Maintaining Health and Avoiding the “Quarantine 15”


Hi gang – Michael Gortenburg here, checking in from Kansas City.

I recently shared my list of favorite tech items to have on hand during this time when many of us are stuck at home. And while they certainly help to keep you occupied at home, it is important to also spend time maintaining your health.

As such, I thought I would share some tips that you can use to stay healthy and fit while the gym and public spaces are closed.

It All Starts with Optimal Nutrition

One of the biggest factors in staying healthy is the nutrition and vitamins that your body takes in on a regular basis. A body with access to high-quality foods and supplements is one that is infinitely more prepared to ward off viruses and ailments. Luckily, these are readily available at any health food or grocery stores (provided they are still in stock).

According to health officials, these are some of the best options available for maintaining the immune system:

Zinc – a common mineral that is used to fight inflammation and improve your cells’ ability to function properly. It is an essential addition to your daily intake, especially if you are older, and has been found to be particularly effective at preventing respiratory tract infections.

Vitamin C – this vitamin is famous for its health properties and has been used to nurse the body back to health from the common cold for decades. It supports cells that are responsible for immune health and is a powerful antioxidant. You can get vitamin C from several foods like broccoli or kale, but I would advocate for supplementing with powder packets that you can also find at the grocery store.

Vitamin D – another common nutrient that is especially helpful in boosting your body’s immune system. Vitamin D supports white blood cells, the cells responsible for fighting pathogens like viruses, and is also an anti-inflammatory agent.

Garlic – this isn’t just a great addition to your favorite dishes; it also has many anti-viral properties to keep your immune system strong during this time.

Don’t Neglect Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is a great way to boost the body’s immune system and will help you avoid gaining the “Quarantine 15.”

Most Americans have a bad habit of neglecting physical exercise throughout the regular year as it is. But now with the quarantine, there is a real danger of gaining extra weight as we move around even less. If you fall into this camp, NOW is the perfect time to pick up a simple routine that you can do from the comfort of your home. And the best part is, it doesn’t have to be complicated or require expensive, bulky equipment.

For those of you who frequent the gym, you may also find it enjoyable to switch things up with home workouts.

Push-ups – one of the simplest and perhaps most effective ways to stay in shape without going to the gym. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that men who can perform at least 40 pushups in one go have a better chance of avoiding heart disease. This exercise will help work out your chest, arms, shoulders and have many variations that you can use to target different areas.

Jump Rope / Jumping Jacks – almost everyone remembers playing with a jump rope as a kid. Well, it turns out that this activity is one of the healthiest and easiest ways to get your cardio in at home. If you don’t have a jump rope laying around at the house, you can substitute with simple jumping jacks. Aim for doing as many as you can to keep your heart rate up.

Sit-ups – a basic exercise and a perfect way to target your abs while you’re stuck at home. Sit-ups give you a chance to hit those areas that you might have neglected over the years. They also have a multitude of variations that can change the difficulty depending on your goals.

Squats – a powerful exercise for targeting your legs. You can perform these in any area of your house, but for added difficulty, find a wall to lean up against. Make sure to stand about one foot away from the wall and squat down as low as you can and hold this position for as long as you can. I guarantee you will find this a lot more difficult than you would have expected.

***********

There are many more exercises that you can perform while stuck at home during this pandemic, but these are a handful to start with. I would recommend loading up some of your favorite music, finding an isolated spot somewhere in the house and getting started on a daily routine.

Also, be mindful of the types of foods you are ordering online. Restaurants are great, but now would be the perfect time to focus on an overall healthier diet and finding ways to work in some of the above nutrients.

Until next time,

~ Michael Gortenburg, CEO and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Best Tech Devices to Have During a Quarantine

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing well as we ride out this coronavirus pandemic. I know that this has been a difficult time for many of you, and large parts of the country are sheltering in place to practice social distancing.

Here in Kansas City, we have been under our mayor’s shelter in place order for weeks, so I thought this would be the perfect time to check in. With all of this time spent inside, it got me thinking about the perfect things to have on hand in the middle of a prolonged quarantine.

