exactly the same thing or watching

the same screen.

 

In our world I can do anything that I can do in the real world,

but do it digitally and that’s going to be transformative

because it allows people to for the first time really feel like

they’re together even when they aren’t.

 

It’s a much more different experience. It’s always on

Than for example, your traditional telepresence like Skype or

other things that are Skype-like. So, what we’re doing is

we’re leap-frogging what people like Zoom are doing which –

all they’ve really done is made it easier to do to

communicate over telepresence-like solution. They’ve made

the function easy the invite easy, it’s free at the beginning

etc.

 

Well we’ve taken that a step further and said how do people

really work in the real world and how can we transform the

way that we work digitally to make it feel more like we’re in

the same room at the same time.

 

We got lucky to have some great early adopters. Honda is

using it to innovate at Honda innovations. We have folks like

Ford using it. We have people like Lockheed using it, and

others.

 

So, we’re being used as a product by people that are solving

really important problems and they can do it with our

software.

 

DB:

 

Super cool. So, it’s essentially, kind of like Skype/Go-to-

Meeting or you know you use the other one. But more in

that there’s persistent time. It’s a virtual space that’s always

available to revisit but it has everything in it, everything

you’ve worked in. Is that kind of what it’s like?

 

AH:

Correct, but it’s not just document sharing. Yeah, it is but it’s

not just a space where you document share. It’s literally I

can bring in an oil rig or an Exxon refinery into the space,

right? We’re both in it and then I can also bring other tools

with me while we’re in there – a white board, I can share my

screen, etc.

 

But we’re both sitting in a room with that refinery at scale.

So, it’s truly a virtual cross-device platform. That’s the other

part about it. We made it XR which means Across-Reality.

So, you could be on your phone I could be on an oculus rift

in VR. Another person could be on an augmented reality

device and all of us are sharing the same space virtually.

 

So we see things in 3D. It’s not a 2D space only -like you

have on a Skype session where you have these flat boards.

 

DB:

I was going to say –it seems like much more like virtual

reality augmented like it seems like people with an oculus on

the head.

 

AH:

Yeah, it is but it isn’t because you can access it from

anywhere. We made it so that, the mistake that I think a lot

of entrepreneurs made in the VR space or are making even

in the augmented reality space today is that they’re really

making it only for those devices. So when they build

software, they’re trying to build an experience in VR or a

game in VR.

 

And the problem with that is that there’s an adoption cycle

that has to happen with those devices. Your software is only

as good as there are number of devices to download and

install that software on. We took a different approach. We

said there are billions of mobile devices; tablets, phones, etc.

 

Let’s tackle collaboration on those so that companies can

leverage their existing platforms that they’ve adopted and

then also at whatever the next great point solution is to our

platform so that people can connect across any device.

 

What that does then is that opens up all devices that are out

there as potential customer for our software, as opposed to

just waiting on an adoption cycle for devices that are new,

that are in market and that large corporations are going to

use but they’re needing to experiment and are going to

figure out where it fits in their ecosystem.

 

That’s why we’ve been well-received by large companies.

Because we didn’t go in there and go ‘hey –

you’ve got to throw out all that stuff you’ve invested in and

now we’re going to do everything in VR and AR.’ Well,

nobody thinks like that in big business. They think about a

change in decades, not in days. They need to think about

‘how do we leverage what we have?’ and then ‘help us learn

about the new stuff.’ That’s exactly the way we approach

this business.

 

DB:

To your point instead of layering it very flat and you and I are

doing a screen share right now and I’m showing you my

screen on some platform or program that shows the 3D

animation design or the CAD design for a car piece. We can

actually go into the system real time and it’s all right there.

It’s not like you and me sharing a screen it’s like you and me

in there together.

 

AH:

 

Well I can do screen share. I add video boards that we can

see each other like this Skype call. It’s full voice and video. I

can add unlimited number of participants. I can have a

thousand people in a training session, for example.

 

In those spaces though, I can now ingest over three hundred

file types. So, any CAD file that is relevant to large

organizations we ingest.

 

DB:

It sounds like its straight like Iron-Man stuff.

 

AH:

It’s totally like that stuff. That’s exactly it. We’ve totally done

that. We build exactly that. Like in that movie, where he’s

moving things around and he can bring in a 3D object,

explode it, and twist it. I can laterally leave sticky notes on

that thing.

 

DB:

It’s an alternative reality, though right? Because if you’re

saying it’s persistent time or persistent space, it means that

it’s always there. Right?

 

AH:

Yeah. Think about it as layers on life. So, what’s going to

happen as we move forward, and all of this evolves is that

it’s going to be the physical world and there’ll be these layers

on the physical world that sometimes are literally layered

right onto the real thing and those things are called digital

twins. Or, they’re just spaces that live virtually that allow us

to extend where we are to unlimited places and unlimited

possibilities that you can ideate in without taking up physical

space.

 

So, wouldn’t it be nice if instead of having to rent another

10,000 square feet of office space about a third of which is

going to be breakout rooms and rooms if I can dedicate that

space instead to people and turn all of those breakout rooms

 

into a virtual environment where I can meet anybody

anywhere at any time. But I’m not paying real estate for that.

That’s essentially what we’ve built.

 

DB: [laughs]

 

AH:

You know when you solve that problem you first have to

think about what the customers’ needs are going to be. In

our case we said: customers are going to need to bring in

any kind of material, they're going to have to be able to

share their screens, share video, see each other, ingest

power points, pdfs, ingest CAD files of any type, schematics,

whatever, to do their jobs and their work.

 

We solved all of the hard problem of ingest which was no

easy feat and then we also built these spaces that allow you

to launch a room. You dedicate it to whatever the work is

that you are doing in there. You name it, so maybe it’s ‘Jet

Aircraft Design.’ And I can now invite people into that room.

 

But that room is 3D. Now I can have 2D-like experiences in

there, but it’s also 3D in there. Meaning that its unlimited in

size and scale so, I can keep adding information to it and

then go back to it.

 

DB:

It sounds like Inception meets the Matrix meets Iron Man.

 

AH:

That’s actually a kind of good way to think about it. I never

thought about the Inception part of it but it’s kind of true.

 

DB:

I think of the Matrix which I just rewatched this last weekend

with my wife and a few friends. And the whole idea of when

they go into that white world, that blank white world and then

they bring in all the guns. All the guns fly through, all the

gun racks fly through. And then from your thing, this might

 

be people looking at the design of an entire building that’s a

manufacturing plant or they’d be able to see the layout

before they see it.

 

And I think about when I was reading Steve Jobs’ book.

That had to create with millions of dollars that he had to get

approved through the board. The design of his warehouse –

or no sorry the design of the Apple Store, before. And now a

days we’re saying, ‘why do that? Why buy the furniture when

you can actually do it?’ And that’s a possible other use of it.

That’s remarkable.

 

AH:

Yep, we actually do have people using it to do planning of

factories etc. Or there are automotive manufacturers saying

that they are going to build the factory of the future. But, you

know, if I put this big piece of equipment a little bit closer to

the guy installing the windshields, is he going to be able to

do another 10 windshields a day or not? Well you don’t want

to build life-size prototypes of that over and over and over.

That’s the way it used to work.

 

In our world, you ingest that 3D model right into a space, and

then you can put on a set of VR glasses or you can access it

even from a tablet or your PC and actually see the

proportions of what you’ve done in real life but not real life.

It’s all virtual.

 

But when you go and build it and install it at the factory

you’ve already iterated all of the things you needed to do to

create the efficiencies you want for the manufacturing floor

without ever having to prototype anything.

 

The prototypes now live in these virtual environments

and it’s pretty exciting. It’s going to really impact everything

from design to how people buy things.

 

DB:

 

Yeah, shopping, the consumer experience. Why not have

Macy’s have stores online and you just —

 

AH:

Yeah. We just did a great gig for a one of the largest

building supply companies in the world. Everybody has this

CAD that’s trapped in ugly engineering designs- meaning to

the engineers, to the guys that use it, it’s about function not

form. And what they did was they prototype stuff.

 

Well what we do is take those CAD files, we export them and

turn them into beautiful objects. It could be a window, for

example. Or maybe the customer has 20 types of windows

that they sell. Well we can make those windows look lifelike

and then we’ve taken that CAD and really brought it to life.

 

We’ve added textures, materials, big lighting, all the things

that the consumer wants to interact with, because

consumers don’t want to buy products that look like ugly

CAD files, right?

 

So, what we’ve done is we’ve brought them to life in

configurators so that, at the end of the day a consumer can

interact with that object and change the colors, change the

fixtures on it etc.

 

Now that is something that is useful for marketing. So we’ve

taken the product out of CAD, and maybe now it lives on the

website. But we now take it further even and we say, ‘why

don’t we take that information and throw it into workspaces,’

which is what our product is. And now that becomes a show

space – a show room.

 

So, I can dedicate a single showroom to an individual

customer and then that becomes their custom showroom.

Not a general showroom, which what a website is.

 

A website is kind of trying to be everything to everyone at

once, but you may only care about certain things. So, what

 

we now can do is invite you only to a space that has the

things in it that you care about. They’re 3D. You can

see them and then as I follow you as a customer over life, I

can continue to add things to that space that you care about

as opposed to being a generalized experience that is what

we experience on websites today. Unless we filter through

the things we want, we can’t find stuff. It’s shopping cart –

that’s as custom as it gets.

 

DB:

It’s very flat. The UX is very flat.

AH:

Yeah. But also the experience is flat. It’s not customized.

And that’s what we’re doing. Sales is a process, right? It’s

not a single event, especially complex sales of big things. If

I’m buying jet engines or I’m buying anything thing that’s

complex- an automobile for example. I want to take time. I

don’t want to have start from scratch every time I go back to

talk to the sales person, right?

 

I want more information, but I also want to review the

information that I’ve already seen. I may want to go back to

it and ask more questions. Well today, the way sales works

is people have to start from scratch every time.

 

We have information that we’ve captured in CRM. But from

a customer experience point of view on the marketing side,

ingesting that information, it feels like the guy’s always

starting from scratch every time I talk to him or her.

 

And so, what we’ve done is said, ‘no – that experience is

something that you can pick up where you’ve left off and all

that data should be there.’

 

I, as a sales man, shouldn’t have to be digging through email

to remember what it is I showed Daniel.

 

DB:

That’s next-level.

 

AH:

Yeah, I should be able to go right back to where I was with

that customer.

 

DB:

…and see the whole picture.

 

AH:

See the whole picture and I’ve added stuff to it, right? And

that’s what we’ve built we’ve built a place that all that stuff

lives so that we’re picking up where we left off and we don’t

have to go back and rebuild the past every single time,

which is what it feels like often in sales experiences.

 

DB:

So, I want – and I agree with you on that. That that would be

very revolutionary. We all do that. Anyone that’s listening is

going to be like, ‘yep that’s exactly what I do because we’re

having so many conversations.’ We have to go back and

remember what was talked about.

 

I want to turn a little bit now towards you raised the first

round, 25 million and now you’re going through your next

round, correct, pretty soon?

 

AH:

That’s correct. That’s true.

 

DB:

And how much is the next round?

 

AH:

We’re going to raise 50 million in this next round.

 

DB:

Okay, and will there be another round after that?

 

AH:

 

No, this should take us through cash flow break even. We

might take some more money just because we have done an

acquisition and we may have our eyes on a few others. But

that’s all going to be valuation-dependent. If we get the right

price, as an entrepreneur what I would say is you have to

take the money when you can get it because these are

cyclical events in terms of fund raising. There are times

when the doors just shut on you because of things beyond

your control, like the economy.

 

And so what you want to do is raise the money you need

and then have some in reserve because not everything goes

as planned sometimes, right? And you have to be able to

have money in reserve in case things don’t go as planned.

 

DB:

So, my main question that I really was intrigued by in our

conversation is this idea of multitasking and the trick or the

lie attached to it. But more importantly to me would be this

idea of focus that you talk about. 4-5 hours. I was even

sharing with my wife and a few friends about our

conversation already.

 

I know that when you’re raising money, fundraising is not

easy. Building a company is not easy. Knowing your

competitors is not easy. Doing market analysis isn’t easy.

 

Building a team around whatever you’re building is not easy.

I mean there’s so many aspects to creating a company.

 

So how do you do it, and maybe talk about these principles

and how they’ve served you.

 

AH:

Sure, I think that that’s a good question. So, there are two

kinds of things you have to think about.

 

Number one, you have to be able to delegate, and if you

can’t delegate it means you don’t really trust the people

 

you’ve hired. So that’s what you’ve done wrong to begin

with. So, try to find like-minded people like you. Interview,

and really do the deep, deep, deep interview.

 

The biggest mistake people make is hiring too fast and it

makes getting rid of people that are problematic way, way

harder than it is to find a good person. So, what you should

do is spend all the time you possibly can talking to folks that

have worked with that person before, making sure that

they’re the right fit culturally, that they’re the right person.

Do the homework. Spend the time to do the background

check. Do all the things that really matter because people

that you think you know may not be the people that they are.

 

So, it’s really, really important that the person is a cultural fit

and exactly the right fit for what you want to do. If I could

give any entrepreneur this advice it’s probably the most

important advice, I can ever give. Take the time to do the

homework before you let someone inside that garden wall,

because it’s way harder to get rid of them than it is to let

them in. And they can really be toxic to your environment.

 

Once those people are in, trust them, because you took the

time to really do the homework. And then delegate things

that you want to delegate because you hired them for a

reason so let them go do their job. You’ve got to let go of

the reins because you did your homework, and now trust

those people to do what they do.

 

When you do that, then it frees you up to focus on the things

you need to focus on. If that’s fundraising for some period of

time, then that’s what you have to focus on. You don’t have

time to do everything else. So, you need to hand off the

sales process during that period to someone that you hired

that you trust to do that.

 

DB:

That’s good; I like that.

 

AH:

But that allows you to really really put in the time that’s

necessary to do what you need to do. Whatever that is, it’s

going to require 4-5 hours of your concentration a day,

uninterrupted.

 

We live in these cube farms now, which is all cool and

democratic and everything. What that also is is there’s

distractions every 5 minutes. People that talk loud on the

phone or people that are coming to talk to you about how the

Vikings did, or the Bears did.

 

So that you have these constant distractions in these open

environments and what you need to do is find a place or find

a space or let people know that you’re deep into what you’re

doing and to not disturb you and it’s ok to do that in a nice

way without being rude.

 

And over time, people will respect you through that because

they see the output of what you’re doing. If you can’t do it at

the office, then do it at home. Spend those 4 or 5 hours

where you’re not going to get interrupted. That’s the key.

 

Because people always want to set you up on their track.

Because they’re all trying to do things and they want you to

make decisions. Sometimes they just want you to do their

job for them. And again, that’s what you have to try to avoid

and so I’ve found that– and I didn’t learn it early in life. I

learned it through trial and error. I used to want to help

everybody all the time and answer their questions, or I was

afraid to delegate because I thought they’d drop the ball.

 

But I learned over time by hiring great people that the way

you succeeded was trusting those people, taking the time to

hire them correctly and giving them the jobs they need to do

and letting them go do it.

 

And by the way if they don’t do their job, don’t wait for them

to learn or change, because if you hire great people, they

 

should be able to pick up the ball. Now that doesn’t mean

that you don’t have to train them or they’re just out of

college, or that they need to go through formal education

and integrating into your company and all those things, they

understand the culture, etc. But if you hire a senior

professional, like a vice president of warble corporation and

he’s now going to come do a job for you, that guy should do

his job, or that gal should do her job.

 

After two quarters you don’t see evidence of them moving

the ball or the needle, you need to fire as fast as you hire.

As you made that decision ultimately to hire you need to

make the decision to fire. It’s not easy because they’re a

good person.

 

DB:

it’s not easy, but it’s smart.

 

AH:

You like people, but what you’re doing is hurting the

organization if you don’t. It’s not about being Machiavellian

it’s you have to think about the whole not the individual. And

that’s what an organization is. A company is like a whole

system. It’s not an individual cell.

 

When things go wrong you can’t sacrifice the rest of the

organization because of the needs of a single individual.

You have to be able to protect the whole and that’s what

hiring and firing is all about. It’s not about being mean or

cruel or not liking someone. It’s really about, ‘is this person

the best fit for the rest of the people whose jobs are feeding

their families and everything else.’

 

You can’t let people stick around that are you know hurting

the organization as a whole. You have to let them go.

 

DB:

I really like that too -just so you know. It’s very applicable to

 

sometimes even the idea focus. So, instead of focusing on

the organizational need you’re focusing on each person’s

individual needs to make them stay on the bus, and if you

hired right, you should be focusing solely on just what the

company needs next.

 

So, talk to me about this multi-tasking thing, though. It’s not

controversial in a sense but it’s not something that maybe

everybody’s heard, is that the idea of multi-tasking is just

inefficient.

 

AH:

I think it’s a myth quite frankly; this notion that we can take

on lots of things at once. What you end up doing is a lot of

things poorly as opposed to– and I’ve argued and it's

entrepreneurs that think they are just great multi-taskers.

They’re deluding themselves. No one can really do a lot of

things right at the same time.

 

And if you think about the best athletes in the world. How

many of them are multisport athletes? You don’t have

LeBron James also hitting home runs. There’s only been

two of those guys and even those guys if you really think

about their careers, they didn’t do both sports – they weren’t

awesome at it right? Maybe with the exception of Jim Brown

who played lacrosse and football at Syracuse. Outside of

that who has really really done a great job at multisport,

where they’re at the top of their game, top of their field, trying

to do everything at once. It’s near impossible.

 

And yes, there are a few exceptions to the rule. But you

know, but the majority of the rule is that you’re not the

exception.

 

So, for what I’ve found, and I can only speak for myself, is

that I used to take a lot of things on. I used to spin all the

plates, mostly because I was afraid to delegate, or I thought

that I’d do a better job than the other person. That’s just ego-

driven kind of stuff, or insecurity sometimes.

 

But what I’ve learned is that instead if you hire the right

people as I said earlier, and you let them do their job, then

that leads you to be able to focus on the things that matter

the most.

 

Now in business, those things change over time. At the end

of the quarter what matters is making the quarter. If you hire

the right people and if you’ve fed the funnel and if you’re

monitoring all the metrics along the way and the people that

are supposed to be doing that are doing that, and if you

routinely review, then you don’t have surprises at the end of

the quarter.

 

Anybody that surprised at the end of the quarter is a terrible

operator. Because you know going into the quarter what

your funnel looks like, what the deals are building up to be.

And if you’re truthful to yourself, and if people are honest

about what those opportunities are or aren’t, then you know

at the beginning of a quarter what the end of the quarter’s

going to look like.

 

So, what I do is I look at what the organization needs and

say, ‘what is the most important thing over the next span of

the week or a month usually?’ And then when I identify

what those things are and then I rank them, I then pick the

one that’s the top one and I delegate the rest. I focus on that

one thing until it’s 100% done, and then I move on to the

next thing once I’ve done it. If that’s fundraising, then that’s

all I’m going to do. Because fundraising is what keeps the

company going. It’s the fuel. You could build a Ferrari or go

try to race it but if you run out of fuel then your Ferrari’s

going nowhere.

 

So, if fundraising is what’s important, you have to focus on

fundraising. But it might not be fundraising; it could be

something else. It could be sales, right?

 

DB:

 

It could be product iterations, or reiterations. There’s so

much to all of this.

 

AH:

It could be patents that you want to file, that are important to

file –all that. But what you can’t do is think you can do it all

because you can’t. I’ve never seen anyone that’s really

efficient at multitasking.

