What services do you offer?
Bubo wants to help our clients build fully engaged teams that are all about driving mission within the organization and yielding results. We do so through three service pillars: Knowledge (customized training development), Connection (onboarding leadership, people-to-people motivation strategies, and Experience (cultivating a culture through space designs, virtual seminars, immersion). Developing each of these focus areas helps organizations create a unified, mission-focused, and business-smart internal culture. The means of delivering learning will vary between organizations – eLearning courses, videos, classroom trainings – but the method for developing it is always the same.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Working with our fantastic team. I really enjoy working with everyone in our organization, and I love utilizing their talents to serve our clients. The Bubo team’s ability to built trust and buy-in with our clients allows us to establish strong relationships with them.
My responsibility is to make sure the team is challenged – and engaged. Assignments have to be both within each team member’s existing skill set and challenging enough to foster constructive growth. Plus, modeling an engaged team helps us help others create their own. It’s hard work, but it’s a lot of fun, too.
What inspired you to start your business?
I’ve been a part of organizations where I was frustrated by a lack of transparency. I saw how the average employee had no say in their organization’s future and how that lack of control damaged their investment in its mission. I believed a better type of organization was possible when I started Bubo. Still do.
Our early mission was to use elevated learning to bridge the divide between management and the rank-and-file. Over time, that mission evolved into the more comprehensive idea of “engagement.” This new approach has helped us focus our product offerings – and, more importantly, speaks to what our clients’ real needs are.
My hope is that we’ll be able to shape changes in the way we work to everyone’s benefit. Organizations will be better able to serve their missions; employees will have a clear sense of how they can shape their organizations and find professional fulfillment. Everyone wins!
What gets you out of bed every morning?
An alarm clock. So that’s step one. Get up, get coffee. Then, the daily grind.
We’re a small business that hasn’t quite got over the hump, which means there’s a lot we have to do every day just to stay afloat. We’re in year seven. I think we’re up to the challenge, but we haven’t gotten there yet. We have to continually drive our organization, deliver for our existing clients, uncover new opportunities, and close those opportunities to both our clients’ benefit and our own.
We work very hard not to get overwhelmed. We have to stay confident. There’s a lot to do when you’re running a small business, so I have to rely on our team to keep on delivering at a high level, like they always do. Trust is key, and it’s a two-way street. I need to earn theirs as much as they need to earn mine.
What is your secret to making progress each day?
Keeping as broad a view as possible of our entire organization and everything that’s going on, so nothing falls through the cracks. That’s much, much harder than it might sound. Everything needs to move. Everybody needs to stay engaged. Everybody has to have a task, everybody needs to be rowing in the same direction. And I’m the one overseeing all of it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
I once read the book Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew Grove, the then-CEO of Intel. It warns business leaders against complacency. If you underestimate your competition, they’ll bring you down. I don’t like to consider myself paranoid, but I do maintain a high level of urgency. By sustaining that, I ensure that we’re always moving forward, even when things get tough.
Tell us one thing people don’t know about you.
I have a passion for technology, so it’s a little ironic that, until I was five, I lived in a cabin in the woods. My whole family – my parents, my two older sisters, and me – lived in a 3-room cabin in western Indiana for several years while my dad built our house.
For five years, my yard was a forest and my playground was a pond. My friend was a dog. I fished. I hiked. I played outside in the 25 acres my family had all to ourselves. We were really in the boonies. There wasn’t even a bathroom in the house!
I see those humble beginnings as a blessing. There’s a lot about the modern world that I don’t understand. But I think that early connection to nature gave me a healthy perspective. They say your personality is formed very early in life. Mine was formed in the forest.
A typical weekend for me is…
A Friday night dinner with friends. Saturday exercise and hikes with my dogs. Pilates session to stay healthy. Usually some kind of Saturday night get together, like a watching football, watching baseball, going to a concert. Sundays are chores and yard work and laundry and grocery shopping. All those essential rituals of the weekend help me level-set for the week.
What will people get from your business that they won’t get anywhere else?
