Give First, Give More

There are many business lessons we can learn from the holiday season.  The most important lessons I am reminded of is to focus on Giving.  I was recently giving a guest lecture at Brigham Young University-Idaho and made the assertion that “my Network is my most valuable Asset”.  I truly believe this.  I have been blessed to be associated with many amazing people.  The students followed up with the question, “How do you build your network?”.  This is a great question for all of us, especially young people who are just beginning to build their professional network.  I think the key to building a valuable network is to Give First and to Give More.

Building a valuable network is more about quality than quantity.  Your network is not valuable unless it is actionable.  Will you answer the call of the people in your network?  Will you spend time to help them?  Would you recommend them for jobs and opportunities?  Will you help them in their times of need?  Will they do the same for you?  For you to answer yes to any or all of these questions you need to build trust.  Building trust takes time and action.  In a new relationship it is hard to build trust because both sides are often looking for the other side to provide them with some value first.  It could be a connection to a potential client, introduction to investors, advice, a job, etc.  Usually relationships don’t progress to the level of trust because both sides are waiting for the other side to make the first move.  This is why I believe the key to building a great network is to Give First and to Give More.

When we are willing to Give First others know immediately that we aren’t just leeches in the network looking to suck as much value out of the relationships as we can.  When we look to consistently Give More others are usually willing to give and help us when we are in need.   Giving of time, talents, advice, capital, relationships, etc unlocks the door of trust.  When we are early in our career or new in a relationship the giving can be simple and low risk.  It can be as simple as sending an article or link that we think would be interesting to the other person or offering advice.  We just need to give something.

I believe that the best way to build a valuable network is to Give First, Give More.  Happy Holidays.

Guts to Start and Grit to Finish

There are so many factors that go into determining the success of a business/entrepreneur.  Factors I often think about include appetite for risk, type A personality, bootstrapping, creativity, intelligence, hard work, diligence, hunger, passion, drive, process, cash management, etc.  The list can go on and on.  This weekend on a call with my little sister my thoughts on the subject simplified.  She is in a college entrepreneurship course at BYU right now and she needed to interview an entrepreneur.  I don’t know if I was the best choice to interview 🙂 but I was certainly the easiest choice.  She asked me a series of questions about starting a business and characteristics of entrepreneurs.  As we talked it became clear in my mind that the simple key characteristics for successful entrepreneurs is that they need to have “The Guts to Start and the Grit to Finish”.  

I don’t want to downplay all of the other factors that are involved but I think most people fail because they either never start or they don’t have the patience, determination, and ability (GRIT) to toil through the hard times, usually years, to finish.  You have to have both Guts and Grit to succeed.  In my experience I have ran into a lot more people with Guts than people who have Grit.  These are the dreamers, the idea guys, or those who have nothing to lose.  They have the great idea but aren’t prepared to see things through.  (By the way, I think ideas are worth about 5% of the business and execution is worth 95%)  If someone falls into this category they have two choices; 1. develop Grit or 2. partner with someone who has Grit.  I think Grit is something very hard to develop and would advise most people with Grit not to partner with someone who doesn’t have Grit.  

I used to think I would win as an entrepreneur because I was smarter, better funded, or could work harder than the next guy but I have learned that most great businesses and entrepreneurs took years to grow and develop.  I have had the Guts to start and hope that I continue to have the Grit to take my ventures from infant to mature businesses.  

UVU Executive Lecture Series 11/7/2013

Utah Valley University is providing great education and preparing its students for the workforce.  I just hired another UVU grad this week.  Under the leadership of President Matthew Holland the University has succeeded at providing a high quality education at a great price.  I have really enjoyed serving on the Foundation Investment Committee at UVU.  I was invited to give a lecture at the business school as part of the Executive Lecture series.  Here is a link to the speech.

As part of the lecture I provided a list of the lessons I have learned throughout my career.

  1. Cash is King
  2. Bootstrap
  3. I am the only person who will ever pay me what I think I am worth
  4. The tough decisions will define you
  5. Lead by example
  6. Choose partners wisely
  7. Your Network is your most valuable Asset
  8. Mentors will save you years of time, millions of dollars, and a lot of pain
  9. Recruit on character not just experience
  10. Empower Employees/Help them reach their potential
  11. “A” processes are as important as “A” people