As an avid tech connoisseur, I’ve prepared a small list of essential items that might make your time at home a little easier. Check out my list below.

Firestick

With all of this time spent inside, you will definitely need a way to catch up on all of those shows everyone is talking about, including the ever famous “Tiger King.” The firestick plugs directly into your smart TV and grants the user access to thousands of apps and streaming services.

This little device will give you access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and more. With all of these options, you could last months or maybe even years without ever running out of options. And while tempting and somewhat understandable given the circumstances, I would not recommend spending more than a day or two binging on programs. It is important to maintain balance, even during a quarantine.

Ring Camera

Not everybody is staying at home during this quarantine. Criminals know that all of us are ordering products online and many of them are out patrolling neighborhoods looking for packages that sit on front porches/driveways.

Ring cameras help protect you from these predators – now during the quarantine, and throughout the rest of the year. These are tiny cameras that you fit on your front door that show a real-time feed of your front yard and record footage for later watching. Most notably, they can be linked up to your mobile phone, so you can view from anywhere you happen to be. In the event of having any packages stolen, or if you have unexpected visitors that you’d rather not greet at the door, this is a perfect option to have.

They also have a number of smart products like security cameras, smart lights and cameras you can use specifically for businesses.

WIFI Extender

Being forced to stay home doesn’t mean that you should be forced to sit in one room because of a weak WiFi signal. WiFi extenders boost your home’s internet access area so that you can get online from anywhere on your property. This is especially helpful if you have a hard time accessing your network in upstairs locations or from outside.

With a WiFi extender installed, you can move your home office to any part of the house where it might be quieter and easier to get work done. Or, you can lounge outside in your back yard and soak up some sun while still listening to your favorite music.

Kindle

How many times have you put off reading a great book because you just never had the time to sit down and read? Well, with a quarantine underway and with everything closed – all you have is time. That’s why a Kindle is the perfect companion to have with you while we ride this out.

Amazon’s Kindle gives you immediate access to digital versions of virtually any book you could want. Simply purchase them from the Amazon store and it will download onto the device for instant reading.

The Kindle has been perfected over the years to be intuitive and fun to use, so even if you enjoy physical books, this is a great option.

**********

Well, that’s all for now. Hopefully, you can use some of these items to make your quarantine a little easier over the next few weeks.

Please, stay home and stay safe.

Even if you don’t think you have anything to worry about, you could potentially spread something to someone who is vulnerable. Let’s all do our part to get through this together and we will return to our normal lives in no time.

Take care

~ Michael Gortenburg, CEO and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Travel Notes: Croatia

Hello fellow travelers!

Today, I wanted to share my take on one of the many places that I’ve been fortunate to visit within the last couple of years: Croatia. It is a place that many people in the United States might not know much about – as it doesn’t get a lot of attention in movies, TV shows or other forms of media. Yet, it is a place that I consider to be one of the best destinations for those who like to explore.

When most Americans think of traveling to Europe, they think of the usual tourist destinations like London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin. And while these typical locations are certainly worthy of praise, frequent travelers might want to consider trying something new and venturing further east to Croatia.

Undiscovered Gem

With a population of only four million, Croatia is located in Southeastern Europe, far from the typical European tourist destinations, in an area known as the Balkan States. This “out of the way” placement has allowed Croatia to quietly develop into a unique destination of its own, without being overrun with tourists.

The country is set along the Adriatic Sea (a part of the Mediterranean) and has many charming towns and natural landscapes. Whether you’re looking to hike lush forests and trails that provide you with unmatched views, or if you would rather be sitting seaside basking in the sun – there’s something for everyone.

Coastal Towns

As opposed to a sprawling metropolis like Paris, Croatia’s biggest draws are its relatively small coastal towns. Perhaps the most popular of these is Split – a beautiful seaside city with a large port where cruises will often stop for a day. Split, like many places in Eastern Europe, has a sort of “old world” feel to it. The town is surrounded by white stone walls, and the orange tiled roofing of almost all of its buildings give the area a distinct Mediterranean quality.

