Believe more in your own ideas and have more confidence in yourself.
Heine Krog Iversen is the CEO of TimeXtender. He founded the company in 2005. For more than ten years, Heine has been the chief executive responsible for guiding TimeXtender to more than 2,600 customers across 60 countries, transforming TimeXtender from a small startup to a software leader dedicated to democratizing access to corporate data through Discovery Hub™. TimeXtender is also the world’s largest provider of Data Warehouse Automation (DWA) software for the Microsoft SQL Server market.
Heine oversees strategic planning, global outreach, positioning and differentiation, and organizational growth. He has worked tirelessly to manage TimeXtender’s hyper growth, overseeing seventy percent annual growth rates and building the management systems needed to support a rapidly growing organization such as regional offices, new staff, sales channels, and alliances and partnerships.
He has also played an instrumental role as an industry thought leader in helping to educate the market about Discovery Hub™, data democratization, and the DWA lifecycle, and explaining the advantages and benefits for a company’s business users needing to access its corporate data in a self-service environment, while also ensuring corporate governance.
Prior to TimeXtender, Heine was a co-founder and partner at NeoProcess, an IT consultancy that provides services related to business process optimization, workflow, ERP systems, and business intelligence for private companies in manufacturing, logistics and trade.
Heine received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Southern Denmark.
Where did the idea for TimeXtender come from?
The idea for TimeXtender came to me while heading an IT consultancy firm more than 10 years ago. While helping many customers with their ERP systems, we had to repeat the same improvements with all of our customers. So, we created small pieces of technology that we could use and re-use at all of our customer sites to simplify and to save us time. We realized that this scenario was a generic problem across many companies so we decided to turn this into a new company and marketable software. We then started off on the automation journey back in 2006 and TimeXtender has now evolved to help companies with a much more comprehensive platform known as Discovery Hub™.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The key for me to having a successful day is work/life balance. My day is regimented with rules, unless I am traveling or speaking at an event.
A typical day for me begins with breakfast with my family followed by a trip to the gym. This enables me to have both family time and personal time to start my day. At the gym, I focus on my routine for 1.5 hours, at which time, I resist the temptation of bringing my phone in. This allows me to “connect the dots,” if you will, and spend time simply thinking. It is truly a form of meditation. I think about the industry, my vision for the future, and where the company is headed.
Mindfulness is a significant part of our corporate DNA and it helps all of us concentrate, develop better ideas, reduce stress, and learn more about ourselves. We start meetings with a moment of silence and we practice mindfulness as a team.
When I am at work, I make time for this practice.
After work, I head home for more family time around the dinner table and take a short break during the evening. I then return to answering emails and phone calls with staff and other executives from around the world.
One important point that I have learned is that you do not need to work a hundred hours per week to be productive. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite is true and that you hit a diminishing return after a certain number of hours during the day. Your mind and body need time off to relax and recharge. Balance is the key.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Sometimes I think about an idea for many months before I share it with anyone. Then I engage with other people and talk it through. The idea can take on a whole new life from this dialogue. Through brainstorming sessions, we have the ability to “connect the dots,” which strengthen the idea or lead us to determine that it was a bad idea. In any event, dialogue, team discussion, and feedback all help to refine the idea and make it stronger. Then, I turn it over to the staff responsible for that area and have them execute.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I find machine learning to be intriguing. This is much bigger than the data revolution. Specifically, how machines can solve some of the biggest issues that face a company or even a society. This is going to substantially change how society and organizations work and function over the next 100 years, and I see this as a great opportunity for a company like TimeXtender.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Too many people are slaves to process, beholden to their inbox and not masters of results. Simply put, I focus on process that derives results. I try to eliminate distractions and items that usurp time and get me off track. You have to take control of your schedule to achieve accomplishments. I do not have notifications hitting me throughout the day; rather, I choose when it’s time to retrieve my email. If I am constantly responding to emails 24/7 when do I have time to get my own work accomplished? People need to “do the right thing not a lot of things.” It’s so much easier to waste time than it is to be focused. The latter requires discipline.
