The Lean Methodology With Mike Todaro

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Mike Todaro. Mike, welcome.

Thank you for having me.

It is my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Absolutely. I started out my career many years ago performing and moved to producing, directing and writing and I was able to be somewhat successful at that, but I took that skillset and moved to another area which is technology, experiential production and rather than sort of actors and singers telling my stories, I was using technology to do that. So I was able to work for a bunch of big brands doing experiential things at large sporting events here in the U. S. moved on to work for some big entertainment brands putting together designing and developing their interactive exhibits. And all that time we’re working with really large budgets and always sort of for the benefit of these big brands and we, you know, we sprint and do this this large technological builds its software that was all custom designed and at the end of the day, once the event was over, once the engagement was finished, you know, all of that technology would sort of go and sit in a warehouse somewhere, never to be used again.

And it really frustrated me. and so I started my own company. and where I had creative companies before this was more of a software company, a product driven company. and we’re developing a platform to utilise that technology to engage blue collar and industrial the industrial workforce here in the US and hopefully abroad someday. So developing sort of an authentic platform that engages that which often overlooked and ignored subsector very large steps, an important subsector of our economic engine. Okay. And just to give some more context, if someone gets in touch with you and they’re like, I’d like to use your services. What does that typically look like, what you deliver for them? Typically, what we do is we work with clients on creating a customised, customised platform for their individual needs. We’re finding that there is a broad array of needs within the industrial labour force, the blue collar sector, and not one size fits all for everyone for the most part, you know, we’ve got 10 to 15 sort of interactive modules that are boards work with.

And we work with clients to not only customise it just graphically and design wise but also customise that, that interface specifically to speak to their workforce off times they want a couple different boards in their warehouses or facilities, you know, one by the back door to give people messaging as they leave, one by the time clock, to give them messaging as they arrive, and then one in the break room too, you know, to communicate different kind of messaging, encouragement or training or those sort of things. So we really pride ourselves on being a really customised platform when preparing for the call and looking through some links and your profile and that sort of thing. I kind of got the storytelling came through for me. So do you use that in your work? and I guess what does it mean to you? Digital storytelling? Well, you know what it really is, I think what it boils down to it, it’s about authenticity.

And so I think that sometimes when you enter into a meeting and you say, I want to tell the story of your brand, that’s a very high level kind of marketing concept, you know, really what it gets down to is finding authenticity and communication. I think, you know, for a large part of kind of this sector of people especially they respond to that authenticity and really feeling like they’re genuinely listened to. And so that’s really that’s part of it. Part of it is listening to what story they want to tell. And part of it is figuring out how we utilise the communication to be a part of that story? So is that for you, is it typically internal to the company? Or do you also do it externally? So for the purpose of you know, positioning a brand or advertising, for example, for the most part right now at the moment is we’re, you know initially sort of developing this platform were internal.

We’d like to keep it a closed network inside the company. We do see external dependencies eventually, but at the moment we’re concentrating on what our internal offerings are for a company because we feel like that’s such a, such a very individualised kind of question to have with folks. So rather than creating something that’s, that’s sort of very general and that they can refine your specific, we want to start specifically with that company and sort of build a platform out from there. So I mean authenticity within a company. For whatever reason, I think companies do struggle with that. So, and I also think that the bigger company gets, the more difficult it is for them to stay authentic or I guess attempt to be authentic what your thoughts around that topic. Well, I think you’re absolutely right. I think that there, I think there’s a direct correlation between and maybe it’s a perceived correlation or maybe it’s a genuine correlation between sort of a better term bank account size and authenticity.

You know, I feel like money when money becomes the driver that allows you to be pulled off your moorings. And authenticity is really kind of what our moorings arts, what we’re more to. and it’s also become such a buzzword genuine authentic. Those things become buzzwords and those things become marketing slogans. And I think that lessens the actual, the actual impact of what they are, you know, authenticity about listening. It’s about understanding and not in some sort of survey way, but really just communicating with people in an honest way. And I don’t know, I don’t know whether you can say that, you know, I always hesitate because I agree with 100%, the bigger company becomes the less more they are to that philosophy. Maybe it’s because they don’t have to be or maybe it’s because there’s a direct correlation between honesty and authenticity and the more factors become involved in in a company growing and becoming larger, perhaps sort of the less honesty becomes a core value I guess, you know, um, and they can replace that in their mission statement authenticity.

