Admit that you don’t have all the answers and start asking more questions.
Mr. Garcia is a seasoned executive who has been working in digital media and education for over twenty years. He was appointed Vice President of Full Sail Online at Full Sail University in 2008 when he led the implementation of the university’s online education efforts from inception to over 12,000 students. Mr. Garcia joined Full Sail University in 2003 as the Director of Curriculum Development.
Since 2015, Mr. Garcia has been the General Manager of Full Sail Labs a digital media academy designed by Full Sail University to offer programs for young learners from 7 to 17 years old in the areas of Game Design, YouTube Creation, Electronic Music Production, and Robotics. Full Sail Labs became an Apple Distinguished School in 2017.
Prior to joining Full Sail University, Mr. Garcia was Vice President of Product Development at quepasa.com, the leading online community for US Hispanics. At quepasa.com, Mr. Garcia was an integral part of the executive team that led the company through a successful initial public offering. Mr. Garcia later served as Principal of Manduca Ventures, a corporate venture group based in Miami, Florida, that specialized in the investment of early-stage digital-media companies. He was also previously Vice President of Operations at Cybertoons Corporation, a Wisconsin-based company that developed software for e-commerce applications and online communities for clients such as Northwestern Mutual Life, Strong Funds, and M&I Bank.
Mr. Garcia is originally from Caracas, Venezuela, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Engineering from Universidad Metropolitana. He also earned an Associate’s degree in Digital Media from Full Sail University and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, which is ranked among the top ten business schools in the United States. He is fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese.
Where did the idea for Full Sail Labs come from?
At Full Sail University, we are always looking to evolve and grow by finding new areas in which we can apply our unique educational model. In 2014, I was curious to see if the model applied to even younger learners. At the time I was the parent of young kids as were some fellow executives, so we knew how technology was impacting the family dynamic. Knowing our kids were voracious consumers of content, which isolated them, we wanted to teach them how to become content creators, so they would share what they accomplished with us. We then realized our mission for Full Sail Labs was to transform young learners from being passive content consumer into engaged content creators.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts early, I’m up by 6:15 AM getting the kids ready for school and working out before I get to the office. My workday is split in three main blocks: catch up on pertinent tasks, critical thinking and strategic planning for the day, and meetings. The first hour is to catch up – 20 minutes to go over daily business metrics, 20 minutes to plan the tasks of the day, and 20 minutes to answer any important emails. I reply to emails throughout the day but morning responses are reserved for emails that require careful crafting. The rest of the morning is for activities that need critical thinking or strategic planning. The afternoon is mostly reserved for weekly 1-on-1 meetings with my staff, weekly group planning meetings, and a daily 5 PM team meeting for quick updates and questions.
This approach works for me because I think more clearly in the mornings, so most of the meaningful work gets done at that time. The rest of the day is to help my staff achieve their objectives.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We treat an idea as a hypothesis- it has to solve a problem; it needs an experiment, a control and measured results. Most of the time we start ideas with small experiments that we iterate while measuring results. There’s always something to learn, even if we didn’t find out much. In the best case, the process will uncover a trend that we can scale.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I started doing computer programming when I was 10 years old. That was very rare back then. Nowadays, it’s becoming normal to be exposed to coding even before 10 years old. I get very excited about a future in which coding and access to computer power is ubiquitous, imagine the problems that could be solved.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
Reflecting back on my years working, I have come to the realization that time is more important than money. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time. I pay careful attention on how I use my time and my staff’s time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be so proud that you don’t accept people’s help and wisdom. Admit that you don’t have all the answers and start asking more questions.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Everyone would admit that predicting the future is really difficult and even pointless at times. The world is very complex and there’s a lot out of our control. However, as business leaders many times we are measured by our ability to predict the future: sales forecasts, yearly budgets, 5-year plans, etc. I think more emphasis should be placed for adaptability and finding new opportunities. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t envision, or we shouldn’t plan, but I prefer to adapt and take calculated risks, than plan to meet a forecast.
What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I keep replacing myself, it guarantees that I will grow, that I will help others grow, and therefore the organization will grow.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Have a relationship with your customers, learn everything you can about them, help them succeed. At the same time, have a relationship with your employees, learn from them and help them succeed.
What is one failure you had experienced, and how did you overcome it?
I fail all the time; you cannot find success without failing. Sometimes an idea that doesn’t bring results can be a small failure, and it can be easily overcome by trying the next idea. Other times what it seemed to be a great new product fails to attract an audience and the whole company can fail. Either way, you learn from it. I try not to feel sorry for myself for more than 24 hours. After that I turn to what can be done next.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Somebody should create a technology that allows airline passengers to opt-out of the unnecessary pilot messages. Those of us that don’t care about the altitude, the path the airplane is taking, or our destinations city’s weather, could use that time to be productive, catch up with a movie, or sleep without distractions. I would pay good money for it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I paid almost $100 for a one-year subscription of satellite radio. It allowed me to listen to The Beatles with my kids every day in our ride to school. They love them now and that makes me so happy!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I really like Evernote. So much communication still around writing, and new ideas need to be described. I use Evernote for all of it: planning, documenting, drafting, memorializing, journaling, ideating.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love Good to Great by James Collins. I have read it several times and I keep coming back to it for advice. I have read many business books over the years, most of them are either unpractical or repeat the same message over and over again. This book gives you proven insight that applies to any business size in any industry.
What is your favorite quote?
“If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” — Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape. I love this quote because it forces me and those around me to be methodical in our decision-making. If we don’t have data, we try to have best educated guesses. It also reminds me that I’m ultimately responsible.
• Do important and complex work in the morning.
• Do not feel sorry for yourself for more than 24 hours.
• Time is more important than money. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time.
• As the leader, you are ultimately responsible for the decisions made.