The “How I Work” series, most noteworthy done by Lifehacker, has been reproduced by multiple authors for good reason: people love to hear from successful and influential people and learn the intricacies of their day-to-day. It can be inspiring and motivating to hear about the best, and oftentimes most simplistic practices.  In our “How I Work” interview we refined our questions by adding a few of our own and spiced them up with inspiration from Lifehacker as well as thinkspace mentor Matt Heinz. If you’re interested in checking out our previous “How I Work” interviews they get compiled here.

In this edition you’ll be hearing from KJ Dykema from Family Retirement. As a financial advisor she practices what she preaches and lives frugally and budgets like a BOSS. She also travels all over to help employees and individuals understand their own 401k’s and sets up 401k Lunch and Learn with a variety of companies. During her free time she spends time with her family. Not only is she the oldest of seven siblings but also has a 5 year-old son. You’ll be able to find them weekly at the Pike Market walking around, one of their favorite and longest-running activities. In addition to spending time with family, KJ loves to share two really incredible resources in the community, Seattle Preschool Program and Launch, who do great things for underserved families allowing tiered fees, programs, and making sure all kids have quality education. If you are interested in learning how KJ can help, the best way to contact her is through her website or her company text line.

Name:  KJ Dykema

Current Gig:  Independent Financial Advisor and Insurance Professional

One word that best describes how you work:  Time block

Current mobile device: iPhone X

Favorite verb: Love

Grit Score: 4.7 You can learn your Grit Score here)

How do you recharge or take a break from work? With my son; his infectious smile keeps my end goal in mind.

What was your dream job/passion project as a kid? Pediatric Dentist

Sunrise or sunset:  Sunset

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today. I started at a small independent firm with one advisor. When he saw my potential I had to replace my job with automation so I could take client meetings and maintain the portfolios. I was hired when I was seven months pregnant and took three weeks off and when I came back the advisor and I achieved goals he had never hit before.

Number of unread emails right now? 0 for now…

First thing you do when you come into work? Use my Push Journal to plan out my day and time block to make sure it can all get done.

What is your email management strategy? I have it set for Unread first then, keep emails that need a follow up response in Everything else until they are complete when I move to a folder.

How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? Write everything down. If it’s off your mind and on paper you have more headspace to attack everything.

What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? There are sometimes when I need to work late or weekends, but if I am with my family that time needs to be completely dedicated to them and I need to be present.

Are there any work rituals critical to your success?  It’s a bit odd but I usually wait until 10 am or until I have crossed off some of my initial tasks to have my coffee. I make it a treat so I feel like I have earned it for the day.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?, Zoho, Canva, Mint

Last thing you do before leaving work? Fill up my water bottle and say bye to the Thinkspace greeting team.

What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal with it? When I get questions about how politics effect portfolios.  I have to refocus what the goal is of the investments they have and what they CAN do to ensure their security with their plan.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend? Every time I get on a plane I start to reread The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? Chalene Johnson. I love her organization strategies and her podcast are what keep me dialed in.

Describe your workspace? Bright and Calm

What is your working process like? I use the Push Journal to prepare. I form habits and those habits help me clear up and allow me to be creative, spend time with my son, and everything else.

What’s your best shortcut or life hack? I don’t believe in shortcuts. It’s hard to take shortcuts and expect the same end result.

How do you keep track of what you have to do?  Push journal. Chalene Johnson (creator of Turbo Kick and other workouts) introduced me to it. It breaks down goals, number of hours needed to get things done, time blocking, etc.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Get out of the problem and into the solution.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans? I was in the restaurant industry for over 10 years and still work twice a week at a bar because I love being social. The dynamic of those people is really interesting.

Interested in becoming a “How I Work” spotlight? Contact Stephanie and she’ll be excited to come chat!

The “How I Work” series, most noteworthy done by Lifehacker, has been reproduced by multiple authors for good reason: people love to hear from successful and influential people and learn the intricacies of their day-to-day. It can be inspiring and motivating to hear about the best, and oftentimes most simplistic practices.  In our “How I Work” interview we refined our questions by adding a few of our own and spiced them up with inspiration from Lifehacker as well as thinkspace mentor Matt Heinz. If you’re interested in checking out our previous “How I Work” interviews they get compiled here.

In this edition you’ll be hearing from Michael Elliott from RocketDog. Rocketdog originally launched in 1999 and Michael dove in full time in 2000. Not only is he an active member at thinkspace, he’s also heavily involved in the tech community. This year he was co-lead for Seattle Startup Week and sits on panel discussions often. It’s important for entrepreneurs to make time for themselves and Michael does that by going on hikes with his bulldog Chuck. You can visit Michael, and Chuck sometimes too, in the Seattle office.

