As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Jaksa.
Nick Jaksa is the founder of Integrated Operations with the new Viral Defense brand, which is focused on improving safety through the mitigation of the spread of germs in an effort to attack the pandemic head on. He brings over 40 years of product development and manufacturing expertise in various markets around the world, including extensive experience in safety related products in the automotive industry and others.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I’ve always had a passion for innovation and related research and development and began my career in the automotive industry focused on machine design and safety. The seeds of the idea to found Integrated Operations came from a prior business opportunity based on a project bid to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that involved a very large automotive safety related program. Focusing on safety in connection with the current pandemic was a natural fit for the team of experts who have worked with me in the past. We realized the tremendous need companies and individuals are facing during the pandemic, and our mission to find solutions to keep people healthy formed into action. Together we decided to bring to market a line of disinfection and protective products that help mitigate the spread of germs under our Viral Defense brand. It’s the opportunity to do good and feel good during the current pandemic and to help fight other potentially dangerous viruses and bacteria that exist around the world.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I don’t really have a funny mistake, but partly due to youth and inexperience, I do have lessons learned. In a few cases, I let others influence major decisions by giving them too much benefit of the doubt. That’s a major “take away.” Now, I spend more time on due diligence in advance to ensure best possible utilization of human resources, time, and costs.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Recently, I read The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma and it resonated deeply with me. It’s a great book that helps to explain and reinforce the important aspects of life and living in the human race. Our efforts with Viral Defense are to improve the quality of life of people around the world so that they can go about their business, education, and personal lives in a safe and satisfying way. When we value the important aspects of humankind, we strive to make a positive impact.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
I have always had a natural instinct for solutions to problems at the corporate level that truly benefit the individual. My rule of thumb to bring ideas to life that focus on what’s useful and manageable, and then staying on topic as best as possible. Being able to launch a line of disinfection systems and protective equipment is in perfect alignment for finding the right solutions at the right time, that benefit companies and individuals, while constantly being focused on a singular purpose. In this case — to mitigate the spread of germs.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
I believe in putting in the time to do the research and asking the right questions in advance as best as possible. Sometimes this leads to slower growth; however, if it’s with the right partners this will lead to steady, faster growth once the initial challenges are worked out. By focusing on steady growth, we can ensure consistent success for the long term. Fortunately, I have been lucky to be with the right partners and focused on the right products that have ultimately been successful.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Like many others, not being able to see family as often as I would like has been challenging. On a personal level, I bought my grandson guitar lessons which has brought us closer and made our relationship stronger. Talking to him and hearing about what he’s learning is a great way to destress and get a different perspective.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Integrated Operations does a lot of networking and meetings with our partners. This has been somewhat more challenging, but with video-conferencing options for international and long-distance virtual meetings, and masks for small in person meetings, we have been able to work around most of the challenges. For us, it has been about flexibility and adjusting to the new normal.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
As I mentioned earlier, guitar lessons have brought my grandson and me closer together. Respecting what other people are comfortable with goes a long way to making a connection and showing that you care. Some people are comfortable with small groups and mask wearing, while others want to only meet outdoors, and still some have conditions that limit their activities. It’s about respect and keeping in touch in whatever way you can. We can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely, so it’s a matter of helping the people you know and love to feel connected. That can be with a visit or a phone call, too.
Obviously, we can’t know for certain what the post-COVID-19 economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the post-COVID-19 economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the post-COVID-19 growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the post-COVID-19 economy?
Clearly there is tremendous need for brands such as Viral Defense that are focused on disinfection systems and protective equipment. Viral Defense is able to mitigate the spread of germs in large areas such as schools, universities, hospitals, airports, sports arenas, etc. As a company, we believe that this is where the opportunity is and will be customized to meet the needs of each industry. Unfortunately, hazards such as SARS and COVID-19 demonstrate that we must be vigilant about future of viruses, and germs in general, going forward.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
From our own interactions, we see more people working from remote locations and an increase in opportunities related to virtual activities; although it’s questionable about productivity from working remotely, and especially the influence on the lack of socializing, especially children. As our ability to treat COVID-19 improves and the eventual vaccine, there will be a further refinement of our daily lives.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the post-COVID-19 economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the post-COVID-19 economy?
The entire goal and mission of Viral Defense and Integrated Operations is the mitigation of germs. We believe that our technology will help people get back to doing what they want to do and love most — school, travel, entertainment, and more.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
People have to understand that wearing a mask is not political, and proper disinfection should not be taken lightly. In countries with relatively large populations, such as Viet Nam, there are very few cases of COVID-19. There are many types and styles of mask that people can find, although some better than others, and it’s a small gesture that goes a long way to keeping us all safe.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite phrase is “Namaste” which communicates humility and respect for others. It is the way we should all try to live by.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Readers can visit our website at www.integratedoperationsllc.com