I’m joined by Max Yoder, the CEO of Lesson.ly for our special 10th episode on The Plunge Podcast. I stopped by the Lesson.ly offices (special in their own right!) to chat about his college experience, starting his first company, and how he got to where he is now. Max has a really unique perspective on running a company and what it really means to be a CEO, and I’m glad we got to unpack his thoughts a bit further on the show. His attention to detail when it comes to the human side of business is what has stuck out to me in my conversations with him.

Max’s story packs in a lot of takeaways including perseverance, having real relationships in business, trusting your team, and staying sane while running a company. To be honest, I struggled titling this episode because we cover so many different angles. But I recommend you give it a listen all the way through because the pieces of info fit together very well.

As always check out the show notes for specific topics and leave a rating or review on iTunes! The show is also now available on Google Play, so you Android lovers can now listen on your devices.

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Interested in another founder story? Check out our conversation with Steve Hall of Tinker Coffee.

Show Notes

  • 00:45 – Clemens Vonnegut, the architect of the Lessonly office building
  • 2:45 – What is Lesson.ly?
  • 5:00 – People want to do good work, “We help people do better work so they can lead better lives.”
  • 6:15 – How Lessonly started – The need it solves.
  • 9:00 – How Max would describe his college experience at IU.
  • 11:30 – When he was a kid, what he thought he would be when he grew up.
  • 12:00 – Falling out of love with the advertising industry.
  • 13:15 – The Mirror Makers book and creating his own major.
  • 13:45 – Max’s thoughts on the phrase ‘personal brand’ – “It’s who you are, it’s your nature.”
  • 14:00 – Branding for companies – “Your brand is what you do and how you do it.”
  • 14:30 – “When you make a big announcement, you owe it to everyone who works in that business every day to publicly pat yourself on the back and say you did something cool.”
  • 16:20 – Max’s experience at KA+A (now Studio Science) and how it impacted his career moving forward.
  • 18:00 – “Creating a business is not magic, it’s a process.”
  • 20:00 – Honesty. It’s importance for Max after KA+A.
  • 21:15 – Working for Compendium after KA+A.
  • 23:00 – Quipol, what went well and what didn’t. What Max learned from his first company.
  • 24:15 – How media’s view of companies is different than reality. “Business is hard.”
  • 27:00 – How Quipol was built as a non-technical co-founder.
  • 29:30 – How Max was brought in to lead Lessonly. His lack of interest at first and the early versions of Lessonly.
  • 35:15 – Getting out of bed after the failure of Quipol.
  • 38:00 – How Max realized the B2C route for Lessonly wasn’t the right choice.
  • 39:15 – Conner Burt joins Lesson.ly, the turnaround and first hires.
  • 45:15 – Max’s goal is to help people see their own worth. It’s Max’s duty to help people find their strengths and challenge them.
  • 48:15 – My story about Max speaking at a Verge event.
  • 51:15 – “There is nothing other than the people on your team.”
  • 52:30 – the passion for his employees comes from the fact that he is grateful for the people who have helped him along the way.
  • 55:00 – What is The First Fund?
  • 59:00 – Max’s music – Why he does it.
  • 1:01:30 – His album coming out this year.
  • 1:03:00 – How creativity applies to everything.
  • 1:04:00 – Max’s favorite food in Indy.
  • 1:05:00 – Max’s favorite book.
  • 1:05:45 – Max’s favorite artist right now.

Subscribe and leave a rating on iTunes

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Check out the show on Simplecast