Tempest CEO Shares Business Lessons Learned

William Ferrer Founder Tempest House shares lessons

Will has spent his life dedicated to being a technology expert and leader of enterprise technology companies, growing and adapting with the changes in the industries with which he has been involved. He is constantly working to find and incorporate the most cutting-edge tools and best practices to keep improving what he does and how he does it. He is talented at leading and mentoring others to help them refine their craft and excel at the work they bring to the table. He has vast experience with designing, planning, architecting and building products as well as collaborating with others to make client goals a reality. He believes that organization, inspiration, and diligence are key ingredients to accomplishing even the toughest tasks.

Currently, he is bringing his 30+ years of experience at building software together with his 10+ years of experience at running technology departments/companies to helm “Tempest House.”

Where did the idea for Tempest House come from?

After working in academia for most of the 1990’s, I moved to the private sector and worked my way up to a high-level executive position at various companies: MojoGamer, Run the Business LLC, Switchsoft, Victorious Gaming, xFire, GGN, SweetSpot Motion.

In each company, I identified and cultivated the best team members and, as the companies wrapped up, I migrated those team members to the next company, growing the team size and skillset with each new project.

In late 2018, the team had grown to include so many talented individuals, that I decided to bring the team’s skillset to a wider range of clients.

Since then, the company has grown rapidly. The team is based predominantly in California and the Philippines, with additional resources throughout the US, the UK, and South America.

I’m very proud of the company’s diverse range of skills, with team members gathered from around the world.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As CEO of Tempest House, I wear many hats. Mostly my day focuses on providing support for current clients, cultivating new clients, and making sure my team of developers have projects to work on, as well stepping in to help the developers as needed. I do this by helping plan and bid projects, and then assisting as needed in bringing the work to life for our clients. I have experienced my industry at all levels, and as CEO, my daily routines dip into all levels of the company process. I do architecture and management for many of our projects as well.

Every day I try to prioritize and target the tasks that will bring the most value to my company per minute spent, so I can maximize my productivity for the company.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have had the opportunity to bring a tremendous number of software projects to life, and over the years, I have worked with my team to create a complete methodology for how to design, plan and build projects.
When it comes time to begin work on one of my own ideas, I like to make sure it’s fully documented so that others can vet it, and the team can effectively execute on it.

I also like to get as much feedback as possible about my ideas before we begin work on them. It’s important to choose people whose opinions you trust to help vet the ideas. Vetting can also include looking at market research, checking on competitors, and finding the best solutions to take an idea to market.

Then, combined with a huge helping of daily diligence, and Agile development methodologies, the standard Tempest House product development process kicks off.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Not to sound like everyone else, but the movement towards Neural Net based solutions for more and more problems both excites me and concerns me the most of any trend in technology. Finding innovative applications for AI technology is a keen interest of mine and others in my company.

It is clear daily that our natural neural nets (brains) aren’t always sufficient to help us effectively solve our problems and reach our goals.

On the one hand, AI has the potential to help mankind in ways nothing ever has been able to do before. On the other hand, it is the most potentially dangerous invention in human history.

It’s generally not wise for ethical people to pass up creating technological innovations because when they do so, they leave the field open for less ethical people to control those technologies instead. In order to safeguard against unethical uses of AI, our world would be well served with coming up with guidelines and laws about the use of AI to help guide the innovators toward building products that benefit mankind, instead of only benefiting the few, or (in the Sci-Fi dystopian version) only machines themselves.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?


I try to practice mindfulness in every area of my life.

I aim to give all my decisions mindful considerations.

I attempt to be mindful of my thoughts and feelings in order to keep my decisions as reasonable, and unemotional as possible.

I like to stay mindful of all the tasks on my plate and make sure that through diligence and organization I am able to complete them.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be extremely careful of who you go into business with.

You may want to go into business with your closest friends because you trust them and like working with them. But if you don’t make things very clear ahead of time about how the business will operate, you may damage the business and end up hurting your friendship.

Even if things are clear and documented from the start, there can still be issues with expectations, hurt feelings, or poor decisions made out of considerations for your friendship, rather than considerations for the business, which can be disastrous for both the company and the friendship.

Another thing to be mindful of is who your investors are. A good investor can offer not just funding, but good business guidance and connections to industries. A bad investor can provide constant chaos, as well as unrealistic or fluctuating expectations and unnecessary drama. A bad investor can steer the company into one bad business decision after another until all the money they put up is gone.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

It is best to never hold any hard and fast beliefs about anything. I am not a Big Lebowski style Nihilist or anything as hilarious as all that, but I do think that beliefs and emotionality (two things which generally go hand in hand) can be the two biggest enemies of rational thought.

This philosophy also pertains greatly to technology, since anyone that believes they have found the end all be all way to accomplish a technological goal will be proven wrong in the richness of time.

My advice is to allow yourself to dabble in all modes of thinking, especially if you find them enlightening or emotionally rewarding, but through mindfulness, never adopt any mode of thinking as a hard and fast belief that could never change.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Organize your TODO list and then tackle it, one step at a time. For me, it’s about knowing what the most important thing to do is at *this* moment in order to leverage my time and efforts into the most productivity as possible at any given time. That is why I highly recommend you keep a list of everything that needs to be done and everyday reassesses it to figure what is the most valuable thing you can be doing right now. And then, of course, do it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I use all of the usual strategies to grow my business, but I do have one secret weapon.

