Burn the Boats!

Burn the boats . In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés started a voyage that would take him from Cuba to the Yucatan Peninsula. Cortés had 500 soldiers, 100 sailors and 16 horses on 11 ships. The voyage was to take the world’s greatest treasure. This treasure had been held by Mexico for 600 years. For 600 years, other stronger armies with even better resources, tried to take the treasure to no avail. Cortés knew that he would need extreme commitment from his team to win this quest. The odds were against them. They were a 600-man army with little resources. They had to fight the leader of Mexico for SIXTY DECADES.

Finally, on the day when it was time to fight after sailing many miles, Cortés gathered the team. The team expected Cortés to explain strategy or how they would fight for this great conquest. Instead, Cortés spoke only three words:


Cortés and his army burned their own ships! Cortés said, “If we are going home, it’s going to be in THEIR boats!” What happened after that was nothing short of a miracle. Cortés and his army took the treasure. Why? They had no choice. They COULD NOT doubt. The Cuban army had to take the treasure, or die.

Here’s the lesson: Quitting is easy when you have the option.

We all cling to something that acts as our escape hatch or our exit strategy. It’s our safety net to say, “just in case…” What we fail to do is complete that sentence. We lie to ourselves.

We postpone action until we no longer feel fear. Either that, or our actions are shallow attempts never designed to succeed. In reality, we must learn to act decisively in spite of our fear.

It would have “made sense” for Cortés to keep a ship or two. But Cortés & his army had a mission and he knew that the only way to keep himself or his men from quitting on the mission was to take the safety net off the table.

What Cortés did was force himself and his men to either succeed or die. Retreat was not an option. I believe that to truly achieve the level of success we each desire, we have to burn the boats.

Ask yourself what you want. What are you afraid to go after ? What are you afraid to lose ? Why haven’t you burned the boats? Are you afraid of failing?

Burn the boats.

Don’t let fear, failure or the perceptions of others be an option. Remember this, whether it’s your current job, a bad business deal or an unrealistic dream, WE MUST MOVE FORWARD. There are only two possible outcomes: Winning or Learning.

It’s not easy to Burn YOUR Boat. But know this, true success, true happiness won’t come from leaving your boats on the shore & running to them when you are scared. Success comes from no surrender, no retreat. Burn the boats.



9DOTS CEO connects the DOTS every month. Subscribe here (click Subscribe at the top left of the link) to our newsletter so you never miss a post. 

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Vision, Values & Relationships: Your Toolbox for Achieving Goals

Let me lay it on the line for you. I’m fortunate to engage with many different kinds of people every day. Many of them are young and aggressive. All of them have trouble achieving the goals they set for themselves. There, I said the truth. We get frustrated and, more challenging than accomplishing a goal, we have to try to beat self doubt. Maybe you feel you aren’t making enough money. Maybe the job you just accepted isn’t exactly how you pictured it. Suddenly the goals you imagined seem to be out of reach. What can I, John Florio, do to help you achieve your goal? My short answer is.. nothing. But I can offer you the tools you need in order to achieve your goals on your own. My first tool is letting this one statement resonate before you continue reading:

Only YOU know the goal YOU want to achieve. Only YOU can achieve it. 

Answer each one of my questions that follows as I hand you the tool box to achieve your goals. Grab a pen & paper. Your first tool is the word VISION; the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be. Achieving what you want is done by clarifying your vision of the future. To find an answer specific to the goal you want to achieve, imagine what success looks like to you and only you.

What is YOUR vision of success? Write it down. Find a photo. Visualize it. Most importantly, what is your vision of failure? Determine the ruler to which you measure yourself.

Next, achieving a goal is accomplished with VALUES. What is important to you? What is not important? Decide what it is that you would die fighting for and what challenges make you run screaming. Think of your values as your worth. What you value underlies everything you are and everything you do. Your values determine your problems, your successes & failures. What are your VALUES? Write it down.

Now, focus on your RELATIONSHIPS. You have to manage your most important relationships. Choose them carefully because they will help you achieve your goals. Your relationships are directly related to how you have answered the questions above. Only keep personal relationships with those who encourage and promote what you have visualized as success. Any and all relationships, business or otherwise, should be with those who sustain your values.  Who right now, in your life, personal & business, promotes your values?

