Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Characteristics of an Entrepreneur with Mark Stouse

George Grombacher September 8, 2022

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Characteristics of an Entrepreneur with Mark Stouse

LifeBlood: We talked about the characteristics of an entrepreneur, the desire to know the future and how to get better at doing it, the similarities between addicts and business owners, and how to make data usable, with Mark Stouse, CEO of Proof Analytics. 

Listen to learn about the important intersection of intention and selfishness!

You can learn more about Mark at ProofAnalytics.AI, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn

Thanks, as always for listening! If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review here:


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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Mark Stouse

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on let’s put this George G in the time is right, welcome. Today’s guests strong and powerful marks, deuce Mark, are you ready to do this?

Unknown Speaker 0:18
Of course, it’s great to Great to be here,

george grombacher 0:21
I’m excited to have you on. Mark is the CEO of proof analytics, their marketing and analytics platform that helps CMOs and CFOs bridge the ROI gap. He’s an award winning b2b cmo, and CCO that has a lot of acronyms Mark definitely does a little about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:45
You know, before I do that, I’ll just say this, you know, the interesting thing about an acronym, right, or inside baseball type language, is that it’s really about defining your audience, right? If you’re, you know, if you are really trying to speak to a certain group of people you want, one way to define that is, do they speak the same language that you do? Right. And so while there’s a lot of people whose, you know, all that stuff, you know, that you shouldn’t use that communicate. You know, if you look at like the ideal customer portrait idea of ICP, you know, the whole goal of the ICP is to get things as small as possible, as targeted as possible, right? Within a large, hopefully a large addressable market, right. But your ICP is always a very small subset of that. And so one of the one of the values and people don’t really talk about this, but it’s true, one of the values of all these acronyms and slang and you know, all this kind of stuff that different professions uses. It defines the, the ICP of sorts, right? Are you? Are you in that particular club or not in that particular club? So we don’t predict given the fact that we are also very specialized. We actually don’t shy away from all that. Because if someone goes to our website, for example, and says, What the hell is this, they’re probably not going to buy from us anyway. So now, your question was give that to me again.

george grombacher 2:30
I think that that’s a great way to think and look at it. So thank you. So tell us a little bit about, about about what what proof does and and why you are doing it. So proof.

Unknown Speaker 2:42
Proof is all about taking to the problem. So many different ways to kind of answer this question. That’s why I’m kind of like doing this. The problem that proves solves is that people want to understand what might be going to happen in the future in some aspect of their business. Right? So this is forecasting, using multivariable regression Analytics, which is, you know, basically the foundation stone of the scientific method. And yet, the problem that’s not no, that’s new that all that math has been around, in some cases for 1000s of years. I mean, one of the algorithms that’s in most of the art code packages for regression was actually written by Aristotle, right? So that that gives you some sense of what we’re talking about here. But the the real issue is not the math and not the data. It’s how do we make the whole thing work, and operationalize it so that it creates relevant answers in time and space. In other words, if you’re making a decision, the whole goal of analytics is to make it be able to make a better decision based upon the insights that you’re getting from the analytics. And if those analytics and those insights arrive too late. In your operational cadence, they’re almost worthless. Right? So, we automated all of that. And so today, we you know, we work with companies like buyer and Samsung and, you know, I mean that you all kinds of folks, right? And it’s mainly because the end of the day, people have this drive to better understand the future. Now, we’re limited in this regard, right? But, but people want, the more you can help them look around corners and down the road and all this kind of stuff and understand cause and effect on a reasonably large scale that’s highly valuable. I mean, you know, once upon a time you would have been considered, you know, mathematician doing this would have been considered a prophet. Right.

george grombacher 5:14
Some kind of a mystic, right?

Unknown Speaker 5:16
Yeah, no, I mean, what that which we can’t explain his magic, right? And then and then as soon as we get an explanation, it’s science, right? It’s kind of got a funny way that works.

george grombacher 5:30
Have you always was What is your background? How do you find yourself doing this kind of work?

Unknown Speaker 5:38
That’s a really great question. I mean, I actually started as a journalist, I was a Newsweek reporter, and all that kind of stuff. I went into big agency PR and politics after that. So I was a speechwriter for the president united states at one point. And then I kind of felt sort of, I think, in some respects, I had a midlife crisis earlier. And so I thought, I thought I go into the corporate world, somehow thinking that that was somehow a cleaner proposition, right. And in some respects, it really is a cleaner proposition. But in other respects, it’s not and, and so I just kind of ascended inside of large corporations to lead large communications, teams, globally, marketing teams, CMO, CTO, then the other kind of CCO, which is a Chief Commercial Officer. And so I just kind of gradually iterated, I mean, my whole career has just been a massive iteration of sorts. And so today, you know, I Well, so about five years ago, I founded proof. And so now, I’m the CEO of an analytic software company, which. So, I mean, I’ve experienced a lot of change on this topic in the last several decades. But my high school math teachers all think it’s hilarious, right, that now doing what I’m doing, right? That’s not, that’s not the mark students that they remember, you know, 1617 years of age.

george grombacher 7:29
I think it’s fascinating. You’re, and I don’t know, if it’s actually both sides of your brain, but using the written word, to help somebody write a wonderful speech to help inspire confidence and certainty in the mission of this the direction I’m taking the country or the city or whatever. And now you’re helping CEOs and CMOs and and other people within the organization to take and interpret data that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to, in order to do a very, very similar thing.

