Connect with us


Interview with Michael Troeger, Educational Consultant



Michael Troeger is a veteran educator, educational consultant, and researcher who has spent his entire career pursuing meaningful reform in the academic system. Michael is well-known for his comprehensive and multifaceted approach to education, which incorporates elements of research and data analysis, leadership skills, program and curriculum development, student advocacy, administrative streamlining, as well as counseling and psychology. Within educational circles, he is highly regarded for combining a diverse breadth of knowledge with compassionate and ethical leadership.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York, Michael went on to complete a Master of Science in counseling psychology from West Point, obtaining the corresponding counseling certification in the process. He then proceeded to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership, followed by a doctoral degree in transformational leadership. Michael has earned five teaching certifications in New York state.

Upon entering the professional world, Michael Troeger’s early work caught the attention of some senior administrators and politicians, and he was asked to help coordinate a unified ‘single point’ educational program for the New York State public school systems. Remarkably, this program was the first of its kind in New York, and as such, received considerable attention. In his role as coordinator of the project, Michael was responsible for creating a template for overseeing the placement of at-risk children in order to achieve optimal educational outcomes. In the process, he had to consider the concerns of all stakeholders, including students, teachers, parents, school administrators, governmental agents, and community members. The methods and processes Michael Troeger developed in executing this program are now in widespread use and are viewed as a blueprint for educational and mental health initiatives statewide.

Inspired by the successes of some of the disenfranchised students that he served as coordinator of the ‘single point’ educational program, Michael made a conscious decision to use his career to positively impact students’ smooth transition from public school to post-secondary education and the workforce. He joined the Ulster County Transition Coordination Council and the Ulster County School to Work Partnership committees in order to act as a voice speaking on behalf of the best interests of public school students, grades P-16. In this role, Michael also dedicated himself to helping students with behavioral and mental health challenges. By ensuring that the committees retained IEP and 504 compliance within the school district, properly supervising students on probation, and coordinating the college and career efforts of these students with special needs, he earned accolades and recognition from both Ulster County and the New York State Legislature.

Currently, Michael Troeger is the CEO of his own educational consulting firm. In the domain of New York State education, he is known as a staunch advocate for underrepresented groups, and considered an expert on issues pertaining to student support services, special education, program development, and social and emotional learning. Throughout his career, he has published several well-received research papers on teacher job satisfaction and positive workplace relationships. Michael resides in Shokan, New York.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

Early in my career, I was a project coordinator for Senator Cook. He was a man who was deeply concerned about the state of public education in New York. It was my role to take a detailed look at the overall system, evaluate its strengths and flaws, and make actionable recommendations backed up by extensive research. From the start, I gleaned insights into a broken educational system, one composed of throwaway students. I was moved by compassion, and began to advocate for these students, and did so through a lens of systemic change. I saw my students actually stuck in a cycle of crime. Prisons were literally built in close proximity to the schools they attended, which was a metaphor for our low expectations of them. Needless to say, great changes were needed. I helped to implement those changes. Subsequently, I was named one of the first transition coordinators in New York State, and I began working with students with disabilities, helping them plan for a life beyond their schooling—essentially instilling hope. My efforts in this area were recognized by the New York State Education Department. After that, I transitioned into an educational consulting position. I created a business that works directly with the New York State Education Department, which I eventually incorporated and still run to this day as the chief executive.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day? That idea is actually laughable to me. There is no typical day. I’ve done some crazy things during the course of my career in education. I’ve been on a roof, trying to calm down a suicidal student—and I am afraid of heights. I’ve been swimming in a river in the same sort of scenario—and I don’t swim. I’ve advocated for students in court; the very same who assaulted me. I’ve also attended countless funerals for students, and for the parents who succumbed to suicide, a sad capitulation to toxic systems. I have run the entire emotional gamut of what can happen to an educator. So, a typical workday doesn’t really exist in my life. My days are all about being able to respond in real time to the needs of both my students and my staff, and to be able to do so compassionately and with integrity.

How do you bring ideas to life?

From my point of view, it’s not about bringing the idea to life, but rather bringing life to my people. I make a great effort to establish an environment that encourages creativity, respect, trust, and a free exchange of ideas among my staff. Relationships are the number one variable for educators— especially as they relate to their supervisors. Knowing this, both from my published research and my real-world experience, I endeavor to create a positive culture where people know they are valued and know that their ideas will be heard and considered, the antithesis of toxic workplaces.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m excited about the return to in-person learning. That being said, I’m grateful for the technology that has sustained us during the COVID era. However, students and educators need to have face-to-face relationships. For example, there are some students with disabilities who dislike and, in some cases, truly oppose hybrid learning models. Many have found that they really need human contact in order to learn effectively. Students—particularly those with disabilities—really need that sort of interaction. Education via digital platforms served as a fine band-aid solution during the height of the pandemic, but it has some glaring flaws, and it’s now time to leave it behind. I’m grateful that the technology existed when we needed it most, but I don’t believe it’s an appropriate replacement for human connection in the classroom.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

The most important habit that I employ is to develop and nurture appropriate relationships with staff and students. The nurturing of such relationships leads to a positive culture, and to both student and staff engagement. Engagement is positively correlated with student achievement and well being, as well as teacher job satisfaction—all of which are in line with my recent research. This is not an easy thing to accomplish by any stretch of the imagination. Building a positive culture is an intentional act, one requiring nurturing via effective leadership.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Earlier in my career, I was overwrought by the unfortunate situations of some of my students. When I first began, I had some students who were receiving shock treatment in institutions. I was particularly overwhelmed by the plight of my special needs students, and the dysfunction of some of the school systems they attended. So, my advice to my younger self would be this: “Always do the right thing, the moral thing, the legal thing… even when no one is watching, when it is unpopular, and especially when threatened to the contrary.” However, “Pick your battles. Some systems are simply not going to change. You need to have the wisdom to know the difference.”