Name:  Michael Elliott

Current Gig: Owner of RocketDog

One word that best describes how you work: Hustle

Current mobile device:iPhone

Favorite verb: Get

Grit Score: (You can learn your Grit Score here) 3.75

How do you recharge or take a break from work? Great food and drinks with friends.

What was your dream job/passion project as a kid? NFL Football and or Superhero

Sunrise or sunset: Sunrise. It’s such an amazing sense of renewal, though I have to admit I see way more sunsets.

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today. I’m somewhat of an accidental entrepreneur. I enjoy, and sometime dread, controlling my own destiny, but it is the path I have chosen and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Number of unread emails right now? 0

First thing you do when you come into work? Review my plan/projects for the day, then meditate for 10 minutes.

What is your email management strategy? Not as good as I’d like.

How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused?  Meditation.

What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? I’ll let you know when I find it.

Are there any work rituals critical to your success? My notebook. I write down all of my tasks/projects that I need accomplish for that day with two items on the top of each page: “What’s the one thing that I can do to dramatically change my world” and “What’s the most important thing I can do today to achieve that goal?”

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Adobe Suite

Last thing you do before leaving work? Review my tasks and what I need to finish before end of day.

What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal with it?The hunt. Though I love it, it never ends.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend? I’m a big fan of Culture Code, Power of Habit, and The Power of Moments.

Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization) has been a fantastic experience over the last decade. It’s like have a built-in brain trust of several hundred of people, that I can reach out to anytime.

Describe your workspace? Awesome!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? When I was graduating high school, I was gifted some money as a graduation present and when my best friend’s dad handed it to me, he said “I gave you more than any of the other boys because I know you will do something with it and I look forward to seeing how your journey turns out.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans? I love giving back, and I encourage those around me to find ways to give back in a meaningful way.

Interested in becoming a “How I Work” spotlight? Contact Stephanie and she’ll be excited to come chat!
Click to refocus. Click and drag for Perspective Shift.

Lytro has just opened a new office in Redmond at thinkspace. We are excited to be expanding our physical presence, and are thrilled to be part of the thinkspace community. The Lytro camera lets you capture and share what you see in a whole new way. The key innovation is light field technology, which captures all of the light rays in a scene to create interactive, living pictures. Instead of capturing a flat 2D image, the light field includes all the rays of light traveling in every direction through a scene. And that changes everything.  By capturing the light field, you can do incredible things. Like refocus pictures after you take them. On the camera you can tap the touchscreen on whatever part of the picture you want to bring into focus. Once a picture is imported into your computer, click to refocus.  It also allows you to change the perspective of the captured image.
Click to refocus.  Click and drag for Perspective Shift.

The company was founded in 2006 by CEO Dr. Ren Ng, whose research in light field photography won best PhD dissertation in computer science at Stanford in 2006 as well as the internationally recognized ACM award. Lytro has raised approximately $50 million to date from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, NEA, and K9 Ventures along with individual investors.

Visit for more details.


Last week, I sat down with Dan Vache, who is a long time member of the thinkspace community.  Dan works for the United Fresh Produce Association which is a trade organization.  Since 1904 they have been representing all parties involved with handling fresh fruits and vegetables – from the grower to the shipper to the distributer.  Dan heads up one of two remote office locations, with the headquarters being located in Washington, D.C.

In talking with Dan, I asked him a number of questions about his job at the United Fresh Produce Association.

Q:  What is a core value for the United Fresh Produce Association?

A:  A core value is protecting consumers, and trying to expand the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy lifestyles.

Because the United Fresh Produce Association is primarily located in Washington, D.C., they deal with a lot of legislative issues.  A major campaign that they are currently working on is to put salad bars in every school cafeteria.  They recognize that many children don’t get exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables, and exposing them at an earlier age can help overturn current challenges and patterns with health and lifestyle (diabetes, childhood obesity, etc.).  The United Fresh Produce Association is a strong advocate for the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and believe that a lot of those health challenges go away when produce is consumed (rather than starchy, processed foods).

Dan concentrates on the supply chain.  Basically anything to do with fresh produce once its been planted and harvested (read more about that here).  Because of this, he has the opportunity to travel quite a bit.  This year he has traveled to Peru and all throughout North America.

Q:  What are three things you never leave home without?

