Employee Empowerment: A Big Contributor to Growth with Strings Kozisek

BLP Kozisek | Employee Empowerment

BLP Kozisek | Employee Empowerment

 

Sequenza, a global company with an established presence in the US, Asia, and Europe, carries the business tagline “Why pay more?” Indeed, across all three of their brands, Sequenza, VINclusive, Sayage, they are well below market prices, which makes them a popular choice among consumers. Strings Kozisek shares that one of the contributing factors of the growth of their company is employee empowerment. He says that it’s important to hire people better than you and pay attention to their careers because as a CEO, you are delegating tasks that enhances the employees skills and overall career who then adds value to the company in the long run.

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Employee Empowerment: A Big Contributor to Growth with Strings Kozisek

We’re lucky to have Strings Kozisek, CEO of Sequenza. Strings, welcome to the podcast.

Thanks, Bob. It’s good to be here.

Strings and I met at the local Bass Pro here some time ago and we must have chatted for a couple of hours.

I tend to do that to people. That was awesome. Thanks for talking to me.

We had a good time and trying to get to know and he was gracious enough to come down and be on the podcast.

Thanks for having me.

We talked about Strings and we’re not sure where the nickname came from, but Strings Kozisek. If you would, tell us a little bit about your business and who you serve.

My business is Sequenza. Under Sequenza, we handle three different brands. Sequenza is an IT and A/V professional services firm. With our internal network of a couple thousand techs across the US, another thousand or so outside of the United States, we provide IT and AV services and we’re able to have somebody anywhere in the continental United States in four hours. We do this under market price. We handle a lot of retail, we do a lot of restaurants, we do technology companies, all that stuff. The two other brands, one of them is VinClusive. VINclusive is a host of technology services that enhance auto dealerships.

We provide proprietary tools for inventory management, for the status of cars, anti-theft protection, GPS, geo-fencing, inventory management tools, and these things. The third brand that comes under the Sequenza banner is called The Sayage. The Sayage is a digital signage platform. It is a proprietary Android box that connects wired, wirelessly or over cellular to our backend system that sits in the Amazon web services. This has been up and running about fifteen years. We are bringing this into the United States. The niche there is it’s very cheap and we’ve taken about 70% of the most used digital signage functionality, put it in a package that I could train somebody on in 45 minutes. Simple, cheap, easy to use.

First, going into digital signage for the person going like, “That doesn’t draw a mental picture for me,” what is digital signage?

When you’re out going through the day, you go to the dentist or you go to the doctor’s office, it has a monitor in the lobby that’s showing some advertisements. You go to your local clothing store and they have monitors up there that are showing the new fashions of the season. You go into your fast food restaurant and you’re looking at the menu. All of these things are examples of digital signage. Digital signage is saying something digitally.

BLP Kozisek | Employee Empowerment

Employee Empowerment: Digital signage is saying something digitally.

Within that space, what’s the pain point that the digital signage company solves for the customer?

The pain points we solve, there are two of them. One, most signage solutions have large learning curves. Ours, can easily be learned in an hour. And Second, A lot of systems are geared more towards enterprise, either by their cost or the over-abundant features they try to push. Our system is cheap enough to be meaningful to the family run businesses, and robust enough multi-thousand locations.

For folks that are lost, A/V is?

Audiovisual stuff. There are a lot of digital signage companies out there. This industry is growing. A lot of these are big enterprise. You require a special hardware, it requires months, weeks of training and a dedicated person to run these, a high bandwidth. What we do is our simple system allows Joe’s Garage down the street that has one monitor, it’s a great solution for him because he can afford it. The enterprise fast food restaurants that has 4,000 locations across the United States and six menu boards, it’s a great cheap solution for them. That’s the niches and the pain points that we fix.

When we met before, you had an interesting journey to get to today. Let’s go back a little bit and talk about your travels and how you got started in the A/V space.