I don’t know, I don’t know that is, I think that’s a question for much smarter person than me. You do yourself a disservice there, I’m sure. But what are some of the best examples you’ve seen about authenticity and how it comes through in, in storytelling I suppose? Well, you know, uh, I did work with a company that worked with marvel for a long time and was able to really dig into that universe and we did interactive design and work for them. Uh, I find them to be a tremendously authentic brand because of the attention that they paid to the story. Um, they, they’re there than the universe that they’ve created, They left no stone unturned and a perfect example for me in that brand is something like Avengers the last that the end game, the way they wrapped up every single story with a little bow and they gave like a little something to everybody and I think there’s something authentic in that not every movie was spectacular, but every movie had a little something that had got nodded to in those last two films, you know, and so there’s an authenticity in that brand for sure.

And I think that’s the way they developed their universes because it comes from a very authentic place. it’s, I think once you sort of venture, as you said very adroitly, you know, once you’re sort of in, in those bigger brands, it gets harder and harder to find, you know, it gets harder and harder in my opinion. Again, all of this is my opinion in my conjecture, there obviously billion dollar brands, so they know a lot more than I do. But there are, it’s a very interesting question and I think it’s something that you find in the small businesses, the businesses where, and this is these are the businesses I am and maybe that’s why I find it so authentic, but I find an authentic like if you’re making a decision between marketing or repairing your car at the end of the month, like that’s an authentic business, right? You have no, because the only thing you have is your authenticity at that point, and I’ve been in that place. Um, and I think that the further that you get away from those moments in your life, the harder it is to stay more than that authenticity that answer your question.

I’m sorry I got a little far field there. I think it does mean pretty beast of a name drop dropping marvel in there. I feel like the shape of that one come down and it should be like a still shot of you. But you uh, the flip side of that is obviously the worst examples. So what, what are some of the bad ones you’ve seen? You know, the worst ones for me right now to be honest with you are not even in the commercial sector. The worst ones for me are in our politics. Um, and, and, and that’s a place where like we have lost the ability to be authentic to have an authentic conversation in this country specifically at a federal level. And now it’s seeped down to a local level in politics. And part of what we’re doing, part of what our authentic voices, we really want to find a way to service our industry is servicing blue collar workers and not in a, we’re here to save you kind of way, but we want to listen to you and we want to make sure other people up the food chain are listening to you too.

We have lost in this country specifically, and I’m not sure how it is in your country, but we have really lost the connection between the producer and the consumer. We’ve lost this sort of, you know, the consumer is ordering things on Amazon that are getting their next day on prime with no real concept of what that means down the line to the person that needs to be packaging, shipping all that stuff in the supply chain. Now, I’m not saying that you need to order from Amazon and feel guilty about it, but at least there needs to be a connection and an understanding of that connection. I don’t know if you probably didn’t have this year younger than me, but when, when we used to get like t shirts or like you get something from Haines from the factory, that little tag would be in there that said inspected by number 6 45. And I always thought that was the coolest thing in the world because even though I don’t know who that person is, that means like another human touch that at some point and was, was a part of this process.

And I think we’ve, we’ve lost that completely. I don’t and I’m not advocating like our boards are not going to become like, everybody send a message to John who’s working on the line or Mary who packed your goods but I think there needs to be an understanding and I think that the disconnect between producer and consumer is grows larger every day and is really what the gap in this country is becoming. That’s the chasm right now. That’s a broad brush, that’s very general. Which is a very American way to describe things. But it is like in a broad brush strokes concepts. That’s a huge issue. And there’s no like authentic connection connective tissue between those two things. You know if you look at the fact that 80% of the US workforces disclose employees, That’s waiters, waitresses, that’s doctors, that’s manufacturing, that’s blue collar, that’s all those folks that’s a large sector.

But of all the capital that’s been spent in the last 10 years on employee software employees. You know that stuff of such a large percentage has been focused on the 20% that are tethered to computers, you know that are the white collar workforce. And some there’s some ancillary downspout stuff to the blue collar force but we’re really looking to be able to create an authentic connection there. It’s not top down communication only its bottom up communication as well. Yeah it’s a great point. a silver lining for you. Maybe on Google year on year. I think the increase in support local business has gone up. I think the the geometric is 20,000% or something like that as a result of obviously everything that’s been happening. People are more interested in dealing or supporting small businesses but the other side of that is I also heard that Amazon is the most the app that in some sort of survey that people have said that they couldn’t live without.

So the next day delivery thing getting from Amazon is like this the number one thing they want over any app that you could choose. So yeah, I definitely think picked up on something particularly important there. Well, I also I think I’m sorry to that can I continue real quick to that aspect you know part of one of the reasons I love working in technology is is magic you can find magic in technology and I have always been as a person, I’ve always been chasing the feeling of you know you know pay phones you know paper. So they had a little change thing on the bottom where the spare change falls out if you paid right. And I remember as like a six-year-old kid putting my finger in one of those on a lark and finding a quarter and I was like oh my god and from for the next three years anything that had a return change what I was like scooping I was like trying to find the change because there was magic in that there was Discovery in that, right?

And try to use technology to layer for layer discovery, try to use technology for these upper echelon CEOs to discover things about their employees or their process or what might be made better from an employee telling them from the bottom up. Hey, this is kind of a screwy thing that I’ve discovered, right? But we in this culture don’t have any and I realised it’s talking to my daughter that these kids are, will never have any sense of real anticipation because we don’t need to anticipate really anything in our culture anymore. You know, we don’t need to anticipate like something arriving Yeah, because it arrived the next day or we don’t need to anticipate like the week between you know, show episodes because you can bend them all on demand, right? And so now we’re getting back to that. That’s why I think that’s why a show like Game of Thrones or mayor of East town or any of those HBO shows are so successful because they make you wait that week and there’s something like awesome about the anticipation.

And so you know, I’m getting far afield. I apologise, but it really is kind of trying to, trying to – I don’t know if it’s slow things down a little bit or temper the expectations. But the Amazon thing makes total sense that and that, that dichotomy, you just drew is complete sense. We want to shop locally, we want to support local stores, but we want things tomorrow, you know? Well, I mean I think I don’t know about you but I think it’s probably more likely the case that Amazon becomes same day delivery at some point. Yes, they were starting to, at the beginning of the pandemic, they were starting to do more same day delivery but that, that even more freaks me out because I, I need, I need reasons to leave my house, you know, don’t take away my reasons to get out. Yeah, good point. I mean coming, coming back to that anticipation have you come across any good examples of that or what, what advice would you give someone who is like such a great concept, you know, how can I use that?

You know, there are little things that tried to do along the way to create sort of anticipation moments or things and you can utilise technology to do that. one of the things that I love to do is find a way to digitally deliver analog concepts to digitally deliver something that is unexpected and is like, oh that’s a completely analog concept. We’ve done stuff like I have friends that run a company called spectacle in phoenix and they do a lot of work for big brands and I hope I don’t get them in trouble, but they did a thing for Tostitos where they did like this giant at the Super Bowl that I worked at for Verizon 2013, they had this like they created a giant version of backyard games. so there was like a giant bean bag, beanbag toss gun that you could fire into these huge like, you know, boards and stuff like that. So things like that that are that are digital delivery of analog concepts I think can build anticipation.

But I know how you can un-ring the bell, you know, because it really is about slowing down and I don’t know that our society is in a place to slow down. I just, you know, things are developing, things are growing, things are moving so quickly. and it’s again why? And I know we kind of had mentioned in an email, it’s sort of, I’m a little bit of a paradigm because I like the anticipation, but I also like to move quickly. I don’t like an anticipation in business, that’s why I we work in in that sort of real hyper lean methodology where I’d like to get things up. I’d like to get iterations done. I like to look at them. and I like to continue the process of development. So it’s the one space, I don’t like anticipation, I don’t like to sit around waiting for things, you know now between shows or waiting for package I’m cool with, but not in my business, you know, which is I get that’s a paradigm, but because I think that that you can also weaponise anticipation, especially in the, in the start-up world a little bit as you, you’re afraid to get your product out there because then somebody might criticise it.

You know, I’m very much a mentality and I don’t know if it’s my background as a performer and being okay with criticism, but uh, you know, I’m very much like, let’s get it up, let’s talk about it if it’s not right, tell me why it’s not right and validate my assumptions, Tell me what I assumed, you know, that was wrong and let’s continue to build it. Let’s develop it because I want to execute. I want to sit around waiting, you know? Which is ironic because we started this conversation talking about anticipation and we ended with me saying, I don’t want to sit around waiting. Well, it’s it comes back to, you know what you said about the conflict regarding people wanting to support small business, but also want to get next day delivery. It’s kind of like, I guess it comes down to what people are willing to pay for, right? So yeah, someone’s willing to vote with their wallet that they wanted the same day, then that’s going to happen. Yeah, absolutely. Money drives everything. Unfortunately, when you talk to me about your lean methodology because I can see it, I can see it is a big part of or you can clarify whether it’s a big part of your philosophy, but I think that it would be valuable to other people.

It absolutely is a big part of my philosophy. My philosophy has always been at its core about execution and getting things done. I have not had what I would categorise sort of an easy journey on the entrepreneurial route for a myriad of reasons. and people are always, they always say, you know, it’s amazing how you can get back up every time you get knocked down and I’m like, but the truth of the matter is that when I’m down on the ground and picking myself up, it’s mostly my fault that I’m there, whether it’s taking jobs just for money and not really thinking about those sorts of things. So I really tried to, especially in the last like five years sort of streamline my thinking and my methodology into more of that lean space and more of that execution iteration, delivery and it’s all at that point about the client, it’s not about my technology, it’s not, it’s all about the client and the platform and that’s all it is about.

And so if the platform, if the if our if our advisory board or are independent studies and working with blue collar groups and folks, if they’re telling us one way that we assumed was another, we need to listen to them and we need to not engage. And I think that’s the benefit of being older is that you realise that you can pick your points of engagement and you can realise that just because it’s not the way you do, it doesn’t make it wrong. But in our methodology as a company, in our philosophy, is as a company. I feel like the real, authentic voice of the company is we do it lean, we do it fast, we do it well and we execute and that’s what we wanted to do. And that’s been my focus and you, you know, talk to people I’ve worked with in the past or investors, I’ve worked with whoever you can talk to in the past, they will tell you this has been a developing methodology and I’ve learned this from the stakes that I’ve made in the past, you know? So what would you say? I mean, because it’s such a general question.

See if you can fit it to a general example, a lean methodology for a business where you don’t necessarily know what they do. Have you got any thoughts that spring into mine there? Um, you know, the lean methodology started in really the late seventies, early eighties with Toyota and how they were just getting cars out there. It’s a very sort of Eastern philosophy, you know, it’s a very Eastern philosophy to sort of draw it, build it, get it out there, get the response to it, you know? Um, I don’t, I don’t know necessarily. I think it’s become a popular buzzword now within the, the entrepreneurial space, this lean methodology. And it’s sort of come to mean several different things. I can’t think of another company that I’m like, oh, those people work super lean because I think it’s really, I think you have to eventually, you will grow to a point where you have to undertake another methodology or another iteration of lean methodology.

At our level, it’s very much about, you know, it’s very much sort of a bootstrap lean methodology combo. We’re not doing it, we are doing it by choice, but it’s also by necessity because it costs a lot less just to get something up and out and have somebody go, no, that’s not right. And then fix it, you know? So, I don’t know. I think that the pedagogy here that connective tissue that connects you from start-up lean methodology on, I don’t know what that journey is. I think that’s the journey we’re kind of on right now. I do know uh, that it does, it is for me anyway, from an execution standpoint, from a development standpoint, it’s the key to our sort of authentic voice, you know, because I think that um, that running this way at the moment forces us to listen to people and not just listen, but to hear what they’re telling us, you know, and to not get hurt feelings when somebody says that’s not right.

I have a shirt that says invalidate my assumptions that I wear all the time to remind my team to invalidate my assumptions, don’t argue with me, don’t tell me I’m wrong, just invalidate my assumption, you know, it’s a great phrase. Yeah. you did sort of throw me a bit of a softball a couple of sentences ago, which was you mentioned your journey and how you’ve gone through some adversity mentioning that on a podcast. There’s only one way that’s gonna go, you’re welcome. You either did me a favour there or it was unconscious, but you know, I’d love to hear about well if there’s if you think there’s value in it and other people can learn from it, I’d love to hear story and also what people can learn from that. you know, I think there are several facets to that. I think that the concept of journey, I think that the biggest one is finding self-awareness and I’m feeling I’m thinking or as I think through it, you know, that’s such a buzzword in your twenties and thirties.

I’m self-aware, I know you don’t really because you haven’t been through life. You haven’t been knocked down, you haven’t made the mistakes and the journey for me is about mistakes. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I try not to make the same mistake twice. I have made the mistake of, as I said before, taking projects that I knew were going to end up poorly and I had a voice in the back of my head going, don’t take this money because these people don’t know what they’re doing and this is, and I’ve gone like this, hey, I got this, I got this, I will say that they’re in my personal journey, There has never been a situation where that voice has shown up and I said I got this that ended well never, never, never if you have to listen to that voice inside your head that’s telling you this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong for a myriad of reasons at least for me. and I think part of that is like holding on too tight or me being stubborn and pig-headed and thinking I can fix something.

Maybe there are people that are like this is wrong, No, it’s not, this is wrong. Yeah, it is and then they walk away, I don’t have that gene in me. So I think that’s part of the journey, I think growing and developing and learning how to deal with people as part of the journey and it’s really sort of accepting all of that, accepting, processing those mistakes for yourself and realising how you can get better and realising that it’s not for me anyway, it’s not a personal coach or a buzzword, it’s the things that when you do a post-mortem in your own mind and you realise that what you really need to do is start listening or what you really need to do is adopt the mantra that just because it’s not the way you do, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong or you adopt the mantra, listen to the voice inside your head telling you to walk away or or not even start this project. So, you know, I can go through the specifics. Um, it’s, there’s somewhat depressing, but you know, I’m also like at this point in my life, you don’t know what to expect, you know, I have, I’m building a business now.

And then it’s like my father gets diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, so now I’m spending, and he lives 1200 miles away from me. So now I’m spending, you know, half the month with him to take care of him and you know, those sort of things, you just have to kind of be ready for that. And realise that things are going to knock you off your access, you know? and it’s, it’s such a cliche to be like, it’s not how many times you get knocked down. It’s how you get back up, but that’s very true. That’s very true and this is not like this entrepreneurial journey is not for everybody, it’s not like, I don’t think I’ve slept past 4 30 in the morning for about 12 years because I wake up and I realised that and here’s another piece of advice that I’m learning, nothing is as bad as it seems at 4 30 in the morning, things can still be bad, but nothing is as bad as it seems that early in the morning, you know, so, you know, I’m not meaning to dodge for sure, but I think that that it’s really, it’s a, it is all about becoming self-aware and I feel like I’m a better entrepreneur now that I was two days ago, then it was three months ago that it was five years ago because I’m trying not to recreate those mistakes that I’ve made in the past people that relationships that I burned in the past you know, I have regrets about them, but I can’t dwell on that, I have to keep moving forward.

You know, what are some of those mistakes? you know, I’ve been very irresponsible with other people’s money and I don’t mean that in a criminal way, I just mean in a focused way, in a, you know, in priorities, in building the business kind of way. I have been irresponsible there, I have not been I have not been the best at communicating whether it’s my ideas or whether it’s praise or whether it’s you know, whatever it is, that’s something I’ve also is a challenge for me is communication because a lot of times I get wrapped up in my head and what’s going on and I don’t communicate to my team and I’m becoming better at that also. But the big one like I said is really ignoring that voice in your head when you’re taking when you’re starting a relationship with a client that you know is not going to turn out well and you’re just doing it to keep your lights on. that’s just not good.

I’d rather be struggling, you know, sort of as we are now in the initial kind of bootstrapping phases than to take a project and I’m like this is going to end up poorly and it’s really understanding that short-term gain is not worth the long, long-term damage that it can do. Mm I think most businesses have been in that position, so I think it’s a really interesting area of conversation for whatever reason and I mean it may not be the case for you, but I just want to get your idea on it. I’ve heard of the concept of hindsight bias, so it’s like that you’re aware of it, but it’s kind of like when, when you kind of think something might go wrong with a project, you only register that it goes wrong and you thought about it when it when it doesn’t go right if you see what I mean. Whereas if you might have that feeling before you take on a client and you don’t refer back to it when it goes well, do you think that that has any merit here or is it very much the case that yeah, I think that has a tremendous amount of merit.

Of course, it’s sort of like pregnancy amnesia is what I call it. Like everybody thinks the baby is cute and then when the mother is like, let’s have another one, you’re like, do you remember what happened like three years ago? Do you remember that you were screaming and you are not happy? So yeah, you’re right. When the result is what you want for sure. There’s got to be that concept of hindsight bias, you know, for sure. I don’t and I think everything is coloured by we wear our – I forgot who said it – but we sort of we wear our past traumas like an armour that protects us, right? So everything that you do is coloured by your past. and so everything that you look at every relationship you have has to be coloured by what happened before because that’s what happened before. So I think you’re absolutely right. I think it’s 100% hyperbolic to say that everything that’s burned down to the ground. I’ve heard that, I’m sure I’ve heard that voice on the projects that have turned out well, right. I for sure, but it’s much more glaring in those situations and I try to be, you know, early on, I used to be especially when I was working with bigger clients, you know, I would see things that were happening and I would not be an authoritative position to speak up about it at the time.

And then it would turn out to become an issue and I would say, well, I saw that about three weeks ago and someone would go, why didn’t you speak up? So I started speaking up more and being vocal about it, but then I got the reputation for always being like a doomsday guy in the middle of the project. So I try to tamper that down, you know? So it’s I think it’s a fine line that you walk in situations like that do not let your hindsight bias you, but I think you’ve got to admit when it’s there, you know, So let’s say a client comes to you now, what other things, what the red flags for you, so that you would think, yeah, this is alarm bells for me and I’m not I’m not going to proceed with that. a lot of times, it’s during initial conversations, a lot of times, it’s like laying out being because I’ve, one of the things I’ve learned is that when you’re talking about scope or roles and responsibilities, there can be no air between anybody. Like there has to be black and white roles and responsibilities because projects and businesses live and die in the grey areas between that.

When do you leave a space for somebody? Like that’s not me, that was him or that’s not me. That was her. And I have had experiences where, especially with larger agencies where people will as you start, the project already be putting together there go back for when it goes who they’re gonna blame or whatever it is. That’s, that’s a big thing for me when I noticed that happening, I’ll get out immediately because that means someone’s gonna get thrown under the bus and usually it’s the guy that’s there at three o’clock in the morning with his team working really hard and not noticing all the other ancillary stuff that’s going on. So that, that’s one thing that’s a red flag if, if it’s a technology question. Um, that doesn’t see if there’s no connective tissue between physical and digital architecture and it’s completely, um, it’s just not registering what can and can’t be done, what the possibilities are, that’s a red flag for me, not one that I would walk away from because I’ve had great experiences where you sort of educate and work with clients.

A really big red flag for me is when somebody says and not to walk away because I think you would this would probably fall apart before you had to walk away. But when everybody, anybody says to me money is not an object, it’s an object when money does money is that it does no consequence. Yes, it is because you just mentioned it. So that means I’m going to come to you with something and you’re gonna go what? And that was again part of the impetus for starting corkboard, starting this company was really the fact that I had done so much project work and so much design and development work and then would come to them with a final budget and have clients shocked by the number. Right. And what I really wanted to do at one of the core principles for me was to lay out what our platform did. And then when the client said how much is going to cost? And we gave him the number, they were like this, what? They were shocked in a good way because nobody has ever shocked in the good way, like everything is always more expensive.

So yeah, maybe our profit margins a little lower. But man, that makes you feel so good at the end of the day, when somebody goes, that’s it. Yes, yes. So you prefer to have those conversations up front then rather than, I don’t know, waiting and surprising people with the bill. Absolutely, yeah, and I and that is a recent development, I will say that’s a recent development that I’ve learned from mistakes in the past being completely transparent, honest and upfront with people from the get go is of supreme importance, because if it was, if it’s a small issue now, it’s going to be a giant issue later, and I don’t need the stress in my life, the nausea, the heart palpitations of like dreading when the client says, can you send me the final invoice and then preparing for that fight, right? Try to be as transparent as you can be. Try to say things like, listen, here’s the deal. We’ve got, I’ve got a 20% flux in your budget because once we install, there’s a possibility that we’re just going to start haemorrhaging cash for about a week to get this thing in.

That’s what that, you know, things like that that are like upfront expectations because and it’s another one of the things that I’ve really come to understand is that and I make this say this to clients as well. I the two way street that we have as client to supplier right now is I can’t hold you responsible for expectations. You never state. And I would ask the same thing for me. So I’m going to tell you what, all the things you can expect our and if there’s some deviation I’m gonna let you know immediately because you’re going to find out at some point, um, and then you have to do the same for me. And I have had, I’ve had had really bad experiences with that, with that conversation, but they were sort of, like, my parents used to say, when I would do something wrong and then lie about it, they would say, why don’t you just tell us about it two days ago, because the problems are compounded now? And, and so I’ve had situations where I’ve had to go to people and say, listen, This, your creative director is lying to you, this is not going to be uh, $3 million $6 million.

You’re going to find that out slowly over the course of the next six months, but that’s where we’re gonna end up. And that CEO said, thank you so much for telling me. Then I was fired, but, you know, at least I was honest with him, and at least I, yeah, I said goodbye to the money, but at that point, it’s like, uh, well, there’s got to be a cash value to my sanity, and it’s I can’t wholly focused on a project that the whole time. I’m thinking, man, this is just gonna cost him, and he’s going to find out about it. It’s gonna be ugly. So, it comes back to what you said about, you know, the way you want to do business, and yeah, you know, sticking to your principles I suppose. Well it is and it’s again, that’s learned, that’s, that’s part of the armour of the traumas that I’ve been through because there has been so much that’s been in my control that I’ve ignored, like I said, voices are ignored the reality or, and I’m trying very hard in this sort of this next phase of my entrepreneur career to listen to those things and do not make those mistakes again, whether it be with financiers, whether it be the projects, whatever it is, I’ve got to learn from those traumas, otherwise it’s the definition of insanity, you know, so I don’t want to do that.

Sorry, I interrupted you guys. No, no, you’re fine. And I often think that part of that learning curve part of you learning those lessons and not making those mistakes are how the business grows. So the less of those conversations that you have and the more saying you are, the better the business will do. Absolutely, you don’t necessarily have to get a load of more clients in order to be more profitable, for example. No, I agree with 100% and that’s why I have had other businesses that have been successful, but nothing that’s been as profitable as I wanted it to be. So that’s why this business, I’m really aiming on learning from all of those mistakes in the past and that really being a fundamental part that drives the authenticity that drives all of those things is that I want to take all those lessons that I’ve learned all of those traumas, all of that armour and put them into this business and really make this about that so that the authentic core of the businesses as that you know is really about those issues not denying them, I’ll tell you I’m being very honest with you about them, not denying the bad the things that I’ve done that have been mistakes, big mistakes, but still that’s all part of the foundation that we’re standing on because otherwise to do anything different or to sell yourself differently than that or to not make that part of your story is not authentic at all, you know I did want to touch on something just briefly just because I enjoy hearing this type of story and it is like right at the beginning when you decide to go into business, so what what’s that process like what made you decide to go into this business and how did you get your first time?

Well, I was trying to find a way after a project had delivered but not been what I wanted it to be and I realised that I needed to stop focusing, stop, I had several companies before that were project related sort of digital interactive agency companies which is what my background is in and production then I realised I really needed to move make a lateral move into this more sort of platform based company that sales this actual product because you know the problem to project based stuff as you build up and you staff up and you do this project, but if you don’t have somebody that’s thinking of six months down the road or a year down the road, once you’re done, then you just standing there at the end of it with like nothing to do. And it was just a constant like and as a one man shop at that point or two man shops at that point it was really difficult. So I made this lateral move and I was trying to figure out How I knew that I wanted to do something that almost kind of democratised the interactive technology had been designing and working with the last 10 years and democratise that sort of storytelling elements and I said, you know, how am I going to do this?

I wanted to and I, I really wanted to focus actually on, on blue collar Blue-collar sector and rural America. and rural, you know, 70 11% of the population in this country lives on 71% of the land. So really wanted to find a way to connect rural communities. and my, I was mentoring a technology group that my daughter was part of and they decided that they wanted to come up with an app that was that you could like post lost like lost dog or I lost my sunglasses like within their school and create this like, you know, and so they wanted to call it pegboard, just like a pegboard that you’d walk up and pin a notice on. I was like this that’s what I want to do, I want to do, that sounds perfect. So I was started concept in court board and started to come up with this idea of there’s nothing really more analogue in this world than like a board, you can pin your babysitting notice or whatever to in a local coffee shop, it’s the original form of geo targeted advertisement.

There really hasn’t been an update. It was like nailing science to a tree corkboard in the coffee shop and us. So it was about democratising and making that sort of thing public and dynamic and all those different things. So then I like go through this iterative process, they’ve decided to name their thing. Pegboard. I said great, I hadn’t told them that I was like stole their idea. And so I got super like it was one of those things that was like starting to get down the road and I started to get scared of them because their teenage girls and I was like the longer I let this go, the more nauseous I got so I took their group out and bottom all like Starbucks and sat down with them and I said listen I have to tell you guys this, I stole your idea, I said I you know, I laid it out a little bit more delicately than that and they was not a big deal to them and then they said can we get a muffin? I said yeah, so and I gave yeah I gave them a little bit of ownership but yeah, for sure it was their idea but expounded upon it and then so that that’s kind of that’s the original iteration of Cork Board.

And we were originally aimed in apartment buildings and aiming at a part of buildings and restaurants throughout 2,019 we built a list of clients, we were in advertising business model, so we go in, we install corqueboard, you download the app and then people in the community can post notices on the court board. And one of my sous feeding my other need for finding communal technology, we have such a 1-1 relationship with our screens that I wanted to find a way to sort of open up broadly sort of open up technology a little bit more. And so we were aimed at restaurants, rural areas, apartment buildings, those sorts of two verticals And as a sort of a technology that’s needing communal interaction. we had a large group of clients signed up about 70, signed up on one March 2020 and by March, by April one, all the two had disappeared because of the pandemic and because you can’t have communal technology if people cannot community gather.

So then we sort of made the pivot now to building the platform rather than focusing on rural communities, really building the platform and focusing on another sort of passion point of mine is this this blue collar sector that we’re working on now. So that’s, that’s been kind of the history in a nutshell of corkboard as a company. So you actually gave the teenage girls, they have a share in the business. My daughter does and her friend does. Yes, I would say the better you do, right? yeah, the better I do, the better they do, but they still don’t have, they’re like their own entrepreneurs. I’m probably just gonna be one half percent of larger portfolios in the next, you know, 10 years. So is that your inspiration? Yeah, absolutely, absolutely good mike, what your goals. you know, my goal is to build this thing up and then exit gracefully in six years because I don’t, this isn’t something I imagine. I imagine that I will get to a level we will get to a level where somebody larger sees value in it takes it and runs with it and is able to scale it in in a more appropriate way. I also become very restless. you know, I I produce, I wrote and part of a writing team that produced took a show from Minneapolis to off Broadway and Got it in and built it and did this whole thing, and I have a mentor who is a large producer in New York, who says, you know, there’s producing is like two pieces, There’s 49% is getting the show in, getting it up, getting it awesome, and 51% is selling the tickets to see. It is like, you’re really good at that 49% you suck at the 51%. I am way too focused on process to worry about product, I’m a process guy, 100%. And so if we’re I want to go through the process of building this company, I want to go through the process of building these different and strengthening and adding to and building these really dynamic platforms, but then I know that I’m gonna at some point going to be like staring out the window, thinking about what else I want to do or thinking about the next project that I want to have.

And I, you know, that’s not set in stone, but that’s been my MO it’s definitely been like 3, 4, 5 years and then get restless and move on. I would like it to become less driven something that I’m driving as opposed to like a bad experience driving me away or something like that, you know? so I’m really, really starting to feel like this may be the one that I can actually get right and then my next one, I’ll probably get wrong, which is fine, you know, I don’t have a whole lot of time, so eventually time’s gonna catch it up with me and then I just want to be, I just would like to go out, like even, you know, if I can go out, even if I can go out, you know, make sure my wife and daughter are taking over, like at zero, I’m good, I’m good during that type of, let’s say, you’ve got an exit strategy and you’re, you’re going through the motions of setting that up often is the case. I find that people are thinking about what they’re gonna do next. Have you got any thoughts about what it will be?

You know what? My wife is an extraordinarily talented performer and works with kids as a director as well. And as a fairly, she also works on a morning show here in Minneapolis. She’s got a fairly robust career going and she’s actually branching off a little bit into starting her own company working with kids in theater self, I would like to like in my dream scenario, I can exit this thing gracefully and segue back into that world a little bit. We’ll also like, I’ve always wanted to own a bar and restaurant. So you know, I think I might, I might go totally analog in my next generation.

Right. It’s cool. Well, is there anything that you feel that is there would be valuable to the audience, which I haven’t asked you about today?

No, this has been a great conversation.

I hope that you have. It certainly seems like you do have people that really value your ability to do this. It’s really good. I mean, I talk to a lot of people in many areas and you, you asked really great questions. So I thank you for the time. It’s been an absolute privilege to sit and just have a conversation with you. So I hope that’s valued. Like it should be for sure. So I appreciate it. Thank you.

Thank you for the nice words, Mike. Where’s the best place for people to find you? Can I give you my email address? Yeah. M-T-O-D-A-R-O @ C-O-R-Q-U-E-B-O-A-R-D dot com. And then is our website. We’re in the process of changing that over now. So within the next, by the end of this month, it will be a reflective, a little bit more of our new platform, but yeah, that’s where can people see it.

Do you have like a demo or can people see it in action?

Yeah, there are a couple of demos on YouTube. If you google corqueboard and also on the website, there are a couple of iterations that you can see as well.

Well, I’m going to go have a look now.

Please do.

Thanks very much for your time.

Thank you very much. I appreciate it.