Once your vision is clarified and your values are locked in, it is easier to set a realistic goal. By clarifying your VISION, VALUES and RELATIONSHIPS, you create the toolbox needed to build & achieve your goals. Your goals may change, but if you are thinking & planning about the answers to the questions I have asked above: What is important you? What is your vision of success? How do you visualize failure? What are your values? Who do you value? Your goals will always be within reach. Self-Doubt will just be a word, not a part of who you are.

We all struggle daily with what we want and where we want to be. It doesn’t matter if you are 23 or 53, we have goals we want to achieve. Goals motivate us. They are the reason we work. Focus on your VISION. Maintain your VALUES. VALUE your chosen RELATIONSHIPS. Your goals will become attainable. Keep believing and look at the answers to my questions every day. Visualize & accomplish your goal for this week, this month, this year! No one likes a quitter. Believe then achieve!



9DOTS CEO connects the DOTS every month. Subscribe here (click “Subscribe at the top left of the link) to our newsletter so you never miss a day. 

Check back next month & think outside the box with us.


Data Visualization: Transforming the Construction Industry

In the last five years, data visualization has transformed (& continues to transform) the construction industry. As with other industries, an obstacle in construction is that much of the data collected can’t contribute to the big picture. The big picture view is needed for helpful, profitable analytics & information. The construction industry is responsible for some of the biggest and most expensive projects & buildings on Earth! Huge amounts of resources means huge volumes of data. I put together quotes, statistics, information from 9DOTS & articles from Construction Global & Forbes to really explain how advantageous data visualization is for the construction industry in 2018.  We will start with this from Bernard Marr, best-selling author of Data Strategy.

Number crunching has always been a big part of construction. A commonly heard phrase is that construction companies are “accounting companies which happen to erect buildings. [The construction industry] is an industry where 35% of costs are accounted for by material waste and remedial work. Counting the cost of every screw could be the difference between delivering on budget and bankrupting an organization.

With Data visualization, you are given a picture where owners & builders together can see the difference in price between changes in plan, costs in the future, etc. The owner can see the dollars tied to a project in real time. “Every element in the design is tied to cost estimate. It is completely integrated so the solution changes visually, on the fly,” says John Jacobs, CIO of JE DUNN Construction Group to Forbes.

These changes in on the fly & real time analytics create better relationships with all parties, offer answers at super speed and most importantly, improving reliability and effectiveness.

In their article on constructionglobal.com, Construction Global says,  “the powerful pieces of data that drive a construction company’s day-to-day like: sales data, profit, equipment up time, machinery down time, personnel productivity, asset life cycles, seasonal surges and dips need to be monitored in order to speed up a design process & contribute to waste saving.”

construction industry

“Material waste accounts for approximately 25% of a project’s cost, and rework adds an estimated 10%.” 

Today, the tools available for architects, engineers and construction companies put an end to the waste of materials, time & money.

As often said in the 9DOTS blog, efficiency is the key to competitive advantage, success and a plush bottom line. Data visualization puts EVERYONE involved in the project together. It gives each person the ability to see the numbers in real time and discuss them. This reduces risk and offering a higher reward.  “By 2030, the worldwide market for construction services is expected to grow by 85% to $15.5 trillion,” adds Marr, author of Data Strategy.  This can create challenges for the construction organizations that do not have their own Data Visualization software. Insight into your business is the KEY to the future of the construction industry & 9DOTS is willing to help every organization embrace insight & data analytics in order to put the end to wasting time, money & materials.



CEO Connects the Dots: Transform

Welcome to 2018! I hope everyone is off to great start to the new year. This has been a great month to begin understanding YOU. After all, we are closing in on Jan-YOU-ary. There is no better time than the beginning to review yourself. Recognize the faults and opportunities for growth & use them to TRANSFORM. If January got off to a rough start, begin again with February.