I went to University of Northern Iowa. Back before then, I was the geek that always loaded up the sixteen-millimeter projector in grade school and high school. I studied some audiovisual and audio recording in the universities. I went out to San Francisco. I was working at Chevron back in the day of 35-millimeter slide projectors where we would have twenty projectors behind the screen in stockholders meetings, these things, producing videos. That’s where I got a lot of the experience. One day, living in the Bay Area, I realized I woke up and I thought, “I’ve only lived in the United States. I got to go somewhere.” Long story made somewhat shorter, I thought Japan was the hardest place to move to, I took off to Japan thinking I’d be there for a year. I came back about 22 years later to the United States, which is about four and a half years ago now. In Japan, the first three months, I was a bartender at the Lexington Queen Nightclub in Tokyo. Through there, I met people. I became a Country Manager for Gibson Guitars, Entertainment Relations. That’s MTV giveaways, Hard Rock giveaways, loaners for concerts, taking the band members out to bars and clubs after the concerts end.

I went there. I realized I couldn’t do this forever. It wasn’t a career. It was great as a 28-year-old guy in Japan. I taught my way into an IT job that I was not at all qualified for and I hit the books. I went through Novell Certification, Microsoft Certification, Linux Certifications. I ran an office in Tokyo with twelve servers, 175 end users. I got out of that. I said, “I want to work on my marketing and branding.” It wasn’t even a company. I made a business card and I did promotions for some high-end fashion, high-end cigars, high-end automobiles, online, offline promotions. During that, somebody came up and said, “Don’t you know audio visual stuff?” I said, “Yeah.” They said, “Lehman Brothers is looking for a consultant.” I started Lehman Brothers. I built their Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beijing offices while they were still around. During this process, I realized nobody’s doing this business in Japan. I made the business. I ran it for eleven years, sold it and moved to Colorado. That’s one of my advantages, but one of my stumbling points, I think as a CEO is I want these changes to happen quick. I want the growth to go quick. Steady, consistent growth is good, but sometimes I get a little bit impatient, but that’s maybe where I get some of the drive.

When you went to Japan, you didn’t have any language skills either, did you?

No. Just that Styx song Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, but otherwise nothing. I made word cards and figured if I could speak nouns, adjectives and adverbs, I could communicate and that would give me confidence. That’s where I started. When I left, fairly fluent. I did some speaking at Toyo University, half of my staff, twenty some people in Japan. It was in Japanese, presentation is in Japanese, ordering beer in Japanese.

I think about that diverse background coming to college and going through Chevron and then going to Japan and coming back here and you’re a serial entrepreneur for lack of a better term. Thinking about the IT on-demand not less than four hour timeframe business that you have in the United States, for folks who are going, “I have problems in some of my rural locations,” how did they find that particular company?

That’s one of the niche items that we address. Here’s the scenario too that I’ve seen often is let’s pick on the guys on the East Coast. There’s a company in New Jersey, for example. It has the client and this client opens up an office in California and the Jersey company says, “We can take care of that.” Then they Google and find a partner, which is sometimes a very loose used word, and assign that partner to the project. What you miss there is the accountability on who owns the responsibility to deliver. With us, this small business in remote Montana for example, could contact us. We can get somebody to their office, we can get somebody anywhere in the United States and we do it. We own the responsibility. One of the things that I’m always telling my customers is, I personally own the responsibility for my company to deliver. I’m your person to point out. Here’s my cell phone to call.

There are a lot of challenges that people don’t realize. It’s a tough industry.CLICK TO TWEET

On social media, where do they find that point of contact with that company?

This is one of my big learning curves because I’ve been non-educated in social media. I myself, I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on FacebookSequenzaInc.com is our website. We’re on LinkedIn. We’re very soon launching Instagram, Facebook, some other digital marketing. Sequenza Inc., we should be right at the top of the Google searches.

What I’m trying to do is paint a picture in the mind of somebody as to what type of problem would they have where they could reach out to Sequenza and solve that particular problem?

Anything technology. We can handle phones, we can handle microphones. We can handle computers, whether that’s desktop computers. We do structured cabling which is the running of the network cables. We take care of data centers. We take care of fast food restaurants POS systems. One of our clients is a nationwide sports company. We do all technology for and we do wireless access points, we do servers, we do structured cabling, we do POS, we do a lot of stuff. I hate to be so vague in the answer, but if you’re having a problem with technology, your phone, your computer, your microphone, call us.

You look at that both in the rural market and the major metropolitan areas and sometimes it’s often a problem in both. In looking at that, you’ve got that particular company and then you had a couple of others that you were talking about that you were the CEO of that fall under Sequenza. Let’s talk about those a little bit. We have The Sayage. Let’s talk about The Sayage a little bit.

