Joshua Budman is the VP of Analytics of Net Health – a comprehensive software solution provider for the medical industry. Joshua is also an experienced technologist with strong experience working in the information technology and services industry – skilled in machine learning, computer learning, and other impressive skill sets!
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in Toronto, Canada until I came to Johns Hopkins for University when I was 18. I am an only child and my parents separated before I even turned 1, so I had a lot of undivided attention growing up. I do believe the amount of attention I received from each of my parents – and how much they cared about me – motivates me to work especially hard to continue to make them proud. My grandfather (on my mom’s side) was also a major part of my life until he passed away in 2012. He drove me to school literally every day until I was 12 years old and we would practice math and spelling exercises in the car. He was able to establish a very successful career for himself despite growing up in a lower-class household in Mumbai (Bombay at the time) before eventually immigrating to Canada. He has always been a role model of mine for his work ethic and ambition.
I went to a Montessori school until the 6th grade; we had neither homework nor grades. I was able to gain admission to a very competitive school in 7th grade, the University of Toronto Schools (UTS), which was a stark contrast to my Montessori years. I didn’t understand the value of hard work for my first two years at UTS as I received grades that were well below average. In the 9th grade, my parents were able to fully instill the value of hard work in me. I remember sitting down with my father – a Prof of Chemical Engineering – on a weekly basis to do math problems over and over again until I was able to perfectly execute each line of the solution. My hard work paid off as I consistently achieved very high grades until I graduated and carried this trend through college. I’ve since come to realize that the combination of hard work and loving the content of the work is an unbeatable combination.
As one final note, my mother signed me up for tennis lessons at a young age. I competed in tennis until college (I was recruited but never played). Her prediction, which ended up coming true, was that tennis would prepare me extremely well for other areas in life. Growing up playing competitive tennis definitely helped shape who I am today.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That there is a difference between being “risk-averse” and “unproductively hedging”. Specifically, I’ve realized that throughout my life I’ve tried to become proficient in too many areas at the expense of excellence in a select few.
I love the concept of being a “Pi-shaped” person i.e. Jack of All Trades but Master of Two. For me, it was essential to identify a couple of areas in which I wanted to excel and invest in my own growth in those areas.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
One recurring bad recommendation I hear in the software industry is that it’s important to build and perfect a product before garnering clients. It is far more prudent and productive for a small business to rapidly refine its product while simultaneously receiving feedback (and possibly revenue or, at least, positive quotes) from early clients. Doing things that don’t scale is certainly not an indictment on the quality of an early-stage start-up and should serve as validation of the quality of an idea.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
In 2015, I had to decide between pursuing a medical career (at the time, I had been deferring from McGill Medical School to which I was admitted in 2014) or continuing to work on Tissue Analytics and withdrawing from med school. I chose to pursue my work with Tissue Analytics and submitted my withdrawal to McGill. It appeared as though the instant I did this, our early clients started to have very negative feedback about our product. I felt as though I had just thrown away a very promising career path – towards which I had worked practically my whole life – for one that was about to explode.
What I learned from this experience is that it is essential to have a thick skin, especially when starting your own venture. The second you release something new “into the wild”, it is extremely rare to execute perfectly on the first attempt. Extracting the material parts of the feedback/criticism from those around you and being able to prioritize those effectively is what can make or break a technical co-founder.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Having extreme empathy for my clients and their patients. I believe this has also caused me many sleepless nights. I hate it when our clients are struggling with our software and I will do anything to help them. The commitment to customer service is a culture I tried to make pervasive at Tissue Analytics.
What is your morning routine?
Lately, I have been waking up around 6 AM every day. I do a quick workout (the workouts on my VR headset are awesome), do the dishes from the night before, prepare a cup of coffee, and start work at my desk by 7:30 AM.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
When things get extremely stressful at work (or outside of it), making lists of my stressors always serves to help me avoid feeling overwhelmed. Doing this helps me organize my thoughts and tackle the stressors one-by-one as if I’m completing important tasks.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
The single best strategy for this is loving what I do. It is very easy to focus on something when you enjoy it.
I also am a very large proponent of creating lists, which is a strategy I inherited from my mother. When the number of tasks I have to perform starts to become overwhelming in my mind, there is no better remedy than writing all of them down and checking them off methodically one-by-one.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
While I don’t do a ton of reading, I’ve always been heavily influenced by The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Besides being an excellent book, it just shows how much of a difference one individual can make in another’s life. When loved ones or clients of my company are having difficult situations, I hope to be able to make a difference for them too.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“Comedy is a funny way of being serious” This is my favorite quote. I do believe work should be enjoyable and, when the going gets stressful, there is nothing better for internal or external relationship-building than shared laughter. This is especially applicable to professions that are not necessarily “life and death”.