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Ryan Frederick - AWH

Ryan Frederick

Product & company builder | data & analytics problem solver | non-profit launcher & leader | investor | speaker | author

Check out Ryan’s: Website, LinkedIn, Twitter

A Fireside Chat

I had the opportunity to have an amazing conversation with Ryan Frederick at AWH today. From talking about SEO for Websites, Ryan agreed to a quick interview.

He took the time to talk to me and answer some questions so I could get to know him better and hear more about the things that have helped shape his business success to date – let’s get stuck into it!

What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?

Two of my favorite books are The Power of Agency, and The Obstacle Is The Way. These remind and encourage me to seek out problems and challenges because that is where the growth and fulfilment is. Discomfort is where learning happens, not in comfort.

What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?

I purchased a foam roller for the first time a few weeks. I do a lot of physical activities and my lower back was becoming increasingly more stiff and sore. Part of this could because I’m in my mid-fifties and probably shouldn’t be taxing my body the way I did when I was in my mid-twenties, but I enjoy physical activities and challenges as much as I do any other type. Being physically active helps me to remain mentally and emotionally resilient too. I purchased the foam roller to help me be able to stretch my lower back out periodically and although it was a little uncomfortable at the beginning, my back is feeling much better as a result. I am now using it consistently to keep my back tuned up. I purchased it on Amazon. Here is the link >

When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?

The first thing I have learned to do when I have lost focus is to not deny it and fight it. I used to think I could just ignore it and somehow will myself back to being focused. Maybe that works for some people, but it doesn’t work for me. I’ve now written two books, and during the writing of the first one, I would get frustrated when I would lose focus, and I would force myself to keep writing to try to regain the focus. Eventually, I learned that it was counterproductive as the forced focus produced bad writing and wasn’t really focus at all. I came to terms with the fact that I will go in and out of focus for a variety of reasons and not fight it, but to acknowledge it and reset. When I lose focus now, I almost always do something physically oriented. Such as go for a walk, run, hike, biking, yoga, or weight training. I believe doing something physical helps me to regain focus because it not only frees my mind from the task but also changes my environment. I’ve learned that I have to reset as many aspects of the current situation as possible for me to be able to regain focus on a particular task again.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

The software product, data, and startup worlds are full of misguided and uninformed advice. The same is true with professional services firms, which is what AWH, the product and data consulting firm I’m a Principal at is. Creating anything new is incredibly challenging and most new things, including software products and companies, don’t succeed. There is a myriad of advice in blogs, on podcasts, and at events telling people how to create successful products and companies, by people that haven’t done it. It is also easy for people to focus on the easy and wrong things because they feel like progress versus digging in around the hard problems and things to solve. The success of creating new software products lies in the fundamentals of: are you solving a high-value problem, do you know enough to solve the problem effectively for customers, and do you have a team capable of solving the problem in a commercially viable manner? The tools, processes, systems, methodologies of how you get there pale in comparison to the pillars of problem understanding and the ability to work iteratively with customers to solve the problem. Getting and staying close to customers will always matter more than anything else around creating a new software product.

Understand what makes you tick.

- Ryan Frederick

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

I’ve adopted several new things in the last five years that have helped to improve my life, but the one that I would say is the most important is daily journaling. I use an app called The Five Minute Journal. You can also get it in notebook form I believe. The App has helped me to stay focused on what matters most each day to ensure I am living each day intentionally and to express gratitude. The power in documenting what you are grateful for and what will make a day great is powerful.

What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?

Deciding to write a book turned out to be a great investment of time and energy. I am a disciplined person, but writing a book took it to another level for me. I had never taken on a project like writing a book and frankly hadn’t done a tremendous amount of writing before deciding to do it. The process and commitment it took to write the book even when I didn’t want to work on it was great reinforcement for me that I can be disciplined enough to do what needs to be done, irrespective of my feelings about it. Discipline doesn’t care about whether the conditions are perfect or whether you want to do something, it only cares that you show up and do what needs to be done. Writing my first book reinforced this for me and was a great investment of time and energy as a result. In fact, I enjoyed the investment of time and energy in writing a book so much that I started writing my second book soon after completing the first one. The best investments are the ones that you get so much value from that you keep investing in them to get more value. Writing is doing this for me.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — what would it say and why?