Sayage is the digital signage platform. Having been around digital signage for 25 years when I was first starting out, I see the good points, the bad points. I had many, many conversations with customers on what is it, how do I use it, what’s it going to benefit me, how it benefits me? I know a lot of the big players out there. We are now competing with a lot of these big players and we’re doing well at it. I like niche business. I like the feel of certain niche requirements. With this company, Sayage, the niche is I want a digital signage platform that anybody could use. I said Joe’s Garage or the fast food restaurant that’s got 4,000 stores, anybody can use it. As some of the players go, “I’m going to charge you $2,800 a day for training.” Your training comes free. It’s 45 minutes. Most people in 45 minutes, they have a good handle on it. Another thing that we’re able to do now, everybody’s got smartphones. I could take a picture of you here and I could have that picture of you playing on a monitor in my office in Hong Kong in 90 seconds and I can teach you how to do that in half hour.

I think about it as a business owner. Let’s say that I’ve got a fast food restaurant and we’re now accustomed to the menu board behind the counter. Typically, who controls that message board before Sayage?

It varies from company to company. Sometimes it varies within a company. For example corporate stores adopt a certain technology. While the franchise stores adopt something different. Companies give franchisees more or fewer rights or control over the technology.

I think about pricing and sometimes you’ll see a special, not necessarily offered at every location. Let’s say that I’m an independent location. I’ve got the signage up there typically for me to control it. I’m assuming I control it off of a PC somewhere in my location.

Yes, usually at headquarters. They make the decision that the chicken sandwich is now $1.99 in these locations, $2.49 at others. Once this is input at headquarters, it changes on all menu boards everywhere.

Then for you guys, basically your system is set up for The Sayage is different because it’s simpler to train and not as expensive.

Yes. We operate on channels. Everybody’s used to a TV,  turning the channels, to get different content on your TV. On our platform, it varies on our clients and how they’re using it, but generally speaking, we give our clients a set of players and we say, “Here’s your channels and here’s your ability to create more channels and you can upload this content to different channels and schedule when you want to change the channel. Thinking of it like a TV, seems to make it easier to understand.

I think about the ability with the staffing and whatnot and folks that are trying to manage staffing and make sure that they communicate with their customer well. It would seem like this would be a good solution and flexible.

You’ve got the menu boards and you’ve got the monitors in the fashion store or the doctor’s office, but there’s a lot of digital signage being used for internal communication. Think of universities or think of airports with delays. Think of things like emergency messages. The way the world is, this example of a university. The security guard is away from a PC but suddenly find he needs to put up a message on all monitors that there’s an active shooter. He could do that from anywhere with his cell phone.

BLP Kozisek | Employee Empowerment

Employee Empowerment: Different companies give franchisees more or fewer rights or control over the technology.

Then VINclusive, we talked at length about VINclusive when you and I met before. Talk about VeeTracker and the problems that it solves.

VINclusive stems out of a couple of the larger dealerships in the United States coming to us and with a few problems. We’ve developed a suite of technologies that helps the auto dealerships. We have tools that manage inventory so dealers know where every car is. On some of these dealerships that were working, they have 2,000 cars. I was in the dealership before where a this lady called in and asked if the dealership had this such and such a red car. The dealership queried their inventory and saw they had the car. When the lady came in, she waited for three hours. The dealer couldn’t find the car. She went over across the street, bought the car and brought it over to shove the dealer’s noses in it. With our utilities and our tools, dealers know where that car is within one and a half to two feet.

Unless you’re in the industry, there are a lot of the problems in that particular industry you just don’t know about. For me, I’ll take my vehicle to the service department and they go, “It’s outside.” I look around and I go, “No, it’s not outside. It’s somewhere.” Then they go track my vehicle now. Talk about some of the challenges that maybe the average person wouldn’t know about and how you guys started developing solutions for that.

On the lighter side, there is a thing that dealer’s deal with called floor plan cars, without getting into the details, dealers are motivated to sell these cars first With our systems, they know where the floor plan cars are. If we have six red cars of model A lined up here, I know that third one is the oldest floor plan car. I want to sell that car first. Another example is theft. People come in at night, there are cameras in the dealerships, the keys are locked in, but somebody comes in with the computer, in 30 seconds, they’re driving away with a car. They hacked into the cars’ computers, start it, unlock it and drive away. Cars are jacked up and wheels are stolen. We had a dealer tell us that somebody brought in a high-end Mustang for repair and while the Mustang sat in the dealership overnight, they took the tires, the seats and the dash.

