[quote style=”boxed”]Timing my decision-making processes helps me be more productive. Often, decisions that can’t be made immediately are hard to time.[/quote]
Andrew Fayad is the CEO and Managing Partner of eLearning Mind. He oversees sales, marketing, and strategic growth opportunities. eLearning Mind is an e-learning design and development agency that helps companies transform their existing learning materials into memorable and engaging e-learning experiences. By hiring talented graphic designers and motion graphic artists, eLearning Mind provides seamless project management and a unique, collaborative customer experience.
Prior to eLearning Mind, Andrew led the Corporate Member Development Program at Axial, an online network for private markets founded in New York City. While completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, Andrew co-founded Olark, a live-chat SaaS solution based in Palo Alto, Calif. He is also a Y Combinator alumnus.
Where did the idea for eLearning Mind come from?
My co-founder, Simon, and I experienced corporate training during our first job together at a Fortune 500 company. It was a great company with a lot of people, but they barely utilized technology to train new or existing employees. It wasn’t a surprise. The few learning experiences we had online were page-turner e-learning courses. They were hours long and very boring. With mobile technology advancements, we knew there had to be a better way.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The typical day involves a lot of collaboration with team members. I look at my role as providing assistance to team members who need a second eye or help in recruiting for their respective departments. I make my time productive outside of the office or during downtime. Then, I can focus on creative tasks or larger strategic initiatives.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Typically for the first iteration of an idea, I think it through thoroughly on my own — usually getting to a point where I feel comfortable with how I’ll implement it. Next, I’ll pull in another stakeholder of the business — usually one of my co-founders or one of our exec team members. After that, I’ll clue in key implementers within the organization to buy into the idea and build a strategy and process.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Online learning moving to mobile devices excites me. It will take some time for large companies to roll out mobile devices to employees. Designing learning experiences for smaller screens is an increasing trend. It’s really been accelerating over the past year with some of our big-name clients.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Timing my decision-making processes helps me be more productive. Often, decisions that can’t be made immediately are hard to time. It’s also difficult to foresee future outcomes for some of these decisions. As more information arrives and more stakeholders become involved in the process, a big decision can be drawn out. This decreases productivity and time for other tasks.
Early on, I try to set flexible plans to make key decisions about hiring or business growth strategies more efficient. These plans help to ensure that decisions are made promptly and effectively.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was micromanaged at my least favorite job. I learned to never micromanage an employee. Hire smart people and give them direction and autonomy, and they’ll run with it.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d make more and stronger connections with peers, mentors, and current and future colleagues. The stronger your network is, the quicker you’ll come across opportunities to build a support system to rely on for mentorship and find possible co-founders.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I encourage team members to collaborate across the company. How can product and sales tie into marketing? How can marketing aid product? I encourage the teams to formulate solutions, like writing effective blog posts to solve these questions. I also ensure that the tools we use — like Google Doc spreadsheets — encourage real-time collaboration
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Specialization has helped us grow. Our sales directors are completely focused on bringing in new business and growing existing accounts. Marketing is focused on building brand awareness via the website and local events in our community of learning professionals and clients. Our design team in San Diego is focused on building great e-learning platforms and the customer experience involved in that process. My specialization involves anything new to our business model or processes and changing sales strategies and hiring strategies. With that focus, you can set clear goals and measurable outcomes.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I was really bad at working for someone else within a large organization. I wanted some experience working within an organization to see how to build a company. So I found a mentor and boss who could relate to my experience. He understood my goals. We knew how to work together well. Ultimately, he knew I was going to go on to build my own company.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create business models that involve crowdsourcing for niche tasks or services — Instacart is a great example for the delivery space, particularly grocery shopping and delivery. There are countless other crowdsourcing business model opportunities out there.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I’ve perfected the process of cooking hard-boiled eggs.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Google Apps is great for your domain. The whole Google suite of tools provides the most effective real-time communication. It’s especially helpful for providing financial transparency and building marketing and sales lists or strategies. Two weeks ago, a client added me to Gchat because he knew both our organizations used Gmail.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend “Covert Persuasion: Psychological Tactics and Tricks to Win the Game” by Kevin Hogan. Sales, relationships, and partnerships all involve simple psychology. This book reconfirms psychological tactics you may already know and provides tips on how to have more productive and meaningful conversations with colleagues, prospects, and clients.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
My thinking was influenced by Paul Graham during my experience at Y Combinator with Olark. I also enjoy reading Chris Dixon and Andrew Warner.