If you never experience new things how are you going to have new ideas.
Ali Beheshti is the founder and CEO of Zealie, a Revenue Cycle Management program specifically designed for the Behavioral Health sector. Ali is a serial entrepreneur and has several successful companies. Ali first started his journey into Behavioral Health when he partnered with his sister,to start Healing Path Recovery. It was during this time that Ali saw the many areas of Behavioral Health that could be improved through new, innovative software. This vision was realized through his first Behavioral Health software, Correct-A-Bill, as well as Zealie.
Outside of his day-to-day requirements as a CEO, Ali enjoys reading about business and entrepreneurship, in order to fuel his creative and practical growth. Occasionally, this leads to deep discussions on sites like Medium and Twitter. Ali understands that the best way to move forward and grow is to tap into others and learn from their successes and mistakes. This is why Ali not only listens to others’ experiences, but also shares his own for others to learn from.
At home, Ali understands the importance of taking time away from a hectic work life. In his eyes, it is crucial to take care of your physical and mental health by getting enough rest, eating well, and exercising. Spending time with his loved ones is also important for any entrepreneur, which is why Ali sets aside time regularly to have family dinners and unplug from his active career.
Although Ali ensures his health is taken care of, he also knows how to switch back on for the start of another workday. In the office, Ali is known for jumping in headfirst to new projects, and he is always looking for ways to better evolve his companies. Whether it is hosting an investor meeting, running a weekly team wrap-up, or testing a new software feature, Ali always gives his 100%.
Where did the idea for Zealie come from?
My sister and I started a Behavioral Health company and saw how people were using software designed for the rest of the Healthcare sector and trying to repurpose it for Behavioral Health. Obviously, this created many pain points in our workflows. In essence, I created Zealie to solve for my own pain points as an owner of a Behavioral Health company.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I would describe my days as “Controlled Chaos.” As a business owner you begin your day with a plan, but then reality has a way of making plans for you. I have to always counter balance my plans with what needs to be addressed immediately.
I stay productive and on track by using my favorite organizational tool JIRA, and by delegating tasks. I live in JIRA! It allows me to keep my people (and myself) on task and accountable.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The best part of my job is I get to watch ideas turn into realities! The crazy thing about it is a great idea in your head can change dramatically by the time it turns into a product. The process of evolving an idea into a product is the funnest part of my job. You sit in a room with your team and brainstorm and test ideas until they become a product that people can actually implement in their lives. It’s amazing! I live for the moment an idea finally turns into a product!
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The most exciting trend I see is the implementation of AI into workflows. Because I work in the Healthcare IT space (specifically Behavioral Health) I’m very excited to see how AI technology can be leveraged as a diagnostic tool for Behavioral Health conditions.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
This may sound counterintuitive but my habit of not taking my work home with me makes me more productive. My wife and I recently had our first child and I promised my wife that I wouldn’t bring my work home with me anymore, and that I would focus my time at home on being an attentive father and husband. I thought this would slow down my progress at work because I would be spending less time on work. Instead, the time I actually spend working has become far more productive because I’m more fulfilled and well rounded in my life. I feel happier and more productive than I ever did before I decided to unplug from work when I’m at home.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to stop wasting time. I was very idle for a number of years because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. What I should have been to doing was pursuing new things. When I finally had the realization that I needed to create my own path, it took me a long time to figure out what that path was. Had I got started earlier in life I would have been where I am today years ago.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
That watching tons of TV throughout my life has actually benefited me because I’ve actually learned a lot from television. People think I’m crazy when I say that.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Hands down the thing I do most is try new things. Experience new foods and cultures through travel. Volunteer in communities you would otherwise never interact with. Get out of your comfort zone. You never know where inspiration might strike. If you never experience new things how are you going to have new ideas. I have come up with solutions to problems that I didn’t even know existed until I took the leap into trying something new.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The one thing I always say is let the market tell you what it wants. I learned this the hard way. I used to think I knew what people wanted, so I would build something and then get mad when people didn’t realize its’ value. I quickly learned that it is almost impossible to predict how people will interact with something. Now when I think I see a need in the market I don’t assume I know how to fill that need, I test assumptions through client interviews and though early adopters, to see if there really is a need and if the idea I have truly fills that need or not.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on when I first started my first business in the behavioral health space with my sister we actually had to shut down operations for awhile because we had not properly calculated the amount of time it would take to get paid by insurance carriers. We were able to overcome this by being better prepared for slow adjudication cycles, and also by bringing in house many of the Revenue Cycle Management functions that we had outsourced. Now we get paid faster than ever before and we have the cash reserves in place in case we come across a similar situation again.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A sprinkler system that uses data from your yard and applies AI to know when and how much to water your lawn. This will make sure your lawn is sufficiently watered year round without wasting water.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently was about to have a business lunch and the individual that I was going to meet with me call and cancelled last minute. Instead of calling it a wash, I asked my wife if she would like to go out with our daughter to the same place and keep the reservation. We ended up making a day of it (it was a Saturday) and I had an amazing day out with my family! Instead of getting upset about the cancelled meeting, I ended up happy that I got to spend a great day with the family (It didn’t even cost $100).
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I mentioned this earlier but the most important piece of software I use is JIRA. I use it for product development, time management, delegation of duties, and for tracking progress. I keep it on one of my monitors all day and check it all the time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m probably the hundredth person to recommend this book but The Lean Startup is must read for anyone that is starting a business. Even if your not in software development, the lessons in that book are very helpful. I’m currently reading it again just to remind myself of what I learned from the first time.
What is your favorite quote?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” MLK Jr.
Ali Behesti on Twitter:
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.