Surround yourself with the best talent you can find to make your “productive time” more fruitful.
CEO and founder of City Beat News and the Spectrum Award, Frank Andrews was born on a Poughkeepsie, New York farm where his father was employed. From an early age he showed an insatiable thirst for knowledge and consistent drive to excel. This took him as a scholarship student from a small rural high school to Michigan State University’s new and novel Lyman Briggs College residential interdisciplinary science program. Having sights on becoming one of the early “PhD scientist-astronauts” he encountered the need to re-examine his direction when it became apparent that this was infeasible — his dental fillings and prescription glasses would rule him out in NASA’s applicant screening.
Confronting this reality led to a re-examination of life goals and ultimately to Harvard Law School — quite a change from the young astrophysicist but consistent with a pursuit of excellence. Frank graduated cum laude in 1976, having served on the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. He practiced law for over 30 years before a second major redirection.
A 2007 epiphany led Frank to redirect focus from legal practice to a means of contributing to more excellence in our tense world, not as much from his own efforts but more from recognizing and promoting the excellence of others. City Beat News and the Spectrum Award seeks to identify and support the growth of customer service excellence and those businesses delivering it, doing so through a platform contributing to more balance and positivism in the world of marketplace reviews.
Where did the idea for City Beat News come from?
City Beat News embodies my mother’s teaching that “if you can’t say something positive don’t say anything at all” while seeking out those small businesses that deliver superior customer experiences — sometimes otherwise little noticed. CBN’s extensive research identifies entrepreneurial businesses delivering great results and assuring that the Spectrum Award winners have earned accolades. City Beat News publishes that news on a rolling annual basis, providing support to deserving award winners with the goal of fostering more excellence in the marketplace. It seeks to do so through a more positive dialogue than often generated through more common user review sites.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m happy with my impact on the world and sleep like a baby. Each day ends with a reflection on the day past and making notes for the next. My list separates long term projects and shorter steps toward completion of the project and highlights urgent deadlines. Committing them to the list permits me to mentally release topics and sleep blissfully — this leads to more energy and focus for good the next day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I share my “idea basket” with my team and advisors, and encourage their assessment and contributions. I try to bring my best insight and judgment to bear, but recognize that I have no monopoly on such. I believe strongly that the free expression and exchange of thought and opinion is the best crucible, and if fostered will identify the best options.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The increased capabilities of voice recognition expands our efficiencies and our collective dialogue, especially when combined with improved and ever-more available translation between languages. We have barely begun to deploy these technologies to enhance our networks of communication.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I try to prioritize my exercise and sleep — Both are good habits to keep.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Do not allow yourself to lose sight of the big picture while minding the excellence of the details. Details are necessary building blocks but can take on a life of their own, eclipsing the essential vision of where you are, where you need to go and what you want to build. Keep the broad perspective, otherwise you can end up building the perfect nothing burger.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You may not believe it but if you are open to the joy of the wind in your face we can be enjoying a hundred-mile “century ride” together within the year. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of taking several “mature non-cyclists” from around the block to their first-century ride.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I let go of things I cannot change, and concentrate on identifying what I can change, figuring out how to do so, and mustering up the discipline to do so. “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the world” — Archimedes
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Build a team. Find team members, empower them, stretch them. Provide an ethos to guide and inspire. The City Beat News ethos is to be the best we can ourselves, ask and expect the best from our teammates, be humbly mindful of how imperfect we are even as we strive for excellence, and be excited to find and support the excellence of our award winners.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Nothing is a failure if I pick myself up and forge ahead while also taking a lesson from the experience. Failure is when I learned nothing from the effort.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A tiny alerting tag able to be integrated into electronic devices (laptop, phone, camera, etc.) or or attached to other valuables (bicycle outside the cafe door), combining GPS tracker, proximity tag, and Apple “Find my iPhone” technologies. Make it difficult for a thief to disengage, with a proximity function to alert the owner to movement of the item to a distance more than their chosen “zone of connection,” and able to be tracked, located and/or disabled if lost or stolen.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Providing an unexpected recognition and reward of a team member for an extraordinary contribution when the recipient’s thought was that they were just doing their job.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
An encrypted password vault — the product I use is KeePass but there are many available and all provide the same benefits. Computer operating systems increasingly have excellent native password vault capacities as well, and they may be useful for frequently used passwords. You think that there are just too many passwords to ever collect them all in one place, but all you need to do is enter each one in your vault when you next use it (getting rid of that sticky note under your keyboard where you so cleverly hid it) and in no time you’ll find that knowing they are in your vault will save you more time that you otherwise would have lost floundering around trying to figure out where you hid it or going through password recovery gymnastics when you can’t remember or find it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I have to offer up two: Flatland and Animal Farm — both often considered children’s books, but they impart profound lessons about the limitations lack of perspective imposes upon understanding and awareness (Flatland) and the insidious role of language manipulation in social and political perception (Animal Farm).
What is your favorite quote?
“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” – Aristotle
● Value your own time as your most precious gift.
● Surround yourself with the best talent you can find to make your “productive time” more fruitful.
● Find ways to disengage from work regularly to have needed “free time. ”
● Use the time to connect with and understand where you are and where you are headed in life.
● Be grateful.
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.