A:  My laptop, my phone, and my running shoes.

In a few weeks, Dan will travel to Brussels to take part with the International Standards Organization as they redevelop standards for certain aspects of the produce industry.  For example, the labels on produce have a code on them so they are easily tracked through the system and retailers can ensure they have the correct pricing (read more about that here).

Q:  Is it true that the labels on fruits and vegetables are edible?

A:  Yes they are.  It’s food contact, so it can’t harm anyone.  You can eat those, and its biodegradable.

Q:  Speaking of things that are edible, do you have an opinion on the “dirty dozen?”

A:  There is a lot of misinformation on that.  The group that puts that out, probably in their own mind is well-intentioned, but they are very misleading.  They tend to overstate some things and leave out some good factual information.  And quite honestly, some folks that read that do not do additional research and its detrimental to themselves because they then consume less fruits and vegetables….and from my standpoint that’s not the right approach to take.

Q:  So at the end of the day, it’s probably better to just eat your fruits and vegetables?

A:  Yea, exactly.

Thank you Dan, it was a pleasure talking with you!  I’m off to go blend a nice green smoothie, filled with fresh kale, mango, banana, and carrot juice (thanks for the inspiration!).

There are so many innovative, amazing startups here at thinkspace. This week I had the chance to meet and chat with Damon Danieli of Appuri, one of the residents of thinkspace, to learn a little more about what they’re up to.

What is Appuri, and what do you do?

Appuri is a stealth startup.

We have a big vision for the future, but we use lean startup techniques to learn as quickly as possible and adjust our road map accordingly.

For example, this month we are leveraging the election hype and launching a suite of mobile applications at The lifespan of these apps will be short-lived, but the metrics we collect inform the design and direction for the next product iteration.

With each product launched, we increase our user base, customer engagement capabilities and underlying technologies.

How did Appuri start?

The founders came together as a team first, then we came up with a vision and immediately started moving forward.

Who is on the Appuri team?

There are 4 cofounders and no employees. We use web services and contractors for all of the non-core assets. We keep the trade secrets, know-how and other intellectual property in-house.

How much funding have you raised (if any), and from whom?

We are bootstrapping the company and have not raised money.

What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?

What is both challenging and energizing about being an entrepreneur is that you are responsible for everything: product vision, customer acquisition, development roadmap, meeting payroll and so on while managing the morale and energy of the team.

If there was one thing you could have done differently, what would it have been?

There is nothing we would have done differently… yet. Which is not to say we’ve been correct, but rather our product is never far away from the last set of real user data and feedback.

What advice do you have for others thinking about building a startup of their own?

Building a company is a lot of hard work and is challenging in ways that you will never experience as an employee. So many things have to come together just right in order to succeed: building the right team, identifying the customer, creating a product, promoting it, growing revenue just to name a few. Successful startups need to execute well across many disciplines.

There is a common misconception of first-time entrepreneurs that raising money is the hard part and the rest is easy.The runway you have plays a big role in the psyche of the team, but there will always be those gut check moments where everyone has to dig deep inside themselves to make the startup successful.

With all of that said, if being an entrepreneur really suites you, it will be impossible to go back to being an employee.

What’s your favorite thing about being part of the thinkspace community?

It is a nice place to work and I’ve run into many other interesting startups and people.

Anything else you’d like to share?

A shout out to all of the Thinkspace crew that welcomed us when we came in and make us feel at home every day: Mieka, Alyssa, Sami, Samantha, Savannah, Jamie, Katie and of course Peter. It has been great working with you.


Deep DomainDeep Domain, Inc. began in 2007, a small startup in Redmond, WA but the fifth business of  Howard Mahran. Deep Domain is a software company with a focus in healthcare. They’ve set out to help hospitals and clinics easily get information out of their electronic medical records systems.

With Deep Domain it’s possible to create an application that will run on top of multiple platforms without customization. They make getting information easier and simplify the process. There is now a way to reduce the time and cost to develop and run applications.

Deep Domain applies logic or “domain expertise” to hospital records and then provides the data to reporting software. If doctors want to pull all the information on their diabetic patients, they’d use Deep Domain to pull the data more easily. There’s no extra coding or IT work for hospitals and wait time for sensitive information is dramatically reduced.

In Deep Domain’s software they provide portable domain knowledge that anyone can plug into a system. It’s independent and agnostic to the systems that are running. This means someone at one hospital that’s using a certain system can use exactly the same domain logic over at another hospital. The programmers don’t have to program that code. Ladies and gentlemen, domain expertise is now bundled.

