I try to begin each day by talking with as many people at the company as possible, to bounce ideas off them or just listen to what they have to say.
As the CEO and Managing Principal of Ultegra Financial Partners, Mo Howard is a very busy individual. His company offers a variety of financial services through an incredibly sophisticated web platform that has allowed Ultegra Financial Partners to easily serve clients from across the nation. Before founding Ultegra Financial Partners, Howard worked in a variety of positions in the financial industry, and his decade of experience in finance has proven to be quite the asset for the company.
Howard is a graduate of West Virginia University, earning Cum Laude honors on his way to an MBA with a focus on Finance and Financial Management Services. Howard also carries vast personal experience in financial services before founding Ultegra Financial Partners, having worked at BB&T as a commercial underwriter for several years.
Ultegra Financial Partners specializes in providing exceptionally diverse financial services, including lending solutions for small and midsize businesses through the use of direct lending and financial advisory. Howard has played an integral role in developing these services at Ultegra and has overseen the development of the company’s highly regarded web platform, a tool that has made access to the company’s services that much easier and more convenient from any location across the United States.
Where did the idea for Ultegra Financial Partners come from?
I had the idea many years ago before I even began my studies at West Virginia University. I have always been interested in finance and knew that I could be very successful while also helping a great deal of people in the process. Being able to work on the idea while also studying finance was incredibly advantageous for me.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I try to begin each day by talking with as many people at the company as possible, to bounce ideas off them or just listen to what they have to say. What starts out as a polite conversation often proves quite illuminating and helps us improve our company. I then spend a large part of my day communicating with our clients to ensure that we are doing all that we can for them.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I wholeheartedly believe that an open and collaborative process is the best way to generate consistently outstanding ideas. We meet regularly for sessions in which we focus on fostering creativity within the company.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
It is hard to identify just one trend that is exciting because there is just so much going on in the financial industry at the moment. I am fascinated by the constant improvements to the technology we are able to use, as this has enabled us to be incredibly efficient when it comes to serving our clients.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have always had a capacity for seeing things from a short-term and long-term perspective, and the ability to plan well into the future has really served the company well. We were positioned really well before we ever launched the company, and we feel very confident about the long-term health of Ultegra going forward.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Out of respect for all of the companies that once offered me financial compensation in exchange for my time and effort, I would never identify any one job as the worst. I will say that I have learned a great deal from every experience, good or bad, and that it is important to understand that there is something to be gained from even the worst of situations.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would not do anything differently. We prepared for a very long time in advance of launching the company and we feel very good about how well we have done so far.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I exchange ideas every day with different people at the company, and I try to come up with ideas that I don’t like and try to convince someone else of its merits. I think it is important to explore perspectives that you do not necessarily identify with or agree with in order to keep your horizons broad. If you are not constantly challenging your own perspective I believe your thinking will become rigid and inflexible.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Collaboration is the biggest thing for us. While on the West Virginia football team I learned a lot about teamwork. Football isn’t an individual sport. At Ultegra we function the same way, we all have our titles and our roles and they are all very well defined, but we never disregard an idea based on where the idea comes from. We constantly work together and plan together and ask questions of each other until we are confident in the direction that we are heading.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have not yet had the experience of a massive failure as an entrepreneur, nor do I plan on ever experiencing such a failure in the future. I do recognize it as a possibility, and therefore understand how important preparation is in this or any industry.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
All of my ideas are very hard-earned and well thought out. I would be hard-pressed to just give them away unless I was able to actively participate in some exchange of ideas with the recipient. One thing that I always suggest is to have a journal or a blog. I have a blog about my time at West Virginia University. It doesn’t have to have a million visitors but you can use it to document your ideas and thoughts. It’s always great to see your thinking in the past, it can help shape who you are in the future. It also provides additional insight as you’re developing a business.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
We recently had a very difficult week and had been working very hard on several projects all at once. Once those projects were complete and we had some time to sort of catch our collective breath, I set up a tab at a local restaurant that we all happen to frequent and enjoyed a well-deserved meal with a group of very hard-working individuals.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Our web-based platform is just incredible. It is so easy to use and our clients absolutely love it. We like it too, as it significantly expands our reach. We collaborate frequently and use a variety of software and web based services such as Google Docs and Dropbox.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Theory of Investment Value by John Burr Williams. It was written a long time ago, but it includes information that is still valuable today and it is still the authority on how financial assets should be valued.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
My professors at West Virginia University, West Virginia University Football coaches and my parents have been incredibly influential and have helped me feel confident in pursuing very lofty goals. As for others, I would advise them to listen to those who encourage action and to ignore those who preach the so-called safety of inaction.
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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.