We had the good fortune of connecting with Bud Michael and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bud, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
I attended a small high school in a small farming town in Central California. For most of the kids with who I grew up, their life’s ambition was to attend a local college, return to the town and live happily ever after.
I was very active in high school and graduated at the top of my class. It was a small school. When I was a senior in high school, the college counselor at my school suggested I not bother applying to major universities; instead, her guidance was to attend a local junior college and see where it takes me. That moment was when I made a life choice to follow my own direction. This decision was the most important decision I have made and has guided my choices in all aspects of my life from that moment on.
I have had many wonderful opportunities in my career, and I have not pursued my career in the typical straight-line progression. Rather than stay with large, publicly-traded companies and move up the organization ladder, many years ago I chose to forge my own ladder. I left big corporations because I wanted my fingerprints to matter. I didn’t want to be measured by incrementally better performance over the person I was replacing. And, I was impatient to make a difference – on my own terms.
I didn’t take the advice of my high school guidance counselor. I applied to Stanford University and got in. When I graduated from Stanford with an Economics degree, I was hired by Intel Corporation – this at a time when supposedly only Electrical Engineers were hired by Intel. Thus began my career in technology.
I often think about the advice I was given as a kid in high school. I have made decisions I would make differently in hindsight. But, I would not have ever strayed from following my own compass.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The path I’ve taken to where I am in my career and life has been untraditional. After graduating with an Economics degree from Stanford University, I found my way to a marketing job at Intel Corporation. That was forty-three years ago and I have never ventured far away from high tech.
Now, four decades later, I am giving back whatever career experiences I can to entrepreneurs who are starting businesses, who are leading businesses to the middle markets ($10M+ annual revenue), and who are planning for their eventual business exit. As a Mentor/Coach for TrueSpace, I work with CEOs committed to building their business to the middle market. TrueSpace has a proprietary methodology that was created after seven years of hands-on research studying businesses with revenue between $1M and $10M. The research was done in an attempt to discover why less than three percent of businesses who make it to $1M ever make it to $10M. The outcome of the research is the TrueSpace Five Conditions Framework. We use a 97 question assessment tool that was created for TrueSpace by Gallup to provide a data-driven, objective evaluation of the business. This Five Condition Assessment (5CA) forms the basis for our work with these entrepreneurs.
My career has spanned the full gamut of high tech – hardware, software and services. I have had the honor to be CEO of five businesses ranging in size from pre-revenue (a restart) to well into the middle market. I have successfully sold three businesses and have raised several millions of dollars from investors. I am now in a time of my career and life to give back to other business leaders by helping them avoid the cul-de-sacs I have found in my forty-three years. It’s great work.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to recognize two organizations that help build businesses in Colorado. Innosphere Ventures is a science and technology business incubator. Innosphere works with launch and startup stage businesses to help them figure out product/market fit and raise first institutional investor capital.
TrueSpace works with post-startup, emerging growth stage businesses to help them get to $10M annual revenue. TrueSpace has a proprietary, science-based model called the Five Conditions Framework that provides an objective assessment to give CEOs a data-driven way to know where to focus their resources.
Both Innosphere Ventures and TrueSpace exist to create jobs by supporting the growth of businesses.