Kenneth Arsenian worked in the computer software industry selling business software for more than fifteen years. He worked for SAP, Quest Software, and most recently Cornerstone OnDemand. Prior to entering the business world, Ken graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. After college, he went to law school and earned his Juris Doctorate from Western State University College of Law in Irvine, California. Ken also spent a semester in Washington, D.C. where he clerked for a congressman through the auspices of Georgetown University.
As a former high school and college athlete, Kenneth Arsenian has always had a passion for health and wellness. This combined with his innate entrepreneurial spirit led him to brainstorm endlessly about how to combine his love for physical fitness with a realistic business model.
A few of Kenneth Arsenian’s hobbies include his love of travel, golf, and music. His favorite domestic golf course is Pebble Beach and his favorite international golfing destination is Scotland. Most recently, he picked up the sport of pickleball and is now playing in tournaments all over California. Ken has also been DJing for the last ten years under the name @arsen_dj. Keep your eyes open at your local watering holes since he is known to make some lively guest appearances!
Where did the idea for your career come from?
The idea came from my desire to sweat more often as a way of achieving maximum physical health and fitness. Eleven years ago I had a good friend that owned his own infrared sauna. Often, after workouts, my friends and I would bug him to use his sauna. Eventually, he wised up and said, “If you keep bugging me, I am going to start charging you guys.” Hmm. A little lightbulb went off and based on this conversation, we came up with the idea to open our first studio in Costa Mesa, California. I did not know much about infrared saunas at the time, but I did know that after my sessions at my friend’s house, I always felt extremely relaxed and never failed to get a good night’s sleep. Based on my own personal experience, I was confident that others would also find an infrared sauna to be most beneficial.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My current business role is to support our world-class team in any way possible. I am a planner by nature and like to schedule my day in advance whenever possible. I live by my calendar and try to focus on writing and responding quickly and efficiently to emails during set time blocks during the day. I have found that many of us spend way too much time responding to emails. Sometimes, picking up the phone and having a brief conversation can effectively summarize the key points in a long email thread. As we all know, things can get lost in translation and taken out of context during email exchanges because it is often hard to detect tone and intent when staring at words on a computer screen.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I like to visualize things and then write them down. I keep a journal for work and for my personal thoughts. I am a bit old-fashioned when it comes to taking notes and writing down ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad, but mostly use it for watching movies rather than typing notes. Journaling is somewhat of a lost art these days and the power of penmanship and the art of writing has been deemphasized over the past several decades. I also like to roundtable ideas with a few close friends. The ability to share an idea with someone you respect and to listen closely to their feedback is very helpful. We even go as far as to lock ourselves in a room to roundtable ideas around until something sticks. Most projects I have been a part of don’t happen overnight and require a lot of back and forth before coming to fruition.
What’s one trend that excites you?
In the wellness space, I love the idea of “recovery”. For years people have focused on working out and pushing themselves and their bodies to the limit. Now, we are learning, rest and recovery are just as important as working out. Infrared saunas are my favorite recovery modality. After a long day or hard workout, nothing feels better than a 40-minute infrared sauna session. The benefits to your body by increasing blood flow and circulation are immense. In addition, the ability to put your phone down for 40 minutes of “ME” time is very cathartic. We all live busy lives with hectic schedules so I always remind people to make time for themselves. I have also become a big fan of cryotherapy and float therapies, biot of which I indulge in quite regularly.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
At the end of the day, hard work is still the key to success. You can have the best idea or product but if you don’t put in the time and effort, you will struggle to succeed. As an entrepreneur, you may not have a large support team to assist you in the early going. You will have to wear multiple hats and attend to the dirty work along with everything else. As a young entrepreneur, you often need to be the maintenance guy, the gofer, the accountant, and the boss.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would take more risks because it is okay to fail. Growing up, most of us have amazing ideas but are scared to put them into play. It could be a lack of confidence and/or funding or a combination of other factors. My advice would be to take on the risk despite whatever trepidation you might have. In the event you fail initially, you can reinvent yourself with relative ease at a young age. Great ideas probably have their own lifespan and should not be tied to your age or level of experience. Can you imagine coming up with the next iPhone or something equally great but not trusting or believing in yourself sufficiently to give it a try because of your age or lack of experience? So my advice is go for it!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Nothing comes quickly to mind, but I am sure those close to me would disagree. I do believe that commissions and/or bonuses should be paid whenever possible and that all compensation plans should provide the employee with the ability to make more money based on personal performance, notwithstanding the company’s bottom line. When the company wins, the employees should win and we should all be fighting for the same common goals. Although many people agree with this idea, I have met several people in management who set salaries with no upside for bonuses which is mind-boggling to me. In my first sales job, I used to have a boss who would say, “Do you want a raise” and when I would say “Yes,” his response would be “Sell more!”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Create a balance between work and the rest of your life. Make time for yourself daily and weekly. Go for a midday walk or leave work for an hour to get a workout in. I used to admire “workaholics”, but looking back, it’s obviously not healthy. Someone who can manage their time, make time for their family, and work hard and play hard always impresses me. In addition, the mental and physical benefits of being in shape helps with both productivity and longevity.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our key strategic move at Perspire Sauna Studio was our decision to sell franchises nationally. This allowed us to grow all across the United States without being in those actual physical locations. Prior to our decision to go into franchising, we had to build out systems and processes to bring things to scale. This was a long and arduous process, but it actually helped us mature and grow as a business. For example, we are on the West Coast and if you walk into a location on the East Coast, your experience should be identical. The ability to execute this takes a lot of work and planning and at the end of the day it comes down to execution!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Staffing and hiring the right people is often hard. Candidates, both on paper and during the interview process, generally do and say the right things. For me, to get a read on a prospective candidate’s passion, genuineness, and authenticity takes time. Occasionally, I have hired someone I think is a great candidate only to be forced to let them go down the road.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
By all means, focus on the wellness and recovery industry. The amount of money being spent by consumers on healing and wellness is astronomical and shows no signs of abating. As for your specific niche in the healing and wellness arena, I recommend using your imagination and asking yourself what makes you feel better and helps you recover. Then take your answer and brainstorm on how to turn what makes you feel better into something that can help and aid the community.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a pickleball lesson with our club pro. One hour spent one-on-one with an expert focusing on how to improve one’s game. It was an investment in myself and in my hobby. On a side note, I also enjoy supporting young entrepreneurs like my pickleball coach. He is grinding on the courts in the sun trying to get ahead just like the rest of us!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use Mindbody for scheduling and generating reports. This software enables me to monitor the performance of all stores on my phone, even when traveling. The ability to slice and dice the data is very user-friendly and customizable.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I get this question often and my answer is always the same. I don’t recommend one particular book but rather I recommend that you just read, the more books the merrier. What works and resonates with me may not work for you. So just keep reading – books, trade journals, self-help books, and magazines.
What is your favorite quote?
“Hope is not a strategy.” The famous football coach, Vince Lombardi, said this. In fact, he probably had the phrase posted on his office wall. Hope is fine in its own right, but without hard work and a game plan, you are not likely to bring your dreams to fruition. The combination of hope, hard work, and wise strategic planning is generally an unbeatable combination.
- -Having a well-thought-out strategy is key. They say failing to plan is planning to fail and I agree. Don’t be afraid to put your plan or thoughts in writing.
- -Enjoy the moment! It is all too easy as an entrepreneur to be thinking 5-10 years ahead about your long-range plans and goals. But if you’re not enjoying “the now”, is it all worth it? As we all know, life can bring unexpected changes. So if you’re not on top right now, you should still embrace the moment and keep on working to achieve your goals..
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.