daniel kivatinos

Life in Balance

Oct
12

Daniel Kivatinos, COO and Cofounder of DrChrono

It’s what you practice in private that you will be rewarded for in public.

Time is short and running a company takes an enormous amount of focus, having a family and maintaining friendships is an important part of being a whole person. Shawn Stevenson talks about relationships correlating directly to your health, if you have good relationships, your health dramatically improves. In life one of the most important things is our health, be sure to make it a priority.

I hear people saying the words “work-life balance,” are important, I once heard someone talk about “work-life integration”, which is a better way to think about work and life. Why? If you can integrate your working life and home life, you can maintain the pressures of work and the needs of family and friends for a longer period. Life isn’t a quick race, startups aren’t a quick race, startups take time, so thinking about building a startup is like planning to run across the country, what is the easiest, smartest route you can take without falling apart along the way.

Below are some insights, ideas, and thoughts on how to have more life in balance.

TRAVEL HACKS

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nationwide average spent driving one-way commute to work is about 25.5 minutes, with Americans spending more than 100 hours a year commuting. Think about leveraging that time always for something productive, I always capitalize on that time. If I’m driving, I ask myself what can I do to be making an impact today? Or is there something I should be learning, or someone who I can call on this trip. The car and commute time is a great time to capitalize on a phone call or learning, listening to an audiobook.

SOCIAL

Having a support system and social life outside of work is important, whether it be a sports team, a board game meetup, a Pokemon Go group, be sure to find a group of people you can connect with. For my family, we are part of the local YMCA, they provide members “instant social events,” where I can take my son and have a great time. My son joined the local basketball team, it helped us both get out and about without the need to plan events, they provide great resources. I highly recommend checking out the Y.

Networking

I spend about two-thirds of my time on my business and about one-third of the time networking. If I didn’t network a part of my time, DrChrono would have never have gotten in Y Combinator, we wouldn’t have found our enterprise sales leader at Stanford or found our first designer Hong. I focus on my strengths and find others who can fill my gaps.

Choose your peer group really well. The number one way to improve or play at a high level is to populate your working life with high performers.

I connect with people at least once a week that help me grow personally or professionally.

I have several people that I consider my “accountability partners’ who keep me on track and push me in areas of business and personal life that really keep me accountable. 

WALKING

Always have walking meetings, at DrChrono part of our company culture and to have good team communication, we tend to go on a lot of walks. Strategy walks are always productive giving, getting updates and learning from my team.

In the early days even before we incorporated back in 2008, Michael and I would go on lengthy walks to talk about action items we needed to take to build a company in healthcare. We both knew creating a lasting company in the healthcare space would be a long-term endeavor. 

Communicating rapidly every step of the way would be critical. We would stroll to local coffee shops in New York City, talk along the way, grab a coffee, talk some more and walk around the city. Walking also paid off in finding some critical team members. A great example: We hired Hong our design leader simply by going on walks with him. Hong and I knew each other as friends. I would tell Hong a bit about what Michael and I were working on and he would give me input on design, we did this a bit and those walks led to him joining us early on. 

Walking made us more productive. We would go for a walk, get our legs moving, blood would be flowing and get our minds in a good headspace where we would think clearly about the company. We have been doing this since the beginning of the company.

The same goes for phone calls, one of the best ways to stay in shape, be mentally healthy is to simply get up and walk around. Get a standing desk as well as your draft and send out emails. The human body wasn’t designed to sit for long periods of time, humans were designed to hunt way back when.

WORKING OUT & SLEEP

If you don’t make time for health now you will be forced into illness later, the most important thing in life is to have enough energy to tackle the problems of a day, if I don’t have enough energy I won’t perform well. I educate myself on what keeps me healthy on a weekly basis, learning from books and podcasts. For example, does water help in the mornings? Nothing tastes as good as feeling healthy.

Some tools for health that I use:

TRX Tactical is great for travel – One great way to stay in shape is TRX it’s mobile keeps you healthy and you could bring it anywhere traveling at work anywhere.

Resistance Bands are also great for travel – Another great way to stay in shape is resistance bands there actually really mobile you can throw them in your backpack. 

Small Home Gym – One secret to staying healthy long term is to make a small investment in a small home gym. You don’t need anything big but a few items to really allow me to get a quick workout in on the days I simply don’t have time to go to the gym. You can buy a small weight set and kettlebells at Costo or Target for home.

Health Apps I recommend and use:

  • Headspace and Insight Timer – A must for stress management – a meditation app.
  • Lose It! – I use it to track how I am doing with my general health.

MOTIVATION 

Spark your mind daily, be careful what you let into your mind. I am trying to create sustainable greatness and focusing on my family and my business for the long term I really think about stayings invested in the long term payoff. I am playing a 10-year game, not the 6-month game so looking at things long term helps me. I believe that preparation and getting in the right state of mind allows me to put the best me out there. 

Motivation Apps I recommend and use:

  • Peptalk – I use this app to really set my mindset
  • Motivate – an alternative to Peptalk, just as good for the mindset

FAMILY 

My commute is important to me, since time is everything, having a short commute makes a world of difference. I used to have a job where I worked from home and at the other extreme, I had a job where I committed several hours a day. It was really the long commuting hours job that was hard. Having a short commute makes my life way better, I can hop in the car and be at work somewhat fast.

I make sure to spend time with my son and my wife I generally drop my son off at school every day making sure I have that small bit of time in the morning making sure I am there for him. Being a good dad is important to me.

WORKING HOURS

Highest value things are done when I have good “brainpower.” Throughout the day I have different times where I get a lot of work done. Here’s what I find helps me the most:

  • Morning routine
  • Set intentions and get priorities straight
  • Mornings are coveted focus time for me. I generally wake up after 6-8 hours of sleep a night, do a workout to prime myself for the day ahead. Have a glass of water and then try to figure out what will have the most impact. List out up to three things that if you accomplish them, you have made a big impact. 
  • Your priming morning – first 60 minutes is most important. Really focus on important meetings, hard tasks and things that need to be pushed forward, i.e. important initiatives.
  • Then the highest value thing should be tackled first – the profit that produces results – 60 minutes no interruptions.
  • 20 minutes – do something else like going for a walk around the block
  • Making time for creative thinking, for me, is sometimes at night and sometimes in the mornings, and the weekends but keeping times for this is critical.

I always create bubbles of focus, having times or days where I focus on a task. I have my “Menlo Labs” like what Thomas Edison has, a place to totally focus and an offline distraction-free, it is important to get a deep focus on one task per day.

I do like to change up my environment, I tend to work in various conference rooms at the office, I sometimes take an Uber and work in a different location, i.e. Starbucks is a great place to work for a change of environment.

You can always create more money but you can’t create more time, ”seize each day.” Remember that. 

My three key areas are:

  • Taking time for personal development
  • Taking time for thinking strategy 
  • Taking time for action and execution

Maximize every second of the day 

  • Have training team time
  • Stay fully present while focusing on your time 

I tend to focus on what I want (the outcome), not always tasks and everything I need to do all of the time which has allowed me to really build a company over 10 years. Here are some of my other suggestions for making the most of a productive day that has worked well for me over the years:

  • Be unorthodox and be unreachable at certain times to do deep focused work 
  • Have a schedule that works for you 
  • Get gas when no one else does, get your groceries when no one else does 
  • Lines can kill your day suck time 
  • Teach people how I wanted to be comminuted with, e.g. calendly & slack
  • Check email at specific times 
  • Whatever you focus on multiplies 
  • Time block on specific tasks
  • Spend time on profit-producing activities 
  • Have a perspective you only have 24 hours
  • Don’t say “I have tomorrow”
  • Identify my highest four times – when do you get the best results 
  • Figure out when you have the best focus, not when society says you need to do this task at x time.
  • Always remember habits define me

Some additional strategies that I use:

  • Think 3 or 4 steps ahead of the business 
  • Stress is not your enemy. Focus on getting results and it reduces stress
  • Change your environment to change your stress 
  • Shift my perspective 
  • If you have a problem try to come up with two solutions 
  • Analyze why I am stressed 
  • Weekly master plan – work on planning out your week for an hour – a powerful purposeful intention 
  • Always have a deadline 
  • Celebrating weekly progress
  • Quick celebration and quick recover 
  • Train your mind like a muscle, and not multitasking – do one thing to completion 

APPS

Since I have my phone with me I have several critical apps I use. Here are some:

Notes

  • Evernote – I use this app as a general note-taking app for any meeting, it runs on any device.
  • AirTable – A great databasing app, great to track lists of investors, business dev
  • Calendly – helps me scale and allows people to find times on my calendar that work for them,
  • Trello – An amazing project/task tracker.
  • Apple Notes – I use Apple notes for lists. 
  • Todoist – I use this app to track talking points for 1-1s
  • Things – A general task app.

