1. Please tell us something about yourself.
My name is James Foster, and I was born and raised about 20 miles west of Boston in Worcester, Massachusetts. I developed an affinity towards technology at a young age, got my Master’s Degree in Software Engineering from Brandeis University, and went onto working in the corporate IT world where I help companies choose technologies with strategic perspective.
2. How did you get into entrepreneurship? Please tell us more about your journey as an entrepreneur?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My father ran his own landscape design company, and my grandmother owned her own advertising firm. My father was always learning and continuously stretching his talents, so as to provide additional value to his customers, and his company was his passion. So by nature and nurture I inherited a strong sense of creativity, initiative, and resourcefulness.
While having a successful career in the corporate world, I’ve often felt a sense of purpose to share my thoughts and experiences and help shape the industry as a whole. I feel deeply indebted to the technologies who have come before me, and feel that it’s time for me to give back as my industry embarks on what is being termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
3. Who are your role models?
On a recent trip to Guatemala, I took a home cooking class with Maria, in a small village about 25 minutes outside of Antigua via chicken bus. Maria was also in the process of building a small secondary building on her property so that she could be the first in the area to offer a homestay to travelers, and earn some money for her daughter’s education.
I absolutely admire seed stories like this, and meeting these entrepreneurs first-hand, since that is the phase I am at as well.
4. Did you read any books that inspired or motivated you in your journey?
I’m an avid reader of business books on innovation, strategy, and driving technical change. I also am a traveler. One book that I can credit a lot of my motivation to is The Promise of a Pencil, by Adam Braun. It chronicles the founding of his for-purpose organization, Pencils of Promise, which builds schools around the world. At the heart of the story though is a feeling of restlessness with your current circumstances and seeking a new direction and purpose. Inspiration flows from a vision and purpose bigger than yourself.
5. Please tell us about your company
I’m a big believer in social entrepreneurship, and I started Inspiring Automation (IA) because I see a lot of fear and confusion about Automation and Artificial Intelligence. These technologies have significant potential, but with that great power comes great responsibility. Inspiring Automation is my vehicle to evangelize and educate on understanding and using automation and AI technologies responsibly.
6. What’s your most memorable experience as an entrepreneur?
The most memorable experience, which happens more frequently, is waking up at 3:30AM with a brand new idea and feeling like a kid again with the excitement and energy behind it.
Readers who remember when the new shows were previewed on Saturday Morning Cartoons know exactly what I’m talking about.
7. Are you using any online marketing strategies for your company? How are you using different social media channels to market your company?
Times have certainly changed from my grandmother’s form of advertising. I primarily am starting with Twitter and LinkedIn, and really trying to focus on engaging with individuals on those platforms.
8. What’s your greatest fear as an entrepreneur?
I’ve taken some good advice from other entrepreneurs about starting slow, and I’m extremely grateful for the community of entrepreneurs who share their stories and share the keys to their successes (and failures).
My greatest fear is just putting myself out there with no place to hide, and being an especially harsh critic on myself (it’s a Virgo thing). It’s easy to consume someone else’s product, forward someone else’s content, pitch someone else’s model, or read someone else’s book.
To produce yourself though, there’s no hiding. The Internet never forgets either.
9. Looking back, what’s one thing you wish you understood about entrepreneurship before you ever got started?
I think the importance of Why was something I wish I had understood more in earlier entrepreneurial efforts in my life. So much of what I see is people enamored with entrepreneurship as freedom to do what you want, when you want, where you want. It’s easy to become disjointed with just those considerations. The moment you ask the question Why creates a sense of purpose that transcends you. The question of Why is the compass.
10. Would you like to share any success secrets that helped you in your journey?
One of the biggest Success secret: Ignore your age. Whether you’re 5 or 95, it’s never too early and never too late to pursue a passion. It doesn’t need to be a full-time job either. A lot of people, myself included, start with a side hustle.
11. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy the magnitude of energy and positivity that exists within the entrepreneurial community. No matter where you are in your journey, it’s easy to find people who will be your coaches and cheerleaders.
12. What keeps you going when things get tough?
I would be lost without my Spotify account. Music has a direct connection to my energy levels and moods. By adjusting the genre of music I can completely re-energize or escape.