Mike Honeywell – CMO of CivicPlus

Get to know the people you work with really well. Walk around, ask them what’s going on, listen to their answers, and make a point to encourage them whenever you can.

Mike Honeywell is the CMO of CivicPlus, a complete solution provider for local governments that facilitates desired outcomes by helping align the right people, processes, and structures.

Mike’s background includes 20 years of marketing experience, including managing brands, gathering consumer insights, and researching new product ideas. He’s helped launch nine startups and consulted with management teams at several Fortune 500 companies.

Mike has been married for 17 years and has three daughters. He lives in Manhattan, Kansas.

Where did the idea for CivicPlus come from?

It happened by accident. We were in another business at the time, and one of our clients from the heartland asked if we would help them build a website. It was a wild success. They told a neighboring municipality, and the next thing you know, we’ve got a couple thousand clients in three different countries.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

Frankly, my day consists of attending a lot of meetings. Sometimes it feels like that’s all I’m doing. However, if I step back and look at it from another perspective, what I’m really doing is maintaining focus, managing workflow, and ensuring that our communication is where it needs to be. The key is just to make sure agendas are clear and our time together is worthwhile. That just takes a bit of advanced planning, which is what we tend to do.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Schedule a meeting. Just kidding. Innovative companies (and I would consider us to be innovative) are nothing without new ideas. For us, it’s all about helping people and technology come together in a meaningful way. We take all the notions we have from our conversations, experiences, and the things we’ve read and put them through a process. What comes out on the other side are new and better ways of doing things.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

As a dad of three daughters, the female empowerment movement has me pretty excited. I know that may sound a little weird, but I really like the message of self-acceptance, and I think that’s an important concept for us all to be talking about right now.

Tying it back to business, I see many organizations struggle with their brand identities. Organizations think that they have to mimic some other successful firm like Apple, Google, Amazon, or General Electric to be great. But the market doesn’t want a dozen of each. It only wants one. So that comes down to this concept of self-acceptance. It’s really not about being like someone else. It’s about getting better at being who you are.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as a team leader?

If I could only pick one, it would have to be listening. Listening helps me focus, make decisions, and take action.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

I had a job cleaning rental cars when I was an undergrad. You know, it’s interesting the things you find in a car after a rental. Anyway, it was hard work. It was physically demanding. We had to be fast and thorough because we were expected to have cars available for customers at all times. I had a great boss, and that’s really where my learning took place. He treated everyone as part of the team. We were all important. He’d even roll up his sleeves to help when we needed it. We broke records for sales, and he shared the credit as well as part of his bonuses with all of us.

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

I would have done some of my entrepreneurial endeavors before getting married and having a family. Starting a business with a family was almost too much to take on at one time.

What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Get to know the people you work with really well. Walk around, ask them what’s going on, listen to their answers, and make a point to encourage them whenever you can.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Hiring young people who are eager to learn and gain experience was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Eagerness is sometimes difficult to find in more senior-level people, and experience is sometimes difficult to afford in a startup.

What is one failure you’ve had over the years, and how did you overcome it?

I’ve started almost a dozen businesses in the past 20 years. Only a couple of them really took off. Some of the early businesses I started failed because of poor planning, lack of focus, and subpar execution. These are skills I feel I’ve been able to improve upon in the past 10 years.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Digital diagnosis is an idea worth spreading. What if people could have on-demand access to getting their questions answered by a doctor in real time? For a monthly fee, patients could ask their questions from wherever they are, and there would be certain levels of care provided at each level. Imagine the peace of mind it would give families and individuals. Also, imagine what it would do for the overburdened urgent care centers and clinics that no longer take patients. I see this as a private venture, not a government-funded one.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I used to wrestle pigs competitively. In fact, I was a two-time county champion for my age group. That’s not usually in the résumé. I’ve since given that up to let others share some of the glory.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I’m boring. I like the basics: Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint. However, I also use Evernote, UberConference, HubSpot, Pardot, NetSuite, and the calculator app on my phone. I also like Audible.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel. It’s a quick read, it’s well written, and the topic is timely and relevant — innovation.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Roberto Clemente. I have a baseball card with one of his quotes. It goes a little something like this: “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”

He inspired me because he was great at his career and also a great human being. I keep the card front and center for that perspective. Yeah, I love marketing and want to make a difference, but I am also a husband, dad, son, brother, friend, and citizen of my community. I’ve got lots of opportunities to make a difference.


Twitter: @StartUpJeffCity
Twitter: @CivicPlus