Mitch Russo is a photographer and the President of Mindful Guidance, which is a corporation dedicated to providing leadership and guidance to senior management along with mindful decision making on tough problems. We work with very few clients to insure focus on the goals and aspirations of the CEO and the board.
Entrepreneurship came with the territory growing up on the streets of NY. As the 17 yr old lead guitarist and band manager for Absolutely Free, I booked us all over the city. We played a political convention in addition to all the Sweet 16 parties & frat houses we could handle. We even played a dude ranch in Reinbeck, NY every weekend during the summer of 1971.
In college, I refurbished Centronics printers and sold them to a large hospital in the Midwest, which was my best customer. I then became an engineer for Digital Equipment Corp, having had the privilege to work on the release of the first VAX computer’s memory system.
Later, as I became enthralled with the Z-80 microprocessor from Zilog, I took a job with Mostek as Field Applications Engineer. This placed me in Dallas, TX every quarter for a week or two. Many years later, I would live in Dallas for 4 years after I sold Timeslips Corporation to Sage, plc.
In 1981, I began developing real estate in Charlestown, MA. I started with one building with 4 apartments. After I had 2 buildings and all my units rented, I bought my first home in Hamilton, MA on a quiet street on the north edge of town. A few months later, my soon-to-be partner moved next door with his wife. Neil and I became quick friends and soon we joined forces to create Timeslips Corp.
In 1984, I came up with the idea to track time on my computer so I could deduct it from my taxes. (PC’s cost $5,000 back in 1984!) I mentioned it to Neil, he built the first version on an Apple II clone which coincidentally was called a “Sage” computer. After we invested $5,000 each to start the company, Neil built the 1st shipping product all by himself.
That became Timeslips Corp, the largest time tracking software publisher in the world. With no venture capital backing and no outside investors, we built one of the top 100 software publishers, according to The Soft-Letter. Our first big review was in InfoWorld in 1986, they rated it 9.3, the highest rating ever awarded a software program at the time.
In 1990, I became increasingly aware of a competitor who was making headway in the marketplace but had poorly positioned his product for where it could best be deployed; the corporate market. I approached the owners and bought the company, all with the support of my local bank. No VC’s, no investors. I negotiated and structured the deal which became our 2nd best product line, TimeSheet Professional.
In 1994, we sold Timeslips Corp. to Sage, plc. I convinced Sage to let me split the company in two; leaving tech support and development in MA while moving myself (pregnant wife and all) along with 12 management and sales team members to Dallas, TX where the US Division was headquartered. During our earn-out period, I doubled sales and increased profits 500%. While in Dallas, I guided the acquisition of another player in the time tracking space, making us the consolidator of the time tracking market with 3 key companies.
After my 2 year earn-out was over, I was asked to run the whole US operation as COO, all 5 product lines, which I eventually did. After 4 years in sunny Dallas, it was time to come “home” to New England and Massachusetts where I have resided since. Neil and I remain best of friends having shared an amazing chapter in our lives.
Also in 1994, my daughter was born in Dallas, TX. No, she doesn’t speak with an accent, but she sings like an angel and writes like The Dickens!
In 1999, I started Assist Ventures as a way to help new entrepreneurs start & grow their company. I had 14 clients and a small fund from which to invest. When Zero Stage Capital hired me for a quick assignment; to come up with a new business model for one of their investments, I dove in. They liked it so much, they requested I join the company as CEO and committed $2.5M to go forward.
In 2000, I became the CEO of FurnitureFan, which became the most visited site on the web for furniture shopping. At FurnitureFan, we pioneered new direct marketing techniques and surveys as well as coupon programs never done on the web for the furniture industry. Even after raising another $4.1M along with follow-on rounds, for a total of $10M from venture and private investors, we weren’t able to overcome the backward thinking in the furniture industry or the deep recession the industry suffered. Destined to be only a small, niche company, I resigned along with the rest of the management team in December 2003, as described in an interview with CFO Magazine.
In 2004, I became quiet and reflective, working on personal projects and dealing with family issues.
In 2005, I began work as the Chief Operating Officer & VP Marketing at two different companies: Window Book Inc, the leader in smart postal and shipping software and Sedona Training Associates, the creators and publishers of The Sedona Method, a personal transformation tool.
In 2006, I have completed my assignment at Sedona Training Associates and a new web portal was born as a result; The World-Wide Releasing Community. Collaborating with Hale Dwoskin, we created new products and launched them, improved the performance of the company marketing programs. I also completed my assignment at WindowBook and have continued to be of assistance as needed to Jeff and his team.
