Being There

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COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our health, our economy, and our way of life. But if there is anything good to be found in this worldwide pandemic, it's this: for the first time in our lifetimes, we are genuinely all - the entire world -in this together. And, strangely enough, the best way to be there for each other is to not be there. So we do community now the only way that we can - digitally.

While I keep up with my multiple social media accounts, I have never really engaged in any online-specific groups. But recently, after my appearance on Shark Tank, a group of Shark Tank entrepreneurs reached out to me to join their online community. It was like a support group in a way—a place where people who had appeared on the show could relate to that surreal shared experience together. I was reluctant to join, thinking that it would be one more thing I simply wouldn't have time for. I assumed I didn't need it, and that it probably wouldn't be helpful anyway.

I was wrong.

I joined the group and, to my pleasant surprise, found it almost therapeutic. To talk with other people who had been through the same harrowing but thrilling experience, share business ideas, and swap behind-the-scenes stories turned out to be helpful and refreshing.

Online community groups are formed around specific shared interests like hiking, sewing, classic cars, etc. They aren't meant to appeal to everyone. But the current state of affairs in this world has forced us all into one gigantic, global, shared interest group, and we have two options: resist or join in.

I urge you not just to join, but to truly engage. Connect with the world, because we need each other more than ever now. Bring value by encouraging and spreading positivity. Be part of the solution by actively seeking to not be part of the problem. Stay home if you're supposed to. Social distance to the best of your ability if you have to go out. Help where you can* and be willing to receive help if you need it.

Let's be there for each other like never before. You might be surprised at how therapeutic it can be for you and how helpful it can be for others. And when we get through this crisis, my optimistic hope is that the only lasting aftermath is a more unified, connected, positive, and empathetic world.

*CharityWatch.org has released a list of top-rated reputable charities who are providing critical assistance during this COVID-19 pandemic. If you're wondering how you can help, this is a good place to start. https://www.charitywatch.org/charity-donating-articles/coronavirus-outbreak

Joe Altieri is the Inventor and CEO of FlexScreen. His product – the world’s first and only flexible window screen - was featured on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank, where he hooked a deal with the proclaimed “Queen of QVC,” Lori Greiner. joealtieri@flexscreen.com

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BY JOE ALTIERI

Joe Altieri is a third-generation entrepreneur, inventor, speaker, and the President and CEO of his own multi-million dollar company. He learned the value of company culture and building strong teams by watching his father and grandfather operate successful businesses.

During his 20+ years in the window industry, Joe recognized the inherent problems with traditional window screens and dealt personally with constant customer frustrations. Always an outside-the-box thinker, he knew there had to be a better way, so he set up shop in his garage and got to work. After years of trial and error, FlexScreen, the world's first and only flexible window screen, was born.

Since its introduction into the marketplace, FlexScreen has gained international attention and earned multiple industry awards. Most notably, FlexScreen was catapulted to the forefront when Joe appeared on ABC's hit show, Shark Tank, in January 2020. Three of the five Sharks battled for a piece of FlexScreen with Lori Greiner, the Queen of QVC, ultimately winning the deal.

Joe is a firm believer in giving back, and he is generous with his resources and his time. Several years ago, he was honored and recognized as one of Pittsburgh's Volunteers of the Year. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife of 25 years, Alisha. They have four children, four grandchildren, and two very pampered Cane Corso's.

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