Preparing Kids for the Future

In the past 12 months, we have cut our accounting / payroll services expenses by a combined 86% through a combination of process automation and process simplification. At the same time, we have improved the quality of our reporting, and provide a easier / more enjoyable experience for our employees (paperless and friendly apps for on boarding, scheduling, payroll, employee files, etc).

So, for 86% less cash, we have higher quality products. Granted, it took a lot of my time to get here, but it won’t going forward and the savings are residual. Continue reading →

How We Use Evernote to Store Employee Files

We have 3 retail stores with about 70 employees total. Historically, we have a filing cabinet in the back of each store with employee files in it. Each file should have copies of their ID, signed employee handbook, any write-ups, etc. The store manager, assistant managers, and all team leaders can add to employee files. BUT, we don’t want people snooping in other peoples files.

Frankly, this method was fine when we had one store and we were there all the time. Now, this method sucks.

EvernoteI had a hunch we could do something better with Evernote. Sure, there are systems out there specifically designed for storing employee files digitally. Those can be expensive – plus, I don’t want to have to train a bunch of employees (and future employees) how to use Yet Another System.

So here is what we do now (spoiler: it doesn’t suck). Continue reading →

I Am a CEO Who Codes

I am the Managing Partner (CEO) of L2M LLC. Currently we own and operate three Plato’s Closet franchises and are looking to expand and diversify this year. We are a retail company – not a tech company.

By trade, I am also a software developer. I spent most of my career writing code that pushes data around and adds an efficiency exponent to the work that others need to do.

Frankly, I am really fucking good at it. I have a proven track record of creating simple to processes and problems with a lot of ambiguity and nuance. There are companies across the country that still rely on code I have written every day. Code that didn’t need a training manual and just works for years and years.

The dichotomy of being really good at writing software and running a 50-employee+ / 3-location company creates a tension – we are not a tech company. What I have learned is that while software development is not our core competence nor the focus of our business, my software development skills give us competitive advantage.

As CEO, part of my job is to set the vision for the company. My unique superpower is the ability to build things that make the impossible simple. Every once in a while these two overlap and that is the force multiplier.

Every once in a while the vision of where we want to go becomes possible if I can sit down, put on some headphones, and build a simple solution to a complex problem. It’s what I do, it’s who I am, it’s what makes me happy.

Today, I got to use my super power and create something new. I built something that will save us time, make our employees happier, and eventually, make us more money. I woke up with an idea and I am going to bed with a new asset.

It was a damn good day.

Boston Marathon Recap

I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm was set to go off on the morning of the Boston Marathon. I laid in my hotel bed for a minute and reflected back from the day before to the 16 weeks before that. I had rested well. I had eaten and hydrated well. I was at race weight.

I reflected about some of the key workouts that I had nailed. Fast-finish long runs, long tempo intervals, 20x400m repeats on the track, a good tune up half-marathon, and countless easy and recovery runs. I followed Dave’s plan closer than ever before and almost always hit my paces. I ran significantly more miles than ever before and was more consistent with my training. My uniform and gear was laid out and ready to go. Since Erica stayed behind in Nashville, I pinned her picture to my bib so that she could be with me — everything felt right.

I felt confident that I was waking up a 2:46 marathoner, but would be going to bed that night as a 2:3x marathoner. I had put in the work and was ready to go. As I got ready I sent this tweet:

Continue reading →

Training 2015 week 12

The plan for this week is to run close to 80 miles. I will do a longer track workout on Tuesday and then run the Music City Half-marathon on Sunday. The half-marathon could either be a long marathon pace workout (with a long pre-race warmup) or it could be a race. Either effort would be beneficial. I feel like I am in shape to PR in a half-marathon, but the goal is Boston so I don’t feel a need to race the half.

Last week didn’t go as planned – it also didn’t start with a Monday morning run. This week I started of the week like normal with a Monday morning run with Alexis (and Matt and Lee). Then Monday afternoon I had an 8 mile run scheduled with the last 3 at marathon pace. I had to run from Hillsboro High in order to make my kid’s first track meet and the route I ran ended up being just shy of 7 miles, but the last 3 were solid in 5:38, 5:59, and 5:48.

It was 38˚ for the morning run and 80˚ for the evening run. Tights and gloves in the morning and shirtless in the evening. Nashville is weird like that in the Spring.

Tuesday morning was at the track. Dave had 2000m repeats on tap for me with the goal being to run each rep in 7:05 (5:45 pace?) with 90 seconds of rest between. Koko was running a 6 mile tempo at the same pace, so I was able to tuck in behind him for the first couple of reps.

Like an idiot, I forgot to turn Auto Lap off on my watch (a must when reps are over 1500m). As a result, I had to add the mile split time plus the remaining time in order to know the total time for that 2000m split. The first rep felt super fast, but it was right about 7:00, so I just went with it. Towards the end of the 4th rep I realized that I was doing the math wrong and was actually running 6:50-ish instead of 7:00-ish. It didn’t even feel like I was pushing it that hard, so I am taking this as a good sign. I do suspect the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT WEATHER had something to do with it.

2000m splits: 6:50.3, 6:52.2, 6:48.6, 6:49.4, 6:45.8

Wednesday morning I ran with East Nasty. I planned to run a double, but ended up having to work late (and was on my feet all day). Thursday I was still tired in the morning, so I ran that evening. It was another long day at work, so I worked some shit out on the run. It ended up being a pretty hilly progression run starting around 7:15 and working down to 6:10. Not a “quality” day per se, but also not an easy day. Friday was more of the same, but was 8 miles instead of 10.

I had to work a full day in one of my stores on Saturday. I was going to run in the morning, but was exhausted. Then when I came home later than expected I only had 25 minutes before I needed to be in “dad mode” for Max’s birthday. It was all I could to to get 3 miles done, but at least I kept my 2015 running streak alive.

Sunday morning was the Music City Half-marathon. Based on the pre-registered participants, I was hoping to be able to ease into it was a couple of miles at marathon pace and then work down toward half-marathon pace and hope to eek by with a small PR and the win.

That is not what happened at all. Cristhian Villavicencio (who I didn’t recognize) and Karl Lamke were both at the start line. Karl had just run the Music City 5k Shootout the day before, so I didn’t know what kind of shape he would be in.

I intentionally stayed back a little at the start and we ended up in a pack of 5 or 6 guys running just over 6:00 pace. After about a half-mile I moved to the front and pushed the pace just a little. Christhian stayed RIGHT on my shoulder. We took turns feeling each other out for a couple of miles with both of us too stubborn to give the other an inch. I still felt pretty relaxed, but knew this wasn’t going to be the kind of race I had planned for. He fell back for a minute or two and then pulled back on my shoulder. I backed off and ran right behind him to see if he would back off the pace – he didn’t and we kept running in the 5:30s. I pulled back on his shoulder and we did slow just a little to about 5:40 pace.

Is my foot landing too far forward? Should I work on that?


After about 10k I realized this was just too hot for me. I backed off a little and let him go – beaten and broken, but not dead yet. I also couldn’t back off too much since on a small out-and-back section I saw that Karl wasn’t too far behind.

There were a couple of times that I thought I might be able to reel him back in, but every time I started to close the gap he would pull away again. Then I started doing math and thinking about making sure that I would get under my PR (1:15:34). I thought I might still be able to get under 1:15, but then I started getting a pretty bad stomach cramp on the final mile. It got so bad that at mile 13 I actually contemplated walking it in.

It wasn’t the race I wanted to run and definitely wasn’t the time I thought I was capable of, but still it was a new PR and a good effort. 1:15:14.  According to Strava it was also pretty evenly paced with the first two 5k splits being 17:36 and the next 2 5k splits being 18:08.

This isn’t the week I had planned, but at the same time I am trying to recognize that it was a high quality week even if it wasn’t as much mileage as I had hoped to run. I did some marathon pace miles on Monday evening, crushed a workout on Tuesday morning, ran faster than I should on Thursday and Friday, and then tried to win a half-marathon, and still PRed after starting faster than I could finish.

Only 4 more weeks until the Boston Marathon. Still time for some more training and a couple of big mileage weeks. I need some more long runs, but I am pretty much ready for Boston at this point. It feels good.

Mon 5 miles easy 7 miles w/ 3 @ M pace
Tue 1 mile warmup (???)
5 x 2000m @ T pace
2 mile cool down
Wed 5 miles easy
Thu 10 miles medium (6:38 avg)
Fri 8 miles medium (6:41 avg)
Sat 3 miles easy
Sun  Music City Half-marathon
2nd overall – 1:15:14