Braid Founder Michael Abramowitz on Entrepreneurship and Balance – “It’s not easy, but it’s not supposed to be.”

The founder of Braid, Michael Abramowitz shares about his entrepreneurial journey, and how entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Michael and Manal discuss the benefits of a disruptive app like Braid, how we can’t forget our human side while we run our businesses, and that balancing the many facets of a busy life is not easy, but it’s not supposed to be, and we’re better people for it. Resources from Today’s Episode   Subscribe to The Founder & The Force Multiplier:   Want more insights each week? Subscribe to The Inner Circle for podcast updates and professional recommendations, as well as information on upcoming events.   Timestamps

[1:40] Michael explains what Braid is and how it works. He shares how his entrepreneurial journey started and how his background in finance and computer science helped him along the way.

[6:10] Braid helps podcasters and creators make interviews convenient for the interviewer and interviewee, and provides an interactive fan experience. 

[8:42] Michael advises that you have to be passionate about the project you’re working on and the people you work with, otherwise it’s not going to work. Knowing who your product isn’t for is just as important as knowing who it is for.

[11:38] We can’t forget our human side in business and our strategic partners, friends, and families, can help remind us of who we are and why we do what we do.

[13:16] Michael talks about his transition from being the person who does all the coding, designing, and building himself, to being the manager and director of the business. Force Multipliers and other strategic partners are key to being able to make that transition.

[19:42] Michael shares a couple of his favorite books and how he stays up-to-date, involved, and educated in the industry.

[22:12] Michael shares how building a business with a young family has forced him to find balance in life. “It’s not easy, but it’s not supposed to be. And I think it makes you better.”

[25:38] Whatever moment you’re in, be present in that moment.

[27:02] Entrepreneurship is an endurance sport. You need to take care of yourself physically and mentally.

[28:28] Manal asks Michael what his advice is to new entrepreneurs out there who don’t know where to start.



Let’s talk about executive presence, baby. This is an area of focus that has predominantly been a bit, I would say, understudied and not really talked about in great detail. Executive presence isn’t something that’s easily identifiable and it’s usually confused with leadership attributes, thus incorrectly classifying it most of the time and very hard to sort of conceptualize and figure out how to put action plans Towards it. So that is something that you can build up today. That’s exactly what we are gonna do. We are going to dive into what exactly does executive presence mean and what are some steps that you can take to build up your own executive presence. It’s a lot deeper than you think.


What is interesting is that up until 2014, the term executive presence wasn’t actually even coined in the book, The Sponsor Effect by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, which by the way, shout out and kudos to that book, it really changed my life as a young executive. That was the first time the term was actually coined. Look, executive presence is highly intuitive, it isn’t something that you can put or nor is it fair to put an absolute metric to identify if an individual has eggs executive presence. It is an observation and really an analysis of an individual over a period of time. Put in different situations and scenarios to see how they react, influence, communicate, make decisions, keep their poise and so much more, I’m gonna reference a stat that says, in fact, up to 51% Of HR practitioners state that it is difficult to define executive presence, but 81% say it is easy to spot. Now that’s also I mean, I’d like to challenge that because usually individuals that have, I would say maybe a little more of an influential personality, have very strong communication skills or can stand up and present really well, usually get misunderstood stood with executive presence and unfortunately also appearance is a big misrepresentation of executive presence. You can be very well dressed, have a demeanor about you and come into a room and give a speech and leave everybody speechless and leave and that can be misunderstood as having great executive presence. That is one of many facets of what executive presence truly is unless you have seen that same person that has that, I would say, you know, strong presence on, let’s say stage or in front of a presentation in front of a big group in situations that challenge them or in situations that were clustering, how do they keep their poise? How do they make decisions when you know things were not going the way they deem them to go.