My billboard would read, “Live Intentionally.” Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I would revise this to “people” so it isn’t gender-specific, but the point is the same. And I agree with it. Most people don’t figure out what they want out of life and what they are willing to do and to give up to live the life they want. Most people just coast or worse they live a life that others want for them or expect them to live. Living intentionally sounds easy but it is actually very challenging. It is easier to coast and to not expect much of yourself. It is easy to settle into a comfortable place in life. Most people seek personal and professional comfort and security, which makes sense since it is part of the hierarchy for humans, but isn’t all that rewarding and fulfilling.

What careers advice would you give to your 21-year old self?

You are never as great as your best moments and never as bad as your worse moments.

When did you first become a rebel?

I dropped out of a technical school because I just wanted to go do something. At least that’s what I told myself. Mind you, I had no doubt what go do something actually meant. I only knew that I no longer wanted to be in school. This is why we have to be careful with and aware of the narrative in our own mind. The narratives we repeat to ourselves will become our reality. We will ultimately act on and manifest the narratives we repeatedly tell ourselves. Not long after dropping out, I was fortunate to have joined a startup, although we didn’t call them startups back then. The experience at that startup confirmed I wasn’t a big company person, and I enjoyed the process of creating something that didn’t yet exist to see if we could make it work. I also enjoyed being part of a small team that was working against the odds because the constraints and circumstances of a startup uniquely galvanize the team members.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

Understand what makes you tick. Self-awareness is unusual in most people and even less so in younger adults. People who know why they think the way they do, how they react to things, and how they make decisions are much better able to live intentionally because they have clarity of who they are and what they value. Avoid any advice or spending time fretting about finding your passion. Most of us can be passionate about a lot of things and passion can be fleeting. In alignment with living intentionally, live with purpose. Being purpose-focused and driven will carry you through the tough times when passion may wane. A true purpose doesn’t wane, even during tough times.

Tell Us About Your Business. What Does It Do And What Value Do You Add?

AWH is a software product and data consulting firm. We help clients to create software products and to solve data challenges that help to improve lives.

What is the most significant thing that someone much younger than yourself has taught you?

To not let professional success or failure define who you are. I’ve too often let professional accomplishments or failures become too personal and self-identifying. We are better and more effective professionally when we can separate our personal identities from what we’re working on professionally. This is very hard for entrepreneurs and company leaders as professional success often means personal success. But this isn’t true and is actually unhealthy.

Tell us about someone you admire and why you admire them?

David Goggins. David wrote, “You Can’t Hurt Me“, which I love but what I admire most about him isn’t all he has overcome through his life to achieve some stellar accomplishments, its that it wasn’t about the accomplishments. David wanted to and continues to want to challenge himself. To see how much more he has to give and how much more he has to tap into. Its never been about a particular title, rank, or trophy…just him getting better.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

A backcountry guide. I love being outside and being active. The ability to share that with other people and to help them have an appreciation for being active outside would be awesome.

Where do you see your industry in the next 5 years?

Software and data continue to evolve rapidly. There are more new tools, methodologies, and platforms than ever before with new ones being created daily seemingly. With that said, technology, in general, has still remained somewhat elusive to participate in as creators and not just as consumers. I think the next five years will usher in an era in which more people can become part of creating new technologies and not just consumers of them. I’m part of a couple of organizations working to make this happen.

What is a 'hack' you have for success that most people don't know about?

My ‘hack’ isn’t a hack at all. In fact, I think the hustle mantra and culture does a disservice to most people. Success is about each person fulfilling their individual potential and you do this by figuring out what you want to apply your time and energy toward with intention and discipline. Intention and discipline supersede hacks and hustle every day, all day.

What are you NOT Very Good at?

Singing. I’m terrible. I get boo’d off the stage even at karaoke.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

I eat the same cereal every morning so I don’t have to think about what I’m going to have for breakfast and because I like it. It is Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios. I also like it because the milk afterwards tastes like a Reese’s Cup.

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