 

You have to really focus on the very core things that you

think are important, and then give it 5 hours, 6 hours, no less

than 4 hours a day, and really just do that in a way that’s

uninterrupted. I was at the office all day on a Sunday. That

doesn’t sound appealing to a lot of people, but it was great

for me because I’m there an no one’s bothering me.

 

What I get to do during that block of time is do what I need to

do without anybody trying to distract me or take my time.

Now, my people know me well enough now to know not to

do that, but because we live in these modern, open

environments in an office, there’s just a lot of noise and other

people talking, and customers come in and people want to

say hello. To me nirvana is a Sunday where none of that

happens and I can just focus, focus, focus on the things I

need to do.

 

So, find that time. That block of time. Don’t give up working

out or having dinner with your kids because of it. Just find

that time, put it on a calendar, put it on a block and stay

consistent, and stay at it and use it for the things that matter

the most, and I guarantee you that your productivity will

triple, quadruple as a result.

 

DB:

That’s cool.

 

AH:

 

Because we always end up not completing. That’s what

happens when we’re distracted; you move on to the next

thing, but you left the last thing.

 

So, what you need to do is reevaluate what you needed to

do to begin with, or finish it and prioritize it

 

DB:

Well that’s what multi-tasking does. You jump to the next

thing because you feel like ‘I’m hitting a wall, but I’ll get back

to it.’ But you really don’t get back to it. I mean, you may

get back to some of it but not all of it.

 

AH:

Yeah. And I mean, I know it’s hard because what I’ve started

a lot of things by myself from scratch and at the beginning

you are doing a lot of things.

 

But what you’re really doing is your main things is you’re

doing the start-up phase of what you’re doing. And that’s just

part of what you do. But what you don’t want to do is go get

distracted and help your other buddy with his stuff start-up

while you’re doing that. As much as he may want you to and

you want to, you can’t do that. You have to focus on the

thing you’re doing.

 

What I would also recommend to entrepreneurs is because

you can’t do everything and because focus is so important,

give up some of your cap table to other like-minded people

that you trust and like that you want to bring on as co-

founders. Because those people will take on some of the

things that you need them to take on. And that doesn’t

mean you have to pay them a salary at the beginning they

might be willing to do it for stock.

 

So, at the beginning, don’t let ‘I don’t have the resources like

this guy that’s on this podcast to go do twenty things, to

delegate all this stuff to other people.’ Well, take a minute,

 

go find some people that might want to do it for equity,

because there are a lot of people that will do it for equity,

and then delegate those things that allows you again to

focus on the things you need to focus on.

 

I’ve given up a significant portions of the cap table to people

that I knew I needed so that I could get to the end game

because at the end of the day owning a lot of nothing is

worth zero, right?

 

So, it’s important when you’re trying to build something to

bring on people that can help you and there are lots of

people that are willing to help you that you don’t have to pay

cash that are willing to work for stock if you’ve got the right

vision and they share the vision.

 

DB:

Gosh, man. I wish we had so much more time. We’re up on

time here.

 

I’ve got one more question for you to maybe end the show.

This is like million-dollar knowledge here. You learn a lot of

problems that you don’t have to actually engage with or

mistakes that you don’t have to make by listening to a

podcast like this.

 

But one of the things that’s interesting to me is the emotional

roller-coaster sometimes of the experience of being an

entrepreneur. What do you do when you handle difficulties

or setbacks or let downs or just the daily grind of being

inspired to tackle big problems? What do you do just in a

daily practice to reward yourself or inspire yourself?

 

AH:

You know, I think that it’s really about, don’t isolate yourself.

Being and entrepreneur can be a very lonely experience.

Especially around payroll time when you have people

looking at you. You may not have the adequate resources to

do what you’re trying to do, etc.

 

I think it would really be super-challenging to manage

expectations, etc. But I think what you have to do is make

time to still have support outside of what you do. Whether

that’s your family, your kids, your friends, your dog; you need

to go out and create a support infrastructure that’s not work-

related so that you can blow off steam with people that care

about you.