There’s sort of a broader and deeper analysis of what executive presence is and it’s very important to be self aware when you want to develop and grow and really build or even when you’re teaching and coaching others to develop their executive presence. In The Founder and the Force Multiplier and a little, you know, plug here, go check out the second edition of our book, The Founder and the Force Multiplier! In the book, we define executive presence as an amalgamation of confidence, poise, clear and concise communication, reliability, vulnerability and strength. So, the pillar of the definition, what that means is really “gravitas”. Gravitas is a word that comes straight from latin among the Romans. Gravitas was thought to be essential to the characteristics and function of any adult authority that maybe is really where the real origination of executive presence came from. Gravitas is the sum of the weight of your personality and the confidence you exude in your demeanor, it is the ability to act decisively and with dignity while embodying the most quint essential elements of leadership and I know I’m throwing a lot of words here and we’re gonna dive into what all this means. It is important to remember before we dive into all that that gravitas is not inborn, it is carefully cultivated skill that takes years of experience and really being self aware and developing truly on the areas that need development and experiences that pivot thought processes and so much, so much to it. And we’re going to dive into this.


Before we dive in, let’s take a little bit of a gravitas test while you’re sitting there and listening to this. I want you to ask yourself these questions that I’m gonna ask you and if you check all of them to Yes, you probably are on your path to a very strong gravitas.


I’ve already accomplished it. If a lot of them you’re questioning like, well, I really think about myself that is an area of development, because when X situation happens, I sort of react this way here are the questions do people take you seriously? Does your word hold value in the workplace or amongst peers? Is your perspective respected and valued? Are you entrusted in decision making and when decisions are made or influence is provided, direction, is it received with respect? Do you exude confidence and a capable persona and you sort of now see where I’m going with all this. So next, we’ll talk about how to actually cultivate this gravitas and we’ll talk about some key characteristics and then actions towards those characteristics and throughout this podcast we’re actually a bit agnostic to founder or force multiplier because depending on your situation, your scenario and where you are all, all this actually benefits all towards the end, I will specifically talk about why it’s important for force multipliers to have that executive presence as well as leaders. One of the main characteristics we’re gonna talk about is really understanding the importance of poise, maintaining that dignify, self confident manner in one’s exposure is so important when things are under fire. Are you calm even if internally you are developing on this and your you know, reaction is usually more emotional maybe, you know, when you’ve reached that point where you learn from that and whatever phase you’re in, it is important to really be purposeful when things are under fire to be the calm in that fire when there is chaos, you try to bring lead and bring order to the chaos when you know that your your value that you hold at the table when you are in, I would say a composed mind is the same when things, you know, are at array and I think these are very important characteristics that we all continually work on and as a founder, a leader and executive, that is what is going to heighten the impact of what a leader can do and as a force, multiplier, having that capability and that poise will help build trust with your founder and executive. It’ll help you have a voice and your voice be valued uh the ability to really be at the forefront and lied during times that a leader is needed and it’s so important in all aspects, I’m gonna touch on another important quality.


