I had the pleasure of interviewing Jacob Fenuccio, Founder & CEO of Fractal Solutions LLC, a rapidly growing company whose purpose is to empower, inspire, & serve innovators & entrepreneurs. Based out of Southwest Florida, Fractal Solutions has collaborated with individuals, startups, businesses, schools, and professors on a global scale. Fractal Solutions is continually strengthening its arsenal of tools, resources, products, & services as part of its movement to empower, inspire, & serve innovators & entrepreneurs.
1.Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us about your journey to becoming CEO?
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Jacob has had a fortunate streak of influence at pivotal points in his life that enabled him to spring forward and up to the next levels. When Jacob’s hometown high school was on the verge of losing accreditation, Dana Ball and Kate Hentz stepped up to fund Jacob’s education at a phenomenal nearby private school, Saint John’s High School of Shrewsbury. It was there that Jacob met several professors who instilled values in him and fostered his passion for leadership and the sciences. Then, when faced with paying for college, Jacob received a full academic merit scholarship from the Buick Achievers program of General Motors. This enabled Jacob to attend Northeastern University, where Jacob met many other people aspiring to create their own positive footprint on the world. It was there that, in the midst of continuing his love for the sciences, Jacob also started his entrepreneurial pursuits and discovered his passion for business. Starting with a hockey rink building company his freshman year, then a US bamboo bike distribution partnership his sophomore year, Jacob caught the entrepreneurial bug. His third year at Northeastern, Jacob started bouncing between summer courses in Boston and Velin, a startup in central Massachusetts, where Jacob was one of three founders building custom snowboards, longboards, & skateboards. By the time Jacob graduated, it became clear to him that he loved the methodologies and tools of science. He loved innovating and capturing ideas through his product design & development work in engineering, but he also had a newfound passion for business and entrepreneurship. It was this journey, the foundation poured by his family, and the timely grace of others, that gave Jacob the chance to capture opportunities and formulate how he would pay it forward to others. It’s with these blessings that Jacob founded and became CEO of Fractal Solutions LLC, so that others, especially aspiring innovators & entrepreneurs, can better capture their own ideas & opportunities.
2. What is your definition of success?
I like to reference Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote for success which was recently made famous by Jeff Bezos… “To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
3. Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting thing since leading Fractal Solutions has definitely been the global reach for such a young company. Very quickly we began working with others from China, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Serbia, and of course the US. It may not sound sound like a big deal in our increasingly connected world, but when we haven’t really focused any time or attention on global marketing (yet) it’s interesting to see that our movement and mission resonates with others across the globe.
4. What failures have you had along the way? How have they led you to success?
Since failures are often the result of problems and pain points, they present opportunities to create solutions and can lead to unexpected successes. We strive to face failures head on and we honestly encounter them to some degree every day. There is obviously a spectrum of failures from small to large, but each one allows us to reflect, learn, grow, and create a “moat” for competition. Every hurdle we jump is another hurdle that separates us from the rest. Most see failure as bad and something to avoid, we see failure as something that leads to good and something to mitigate but embrace for improvement.
5. What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
As part of our mission and vision, we strive for simplicity, scalability, and repeatability. Looking to fractals, we don’t just believe, we know that there are fundamental pieces ubiquitous to life, success, and so much more. We continually chase these keys for the betterment of our community. As Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractals, said, “bottomless wonders spring from certain simple rules repeated without end.” At Fractal Solutions, we aim to create bottomless wonders for our community by continually improving and repeating certain rules & processes.
6. Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Yes, several. Some of them are further along than others and some of them have varying degrees of our involvement. I will share a few of them with you. Two new pre-launch endeavors are Paw In Hand Ranch and Graffiti’s Removal & Art. Paw In Hand Ranch is a non-profit supporting animals with food, supplies, land, & shelter in areas that are in high-risk disaster (hurricane & flooding) areas. “The Paw” isn’t just going to save animals, they will save crucial time, effort, resources, and money. Graffiti’s Removal & Art offers unmatched solutions to cover, remove, & replace graffiti as well as supply artwork for various properties. “Graffiti’s” adds value to properties while opening proper opportunities for artists to share their talents. Both of these projects (we prefer to call them endeavors) are part of our Fractal Program™. We are also working with several more established companies. For these, we often act as liaison to streamline processes and foster innovative environments. The frontier of our work is in our directories for innovation resources, speakers, and events.
7. Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is doing to become be more sustainable? Can you give an example for each?
There are really 5 core initiatives or areas that our company focuses on to be more sustainable…
- Clarity — We maintain a clear mission & vision that helps drive decisions. For us it’s simple…if we are wondering whether or not to pursue an endeavor we ask ourselves, “Does it empower, inspire, and/or serve innovators & entrepreneurs?” If yes, then we consider it further, if not, then we move along without wasting time, energy, & resources.
- Priority — Since we clearly know what we should spend our time on, what comes first? For us, the importance is always on our existing customers and new customers. By utilizing KPIs, we know what drives our business and we can measure the success of different efforts so we know where to focus more energy. We are always searching for “Pareto Opportunities” — “What are the 20% of tasks that affect 80% of the outcomes, positive feedback, KPIs, etc?”
- Organization — Every day the cost of our time and the complexity of business increase. Organization is fundamental to making anything better. For our team management and organization, we use the LUX TEAMS platformso that all our meetings, projects, and tasks are monitored and strategically aligned.
- Innovation — No team gets excited without some level of creativity, ideation, & innovation. Doing the same things expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Don’t make your teams go insane. Let them innovate and try new things now and again. All the best teams have an err of pioneering to them. Not only does it build a strong team bond, but it adds to the sense of purpose and achievement when you’re building new and better things. One of our methods is to implement interactive innovation exercisesinto our schedules.
- Engagement — Tap the full potential of your teams by making sure they are involved. You want all ideas, questions, comments, and concerns shared. Anything withheld is lost potential. A good and simple example that relates to the engagement problem in companies is time cards. If employees aren’t engaged and don’t care how they code their time cards, then how is the high level budgeting information helpful? It’s crucial to keep teams engaged. One popular way of going about this is gamification. One good example of employee engagement for team management is Ray Dalio’s Dots app for Bridgewater Associates.
8. What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Listen to your employees and observe. Lead from the back and not just the front. Enable your employees to work smarter not harder. Give them the time and freedom to step back and analyze the ways of doing things to make improvements on systems and not just in systems. Value their input and let them pursue their passions as they relate to the company’s goals.
9. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
As mentioned in my backstory, I was graced by the blessings of a few people at a few pivotal points in my life. When my hometown high school was on the verge of losing accreditation, Dana Ball and Kate Hentz stepped up to fund my education at a phenomenal nearby private school, Saint John’s High School of Shrewsbury. Then, when faced with paying for college, I was blessed with a full academic merit scholarship from the Buick Achievers program of General Motors. These two pieces, of many more, were crucial to my path in life. It was these experiences that ignited the drive in me to do more so that I could give more…ultimately, to pay it forward.
10. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am using any successes and even failures to build a movement, through Fractal Solutions, that empowers, inspires, and serves innovators & entrepreneurs.
11. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why.
Hindsight is 20–20 so it’s useful to learn from others’ past, but the best way to learn, in my experience, is by doing. Things I’ve learned now, by doing, that I didn’t fully understand before are that…
It’s about the journey not the destination. The end vision might be clear, but how will you get there? A good example is product development with minimum viable products. This is how the process should look…
Most people say that patience is a virtue and it is, but you must also work fast. Balancing these is crucial. For example, building a strong long-term relationship with a business partner takes time and patience, but each interaction should be followed by swift, productive, and efficient action.
You must constantly think in different ways and from different perspectives to succeed. One example that builds on this notion is that: what got you here likely won’t get you there. You are going to have to change your thinking for different stages and different challenges. Remember that a more successful mind will lead to a more successful endeavor.
Communication is key! This is important for business and life. Some areas in business that communication is especially important for are negotiations, understanding your customers, conveying what needs to be done to your team, and inspiring your team. You will also have to come to grips with the fact that you will need to say no more than you will say yes.
There truly is an iceberg that people see with most of the work being hidden from plain sight. The real work happens behind the scenes and in the trenches. Sometimes people only see your successes when you move forward faster, but oftentimes you must first go side to side or even backwards. Think iteratively and don’t be afraid to learn from your past or the pasts of others.
12. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would hope that our actions speak louder than our words for this one. Fractal Solutions LLC and I strive to build a movement that empowers, inspires, and serves innovators and entrepreneurs. It’s the innovators and entrepreneurs who drive the economy, impact the world, discover novel ideas, and ultimately help people. It’s these people who make the world a better place and we want to help them. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we are only limited by what we do with our dreams. We want to help the dreamers and doers.
13. Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This is a tough one. I could answer it many different ways depending on when I’m asked because at different times and in different situations I try to heed the advice of others. We continually share aphorisms, quotes, and advice in our #FractalVault. One of my favorites life lesson quotes is one that we all struggle with and it’s one I try to be mindful of. It’s from someone who dedicated his life to thinking for others.
Paulo Coelho writes, “How do I guess at the future? Based on…the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.”This is important for me because, although I always try to work for the future, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re doing today.