Mario Schulzke is the founder of IdeaMensch, a community he started to help people bring their ideas to life. He is also the Chief Marketing Officer at GeniusLink, an intelligent link management platform. Prior to that, Mario was the Chief Marketing Officer at the University of Montana, where he continues to teach classes at the business school. In his twenties, Mario spent 10 years managing digital strategy teams at ad agencies up and down the West Coast.
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 ultramarathons, works on his cabin, swims, lifts, rock climbs, backpacks and plays ping pong. He is bad at all of the above.
Mario lives in Missoula, Montana with his beautiful wife, their daughter, and a sassy wiener dog.
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. It has been a super fun ride.
What are you working on right now?
I spent the majority of my time doing whatever it takes to make Geniuslink grow. I am so fortunate to be able to work with some of my best friends, while tackling a problem I am actually passionate about. Fortunately, I get to work remote, so right now I am typing this from Mexico. Two weeks ago I was in LA. The week before that I was in Seattle. Honestly, more people should work remote. It’s crazy what you get done.
In regards to IdeaMensch, this is my night 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 pretty wildly different, as I tend to literally work from all over the globe.
That being said, there’s a certain structure to my day.
Wake up, drink coffee, do some cardio, meditate, eat eggs, work hard all day, avoid meetings, lift or ride bike, eat, kiss my wife, rinse, sleep, repeat.
What are three trends that excite you?
Mario Schulzke: 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?
Mario Schulzke: 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?
Mario Schulzke: 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?
Mario Schulzke: 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?
Mario Schulzke: 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 are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Todoist to keep my days organized.
Fantastical to help me manage my myriad of calendars.
SaneBox. It keeps me sane in my inbox. Literally.
Who is your hero?
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 to 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 homelessness 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 fewer F180s and allocate that money towards getting people off the streets.
Tell us a secret.
- I go to Costco every single weekend.
- I have done an Ironman.
- I have walked the John Muir Trail.
- I used to have hair.
Connect with Mario Schulzke:
Feel free to email directly, preferably via our contact form.