How my Virtual Assistant changed my business

I started my offshore outsourcing business, Zylun, over three years ago after I left my job in NYC to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams.  Over the first couple of years of building the business my role as CEO evolved often as I tried to focus on areas of the business that I thought needed me the most.  After I hired my COO, Tony Morrison, I was able to take my focus from operations and dive in on business development and sales.  I had never worked in a business development/sales role before so I had to learn by trial and error what worked and what didn’t.  My daily schedule became full of useful tasks including management, finances, operations, lead generation, sales, and networking.  Over time my sales and lead generation tasks began to take up more and more of my day.  In January of this year I decided that I needed to hire an assistant to help me with scheduling, email, research, social media, etc.  Since Zylun is an offshore outsourcing firm I decided to hire an assistant in the Philippines that I could share with my COO.  After selection my Virtual Assistant, I took some time to document what I did on a daily basis and what I could had off to someone else.  Through this exercise it turned out that about 80% of what I was doing on a regular basis could be done by someone else.  My time spent on my most important tasks was able to increase 4 to 5 times.  I had so much work for my assistant to do I  couldn’t share her with my COO so I had him and my Director of Sales each hire a Virtual Assistant as well.  Since hiring our Virtual Assistants our company productivity more than doubled.  After working with our Virtual Assistants for a few months we decided to offer Virtual Assistants as one of our outsourced offerings.  Check out our site at


BYU-Idaho: Innovation in Education

I had a great opportunity to participate in the President’s Advancement Council at BYU-Idaho last weekend.  President Kim Clark is an inspired leader.  My wife Jillian and I met while at BYU-Idaho (previously Ricks College) and have many great memories from our time in Rexburg.  I wanted give a brief background on the university and its tremendous growth.

BYU-Idaho has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1888. It was first named Bannock Stake Academy which initially offered only elementary level courses. It then added high school and college level curriculum. Eventually, only college level courses were offered, and the school became known as Ricks College. By 1999, Ricks was the largest private junior college in the United States. The following year, the announcement was made that Ricks would soon be a university and renamed as BYU Idaho. Since becoming a university, the enrollment has nearly doubled from 8,840 students in 1999 to 16,354 students in 2013.

Many exciting changes have been made to the school in the past ten years or so, and I am so honored to have been able to be a part. A very impactful addition to the University is the Pathway program. This allows students from around the world to earn a degree through BYU-Idaho without ever moving to Rexburg.   After only a few years in operation Pathways now serves around 5,000 students in many countries throughout the world.  The courses are accessed online, but there is still opportunity to meet weekly at the local Institute of Religions to work on assignments with other students. Through this program, BYU- Idaho’s academic reach is becoming vast and influential throughout the globe.

As a former student and a member of the Presidents Advancement Council at BYU-Idaho, I have been greatly influenced by the admirable mission of BYU-Idaho. The following mission statement has been established:

· Build testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and encourage living its principles.

· Provide a quality education for students of diverse interests and abilities.

· Prepare students for lifelong learning, for employment, and for their roles as citizens and  parents.

· Maintain a wholesome academic, cultural, social and spiritual environment.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in such a respected institution. BYU-Idaho continues to grow and continues to influence the lives of many. I look forward to watching its great future unfold.

Dedication to Our Days

***This is a guest blog post from my sister, Sarah Tomco. She is an English major at Brigham Young University. She is leaving in less than a week to serve a full-time mission for the LDS church in Paraguay.***

Each day is gifted to us in a  24 hour package. A typical and acceptable work day is 8 hours. Ideally, we sleep for another 8 hours. That last 8 hour chunk is ours. One third of our day can be devoted to God, family, friends, backyard barbeques, good books, etc. These 8 hours can be sufficient if these 8 hours are truly dedicated to those most important things. However, in this day and age, work tends to seep into and steal more hours of our precious life than it deserves.

The idea is to prioritize and to give our hearts to each portion of our day, so that we may transition into the next phase of our day without any lingering regrets. Dedicate your time and your heart to whatever it is you’re doing. When you work, work hard. Remember why it is that you work: to support your family financially, to grow, to learn, to serve, to uplift those around you. Do not drudge through your work day: celebrate this opportunity you have to widen your circle of influence and to teach and learn from others.

Then, when you get home, wholeheartedly dedicate and consecrate this time to the people and activities you love. Put at least as much effort into becoming a better husband or wife as you do into getting that desired promotion. Love your children like your life, your happiness, and your sanity depend on it–because they do. Your work does not end when you get home. Help your wife with the dishes, help your 4th grader with his math homework, read your babies stories as they fall asleep. Take your kids camping on the weekends even though it may be far more work than play for you. They will cherish those memories forever, and they will honor your dedication to their childhood. All of these things take time and effort: they are worth it.

If this is how you spend your days, then you can sink into each night with greater peace of mind and greater reason to live. When you rest, dedicate your time to that rest just as you dedicated your time to work and home. Sleep so that your body may have the health and energy to perform even better the next day. You may find ways to rest outside of sleep. Give your heart to reading, meditation, early-morning jogs, whatever gives you an opportunity to rest your mind and taste the sweetness of life.

