Mark Weimer has spent his career largely in Silicon Valley as an executive in technology and financial services. His passion for entrepreneurship and innovation has been a driving force behind his entire career. Mark is the former Chairman and CEO of 401kServices.com, a business that provided 401K services using the Internet to clients of major financial institutions, including Charles Schwab and other leading investment companies. Before accepting that leadership role, Mark was President of Trust Consultants, Inc., a company that provided retirement plan services for clients of financial institutions including Citibank, Wells Fargo, New York Life, Chase Manhattan Bank, and T Rowe Price. Mark worked with business partners State Street Bank and Trust, Boston Financial Data Services and DST Systems. Mark’s career has been heavily involved in using online technology to help both consumers and companies. He has served as an advisor, board member, and investor in multiple companies. Throughout his various business ventures, Mark has been involved in fostering the growth of younger entrepreneurs and passing on the knowledge he has learned. Mark has a BA in Economics from Stanford University.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The first half of my career was spent in Silicon Valley working with new technology. All of those years developing and selling internet technology, among other types, has directly influenced the way the idea came about for this new project. It seems that everything we do is done for some reason and act one of my career is directly influencing and helping to build the business that I work on today.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
When I get to work, first I generally tend to immediately make a list of priorities for the day.; The major goal in creating the list at the very tip-top of the day is to end the day with most of those original items crossed off the list. Hopefully, I was not just responding to challenges all day long.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Talk with other stakeholders and see how they react; paint the big picture vision; be flexible as to how to get there; realize I may be wrong or may miss some key elements; never give up if it is the right idea.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The incredible pace of change. I remember being at the Moscone Center when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone; that wasn’t that long ago and now everyone lives on their smartphone.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Trying to not get trapped in just keeping things going day to day, but look for new changes and opportunities which could make a huge impact. Don’t get stuck in the usual.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry so much; it does close to zero good and you miss a lot of joy at the moment.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
If you think big and huge you can catch a wave that no one thinks is possible; everyone agrees with the idea but very few agree when the giant wave is actually coming.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Dream big. Think even bigger!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Be patient and be willing to start small. We all like the light at the end of the tunnel and the big vision but it’s in the starting small; in the willingness to persevere through a few false starts (if you know in your gut that it is the right thing to do) that builds strength. Remember, temporary failure is just that, temporary, but only if you persevere and press on in the wake.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We kept pursuing one specific type of technology; when it was obvious that we were not seeing any improvement. Eventually, we had to move on and create an alternative from scratch.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Take the product that you are building and only advertise online. Find out how many people are interested in your product worldwide; then scale it rapidly.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Giving a thank you to someone who didn’t expect it. It’s all in the surprise. When people are not expecting that vote of gratitude, you get to see what genuine excitement and surprise look like when you show your appreciation.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google Docs; simple as it is. They are a great communication tool that is easy to use and everyone gets it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Read Megatrends by John Naisbitt. High tech/high touch is a great combination.
What is your favorite quote?
I have lots, but one is Winston Churchill’s — Never never never never never give up.
- Never, ever give up on yourself.
- Dream Big. Think Bigger!
- Paint the Big Picture Vision, but be flexible about how you get there.
- Don’t worry so much