Greg Foster is the founder and CEO of Vizen Analytics. This cloud-based advanced planning supply chain software future-proofs the motor vehicle industry and food service companies by accurately forecasting material supply and production capacity and predicting future product demand.
Greg has twenty-five years of experience providing rich leadership and supply chain-focused business development. He has built teams and successfully executed projects for and with Fortune 500 companies, including Sprint, NTT, Hyundai, Nestlé, and Toshiba America.
Greg is an alumna of the University of Phoenix, where he secured his BS in Human Services Management. In addition, he holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Greg is passionate about leading a balanced lifestyle. He runs his radio show called Zenradio.com.
Where did the idea for Vizen Analytics come from?
For me, it’s always about the customer.
I spend a lot of time with customers in the field with supply chain companies, automotive companies, and food & beverage companies. It has helped me recognize their pain points in their supply chains, mobility business, and lead tracking.
I’ve seen customers use multiple software like SAP or some existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Unfortunately, using various tools and spreadsheets made collaboration difficult for them.
One day, while on a long walk, I said, “I can make this better.” That’s how it all started – “I know I can make this better.” It was the belief to bring it all together, supply through demand. It began with watching customers struggling to achieve their objectives.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
So on an average day, I work for twelve to fourteen hours – not like Elon Musk! I do need sleep!
My approach is to develop the software that customers need and want precisely. Additionally, I spend time raising money for my business. The remaining time is spent with customers and prospects – to develop relationships.
It all comes together in a way. You need the money to build the software and the customers to know what the software will do. So it all comes together in a perfect circle.
How do you bring ideas to life?
For me, the process of bringing ideas to life is something that I described earlier.
It starts with an observation, turns into inspiration, then a vision of how I will execute. Then, it turns into an idea, prototype, pilot product, and proof of concept. Finally, the product gets tweaked and improved.
There’s a creative and developmental process to it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
My outlook on trends is a bit different. First, we’re not getting any younger as the days go by. So without sounding too deep into science fiction, I think about what we can do to last longer and be more alive.
There is fantastic research being conducted on aging. How do we get the most out of our bodies? Ideas like cellular regeneration get me excited! Of course, I don’t want to live forever, but I feel I am just getting started.
I try to find the right balance between eating healthy, exercising, relaxing, and working hard.
I think about what more I can do to enhance the quality of my life and keep myself invigorated. This trend fascinates me right now.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Power walks and meditation. I recommend this to everybody.
I try to walk three to five miles in an area that inspires me – buildings, general infrastructure, and the people. I tend to go on long walks and get my mind still. It’s like a meditative walk, although pretty vigorous.
Consequently, whatever I am working on naturally bubbles to the surface. Rather than having to strain my mind trying to solve it, it all comes to me in short bursts.
It’s similar with meditation. Some of my most excellent ideas, including the name of this company, Vizen Analytics, struck me while meditating.
I highly recommend power walking and meditation. If you want to live longer, keep your brain sharp and enjoy your life, I’d recommend these two things!
What advice would you give your younger self?
“Buy a lot of Apple stock, Gregory!”
I had this intuition when Apple was dying, and they brought back Steve Jobs, that the company would soar. But, sadly, I didn’t buy enough stock.
So I would advise my younger self to buy a lot of Apple stock – a company I believed in, under the leadership of someone with the right talent.
Moreover, I would advise following one’s dreams and passions faster. It took me a lot of time to give up trying to climb the corporate ladder. I would say, give that up and be an entrepreneur!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Yes! The late Alan Watts is a famous professor from the United Kingdom. He was known as the “Buddhist professor.” He had a philosophy on life that a lot of people disagreed with.
The general philosophy of life is, “I have to make a lot of money, educate my kids, get them admitted to an Ivy League School, and help them establish their careers.”
However, Alan Watts’ philosophy of life was opposite and similar to mine. I have had conversations about this with my friends for years. The philosophy goes like this, “What is your passion? What delights you? What are you talented at? Where is the market?”
If you follow your passion for being excellent at performing something and become a master at it, eventually, you will make a lot of money and be happy at the same time. It’s about getting the priorities right in your life.
I see my friends and colleagues follow life’s general philosophy. I consider it a completely wrong approach!
Change things up a little bit. Follow your passion, do what you love, get good at it, and make a lot of money.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I make it a habit to completely disengage myself from my world and immerse myself in others’. Instead, I try to help others as much as possible and give them a part of myself. A shoulder to lean on, a sounding board, or a giving a moment of sage advice.
I find this a fantastic principle to follow as it helps you become even more productive. In addition, when you give to others, you get it back. It helps make the world a better place. There is no competition; we’re all in this together.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
It goes along the lines of something that I shared just now. It’s about listening.
It took me a long time to realize this. I could have the greatest ideas in the world, but if they don’t solve a real problem and don’t matter to someone else, they do not matter. So instead of coming up with great ideas on your own, listen. Take your customer to launch and let them vent. If you hear a story multiple times, there is something to it.
Go on your power walks and meditate. Finally, the idea will come to you on how to solve the problem by putting together a great team. You will proceed to create the vision and a prototype and take the product back to your customers, saying, “I believe I have got something that can help you.”
Listen to your customers. That’s the crux of the message.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The thing is, you’re going to fail. And that’s okay because you learn a lot from it.
I left the corporate world a decade ago to launch a different business. Then, it was about using analytics to coach people in a better way to be financially and operationally sound. I worked in that business for two and a half years, and I face-planted into failure.
I had to return to the industry, which was a humbling experience. I would arguably say that it was a humiliating experience. I had to come off my high horse.
However, at the end of the startup, I realized what it needed to be. And that’s what it is now. Applying analytics to the same businesses but in an area where I have real expertise—supply chain management.
When you follow your passions, you’re going to stumble, and you’re going to fall. It’s ok! If you stay with it, you will discover what you’re good at, your calling, and chase that.
Whatever failure you have in life isn’t a failure. It’s just a process to learn more and get better.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think about my Dad after coming across this question.
Unfortunately, he cannot travel much or quickly access a doctor’s services. So I would give away the idea of integrated telehealth. I know many applications are out there, but folks like him cannot use them.
For the most part, visits to the doctor’s office are inefficient for everyone involved. I would love to see a startup figure out how to use technology to streamline this process and make medical care much more accessible.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Roses to surprise my supportive wife for no good reason!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I would say Slack since it allows you to share files securely and communicate better. It makes work much more efficient. I can keep track of stuff versus email a lot better. It keeps me focused and allows my team to be much more organized.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d like to suggest two books.
“Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch” by Curt Coffman. I believe that strategy is essential, but the right culture is more important. That is because if you have connected people solving problems, who feel a purpose towards their work, the right strategy can crush the market.
“Five Questions That Change Everything” by John Scherer. This book teaches you to stop running away from the “tiger” you’re afraid of. Instead, stand up and face it down! Unleash yourself in the world and discover your true passions.
What is your favorite quote?
“You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs
- The best ideas come from the field. Communicate extensively with your customers to get unprecedented access to their pain points.
- Bringing ideas to life is a creative and developmental process. There are multiple steps between observing a pain point and building a proof of concept.
- There are two keys to living longer, keeping your brain sharp and enjoying your life. Power walking and meditation.
- Follow an alternative approach to living life. Follow your passion, do what you love, get good at it, and make a lot of money. Understand that when you follow your passion, you’re going to stumble, and you’re going to fall. But you should sincerely stay with it and chase that.
- Practice compassion. You will do your bit to make the world a better place. There is no competition; we’re all in this together!
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.