I bring ideas to life by forcing myself to explain them to others. This requires that I make an outline, think through the steps to make them real and most importantly, defend them.
Currently, Glen Wakeman is the CEO and Co-Founder of LaunchPad Holdings LLC, a business accelerator that provides strategic advice and access to capital for developing companies. He performs CEO coaching and Board duties as a means of sustaining the improvements. Glen also works with early stage entrepreneurs through his start up, LaunchPadHoldings.com. LPTK offers online business planning services through a SAAS website and utilizes digital marketing to reach its customers.
Glen is also a highly successful Financial Services Executive, Board Member, Public Company CEO, Small Business Owner, Investor and Executive Mentor, with a 21-year management in business development and P&L roles. He is passionate about building businesses by improving company and individual agility, and by applying a proven methodology that assesses and improves 5 key dimensions of performance: Leadership (preparing the company for change); Human Capital (aligning vision, strategy and tactics); Execution (integrating process, technology and people); Risk Management (minimizing disruptions); and Governance (enabling constructive dissent).
He received his MBA from the University of Chicago, his BS in Economics and Finance from the University of Scranton, and is Six Sigma Black Belt certified.
Where did the idea for LaunchPad Holdings come from?
I like to match ideas with money. I’ve heard so many good ideas and met so many talented start up folk I couldn’t understand why the failure rates of new businesses were so high. When I looked more deploy, it was basically because there was no structure around the ideas. An idea isn’t a plan. So we thought we would make it easy and intuitive to build a plan with a simple software platform.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts with a review of the prior day’s numbers like sales, cash, service performance. Then I conference with my partner and we divide duties: setting up sales meetings, refining new designs and managing our administrative duties like paying bills. Then we research competition and customer trends, respond to customer inquiries and make our plans to take over the world. We usually end with the day with a coffe or tea or margarita (depending on how the day went). Division of duties, trust and no backtracking makes us productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life by forcing myself to explain them to others. This requires that I make an outline, think through the steps to make them real and most importantly, defend them. Not every idea is a great one. Sometimes when you have to say them out loud, you realize how dumb they are. On the other hand, every once in a while, you hit on a good one and just explaining it gets you motivated to make it happen. I seek people that won’t always agree with me by the way. I want them to go beyond what’s wrong. I want them to explain why. Answering The why is the part that helps me bring it to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend that really excites me is the tendency to apply machine learning to a range of business problems. So much data is now available, we need help making sense of it. Machine learning can generate insights tgat improve the depth, speed, and quality of decision making. The resultant solutions-offerings can be an enabler of democracy. However, I’m concerned by the related loss of privacy and hope to see politics and philosophy catch up to these advances and offer effective guideposts that preserve our humanity.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My most productive personal trait is my sense of curiosity. It enables me to persevere through problem-solving, innovation and ultimately customer satisfaction. I seek to know why things are the way they are so I can better understand how to change them.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it??
The worst job I ever had was cleaning bathrooms in an auto parts factory. It was filthy, hot and greasy and was the only job I could get during a summer long recession. I needed the job to pay for college. It taught me that there is dignity in all types of work and to never take any opportunity for granted.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I were to start again, I would keep good records of every friend and acquaintance I have met along the way and do my best to find ways to stay in contact. One way is to collect business cards. Today it is much easier with social media. For entrepreneurs, connections can mean the difference between funding or not, some customers or none, and success or failure.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The one thing I do over and over and suggest everyone else do is question my value proposition. Both in business and in life. Is is simple and clear? Is it different? Is it worthy of my customers? Is it a good exchange of value? The core of every healthy business is a solid product. The core of every great product is a solid value proposition.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Please explain how. The one strategy that has helped me grow my businesses is to actively seek to expand my ecosystem of entrepreneurial associations. They are relatively easy to find, join and penetrate and offer a treasure trove of ideas, contacts and capital. I have a preset deck I can present at any meeting which gives me a microphone to tell my story and introduce myself to others. Colleges, governments and capital providers all offer forums to join and to connect.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We’ve all had failures. A memorable failure I had was launching “Snappy Answers”: pre-recorded messages for your answering machine. They were funny. But a failure. I wrote and recorded them. I sold a few from classified ads. But ultimately it was a flat tire. I didn’t overcome it and the business failed. Here’s why: I had no marketing plan and no money. Worse, I didn’t understand how hard it was to transfer the recorded messages from the recording to your answering machines. Oops. I guess you’d call it a UX tragedy. But I learned. And the benefits from the learning were worth way more than the cost.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An idea for a new business is “Snarkify”: an online brokerage between comedians and business presenters.
Business presentations are more effective if they are funny. But they can be boring. And, not everyone is funny. But some people are. They can use their skills to develop and sell memes, slogans, titles and artwork for business presentations. They can “Snarkify” the presentations. “Snarkify” is an aggregator of artists / comedians and business people. A client can sign in and seek someone to improve their decks. A supplier / artist / comedian can offer their services. Pricing can be per page or per job. “Snarkify” takes a commission. Ultimately, the company can be monetized via a sale to other aggregators like Fiverr, Upwork or LinkedIn.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I ever spent was in a Spanish language course at Berlitz. It opened my mind to other cultures, other styles, other ways of thinking. It caused me to want to see the world. It also helped me convince my beautiful Argentine wife to go out on a date with me.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use several applications that help me save time and money. Live chat is an inexpensive way to serve your customers in a flexible way, track issues and look professional. Doodle is a great organizer of meetings and calendars. We keep our administration costs light and Doodle is a key reason. Fiverr gives us access to resources from around the world. It is fast, cheap and the reviews help us make good choices.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would strongly recommend “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. It is a timeless classic and still the best book on strategy ever written. There are dozens of lessons to be learned about teamwork, preparation and discipline that can be culled from this book. If you give it a chance, it is so full of wisdom, every page is a “page turner”.
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