In this episode, we sit down with Michael Golway, President and CEO of Advanced Solutions, Inc. We discuss the impact public speaking has had in his entrepreneurial career and how it plays a role in his daily life.
Tyler: Today we're here with Michael Golway, President and CEO of Advanced Solutions, Incorporated. Hi Michael, thank you for being with us.
Michael: Hi Tyler, it's good to be here.
Tyler: I'll start out just by asking you to tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, experience in entrepreneurship and business.
Michael: Okay, well I'm an engineer by training; I graduated from the University of Louisville with a Master’s in Engineering with specialization in Industrial Engineering. I worked in the industry for a few years. In 2000, at the age of 31, I bought my first technology company called IDS Engineering, we still own that company today. We had two employees initially, and ten months after I bought that company 9/11 happened and the US economy went into a recession. And I found myself as a young entrepreneur going the next three years without a paycheck.
And so it was an early lesson in terms of fortunately during that time period we at least running a break-even business, so our employees got paid on time, our vendors got paid on time but it was an early lesson that as an entrepreneur you're the last one to get paid.
Fortunately we survived that time period, and in the last 18 years we've done 10 acquisitions, six startups, just recently sold a couple companies that I acquired in 2004. And so today we are a company that is focused on high-end technology, bringing solutions to healthcare manufacturing, workflow optimization in general and in education environment.
Tyler: Well, being an engineer like me, you don't always hear that engineers have the best speaking ability, public speaking skills, and yet it can be so important. Do you agree that public speaking and how so if you do agree, is it important in the engineering field?
Michael: I would rank it as one of the top five skillsets for not only engineers, but it's a broad range of professions that require engineering in particular to your question, engineering in particular requires folks to be able to communicate ideas and do that in a way that you can get people to invest or change or adopt your ideas. And so right at the heart of that is being able to effectively communicate.
Tyler: Totally agree. So engineering hat and you've also got your business hat or business side, would you agree that it's equally important of a skill in business?
Michael: Absolutely, I think back in our 18 years of my entrepreneurial career and all the critical points that involved either a downturn in the company or a high-growth, there were different levels of communication that were required.
Not only with our internal team but with our customers, and so with all aspects of the business effective communication is a critical skill set and that holds true with our engineers, certainly our sales reps but even internal support with our accounting and marketing and HR and legal teams as well.
Tyler: Right. In fact an article in Forbes recently ranked public speaking one of the highest skills needed in business, and talked about how in past it's been referred to as a soft skill, but anymore it's a hard skill you need that skill.
How would you say that your public speaking skills or would you say they have contributed and led to improvement in your communication skills in general?
Michael: Well I would certainly say the time and experience have really contributed, unfortunately when I was going through college I did not have any formal public speaking, and in hindsight I wish I would have taken at least one public speaking class. Now there were a number of classes or courses that required team projects and team presentations, and so you had opportunities to get exposed to public speaking in that way.
But certainly experience has been, and from a personal perspective it has been the best approach for me and my career in terms of gaining skillsets and becoming, I find that it's a continuous improvement process. And whenever I think I've reached a good plateau, I see somebody else communicate that just blows me away and it motivates me to say okay let's get this oh, there's more that I can do to improve.
Tyler: Right. Even things such as even interviewing someone for a hiring process, would you say contributes to maybe being able to better communicate yourself in that situation, but also to sort of recognize than others what might make a good team member based on their communication skills?
Michael: Well it's really a great example, I mean think about that situation. You're bringing in a candidate to become part of your team, and so there is certainly a powerful communication moment in terms of the company being able to articulate what does the company do, what role would this person serve on the team, what is the opportunity ahead.
But in that situation it's also very mutual, and that the candidate has an opportunity to showcase their communication skills. Why are they a qualified candidate for this role? Why would they be a great team member in our organization? And so that's a great example actually of where effective communication skills in a job interview can be incredibly effective, or it can be very detrimental if it's not done properly.
Tyler: Right. Well so another thing that the Forbes article goes into is how crucial communication skills can be to the success of a product, not just a business. Have you found this to be true in your businesses?
Michael: Absolutely. So advanced solutions is an innovation company, so we are innovating new products, new services for our customers and the innovation process, the invention process is challenging in and of itself, because you're venturing invention by its very nature is you're doing something new.
And so there's a lot of risk with that both financially, both time constraints and so it's incredibly important that teams that are involved in innovation have effective communication skills. And that can be at every level from being very candid and very honest about what the situation is, communicating actual results and development, timelines in terms of being able to take inventions from design through implementation and commercialization.
So there's a number of aspects that communication is very critical, and certainly in my experience at advanced solutions effective communication allows our invention process to not only to be more efficient, but it allows us to deliver a higher work product.