Other worthwhile places to check out if you’re in the area include: Rovinj, Zadar, and Rab. You’ll notice that these types of towns have a consistent feel to them; however, they are uniquely Croatian.

I would recommend enjoying these towns during the sunny and breezy summer months. Croatia stays fairly sunny year-round – but it can get a little chilly during the winter. However, Kansas City gets far colder!

Living the Best Life

As I mentioned before, there is a sort of old-world appeal to Croatia and when you visit, you will learn to appreciate its slower paced lifestyle. Almost all of the areas I visited are very walkable or accessible by mass transportation, so traffic is not really an issue. There weren’t any booming car stereos, fast food chains or a Super Walmart.

Many Croatians enjoy a calmer, more peaceful approach to life. Many work in artisanal shops, walk from place to place and have a more modest view of things than many of us here at home.

As for food, Croatian cuisine is delicious. Their seafood is incredibly good, and their desserts are even better. I enjoyed several different types of desert pastries, cakes and other sweets. Amazingly, Croatians remain very healthy despite all of the tempting food – it must be the frequent walking.

*****

Ultimately, I rank Croatia as one of my favorite places to visit. It is such a unique experience for anyone coming from the United States, and its distinct culture allow Croatia to remain a place that is truly its own. It is certainly worth a visit from any traveler.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Interesting Features at CES 2020

Hey everybody, Michael Gortenburg here.

I just got back to Kansas City after attending the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). For those who might not know, CES is an annual tradeshow that features the latest consumer technologies making their introduction into the consumer market, from wearable technologies to smart house devices.

The show attracts some of the most brilliant minds in technology and innovation from all over the world, and this year certainly did not disappoint. While I cannot begin to cover all of the exciting features that were present, I thought I would share just a few highlights from the show.

Quasar System

Through my work at Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, I always keep a steady eye on the real estate industry and try to keep up with any technologies that can improve or add value to homes. This is one of the reasons that Wallbox’s Quasar System was a standout item this year.

The system is used in conjunction with power stations for electronic cars and allows users to convert the energy that would otherwise go toward their vehicle into powering their home. The Quasar System is built to “plug in” to a home’s electrical network and transfer energy into running everyday things like lights, air-conditioning, etc.

Not only is the engineering aspect of this system a marvel, it even allows the user to SELL the excess source of power back to the grid. Needless to say, this is an exciting idea for homeowners and property managers alike, and it will be very interesting to see how this technology develops in the years to come.

Hydraloop

Hydraloop was another addition that definitely impressed me. The Hydraloop is an automated water recycling device that has the ability to cleanly recycle water throughout a property.

It’s about the size of large freezer and is installed into the water system. Once installed, the system uses a series of brilliant engineering methods to treat and re-use water throughout the house – conserving a substantial amount of water and saving the owner money on their bill (after an initial investment of around $4,000). Another great aspect of this device is that it is largely self-automated and requires very little maintenance. The designers wanted to create a product that homeowners would actually want to use and know how to operate with ease. There is even an app that the user can download to gauge performance.

These devices are currently being used in places around the world where water conservation is a serious issue, but as we all look toward solutions for sustainable living, there’s a safe bet that this type of technology will expand greatly in the U.S. market.

Ballie – the Smart Home Robot

When robotic vacuum cleaners came out years ago, it was easy to see that domestic robot devices were going to be huge – and we are witnessing the expansion of this technology with the introduction of products like Ballie.

Created by Samsung, Ballie is a cross between a nifty pet and a tool for managing a house based on your lifestyle. It’s a ball-shaped robot that can fit into the palm of your hand, but you won’t have to carry it around. Ballie is equipped with a camera and uses advanced AI programming to roll around the property, where it begins to recognize and learn your behaviors to help you fulfill basic tasks around the house.

It’s designed to work with other smart devices from the Samsung line such as vacuum robots, smart TVs, smart windows and more. Once Ballie has gathered enough information about its owner, it will respond to commands and use its AI programming to help you with daily tasks. For example, if Ballie notices that it’s time to clean the house – it will send a notification to the vacuum robot to automatically start working. Ballie is even designed for home protection, as it can detect unusual activity around your property and send notifications, pictures and videos to your phone.

