Address: 500 South Nine Mound Rd., Verona, WI 53593
Phone: 608-845-5558
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas
Spouse/Partner: Debby
Board Membership: Safe Community Coalition/Committee Chair
Education: University of Missouri-Rolla, B.S., 1976; St. Ambrose, MBA, 1980

Michael, how long have you been at Innocorp, and how would you describe your role at the company?
Along with my business partner, Pat Flaherty, I founded Innocorp about 15 years ago, in May of 1996. I view my role in the company as continually navigating the metaphorical starship toward new profitable opportunities and ensuring ship and crew are prepared for the journey.

Who would you say has influenced your career the most, and in what way?
Many people have influenced my career along the way, and not always in ways that you might expect. Early in my career, when I was in my 20s, I worked for the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) as a systems analyst. I recall one day one of my co-workers commenting that he only had 10 more years to go and then he could finally retire. That statement struck me as a sad state of affairs and a terrible waste of 10 years. It was then that I resolved to never settle for any career that didn’t provide fulfillment, challenge, and a significant sense of accomplishment.

Who would you most like to be a mentor to, or have influence on, and in what way?
I would most like to be an influence on young people who want to be entrepreneurs. I’ve had a few opportunities over the last several years to make classroom presentations as an invited guest speaker to students on the topic of business and entrepreneurship. I have really enjoyed those presentations and feel it is important to share my experiences and insights with the next generation. There are many lessons in life that you don’t learn from a classroom, and I believe those lessons may ultimately be more critical to our success in business.

What would you say is the personal high point in your career?
There have been many high points. One in particular happened at one of the many trade shows we attend each year as part of our marketing efforts. A customer approached our booth and commented that he really appreciated our work in providing products that helped him in his prevention and awareness campaigns. He said he felt our products were revolutionizing health and safety prevention initiatives. I was so flattered by that statement that we adopted his comment as one of our marketing taglines: “Revolutionizing Health, Safety and Prevention Initiatives.” It is very fulfilling to hear how our products are impacting the lives and work of others in a positive way.

Are there any long-range goals that you’d like to achieve before leaving Innocorp?
Our latest initiative is creating cause marketing campaigns that use our tools to bring about significant change in reducing traffic-related injuries and death. One specific campaign that we are developing is called M.E.T.H.O.D. (Mind, Eyes, Two Hands on Driving). The problem of deaths and injuries due to distracted driving, especially distraction caused by cell phone use, will only get worse unless we take steps to change our driving environments and behaviors. Our goal is to make M.E.T.H.O.D. a model in bringing about that change.

What do you read to help keep you current in your field? What trade associations or training do you belong to that you feel are a good referral?
I was recently accepted into the doctoral program at UW-Madison in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and will start classes this fall. I expect all readings and study that I will be doing will pay tremendous benefits in my work at Innocorp.

What career aspirations did you have when you were in high school?
In high school, my initial idea was to study physics in college and to be some type of mad scientist. However, in my senior year, 1972, our school got a rudimentary IBM computer. I took one of the first computer classes offered at our high school and I fell in love with programming. That love led to a degree in computer science from the University of Missouri-Rolla and an early career as a systems analyst.

Think back to your first paycheck. Where was it from, and for what job? How much was it?
My first paycheck out of college went to my first car payment for a new 1976 Pontiac Trans Am. My first job out of college was as a systems analyst for the Missouri Public Service Commission working in Jefferson City, Mo.

Did you have any entrepreneurial interests at a young age?
My entrepreneurial interests didn’t blossom until I was out of college and working in industry. At some point during my early career, I formed the belief that working in industry for someone else was not a path to financial wealth and that my best opportunity for generating wealth would be as an entrepreneur.

What brought you to Madison?
I think it was a 1985 issue of Money magazine where Madison was rated the top place to live in the country. In addition to that, I love the diversity and excitement that is inherent in a college town. So, my wife and I decided to move to Madison back in 1987. Madison has been a dream city for us, and we have enjoyed every moment living here.

Is there anything you’d like to share about your family?
I’m a lucky person to have the loving family that I do. My daughter and son are very special people who are smart, independent, and accomplished individuals. I am very proud of them both. My wife and I have really been making the most of our time together as empty nesters and have been having a blast taking dance lessons, entering races, going on motorcycle rides, and in general having fun. My wife also happens to be the chief operating officer of Innocorp, so that we can leave the office behind and focus on having fun together is an accomplishment in itself.

What do you do to relax outside of the office?
I’ve really gotten into running, and the last race I ran was the NYC Half-Marathon. Running and exercise are very important to me as a means to get my mind off of business and to take the time to decompress. It really helps when I register for a race because I then have a goal outside of business to pursue. My next major event is a crazy race called the Tough Mudder. It’s a 10-mile race that involves obstacles like running through flames, scaling 12-foot walls, jumping off a cliff into a lake, running through an electrified wire field, and other insane challenges. I’ve never done anything like this before, so this should be interesting.

What’s your favorite place to travel to, and why?
I have three. One is the Grand’Place in Brussels. I’ve been there a couple of times with my family and it is indeed grand and historic. Another is Jackson Hole, Wyo., because my son and I have gone there several years now skiing and there’s nothing like the natural beauty of the Grand Tetons. Another is New York City because my daughter and her fiance live and work there. There are great sites and restaurants everywhere in NYC!

What kinds of books do you read for pleasure? 
Some of my favorite books include Change or Die by Alan Deutschman, The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The theme in all of these books might be “what influences who we are and what we become.”

What character in any sport, book, movie, or play would you most like to be identified with, and why?
Iron Man, because it would be fun to have a suit that allowed you to fly and have access to some pretty cool weapons that allowed you to take out the bad guys.

Finally, list three words you think best describe you:
Driven, passionate, fun.

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