Defining A Meaningful Life | Howard Getson

 

About Howard Getson

Howard Getson is the founder and CEO of Capitalogix, an AI trading systems company that essentially provides its users a “hedge-fund-in-a-box.” Prior to forming Capitalogix, Howard had an active corporate legal practice which he worked in from 1987 to 1993.

Howard has a passion for helping people define purpose in their life and presented “The Time Value of a Life Worth Living” at TedxPlano 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrRl0iKu88E

Howard attended Duke University where he earned his undergrad in Philosophy and Psychology. He also obtained both an MBA and JD from North Western University.

 

Interview Transcript of: Defining A Meaningful Life | Howard Getson

Alan
Welcome back. I’m here today visiting with Howard Getson. He is the founder of capitalogix. Howard, welcome to the show.

Howard
Hi, thank you so much. It’s great to be here.

Alan
So Howard, for the listeners, can you give your background of what brought you through your career path to bring you up to where you are today.

Howard
So most people think of what we do is running hedge funds, but it’s really a financial technology. And in a platform, if you came to the office, it would, it would look like a data science company, tons of PhDs and people thinking about stuff. But it’s, it’s a lot of fun. If you go back through the career, though, you it’s interesting, I never would have guessed that I’d be here looking backwards, it makes sense. But going forward, it wouldn’t have made any sense. I went to college playing football on track, and was a psychology and philosophy major. Fact, I was at Duke. At the same time, Melinda French was Bill Gates, his wife was in the psych department at the same school. But then I couldn’t decide whether to go to business or law school. And I decided to do both. And I’m kind of a little bit OCD. So I ended up doing it quickly. And I was finished with an MBA and a law degree at 23. Got married, moved to Dallas, it was a lot wet area of law, corporate securities, but also intellectual property transactions. So tech law, but the business side of tech law. Yeah. And the truth is, I was really good at certain parts of it. But I didn’t like practicing law. I loved my clients. I love my clients business. I envied them. But I didn’t love practicing law. And so in 19, so that was 86. When I started by 1991, I started my first tech company. And it was originally designed to provide tech services to lawyers and law firms.

Alan
So why did you start your first tech company?

Howard
Because I envied my clients and didn’t like my partners? You know what, it’s, it’s funny you say that? I believe that how you do something is how you do everything. For example, if I’m watching somebody in an interview, and they’re in our waiting room, and I can see that they’re cheating on Solitaire, what do you think that’s going to tell me what they’re going to do the first time they run into it? I mean, it’s so funny. But But how that’s relevant to why I started my first tech company, is because I believe that people do the best when they’re doing something not only that they love but that gives them energy. And I think energy is like a Geiger counter that tells you if you’re on the right path or not. And when I would talk about technology, or spend time with tech people, I was a better version of myself, it was part of me that I never really thought about, you know, athlete. I love to read. But but this was new, this was solving problems and not predicting the future. But creating the future was really cool. And so I spent more and more time doing that I actually think this unique ability concept is something you get in trouble for in other aspects of your life. And you got to find a way to take that natural path, Mother Nature, and basically say, how do I build a business around my map natural tendency, because I don’t have to fight my natural tendency. And so I stopped trying to build 2000 hours a year and started solving problems and building things.

Alan
In it’s interesting as in this is a common theme that we see entrepreneurs reach out to solve problems, not necessarily to, to make the buck first. As you moved into, you know, here you were a lawyer with a business degree. And you were starting into a software based company?

Howard
No, we were actually going to provide technology services to lawyers and law firms. And because we were, this was back and remember Borland and Felipe? Oh, yeah. Right. So this is when there was a big case where they basically said if if a lawyer wasn’t involved in email is discoverable. And so we figured if we got hired as CO counsel, then we could build databases and do work for lawyers that wouldn’t be discoverable. And that was like the original idea that started the whole thing. And who would think that you know, now we’ve gotten millions of algorithms trading financial markets, but really that that case was the beginning. Interesting sidelight there. In in technology, one of the things that I get angry at in our company is when we focus on the technology rather than the business solution or the opportunity, and I hate technology in search of a problem. I love figuring out what you want to do. And then how are you going to do it? But starting with oh, this is a cool technology, what can I build with it? Not so much.

Alan
So you started out in this first company, and and how long did that last?

Howard
10 years. Okay. 91, well, nine years 91 until 2001, I sold. Turns out my, my dad was on my board, and he was one of my best friends. But he had gotten cancer. And in that last year of my business, I made 42 round trip, visits to Philadelphia to try to take care of him and my mother. And every time I left Dallas, I felt like I was a bad father or a bad CEO. And every time I left Philadelphia, I felt like I was a bad son. It was a really weird cycle. And it put a lot of things in perspective for me. Ultimately, my dad died in November. The VCs and I decided it was time to sell the company in January. And I got divorced in February. So tough get a perfect storm. Yeah. But it was also a reset. And I ended up using the same base business skills. But to focus a little bit differently. I inherited my dad’s Well, before I say that, the last couple of years and our tech company, I was investing in CEOs that I had met at conferences that I thought were great, I figured I had some insight information in the sense that I saw how they interacted with their people, I got a chance to see how they responded to me, it wasn’t just Oh, I see the name of their company. But it was and I didn’t have to like the CEO had made a lot of money off of siebels company. But I guess a blind squirrel finds acorns in the forest in a bull market. And that was a lot easier in 98 through 2000 than it was after. And so I thought investing was fun. Then when my dad died, I kind of took over his portfolio and it was pretty large. There were 100 positions or so and it looked like a drunk monkey had picked it. I thought wouldn’t it be cool if we use some of the technology we use at the old company to figure out what asset class we should be in? Which techniques made sense to be in how much risk to take given current market conditions. And it occurred to me that there would be some form of scale where I could basically say, Well, if at each decision level, I could basically say this was a 78. And this was only a 73, then I’ll go this way. And if we just went down the decision trees that would make investing easier, wasn’t nearly that easy. And it’s now been 17 years and about $30 million of hard assets, building a platform, but some really cool stuff come from it.

Alan
So when you know, when you’re looking at your target market and capital, logical logic, you know, who are you aiming for?

Howard
So I wasn’t aiming for me, I was I was aiming for you. I wasn’t aiming to. In my last company, we used to joke and it was a former artificial intelligence it it turns out that that software that we built for lawyers, my lawyer friend started giving to their clients. And I would get phone calls from people saying, Hey, I can’t figure out how to put in my customers information. And I’m like, What are you talking about? Who are you? And they were using something that we built as a case management system, a client management system, lawyers have clients and matters. And these people were using it for Salesforce automation. But before salesforce automation was real, and you only have to kick me in the head 15 or 20 times and I said hey, we built a salesforce automation tool. And, and so but as part of that there were some artificial intelligence, some some rule based and time based technology that said, if you’re an actor on a process, and you’re here, what are the three best next steps? And one of the concepts that we came up with back then was called filtered relevancy and it said, based on who the actor is and where you are in the process, how do you figure out the main thing or the top three things so that the person feels like they have choice but right Really, what you’re doing is hiding all the bad choices for him. And it turns out that that’s the basic idea behind what we’re trying to do now we call it alpha by avoidance. We don’t try to make money by having better and better algorithms, we try to find the algorithms that are making money and hide the rest of the algorithms from the system.

Alan
I’m visiting here today with Howard Getson. He’s the founder of capital logic, I need to take a quick break. And we’ll be right back after these messages.

Alan
Welcome back and missing here today with Howard gets in and Howard. You recently did a TED talk. And, you know, we talked about the power of decision process?