This is a really exciting area for smart devices and robotics. Unfortunately, the concept is still under design and Samsung hasn’t released details for when it will be released or how much it will cost; however, it is certainly worth keeping an eye out for its debut.

Sony Vision-S

As you know, I am a car enthusiast. As such, I was surprised to see Sony introduce their take on electric cars. The Vision-S was a big item at this year’s show, and for good reason.

To start, the car simply looks great. Designed in a sporty/sleek fashion, the car comes equipped with 5G WIFI capabilities and replaces the dashboard with a wall of panels that can be used for things like navigation apps, music control, climate information and more. It also comes with 33 sensors in total that help drivers navigate the road in a safe manner and promises to improve driving performance.

Consumer Technologies at Their Best

These are just a handful of the amazing products and concepts that I saw this year at CES 2020. If you’re interested in consumer technologies or if you’re just curious to see where the minds of the world’s greatest thinkers are heading – I would encourage you to do a little research on the full lineup from the show.

I can’t wait for these products to hit the market and to see how they perform in day-to-day use. Not only are these developments in tech great investment opportunities, but a large portion of them stand to change the way we live our lives for the better.

Until next time,

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

The Value of Teamwork in Business

One thing I’ve learned over the course of my life and as a Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) is that the business world can be highly competitive. Things move at a rapid pace, there can be a lot of pressure and you often have to rely on solid team members to accomplish your goals.

Few things are as important in business as understanding the real value of teamwork. Even if you’re running a solo operation or have a small business – forming a solid team to help carry the load and delegate tasks to can increase productivity tenfold.

Today, I’d like to go further into some of the ways that teamwork plays a crucial role in a business.

Increase Productivity

As stated earlier, teamwork can multiply your productivity no matter what kind of business you’re operating. Whether running a multi-state private equity firm like Eighteen Capital Group, or a weekend landscaping business as a “side hustle” – having a group of people helping to tackle challenges is essential to success.

There are simply not enough hours in the day for one person to tick-off all the to-dos that are required to maximize a business’ potential. Onboarding new hires, preparing for meetings, securing new clients/customers, managing finances and more – it all stacks up.

If you want to scale your company for growth or increase productivity across all of these various levels, it will require teamwork. Building a team and expanding your company will allow you to focus on the bigger-picture aspects of your business while others execute the day-to-day tasks. Having a network of people in place working toward a unified goal will massively improve your company’s productivity.

Increased Efficiency

Similar to improving productivity, a solid team structure within a business can also make your business more efficient. When a company creates an environment where all of its departments and roles are working in unison, teamwork becomes an obvious strength.

A business that contains a solid level of teamwork will develop into its own ecosystem where systems are sometimes on “autopilot.” Of course, there will always be a need for management to guide projects along, but once an established team is set in place, they begin to naturally increase the efficiency of operations.

Departments and different members learn what is needed from one another to make their jobs easier and more successful. They learn how they can help each other achieve their tasks – and the company’s overall mission. They begin to distribute assignments across a wider spectrum, easing the pressure on individuals, and can streamline your operation to get things done faster, smarter and with less effort. Team members also have the ability to learn from one another’s mistakes to avoid future errors.

It can take a while for this type of ecosystem to form, and it may require some organizing from the top down, but it will help any business owner immensely when it all comes together.

Teamwork Brings Out the Best in Employees

When a team has learned to work hand-in-hand with one another, it can bring out the best in us as individuals, as employees, and certainly as a business.

As employees learn that they can rely on their fellow team members to help accomplish goals, they will often adjust their own roles according to their own individual strengths.

A classic example of this is seen in organizational structures like sales teams. One sales rep might be simply unmatched in terms of generating interest from a prospective customer in a product/service – but they may struggle to close the sale.  Another rep might be able to facilitate the final transaction, but might not be able to capture the customer’s initial interest. But together, they can both work through their strengths to achieve the desired result.