Unknown Speaker 8:02
No, that’s true. You know, I mean, it it’s, you know, if I have a kind of a core ability at a, let’s call it a almost metaphysical level, right, the existential level for all of us, right? It’s kind of that ability, that syncretic ability to move back and forth between right and left, not just in my brain, but for the benefit of other people. Right. And so I tend to be, you know, in a sense, I mean, this has a negative connotation to it, so just bear with me, but in a sense, I tend to be a little bit of a chameleon, with people because my job is to be the opposite of what they are, you know, if their left brain that I help them understand the right brain, if their right brain I go the other way. Right. And, and because I have kind of an equal facility there. I mean, some people hate this word, actually. But everyone seems to kind of, you know, immediately recognize what it means. You know, I’m sort of a whisper. Right? Certainly a translator, I’m probably happier with that word.

george grombacher 9:25
Yeah, I think that that makes sense. Do you feel like it we have such a pull towards entrepreneurship these days? Yes. And people are passionate about it. In your experience, are most entrepreneurs happy? And how are you able to find that sort of, for lack of a better term happiness in the middle of your brain, balancing the right and the left and helping others do that?

Unknown Speaker 9:53
That’s a that’s a very deep question. So I’m going to I’m going to, I’m going to tell you what I have seen Entrepreneurship at its root is a is a is all about the search for significance. We cloak it in all kinds of things, right? I want to be my own boss, and, you know, whatever. But trust me, all that stuff is total bull, right? Because you are not your own boss. If you have investors, if you have customers, if you have employees, guess what? You know, you work for them, right? It also, you know, it’s a real test, I think, for any person to be an entrepreneur, because it get it, you know, every, if you have existential buttons to be pushed inside of you, that experience will push them absolutely guaranteed. It is tailor made for addicts. Right, if there is a treadmill aspect to entrepreneurship, that means that you never actually get there. Now, you could argue that well, of course, you know, when you exit, if you sell your company, right, you have gotten there. And yet, how many entrepreneurs do you know? Right, that after exit, just, you know, go sit on a beach for the rest of their life? Right? Right. They can’t deal with the idea that they are suddenly not relevant or significant. Even if they have $100 million in the bank. Right. It’s it’s a it’s like the it is sort of the unscramble itch. Right? It’s, it’s sort of like collecting, so I’m a big collector. One of the things that I’ve collected all kinds of things, usually in the in the realm of my interests, which are historical, and technical, right. But like a watch collection watches for a long time have last 15 years have been real hot. You go as a collector, you go through this period where you think, if I can just get that watch that holy grail watch that vaster on Constantine or that Patek Phillipe, or that Rolex or whatever it is that you consider to be the navy blue Ultra of the whole thing. If I can just get that my collection will be complete, and I will be happy. And then you sometimes get it. And that feeling that you’re that you’re wanting happens. And then it lasts for maybe a month. And then you’re off on the next pursuit. You know, one of the things that I learned about collecting is that the pursuit of the collection is the joy of collecting the ownership is the anticlimax. Unless, of course, you’re kind of a hoarder, in which case, I guess it’s not that way. But for most collectors, they’re not hoarders, right. And this is why you see collections churn. This is also why you see serial entrepreneurship. This is why, you know, I’m part of several groups of founders founding CEOs of that are focused on mental health of founders. One of the things that I think is particularly destructive in the technology, startup space, is this idea that you have to hockey stick fast, which is the antithesis of sustainability. So you can’t have it both ways. If you’re preaching sustainability in other parts of your life, and you’re working the hockey stick as an entrepreneur,

Unknown Speaker 14:32
you’re you’re you’re at cross purposes with each other, right with yourself. So you see use, I’ve been in situations, particularly pre COVID, when we were doing an in person, where I’d be walking in with a founder, and it was you know, all the typical language and killing it. It’s awesome data, you know, and then you get in this group, you know, which is by definition, you You know, in terms of the identity of people totally radically confidential. And you see the same guy essentially curled up in a chair in a fetal position. And I’m not exaggerating, when I say that, and utterly, just shattered.

Unknown Speaker 15:30
This is not a this, this is what I mean by the destructive forces and entrepreneurship, the addiction in, you know, it’s sort of like that old saying that says if I if you want to know who you are, or if I want to know who you are, I’m going to give you a lot of money, and power, and I will instantly find that out. I mean, within six months, the same thing is true about entrepreneurship. You know, it’s the ultimate, this is a, this is a very generationally dating concept, but, but it’s the ultimate disclosing tablet, you know, when I was a little kid for I went to the dentist, my mom would give me these little red pills. And I had to chew them up. And wherever I had, you know, stuff on my teeth, or whatever, it would turn them kind of red pink kind of color right out about those, you know, and, and that is, that is a powerful metaphor. Unfortunately, I can’t really think of a more modern version. But But nevertheless, it’s a powerful metaphor, because that’s what entrepreneurship is. It’s a disclosing tablet for your soul. I love it.

george grombacher 16:47
I think that that’s super powerful. Is that table stakes for successful entrepreneurship has been wired that way? Is that a feature or bug? How do you think about that?

Unknown Speaker 16:57
Both? You know, you it’s one of the reasons why so many startup employees think ultimately that their founder is a narcissistic, butthead. Right, and because they are, you know, you have to work really super hard in this life, to not be selfish. So it’s an act of intentional will, to not be selfish, there’s no one who is inherently unselfish. It’s there’s grace, right? I mean, some people kind of have an, you know, better personality than others. Right. But but still. And I think that that is really true for for founders, right? The whole funding process, really is a massive trigger. On this, because the very thing that is an is kind of like a highly perishable short term, marker of success, meaning investment, right, lots of funding pouring into your company is also diluting the hell out of you. And so if you don’t succeed in in driving a huge in creating a huge pie, so that even your much smaller piece is worth more than your former dominant piece, right? Then you’re you’ve got a big problem, right? And, and they you rapidly find yourself in the situation where you’re affected, we may be the founder and all that stuff, may be the founding CEO, but you are now really just an employee, you know, and so this at one level, there’s nothing wrong with that intrinsically. But it psychologically really triggers massive selfishness. I mean, we’re I was just reading this article this morning. Right now. It’s in something called the information. And it’s about all these, the headline is startup workers find that founders cashed out when they couldn’t. Right. So it’s all about all these founders in the last year before obviously, everything went to hell. Who were secretly selling fairly significant portions of their ownership and cashing out early while at the same time denying their employees the ability to do the same thing. Okay, this is a completely understand Bull impulse for a normal selfish human being. Okay, that does not mean that is right. Does not mean that it should have happened. Right. But it’s a great exemplar of what I’m talking about.

george grombacher 20:17
Yeah. Yeah, requires a virtuous human being to, to, to not to be selfish, because we all our impulse is to, is to satiate our needs and to be wise enough and strong enough and forward thinking enough. And all of those things, you know, it’s important

Unknown Speaker 20:38
to say this, you can go too far in the other direction, right? You can lay yourself down, you can you can deny your own interests to an unhealthy degree. And that, in a way, ultimately puts you at risk disproportionately to everybody else around you. Right? And we’re not as founders, or as people, right? We’re not usually, there are exceptions, obviously. But we’re not usually called to lay down our life for people. As a normal matter, of course, it may happen that way. Right? I mean, as a as a history guy, you know, I can give you lots of stories where, particularly in combat where that was the way it turned out, and that was necessary, but it’s not normal. And that, and so there is a balance that you have to strike. Right. And sustainability doesn’t just apply to everyone outside of yourself, that applies to you as well. Right, you have to be sustainable.

george grombacher 21:55
I think that’s well said. Mark, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you? And where can they find proof analytics, and who should be looking for proof analytics.

Unknown Speaker 22:07
So they, you know, I’m pretty, I’m actually very active on LinkedIn. So that’s probably the easiest way to find me. You can also find me on Twitter, at Mark Seuss all one word. The proof website is proof analytics.ai. And as far as to who should be interested in this, if, if you are a business leader, if you’re a marketing leader, and you’re being asked right now, hey, what am I getting for all that money that I just been spending with you for all this time? And how do we know that we’re spending the right amount of money relative to the circumstances in the marketplace, the headwinds and tailwinds and all this kind of stuff? And how do I know that you’re actually executing based upon what you could be doing? Right? So this is the issue of forecasting. If that’s your need, right, we can do it better, faster and cheaper than anybody on the planet. So that’s who should be looking out for us.

george grombacher 23:21
Love it. If you enjoy this as much as I did show, mark your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, go to proof analytics.ai. And check out all the great things that Mark is working on. You can find mark on LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s ma RK. The last name is spelled s t o u s e have it? Thanks again, Mark.

Unknown Speaker 23:45
Hey, thank you, man. Have a great day.

george grombacher 23:47
And until next time, fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Thanks, as always for listening! If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and we’d be grateful if you’d subscribe as well.

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