Podcast creator brings business founders, CEOs to Farmer School

November 2018

Jay Murdock

It was an evening of stories, advice, and lessons learned as “From Founder to CEO” podcast creator and host Todd Uterstaedt hosted a live panel of Miami University alumni who made the transition from founder to CEO in Taylor Auditorium.

The panel of Uterstaedt’s past podcast guests included Jonathan Adams, co-founder and President at Salix Data; Bob Coughlin, founder and CEO at Paycor; Carisa Miklusak, co-founder and CEO at tilr; Christy Pretzinger, CEO at WriterGirl & Associates; and Rod Robinson, founder and CEO at ConnXus, and a Farmer School trustee.

“I’ve gotten to interview founders from around the world, and there’s something very, very special about a Miami University graduate,” Uterstaedt remarked.

The topics ranged from hiring and firing to responsibilities and motivation. “It’s truly about passion and grit, and you really shouldn’t start something that you’re not really, really passionate about,” Miklusak explained. “That’s where opportunity comes from, at least in my life.”

“Probably for the first five years, I felt like, ‘If the business failed, I was a failure.’ Then what I learned over time is that there are brilliant people who work very hard, have great technology, great solutions, great product, and the timing just wasn’t right and they failed,” Adams said. “There are other people that I wouldn’t trust to walk my dog who have been wildly successful. If that’s the case, then it can’t be your own self-worth that would determine if you’re successful or not.”

“I had someone tell me once, when the business was small, that, ‘Your business is you, and it’s not going to grow until you do.’ So I went and did a lot of work on me. Some of it was business work, but more of it was personal development work,” Pretzinger recalled. “Learning to let go, and learning to recognize that the people I had hired were really smart, and that they have really brilliant ways of solving problems that are different than the way I might go about doing it.”

“You’re going to have a lot of barriers put in front of you, and there were times where I wanted to quit,” Robinson said. “You have to have outlets. Working out was definitely an outlet for me, but also surrounding yourself with people who understand what you’re going through, and having a supportive family. I think that’s been really important to me.”

“It really takes a person who’s not motivated by money, but by achieving, doing what you said you were going to do, figuring it out, and having positive faith that it will work out,” Coughlin noted.

By the end of the evening, Miklusak hoped, the students would get an understanding beyond the one they might have sought when they came to the event. “I think that oftentimes, students are looking for a very linear answer on what it takes to be successful in business or how to become an entrepreneur. What I want them to take away is that there isn’t a linear path,” she pointed out. “I like to take that linear focus, turn it upside down and get everybody in the room comfortable with that before I leave.”

To watch the event, click here. To see more photos from the event, click here.

Students and faculty listen to panelists at From Founder to CEO Live in Taylor Auditorium Todd Uterstaedt hosts the From Founder to CEO Live event in Taylor Auditorium Rod Robinson talks to students at From Founder to CEO Live in Taylor Auditorium Students listen to panelists at From Founder to CEO Live in Taylor Auditorium Carisa Miklusak talks to students at From Founder to CEO Live in Taylor Auditorium