I love to table my thoughts and projects for a short while then come back to them with fresh eyes.
Noble Newman is co-founder of ComSu, a Seattle-based company dedicated to helping others motivate themselves towards meeting their goals and improving their lives. With Noble’s administrative and educational background, the company decided to move in a direction that will help parents and their children meet their family goals. Noble loved this decision and eagerly took on the task.
Noble Newman is now responsible for the overall direction, creation, and product strategy for ComSu. With its new educational focus, Noble assembled a strong team and is on the lookout for more talented individuals. Traveling around and talking to families who need support helped Newman see where families require assistance and how to balance ComSu’s tools to meet their needs and not require too much time in of itself. It is a balancing act he enjoys!
With his experience in the classroom and leadership roles, Noble Newman worked hard to seek new ways to motivate individuals towards becoming the best they could be while working towards a specific goal. Feedback from those teams made Noble re-think his role in life. Helping small groups of people was rewarding, but helping a much larger and resource-strapped group could help change the world for the better. He decided to expand his sphere of influence and help families help themselves.
The demands of family life take its toll on many, and Noble Newman is no stranger to that! With his children frolicking around him, he still manages to send out prototypes of ComSu’s line of motivating tools to interested families to test and provide feedback towards a finished product. With the added benefit of using the product line in his own home, Newman takes his first-hand experiences motivating his own children and applies them to the product for ComSu.
In his spare time, Noble enjoys reading from a variety of genres, playing League of Legends for some much-needed stress relief, and writing humorous short stories and picture books that he hopes to someday publish.
Where did the idea for ComSu come from?
At multiple social gatherings, I often found myself sharing stories and experiences with other parents about our children. A common theme that would inevitably pop up was how much difficulty parents were having managing their lives with kids. The fact that their older children were not helping, seemed to be a sticking point to many. After making a few off-handed remarks about how one might alleviate some stressful points, I found myself tapped for more information and later contacted to help further.
I was told that these ideas could help people. Thus, ComSu was founded. ComSu was founded to help a people reach their goals while helping relieve the apparent stress that hitches along for the ride. We began working on the larger product, in the form of an App, for distribution.
In the meantime, I was working on my own products for motivating my own household. Once the other parents found out about it, I suddenly found myself creating copies of platforms, tools, and directions for their use. The feedback was amazing.
After sharing my personal success with ComSu, the company decided to change tack and pursue a take on my personal success within the company’s goals. This narrower focus will make the App and product line easier to create with the potential to expand later.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Ideas begin in my morning shower and are quickly jotted down for perusal later. After I feed and send off my school-aged child, I look over my notes and spend a nice morning with my little one playing and fleshing out ideas in my notebooks near me. Throughout the day, I try different mini-motivational techniques knowing we have a larger one permeating all aspects of the household. As I note successes and alterations, I keep thinking of new ways to apply what I observed to ComSu’s product. Communication with the team is sometimes sporadic, so I truly appreciate my smartphone. Being able to check e-mail when I have a moment or take a call to address a problem is wonderful. At the end of the day, I can note my findings and compile them for use.
Basically, the key to a productive day is to keep working even when you play.
Even while I am fully engaged while playing with my children, after the game, my thoughts review what we just did and see if there was anything to help the project. It is the best of both worlds when time is at a premium.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My ideas organically come to life. Because I adapt and adjust on the fly, the ideas are implemented soon after conception so that different types of motivations are immediately put into place and tried out. Yes, my kids are guinea pigs after a fashion, but I am thankful that I know what motivates them much more because I have tried so many techniques with them. The household motivation techniques, the adult and family motivators, and the electronic components are constantly changing to see what best fits. In essence, it is an ever flowing and living process.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that truly excites me is the rising popularity in esports and streaming platforms like Twitch. It amazes me that gamers can provide entertainment and make a living from it. Entertainment has always been a huge money maker and, even in recessions, we seem to gravitate towards distracting ourselves from the day to day woes that surround us. To have a platform where a person can make a few (or a lot) of extra cash playing and entertaining the masses is wonderful. Couple this with the kickstarter platforms that got companies like Twitch started, and almost anyone can make a go of it and have fun while doing so!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My compulsory habit of running from the room to write down my ideas as they form has saved me many levels of frustration. The frustrating times when I would try and fail to grasp an idea that occurred to me earlier that day literally kept me up some nights. Now, I politely excuse myself, grab my paper and notebook and get those ideas down. The only time this almost fails me is when I have to decipher my handwriting when I wake in the middle of the night to jot down an idea. But, so far at least, this habit allows me to go back to sleep with the peace of mind that my ideas are there for me when I wake.