The definition of transform is “to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.” The 9DOTS team isn’t changing our P&L, or our core competency! Our culture, commitment and mission will always remain the same. But we need to comb through 2017, even the days of 2018 as they come, and identify where change is necessary. I have to understand the choices I made & make a new choice to dramatically change for the positive of the company.

When I look back on the 9DOTS yearly results (& even my own personal results), I’m forced to think about what we did differently. I even think about where we stayed the same. There is the old school of thought that says, “if it aint broke don’t fix it.” And the new school that says, “Adapt or die.” Is it ok to grow the business at 3, 5 or 7%? Jeff Bezos at Amazon would tell you NO.

What I see when I look at our financials & how we do business, I see that we need to TRANSFORM. We need to empower our teammates, our partners, our employees to help us understand the WHY behind the numbers. I need to make changes based on mistakes in the past. I see that we have to understand the heart of who we are in order to become the best version of 9DOTS. This is the same when it comes to our personal lives as well, not just business. The openness to being wrong in some of our choices must exist in order for growth & transformation to take place.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.”

Here at 9DOTS we will continue press the limit. I challenge all of you today to make the transformation. Find the WHY, challenge and welcome the possibilities. Transform in 2018.

You cannot and will not grow exponentially without transformation. You have to review your mistakes, review your actions & use them to transform into an even better version of yourself. Once we study our process at all levels and question the status quo, once we CHALLENGE the status quo, then maybe, just maybe, that one singular thought, that one singular possibility, will transform us.




9DOTS CEO connects the DOTS every month. Subscribe here (click “Subscribe at the top left of the link) to our newsletter so you never miss a day. 

Check back next month & think outside the box with us.


RESOLVE: 2018 is Coming!


Well for the last blog of the year, I could talk about thankfulness and gratitude. In fact it’s probably what I should talk about, but I’m not going to.

Instead I want to talk about RESOLVE.

As a verb Resolve means two things:

  1. Settle or find a solution to a problem, dispute or contentious matter.
  2. Decide FIRMLY on a course of action.

As a noun, it is the most common use of the word at the end of the year:

  1. A firm determination to do something

When the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s Eve to signify the start of a New Year, there will be millions of us making “resolutions”- firm determinations to do something. For a lot of us, they will be shallow or even unachievable. Maybe we will break that “firm determination” the next day.

Forgive me friends, if my year end sentiment isn’t filled with well wishes & thankfulness. But I just don’t want you to make resolutions about going to the gym, losing weight or making new friends. Instead I want to wish you the ability to have RESOLVE in 2018.

Resolve will not melt rocks, but it can scale them! – George Eliot

Show your work partners, your family, your friends your RESOLVE in 2018. Find solutions to problems regardless of the hardship that comes your way.

RESOLVE not to quit.

Make every day the very best, and do not let anyone get in your way. Use the disappointments of 2017 to transform those experiences into solutions.

As we move together through 2018, resolve to treating challenges as opportunities. Roll up your sleeves. Hard work keeps resolutions, not empty promises. Hard work = RESOLVE. 

So as we end this year 2017, whether it was a great year for you or one you wish you could have been better, RESOLVE to be the master of change rather than the victim of change.

Stay strong in your determination to be better tomorrow than you were today.

I wish you all a wonderful and prosperous New Year in 2018. But I also challenge you to compete against yourself. Strengthen your RESOLVE in 2018 so that you overcome adversity & get better each day.



9DOTS CEO connects the DOTS every month. Subscribe here (click “Subscribe at the top left of the link) to our newsletter so you never miss a day. 

Check back next month & think outside the box with us.

9DOTS Best Reads of 2017

This is a list of blogs you just have to check out before 2018 starts again. They are our most popular, most loved & most read blog posts of 2017. And if you have missed any, here they are for your reference as the new year begins!