With our systems in there, if a car is jacked up, we know it. We’ve got our 24/7 call center that is monitoring it. It sends an alert. We contact the dealer and say, “This car in this location has been jacked up. Somebody is taking the tires.” If somebody buys the car, they can opt in for this service. If their teenager is out driving their car, they know where the car is. They can set alerts to notify if the car experiences a shock or brakes suddenly, and alerts the owner. That offers the dealership security, but the people that buy the cars, it offers them a bit of security as well.

Is VINclusive well-known and well-understood?

It isn’t. We had been working with dealerships, but since the launch of this, we had been so busy that we’re still working on our website, everything. That is soon to be launching and we will do a press announcement when we do that. It’s the ideal case of an entrepreneur is you’re too busy to make a brochure or a website, but in this case, that’s where we are. Website address will be www.VINclusive.com

The typical problems that most car buyers are not about about is floor planning. They’re not going to think that that is a big issue because almost all dealership lots are highly lit and you would presume secure and safe. Particularly, about managing inventory is, we’ve all been in the circumstance where they go, “We can’t find your car right at the moment. We will find it in a few.” Then they go track your car down.

There are a lot of challenges that people don’t realize. It’s a tough industry.

The margins aren’t that high when you start to pay for interest on the car after floor planning expires. It’s a big deal. We’ve talked about what got you here. A bit about your journey and some of the initiatives and now comes the part where I get to quiz you. This is the challenge. What is the most recent book or most influential book that has altered your perception on being a CEO or how you run your business and why?

I would have to say maybe more than a book, a couple of pages. There’s a book called Financial Intelligence by Doug Lennick, a famous CEO here in the United States. I read the book and first couple sentences of the book, he says, “Tell me the five most important things to you and I’ll give you five seconds.” I thought, “The nerve of this guy. He is asking five seconds. These are important things.” I kept reading and the next paragraph or soon after he says, “If you can’t say five words in five seconds, you’re living your life wrong.” That hit me like the proverbial truck. I decided right then and every day, I’m going to know my five things: family, health, job, money, friends. They change and I allow them to change and allow the order to change. Very influential and when you’re talking about keeping these things that are important to you, in front of you so you can focus on them, that had a pretty good impact. Maybe not the impact the book is supposed to have.

BLP Kozisek | Employee Empowerment

Financial Intelligence: How to Make Smart, Values-Based Decisions with Your Money and Your Life

I think you inventory and take what you require at the time.

I still use it every day.

The fact that you can state it. How long ago do you think it was that you read that book?

2006.

It’s funny, you’ll talk to folks and there’ll be an author that’s changed their behavior, their life, how they run their company and I’ll ask many, they’ll say, “Have you ever met him?” They go, “No, but I’d like to.” As an author, can you imagine going like, “I had somebody comment the other day that was moved by what I said and it changed their lives,” wouldn’t that be cool? What failure or at the time apparent failure, has served you or your company best or set you up for future achievement and why?

I don’t think there’s such a thing as failure because everything is a learning experience. I call this my Six Million Dollar Man Theory, which is whatever happens to me every day, whether they’re good, bad, large or small, if I keep my eyes open, I can see what’s supposed to make me bigger, faster, stronger. The Six Million Dollar Man. I don’t see them as mistakes or anything. When I first started running companies, I thought, “I could get this company up and we’re doing X million dollars in sales and we’re a legit company. We’re going to survive.” I realized that I’m walking on the edge of the glass and I could fall either way. There is no security that we’re making X million dollars in sales, but we could die tomorrow. There was a realization, maybe not a mistake, but a realization that as long as I’m an entrepreneur, I’m going to be walking on the top of that glass.

To get comfortable and get good at it.

Hopefully, I can manage to do both.

As you were talking, I was thinking about for the years that you spent in Japan running companies and then coming back here and running companies, is there a big difference between running companies culturally or geographically?

Huge difference. I’ve lectured on this. I’ve talked about it. Japan has so many rules in business from things like how you pass out a business card. Some of these small things too. When you walk into a conference room in a meeting, your chair is decided before you walk in. You have to know where you sit depending on your place in the meeting and then I get comfortable with business in Japan and I moved back to the States and it’s a whole new can of worms. It’s a lot different. Decisions get made faster here. There are some pros and cons of each. I often say that I would like to work in a country that’s like half Japan, half US taking some of the best of both business cultures if you would. What we’re doing now, with Sequenza, we’re across Asia. We’re in Brazil, we’re in Europe. We still get quite a bit of international experience. A big difference, I love it though.

