UB leads interviewIA’s marketing and business development strategy through a constant state of innovation and “outside the box” thinking. He has taken his deep experience in client and customer solutions to build a company focused on people first, the value that every human brings to the table, and centered on belonging.
UB is the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” in the HR world. In the Malcolm Gladwell framework, he is the ultimate connector. UB has an intrinsic ability to span many different worlds through his combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.
Where did the idea for interviewIA come from?
Five years ago we (3 of the 4 current co-founders) launched a Talent Strategy Firm called Jobber Group and have been living in the trenches and working on the front lines of innovative talent strategies ever since. Our current team, working together for the past 5 years, put in the “manual labor” so to speak to develop our hiring process methodology that now powers the interviewIA platform. Three years ago we built the first version of our interview platform and began to iterate on the value that this could bring to the market. Two years ago we launched our training operations to help teach organizations how to build inclusion, reliability, and scale into their hiring. The COVID pandemic then gave us an opportunity to bring all of this together – the methodology, the training – and go all-in on building interviewIA as an actual SaaS product and company.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is driven by 3 quarterly objectives that every team member set for themselves and their departments. Any meeting or activity that does not directly contribute to one of the objectives needs to be carefully considered before acting on it. This organization has really given me the ability to focus and be more productive to achieve outcomes that ultimately help our startup grow. We are a Remote-First organization, so having time in my day to accomplish personal things is encouraged. Again, there’s a balance but at the end of the day, this is life, and we have the support to live our lives as we see fit.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is a team effort. Ideas are free flowing and come from everyone in the organization. Multiple perspectives give us the required discussion that results in the best version of an idea to bring to life. I always ask for diverse input and challenges to any idea I bring to the team, even if I am so in love with my idea and become personally offended when others don’t like it. Just because it was my idea doesn’t mean it was the best idea for me or the team or the company. We value all perspectives looking at an idea from every different direction to put the entire puzzle together that becomes the right solution for us.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend that I am most profoundly impacted by right now is the prioritization by leaders of the equity conversation in organizations. After George Floyd’s murder, more and more white executives took it upon themselves to lead the conversations about racial inequality and the part they and their companies may have played in reinforcing that and so many inequalities. These conversations are still being had almost one year later, and I’m grateful that they are now starting to spread across organizations and into all departments because the inequalities live everywhere.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Leaning into exactly what I’m good at and not trying to do it all is my best habit as an entrepreneur. And our team knows exactly what I’m good at and supports me in that role. There are still opportunities to learn and grow, but at the end of the day, we all have a part to play in the success of the company and knowing exactly what that part is and what we each need to be successful is crucial to our success as a whole.
What advice would you give your younger self?
This is a hard question to ask because I wouldn’t change who I am and what I’ve accomplished in the present. Telling my younger self something profound might actually change who I am today. What I might say is to stay the course, to be strong and appreciate those around you who love and support you, because it will all pay off in the end.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I stay true to who I am, never compromising just to make a sale for example. And I lean in to my decisions when I know they are the right decisions to make. Maintaining that confidence and authenticity clears the path for me to make better impact on the world.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Work as a team. Align as a team. Strategize as a team. Pivot as a team. It’s all about the team. When there is 100% alignment on your team, you will accomplish your goals. This means coming together at least once a year for a day-long strategy session to re-align and adjust your trajectory as needed. This means holding each other accountable on a weekly basis and asking for help needed. This means listening to your clients and pivoting as necessary. You cannot do this alone, so lean on your team and ensure that everyone is in the right role and the right mindset to get it done.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Not stepping up to be the leader I was asked to be is one failure that luckily was resolved early enough, but refusing to mentally accept a new, very important, role from the beginning may have slowed down traction for the entire company. It was a journey for me to step out of an individual contributing role into a leadership role, one that I had to take, but that I believe took a little too long.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I truly believe food and drink bring people together, even those who are drastically different or opposed in their views and beliefs. Combining bias and empathy awareness training with a coursed meal that demonstrates these concepts through food and drink has always felt like a great way to heal our divides and open up dialogue.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Buying dinner for a group of friends or family is the best $100+ we ever spend. The payback is something you’ll never quantify, and it means the world to everyone involved, especially after a year of not being able to see each other in those types of settings.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Honestly, my calendar. If it’s not on my calendar, then it doesn’t exist and doesn’t waste brain power. My calendar is my focus and helps me accomplish exactly what I need to accomplish every day.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Everyone should read “The End of Average” by Todd Rose. It inspired much of our business at interviewIA because it helps you realize that there is no “average” or ideal person. Everyone is unique and businesses have to understand and treat customers, candidates, and employees as individuals if they have any hope of surviving. It also helps you to be more curious about people who you may have judged in the past. Just because someone isn’t like you doesn’t make them any less than you or anyone else.
What is your favorite quote?
“Every man dies, but not every man really lives.” It’s from Braveheart and it’s stuck with me all these years to remind me that life is what I make it, and it shall not be dictated by a boss or a company. I don’t want to waste my life and embracing all the aspects of it – personal, professional, profound – is the best way to live.
• Everyone deserves a place, and a voice, at the table.
• Stay true to yourself. Never waver.
• Everyone is unique and should be given an opportunity to be who they are, just as you have been given that same opportunity.
• Embrace life as personal and professional and everything in between, not as work versus life. And live it.
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.