Talk To People

The Inventive Journey
Episode #351
Talk To People
w/ Ike Dimitriadis

What This Episode Talks About:

How To Manage Business & Self


"Talk to people. Find out from other people who are doing that work, something similar, what its like. Ask them for pointers, talk to them, engage. Its almost like networking, I guess it is networking. Talk to people who have done it. I thought I knew what I was getting into, and for the most part I did, but there were key elements that I was missing that slowed me down. You may find that the experience wasn't anything like you wanted it to be. You may find that its exactly what your are hoping it is but you have to take certain steps to make sure your not going down the wrong path. It's like any other business once you go down a path its hard to back track and start over, or redo even part of it. Talk to people who have succeeded, who are running their own business. Ask them about building a network, acquiring clients, marketing, the legal aspect. Get advice. If you haven't done it before you don't know what you don't know. If you don't exactly how to do something of the things you will find out, at least you know where you are on the landscape and you can plan accordingly."


 

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What Is The Inventive Journey?

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.


ai generated transcription

talk to people find out other find out from other people who are doing that work something similar um what it's like ask them for pointers uh talk to them engage uh it's almost like networking but um i guess it is networking talk to people who have done it i thought i knew what i was getting into and for the most part i did but there were key elements that i was missing and it slowed me down um i would say talk to other people you may find that the experience is not anything like what you want it to be um you may find that it's exactly what you are hoping it is but you have to take certain steps to make sure you don't go down the wrong path um it's like any other business you know once you go down a path it's hard to backtrack and start over um or or redo even part of it so i would talk to people who have succeeded i should i should uh put a caveat on that talk to people who have succeeded in this who are running their own business ask them about um building you know how do you build a network how do you uh acquire clients uh how do you do your marketing um what's the legal aspect you know what's the difference between a dba and an llc i didn't know but yeah i i found out and it i had to it it took time to come to that decision um so i yeah get advice get advice if you've never done it before you don't know what you don't know and um even if you don't know exactly how to do some of the things that you'll find out at least you know where you are on the landscape and you can plan about it [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur has grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as a founder and ceo of miller ip law where he helps startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat we're always here to help now today we've got another great guest on the podcast ike dimitriatas and uh ike was uh growing or when he was going off to school was interested in technology during school so went to columbia and got in uh did engineering and was a technologist and then began his career as a developer and uh or the role of the developer shrunk and has become more specialized and so um i was doing so or did software development for a few different companies i think about four different companies doing similar roles and then went to a business school to increase his skills more focus on leadership and strategy um and was uh did a part-time or did that part-time as he worked and then finished it up stated the company that was he was doing it during school for a couple of years changed jobs um to another business where to build areas he was building his network and then last made he decided to start his own uh consulting program building out and further building out his network so with that much as a introduction welcome on the podcast site thank you devin appreciate it uh good to be here absolutely so i just uh took the thirty second version of a much longer journey um so with that why don't take us back a bit in time to when your journey got started uh studying uh in your technology and engineering at columbia yeah so columbia university was uh it was a good place to cut my teeth and learn about the basics of uh computer programming software development um when i got to the marketplace it was expected that you as a computer programmer would know the business and the programmer basically did everything the developer built things there was a qa team but it was qa development and deployment um and my skills grew as i was doing it more and more uh and after a couple years i noticed that there was a trend that there were more and more responsibilities taken from the developer and given to other people the roles of project leader program manager all these other roles began to develop that used to be the responsibility of the developer and they became more specialized so just reading the tea leaves um i wanted to get involved more in the business but i knew i didn't have like the vocabulary i didn't have the background so i went to business school to basically learn just a bit because that was like over the space of i think working for four different companies right so where take is backup in time you're coming out of school you graduated you have the engineering you start doing it being a developer where did the journey start so what was that what was the first business you worked with so the first business um was a company called jayak um they were putting out uh database interface uh tools uh with a with a slick ui um it was mostly unix believe it or not uh and it was it was good i had a really good mentor there and uh i you know i i made all my mistakes well most of my mistakes there um learning the importance of qa why partner with them uh but i really loved developing solutions right coding seemed to be the way to do it uh and it was very scientific uh which lends itself to my personality i like having uh you know thinking deeply about structure and flow and all that stuff so uh i mean i always wanted to do computer programming uh growing up in uh i grew up in basically uh in an immigrant family um my parents came to this country and computers were the thing so growing up uh we were talking about what was out there uh in terms of the american dream and uh and i always started to live it uh being able to do technology i mean technology was really the big thing uh when we're talking about like the early 80s um but giant was the first company where i really figured out the difference between up and down uh it really was much very much an orientation experience um after a couple