Howard
The time value of life time value of a life worth living. Okay. So as I watched my dad going through the last days of his life, a couple things struck me. And so I think, at the end, he would have given almost anything for one more month, one more year. And I started to think, you know, in the year that I was taking care of him, I put my life on hold, and there were a ton of opportunities that I said, Oh, it’s not the right time. And you know, to be aggressive in business, I’m gonna wait. And I realized that, if you think about the time value of money is same as the time value of a life. But as you get older, it’s harder to do things. The time value of my life is most valuable right? Now I have to maximize the moment. And it’s about figuring out what gives you energy, where’s your purpose? And how are you going to get there don’t be a cork that floats on the water, but actually move towards what you want. So many people focus on what they don’t want, or why it’s not perfect. There’s only one way for something to be perfect every other way is not. If you focus on that it doesn’t actually help you get to what you want. And so it’s really about figuring out where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.

Alan
How do you? How do you guide a person through understanding how to put those big rocks together? A lot of people are like, Yeah, I want to go somewhere, but I’m not sure where to start? Is there a process or way that you can advise individuals to work through? How do you? How do you define your purpose and your mission?

Howard
You know, it’s funny, stuff like Tony Robbins, or Brendon Burchard is terrific for some people. Other people like to do it privately. And I do one on one coaching with my friends, my clients and my senior leadership staff. And so we’ve developed a curriculum and it feels like a conversation. But what it basically gets him to focus on is, is what the the top three things they want in business. And I start there because it’s thinking, it’s not feeling. There’s this model that says, Think feel, no, you have to blow out the thinking before you can get to the feeling. And you have to blow out the feeling before you can get to the knowing. And we’re talking about purpose, and that’s kind of knowing. And so we work on business first. And then I say, you know, how would you want your daughter to describe you at your funeral. And they get a little bit emotional, and they come up with things. And I say what those are, you describe nouns, ways of being there. They’re kind of a state. He said, But what are the verbs that you have to do? And, and they get confused for a second way say, Look, if you think about values, if we came up with a really great value exercise to figure out your real values. The problem is, that’s the recipe for the life you have. What we’re trying to figure out is the recipe for the life you want. And that means we have to change things. So you have to start with understanding your nouns and verbs and values. But then you have to figure out how do I adjust the recipe and it might be a different order. It might be a different intensity. It might be the focus on a word like love. And so in our company, I have three verbs for each person where they understand that they’re doing their job if and so for me, one of my first things is I want to be thought provoking. The next thing I want to do is demonstrate passion and commitment. And for somebody else it might be Scout navigate and bill. But the point is, is it helps them figure out whether this is a good activity or not. And one of the best start to figure out how to say no to things that take you off the bat.

Alan
That’s good advice. So I busy here today with Howard Getson. Howard, they need to take a quick break. And we’ll be right back after these messages.

Alan
Welcome back in business today with Howard Getson, Howard we’re talking in the last segment about, you know, defining purpose in our life and walking through and and you mentioned when through the TED talks, you you also do some personal coaching on this. But for you personally, if I could just delve into based on what you know, now what how would you say the person gets the most out of life defining a way? What are the value drivers?

Howard
I believe one of the most important ways to drive value is to understand how you or somebody else keeps score. And so you think about gamification, but it’s very hard for somebody to feel good about something if they don’t feel like they’re making progress. And so, you know, there are things that might create one point in football, it’s an extra point. Three points is a field goal. Six points is when you score a touchdown, two points is if you get a safety, right, and I try to help people create a taxonomy or a hierarchy of things that they do. And one of the challenges with this is it’s often based on an external locus of control where it’s, you know, they want somebody to be loving to them well, but you can’t control that. And so you might do all the right stuff. And if you don’t get what you want back, it makes you a victim. And so I try to help them create a scorekeeping system that’s based on what they do or who they’re being. So that they understand whether they’re making progress. And then I check in with them daily, weekly, or monthly, as we’ve agreed to figure out whether they’re putting more points on the board. And it’s actually a great way for somebody to start to focus on what’s important. I started this by saying that energy is one of the most important indicators. Well, this is actually really a way to measure energy. And I find that as people start to get positive feedback that says this is working, they’re willing to do a lot more. It’s why Fitbits are successful. It’s, you know, it wasn’t successful for me when I was supposed to get 10,000 steps a day. But as soon as I figured I could change it to 6000. Because for me, that’s just outside what my normal day is. And I actually have to try, but I can hit it easily. If I make the conscious effort, and that’s actually what I think’s important in life is to find a way to make the scorecard where it’s easy to feel good and hard to feel bad because it’s your life and why not feel good?

Alan
Do you have in the coaching process and in your three here? Do you help people with setting goals?

Howard
The interesting thing is I don’t do it for money. I do it for free. And I do it with my executive team. One on one, but I also do it on a group level for the people beneath it. And I found that at first people are like, Oh, no, this is like homework. But they start to love it. And then I get phone calls from home on a Saturday night or a Sunday. Sandhu, this just happened. And it lights me up. And I realized that’s part of my feedback system, right? I mean, it’s awesome. But really, it helps people become who they can be in a corporation. It’s easy to hire talent. But it’s harder to develop talent and then our company. We’ve decided rather than paying headhunters and hiring really senior people. We want to hire the right people who are cultural fit, and grow them into what they could be, even if it’s not necessarily what we think the business needs. Because ultimately, people are our greatest asset. It’s interesting as an AI company that I still think that the way to grow the company is to grow the people. But I do.

Alan
I put it out there that the philosophies about the balancing a team and they have systems like Colby and I love Myers.

Howard
Yeah. And predictive index is another great one.

Alan
And how relevant is that though? Overall, though, to building teams within organizations, when you’re looking at trying to To move processes and reach.

Howard
So I actually think stuff like that’s very important but but backwards from how most people look at it, most people say, here’s the job I want. This is the code, the profile I need, or here’s the predictive index, and I’m looking for. And I know in a sense that that works for some people. But really, what I want to do is I want to find somebody who’s a cultural fit that we talked about not fighting Mother Nature, and just finding something that works. If I find somebody who has a great personality, it doesn’t matter what their profile shows, there’s no right or wrong profile. But if I understand their profile, I can help coach them better. I can create a job that’s going to put more points on the board for them and for us.

Alan
I’m visiting here today with Howard Getson and Howard. I know you’ve been doing this for free, but you have a TED Talks. Can you give the name of the TED talk again, that you did?

Howard
Yeah, it’s called the creating, sorry, The Time Value of a Life That Matters. Okay. And my websites, capitalogix.com. And I’m sure you can find the link to Capitalogix Capitalogix

Alan
And so for the listeners today, we’ll have this all on the website. They can visit at GROCO.com And in terms of reaching out to Howard and also we’ll put a link to your TED Talk.

Howard
This has been a lot of fun. Thanks so much.

 

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This transcript was generated by software and may not accurately reflect exactly what was said.

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Howard Getson on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Howard Getson

Howard Getson is the founder and CEO of Capitalogix, an AI trading systems company that essentially provides its users a “hedge-fund-in-a-box.” Prior to forming Capitalogix, Howard had an active corporate legal practice which he worked in from 1987 to 1993.

Howard has a passion for helping people define purpose in their life and presented “The Time Value of a Life Worth Living” at TedxPlano 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrRl0iKu88E

Howard attended Duke University where he earned his undergrad in Philosophy and Psychology. He also obtained both an MBA and JD from North Western University.

Alan Olsen on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Alan Olsen

Alan is managing partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, (GROCO) and is a respected leader in his field. He is also the radio show host to American Dreams. Alan’s CPA firm resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves some of the most influential Venture Capitalist in the world. GROCO’s affluent CPA core competency is advising High Net Worth individual clients in tax and financial strategies. Alan is a current member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (S.I.E.P.R.) SIEPR’s goal is to improve long-term economic policy. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and develops innovative financial strategies for business enterprises. Alan also serves on President Kim Clark’s BYU-Idaho Advancement council. (President Clark lead the Harvard Business School programs for 30 years prior to joining BYU-idaho. As a specialist in income tax, Alan frequently lectures and writes articles about tax issues for professional organizations and community groups. He also teaches accounting as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ohlone College.

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