  1. 10 Characteristics of Good Problem Solvers 
    • Good problem solvers use a combination of intuition & logic to come up with their solutions. Use as much information as possible to come up with the BEST possible solutions. Here are ten characteristics for you to work on for 2018 to be the best problem solver you can!
  2. Are you Left Brained or Right Brained? Solve Problems w/ Data Visualization
    • Take a left brained/right brained quiz and see how it affects your ability to solve problems
  3. FEAR: Face Everything And RISE
    • FEAROur second installment of the CEO Connects the Dots series & it’s a great one. CEO, John Florio reflects on what being afraid, FEAR has taught him about success. It’s some great advice as we move into the new year.
  4. Do You Know Why we are Called 9DOTS? We Solve Problems
    • Are you seeing a general theme here?! Did you know 9DOTS is named after the answer to a puzzle? Click the link to see the puzzle & try to solve it!
  5. Just Show Up…EVERYDAY
    • Just Show UpThe first installment of CEO Connects the Dots & it is inspirational. JUST SHOW UP – it it means more than arriving to your desk every day at 8am. Yesterday’s bad day is a new chance to start again.
  6. Choose Your Attitude 
    • Life is 10% what happens to you & 90% how you react to it.
  7. 5 Ways Your Finance Team will Stay Competitive 
    • The world of finance, the job of accountant, the role of a CFO; mostly these are roles that are morphing into something completely different from what we consider the norm. Even with tons of changes, a great CFO wants to always stay competitive.
  8. Make 60,000x Faster with BOLD Data Visualization 
    • This article was pretty mind blowing. Did you know “The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text.” ?? 
  9. LAW FIRMS. We Have the Tool to Help with Changes 
    • With tons of new technology, businesses booming & constant advancements, clients want lawyers to be more modern. This presents its own challenges for lawyers and law firms alike & we know how to help.
  10. Our Mission Statement
    • Okay, this isn’t a blog post, so I may be breaking the rules. But our mission statement is one of our MOST READ pages on our website & that’s because it perfectly defines who 9DOTS is.

If you loved this round up of our top 10 most read blogs of 2017- Subscribe here (click “Subscribe at the top left of the link) to our monthly newsletter so you never miss another popular post)

Check back next month & think outside the box with us.

CEO Connects the Dots: Choose Your Attitude

I was out over the Thanksgiving weekend doing some shopping. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. Quite frankly, my attitude needed an adjustment. Instead of enjoying the hustle and bustle of people out doing their thing, the company of my wife, or the beautiful, crisp, November weather, I complained to myself about why we were there. I’m certain my body language was poor and even more certain that I had the Grinch’s puss on my face.

And then we walked into an old country store and I saw a rustic framed quote from Charles Swindoll:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Wow! These were powerful words and they showed up for me to see, just in time. I’m certain my day would have degraded into something terrible and probably would have ended with a spat with my wife by the end.

Instead, I took charge of my attitude and changed my entire day.

I realized just how right Swindoll is. Every single day we have a choice. Happiness is a choice. Embrace a positive attitude and start the day differently than maybe what feels natural in that moment (like staying in your bad mood & being a Grinch through the holiday season).

As we head into the holiday season, there is no better time to choose your attitude. The stress will mount each day both in your personal and professional life as the year comes to an end. Recognize that life is going to happen, and we can’t stop it. Just reflect on what Chuck Swindoll teaches in his quote, 90% of life is HOW WE REACT. Let life happen, and make the conscious decision to be positive in reaction.

Choose a great attitude starting today & let’s finish the year strong!

Thanksgiving & Small Business Saturday

thankfulTwo days until Thanksgiving?! Don’t panic. You might be sitting at work thinking about all of the things you still have to finish. Maybe you are trying to work & asking yourself what last minute items to pick up on the way home. Maybe you’re just checking the clock over & over, waiting for Thursday with excitement. For some reason, stress can fill the happy, wonderful holidays. Sometimes we need a reminder to what Thanksgiving IS. It is the start to the holiday season, the reminder that even when you feel rushed, SLOW DOWN, be Thankful.

As a small business 9DOTS experiences these feelings as well: distracted from the work day due to less than exciting quarter results, stress for deadlines, or maybe an unhappy client. We sit at our desks and stress & occasionally wish for Friday to come as fast as it can. In doing all of that – we forgot to be Thankful. Small business Saturday is THIS SATURDAY, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s perfect. Thanksgiving is headed here as that big reminder to slow down, life is so short so don’t rush your days only thinking about the things that make you feel stressed, sad or unhappy.