I think about you dredge out of your history things that are tried and true and whatnot. Is there one or two things that you did in Japan that have helped you here?

Patience, I have a story. When I first started being an entrepreneur and a CEO, I subscribed to the Fortune 500 Magazine and I thought, “I’m going to read this cover-to-cover and I’m going to learn how these executives do it. I’m going to get insights from CEOs. I’m going to get this.”  What I learned was completely different than what I thought I would learn, but it was very valuable. What I learned after reading cover-to-cover for two years is, in every single case, there’s no overnight success, overnight super rich CEOs. It doesn’t happen. In almost every case, it’s try, fail, try, fail. Try, you think you’re going to die, then, success. When I said patience, that’s what I’m referring to is understanding the life of an entrepreneur, the times it takes, get used to it and get good at it.

If you could put an ad on page one of the local paper sharing your company’s message or advice, what would it say and why?

Our tagline would be, “Why pay more?” Across VINclusive, across Sayage, across Sequenza, almost every scenario, we are well below market prices. In our Sequenza brand with our professional services or technology services, I constantly see a global company that wants a big company to take care of a roll-out of cost, 100 stores, 1,000 stores, there are three levels of subcontracting down. If it’s us, we do the whole thing. Everybody takes their 30% or whatever their cut is. Why pay more? It’s us doing the work anyway. Why don’t you just come to us? It seems a little bit arrogant on that approach, but we get quite a bit of work subbed to us. We get paid the same way and the client pays more.

It goes back to that question, if they don’t know about you, they don’t know. For you, what was the best allocation you’d give either time or initiative that’s helped you and your company most and why?

I would say employee empowerment has helped us. That goes back to words of advice that I received before I became an entrepreneur, which is hire people better than you. Bring in these people, pay attention to their careers. Some people say, for example, “I want to be a data entry person. That’s good enough for me. That’s all I want.” Some people have a more aggressive career track. They want to climb the ladder. They want more responsibility. They want more money. I feel it’s an employer’s job to help manage the employees’ careers. As you’re doing this, you’re finding as an employer that you’re able to give out more responsibility and you are able to empower them. “Here John, you run with that. You take the lead, send me the reports.” What are you doing as a CEO? You’re delegating, which is a good exercise as a CEO and sometimes very difficult, but you’re also empowering those people. In several of my last companies, I’ve seen that as being a big contributor to growth.

Hire people better than you. Bring in these people, pay attention to their careers.CLICK TO TWEET

I think that empowering the staff and the employees and keep people to do certain things, how do you check the oil? How do you check it and make sure that the empowerment that goes out to these folks is producing the end result. What do you do?

To answer your question with a question, how do you check the oil? What am I checking the oil in? Checking the oil in a lawnmower and a chainsaw and a car and the locomotive is all different. It’s a different process for each and I think to check the oil, with employees, it’s also dependent on who that employee is, what their job is. In some cases, maybe even what their mindset is about their careers. It’s key for management to be attentive to this.

What’s the most unusual habit or what others may consider out of the ordinary that has helped you and your company most and why?

In my business and how I deal with people, I like to be very personal and very real with people. I like to speak very straight and speak the same way to all people. Maybe there are cases where people say, “You could’ve been a little bit more formal.” I feel I’ve had a certain success in doing that because one, that’s me, that’s who I am. My character is coming out in my business. David Lee Roth, a Van Halen singer, told me in the Bay Area, “Everybody is three people. Who you think you are, who others think you are, and who you really are.” With some attention to that, if you can get all three of these people the same or close to the same, that allows you to bring your personal character to the business.

Over the past three years, what belief or protocol have you established in your company that has most impacted you or your company’s success and why?

When I started Sequenza, I met three of my top people and instantly I went, “Look at the experience. Look what these people bring to the table?” This is a prime example of hiring people better than you. We sat here at the table and I said, “If you guys are willing, I think we can make a company out of this. I think we can do this.” The word that came up right away is honesty. There’s a lot of greed in the world and there’s a lot of deception in the world. Even my middle school aged daughter picks up that. She says, “85% of the commercials on TV, they’re stretching it or they’re making it up or they’re not telling you the real deal.” We could’ve made more money if we would’ve taken that route, but we don’t. We throw our cards on the table with our clients and say, “This is exactly what you get with us. There’s no small print in our company.” That helps us sleep. I think of my key people, this is one of the things they bring to the table.

