Good morning everyone.
This morning I’d like to introduce the creator and owner of EZ2See Products Edward Cohen.
He’s got a great product and story to share, and he’s taken time out of his busy day to chat with me a bit.
So, with no further delay, here’s Edward.
First, tell us, in your own words, a little about you.
I am or was a retired guy until I started my business in 2015. I’ve been married now for 35 years with a grown son and daughter and two grandsons. I have late-stage Retinitis Pigmentosa, but for whatever reason, I was able to pass the driving eye test until I was 45. I’m active in my neighborhood and city including serving on boards and commissions. My careers involved self-employment plus several public and private careers where much of my work revolved around energy and environmental issues.
Where do you live?
I live in an older, downtown neighborhood in a house build in 1929 in Rochester Minnesota. I’ve always sought to live in older homes located close to parks, public transit, stores and in an active neighborhood. When my neighborhood wasn’t that active, I worked to make it so.
Where do you work, and can you tell us all about it?
As the sole proprietor and only employee, my office is in my home. This, of course, has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side is the short commute down the stairs to the “office”. Another advantage is that my wife is often available when I could use her help.
A disadvantage is that it is very easy to work 7 days a week, morning till night. Sadly, it is what I find myself doing. Thus, I find myself responding to orders and customer emails at night and on weekends. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is nearly impossible without sales and marketing help.
What inspired you to do the work you do?
It started out to solve a problem I was having. I had a growing frustration with after years of not finding a weekly planner/calendar whose design made it easy for me to see. Finally, it drove me to take action. The design features I sought were actually quite simple. I couldn’t understand why no company made such a thing. I knew exactly what were the design features I needed.
In 2015, I was busy and happily retired. I had no thought of becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business. But the more people who saw what I had made the more people who asked where I got it and said they either wanted one or knew someone who would. Eventually I allowed myself to be nudged into starting a business. As I was forming my company, I realized that my larger motivation was that this unique product would be my way to give back to my low-vision community.
Who, are the special people in your life?
Without hesitation, it is my wonderful wife Karen who I married in 1983. There haven’t been many things that life has thrown at us that we haven’t experienced and dealt with together. I know I would not be in the good place I am now without her.
Do you have any pets? If so, can you tell us about them?
I have not had a pet since 1995. That is when my cat, Nina Katz died after we lived together for 21 years in five different houses in three different cities. I mourned her passing and still miss her gentle calming presence. I did not want to go through a loss like that again. I do seem to get along quite well with other people’s pets.
What are your likes, and dislikes?
I like interacting with people. I like learning new things. I like being outdoors in places surrounded by only the sounds of nature. Oh yes and I like dark chocolate too.
I dislike opinions being passed off as facts. I dislike the waste of natural resources or human potential.
What are your hobbies?
Hobbies? Who has time for hobbies? Since starting this business, time for such things has gone by the wayside. I do keep a variety of bird feeders going year-round. I used to like to read and travel. Currently I only read for pleasure when we take our now, rare vacations. If having public radio much of the time is a hobby, then maybe that’s one.
What keeps you going?
That’s an easy one to answer. I regularly receive messages of praise for the calendar or offerings of thanks from grateful customers for making it. Who among us often hears that something we did made a real difference in another person’s life; other than people like teachers, doctors and first-responders. So, when it happens, it gives me a thrill. Here’s how it started.
I’d hand the calendar to someone with enough vision loss who has been unable to see a calendar for a long time. They tended to be a bit downcast after years of depending on others to keep their schedule. Or they’ve ended most social engagements when they had no such helper. They show no optimism that this calendar will be any better than the others they have tried.
They hesitantly take and open it. After a moment, they look up and with a crooked grin say, “Where did you get this? “ When asked, they say this is a calendar they could actually use. That moment makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It’s a thrill every time it happens.
What is your favorite song?
I can’t think of a single favorite song. I like so many. I enjoy many types of music. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, so everything from blues to rock to funk makes me smile. Yet, I also like classical, bluegrass and songs of the big band era. In my younger days I played the drums and harmonica in a few unremarkable bands, so I regularly find myself tapping along with the beat.
Do you ever do work that allows you to listen to music on the job?
As the sole occupant of my “office”, there is either news or music playing all the time. The exception is when I must be on the phone. With my Amazon Echo, my music options are vast.
What is the best part of owning your own business?
I shrug off compliments on how much I’ve accomplished. When I started, I had no doubt that this calendar would prove popular. Yet, maybe knowing that I am totally responsible for the business’ success, does bring a sense of accomplishment.
In relation to your work, what is your biggest pet peeve?
I make a lot of phone calls and often the person doesn’t pick up. So I hear their recorded greeting that almost always says they will call you back. Almost none ever do. Not sure if that’s a pet peeve, but it’s a reality.
What do you think your best strengths are?
I try to be a good listener. I’m told that I am good at asking for information, support or help in a way that leads to results. I will put in as much time as needed to complete a task. I am comfortable looking at an issue or project from the 30,000-foot level and also dealing with the details that must be addressed for a successful outcome.
How do they help you in your work?
I’ve been involved in all levels of project design and management since I was a teenager. Over those decades, I learned much of what it took to be successful; sometimes the hard way. Now as a sole proprietor, I use all that I’ve learned. It’s up to me to see that all the work gets done from design and marketing and sales through fulfillment and bookkeeping. I’m willing to put in whatever time is needed. I surround myself with both the paid and volunteer support needed. If I’m ignorant on a topic, I learn what I need to know. I am comfortable and know the value of building my network.
What are your weaknesses?
I have learned over the years that once I’ve established something, I’m less good at routine, daily operational task.
How do they affect your work?
I occasionally make small, but important errors that I have to go back and fix. Very frustrating both for the obvious reason and because you’re spending time correcting an error that was avoidable.
How are you working on making them stronger?
I know when I perform a certain task, that I could mess up. So, I try to slow down and double check when I do those things.
What is your dream for the future?
I actually have a few dreams. One is that I can reach more of the people who would benefit from this product. Remember, that’s why I started doing this. A second dream would be that I could bring to market some of the other products that I’d like to make but don’t exist. That last dream is that I’d no longer be solely responsible for all that I’m doing now. That means I’ve found others or some company to help or take over many of my roles.
How, does that relate to your work?
I continue to spend time trying to find those individuals or businesses that could play a role in making those dreams happen.
What is your preferred way of communicating?
As I said before, I like face-to-face conversations. If that isn’t possible, I like using the phone. I use email all the time. But using email might require multiple back-and-forth to get the information you want. The phone is just a quicker and, in my opinion, a superior tool for many types of information sharing.
How, can someone reach you if they want to buy from you, or working with you, in some way?
Buying the calendar is easy. Just go to EZ2SeeProducts.com. You can buy one or two calendars off my website. If you want more at a discount, email me about your interest.
If they want to discuss things related to the business, they should first visit my web site. Next, it would be good to send an email using the Contact Me form on the website. Or write: Info@EZ2SeeProducts.
Tell me why you’d like to connect. Include your email address, what time zone you are in, and when are good days/times for me to call you.
If you don’t buy things over the internet, email me and I’ll give you the information you need to buy with a check. The 2019 calendar sells for $21.95. Many people mail me a check and get the calendar that way.
Is there anything about you, or your business that you’d like to share, that I’ve not covered here?
As I’ve already said, I started making this simple calendar and started this business to help me and other people in my situation. I ask everyone who is willing, to help spread the news that this product exists.
If you have bought one, show it to others whenever you can. If you see a low-vision doctor or a rehabilitation specialist, they will appreciate you showing it to them.
Do you work for or visit a business with a large percentage of seniors? Show it to the appropriate person. You might just end up making a real difference in someone life.
And if you can help my company in some way and want to be compensated for your efforts, please get in touch.
ABOUT THE CALENDAR…
If you or someone you know prefers a print calendar, but have yet to find one that works well, you must check out this one. You’ve never seen one like it. That’s because a person with low-vision designed it and It’s made in the USA.
The features that people love about it include:
- All the printing on the calendar is in black and the numbers and letters are ten times larger than newsprint.
- Each uncluttered, daily cell is nearly the size of two, 3 x 5 cards the maximum possible space in which to write big, and
- The edge of each daily page is bordered with a thick black line. No more writing off the edge of the paper.
It only costs $21.95 and can be shipped via Free Matter to those eligible. Otherwise postage is $6.80 using USPS Priority Flat Rate Mail.
Learn all about the totally unique, 8.5” x 11” EZ2See® Weekly Planner/Calendar at, EZ2SeeProducts.com.
Don’t shop online? That is no problem. Send an email to Orders@EZ2SeeProducts.com to get all your questions answered and learn how to purchase it by sending a check.
To see a very well-done interview with the owner and creator please visit: