When Michael and I first met, what intrigued (and impressed) me about him were his eclectic background and the route he has taken professionally to arrive at his current business.
Michael’s story of going from an English teacher to a Broadway producer is proof success seldom follows a straight path. And importantly, it emphasizes the role relationship building plays in yielding success.
Let’s see what Michael has to say.
David: How did you arrive on your current path?
Michael: My path has been quite varied. I started out teaching high school English and using my nights and weekends to write and direct plays. Then I decided to get my Masters in Educational Theatre and started to meet actors who wanted to produce shows so I ended up helping them do that. This led to starting a company that produced theatre and eventually turned into a consulting business for theatrical projects. Next thing I knew I was interning with a Broadway producer and eventually started raising money for Broadway shows. I then became really interested in networking and the process and theory behind it. I started teaching classes on that and left my teaching job to pursue the path of being an entrepreneur. During my 2nd year running the business, I was offered a position at a start-up and took a brief detour to work on operations and biz dev, before starting my first conference. I then left the start-up and focused the business full time on relationship strategy, which is the work I do now.
David: What does your typical day look like?
Michael: A typical day usually involves some writing, tweeting, and responding to clients in the morning, making a series of introductions and meeting people one-on-one during the day, and usually going to a show or attending an event in the evening. Some days I have speaking engagements or workshops, but most are usually focused on meeting with and helping great people.
David: What was the most important thing you did to grow your own career?
Michael: The most important thing I did to grow my own career was to start tracking the things I work on. You usually never know how much time you spend on certain tasks, unless you write it down. The more things I tracked, the clearer I became on where I wanted to spend my time. I use this system with everything. I keep track of introductions I make, responses I get, and the tasks that impact or take away from my business. This helps me stay focused and get things done.
David: What traits do the most successful people share?
Michael: I think most successful people are clear on what they want. They can tell you the people and the companies they need to speak to that will move the needle in their business. They know what activities are good for business and what is a waste of time. I also think that the most successful people understand that you can’t do this alone, and they know how and when to ask for help from their colleagues. They understand what others value and deliver on the promises they make. Really successful people are really reliable people.
David: What is the most important thing you bring to clients in your work and why?
Michael: The most important thing that I bring to my clients is clarity. It’s amazing how many hundreds or even thousands of hours are spent on unfocused “networking” where people take meetings that go nowhere. It’s really important to track your relationships, understand which people and events bring value, and build a powerful network that will help you achieve your goals. The more clarity you have on the relationships that make an impact, the more you will be able to accomplish in your business and in life.