Become an expert on what apps are out there for task tracking and pick one. Education is also very important. I view learning as a lifelong endeavor. Books, audio and videos to spark my mind.

MOOGs are really taking off and there are a few that I use all of the time to sharpen my skills –

  • Audible – A must for everyone who wants to listen to an audiobook on the go. I use it when I am doing laundry.
  • CreativeLive while cooking on the weekends, I am always learning something new from the ever streaming masterclass courses that are happening. The Apple TV app is great.
  • Udemy is great for learning anyplace, I generally am going through a course a month to sharpen my skills in business.

SCHEDULE VACATIONS 

Schedule a few vacations, book them now, I have been booking vacations far out, I book them and don’t wait. Having a vacation booked sets a precedent that you have slotted time off, the act of booking the time off will allow you to have some future time to look forward to. I sometimes don’t book anything too extravagant, maybe some time with family where we go drive to a hotel for a week.

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Y Combinator: Applying and Pitching In Person

Apr
13

All I can say is just do it; if you are thinking about it, it is worth trying to get in. Apply ASAP, don’t delay it. There are no guarantees when applying but it is worth it. Y Combinator is more open then you think if they see a great idea and team. The Y Combinator team is willing to invest early. They invest in startup ideas and people. They take risks in new markets and invest a lot of the time when other investors don’t understand the market. To apply to Y Combinator go here.

Application

Most important things to show on your application:

  • You can build stuff fast.
  • Do you have some users using something you built? If not start building!
  • Have you done something amazing in the past? (E.g. Create Django?)
  • Make sure there are two of you at least (founders). Founder dynamics is important, if you have been friends or been working together for several years, then there is a great dynamic. Friends general won’t just walk away from something that will take the time to build. Startups can be stressful, show that your team can handle the stress of it.
  • Make sure you put a video attachment in your application, it will help.
  • Y Combinator looks for good team dynamics.
  • Conviction in what you are doing.
  • Talk about something you have done amazing in the company or in your life that really stands out.
  • Talk about the passion and idea to the partners.
  • Know your market size.
  • Know your competition.
  • Talk about the vision of your product.
  • Is there something driving you do build this company, startups are the cool thing to do but generally persistence pushes companies forward and having the right motivation will keep you going. Have the right motivation if you are starting a startup.

Pitching in Person

  • The first 30 seconds are super important.
  • Have one person be the presenter during your very fast pitch in person.
  • Practice, practice, practice before meeting with the Y Combinator partners. Ask yourself’s questions the night before being interviewed, think about questions you think you won’t answer well, it helped us, my cofounder and I more than we thought it would. It is fast interview questions, rapid fire that will prep you so you are sharp for this kind of fast interviewing.
  • Find one or more founders that went through YC to talk too. We found two, one of them was the founder of Reddit, Alexis. We also found another founder who really helps us understand the process the day before our in-person interview. Insight into the fast questions you will get will help you think fast on your feet.
  • Record yourself via video and audio, and listen to it over and over. (Use Evernote to record the audio or something else.)

Alexis came to drchrono’s office talking to the early drchrono team before we pitched Y Combinator.