 

If you were going to offer advice to a new CEO that was assuming the role of CEO for the first time, what would it be and why?

My advice would be two parts. One part is, whether you’re a CEO for $100,000 mom and pop company or you’re a CEO of a billion dollar company, know that everybody’s the same. You’re going to have issues. You don’t have to know everything. Have your circle outside of your board that you can talk to, whether that’s a trusted advisor, whether that’s somebody that you can bounce ideas off of. Don’t think that you have to know everything. Part two of that would be, in your professional career and in your personal life, exercise change. .Exercise your discipline. Exercise your challenge. Have all three of these apparent in your life every day. Small things, big things. Change, for example. What shoe you put on first, or put a sock and then a shoe on. I’m going to brush my teeth with my left hand. These small changes keep you adaptable. Discipline. What is my diet? What is my work habit? What is my leisure time? What books am I reading? Your challenge, whatever big, small challenge, all three of those are very key to personal awareness and confidence which is important as a CEO.

What do you think are the most common misconceptions about you and your role as CEO?

Maybe a misconception would be that I don’t care. I explain it like this. I’m standing in a circle of light as a CEO. Everything outside of the circle is extremely black. I can’t see anything. Every once in while I’m called on to jump out of that circle. I don’t know if you’re going to fall. I don’t know if you’re going to run into something. I don’t know what’s out there. Through my experiences, I’ve jumped so many times that survival is not a question for me anymore. I don’t know what I’m going to hit when I jump out of the circle, but I know I’m going to survive and that gives me a certain level of low stress or no stress. It gives me an ability to step in and be calm and make these hard decisions when you’re supposed to. A couple of my staff have said before at times, “You don’t care.” I said, “I care very much but this is how I’m caring. This is my job as a CEO. This is how I must care. You can worry. I’m not going to.”

I think that would be like going to ER and you’re bleeding and the surgeon comes in and runs out of the room screaming, going like, “You’re bleeding.” You go like, “Wrong guy.” Looking back over the past three years, what would or should you have said no to and why?

I’m going to go back to an answer that I gave and I’m going to say nothing. If I say, “I shouldn’t have said no to this.” It shows a little bit of regret and I think that every experience, good and bad, has led me to here and to who I am and I’m comfortable with who I am. I’m going to say there was nothing that I should have said no to.

BLP Kozisek | Employee Empowerment

Employee Empowerment: You never do anything you can’t explain to your children.

In the day-to-day operations of your company as CEO, what is your personal habit or self-talk dialogue that keeps you and your company focused?

I put little notes on my monitors. I like little reminders and they’re encrypted so people often don’t know what they mean. Getting back to those five things that are important; family, health, job money, friends. The first letter of each of those words on my monitor is a reminder to me. WDIST, What Did I Sell Today? Little reminders to me to keep me focused. I don’t know if these are necessarily bad habits. Ha… Bad habits could be my jokes.

For folks, we talked about how they reach you on social media so we know how to get a hold of you, Sequenza. For you, what is a quote that you find meaningful or one that you use frequently?

When I think about that, I think about, “What quote or what bit of advice keeps these things in front of me? My focus, in front of me.” Part of that goes back to those five things. Part of that goes back to the honesty principle that we started the company with. I want to feel good when I’m going to sleep at night. I know my family is a huge inspiration for me, just the fact that they’re there and supporting and believing in what I do. Off-hand, there isn’t a particular quote that comes to mind.

The one that drove you the five important things, that’s pretty good.

I recommend that for everybody. Everybody, you didn’t know you’re going to get homework when you listened to this podcast, but you’re going to. Find your five things.

If colleagues were asked what your best at, what would they say and how do you utilize this particular strength on a day-to-day basis?

I hope I’m not getting back to this misconception part. Maybe my ability would be to see the big picture. Knowing the 30,000-foot view is good, knowing the 5,000-foot view is good. Also, being able to come in and make these decisions sometimes quick, sometimes harsh, that has to be made and being able to do that in a way that doesn’t keep me up at night, that doesn’t freak out my staff. Keep it in a calm and confident way. I hope that’s what they say.