 

And to do that, and what we often end up doing,

and I’m sure you’ve had this issue, is you’re so focused on

what you do your friends become the people you work with.

 

DB:

Right.

 

AH:

Well, that’s a big mistake. You should have friends at work,

but you should also have friends that you don’t work

with because those are people that you can go to to talk

about things that you can’t talk to people at work about,

sometimes, right? So, I think it’s super important to maintain

friendships, relationships outside of work that allow you to

have conversations and free your mind from the stuff that

you’re going to pick up when you go back to work no matter

what. But to me, I’ve found that to be the most important

thing that I’ve done, which is to maintain relationships that

are not work related so that I can have a life. Because life is

important too it’s not just all about work.

 

DB:

That’s super cool, man. I love that that’s an amazing ender

and I do agree that's it’s a different level of something that

energizes your everyday life. It inspires you and encourages

you.

 

Alex, thanks for taking time. I’m looking forward to watching

your venture and seeing it grow and become something

 

amazing and commercialized for all the other individuals that

would love to have something like that.

 

Any final thoughts for the listeners?

 

AH:

No, I think I’ve covered it all. You know, it’s ok to live your

dreams but it’s important to live your life.

 

DB:

I hope you’re more successful in life because of this episode

from the Art of Success. If you haven’t already, go ahead

and subscribe for the future updates released. Also, if you

enjoyed what you heard today share the Art of Success with

a friend, colleague or family member. Thanks again for

listening and we’ll catch you on the next episode.

 

Read More about Alex Hern and Tsunami XR in this recent Patch article.

10 thoughts on “Alex Hern-CEO of Tsunami XR

  1. Excellent content from beginning to end. Sharing useful and effective information in all your detailed and well explained information about Alex Hern .He has been an entrepreneur for more than 25 years.Their goal is that the stories would equip you to achieve success both personally and professionally.

  2. Very cool insightful interview. After reading this I have a better understanding of XR as well as building a company from scratch!

  3. Great interview! I have been following Alex Hern and his Tsunamy XR for the newest tech VR updates and his innovative ideas. Very hard working man, so nice to see that it paid off for him, even if he had the misfortune to go though recession. There are a lot of stories from that period that do not end well, glad his did. I am looking forward to see what they will bring to the table next! Exciting!

  4. This is a great article especially with so many useful and important advices and explained this topic very nicely.Great information and very motivational but also keeps our expectations in proper prospective. . I really like the advice you hag gave.this is really amazing. i will definitely follow your suggestions . thanks for sharing useful information.

    1

  5. This is very informative, well described, and professionally done. It’s easy to understand all the points being made about Alex Hern. I like how it goes into great detail because this is something that everyone should know about. I enjoyed it a lot and will share what I learned with all of my friends.

  6. This really is an inspirational interview. I always ask myself if regular people can go from little to entrepreneur, and this pretty much answers it. This was pretty long, so I’m going to re-read on my lunch break to get the full thing in. Alex seems like a pretty successful dude, and hopefully I can emulate a couple of the strategies he used to get to where he is today. 25 years is a long time to do anything, and to me that shows a proven track record and method for success.

  7. This transcript of an interview was quite eye-opening to the world of entrepreneurs and what it takes to succeed. It’s quite an experience to see how Alex Hern was able to better himself and get himself through the process multiple times and succeed multiple times. I can see how much grit and determination it takes to become a frontrunner in new industries.

  8. This transcript of an interview was quite eye-opening to the world of entrepreneurs and what it takes to succeed. It’s quite an experience to see how Alex Hern was able to better himself and get himself through the process multiple times and succeed multiple times. I can see how much grit and determination it takes to become a frontrunner in new industries.

  9. This transcript of an interview was quite eye-opening to the world of entrepreneurs and what it takes to succeed. It’s quite an experience to see how Alex Hern was able to better himself and get himself through the process multiple times and succeed multiple times. I can see how much grit and determination it takes to become a frontrunner in new industries.

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