Jeremy Bodenhamer

Entrepreneur, Husband, Dad and CrossFit enthusiast

Hi, I'm Jeremy. I like solving problems, spotting opportunity and making things better. I love my family, nonfiction, surfing and well run businesses. I started my first business when I was twelve and I've been an entrepreneur ever since. I'm currently the CEO of Hawk Applications. We built ShipHawk, a revolutionary online application that will allow you to overnight a letter, or an M1 tank, all from your living room or mobile phone - in less than 3 minutes. Yep, pretty cool! I make my living building businesses and consulting about business growth and online marketing. I love helping people make their companies more successful, so if you have any questions, send them over. Thanks for looking me up. Let's connect on Linkedin or Twitter.

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What happens if things don’t go as planned?

I was speaking to a Venture Capitalist last week, sharing our plans for ShipHawk, and he asked me, “What happens if things don’t go as planned?”  
In 2005, I was asked to take over a failing restaurant while the owners were embroiled in internal litigation.  The business was bleeding cash.  This wasn’t a hole in the wall place. It was the largest restaurant in the county, with 500 seats and over 130 employees.  
It only took a month to stop the bleeding.  Like a sick patient, failure has symptoms.  The symptoms at the restaurant were: 
  1. Lack of structure (systems and protocol)
  2. Inadequate training
  3. Disorganized staff
  4. Poor kitchen design
  5. Inconsistent leadership
I immediately restructured the staff and scheduling, changed the order of operations in the kitchen, renegotiated vendor contracts, acted as a buffer between the staff and the fighting owners, and wrote a detailed training manual.  
Although the immediate financial changes were positive, they did not come without bruises.  The kitchen staff was not happy with the changes and threatened to walk out, I was asked to testify in bankruptcy hearings against owners I was reporting to, and the first month involved many 20 hour days.  But we saved the business and over 100 jobs.  
"The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry." This is a fact.  The difference is what is done about it.  My M.O. is to always do what is in the best interest of the customer.  
Businesses that are focused on the customer, actively listening, and willing to react, rarely have lethal problems when things don’t go as planned.  And when they do, they are the businesses that are able to effectively deal with them.  

Every Customer Should Matter!

I was in Orange County yesterday visiting new clients and I had some extra time in between meetings.  My dad’s house is in nearby Huntington Beach so I stopped by for a quick visit.  Our conversation started with Nissan and Google’s self-driving cars, unemployment, and California’s drought and quickly led to Amazon and Walmart’s affect on Main Street.  I told him that one of my fundamental beliefs is that no company should get so big that it no longer cares about each individual customer.  He scoffed at the impractical nature of this opinion, so I asked him, “Do you think Verizon cares about you as a customer?”  His reply, “Not a bit!”  We were at a chain coffee shop, a big company with a local franchisee.  “Do you think this restaurant cares about you?”  He said, “A little bit.”  Then the kicker.  Do you think that Angelo at Bacci’s, his favorite local Italian spot, cares about you as a customer?”  His response: “Absolutely!” 
Many times we forget the true cost of doing business with the “big guys.”  We may save a few dollars, but we lose a lot more.  When relationship no longer matters, we start to settle for low price, convenience and low standards.  
Our communities are now dominated by big box stores and unhealthy fast food restaurants.  The American landscape looks the same everywhere you go, whitewashed with stale corporate logos.  Are we really better off because there is a McDonalds on every corner?  Do the low Walmart prices really improve the standard of living for the community around each superstore?  We order everything from Amazon, but what happens when there is no choice but to order from Amazon?  
If the dollar is the almighty arbiter of our priorities, then this is clearly the world we desire.  Low prices.  Cheap products.  Poor service.  Auto attendants.  Minimum wage.  But it’s okay, right?  Because our cheap crap from China is soooo cool!  
I hate to break it to you, but you no longer matter.  
And the robot’s haven’t even taken over yet.  

Just Say “Yes”

I am frequently asked what I did to produce consistent growth at my last company.  The truth is, many decisions contributed to our success.  I became an expert in online marketing.  I put customers’ interests above my own.  I hired a team of cool people and gave them the freedom to show off their great personalities.  But none of these decisions produced the same results as using the word yes.  

I remember the first time I was faced with a shipping challenge that I didn’t know the answer to.  One of our clients had sold a life-sized rocking horse on eBay and now needed to ship it.  I had no idea how to get this done, but I said yes and figured it out.  

I worked for both Nordstrom and Starbucks while I was in high school.  Both companies employ just say yes policies.  Nordstrom is famous for theirs.  I experienced what this meant when a man returned 3 dress shirts that must have been two years old.  The ring around the collar, fraying edges and age didn’t stop the salesman from promptly refunding the customer’s money.  This was nothing compared to the legend circulating the Nordstrom back rooms of the man who returned snow tires to the store.  Snopes confirms this story is legend, but the lesson is still valuable.  

The more I said “yes,” the more business grew, and the more my reputation spread as a shipping resource.  

Obviously, I will now have to write a post on the value of saying “no!”  :) 

Ecclesiastes 11:6

I read a great verse in the Bible today.  ”Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”  

Instead of resolutions I usually give each year a theme.  A few years back I found myself spreading myself too thin, trying to solve too many problems at once, and therefore solving nothing at all.  This epiphany lead to the year of focus theme.  I focused on one project and had a super successful year.  

Learning from the experience, I have continued to focus on one project at a time.  The problem now is that this level of deep concentration on one project often leaves me exhausted by the end of the day and instead of having a productive evening, I often find myself getting lost in the next episode of Sons of Anarchy or Arrow.  

An additional project can often bring relief and clarity of mind, much like a vacation.  I still have one main focus, ShipHawk, but sometimes it’s nice to work on a writing project, conduct research or build something cool with my wife as a way of taking my mind off of work.  As much as I love TV, these projects make me feel like less of a zombie and, you never know, maybe one of them will become my next big thing.  

fastcompany:

Did you finish all those chips at lunch (even though you vowed to only have half)? Here’s why.

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junkfood

“So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers.

What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.”

Check out the full NY Times article here.

Great article.

fastcompany:

Here’s why Twitter software engineer Buster Benson or Y Combinator founder Paul Graham think that you need to learn to love to toil.

The personal slog

Writing on his always-interesting SVBTLE blog, Benson says there are different modes of work:

  1. Introspection: Finding yourself.
  2. Exploration: Finding everything else.
  3. Goal-making: Based on values found during introspection.
  4. Strategy-making: Hypotheses about how to achieve your goals.
  5. Experimentation: Trying things, playing, iterating.
  6. Finding fit: Person/universe fit.
  7. Slogging: Executing. Doing the work.

Each draws on different moods, states of mind, and brainwaves, Benson says, and we tend to excel at some and suck at others.

These processes don’t happen sequentially; they’re simultaneous. If your workflow is a startup, its organization is flat: Each mode is strongest when the others are strongest, and neglecting one hurts the others.

And it’s the slog that’s getting things done.

An inquiry into human schlepping

Paul Graham is Silicon Valley’s godfather who defines what makes a startup a startup (growth) and what a founder really is: an economic research scientist. Part of that research is schlepping.

“One of the many things we do at Y Combinator is teach hackers about the inevitability of schleps,” he writes in a recent post. “(They) are not merely inevitable, but pretty much what business consists of.”

We don’t like schleps, Graham says, and that dislike provokes an unconscious blindness. We are, unknown to ourselves, pulling away from doing hard stuff (like seeing your friend in Queens).

But because everyone’s scared of the schlep, the toils are doubly valuable.

So keep calm and schlep on.

Here’s the full story.

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