It is so important to embody confidence. However, do not misrepresent this confidence with arrogance and that is where in all individuals, whether leaders or force multipliers or working up towards either and or anyone in any any setting, really, really understanding and looking at yourself and realizing when you are either being arrogant or really going in there for the win or you know, you have to be right, I’m chuckling because we’ve all been there, I’m not perfect trust me and what’s the equivalent of, you know, in sports when you call somebody a ball hog, I guess in the business world it would be an air hog. You know, when someone just tries to take over the room and just talk for the sake of talking because they feel like that is how they bring value. Um those things all lead to really not good qualities to have overall and things that should be worked on, it’s okay to be self aware, but it also isn’t really the true definition of confidence, confidence really comes from a wide array of knowledge that comes from multitudes of avenues and and observations of how others may be functionally think about things, how decisions are made um learning from those with experience that you know make decisions or keep poise in times where you have not felt that you could do that that all actually in turn all equates to and leads to having confidence. Um and that that’s very important to you know note and this all leads to having a transformational mindset being purposeful about when you are assertive when to be inquisitive, when to be silent, silent but purposeful and present there’s a difference and as a leader the impact of a leader that has such a transformational mindset usually leads to a very disruptive and evolutionary company because you’re driving idea idealization and new ways to do things and just efficiencies overall and the impact you know is tenfold for force multipliers, you know having that sort of mindset shows growth, shows continuous evolution professionally and personally that you you know enhancing the way you make decisions the way you react to certain things, how you carry and build your confidence all leads to ways to grow in your career and have the same value and impact when you speak and the decisions that are being made by you are being taken well it helps force multipliers in so many ways mainly to have a seat at the table and really drive the change that’s needed to be driven and this all takes Strong communication, the ability to have strong verbal mannerisms and articulation, your body language. I mean 80% of your communication is nonverbal um trust me, I even have to go through this because I’m very expressive with my hands and you know sometimes it can seem like because I’m also allowed and shouting and pointing and you have to, you have to be self aware on actions that even if you don’t mean them to be a certain way can be perceived a certain way. Um and that all leads to having an elevated state of consciousness where you’re you know, aware of surround your surroundings and how people are reacting to news and change and maybe even just you know, the business as usual and just having that, you know self awareness and surrounding awareness. This is you know very critical to all these things. Most importantly, you cannot fake it. Executive presence is not fate and that is why it is in many teachings, you know, taught that it is cultivated, having the ability to be real with yourself and really understanding the areas you need to work on putting actionable and methodical steps will eventually help you cultivate these attributes. Let’s talk about some actions that can be taken laid really well in the founder and the force multiplier book in relating to force, multipliers, elevating and building and taking action to really grow that executive presence.

The first one which I really love is developing your personal and professional vision, That’s right, Personal and professional, it is very important to not sort of dismiss your life because your work isn’t your life, your work is integrated and part of your life. So having a holistic vision on your life really helps drive a little more clarity and focus around your profession. Um so taking the time to really figure that out and hone in as it says in the book on your elevator pitch, gives you that clarity and sort of awareness of what needs to develop to get to your goals and where you want to be within, you know, the spectrum of your life which includes your profession um when you’re clear on where you’re going, what you’re going to say yes and no to, you’re really gonna start earning a lot of respect because you understand one, it will start helping you build some boundaries which you know, are so important when you’re a force multiplier that you you tend to take on a lot. Um and you tend to take on a lot from many different angles and so you naturally want to gravitate towards helping and you know, you end up having is you end up having too much on your plate and having clarity helps set expectations helps you not only deliver initiatives, expectations on time, but also helps you determine how to leverage the resources needed and build the project or initiative, the strategy around the initiative that needs to be executed on um you’ll earn the respect, you know, of everyone around your circle in that way. And it’s such a it’s such a good way to bring that clarity. I mean the impact is great, I love this piece in the book, it’s just very well written. It says it will give you the language to clearly articulate who you are, what you do, where you are going and the impact you’re going to make on the world. Now this it’s not easy, definitely a lot easier said than done, but really working on strengthening your self awareness and I know I know it’s easy to say, oh no, that’s so difficult, but give yourself a chance, right? It’s really important and there are many ways that this can be done now, we know, so it’s really important to be self aware because knowing how you show up at your best, how you communicate, how you receive information, how you read, act when you’re under stress and being aware about. It helps you be purposeful on your actions and the things you’re working on and how you’re developing as well and overall that want to be better and do better is there? And self awareness helps us, you know, as a guideline and a blueprint on how to get there. You know, it’s not easy of course to just as we said before, just go and be like here all the things I need to work on, it’s important to receive feedback, right? And there are many channels that you know, you get feedback from but you know, you can take behavioral and personality assessment um you know, there are so many out there that are great and that you know really, you know, surprisingly even the online free ones like the, you know, Myer Briggs and so forth disc.

Um you just learned so much and I’m just like, whoa, Oh that’s a little scary li like me um and then you can always dive into them. You can always even pay for them. I always felt that having 360 reviews were amazing. Um I did at one point, you know in my career work and when I initially you know became a leader or manager, I wanted to get more of an idea of what the perceived, you know way of what I was doing, you know, was to my team. Um and there was no you know 3 60 process at that time. And so you know I was I had created one, I gave it to HR knows like he hears like a survey that I want to give to my employees and you know, they were great about it and they actually developed the process and you know sometimes it takes you wanting to make the change there. There’s just so many other ways, you know asking for direct feedback. Having one on ones and if you’re a force multiplier, definitely, you know have one on ones not only with the leader that you support, but also um your peer group, you know, other members of the leadership team that you support because you know, force multipliers do stand across a multitude of um you know, cross functionally who they touch and who they impact and who they work with and how they gather information and how did they disseminate and communicate the vision and um direction and you know, so forth. Now, being self aware is really the core and the Foundation as we all know, to really work on the areas that we need to develop and grow and evolve in personally and professionally. It’s very important to cultivate an exceptionally strong communication skills and we know for leaders that’s important as it states in the Founder and force multiplier book, it allows leaders to help cast the vision provide clarity and direction and remove roadblocks. Force multipliers who’s you know, most important job is to help their leader accomplish these objectives. All of this boils down to strong communication skills and you know, this sometimes is misrepresented as having, you know, strong presentation maybe um communication or standing on stage and be able to give a speech. Yes, that is definitely holistically if you reach that level that is a great level to strive at, but there are so many great communicators that are not standing on stage every day and speaking, um there are different methods of communication and understanding your audience and which methods and mediums of communication are appropriate when actually is the core to being a strong force multiplier. There are many ways to actually work on, you know, taking the actions to build on those communication skills.

Um, I think listening is so important really listen and I, I chuckle because we’ve all sort of been there when someone’s talking and we are already creating the response in our head, right? Or where there is a decision making process happening, maybe unconsciously or unconscious bias kicks in and you have a certain decision that you are very determined is going to be made and what that does is it restricts from actually being aware of how you know, you are being reacted to and also helps sort of hinder you know, things like open communication and providing um you know, various viewpoints and looking at things from different perspectives. So definitely listening is is so important. Also being observant, be observant as to when you give direction, how is it taken? You know, are there questions that always come back that are you know sort of a common trend, right? Be aware of this and then maybe that helps you determine Okay, next time when I communicate on X I need to provide this metric because you know that seems to be a constant concern or issue, right? And so being being aware of that and course correcting and continually improving. I really actually kind of small ways to build on an impactful, massive change you know in communication style who you are talking to matters and um really be purposeful when you are speaking, understand who you’re speaking to. Um you know there are individuals that you’ve known for a long time that you’re more comfortable with because you know you understand each other but you know someone that you’ve recently met may not understand you well enough and may perceive your action um in you know the wrong way. So being mindful of things like that and being self aware of what you may portray differently for example, um I said this um prior to but because I’m louder to speak with my hands, I am now and although I’m not doing it on camera, but when I am looking at somebody or speaking with somebody, I am actually a lot more purposeful now and I was not before but really working on these, you know things matter, body language is I think it’s so it’s so funny because it’s almost like the easiest thing to work on yet. The hardest thing to work on, you know there are universal signs that depict different perceptions, even if you don’t mean it like you don’t have a habit of always crossing my arm but you know when you are in a setting where you are fostering an environment of open communication and feedback and channeling um you know all those ideas together as a team, you know sort of crossing your arms is you know, a sign that you’re you know blocked from that. Um and you probably there’s no intention behind that and also understanding, I would say you know just strength wise culturally what different um you know body language is mean and how it’s taken, but that perceived body language is very important to work on of course, you know, being self aware, helps with that, getting the feedback directly, you know, or indirectly through you know, different avenues by gathering other people’s perspectives, really helps, you know, build on all these points right? Um and that’s and and these are just simple ways that really develop, you know, communication over time and really strengthen the way you present yourself in, you know the way you communicate, I think one of the most important actions to take that it’s hard, it’s hard to just get up and do and that’s really working on developing confidence Now, all the other things, you know, we talked about like being self aware and working on your you know communication and body language and really being uh you know developing um you know, core skills and so forth that all of course leads to confidence but in or to actually work on getting that confidence and getting that experience, you have to get a bit uncomfortable and be okay with the outcomes because when you take on new skills or when you reach yourself and challenge your scope or you take on complex situations and it’s the first time you’ve sort of taken a situation like that, you have to accept the outcome.

