what are you looking at?

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Ever heard the quote, "We are born with our eyes shut and our mouth open - a flaw of nature that most of us never overcome"? I don't know about you, but I find it all too relatable in my own life.

Why is it so hard to see something from someone else's perspective? Probably because we're not seeing them. We're too busy bringing our own pre-conceived notions and biases to the conversation and just waiting for them to stop talking so we can finally tell them why they're wrong. (Right now, some difficult conversations with family members, employees, or customers might be coming to mind.) We all like to think we don't do this, but I really hope it isn't just me!

Experience has taught us that this approach never leads to good things, but somehow it's so easy to drift right back to this failed formula.

I recently did some filming for a project that will most likely have a good deal of exposure. The camera setup included a cardboard cutout applied to the exact spot where the Producer instructed me to keep my gaze during the shoot. It was important for my focus to remain on the cutout, he said, or the clips could seem "off" and possibly distract viewers and detract from the content.

Just staring at one object sounds easy enough. But the more time that passed, the more difficult it became. I began to get restless and a bit impatient with the whole process. I was reminded of how challenging it can be to truly hone in on one thing to the distraction of all others, but I forced myself to focus because I wanted the best possible outcome. Why? Because what I was doing was "important" to me.

Cue the conviction for all of the times I haven't chosen that kind of focus for far more important things.

Listening to someone communicates caring, but genuinely hearing them shows that you value them. Active, empathetic listening will always lead to better outcomes and improved relationships - in every aspect of your world. Still, it requires an enormous amount of focus, and, given the nature of our chronically busy schedules, focus is hard - but so worth the effort.

To quote Tony Robbins, "Where focus goes, energy flows." So, where will your focus be in this new year? Where will your energy flow? I'll be working on reevaluating my priorities, looking for ways to trim the excess, building more margin into my life, being more generous - but most of all, listening.

Shifting my gaze from that cardboard target might have resulted in a less than perfect video shoot, but consistently being distracted and failing to focus on what really matters can have real-life devastating consequences that can lead to wounded or failed relationships and businesses.

Decide what deserves your focus and commit to its importance. If you do this, I believe you'll be looking at a better new year and a brighter all-around future, personally and professionally.

So, here's to 2021.
May it be anything but 2020.
Cheers!

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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