of years i outgrew it there's just no good way to say that i i was proficient and i was looking for the next challenge and it wasn't there uh i did actually pursue some internal opportunities but um it's really hard to move up i i find uh in a company when people see you in a certain role that's your role um so i i went to another company information builders where uh i learned it was a bigger company i learned what it was like to work for a large company giant was a smaller company um this was a bigger company where the employee count was in the thousands and it was uh on a corporate floor where everything was much more formal it was just as much a learning experience because i was hired as a senior developer so i was doing development but i was also looking out for other people and as my expertise was building my cred i i was looked upon as a as a source of information as a source of knowledge so so that was pretty cool um did that for a couple of years i i learned about new systems that's where i first encountered uh the windows platform development believe it or not it wasn't it was hard to see windows at that time as a as a solid development platform it seemed um not the most mature when you're looking at in the context of like unix and all the different flavors of units not just linux but different flavors it wasn't as mature and as it began to develop i began to engage with it and uh i thought it was cool because i thought windows was cool um and so yeah i did that until the dot-com boom um right around year 2000 um i joined the dot-com uh it was called rare medium um great experience great people uh much less formal which was nice i think i just needed a break from formality and you know have it i enjoyed my freedom in being able to develop and exchange ideas and uh and that particular company was well connected so i was able to work with vendors and and work with the the windows asp team which was totally totally cool uh learned a lot um unfortunately the economy did not allow me to stay there more than a couple of months so we all know what happened at the end of the dot com uh bust but then i joined another company that wasn't a startup but was uh it was merrill lynch had uh spun off a company at the time it was called ideal uh now it's called iprio it's gone through a number of mergers acquisitions whatnot but um that was where i got into financial services and finances the clients were all of the major banks and the pressures of being able to deliver quickly in bulk uh and have it be right with a very small margin for error um was reorienting for me i had to adjust to that i i admit that it was tough i i grew in the sense of being able to see the customer feedback there and by that i mean you know i was yelled at by customers that that's just what it was but in fairness to them you know i didn't realize the small things that i noticed were big things for them uh it gave me a better appreciation for how much the business depends on technology and it has to be right the first time okay uh they are we're not paying them to test our stuff we're not uh looking to them for feedback to improve our product we're delivering the product finished polished ready to go uh and that gave me a really good uh perspective on how big the world was um when you're dealing with big banks you know there's uh millions and millions of dollars i i remember my first couple of weeks i was entering some sample data and i put things in the thousands of dollars and my manager looked at me strange it's like dude millions tens of millions those are the dollar figures that we that our software works with uh and so yeah it was i learned a lot i got a lot of skills there um you know as i was going through my journey i was developing more and more skills um but it was during the the downtime it was after the dot-com crash um and it was before uh things picked up again once things started to pick up um there was the google ipo was the huge turning point in my career i didn't work for google but um the google ipo was being underwritten by uh credit suisse and morgan stanley at the time and those two companies were hiring like crazy because this is a big deal um people were killing to get in on on being able to buy some shares early and so um i think the the the ipo strike price i think was like something like 30 a share which you look at it now it's crazy but um but i i was i found an opportunity with morgan stanley um there it was a little more sane uh not being part of a small company being part of a big company you had better support you had uh better um better tools and you had some pull in terms of defining uh project deliverables and timelines so um so it was more professional you know i i was i was moving up but at some point at morgan um i realized that i didn't know the business as well as i needed to you know um i understood technology i could look at code and tell you within 30 seconds what it's doing and if there was a bug where where to look um but in terms of what even an ipo was uh what a secondary offering was no idea and i realized uh also there was a great tuition reimbursement program so this was the time to go to business school um and that turned into another uh it turned the direction of my career uh because the thing about technology is you can only go so far in terms of growth right uh you're a developer or a tester or a user experience expert and then you become a manager which isn't always a fit it was a fit for me but a lot of people struggle with it it's not really a fit and then after that that's it right they don't uh they don't manage businesses they don't manage business units because they're not business people uh and and that's not the career path i mean maybe architect i've seen um where you could be um you know defining architecture defining standards uh but it's not like what i thought where it was you know cto to get to the cto you have to go through the business there's no growth from senior manager to uh there's no path rather senior manager to cto cio so went to business school i learned about business i learned about uh finance uh i learned about leadership i specialized in leadership and strategy um it was a stern school of business by the way a huge fan uh highly recommend it i went to the part-time program and i learned about strategy i learned about the importance of it and how to think about it how to monetize um assets how to monetize time um how to find uh value how things are our value valuation um and also i got the opportunity to in a bubble so to speak kind of run my own stuff uh and i found i really liked it i liked being able to come up with a vision i liked being able to define uh the path the road you know the road map uh to achieving division defining milestones i i liked it it was still about delivering solutions um but it was a clearer path the steps were clear and i had better tools better knowledge better expertise and i had a network now because turns out lots of people go to business school and they work in lots of industries and i made a lot of friends in a lot of industries uh all ready to give advice and lend support you know when needed when it when when you ask for it so now one what was that comes up just on that is so you went off to the business school got the nba you know you were working part-time or doing the mba part-time as you're also working what's the intent that hey this was going to enable you to build uh you know build yourself up within the company and have additional skill sets or was the intent always at some point i want to venture out on my own and this is kind of the stepping stone to do that kind of what was the thought or thought process or the plan as you were getting the mba it was both um just not at the same time uh so the immediate plan was to grow within the company um and be able to move up and it kind of succeeded i mean i did get uh a promotion um i did get more responsibilities i i grew in both credibility and responsibility um and and it worked out so it it it was interesting because the the skills that i used uh to move up uh just had more to do with presentation and polish and being able to speak business as opposed to speak technology it was eye-opening and alarming at the same time how i my former responses to questions when uh business people would ask them how off the mark they were how how far i had misunderstood what they were looking for and now that i was able to do it and i was able to speak the language so to speak um it afforded me a lot of opportunities because people were able to see uh the value that i was adding uh to the to the process and the value i could add the more value i could add so um at the same time i got to tell you um i graduated college wanting to start my own business had i done that it would have failed but just because i didn't know what i didn't know uh and at the same time when i was doing b-school the the classes i took were not only for my immediate career needs but i was setting myself up for down the road starting my own business um i took a bunch of entrepreneurial oriented classes so to speak uh i i learned a lot i got a lot of good experience i got i had a lot of rough experience but the roughness smoothed out what needed to be smoothed out uh so it was it was both to answer your question um just on different timelines no that makes sense so now as you're you're so you go get the nba doing that part time and you're continuing to work you come out of school now how long do you i think you stayed with the company you're at for another year or two is that right uh it was actually about four years okay so four years so you stayed with them for a period of time and i s i guess the question one follow-up question to the previous one which is did it afford that ability to grow or to expand and gain additional experience within the company you're at over those next four years in other words was it worthwhile or did they come in to play more as you decided to venture out on your own it i i was able to achieve uh what i wanted in terms of growth i there were more opportunities that were offered to me um and i took advantage of them um that said it was closer to graduation date so four years later i needed to do something different i needed to do something more oriented around creativity and being able to deliver solutions i started finding it frustrating that i would see opportunities for improvement uh business opportunities growth opportunities uh revenue opportunities uh and when i would talk about them i would get answers one of two answers one was nah that's not gonna work oh gee thanks uh and and answer two was that's a fantastic idea i'll tell the person who is running that program now about this possible opportunity again gee thanks um so uh i i did grow but i quickly hit a wall again because all of a sudden i had vision for bigger things all of a sudden i had capabilities um that i couldn't use in my current context and it began to become stifling um i i'm you know if you ask any of my friends at the time there they'll all tell you that i i was looking for the next step uh and nobody was giving it to me and it was getting frustrating um and you know especially big business you can't just go out and grab it i mean you can to a certain point but there's a you know there's a line and after you cross that line you get slapped on the wrist you you have to work within a context um [Music] and so i was looking for other opportunities i hadn't yet started uh i hadn't yet started thinking about starting my own business because uh my kids were born they were small i had financial responsibilities uh to my wife and my family and um i i had to have revenue coming in for that period of time and i knew that so um so i joined with smp global but when i was doing my job search i explicitly said to everyone who i spoke with i am looking for a problem i don't want to go to a place that's already set that is already humming running well and my job would be to keep it going and you know incremental changes perhaps that's not the job i want i want a problem i want to go to a place that's in a state of crisis and i want to elevate it i want to repair it and grow it because i saw that as an opportunity i saw that as something that i was good at um i that's always been uh improving has always been my bread and butter um looking at things and identifying where problem areas are and growing them and at the time s p what is now s p global was actually mcgraw-hill financial that was their their name and um all my friends thought i went to a book publisher but no it was actually a financial company and there was a crisis there uh and i was able to elevate it as much as could be expected uh there were still roadblocks corporate roadblocks that i had to overcome um [Music] and so but nevertheless it was it was good delivering those solutions and i got to prove it to myself that i actually could do more than what my uh prior experience the limitations from my prior experience were uh so so that was that was good but at the same time it was still somewhat entrepreneurial i i had more um i had more say so i had more freedom when things would introduce themselves that didn't lend themselves to that then you know i i found ways around it but uh the next big turn actually happens i i certainly get you know there is a difference i i think there's a significant difference in building a business when it's one that it's already established and you're optimizing it or you know making it better or improving it or you know and working on those type of things versus hey i'm going to tackle a new problem i'm going to get something going from the ground up or you know from scratch and now i'm going to see if i can actually build something out of nothing so to speak and so now as you've done that and just or just for time why or time frame wise when did you uh venture out on your own or decide to start building your own firm so towards the end of my time with smp global i had begun to establish some roots some foundations just preparatory work knowing that at some point i was going to move to that um and then the pandemic hit uh ironically i was actually ready to leave and embark on my own right about the time when when it hit uh like many people i was waiting for the bonus payout and uh so but and that was going to be in march and march everything locked down so uh it became relatively impossible to do that at that time uh about a year later uh the things started to open up and the the opportunities presented themselves um there there were openings that that came up where i was able to start on my own um the i i'm i have and i'm using uh my network that i built up over time uh to engage with people for for client work but uh i am starting i started on my own and i wanted to do that like i have vision for um hiring and growing but i wanted to start on my own because i wanted the flexibility i wanted the freedom to be able to define the vision without interference uh which is what i'm doing now um i knew that there would be a hill to climb there it was and is a hill to climb still but i have to tell you there's uh there's no regrets i am i'm building my business i'm growing it uh i am doing i'm working with technology that i love uh i am doing it in the in uh in an environment that i enjoy so so yeah no it has definitely um i found that everything that i had done up to that point gave me the skills and the wherewithal to be able to launch successfully does that make sense no i think that that certainly makes sense and so now as we kind of uh get to where you're at today and you know it's a great time to transition to the two questions i always ask at the end of each journey or as we reach the present day so to speak of getting that going so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it the worst business decision i ever made um i think there was a point um after the dot-com bust where times were desperate uh if you were if technologists remember that time if you all were uh working and looking for work at the time um it was tough to find work uh it was just you know all the technology companies especially took a huge hit uh and the mistake was that i took the first opportunity that became available because i didn't know if another one was going to right i had just been laid off because the company was no longer financially viable uh and i grabbed the first thing that came along without taking a deep breath looking around assessing uh and deciding for myself what i wanted i took a job uh and and i and i regretted it throughout the time i was there i mean not to blame them you know i i attached myself to something that wasn't a fit for me and it became very obvious very quickly but at the same time because of the economic landscape um i couldn't leave easily it you know looking for work is a job in and of itself anybody who's done it will tell you it takes hours if you're going to do it right and you know when you have a full-time job it makes it that much harder but i would say grabbing the first thing came along uh back in 2001 was probably the worst decision i made i think that that you know there's it is hard when you're looking for a job you're looking for a position and one if you're you know looking because when you have bills to pay but also two is you're trying to find something that that fits or that you know that or may line up with what you're doing it's a difficult task there's one that it's not always or you know easy or seamless on the front end and yet you know you have the the pressures of why you're needing a job or having that income so i definitely understand the motivation for the mistake but also the lessons learned from it yeah second question second question i always ask is now if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or a small business would be the one piece of advice you give them talk to people find out other find out from other people who are doing that work something similar um what it's like ask them for pointers uh talk to them engage it's almost like networking but i guess it is networking talk to people who have done it i thought i knew what i was getting into and for the most part i did but there were key elements that i was missing and it slowed me down um i would say talk to other people you may find that the experience is not anything like what you want it to be you may find that it's exactly what you are hoping it is but you have to take certain steps to make sure you don't go down the wrong path um it's like any other business you know once you go down a path it's hard to backtrack and start over um or or redo even part of it so i would talk to people who have succeeded i should i should uh put a caveat on that talk to people who have succeeded in this who are running their own business ask them about um building you know how do you build a network how do you uh acquire clients uh how do you do your marketing um what's the legal aspect you know what's the difference between a dba and an llc i didn't know but yeah i i found out and it i had to it it took time to come to that decision um so i yeah get advice get advice if you've never done it before you don't know what you don't know and um even if you don't know exactly how to do some of the things that you'll find out at least you know where you are on the landscape and you can plan accordingly i think that that uh definitely makes sense and i think that's uh great advice so now as we wrap up the episode if people want to reach out to you they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any year all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you and contact you or find out more yeah um you can find me on linkedin um the the path to my profile is slash in slash ike dimitriatas uh i you can see the spelling uh from the from the broadcast here but um you can reach out to me that way i will respond and i welcome anybody who wants to reach out if you want to do business if you want to get some advice happy to take any and all awesome well i definitely encourage people to reach out connect up and find out more and support a great business and with that thank you again ike for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast we'd love to have you just go to inventiveguest.com apply to me on the show a couple more things as a listener make sure to click uh subscribe share leave us a review because we want to make sure that everyone finds out about all these awesome episodes and last but not least if you ever need help with your patents your trademarks or anything else with your business just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat well thank you again ike for coming on the podcast and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you it's been a blast







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