This frees a hospital’s IT team to focus on the look and feel of the information, creating a better user experience. “All of sudden the effort to get information goes way down. About 80% of the workload goes down,” says Mahran. Translation? Doctor’s get the information they need sooner rather than later. Sounds like a win-win for everyone.

“Data is a mess at hospitals—they can’t get to it easily. So we wanted to make it cheaper and faster” says Mahran.

Sound like Deep Domain has done just that.

Mobile Ultrasound Device

MobiSante CEO and Co-founder, Sailesh Chutani picked up a smartphone and told me it was an ultrasound machine and I could use it. I was beyond excited. Ultrasound technology has moved into our pockets and MobiSante made it happen. Amazing? Yes. But practical? You bet.MobiSante has honed in on how mobile devices can impact healthcare. They’ve combined ultrasound technology with a regular smartphone to create a portable ultrasound machine. It’s not just a fun application to download. No, it’s the actual machine. It’s a simplified ultrasound imaging system complete with a probe that can be plugged into the phone’s USB port.

MobiSante’s new imaging system runs between $7,000 and $8,000, making it an affordable option for rural clinics, emergency rooms, military medics, and emerging markets. The average cost of a hospital’s bulky ultrasound imaging system can run up to $100,000 and take extensive training to operate.

Chutani showed me how to operate MobiSante’s system in less than 5 minutes. Once we captured the images, he explained how the data could be emailed out while keeping patient information confidential. This would allow the information to be sent to a doctor for diagnosis without requiring their physical presence. Ladies and Gentlemen, mobile healthcare has arrived.

MobiSante built the world’s first smartphone-based ultrasound imaging system, MobiUS™ SP1 and it’s FDA approved. Not bad for a Redmond startup located here at thinkspace.

Mobile Ultrasound Device

We had a chance to play around with the mobile ultrasound device- it is seriously accurate and easy to use.

When asked what advice he’d give to others thinking about starting their own startup, Chutani chuckles as he says, “You must be convinced that there’s nothing else you want to do.” Chutani worked tirelessly getting the MobiUS™ SP1 ready, running tests, submitting reports, and waiting for FDA approval. “Enjoy the process,” he says. “It helps if you’re trying to solve a problem that will impact people. Here we know the impact of [MobiUS™]. Every time we do a trial we see the potential.”

It’s this potential, this desire to see people’s lives impacted, that keeps MobiSante alive and well. Doctors, nurses, people in the tech community, and many others have gotten behind MobiSante’s ultrasound imaging system because it works. It has the potential to make a life and death difference. Amazing? Yes. Practical? You bet.

Carolann Joy Salon

Carolann Joy Salon is a boutique hair salon in Redmond, WA and the small business of a true artist. Named after its owner Carolann Joy Schmidt, Carolann Joy Salon is almost impossible to get into—almost. Why the high demand? Joy says she owes her success, in part, to her clients.

“[Carolann Joy Salon] clients are people I truly care about. I never have to fake a smile.” Schmidt is passionate about making people feel beautiful. Her genuine warmth and artful eye go far in making people feel at ease. Plus, Schmidt’s 10 plus years in the industry doesn’t hurt either.

Carol Ann Joy Salon also has a referral program to incentivize word of mouth referrals. They ask that if someone gives a compliment on your haircut that you pass along the salon’s card. If you send a friend over to Carolann Joy Salon, you receive $25 toward your next appointment. A lot of the salon clients have taken advantage of the program and the influx of new clients has meant two new stylists and another successful Redmond startup.

Like any small business, Carolann Joy Salon faced challenges in the beginning. The week they started construction on the salon’s space, Schmidt’s husband lost his job. Like any entrepreneur, Schmidt continued moving forward.

She turned the layoff into a stepping stone and Schmidt’s husband became her business partner, building out her studio and designing her amazing website (check out his web design company Lava Lounge Creative). Everything went into the business, including their life’s savings. It may have been a leap of faith, but Schmidt was not afraid to fail.

To any entrepreneur, Schmidt says failure is part of the game. Be okay with failing and know that it can help with growth. Learn from failure and move forward. And move forward is exactly what she did.

Carolann Joy Salon now boasts three stylists and a virtual receptionist. Thinkspace handles the phones and booking for the salon and Schmidt says the extra help has been a lifesaver. “Before, I was answering the phones. I just had all the calls go to my cell phone. It was a nightmare. My cell would ring, I’d run to the back of the house, shut the door and answer the phone, ‘Carolann Joy Salon, how may I help you?’ You’d hear my husband in the background telling the kids, ‘Shhh! Mommy’s on the phone. She’s talking to a client.’” She laughs while recounting the story.