Go into the Holiday season this Thursday (maybe even start today!) by being Thankful! Be thankful that there is food to rush home & grab, for the family & friends you’ll see over the holidays. Be thankful for your team, your customers, your blog readers, even the people who sometimes are frustrated or unhappy with you. You wouldn’t be where you are without EVERYONE, every obstacle, every boring day, every exciting day.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving with friends, family, customers & all. And we would be remiss if we didn’t say – Happy Small Business Saturday! Use those Black Friday savings to share with family at your local small businesses on Saturday.


Need some more motivation for your business leading into the new year? Our CEO, John Florio, writes a post once a month, check them out here 

Ep. 1 of Show Your Work

This is 9DOTS first video in 9DOTS video series Show Your Work. These videos will show you exactly how 9DOTS solves a problem for a client by showing you exactly how our products work with videos, tips & tricks.

Show Your Work Ep. 1 from 9DOTS on Vimeo.

7 Traits that Drive you to Success & Leadership

After 30 years working both in the corporate industry and as an entrepreneur, I have recognized that there are certain undeniable traits that high-achievers and great leaders share. People often associate achievement and success with a number of things, like the right timing, circumstance, education or natural talent. I have found that the true origins of success are more elusive. These are traits that have been cultivated and built over the years.

Below are 7 Traits that I believe create a great leader & can drive you to success:

1. A Well-Developed Personal Way of Life

Successful leaders know what their philosophy is; they understand their own thinking and reasoning. A clear viewpoint allows you to set expectations and articulate your definition of success so you can set a clear path to your goals. It prepares you for an extraordinary destiny.

2. Undeniable Persistence

Edison failed 2,000 times before he discovered the light bulb. Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because he “lacked imagination and creativity”. He then went bankrupt several times while creating Disneyland. People who are successful never quit, and people who succeed never give up. When failure is not an option, don’t give up. Find another contact, another way, another point of entry, and keep trying until you accomplish what you have set out to do. Persistence means picking yourself up every day and going after what you want without allowing anything to get in your way.

3. Meaningful Purpose

Every leader must be able to identify his or her purpose. Know your “why.” When you do, you can connect with the purpose that will drive you toward your unique vision. Your purpose tells you why you’re here and what legacy you want to leave. When you have a clear purpose, you know where to spend your energy.

4. The Art of Persuasion

Everyone, in every occupation, can benefit from skills in persuasion. They will help you influence others and persuade them not just to listen to you and trust you but also to partner with you, help you, and support you. Mastering communication and understanding human nature are essential if you want to effectively persuade and influence people

5. The Power of Passion

If you want to succeed, the most powerful weapon you can have is passion. It provides the fuel for success. When the passion drives you, you will do whatever it takes to make it a reality. Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, there are no possibilities. With no possibilities, you are stagnant, with nowhere to go. But when you can ignite the fire of passion, it will give you the energy to propel yourself toward possibility. Successful leaders understand that they are only great when they act from their passion. If you aren’t passionate about what you do stop doing it.

6. Ethics and Integrity

Successful leaders honor their principles. They know and live by their values & convictions. Their ethics and integrity are deeply rooted beliefs that help them make decisions and chart their course. Your moral compass starts with basic beliefs and values, and it will guide you to do what is right, not what is easy. Trust yourself and as Jiminy Cricket said, “Let your conscience be your guide.”

7. Excellent Performance

Proficiencies are important. Performance is imperative. It’s great to have a vision, purpose and passion, but you bring it to reality through performance. Bring the highest level of excellence and quality to everything you do, and keep raising your level of aspiration and expectation. Always show up tomorrow better than you were yesterday.

Factors like timing, luck, and circumstance may play some role in success, but it’s the deeper traits–the ones that lie within–that count the most.

CEO Connects the Dots is a monthly post by our CEO. Please click here & subscribe to our newsletter so you get it every month!

Finally, some John’s posts have been “Adversity, How Will you Respond?” and “FEAR: Face Everything And Rise”