I am a very honest and genuine person. The thing I like the most about my job is meeting people, learning about the things they want to accomplish, and helping them accomplish those goals and dreams any way I can. That sincere desire to help comes across pretty clearly when people meet me. Being able to tell I genuinely care about getting them the best outcome and helping them accomplish goals, goes a long way toward building longstanding, quality partnerships and relationships which in turn is good for growing our client business as well as our own.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Going into business with the wrong people. As I talked about previously, this can be a huge strain on both a business and a personal level. Now before going into business with anyone as a partner, I consider it very carefully and also check my thoughts on the matter by discussing the prospect with others who are less emotionally invested than I am, and whose opinions I trust.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I have a long list of business ideas, each one leading into the next one, with the ultimate goal of growing these businesses to a point where I can look out better for my loved ones, and then eventually lookout for the world at large.

A business idea I hope to experiment with one day is a way to make a new kind of company that can do good for people, in a hopefully more effective way than non-profits do.

Nonprofits, to me, appear to overlook some of the benefits that capitalism can provide. Since nonprofits are not fully motivated to grow as companies, their reach can be limited, and the people working at them can sometimes lack the motivation to make an impact.

I would like to create a company with the structure and supporting legal documents which would enshrine the idea that the company is here not just to turn a profit, but also to help the world at large in a substantive way.

The way I would accomplish this is by:

1) Laying out the goals of the company in its legal documents.
2) Having a rule that half the board of directors will be populated with philanthropic experts in the area of business of the company. These experts wouldn’t have a financial stake in the company though they would be paid for their time (within limits).
3) Laying out the criteria for hiring these experts to the board of directors. Generally, they would need to be well-regarded experts in the company’s subject matter, who had shown during their careers to have a dedication to doing good works related to the company’s core business.

In the end the board of directors would be half people focused on growing the business, and half experts that are dedicated to doing good works. This would require the board to be able to come to accords where the growth and financial interests of the company are fully represented in the decision making process, as well as the philanthropic goals of the company.

While this structure would not be as effective at generating revenue as a standard company structure, it would have the following advantages:

1) Investors that are interested in doing good works, but who also like to make money, would be drawn to these companies.
2) The unique structure of the company would presumably be a source of better press than a standard company structure.
3) Compared to a non-profit, a company like this may be able to grow and do more good overall.
4) The structure and the experts of the board would be valuable for public outreach, to help with the public opinion of the company.
5) The experts on the board would also be able to provide key insights into the industries that the company interacts with.

At this point, this idea is totally experimental, but if anyone is interested in trying it, I would be very interested to hear how it works out, or possibly even being involved.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My wife and I very seldom find time to truly relax. I have only been on two vacations in the last 15 years, as I find I am always needed to be available for one company or another that I am involved with.

A few weeks ago my wife and I took a day to relax and visited the truly lovely fields of wildflowers in the Santa Ynez Valley of Southern California.

Afterward, entirely on a whim, we went to an Italian restaurant called Leonardos. The food was superb, and the servers were incredibly friendly. They accidentally brought us another table’s order, and then our own as well. So we got to sample lots of things on the menu, and it was all amazingly delicious.

In a life that more and more seems to be a nonstop work fest, $100 at a great restaurant to top off a day of rest and rejuvenation is the best $100 I have spent in a while.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

An extremely important piece of software in my toolkit is my TODO list. Having a well-managed TODO list is my secret to keeping everything on track. There are many options, but personally I use Wunderlist, as I find very fast and convenient work with, even off my phone.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I just started reading Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. This book was recommended to me twice in 1 week, once during a presentation at a conference, I attended for 7CTOs, and once by a contact of mine when I asked if there were any books he recommended reading.

The book is a valuable resource for understanding and working with the psychology of those you interact with, as well as managing your own psychology in the process.

What is your favorite quote?

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” -Leonardo da Vinci

This was a quote my father told me when I was young and it has been valuable to me ever since. I am at heart an obsessive perfectionist, and when I was young I couldn’t ever consider a project done because it “wasn’t perfect yet”.

It is important to remember that perfection is a subjective measure, and therefore can not truly be reached. At some point, every project, no matter how important, must be considered done (at least for this iteration).

This is a very important lesson in business. Everyone wants to build software that can do absolutely everything in its first release. However, pursuing that kind of perfection, especially in your MVP, can become cost and time prohibitive.

As much as we would all love everything we do to be “perfect”, deciding what level of “perfection” is truly needed to accomplish your goals in relation to the costs of achieving that “perfection,” is something I recommend people constantly be mindful of in all aspects of their lives.

Key Learnings:

  • Keep a well-managed list of what you need to get done. Reprioritise it daily to make sure you are working on the highest value items on your agenda, first.
  • Practice mindfulness in all areas of your life and business.
  • Be extremely careful when going into business with close friends and relations, or chaotic characters of any kind.
  • Do not formulate beliefs, only well-considered and changeable opinions. Try to keep these opinions from being founded in emotions. This is the best way to make sure your actions stay rational and allow you to adapt as you learn new information.
  • Leonardo da Vinci: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Learn to balance “perfection” against the price of achieving it to figure out what level of “perfection” is most beneficial to be obtained.

The original interview with Will Ferrer can be found here