By partnering with thinkspace, the salon doesn’t have to pay someone to be a receptionist and sit at the studio all day, and clients get the service they deserve. Schmidt says it’s been amazing—a true godsend. “I feel like they’re always looking out for our business,” Schmidt says. “ A lot of people get here and ask, ‘Where’s your receptionist?’ We joke that we keep her in the closet.”

Graces 5Graces 5 is a restaurant startup with the mission of revolutionizing healthy eating. Boasting a juice bar and soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free kitchen, Graces 5 still has something for everyone. Find it hard to believe? It’s true. We checked their menu

This restaurant startup has definitely been a learning experience for owner Tim Sharpe whose main lesson as a first time entrepreneur has been to hire a good team and delegate. An average of one in four restaurants close or change owners within their first year, so Sharpe’s team will be essential in his success. “Hire a team you can trust,” he says. “Start small and surround yourself with key people.” Sharpe decided early on to pick people with the skill sets that he lacked to help him get the job done.

Graces 5 has been two years in the making for Sharpe, a two time cancer survivors and father to a 5-year-old daughter who just beat leukemia. To say he’s passionate about healthy eating might be an understatement.

While this will be Sharpe’s first restaurant, he’s all too familiar with nutritious eating, citing it as an integral part to his recovery from cancer—the second time. The first time Sharpe was diagnosed, he underwent chemo but continued eating processed low quality foods.

The second time around, decided to Sharpe look at how his lifestyle and eating habits were affecting his overall health and decided to do things differently. He looked at alternative therapies, worked with a naturopathic doctor and watched the quality of foods he ate. He began to live a life that supported his health.

Sharpe is committed to making Graces 5 a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free restaurant where anyone can come eat good food, made with quality ingredients and not have to worry about food allergies, dietary restrictions or harmful chemicals. Graces 5 is about local organic ingredients, so much so they have their own urban garden complete with fruit trees and a variety of herbs.

Graces 5 will be a place where plant to plate could quite literally be a few feet. And for what they can’t harvest on site, Graces5 is working with local farmers to keep ingredients fresh and healthy.

You can learn more about Graces 5 and taste some of their delicious food at our Wine Wednesday event on September 14th from 5:30-7:00pm. Wine Wednesday is a monthly reoccurring event that features a thinkspace entrepreneur and local winery. Wine Wednesday is a free event open to the whole community! We would love to have you there. RSVP.

vala eastsideVALA Eastside, which stands for Venue for Artists in the Local Area, is the nonprofit startup of artist and thinkspace member, Jessica Lambert. Lambert believes everyone can create, or as they say around ThinkSpace, “Everyone was given a box of crayons in kindergarten.” VALA works to bring artists together with the public so that local art can be enjoyed by everyone. Lambert is on a mission to expand the art scene in Redmond, WA and VALA Eastside is how she plans to do this.

Small Business & Nonprofit: Where do I start?
A nonprofit startup can be an exciting venture, but it can be hard to know where to start. Lambert suggests that one should “have a good understanding of what it is you are trying to do. Have specific goals, a mission, a vision. It will all be vital to how you develop your organization. But, there should also be room for your business to grow organically.” In Lambert’s case, she listens to the community and the artists to see what the needs are.  To her, listening is key.

Startup Hurdles
Like any small business, a nonprofit startup has it’s challenges. The biggest hurdle for VALA Eastside has been laying the foundation and making people aware of the project. However, Lambert is determined. She is working with the City of Redmond and the Redmond Chamber of Commerce to figure out the needs of the community and what works best for everyone.

VALA’s website and Facebook page are also up and running, and Lambert hopes to gain more exposure through the relationships she continues to form. Her parnership with ThinkSpace also provides her with access to other small business owners and like minded people.

Art on the Eastide
VALA is looking to showcase artwork and energize the art scene of the community. VALA Eastside is looking for ways to support artists and understand what their needs are. Lambert partners with people. She builds relationships with patrons of the arts and is an advocate for artists. She is confident that her city has the talent and will to have a fun and vibrant art scene.

If you’re interested in learning more about VALA Eastside and getting a peek at some of the artists they represent, Join us on Wednesday September 14th for Wine Wednesday. VALA Eastside is one of our featured September thinkspace members. They will be displaying the work of four local artists at the event! Wine Wednesday is a free networking event for local business professionals. Please RSVP to Join us!