I also became involved with Vadim Yasinovsky and Semyon Dukach launching a new social networking site called www.GottaFlirt.com. It’s an experiment in social interaction. GottaFlirt was written up in The Boston Globe & Mass High Tech. It’s been featured on Chronicle and received some other TV coverage as well. Unfortunately, it was not successful but we learned a lot in the time we worked on this project.
In 2007….. I completed the graduate program with Investools, a leading educator for stock market education. I spent the year learning various techniques using options to leverage the market and continue to perfect my technical skills. I worked with Dan Sheridan at www.Sheridanmentoring.com as a student learning advanced income trading strategies. I trade Iron Condors and credit spreads, calendars and butterflys based on volatility and market action.
In 2008 … I trade option spreads every month except for the last few months of 2008, due to the extreme volatility which has prevented traditional options income strategies to work. Earlier in the year, I signed on as the part-time Vice President of Recruitment & Training for my old friend www.ChetHolmes.com. We hire salepeople for his webinar division, which helps CEOs grow their business. My role has evolved considerably.
Mid-year, I created and then became President of The Recruitment Division of Chet Holmes International. I hire top sales talent anywhere in the U.S. for clients all over the world. I combined Chet’s hiring psychology with my own systems, procedures and improvements I made over the last year, having hired more than 100 sales people for Chet’s own organization. I have worked hard at examining the issues related to scaling this rather quickly and have devised ways to bring new recruiters into the company quickly without compromising the quality of the search. I work on behalf of my client not on behalf of recruits. We deliver guaranteed results. It’s very exciting to watch this business scale with very satisfied clients.
In 2009 … I became President of Chet Holmes International. This is a fantastic 200 person organization spanning 12 different businesses and encompassing dozens of third party vendors and suppliers.
Mid-year, our family converted to Macs. All the PC’s in my house and office are now gone. Living with Macintosh computers has been both a learning experience and a revelation. I replaced 3 PC’s with one MacPro and it’s not even taxing the capabilities of the system.
In 2010… Chet Holmes International had grown substantially in 2009. We launched two new divisions, increased sales and added Tony Robbins as a partner. Tony Robbins has contributed his own materials to a merged company called Business Breakthroughs International which contains all of Chet and Tony’s intellectual property plus additional programs created by Chet and Tony together. This was an exciting time and the company continued to grow.
Over 2009, we have mapped out a major revision to our internal infrastructure and in 2010 we implemented it. We also implemented a new employment model which is a great benefit to our staff members. Overall, we accomplished a great deal this past year and have even more on our agenda for 2011.
In 2011… We had an “interesting” year which left our CEO and my friend Chet with stage 4 Leukemia. He exited his day to day responsibilities and focused on healing. Yet, our clients have been encouraging and even with that loss of his time and energy, we are still in growth mode, still hiring sales and management people, still looking for the talent we need to propel us through the next big business cycle.
On the personal side, I am always traveling and have new galleries to show, the latest is showcasing my newest passion; night photography.
One more thing: My daughter has finished her first novel and we are in touch with a literary agent who is excited by her work. More to come soon!
In 2012… Business Breakthroughs is taking the technology we developed over the course of thousands of client interactions and making it available to any business. It’s called The Growth Plan and it is an organized set of questions and criteria where the business owner is guided to find existing profits available in almost every business. The hundreds of companies who’ve been through it say it changed their entire perspective, got them motivated and are now generating more cash from their business without spending much to make it happen.
Chet is better, booking world-wide speaking engagements with Tony all through late summer and fall. It’s an exciting time for all of us.
Starting 2013 - Reflecting back on my last entry and on 2012, it was a bittersweet year for me. Chet did pass away, leaving behind an incredible body of knowledge and a warm sweet family who misses him every day. He also left behind his friends who loved him like a brother and will miss his keen wit and mischievous smile. I stayed with him on his last night of consciousness in his hospital room and we shared a few moments together that I will never forget.
I resigned from BBI as the new year started, it’s a new time of life for me and I am ready for my next adventure, whatever that may be.
Update: My daughter just received her finished book from the publisher! It was completed the night of her 16th birthday.
Her book is now available on Barnes & Noble: http://tiny.cc/vdyirw
It’s also available on Kindle: http://tiny.cc/3hyirw
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
— Steve Jobs: