[quote style=”boxed”]It’s impossible to learn about personal or professional problems, much less help fix them, if you don’t have the ability to be a good listener.[/quote]
Mike Krass co-founded MKG Media Group, a San Francisco-based interactive media agency focused on delivering customers, not transactions, for clients such as Box, YouEye & the University of Washington.
His entrepreneurial spirit kicked into overdrive when he started The Anti Resume, a blog focused on helping millennials find their professional calling, during his first internship following college graduation at a Los Angeles-based advertising agency.
Since that project, he’s taken every available opportunity to pick the brains of the worlds most successful (and admittedly unsuccessful) startup founders to learn from their experience.
In his spare time, Mike enjoys getting lost in foreign countries and jumping out of airplanes (not necessarily in that order).
What are you working on right now?
Using my company a real-time testing ground, I’m focusing on the social psychology behind why people make decisions. This interest is present in every conversation I have with current and potential MKG Media Group clients, as it’s the type of information that will help change the way companies tailor and connect products with their customers.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
My co-founder and I used to work together at the same 9-to-5 day job, and one day we sat back and both said ‘why are there so many people getting in the way of producing good work?’
The realization helped found our current company, as we’re focused on reducing the number of ‘cooks in the kitchen’ and instead deliver a personal, well-executed service to our clients that could not be found at a larger agency.
What do your typical day look like?
1. Wake up / curse / do 100 push ups.
2. Decide whether to work from my favorite coffee shop, a friends office or our shared office space with YouEye down in Mountain View.
3. Communicate – A LOT. I publish a daily blog post, get on the phone with current and potential clients, and maintain existing business needs all before I get to go to lunch.
4. Usually spend the afternoon fixing whatever I’ve broken in the morning.
How do you bring ideas to life?
One simple word: Listen
It’s impossible to learn about personal or professional problems, much less help fix them, if you don’t have the ability to be a good listener.
This skill extends to the way that I learn about new products, services or clients: I attend a lot of events and ask people to share their hopes, dreams and opinions with me.
By spending more time listening than speaking, I’m able to do two things:
- Learn from these talented individuals’ experience
- Help breathe life into their ideas
What is one trend that really excites you?
Shared living and working spaces.
AirBnB, based here in San Francisco, completely changed the way that travelers booked accommodations for their journeys by taking something that was unused (empty bedrooms) and filling it with interested customers (travelers).
Groups like Dogpatch Labs thrive on the concept of shared working spaces, which allow entrepreneurs and small business owners to work side-by-side in a shared working environment.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
‘Market researcher’ … More commonly known as a telemarketer.
During my time as a telemarketer, I learned how valuable people’s time is and made sure to quickly and effectively communicate to anyone who would speak to me.
I also developed a very thick skin and learned not to call people during their dinner hour.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I had the opportunity to start over, I would schedule my day (free time, work time, break time, etc) and rigorously follow that routine every single day.
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in tasks that aren’t essential to your companies lifespan (i.e. money making tasks) and waste an entire day.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Put myself in as many uncomfortable situations as possible.
Networking events. Trade shows. Cold calls. Calling on prospects who you know are going to shoot you down. Chatting up ex-girlfriends who hate your guts.
As an entrepreneur, nothing ever goes right. In fact, most of the time everything that can possible go wrong, does go wrong. So get used to being in uncomfortable situations to condition yourself so that you’re able to react with a clear and intelligent mindset when disaster strikes.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Learning the difference between being busy and being productive.
Just because you spend 12 hours leaving voicemails on people’s answering machines doesn’t mean that you actually got anything done that day.
If you’re not making progress (i.e. getting appointments or closing sales), then you haven’t done a good job of growing your business that day.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
If I could change one thing, I would fight for universal health care.
To fund such a project, I’d develop a single, non-profit entity that could tap into a sustainable resource (wind energy, solar energy, etc) to fund the billions of dollars that it would require to operate such a project.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
– Google Trends: I use Google trends to shape the blog content that is produced on our companies website every single day
– Agile Zen: A free task & project management system that allows my company to track workflow across unique clients, jobs and tasks
– Salesforce: Every single contact I’ve ever met goes into Salesforce, which I’m able to access across my laptop, tablet and smartphone
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Rework by 37 Signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.
Among many things, this book explains the simplest (yet most valuable) ways you can successfully start a company, run a business and be more productive in your everyday life.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@justinkan — Justin is a whip-smart start up founder who publishes useful content across his own companies’ blogs as well as popular sites like TechCrunch
@neilpatel — Posts actionable advice for entrepreneurs, marketers and business-minded individuals across his Crazy Egg, KissMetrics & QuickSprout blogs
@problogger — Darren Rowse is the best blogging resource on the internet … Hands down.
In your opinion, what is one thing that gets overlooked in our everyday life?
That’s easy: The value of your time.
I hear too many people say ‘Gosh I wish I could travel the world’ and ‘Man, I really hate my job but I can’t quit until I find another way to make money.’ In my opinion, those are excuses that people use to accept the complacency of what is ‘normal’ — They haven’t made those statements a priority in their lives quite yet.
Your time is so unbelievably valuable; you should never spend a second of it doing something that you don’t truly enjoy. That something should be invigorate your soul and make you so excited to tackle it every day that you can’t wait to get out of bed to start each and every morning.
What is your advice to young entrepreneurs just getting started?
Start drinking coffee — LOTS of it.
Coffee meetings are the best way to get even the busiest business men and women to share 20 minutes of their time with you. Coffee shops also make it easy for the person you’re meeting to see you, as you can pick the closest coffee spot to their work space.
A couple pointers about coffee etiquette:
- Always pay: You’re asking brilliant industry minds for 20 minutes of their time … Don’t be disrespectful and make them pay for their own coffee. It will also leave an impression on them, as they’ll remember that when you were a nobody (which you won’t be forever), that you still had the decency to pay for their beverage.
- Make it convenient for them: Pick the closest coffee shop to their work space. Make it unbelievably easy for them to say yes.
- End with an offer: I learned this line from Neil Patel and have adapted it to fit this situation many times. “I know I’ve been selfish and just asked you for a lot of advice, so what (if anything) can I do for you?”
Mike Krass on Twitter: @mikekrass
Mike Krass on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/mikekrass
MKG Media Group Site: mkgmediagroup.com
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.