Tyler: All right. Well so we've established that public speaking skills are important, and that leads to better communication skills in general, so really to illustrate the power of public speaking, could you go into a specific example of a product that your company has produced that is powerful, is profound?
Michael: Well so one of those products is a project that is now in its ninth year, it's a product called BioAssemblyBot. BioAssemblyBot is the world's first 3D human tissue printer that uses a six axis robot, and so with the six axis robot that moves like a human arm, we not only have the ability to 3D print in traditional additive that is layer by layer way, we also can print on contours.
And when you're talking about the challenge of 3D printing human tissues, there's a lot of geometry and geometric shapes and a lot of complexity in bringing cells into certain parts of tissue structures.
And so, what we've found is that platform in a lot of ways we're teaching the robot to 3D print human tissue, we're using the power and the innovation of a six axis robot to not only 3D print, but to control all the processing steps that are required to build a tissue.
Tyler: So, what is an example of a product or maybe a process that this machine is used to accomplish?
Michael: Well right now we are focused on offering the technology platform to customers that are involved in research, and pharmaceutical industry. And so the platform has a very valuable role, it's a tool that allows those folks to fail faster. And in their industry research or discovering a new drug it is a lot about trial and error, and so if you have a tool that allows you to fail faster, that is a value add for both of those specific industries.
But we are long-term looking at how do we translate the platform into 3D printing replacement tissues for human beings, so our long-term goal is to ultimately develop the platform so that you would find it in every major hospital, and it would actually provide more curative solutions for patients as opposed to symptomatic solutions. So symptomatic is very common in how medical practice is done today, if I've got a pain I go into a doctor, the doctor evaluates that pain and they treat the symptom.
Sometimes our bodies just need new parts, and so the BioAssemblyBot we have a vision that it will eventually be able to print new parts and provide a curative solution as opposed to just treating the symptom. The great news about that is we're living in a time that biology and some of the technology that we're using have evolved to a point that we can actually harvest all the raw material we need from the patient, so we actually use the patient's own cells to manufacture a brand new part.
Tyler: Well so the long-term goal is to have longer-term goals to enable to have long long-term goals, longer life I guess.
Michael: That is one of the desired outcomes; I mean I've told my team I want to live to be eight hundred years old.
Tyler: Right, talk about long term goal.
Michael: Yes, at least. We have a lot of work to do, but you know it's so exciting for me, it's one of the things, now I'm 50 years old and I think back at my life and my career I'm so humbled this time that we live in, it is arguably the best time in human history. I get some pushback sometimes, it's like Michael have you turned on the news lately, I mean there's a lot of bad stuff going on, I don't doubt that we certainly have our problems as a world.
But I look at it compared to other times in history, you go back a couple hundred years ago and life was a lot different, it was a lot tougher. When I get hungry I have the opportunity to go eat right, when I get sick I have the opportunity to go gain access to some of the best medical treatments in the world. I have the opportunity to live in sheltered facilities that keep me cool in the summer, and warm in the winter, and I don't spend my day hunting for the calories that I need, I get to spend my day collaborating and working and inventing with really smart people like yourself.
And so, when you put it in that perspective that's not an entitlement it is a gift, and it's one of the things as an entrepreneur that's driven me to say let's try to use the fact that we're living in a greatest time in human history, and by the way we're also lucky to live in one of the best parts in the world. There are a lot of great spots in the world, but there are also some very bad spots in the world.
And so those two things combined with life is too short, time is our most precious commodity and so at advanced solutions we really try to bring those three things together in a way living in the greatest time in human history, one of the best spots and the world and the fact that life is too short, time is a precious commodity. Let's use our gift to do something profound and positive and leave the world it’s a little cliché but it truly it is.
We have an opportunity to leverage technology today, put that together in ways that solve problems that have been problems for all of humanity, and if we're successful at doing those things, we will truly leave the world a little better than when we came into it and hopefully it's 800 to a thousand years from now.
Tyler: Yes, sounds exhausting too.
Michael: Well it would have to be a high quality of life, and so it's one thing to radically change human life in the length of human life, but it's got to be at a high quality to which is really at the heart of the curative piece of this. And again the technology is evolved to a point that we're able to put the pieces together in a way that we can solve really tough problems.
Tyler: I appreciate that perspective, that's a good way to think about day to day life I think, you get bogged down in the day to day and you forget the big picture sometimes, so I appreciate that, and what could be more powerful of a result than that.
It may be hard for something to connect the dots between public speaking, maybe they're in a public speaking course now in college like you said, you wish you were able to take, how do you get from there to bio fabrication?
Michael: Me personally or the student?
Tyler: Well maybe both, I mean your story could inspire and it'd be similar not everyone is going to end up creating a BioAssemblyBot, but in their own way they will create maybe the next BioAssemblyBot or the next big thing. How can they leverage their communication skills and the communication skills of a team to accomplish something like that?