Thinking about the decision to leave Japan and come back Stateside, what was that thought process like?

It was over about ten years. We were talking before, I mentioned that one of my faults is the thinking “I want it now. I want the change now. I want the growth now.” Sometimes I get a little bit impatient, but as we were speaking, that’s where drive comes from, that impatience, which is key. I thought I would build this company in Japan and be able to sell it in two years. I hung on to it for eleven and a half years. This was an ongoing process. What led us back here? The weather, the mountains. When we’re in Tokyo, it’s very tight, very condensed. When the crosswalk light changes 2,000 people cross the street. It’s very busy, very fast-paced. Selling that company allowed us to be able to hit the brakes a little bit. I like looking out my dining room window and seeing the mountains and this sort of thing. It was a great choice. Colorado is wonderful. The people here are great.

We all accumulate mileage from our journey. If the Strings of today was to offer advice to the Strings of fifteen or twenty years ago, what advice would you offer?

Increase your challenge. Nothing comes for free. I hit a certain time through high school, college, a certain time when I was in my twenties where I went out to California to be a rock star. I wanted to play guitar and I thought, “That’s all I have to do is play guitar.” No, you got to work at it. I wish I would’ve known then that your reward is as good as the effort that you put in it. It’s like going to a gym and working out. You have an excuse or you have results. That’s it, nothing in between. As a father, this has been one of those focus things for me…. “How do I teach that to my daughter at a young age so she doesn’t have to go through the learning pains when she’s in her late twenties?”

Increase your challenge. Nothing comes for free.CLICK TO TWEET

How are you offering that to your daughter as a skill set?

I give it to her and try to coach her into challenges. I hope that she can see me in various activities through my work, through my home that I’m challenging. The greatest teacher, is one by example. I hope I’m pulling that off.

It is not what you say, it’s what you do. You can say lots of things, but if you don’t do it, that’s worse.

That’s my parents. They said a lot of things and as a teenager, I didn’t listen to most everything they said, but I watched. As I come back to the States, some of my family that I’m getting to know again, aunts, uncles, cousins, are saying, “You’re so much like your father.” I take pride in that. I’m not doing that intentionally, but it’s happening and it’s happening because I watched and I learned and I still am.

As a kid, my father was a Navy NCO and I mowed yards for extra money. The thing I did know is that when I finished mowing the yard and my father got off duty, he’d come by and check my work.

Did he ever send you back?

He said, “You didn’t turn the fan so you missed a spot.” It was from an early age.

It taught you to do it right. If you’re going to do it, do it right, whatever it is.

You think about some of the things and that’s the thing you say, it’s not I tell my kids all the time, what you say is what you do. I tell you, Strings, this has been fun.

It’s awesome. Thank you very much for having me come in. It’s a pleasure.

Thanks for the time. Again, it’s SequenzaInc.com to find Strings. Thanks so much.

Thanks. Bob, thank you very much for having me here. I appreciate it.

About Strings Kozisek

BLP Kozisek | Employee Empowerment

I am a senior business executive and adviser, with over 20 years professional, executive leadership experience in and around Asian countries, with a specialty in Japan. Being a private equity entrepreneur, I have owned, co-founded and managed business in the US and abroad and hold advisory positions with several firms across the globe.

Apart from advisory services, I currently hold the CEO position for these major brands.
1) Sequenza Inc. – a international IT and AV professional services firm handling a wide range of
services for leading companies across several verticals including: Finance, Technology,
Telecoms, Retail / Luxury Brands, Healthcare and Travel
2) Sayage – A robust, reliable proprietary digital signage solution, taking the most used signage
functionality and packaging it in an inexpensive solution that takes less than an hour to learn.
3) VINclusive – A host of vehicle dealer enhancement technologies including GPS tracking,
inventory / lot management tools, augmented reality, virtual tours and specialized user
interfaces
4) Sequenza Consulting – Bridging the gap between the Western and Eastern worlds and how
they relate in the business environment. Executive consulting, cultural awareness, corporate
strategies, startup, and global negotiations.

The Executive business advisory role allows me to share my expertise with specialties on high performance strategy, cultural understanding and transformation, M&A, startups, and angel investing and strategic management. All of this is done through private engagements, public speaking, university and company lectures and volunteer work.

Language ability includes; English – Fluent, Japanese – Nearly Fluent, Thai – Conversational

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