Be ready to adjust your plans. Life will throw you some hurdles, so use them to learn and grow.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maxwell Mickey.
Maxwell strives to be a leader and relationship builder. He has a unique background in finance and sales and uses an analytical and consultative approach to challenge customers so he can find the correct solution. He has worked through the entire new business funnel from prospecting to creating go to market strategies along with Sales and Revenue plans for multiple firms. He also has a deep background in SaaS and has led partnerships with small and large organizations alike!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My path to transit tech is similar to many in the industry… unplanned! I started my career as a licensed stockbroker and later worked in corporate finance. However, I no longer wanted to stare at Excel for 12 hours a day so I moved into the “startup world” before moving into government technology and never looked back. I have worked for a few organizations, and in the past decade have watched this space completely transform.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of a few special organizations in their early stages. The most interesting part of my career was watching ideas turn into solutions, and see those solutions tangibly help an organization. I believe it is similar to “modern farming” — seeing this small seed you planted grow and eventually turn into a large meal.
Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
We at Mode shift are focused on bringing scalable transit tech and contactless payments to every government agency. After being in this space for many years, I have usually seen organizations focus on just the “mega cities.” While those projects are fun, it leaves most of the country, or rather those with “minor cities and towns”, with outdated technology. We are flipping that script by being able to partner with operations that range from one to thousands of vehicles!
How do you think this might change the world?
This is a great question! I believe listening will change the world. Too often, we are ingrained in our own way of thinking that is built from our fairly limited perspectives. Instead, we need to try to understand another person’s paradigms. If we truly listen, then we can learn. And when we learn, we can make real changes in the world.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
The biggest drawback I see are “screens”. I work and breathe in technology, but we need to learn how to balance that technology or it will negatively affect our lives. We need to rely on technology as a tool as a way to make our lives easier, but not lean on it as a crutch to get through life. Let’s use it, but also pick our heads up and engage with the world!
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story
Like many, I believe COVID created atipping point. A few months into the pandemic, my wife and I both removed social media and I deleted many apps from my phone (games, social media, etc). I just felt we were getting lost in our phones. It wasn’t a specific moment, but rather a realization of how much of our time and lives we spend looking at our phones.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
The technology we are focused on at Modeshift centers around true mobility as a service platform. Our platform is account-based, which allows many types of contactless payments including mobile ticketing, smart cards, and bank cards. When you open up a system to include a true MaaS system, the rider can then choose which technology works best for them. Providing options is what will lead to widespread adoption, which is why some of our public partners see more than96% of their transactions coming through our system.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “self-made” person. Everyone needs help in their lives. Throughout my life, my father is someone who I have leaned on. As I have transitioned from one career to another, learning new skills, facing obstacles, and succeeding and failing, my father has always been there for me. Secondly, my wife Elise. We are high school sweethearts and I have grown into the person I am today because of her. We have traversed life together since I was 15 years old, through ups and downs, hectic and calm, and my life would be a fraction of itself without her in it.I will keep the stories close to my chest, but I am more grateful to both of them than they may ever know.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
I will keep these simple!
- Be ready to adjust your plans. Life will throw you some hurdles, so use them to learn and grow.
- Listen! One of my favorite quotes is from Stephen Covey: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
- Everything happens for a reason. I try to think about this mantra when something difficult comes along as I am a huge proponent of it. It isn’t always easy to keep this in mind during a difficult moment, and that is okay, but some of the most “negative” or “difficult” things that have occurred in my life have led to wonderful ones later on, especially in my career. It just takes time to sprout.
- You can always make a change. We all at times fall into a fallacy of sunk costs. I have spent “x” number of years at a company or in a career so I can’t make a change. Or I have lived in this city my whole life so I can’t live elsewhere. At the end of the day we need to ask ourselves, and be honest when we answer — are we happy? And if not, we need to make a change to course-correct even if it won’t be an easy choice or others will not understand that choice.
- Balance. This one may be rooted somewhere back in the depths of my financial mind. In a financial portfolio, we are all told to diversify, which is another word for balance. We need to take this same idea and apply it to our lives. We will all have a different balance but mine centers around my family and friends, being physically active (running, hiking, sports, lifting, etc), and challenging myself at work. We all need to make sure we keep a balance that at the end of the day makes us happy.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This one is a bit of a heavy hitter, but my favorite life lesson quote is actually from a Marvel show called “WandaVision”. In the show, they are experiencing loss and grief. One of the characters , Vision, says, “ What is grief, if not love persevering?” This is one of the most beautiful interpretations of grief I have ever heard. We all experience grief and loss at some point in our lives, and as a society we keep a hushed tone around it where we don’t like to discuss it. But death and loss are part of the balance of life. The first law of thermodynamics teaches us that energy can not be created nor destroyed, just altered in form. So those we love can never actually leave us. The full cycle of life is something we should all think about and be grateful for every day.
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
At the end of the day, if the goal of a person or organization is not to solve a problem, it has no value. You have to solve a problem, and this mantra has to ring throughout all aspects of an organization in sales, client success, development, and leadership. If you are solving a problem, you will be successful, and at Modeshift, we are doing just that. Most of the country does not have adequate transit technology because none of the options are designed to scale up or down. At Modeshift, we can partner with a small rural community in Montana or a metropolis in Pennsylvania and everywhere in between.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I have gone off the social media grid for the most part, except for LinkedIn, and haven’t looked back! My suggestion? Pick up the phone and call a colleague, friend, or family member if you want to know what is happening in their lives! I also can be reached via my email email@example.com.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.