Michael Driedger is the CEO of Operto, a software solution that supports hotel and vacation rental property managers better manage property automation and smart property technology. Michael is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Michael provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Operto. Michael Driedger joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has recently awarded Operto with our Impact Company of 2019 award. We are delighted to have Michael join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview, and our popular “speed round” as well.
Michael, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview about your company, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. What is the “elevator pitch” for Operto?
Operto creates property automation software that allows hotels and other short term accommodation managers to put the guest check in and check out process on autopilot. Through curated IoT hardware and our ecosystem or software connections, we also allow for automated messaging for great operational efficiency and greater insights and comfort into a guest’s stay. Essentially, these insights help property managers make better decisions.
2. What is the key to your company’s success?
Our people are the key to our success. We are pioneering advanced systems in software and with buildings. As a result we’ve assembled a really eclectic collection of experts in user design, security, operations, IoT, building design/engineering, and the online travel industry. This team is helping us drive forward innovation in the hotel and short-term rental property management.
3. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
Building the right team is more important than building the right product. The saying that a great team with a bad product is more likely to succeed than a bad team with a great product is very true. The right people are always going to be your best investment in time, money and the equity you give up.
4. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
The more you fail and struggle, the more you know you are on the right track. Everything that’s easy has already been done. If it's easy to get started, then the business is likely to have a lot of competitors (and you need to work really hard to stand out). If it's hard to get started, but there are few or no competitors (like Operto) then you’ll have to fight the inertia of the status quo and constantly work to explain a system that most people can’t imagine because it's such a paradigm shift. Being patient and knowing that everything will take longer than you ever expected, is important. A good family, friends, and colleague support system also helps.
5. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at Operto, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
The only reason Operto is around is to be in service to our customers. I’m a big believer that if you are always in the service of others; you’ll always be successful. Our clients are successful in their short term accommodation business’ because they love to make people’s lives better when they stay somewhere. We try and treat our customers like our customers treat their guests and put their needs and wants first. It's the whole golden rule thing.
6. In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
I jokingly tell my kids that my job is to read and struggle. There is no better way to stay abreast of things than to read, and try software and hardware solutions. Reading and doing are the only real ways to stay educated.
7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead Operto?
The only way to have a clear mind for each super taxing day is to have a strong routine that you stick to. For me, early morning exercise is a must. It wakes me up and gets the blood flowing (plus as you get older exercise it is like basic car maintenance, if you ignore it, the car falls apart). Eating well during the day means I have enough energy to process all the smart things smart people say to me all day. Going to bed at the same time is always really important. A good night's rest is more effective than 5 cups of coffee. I’d rather have 8 super productive hours in a day than 16 tired and overworked hours.
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
Most recently its been Loonshots by Safi Bachall. It synthesizes things that I’ve read, experienced or believed over my career in architecture and engineering and now with Operto (a software company). It talks about the human and structural things you need to do in either business or in your personal life to affect change. I’ve always been obsessed with how to affect change because I’m not a fan of the status quo….ever.
9. When communicating with your staff, can you tell us the most important thing you do so that they are able to carry out the objectives that you set forth at Operto?
We all worked together on the mission, vision and values of Operto. Our objectives are therefore shared objectives and the results we all aspire to. I’m not a big believer in top down management and much prefer to nurture and encourage than to direct.
10. Can you explain what leadership means to you?
Good leaders are more like great sports agents. They make sure that the person they represent (in this case the employees they manage) are working on projects and tasks that best fit their skill sets and help them excel. You always want to set people up to succeed. The best way to do that is to know them well and match them to the best team and position for what they are great at.
We would like to have some fun and do a “speed round” with you! We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only.
Here you go!
1. In three words or less, what makes a successful CEO?
Patience and perseverance.
2. Describe your business in one word?
Operto—-hopefully it will be a verb like to Google someday. Hard to describe what we do in even a single sentence.
3. Describe your customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee?
A desire to learn and improve.
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about your company?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at Operto?
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
Am more patient
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English language?
Michael Driedger, thank you so much for sitting down with us for our DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping our readers learn more about what it takes to be a leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Operto , nothing but the best.