About Josh

My Experience and Backstory

I’m Josh.  I am the CEO of The Refinery, a global software development company in Cleveland, OH. The products we create have been used by tens of millions of people, likely even you. My partner Dave and I started building this company a decade ago. We each invested a tiny sum of $1,000 and together grew it into a multi-million dollar enterprise. We did all this without the strategic use of debt or outside capital.

I also speak publicly at conventions and private events. I have contributed to several publications, and share my opinions with the media.

When we change how we see the world, we can change the way we live in it.

Burning Out

Leaning

In 2009 I burned out in a major way. I fell into a state of depression. My pig-headed discipline was the only reason I crawled out of bed and into the office. Our revenue suffered because of my lackadaisical attitude on sales calls. I was unreliable and unmotivated in my service to my customers and business partners. I dragged everyone around me down.

I remember nights where I stayed up till 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning working on an important presentation. I would force myself to go to bed, for fear I would sleep through the 8:00 am meeting the next morning. Even when I went to bed, I never slept much on those nights. I suffered from paralyzing insomnia. Even the sheep I counted would taunt me with their own unfinished powerpoint slides.

My Breaking Point

Several years ago I was working 80+ hours a week, month after month, with no end in sight. The stress was piling on and I was struggling to see things clearly. I believed that I was valuable simply because of how busy I was.

But, being so busy started to weigh on me, big time. I sacrificed time with my friends and family. I neglected my personal hobbies. I started to grow unhappy and resentful.

At the same time, I saw others who managed to run much larger companies while staying happy and fulfilled. Every other business person in the world has the same 168 hours a week that you and I do. How can they accomplish so much in the same amount of time?

I started to ask around, and I heard the same old platitudes we’ve all heard before:

  • Work smarter, not harder
  • Work on the business, not in the business

…but what do these mean in practice? What specific things did I need to do to improve? I was determined to learn the secrets of productive elite

My epiphany

You don’t have to be a workaholic to be productive.

Jen 0245 Jen Hearn

For many years I wondered if it was possible for an owner of a growing company to take a vacation. I don’t mean just taking a vacation — that simply requires a car and a destination — ratherenjoying a vacation.

I love my career and the responsibilities that come with it, but can you really just “turn it off” for days/weeks/months on end?

For me, the reality is, no. My responsibilities extend outside of the time society deems appropriate for work. The livelihood of the men and women on my team, and their families, depends on my ability to run a successful company. That’s not a responsibility that turns off at 6pm or on Sundays.

With all this under consideration, these responsibilities don’t have to weigh on you every minute of every day.

Over the last few years I’ve instilled new habits into my home and work life. These habits have given me a freedom to explore and define the business without getting stuck in it. It gave me my weekends back, and has allowed me to enjoy vacations.

Paying it forward

My methods aren’t some new-age self-help mumbo jumbo. I’m a realist and my habits are deeply rooted in truth. It’s hard to see the truth as it comes wearing disguises. Our false beliefs bind us to the way things are and prevent us from challenging ourselves to be better.

When we change how we see the world, we can change the way we live in it. It’s my mission to help you identify ways to grow, and I hope the content on this website inspires you to reach for change in your life.