I recently had an interesting discussion at a conference with up-and-coming young professionals. In our conversation, I mentioned the case of a company that discovered some of their remote IT workforce had taken multiple W2 positions. And the consensus among this group at the table was, “What’s wrong with that?” That shocked me, because I thought the ethical dilemma was obvious. The organization needs to be able to use its resources efficiently, or it will die.
If the attitude of Chief Learning Officers and HR professionals is “What’s wrong with that?”, it’s clear why they’re not being asked to move the needle. They fundamentally don’t understand what makes a business successful. But that’s an opportunity for Bubo. If we can come in with a solution that delivers real value, we can make the case for learning and engagement. That’s what our clients get from Bubo: a chance to get help playing to their strengths, a chance to build themselves into the best version of themselves they can be. The response I heard from those 30-under-30s showed me how rare that really is – or will be, if something doesn’t change.
When a team loses sight of the fact that it’s a competitive world, they will lose. Nobody wants to fund inefficiency. They want to fund results.
Have you won any awards or had any special recognition or acknowledgement of your business?
In 2020, Bubo created a class on adaptive communication and emotional intelligence for the Air Force. The Air Force rebranded it “Project Enigma” – getting their low-level officers and has started to scale the program internally. That, I think, really speaks to the value they see in our work.
We’ve also won a grant from the USDA; they funded our proposal to build a virtual reality experience centered on beekeeping. It’s a real honor to have them investing in us. We have great letters of support, too.
What are your plans for the future of your business?
Well, we’ve opened a second office in Orlando! We’ve also been developing our three pillars: Knowledge, Connection, and Experience. We want to keep developing that, and our Orlando location will be a great environment to test it in. Orlando’s tech firms, maturing and established alike, have a lot of training and engagement needs Bubo is well-positioned to meet.
We’re in a high-growth mode right now and seeing a lot of changes.
What’s your secret talent no one knows about?
Hiring. My background in restaurant operations gave me a lot of practice hiring and firing – more than most managers in white collar industries typically get. I take a lot of pride in our hiring. It’s more art than science, and I’ve become quite an artist in that regard.
For example, I’ve learned the importance of calling references. I didn’t check references early on, and I paid the price. It’s worth the investment of time.
When I call a reference, the first thing I measure is how long they take to call me back. If they do so quickly, that’s a sign that there’s urgency on the prospective new hire’s end, which is really important. I keep looking for that urgency once I actually talk to them. References can say a lot without saying anything, to the point where I’m only interested in hiring people whose references call me back quickly.
What did you want to be when growing up?
A baseball player and a musician.
What is your favorite thing to do in the wonderful area of Central Florida?
I haven’t gotten to do a lot yet. Right now, I’m looking forward to getting to know the neighborhoods. Anything with a fun hangout scene, good food, live music, and other community activities. I’m looking forward to discovering new experiences I can share with new friends.
What would people never guess you do in your role?
I still do a lot of day-to-day production work: voiceovers, scriptwriting, storyboarding. Not as much as I used to, but more than you might expect. I also contribute to drafting proposals for our government work.
What do you love most about your industry?
Learning has always been understood as a competitive advantage. In practice, though, businesses have had a lot of difficulty capitalizing on it. Until recently, there were just too many technological constraints.
Now’s, that’s changing very quickly. I’m hearing about the importance of learning even at non-learning-related conferences. Thought leaders in many industries are saying the organizations that win are going to be those that learn fastest. C-Suites everywhere are finally seeing the value proposition learning can deliver.
It’s an exciting time to be in L&D. I think our moment has finally arrived.
How have you advanced professionally since starting your business?
When I started Bubo, I was a learning developer and designer. Now I wear many more hats: salesperson, business development marketing, HR rep, strategic partner, government resources. My role has expanded in ways you can only really appreciate when you’ve done it. It’s kind of like marriage. You can’t really take a class to prepare you; you can only learn while doing.
Going from learning designer to business leader so quickly has been a big challenge. We’re all growing together, everyone at Bubo. I work as hard as I can to elevate the team. They certainly elevate me.