That there may be a possibility of you not being successful. And that acceptance is very important because that acceptance now allows you to create an analysis, right, very methodically um and objectively in that way, you’re able to then put the actions needed to improve upon them. And then in perpetuating you see how you’re sort of compounding on that growth and that development and you start gaining more confidence and it shows in the book, it says in fact if you don’t take the risk from time to time and push yourself, you are never going to fully realize what you’re capable of and it takes practice and that really is like leaning into being uncomfortable in moments and that you can figure anything out. Um and its people around, you will appreciate it, your leaders will appreciate it because you are going the extra mile to continually evolve, grow and really show your willingness to try an ability to get things done. Um that is executive presence and we talked about, you know owning outcomes and so owning that failure and also owning your successes. It goes both ways. Um it’s not just about owning failures but also recognizing the things that you are succeeding in and the impacts that you are making and what really constitutes to success and really, you know, giving yourself that hand clap. Um and self promotion on your own personal wins because you know, that’s what keeps us motivated to continually evolve obviously as you begin to push boundaries, um you’re going to make those mistakes right? And really the best leaders are vulnerable and transparent when they make wrong decisions and you know, follow through with you know, actions and next steps and that’s really what sets the stage for having that executive presence and developing into great leaders. So the last action that I’m going to leave you with is building on your leadership capital.

I love this term in the book, the founder and the force multiplier leadership capital is similar to political capital in that it is the accumulation of resources and power built through relationships, trust, goodwill and influence between various stakeholders. Um that’s exactly how it’s stated in the book and I love how it’s written so eloquent. These are areas to really focus and work on and there are so many benefits, especially for I mean men for founders and for four multipliers but building the power of relationships, having the right, you know, strategic partners and really leveraging the resources that build for, you know, holistic and diverse teams, understanding where shortcomings are and having the vendors or the, you know, teams that will help fill and build, you know sort of an amplified effect like these are really simple ways because it’ll make your life easier, but there’s so many ways to go about this and build those relationships and seek um those expertise and skills that are needed, you know, trust is such a core principle just in life, you know, being open and getting feedback helps build on trust because when you’re getting feedback and you’re realizing that you may have had right intentions for certain things or maybe made an assumption that everybody knew since something happened right, A project is delayed, but you may just be making that assumption, but you don’t know how they are taking it right, It might be taken as, oh, you know, individual X is not really communicating um and providing status updates and we are not feeling, you know, that we’re receiving all of the issues that are happening with the project, right? That is not, which that’s counterintuitive to what you’re intending to do. So it’s very important to be open to communicate, to receive feedback, to own the feedback, to take action and continually develop, you know, I think we said this at the beginning as well, building those boundaries and expectations on deliverables and um you know, the length of initiatives or strategies that need to be put in place or just, you know, simple tasks that need to be done or you know, whatever it may need, but building that clara and expectations helps on time, you know, expectations and delivery, which you know, constitute to building more trust um same thing with open communication right that you’re, there’s always openness and you know the feeling that you know exactly what’s happening at all times and you know that helps build on influence and building that leadership capital is so important and you can start small really, you can start small um it doesn’t take, you know as anything in anything you’re trying to do like taking big leaps unless you know sometimes maybe it’s necessary, but generally speaking right, really creating a chance for yourself and creating the window of opportunity and starting small um these micro habits lead to bigger impacts and you know I think that’s very important when you’re trying to develop and grow and you know set these expectations and these realities and these winds so you continuously um you know grow and evolve, thank you so much for tuning in, we really appreciate all of your support and can’t wait to hear about your own success stories, make sure you hit that subscribe button to stay up to date with the law, latest podcast episodes and follow us on instagram and linkedin. We have a lot of exciting news coming through before the holidays including the launch of the second edition of the book and the unveiling of our founder and force multiplier community platform, we are super stoked about all the new things coming through, thanks again for tuning in and we’ll see you back here next week

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