Having a network of individuals with their own unique strengths can give business owners an incredible edge and an extended toolset to reach levels higher levels of success. Furthermore, a diverse group of team members can provide insights to a business owner that they might otherwise miss.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

It’s a bit of a cliché, and you may have heard this phrase before, but it is absolutely true. Any level of business success can be multiplied when the right team is put into place. If you’re a business owner, do not make the mistake of underestimating the value of teamwork.

Take some time to study your organization, analyze all of the team work that goes into making the operation successful, and always look for ways to enhance your team so that they can do their best work.

Until next time,

~ Michael Gortenburg, Kansas City, Eighteen Capital Group

Tips for Hiring Employees

Hey there – Michael Gortenburg here!

The year is winding down here at Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, and we have already started to look toward next year. We’re factoring in new opportunities for growth, strategies to improve our business and plotting out a plan for how we would like to take things to another level in 2020.

In looking at all of the plans for Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) for next year, it got me thinking about one of the most important aspects of growing a business – hiring team members. It can be a tricky process, especially if you’re a relatively new business owner and have little experience in vetting and securing top talent for your company.

HR departments the world over have been studying how to improve this process for decades. I thought I would share some tips from my experience on what to look for when bringing on new employees.

Know What You’re Hiring For

Sometimes as business owners, we become so inundated with tasks and aspirations that we can get lost in the process of it all. A business owner who is trying to scale operations might not even know exactly what roles they’re looking to fill – they just know that they need help, and they need it ASAP.

Before any hiring takes place, business owners should take an objective look at their operation to see where exactly they need help. It is important to take inventory of everything that goes into the business to see where time is going, what can be tweaked and what may require the introduction of a new role or employee.

A wrong hire can cost you significantly in inefficiency and mismanagement.

Hold Out for the Right Fit

Sometimes when business owners are seeking to expand, they may jump the gun when hiring to meet their demand. This can lead to making the wrong decisions when hiring new employees or promoting current members to a new level.

Hiring the wrong candidate can be a disaster for your growth plan and even your bottom line. One of the many things that we have done in hiring our highly-talented team at Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City is to carefully consider each candidate before making a selection.

Once you know what it is you’re hiring for, always consider the following:

  • Are they currently experienced enough to handle the responsibilities of the role?
  • Are they capable of learning as they go?
  • Do they have an interest in learning and growing in their career?

To some people, a job is just a job. It’s a place they go to shuffle some papers and do just enough to pay the bills. And while that may work well for that individual, as a business owner – you have to consider whether that works well enough for your plans. There is a saying that “you don’t hire for experience; you hire for mentality.” I have found this to be true to a large extent.

A candidate that might not be the most experienced, but has a demonstrated interest in learning and growing within their career can often be the better choice for hiring. When considering candidates like this, business owners know that they have a team member who will strive to achieve excellence, rather than simply “going to work.”

Understand the Market

Hiring isn’t just about “filling positions” within your organization – it is about retaining top talent that will take your company to higher levels of success. To achieve this, you have to understand the job market within your field.

Know what other companies are offering their employees in terms of salary, benefits and perks. A top-tier candidate is more likely to go to the company that offers more of these, but there is wiggle room that can be made to help entice them to join your team. In the age of digitization, consider offering remote-working, flexible hours, and other things that appeal to workers.

You might think that smaller businesses would have a harder time offering enticing positions, but in a smaller operation, there is more wiggle room to fit the needs of employees. Due to the natural bureaucracy of larger organizations, they have a harder time remaining flexible and are forced to streamline into a one-size-fits-all model. This can turn away top talent who have developed their career and are seeking to be more than just a cog in a corporation.

Ultimately – business owners should do their homework and understand what they need to do to bring the best people into the company.

Go With Your Instincts / Avoid Obvious Red Flags

It’s hard to get a wholly accurate read of a candidate and how they will perform for your business in the hiring process, but obvious red flags should be avoided. Sometimes it just takes going with your gut.

