“Visualizing success” With Gary Haymann & Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

I do a lot of visualization. Visualizing success is very, very important. In the morning, I look in the mirror, and I say this is going to be a great, fantastic day. I put on cologne and make sure I am dressing for success. I prepare myself mentally and physically to succeed. I assume I will succeed. […]

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I do a lot of visualization. Visualizing success is very, very important. In the morning, I look in the mirror, and I say this is going to be a great, fantastic day. I put on cologne and make sure I am dressing for success. I prepare myself mentally and physically to succeed. I assume I will succeed. You don’t go to meetings in pajamas and flip flops. I dress for success and visualize that I will be successful even before I step on the battlefield.

As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gary Haymann.

Gary Haymann, a Co-Founder and the CRO at INK, is a passionate, driven, and creative entrepreneur. He is a determined and seasoned sales-minded leader with two decades of experience pioneering new products and markets. He has accomplished this by working with clients to truly understand their needs to deliver comprehensive solutions. For the past six years, Gary has focused on the digital marketing revolution, helping to develop products and services based in next-gen technologies.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Iwas born in South Africa, and the fact I’m an immigrant has informed a big part of who I am. I moved to Dallas when I was 6 years old with my parents and sisters. My parents thought there would be better opportunities for my sisters and myself growing up in the United States. My dad is a serial entrepreneur himself. He chose for us to move to Texas because it is in the middle of the United States, so he thought it would be a good location for building business. Due to its central location, it would be an ideal spot from which to expand his business to the East and West coasts.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.

My father, definitely. He has started businesses 6 or 7 times in different industries with different products. His success has a great deal to do with knowing the core principles to identify what is a great opportunity. Then, he builds a mission driven by finding the best team and empowering them to succeed at any costs and overcome any obstacle that gets in the way. You have to understand what are the core fundamentals, what are your guiding principles as an entrepreneur? Once you understand and know these, youapply these consistently as you look for opportunities. These guide and help you identify new opportunities.If you know your guiding principles, you will identify products based on that criteria. My dad did that in gold, diamonds, fabric structures, and the dental industry.

For me, it was never — I was going to be a technologist. It was understanding the underlying principles that make for business success and letting those lead you to and help you identify the right opportunity.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My father — he was always supportive of my ideas and my ambition to do things on my own, and there is such an intangible benefit in somebody just believing in you and giving you support to go out there and make the sacrifices and try hard. Any business person has failed 999 times. The key is after failure, to keep getting up. There is no easy path. If anyone tells you differently, they haven’t experienced it themselves. Every business is a rollercoaster.

Another lesson I’ve learned, in my experience, you have to be on a constant upward trajectory. When things don’t go smoothly, you can’t get too low about something. Also, when things are going great, you can’t get too high. So, the key to success is a consistent forward momentum, a positive and constant upward movement.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

The genesis of INK is an interesting story of how I met Alexander (Alexander De Ridder, an INK co-founder) and started a business relationship with him and Mike (Michael Umansky, an INK co-founder). It wasn’t a mistake per se but about researching the market and being prepared to pivot in response to what you have learned.

I had known Mike but didn’t know him on a business level. Mike and Alexander were thinking of building an AI system for a real estate business. My wife and Michael’s sister are in real estate. I said I could help Mike and Alexander with a business plan, marketing, and how to identify targets. So I said come to Dallas. I know real estate people and can make introductions. So, just from trying to help them out as a good friend turned into an opportunity that started our new business together and morphed into INK.

When Mike and Alexander came to Dallas, we had meetings for a solid week as I introduced them to my real estate contacts here. At that time, I was working in augmented reality and was in discussions with a group, about to sign a SOW. I asked Alexander if he knows about augmented reality. He looked at the proposal and said he could build a team and do it for half the cost, so we started our business relationship from there.

As Mike and Alexander were refining their real estate business idea, they came to realize they were up against the real estate lobby. Around this time, Alexander noticed a change in Google’s AI, and he had the idea to test to see if we could optimize content with our own built software to give Google what it is looking for. This was the start of Edgy Labs and INK.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Find good partners and co-founders that are experts in their areas and make sure you all work well together in what you are deciding to execute. Also, everyone must have an area of specialty or expertise in what they do and a proven track record.

You have to build a proof of concept, a minimum viable product as quickly as possible and test if someone is willing to pay for it. People get excited and enamored with an idea and then take too long on it to go from idea stage to final product. The biggest test of anything is if someone is willing to open their wallet and pay for it because that is where the true value lies.

