It is a very simple thing to say, but staying focused on your goals is extremely important and surprisingly difficult.
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. He was also the co-founder and Director of Yesmail Alex Brown led IPO (YESM), an email marketing and web directory company, which went public and then sold to CMGI, now ModusLink Global Solutions, for $650 million ten months later. Mr. Hern co-founded Military Commercial Technologies a technology commercialization incubator funded by Lockheed and L-3, where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. In addition, Mr. Hern co-founded and served as Director of Arcsight (ARST), a cyber security company, which also went public and was sold to Hewlett-Packard for $1.5 billion. Mr. Hern co-founded and served as Director of CloudShield a network security company which sold to SAIC, a large technology and engineering firm specializing in government and commercial projects. Mr. Hern also founded and served on the Boards of NewHomes.com and of Triton Network Systems (TNSI). Mr. Hern has also served on the board of Zero Knowledge Systems, a security and encryption company now named Radial Point.
Where did the idea for Tsunami come from?
The idea came from the realization that as we entered and transitioned from the CPU-driven computer era to the GPU-driven era there was going to be a need for new software applications and platforms. Ones that could leverage the new capabilities made possible by the graphic procession now available on PCs, tablets and mobile devices, ushering in the spatial computing era.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I spend 4-5 hours every day concentrating on the one thing that will allow me and my company to move forward and achieve our goals. People often make the mistake of “multitasking” when in face the science and studies suggest that the more we try to do at once the worse we perform.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I spend the quiet time at night, when most people are sleeping and I have the least amount of distraction, focused on building an exciting innovation. I like to stay focused on the technology driving our business and try to imagine other applications and additional capabilities that can extend it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
AI and machine learning, as well as cloud-based computing for graphics-intense application. How these things can be applied to XR, including endpoint devices in areas like augmented reality.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Focus. It is a very simple thing to say, but staying focused on your goals is extremely important and surprisingly difficult.
What advice would you give your younger self?
“It’s a marathon not a sprint. Take your time to make the right, long-term decisions.”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Multitasking is unproductive. Turn your phone off for four hours a day and focus. Bail on social media as it is a distraction and focus on your real friends and life.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Wake up early and be consistent every day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Leave every sales pursuit with executive decision makers. Partner with trusted solution providers. Align with key customer requirements.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Sometimes, macroeconomic conditions out of your control adversely affect your business. You need to prepare for the worst to happen because sometimes it does.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Someone should build a business at the intersection of big data and accounting, using the best new technology to create better transparency.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently gave my daughter $100 to start her own dog walking business. She came to me with a good plan and I believe you have to back those you believe in.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Our own software TsunamiXR – it is a next-level collaboration platform for engineers and scientists.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The One Thing – It helps you understand the power of focus.
What is your favorite quote?
“Success it not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that countr.” – Winston Churchill
– Focus for 4-5 hours a day on your key goals without interruption
– Take your time and make the right decision with a long-term view
– Don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes. Its part of the learning process.
– Learn from your failures and don’t regret the same mistakes.
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Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.