Mario Schulzke – IdeaMensch Founder

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If you do something that provides value for others, figure out how you can charge for it. That’s the only way for you to provide that value long-term.

Mario Schulzke is the founder of IdeaMensch, a community he started to help people bring their ideas to life. He is the AVP of Marketing at his alma mater the University of Montana where he also teaches in the business school. Before, Mario spent 10 years managing digital strategy teams at ad agencies up and down the West Coast. He is also the author of Someone Needs To which contains 500 awesome business ideas for entrepreneurs.

Mario is a first generation immigrant who came to America at the age of 16, much to the dismay of his family in Germany. In his free time, Mario goes to Costco, fly fishes, plays soccer, runs, does triathlons, swims, lifts, rock climbs, backpacks, plays racquetball and does Crossfit. He is bad at all of the above.

Mario owns a red house, a red car, and a red scooter. His favorite color is orange.

Where did the idea for IdeaMensch come from?

It all started when I was waiting for my green card and couldn’t start my own business. I was so gung-ho about people bringing their ideas to life that I decided to start IdeaMensch and help them. Now I can start my own business, but oddly enough, I don’t care too much about the business-end of IdeaMensch. I am building it for impact, not income.

What are you working on right now?

During the day, I am the AVP of Marketing at the University of Montana, which truth be told, is probably my dream job. I came to America by myself at a really young age and a big reason of why I ultimately succeeded was my education at this University. Being able to work on a brand that had such an impact on me is incredibly rewarding. In regards to IdeaMensch, this is my nights and weekend passion project which I love dearly. I am constantly looking for ways to make it better and more impactful.

What does your typical day look like?

Every day is, of course,  a bit different but here is my basic structure.

Wake up, drink coffee, eat eggs, publish interviews,  ride my scooter to work, work hard all day, avoid meetings, workout, eat, kiss my cat, rinse, sleep, repeat.

What are three trends that excite you?

The Internet, people who bring their ideas to life and compassion.

I guess the Internet isn’t a trend anymore since it’s been around for a little while now. But let me tell you, it’s going to be around for much longer and the opportunities it provides for people all across the world are incredible.

More people than ever are starting to bring their idea to life. That’s wonderful. Even if those ideas don’t turn into huge businesses, starting once will make your second attempt more likely to succeed.

Compassion. Social entrepreneurs and young nonprofit leaders are popping up everywhere. More and more people want to help others. Making a living while making a living is without a doubt the greatest job anyone can wish for. I am excited about more and more people wanting that job.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Talk less, do more. I try to accomplish three feats every day. Three things that help move IdeaMensch forward. Three feats that might make me a bit uncomfortable. Three feats that aren’t boring, everyday tasks. Then I keep track of them and start anew the next day. Josh Zabar inspired this.

What inspires you?

That is the easiest question ever. Everyone interviewed on IdeaMensch, everyone who reads IdeaMensch, and everyone aspiring to be interviewed on IdeaMensch. Anybody who is working to bring an idea to life inspires me.

I read our interviews every day, and those in combination with entirely too much coffee leave me little chance but to be completely jazzed to try and make a real impact with IdeaMensch.

What is the worst job you ever had and what did that teach you?

I cleaned toilets during my freshman year of college. Actually, I cleaned an entire 11-story dorm worth of toilets starting at 5:00 am every Saturday and Sunday morning. I actually didn’t mind the cleaning part, but it sucked to never have a real weekend. I learned to appreciate weekends.

Don’t just sit in front of a computer or TV all weekend. Go do something fun, meet some interesting people or just spend a day reading books.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’d start earlier. Can you imagine what I could do if I still had hair?

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

Don’t fear failure. It’s a lot easier to be someone’s employee than to be your own boss. When you work for someone else, you’re more likely to just do what you’re good at and largely avoid failure. You can’t do that as an entrepreneur. If you want to succeed, don’t fear failure. Learn to overcome it.

Honestly, I fail every day with something. Every day someone tells me no. If they don’t, well, then I am not trying hard enough.

What’s one business idea that you’re willing to give away?

I have always liked the idea of selling high-quality sausages in America. Similar to Starbucks and premium coffee, there is a big opportunity for a high-end sausage experience. Universally, I am bullish about creating and publishing content because of the many different devices, distribution channels and audiences that exist for it. If you have an idea for a book, a video course or anything that provides value to a niche group of people, now is a great time to execute. And if it something that might be interesting to people who bring ideas to life, shoot me an email about it.

What do you read every day?

What is one book you recommend?

I read a lot of books. So I’ll keep changing my answer to this. Read Chris Guillebeau‘s The $100 Startup. Lots of inspiring stories about people making a living by doing what they’re passionate about and providing value.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Mailchimp for all of our email stuff. It’s awesome.

Sproutsocial for managing social media. It’s the first social media tool that I’ve logged into more than once.

SaneBox. It keeps me sane in my inbox. Literally.

Three people to follow on Twitter?

I am bad at Twitter, so forgive me for not having a terribly insightful answer here:

@ThisIsSethBlog because he only publishes his blog posts–and they are all genius. I always tell people that I want to be like Seth Godin. Then I started losing my hair, which is not what I meant with that. I still think he’s great, though.

@RainnWilson because he is funny.

@ChrisGuillebeau because he’s smart, travels a lot and is just an all-around nice guy.

Who is your hero?

My mother.

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I eased into entrepreneurship due to my green card situation. That was good because it allowed me start building up an audience while I still had a recurring paycheck. But it was bad because I never had to charge for anything I did in regards to IdeaMensch.

So, I am always hesitant to charge people for what I do. That’s bad.

If you do something that provides value for others, figure out how you can charge for it. That’s the only way for you to provide that value long-term.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I’d like to end homeless here in the US. That might be a small problem in the grand scheme of things, but I just think it’s so unnecessary. Let’s build a fewer F180s and allocate that money towards getting people off the streets.

Tell us a secret.

I go to Costco every single weekend.


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