Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Seattle. I’m married with two wonderful little girls, I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m a Mormon. When I’ve got some free time I’m usually with the family at the ocean, in the mountains, or working in our garden. From time to time I sneak in some basketball and snowboarding.

 

Naomi's birthday party family photo

Michael with his wife, Karen, and their cute daughters.

 

How did you get started this industry?

I grew up pretty entrepreneurial, and always like the freedom that came from doing your own thing. I actually went to college with plans to become a dentist but after serving an LDS mission I started to realize that I like the running a practice part of dentistry, more than the fixing teeth part. So I started looking at options in business and took an e-business lecture series where we heard from a bunch of engineers in the tech and software space. A few months later I had launched my first tech startup and I’ve been in tech ever since.

How did you juggle your time in the beginning?

It’s tough. I was still a full time student, full time founder and since we didn’t have much revenue in the beginning I was also working on the side doing consulting to pay the bills. I actually ran a small construction company on the side to keep the lights on.

 

 

How do you manage your time now?

I think the main thing is to make sure you reserve your “best” for the people who are most important. It’s too easy to think of home as a place to come and rest/relax after a long day of work. I think that’s misguided. Your spouse and kids need you at least as much as your business, so if you’re giving 110% at work, then you better figure out how to give 120% at home so your loved ones know how important they are to you.

 

At the Real Salt Lake Game

Michael and his wife, Karen at the Real Salt Lake soccer game.

 

Does being a founder help you be a better parent and why?

I definitely think so. There are so many skills you have to have (or learn) to found a company that overlap with parenting. With both you have to be able to see the future you want, inspire your team, and carefully plan how to get there. But you also have to be able to deal with the day to day chaos and take advantage of opportunities as they come up.

What changed from how you worked before you had kids to after?

The time of day I worked. I want to maximize time with my wife and kids, so I try to get to the office as early as I can, even before the family wakes up so I can come back earlier and have more time to be with them.
Since my kids were born I’ve also tried to take time to explain what I do and have them help wherever possible. As they grow up I want them to feel like we can talk about work/business so I try to include them and make it fun.

How did having kids change your perspective on what you do?

Having kids has reminded me that everyone has a family, and a life outside of work. I’ve always been more motivated by building something great, than by just making a bunch of money. So we’ve worked really hard to make Verisage and Coding Campus great places to work where spouses and kids (and dogs) are welcome and we as a business feel more like a family working towards the same goals.

Is there anything you would like to promote?

We’re really excited about how Coding Campus (www.codingcamp.us) is growing. We’re a premiere coding school focused on bridging the gap between traditional education and real industry needs. We just launched live streaming versions of each of our classes and now have students taking the class remotely from all over the world.