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job was working in the food industry during my early college years. I enjoyed both working the front and dealing with people and helping in the back to aid in preparation of the food. It was hard work, but I needed the money and was willing to put in the hours. However, what made it my worst job was because of a specific incident. I noticed a certain person cooking in the back who handled some food in an unsanitary manner and, when I addressed this with my co-workers, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my life would be miserable if I reported it. I did report it in an anonymous manner, but soon felt those repercussions despite not attaching my name. I left shortly after and found a better position elsewhere working with computers and not food. I didn’t want to eat in a restaurant for a while after that and found joy in cooking my own meals. However, I learned that powerful forces permeate a workspace and that it is best to surround yourself with people you enjoy working with and who will support making changes for the betterment of all. Mistakes can be made and fixed, but when it is purposefully ignored and left to fester, it’s time to move on.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I were to start again, I would look for more people to come on board earlier in ComSu’s inception. Too many cooks spoil the broth, but many hands make light work. Balancing the two is a delicate act. In this case, I needed more hands in the beginning and more ideas to flow rather than the other way around. I can still look to balancing the cooks and hands in the future, but that is definitely something I would have done differently.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Review, rethink, revise. I love to table my thoughts and projects for a short while then come back to them with fresh eyes. I find it always pays to sleep on a problem and experience other things in the meanwhile. With fresh eyes, outlook, and demeanor, I find that problems seem smaller and more manageable when it is approached the next day. Review what you did, rethink the direction you are taking to solve the next step, and revise your work thus far to fit in your model.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Thus far, positive word of mouth has been invaluable. Even when the current iteration of the project is not fully complete or even functional, we profusely thank the families testing it and keep them in the loop when making improvements based on their suggestions. People are getting excited because they see a growing product that is not static and one the grows with their input. The fact that they share it with others is a bonus in our eyes.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early in our design phase, we were shooting for the moon when it came to the App portion of our product. Because of this, we did not consult an expert early enough in the process to make sure what we were hoping for was, in fact, feasible. Because of this, we lost a good week’s work. Now, as we try new ideas, we bounce the ideas off others to make sure what we are doing is both an achievable and worthwhile goal. Lesson learned!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Make a platform where people starting new businesses can post their ideas. Then allow others to showcase their talents and willingness to participate in a new endeavor. Get the people together and see the magic happen. Are you going to do this? I would love to be a part of it… let me know!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best ~$100 I spent was for my son. It was gear and a pair of skates that attached to his shoes and allowed him to ride around the town carefree with a smile and laugh on his cherub-looking face. At least, that’s what the commercial showed. In reality, the skates are gathering dust awaiting a growth spurt and new level of confidence that will come when he is ready. I learned 2 things from this.
1) Marketing has a TON of weight when done well.
2) There is such a thing as age-appropriateness. And what is good for a kid at either end of the suggested age spectrum, may not be good for another kid of the same age. Flexibility is key and a willingness to wait for the appropriate time.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I love Skype for a quick meeting with my team. What you can read in a few expressions is worth any number of conference calls. You can help so much more if you can see where any difficulties really lie and be the person who notices when easing the reigns will produce more than using the whip. Sometimes it’s as simple as noticing when someone looks run down or sick. This is important to address and it will be appreciated.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend reading The Art of War by Sun Tzu. No, you are not literally going to war, but you are warring with problems that arise and knowing how to combat them can be found in this book. This is a book that you can read in one sitting (my book is around 40 pages) and gain so much when viewed in light of your company’s goals and hurdles. Occasionally, review this book and it will change your approach to problems.
Dated Entry – Read a book on surviving a recession. With the looming federal increase in December of 2016, it’s worth exploring your options. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it pays to be prepared.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
The people who have been the most influential in my thinking would not be known or of particular interest to anyone. These are close family, friends, and associates who have made a world of difference around me.
However, why limit myself to real people when fictional ones do much the same. Many characters in fictional novels inspire us more than any real person could hope to do through action alone. By getting within a character’s mind or experiencing their influences through 1st or 3rd person storytelling, one can relate those experiences to their own lives and alter their understanding of themselves.
Do you want to be analytical in your thinking and approach to problems like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes?
Do you want to balance ruthlessness and empathy like Ender in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game?
Do you want to avoid the mistakes of Ebenezer Scrooge, personifying greed within a needy world in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?
I suggest taking lessons and motivation for all sources and pull on the expertise of those around you. You don’t need Bill Gates to mentor you when a few hard-working bright minds will work wonders.
Noble Newman on Twitter: @NewmanNoble
Noble Newman on about.me: https://about.me/noblenewman
Noble Newman on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/noblenewman