Stay positive. Don’t get too cocky or arrogant. Don’t get too high on wins or too low with losses. Victory is right around the corner from loss, and loss is right around the corner from victory.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The book Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. He travelled the world to figure out a way to produce what he wanted. He went to Japan early in the process to build shoes. He originally was working with a Chinese company to make his shoes. They were his big supplier. He was very smart, and he figured out how to do it himself.

It’s an incredible story of resilience, running out of money, being bankrupt. These are very common themes with entrepreneurs. Somehow you find a way to pivot, get another opportunity, get another line of credit, to make things happen and move your business forward. It’s an inspiring story of resilience from every aspect.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Push for awesome. Don’t settle for just doing good at something. Be awesome with your family, your friends, your colleagues, society. Have positive energy and keep pushing for greatness in all aspects of your life and all your relationships, personal and professional. It’s all about applying this attitude of striving for greatness in all areas of your life consistently.

Exercise is a great analogy. People go to the gym and workout — tearing muscle fibers, breaking them down and building them back up to get stronger. Think about transferring that to all areas of your life outside the gym. How can we do that in life — in relationships, in business, with friends and family. How? It is about pushing yourself to be awesome. Not good, not great, but awesome.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

INK. It has the potential to rewrite the standard of how we create content for the web by taking out the guesswork for content creators, large and small. INK is a real-time web content optimization platform and first of its kind tool that gives writers control over their content’s organic search destiny. It gives predictions on your content’s ability to rank against your competitors’ content. When you run a piece of content in INK, it compares your content against your competitors’ content in real-time, and it gives you actionable recommendations for revising your content to help it rank.

Instead of several tools that hypothesize about what the audience wants and how to reach that audience, you can replace all these tools with INK. The benefits of INK for the user are many. It saves time for the user by having so many useful features in one software application. This saves time switching between different apps. Time is of the essence in content creating, especially when you are up against a deadline, as often is the case for content creators. It also saves money as writers can use one tool instead of paying for many expensive ones to achieve the same goal of improving their content. It democratizes content creation and content marketing as it optimizes content without relying on expensive consultants, experts, or agencies.

What INK does so well is take the complicated — how to best optimize content to reach and convert readers — and simplifies the process. It’s the first word processing application to have a unique relevancy and AI system. What makes INK so unique is that it is the only product that combines performance optimization and content writing seamlessly. It has the potential to change categories and change formats.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?

Keep things in perspective. So often, we blow things out of proportion and feel like if something goes wrong, it will be the end of the world. Look at it from a positive mindset. Understand that we have this challenge and opportunity — everything is an opportunity, whether good or bad, an opportunity to learn, to get better, to succeed in a new area. So, look at challenges or stressful situations with a positive mindset of how you can learn and grow from them.

Another big thing is exercise. It’s not just about physical health but about mental health. The physical health is something that comes with it. Exercise is a great means to release stress. Stress and stressful situations are like a glass of water. They can overflow and explode. So, we need to take approaches that work for us individually to counter that stress and reduce it before it becomes unmanageable. It’s about countering stress and balancing ourselves out — whatever that means for you, whether it’s talking a walk or reading a book.

Also, flexibility is so important. The need to be flexible to adapt to change, even if it’s rapid or unexpected. Along with that flexibility is a need to make decisions nimbly and quickly. We need to be flexible to weigh options and do research, but then make the decision and move on. There is an old saying: Measure twice and cut once. There are different ways to go about it, though. Cut once and then fix or mend whatever issues arise is another valid approach. Sometimes people get paralyzed by data and can get mired in the decision making stage when they really need to make a smart choice and make that decision to move forward.

Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

What I try to do every morning is to walk outside and breathe the fresh air. Even if I’m really busy, I take that moment to be thankful, to be present, and to realize I have talents and skills that I can use in the business world and that I am fortunate to have them. Even if it is just 60 seconds, you can do that to calm your mind and center yourself to start your day from that place of gratitude and positivity.

I also start my day by looking in the mirror and saying to myself this is a great opportunity. I focus on being patient and positive. The way that I look at high pressure situations is that you work hard every day so that you get the opportunity to perform. When you have the right audience — like a high pressure meeting with a room of executives, I see that like game day. This is what I work and prepare for so this is my time to show off. For me, this is awesome! My whole goal is to be in that high pressure situation, to be in a roomful of executives so that I get to shine.

