Listening is one of the most valuable exercises we can do on a regular basis because what our clients and our employees tell us about their wants and needs gives us a clearer picture of what impact our work has, as well as what adjustments need to be made.”
Mike was born and raised in Central Ohio, where he has remained. After high-school, Mike struggled to find a fit in college and found himself bouncing between working and going to school. After many years, he eventually obtained an associates degree from Columbus State Community College, but still struggled to figure out what a career may look like for him. After college, he further developed an interest he had in starting a business of his own. After many failed attempts at starting and running a business, Mike returned to work and eventually spent over five years at a call center for a large furniture retailer. This was one of the most valuable professional learning experiences he would encounter, and helped to prepare him for what was next.
Mike is currently the Operations and Marketing Director for Live Wellness Center in Columbus Ohio. Live Wellness Center provides both traditional, and Christian clinical counseling services with a team of over 20 people. After years of learning various media production skills, working in a call center, and growing personally, Mike joined the business his wife had started in the professional counseling field. Mike feels blessed to be a part of a growing company, and enjoys being able to work with his wife of over 10 years. He is excited about things like efficiency and design in the workplace.
Where did the idea for Live Wellness Center come from?
My wife has actually had this passion to start a wellness center that provides counseling since she was in high-school. She’s the kind of person who always knew what she wanted to do. I, on the other hand, didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was actually doing it. I acquired a variety of skills over the years that were very disconnected and didn’t seem to be building toward a well-defined career. However, in helping my wife develop this idea into a reality, many of these skills proved useful to our venture. Sometimes we have opportunities developing throughout our lives that we’re not aware of until much later.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day at work is sort of unstructured at this point. I do a lot of business development as far as building the structure and systems of our business. Sometimes this means brainstorming with team members, or even just thinking quietly. Of course, I’m still carrying out very tangible functions, but this non-traditional approach to my day allows me the freedom to think outside of the box so to speak. I realize that too little structure can get me in trouble, but that’s the benefit of working with a well-rounded team. There are people surrounding me that challenge me and have strengths where I have weaknesses.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think that the first step in developing a new idea is to put yourself in an environment where you can discuss some of the most outrageous ideas without interference. Ultimately a new idea may not look anything like what you started with, but having the freedom to start almost anywhere can help cultivate very innovative solutions. Also, I like to start with a result. What do I want something to look like when it’s finished? Then creatively developing your idea to meet or exceed your expectation can be a fun process with a more clearly defined goal.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I like to see new businesses distance themselves from some of the long-held traditions of the way business is done in their particular industry. In order to see growth and innovation, sometimes the effectiveness of a system needs to be questioned. In many cases this can provide a better option for the consumer. I don’t think that this method applies well to everything, but in many cases challenging the current state of things can bring groundbreaking innovation.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think just paying attention to peoples’ wants and needs heightens my awareness of what needs to get done and how. Listening is one of the most valuable exercises we can do on a regular basis because what our clients and our employees tell us about their wants and needs gives us a clearer picture of what impact our work has, as well as what adjustments need to be made.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn how business works in the real-world. Find someone who will mentor you and let you watch what happens. Use a business coach. Some of the fundamental elements of business are applicable to almost any business you can think of. Also, get a quality team in place. You need people around you who are competent to do the things you don’t do well.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Some people may agree with me on this, but I think infomercials are fascinating. I know they can be over-the-top, but I think that’s by design. If you watch them, you see some very interesting behaviors, not only from the actors and participants, but also from the filming and editing crew. The way they are put together to influence someone to purchase something is quite deep. They serve a very particular purpose. I imagine that a similar methodology is often used for multi-level marketing sales. Very fascinating!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Find out how your team feels. A team is very important and continually evaluating how they feel about things in the work environment can be very helpful. I’m not advocating for making decisions based on everyone’s feelings. Much of the way a business is run is based on anything but feelings. But I think that to go the extra mile and really develop an environment that cultivates a healthy culture, you have to understand how your team feels about things like policy changes, expectations, their physical environment, etc. The way people feel may not always drive decision making in a business, but a proper understanding of your culture can help you develop something special over time.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I think most businesses would benefit from embracing their own uniqueness. We don’t want to be the same as everyone else. I think that some effort actually has to be put into place to make yourself like the rest of your competition. Each person and therefore, team of people, is unique. If you naturally focus on developing your business in a way that complements the people on your team, you will end up with something that defies conventional expectations, hopefully in a positive way.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve tried starting businesses before, but those just quickly ended in failure. What is obvious to me now is that I have weaknesses that are most easily overcome by having people around me that are equipped with skills I don’t have. Again, a quality team is very important.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think it would be helpful to have a standardized communication platform for insurance companies and providers. Some kind of portal that services everyone in the industry, and has the same user interface. I’m not even sure this is possible, but it could make things much easier for providers who are looking into benefits.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I’m not sure, but it was probably on a tool of some sort. I like the idea of investing in quality tools, whether it be for construction, marketing, or even information that can be used. It’s important to be properly equipped for projects. I’ve learned that, when growing a business, investing in quality help and quality tools, has helped us avoid much frustration.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
We started using “When I Work” a while back to schedule some of our team members and help with payroll. It’s been a big help. Sometimes a simple solution like that can relieve a burden that is just getting bigger while your business is growing.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Bible”. It’s the best place to start. I’m a follower of Jesus and this is where it all begins.
What is your favorite quote?
I’m not sure I have a favorite quote. I would say, however, that context is important when you’re talking about quotes. Information in snippets rarely tells a complete story.
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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.