Some classic indicators for when you might want to skip a hiring option:

  • When the candidate shows a lack of interest or general curiosity about your business and industry (this tends to carry over into the role once they’re hired).
  • Candidates who pre-maturely talk negatively of their previous jobs. This could indicate that they carry a lot of baggage and drama that could soon find its way into your business ecosystem.
  • Candidates who fail to meet the bare minimum of effort for interviews. If a hopeful team member dresses poorly, talks like they’re in a sports bar and doesn’t demonstrate their relevant skill sets – it might be time to move onto others who take joining your business more seriously.

There are a number of things that HR departments can do to weed out the obvious no’s, and it is never a sure thing when bringing on a new employee, but these are the types of things that business owners should consider for new hires.

If you’re in the market to hire new employees, hopefully these tips will help you know when to actually hire for a position, what to take into account to retain top talent and some of the more obvious mistakes to avoid.

It is never a clear-cut process, but these tips have served me well. I hope they do the same for you.

~ Michael Gortenburg, Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Travel Notes: Israel

Hello friends!

Michael Gortenburg here and greetings from Kansas City!

As you may have guessed from some of my earlier posts, I am an avid traveler. I always take advantage of any chance that I can to get away and experience another place or culture. I think it is good for the soul, and it provides fun and eye-opening experiences.

Today, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned in my travels to the ancient land of Israel – a place that I find to be as beautiful as it is fascinating, and a place that I hold dear in my heart. To someone who has never been there, maybe this post will inspire you to see it for yourself!

The Foundation of History

Israel is a land that is rich in history, and it is apparent from the moment you set foot on its ancient city streets and its gorgeous countryside. Although the current state of Israel was not established until 1948, the land has been settled since the earliest days of humankind and has served as the center of history’s most significant moments.

Every building seems to tell a story and the country is filled with historic sites to visit. History buffs are sure to enjoy this aspect of Israel. One of my personal favorites is the city of Jaffa – the oldest port city in the world. It is a charming coastal city with its own distinct architecture style and beautiful beige buildings that evoke its Mediterranean feel.

Of course, if history is what you’re looking for, it is hard to find a more significant city in Israel – perhaps the world – than Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a central holy site for some of the world’s major religions and draws millions of visitors from across the world for its rich historical and cultural offerings.

If you find yourself in Jerusalem, there are plenty of historic places to visit: The Wailing Wall, the Temple Mount, the Tower of David and more. One could spend days in this city alone – but the nation of Israel offers so much more!

International Destinations

Breathtaking view from Haifa

Outside of the historical sites of Israel – there are also plenty of places visitors should be sure to check out once they visit. The city of Haifa comes to mind, with its impeccably manicured terraces and world-famous Baha’i Gardens. Haifa is built along a hillside so visitors in the gardens are treated with breathtaking panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the rest of the city below, complete with a central staircase that leads wanderers down to the shore. Haifa is easily one of the most scenic and well-planned cities that I’ve been lucky to come across in my travels.

Another international destination is the city of Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv could be compared to Miami for its warm temperature and similar design of seaside towers, glistening in the sun as beachgoers relax on its sandy shores.

Tel Aviv is more of a secular city – drawing millions of tourists every year to its party and cultural scene. There are many clubs, beachfront restaurants and bars for partiers of any kind. But if you’re more of a relaxed type, you could also visit its many museums, gardens and markets. A personal favorite of mine would be the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

And while Tel Aviv is a huge draw for fun, it is also an economic powerhouse for Israel and a technology hub for the world. Tel Aviv has its own “Silicon Valley” of sorts and is home to some of the most advanced technology companies in the world, like RAD. It also houses pharmaceutical giants like Teva and has a vibrant startup scene. Many groundbreaking companies focused on AI/Machine Learning and software are based in Tel Aviv and its surrounding areas.

A Journey You’ll Remember

Whether you’re interested in making a trip for its religious or historical significance, or whether you’re more curious about its party and vacation scene – Israel has a lot to offer. It is one of the few countries in the region that is readily available for tourists to enjoy and you will never run out of things to see and do.

I would highly recommend anyone thinking of going to take the opportunity and visit Israel. It is certainly a place like no other and a memory that you will never forget.

Happy travels!

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)