I always keep a positive mindset to never get too low or too high, to just keep on an upward trajectory. Keep things in perspective, stay focused, and stay positive. That deal will not make or break you. Keeping the right, positive mindset is key to get the right things out of that high pressure situation. It’s about overcoming obstacles, staying motivated and being persistent. Never allow yourself to get too high or too low. Always be sure to recalibrate yourself to avoid those highs and lows and to stay focused.

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.

I do a lot of visualization. Visualizing success is very, very important. In the morning, I look in the mirror, and I say this is going to be a great, fantastic day. I put on cologne and make sure I am dressing for success. I prepare myself mentally and physically to succeed. I assume I will succeed. You don’t go to meetings in pajamas and flip flops. I dress for success and visualize that I will be successful even before I step on the battlefield.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

In the morning, I go sit in my spot which is in front of a fire pit in my backyard. Whether it’s winter or summer, this is my go-to spot to center myself as I start my day. I am fortunate to have a beautiful view from this seat overlooking a golf course. I take in the beauty the world has to offer and take a few moments to be thankful I’m healthy, happy, and get to do what I love. It’s all about having gratitude and being fortunate for the things that we have.

It is so easy to look at this world and see what is wrong and to focus on that. Instead, focus your energy on and look at what is right. Be present. Be grateful for what you do have. I am grateful for what I have already, and anything more is a bonus. Instead of having an expectation that this needs to happen — a certain outcome from a business meeting, for example, I start from a place of gratitude for what I have already achieved. Start with being grateful for what you have already. Anything beyond that is a bonus.

We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Focus, persistence and hard work. I learned in college wrestling that when you get beaten, you go down, and you just get up again. You have to get up more times than they knock you down. Also, the more you train to succeed at business, to succeed in those high pressure business situations and meetings, the more success you will have.

Training for success in business is just like training at the gym. My approach is that business is like the gym of life. You have to train to build those business skills. You have to be persistent, but you also need to be balanced with your persistence. You can’t take it too far to be arrogant.

So, be balanced, be persistent, and stay high energy. The habits I learned in college wrestling have stayed with me — when you get beaten down, just come back stronger, have a strong work ethic, stay focused, and stay positive.

What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

The best way to develop good habits is to identify short, medium and long term goals. You have to have a plan or a road map. You also need to be open to change. In order to create a new habit, the research has shown that you have to consistently do it for 30 days. It then becomes a permanent habit that you just need to keep momentum with.

In order to create a new habit, don’t try to take on 5 new things at once. Rather, take 1 little thing on. Try to inject that into your daily routine and behavior. Start small. Be open to trying something new and be persistent.

It is not easy to stop bad habits. The key is to be constantly aware of what the habit is. For example, if I give a speech, there are certain utterances that I may be repeating. It may take someone pointing that out to me for me to be aware of it. Then I need a reminder of that habit I want to change. Use a post-it note. Write on the post-it what the habit is. Keep it visually present so you can catch yourself and stop doing it.

As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

The first and most important thing that you have to do is put yourself in a position in a business where you can truly focus on what you are really best at, your unique ability. My unique ability is business development and sales, but in the past I’ve worked in businesses where I had to be the Chief Financial Officer or CEO out of necessity.

So, start by knowing what your unique ability is, and put yourself in the position in a business where you are contributing that unique ability to help the business succeed. Focus on that unique ability and how you can use it is a major way to reach a state of flow.

Stay organized and focused. This is another integral part of maintaining that flow. Create a system of organization and rituals that will keep you in that zone of productivity and allow you to focus on your unique talents. Have an organized daily routine. For example, start your day with coffee, check-in with your team, and have a set time for client calls. Whatever your optimal, organized approach is, a methodical approach with a clear schedule can allow you to focus on your work, apply your unique talents, and achieve your goals.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Put more positive energy into this world. Every interaction with every person that you encounter, infuse it with positivity. Whether that is a smile or opening the door for someone — just help people and put positive energy in this world. It doesn’t have to be big or cost money. It can be simple.

If someone cuts you off on the road, smile and wave. Don’t flip them off. It’s that simple. It’s also the little things, like you open the door for someone, they then open the door for the person after them. You thank someone, they thank the next person they see. It becomes a cascade of positivity.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Bono from U2. I’m a huge fan. He inspires people with his music and his message. As you listen to his music, it creates vibrations in your body of positivity. He is a huge philanthropist. He did so much for Africa, for AIDS research. He is all about positive change, and he has done absolutely incredible things. He is not just a rock star but a humanitarian. He has done so much good on top of the incredible inspiration of his music. He has made a hugely positive impact on my life in so many ways.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can follow us at: https://www.linkedin.com/company/inkcoinc/

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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