If you analyze what people do on a daily basis, at home and at work, you would be surprised how much time they waste. The goal throughout the day should be to get work done and reach success during the workday, rather than getting bogged down in process minutiae. I have learned to say “no.”
I have also found that focusing on the task at hand is absolutely crucial. Today, we see a lot of people “listening” while they’re looking at their smartphone. They might be listening but are they hearing? Are they truly engaged? I want people’s minds in sync so that they can be an active participant and not just a physical body looking at a text message as work requires complete attention. People think they are multi-tasking. This is not multi-tasking this is time wasting.
This is why we open all meetings with a moment of silence. This practice helps everyone clear their minds from their last work item and prepare to give their full attention to the new meeting or activity at hand. We all need to build a personal control system for managing our day, time, and concentration level.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Believe more in your own ideas and have more confidence in yourself. Listening to other people is okay but you have to also listen to yourself. You have an intellect, intuition, judgement as well and you should consider yourself to be important counsel to you for your ideas. If you think the idea is a good one then see it through, don’t just let others talk you out of it before it has a chance. Stay the path and be willing to take chances and calculated risks. You never know who you will meet along the way or how the idea will evolve if you deny it at mental conception.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
I have a few thoughts here. The first is that I have been saying for the last 10 years that almost anything that can be automated should be automated. Of course, there are exceptions but companies should look to automate redundant tasks and repetitive workflow if possible.
The second is that many experts – those who are supposed to see what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next, sometimes miss out on projecting the arrival of the biggest technologies, hottest trends, or emerging ideas because maybe they are looking through the wrong lens and also because it is hard to predict innovation. If these visionaries were always right, then the notion of disruption would not exist. So, I don’t rely solely on “the experts” and I don’t think other people should either. People should get industry evaluation from a wide range of sources not just a small group of people.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The daily routine and taking control helps keep you focused on producing value, getting work done, and managing time. Time is one of our most precious assets and it is 100% perishable – once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
I also find that mindfulness training such as meditation helps to remove clutter in the mind and allows us to clearly think and focus on specific details, to visualize, and to project the future. Practicing mindfulness helps you get out of the “hamster wheel” and enter a state that’s conducive to clearer thinking. Sometimes you have to change the dynamic or change your environment to be able to do this. Close the door, Go for a walk. Clear your mind so you can benefit from clearer thinking.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
It has been absolutely essential to build our business with the understanding that we are here to help people and to work with people. Sure, we’re a company doing business with another company, but in reality, we’re interacting on a daily basis among people. I think too many forget this notion. It is absolutely essential to build relationships and to listen to what people (customers, partners) need and want.
And then to provide products and services that meet those needs, solve those problems, and make their lives easier. At TimeXtender we like to say, “We are what we give.”
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Getting sidetracked by listening to others. By taking advice because others said it was the smart approach at the time, but in reality it wasn’t always the best advice. I would find myself leading down a path that was off focus from the mission of what we were trying to accomplish. To overcome this, we simply reversed course and went back to our company’s focus and core competencies.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would say that a lot more can be done by using technology to strengthen the payment infrastructure in the U.S. All of the business dealings by banks, financial institutions, and payment systems could be greatly improved by better utilizing stronger underlining technology to move away from checks and paper payment systems and striving for more e-commerce transactions.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was a parking ticket. I went downtown during the peak period for Christmas shopping and could not find a parking space anywhere within walking distance. I took a ticket and saved myself hours of personal time. Sometimes I believe time can be more precious than money.
What is the one piece of software or web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
It is my iPhone. I couldn’t accomplish as much as I do without it. I have an abundance of useful apps, including all of the apps we use at TimeXtender. I use it for phone calls, email, records, you name it. The portability and utility of the device is irreplaceable.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend two books both by Simon Sinek. The first is Find Your Why. This book looks at how to separate yourself and your company from others and that buyers buy for the why and we all need to discover our true purpose at work. The second book is Leaders Eat Last. This book does an excellent job of assessing the differences between being a manager and being a leader.
What is your favorite quote?
“You can never get in front if you walk in someone else’s footsteps.”