Michael: So, I would say in my experience, what I've come to appreciate is when I was in college I didn't necessarily understand this at the time, but I've grown to appreciate that. One of the big benefits of the educational track that I took was to teach me to think, and the engineering track there's a lot of math, there's calculus, I can count on one hand how many derivatives I've done as an engineer in my professional career.
But the real point in that is that taking the number of calculus courses that I did, that exercised my thinking in a way to solve problems and it conditioned me. And I think that holds true with any class you take, and so you can look at that with calculus, but certainly just as powerful is public speaking, that's a skill set. That may not be apparent how you're going to use it in your career on a day to day basis, but it is a valuable skill set and one that will chart a trajectory for you in terms of ultimately your career path.
And I'm a big fan of passion, I'm also a believer that passion finds you, you don't find your passion. You have to be attentive and look out for the things that are your passion, but once you find them what a great gift to live your life in a way that you're pursuing your passions. And at the heart of that is your ability to communicate, and I can think of many examples from the boardroom to interacting with the customer, to interacting with your teammates we're effective communication skills derive an outcome that can either be very positive for you or it can be negative.
And I think that's the other thing I would say is at least in my life I've come to appreciate that, and to embrace failure. There's a lot of failure that happens and especially in public speaking that is a skill set some people have a natural gift, and it's just like some people have a natural gift to shoot a free-throw. But it's also a skill set that you can work on and you can improve, and you may not be the best free-throw shooter, you may not be the best public speaker in human history, but you can develop that skill set at a level that allows you to accomplish and fulfill your passion and that just takes practice and work. And it's also is a recognition that sometimes you're going to fail, the failures are the best lessons to help motivate you to work on your craft, work on your skill set and do better the next time.
Tyler: Right. We have many educators that listen to this channel and podcast, and I'm sure they'll appreciate you saying that, and I hope this story of yours really just serves as motivation to them to say what you're teaching matters and is important.
In recent episodes, and actually in some coming up, we're talking with educators about the importance of making sure public speaking education is included in curriculum and early as possible, and I feel like you would probably agree with that.
Michael: I totally support that, and educators again as I've gotten older I've come to appreciate the extreme value that educators in our society have, and the incredible role they play. I can look back even in elementary school, and high school, college there were certain teachers that had a profound impact on me, that took the time to teach me in a way that excited me and ultimately helped me explore possibilities that allow the passion to find me, of what my personal passions are.
And you can't underscore enough the value that our teachers and our educators play in our society, and it's across multiple spectrums from certainly the education environment, but I think coaches in sports and parents and we all at some point have opportunities to impart knowledge or to take time and invest in helping somebody improve and maybe see things a little differently. And I'm so grateful for the educators that I've come across in my life, and it certainly has been a profound impact on the outcome that I'm realizing today at 50.
Tyler: Well as always, it's been really nice speaking with you, before we wrap up I just wanted to ask you if there's any parting advice or anything at all you'd like to share with the audience?
Michael: I would reiterate that time is our most precious commodity, in a world that where there are more options than we've had in human history, where there are more devices that call on our attention, taking time to invest in yourself, in your education and your skill sets is something that nobody can take away and it's important to make it a priority.
And so when you have an opportunity to take a formal public speaking course do it, when you haven't an opportunity to invest in yourself to improve yourself do it, when you have an opportunity to explore outside your comfort zone, and you never know where a passion may be right around the corner that was hidden and just because you took a chance and you got out of your comfort zone you were able to find that passion, or that passion found you, but you have to look.
So that would be my advice, time is just too short and we are very lucky human beings, and so it is not an entitlement it's a gift. And I think if we all have an opportunity to embody something like that, is think about the power of that across the planet, seven billion people on the planet. If we had the ability to channel all that thought into all those people, think about the power and the efficiency of what we could accomplish.
Tyler: So, how can people learn more about the BioAssemblyBot, and more of what you're all doing in that space?
Michael: Sure, so you can reach us at bioassemblybot.com on the web. We are also at lifesciences.solutions. And the website gives a lot of great examples of the technology platforms and videos. There's an opportunity actually to just join the community, it's a periodically once a month or so we just broadcast some of the latest innovations that we're doing, and you don't even have to be a customer if you're just interested in tracking and following and how this technology is developing and eventually helping human patients.
In fact, we have our very first animal study that's being conducted by one of our customers that's coming up, and the robot is actually going to 3D print skin on this animal. And so stories like that we will broadcast to our community, and it's a great way just to stay in touch with the progress and the path that we're on.
Tyler: For sure, I don't know who would not be interested in that. I appreciate your time again and we'll have to have you back on!
Michael: Great, thank you.