  • One way to think about your pitch to the Y Combinator is this way, all of these can be shuffled around, depending. If you have fast growth shuffle things around  and assume you only have 10 minutes to pitch:

  • If you have the chance to pitch in person, be sure to practice your pitch over and over.
  • Record your pitch and listen to it several times to see where you are strong and you’re not strong.
  • You need to be able to communicate, you need to convey information very fast, practice.
  • Have you done a lot with very little? No investors, bootstrapped?
  • Show the product if you have one!
  • Have a demo? Load demo data and be ready to present it!
  • The partners see a ton of pitches, so have a tee shirt on with your logo. Well worth the branding and you can wear it anytime.
  • Sometimes context – “we are the X of X” helps people understand what you are doing.
  • Highlight something impressive, featured in the App Store? Win an award? Have some funding?
  • Have you burned your boats?
  • The pitch:
    • Team: Talk about your backgrounds, the co-founders.
      • Have a good intro.
      • Why you?
      • The team is super important so introduce yourselves in 30 seconds.
      • They want to make sure the founders get along and there isn’t an internal power struggle.
      • What is something you were super proud of?
      • What is your story? (each co-founder) Did you work for Apple? Do you have a Ph.D.?
        • If it is a company that is big you worked at but people don’t know the name, just say the company is the second largest X in the world. The company I worked at made X billion per year.
      • Who is the technical co-founder? Who is the CEO?
      • Michael my co-founder of drchrono talks about the “Humble Brag
      • How long have the founders known each other? If you are friends you will tough it out when things get tough.
    • Problem: What is the problem?
    • Market: How big is the market? Is there competition? Is there a large amount of capital needed to start?
    • Product: Can you describe the company in 1 minute.
      • Is there tech risk?
    • Traction: Is this just an idea? Prototype? Have real users?
      • Do you have revenue? Do you have growth month over month?
      • Early fast growth helps.
  • We have X number of users, if you have traction, be sure to put that up!

The partners will ask questions and throw curve balls.

One tip: Be confident and walk up to others at Y Combinator and say hi! There are some really amazing founders around at YC.

Be sure to listen to this great lecture from Sam Altman from Startup School

More on pitching and demoing can be found here.

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The Executive Summary

May
31

A great way to layout your Executive Summary, this is the format that the people over at AngelSoft use. It is a CLEAN format that gets all good points across:

Example Executive Summary

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Term Sheet

Mar
11

If you build a company, when negotiations happen an angel investor or a VC might want to write you a check for a percentage of your company.

Generally an investor will pass you a term sheet, this is something that is non binding but is a layout of how the company will change, what the investor expects and if it is a good term sheet will motivate the startup team to progress the company.

Some more intesting info on term sheets:

Some terms you should know about term sheets:

Types of investments an investor will make:

Employment, Jobs Info & where to post your CV/resume

Jan
21

Below are great tips and on finding information on employment, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn if you want to add anything to this list.

Posting jobs at Schools

Must Follow on Twitter

Jobs Search Tools

Consulting Gigs

Job Market Information

Salary Information

Startup Jobs

Corporate Jobs, I listed a few. You can always look up more info on companies on LinkedIn.

Temp Jobs

Web Jobs, to name just a few…

Government Jobs

Job Fairs

Work Tips

Head Hunders … I highly recommend you work with a few head hunters when looking for you next job.

Interview Questions, do your research and read up on some interview questions.

Have job related questions? Check out careeroverflow.com

And of course there are jobs as well at drchrono.com.

Some hard programming tests from some of the best companies:
Greplin.com
Quora.com
Dropbox
Facebook Puzzles

If you are looking to find people, check this out as well talentbin

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Gary Vaynerchuk Talks About How to do What You Love

Oct
15

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Mint.com CEO Aaron Patzer

Oct
13

A very in dept look into mint.com

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Startups Having Advisory Boards

Oct
12
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BootUpNYC 2009

Oct
01
Michael and I went to BootUpNYC 2009, it was a great experience, we met a number of great
people doing startups and looking to do startups. There were investors, workspace providers and people providing advice. The BootUpNYC is a must for anyone starting and running a business.
Photos of the night:
bootupnyc_2009_collage
Michael and I at the BootUp, me on the left and Michael on the right:
Danie and Michael
David Rose, an investor whom we had the honor to chat with:
Tokumbo Shobowale, Chief Operating Officer of the New York City Economic Development Corporation:
Darren Herman, entrepreneur and digital media evangelist:
Sanford Dickert, a social-media consultant:
Bruce Niswander, an entrepreneur and consultant with over 20 years of experience:
Rachel Sterne, CEO of GroundReport.com:

DrChrono.com featured in an Inc.com article

Oct
01

DrChrono.com was featured in an online article for Inc. magazine. Read the full article on their website:
http://inc.com/news/articles/2009/03/layoff.html

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