Remember that each of these facets of life can become sacred and meaningful if dedicated to the right purpose. Let your life be rich in time well spent, not desperate for more or regretful for time foolishly lost.

Exciting New Company: Q Sciences

I am excited to announce that I have recently joined Q Sciences board of directors.  I admire Q Science’s core mission to improve the quality of life for as many people as possible.  This goal is achieved through providing a combination of the highest quality supplements on the market.  Q Sciences offers an optimal, daily package of supplements called Qssentials. This package includes the products Q 96, Q Vitalize, Q 10+, and Q Biotics.

Q 96 is a special blend of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids which work together to significantly enhance brain function and mood stability. A patented 96 hour micronization and nano-chelation process increases the body’s natural ability to efficiently absorb these nutrients, making it the most effective mood and brain enhancer on the market. You can feel assured that your money is well spent on this product, knowing that it is the most researched micronutrient product in history for improving mood.

Q Vitalize is an herbal and amino acid blend designed for optimal energy and vitality. This carefully calculated blend works in the body synergistically, creating a greater result than if each ingredient were taken on its own.  It provides a feeling of healthy energy and makes you feel awake, alert, and alive.

Q10+ is designed to assist in a healthy aging process. It is comprised of three main components: CoEnzyme Q10, Lysine, and Arginine. Together, this ideal combination reduces free radical damage, boosts immunity, and activates collagen formation.

Q Biotics is a probiotic like no other probiotic. It is becoming more mainstream knowledge that certain “good bacteria” is essential to maintain healthy digestion and support a well-functioning immune system. However, most probiotic pills cannot withstand the torment from human stomach acid, which breaks them down before they have a chance to be absorbed into the body.  Q Biotics, unlike all other probiotics, is coated in a moisture-activated gelatin shell. This shell allows the valuable bacteria to remain unharmed until it can safely reach the lower GI tract. This process is designed to steadily discharge the bacteria over a 12-hour period for optimal absorption.

Each of these revolutionary products is a part of the Qssentials  package, and Q 96 is also available for individual purchase. As an entrepreneur, I know that when great products are backed by a great team, the sky is the limit. I am thrilled to work with such an exciting company.

Achieving Long-term Goals: Consistency in the Little Things Leads to Excellence

Like most companies and individuals, my company, Zylun set some annual goals and objectives at the beginning of 2012.  The struggle is that these goals are achieved over a long period of time and take the cooperation and effort of over a hundred employees in two continents.  I don’t have all of the answers but we are well on our way to achieving most of these goals.  Here are a few of the key success factors that have made this possible.

  • Consistency in the Little Things Leads to Excellence
  • Focus, dedication and discipline are needed on a daily basis
  • Buy-in from all departments and all levels of the company
  • Break up the longer term goals into monthly and weekly goals
  • Have each department (Sales, Operations, Finance, IT, Marketing) set their own goals and metrics focused on reaching the organizational goal
  • Post the goals everywhere (on walls, meeting agendas, intranet, break room, etc)
  • Metrics-measure and report progress
  • Review the goals and progress towards achieving in every company meeting
  • Have each employee analyze their daily routine to make sure it is in line with the goals
  • Peer Accountability
  • Create or tweak company processes to help achieve goals

I hope that our experiences over the last year will be able to help you achieve your professional and personal goals in the future.  If you have anything you have found successful in achieving your goals please submit a comment.

Government’s Role in Business

I have a couple of quick disclaimers to this blog post.  First, my blog editor/cousin Eric is now off to Law School at Harvard (hopefully the quality of writing does not drop too much).  Second, this post is not meant to be political but rather philosophical.

I am very grateful to live in America and am a strong supporter of democracy, capitalism, and the constitution.  Having lived, traveled, and done business in various parts of the world I know that our laws, regulations, and enforcement all work to facilitate our ability to build successful businesses.  Without the existence and enforcement of rights, laws and regulations businesses cannot flourish i.e. property ownership, contracts, employee rights, etc.  Lack of proper government involvement often leads to monopoly, black markets, and a struggling economy.

The difficult question is how much regulation and taxes are the optimal amount to allow growth in a free market economy.  We know absolute government control and no government control are both bad solutions.  By increasing government regulation and taxes the government is in essence saying they know how to run a business and understand markets better than business people do. The increased cost to running a business as a result of government makes many of our products and services too expensive to compete in the global market.  I don’t know the optimal mix, but less is more in this situation.   Obviously some industries need more regulation than other, like banking.  I think government should regulate/enforce property ownership, contracts, employee rights, environmental, and national security issues and beyond that the markets/supply and demand can govern.