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

No child is a lost cause. There are no exceptions.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Treat ALL people with compassion, even when you disagree. I think that goes a long way.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

As a relational leader, I believe in putting people first. With that philosophy firmly in mind, I take good care of my staff, who are then empowered to take care of our students. Initially, I approach every situation I encounter with empathy. Oftentimes, that manifests by being a good listener. I listen intently to how people perceive what’s going on around them and try to understand what their true needs are before planning redress.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I always thought I had to have all of the answers before I engaged in a worthwhile act. That is not always the case; sometimes you simply have to step out with whatever knowledge, wisdom, and passion you possess in that moment. I overcame that initial mentality by not hesitating to step out even when I didn’t have all the answers. Sometimes you just simply have to walk by faith.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

While I don’t have a specific idea for a new company, I will say that any business that aims to better serve people, including persons with special needs, would be a very worthwhile enterprise.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Professionally speaking, I like to concentrate almost all my efforts on people and relationships. However, I realize how important technology is, and I don’t want to be bogged down in the maintenance of it. My time is better spent on other matters. As a solution, I employ people who maintain my tech for me. They ensure the integrity of my backups and work as a sort of help desk for me. I would rather employ a person than have precious time taken from the relationships that are so important to me.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

As I alluded to in my previous answer, the service that most helps me to be productive is definitely my IT department. I couldn’t do my job properly without the support they provide for the various technological devices and digital services I use each day.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I would recommend that everyone read The Bible. It contains incredible value, regardless of whether or not the reader believes in its divine inspiration. Besides being the best-selling book in history, it contains wisdom and truths that can be applied to many common, present-day situations.

What is your favorite quote?

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.” C. S. Lewis

Key Learnings:

  • Always approach people with empathy and grace; you do not know where they have been.
  • Educators should boldly do the right thing; even when, no… especially when it is unpopular.
  • Compassion, integrity, and eventually courage… are the rudimentary qualities of an educational leader.
Originally published on IdeaMensch.


Interview with Adrian Tobey, Founder of Groundhogg: Insights on Entrepreneurship and Marketing Automation



Interview with Adrian Tobey, Founder of Groundhogg

Table of Contents


Adrian Tobey is a marketing automation expert and the founder of Groundhogg, a WordPress plugin that allows businesses to automate their marketing and sales processes. With over 10 years of experience in digital marketing, Adrian has helped numerous businesses grow and scale their operations through automation. In this interview, Adrian shares his insights on entrepreneurship, marketing automation, and the future of digital marketing.

What inspired you to start Groundhogg?

I’ve always been passionate about digital marketing and helping businesses grow through automation. When I saw how expensive and complex some of the existing marketing automation tools were, I realized that there was an opportunity to create a more affordable and user-friendly solution that would be accessible to businesses of all sizes. That’s what inspired me to start Groundhogg.

What makes Groundhogg different from other marketing automation tools?

Groundhogg is unique in that it’s a WordPress plugin, which means it’s seamlessly integrated with the WordPress platform. This makes it easy for businesses to use and manage their marketing and sales processes without having to switch between multiple tools. Additionally, we’ve focused on creating a user-friendly interface that doesn’t require a lot of technical expertise, making it accessible to a wider range of businesses.

How do you think marketing automation will evolve in the next few years?

I think we’ll see a greater emphasis on personalization and segmentation in marketing automation. Businesses will need to tailor their messaging and communications to specific segments of their audience in order to stand out and engage with their customers. Additionally, we’ll see more automation tools that are specifically designed for smaller businesses, as these businesses become increasingly reliant on automation to manage their operations.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

My advice would be to focus on creating value for your customers. Don’t get too caught up in the latest trends or try to replicate the success of others. Instead, focus on creating a product or service that solves a real problem for your customers and provides them with tangible value. If you can do that, success will come.

What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as an entrepreneur is managing my time effectively. There are always so many things that need to be done, and it can be difficult to prioritize and stay focused. To overcome this, I’ve had to develop strong time management skills and learn how to delegate tasks effectively. I’ve also learned to say no to things that don’t align with my goals and priorities, in order to stay focused on what’s most important.

How do you balance your personal life and work as an entrepreneur?

Balancing personal life and work as an entrepreneur can be a challenge, but it’s important to make time for both. I make sure to schedule in time for my family and personal hobbies. I also prioritize my work tasks based on their level of urgency and importance. I’ve found that setting boundaries and being intentional about how I spend my time has been key to achieving a healthy work-life balance.

What are your future plans for Groundhogg?

We’re always looking for ways to improve and expand Groundhogg. In the near future, we’re planning on releasing a range of new features and integrations that will make the platform even more powerful and user-friendly. We’re also looking to expand our team and grow our customer base, in order to continue providing value to businesses of all sizes.

Closing Thoughts

Adrian Tobey is a true expert in the field of marketing automation, and his passion for helping businesses grow is evident in everything he does. If you’re interested in learning more about Adrian Tobey and Groundhogg, you can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Alex Malebranche

Continue Reading


Interview with Alex Malebranche, Insights on Entrepreneurship in the Aviation Industry



Interview with Alex Malebranche, Founder and CEO of PlaneAhead

Table of Contents


Alex Malebranche is the founder and CEO of PlaneAhead, a company that provides private jet charter services. He has a degree in finance and marketing from the University of Miami and started his career in the financial sector before transitioning to the aviation industry. The passion of Alex Malebranche for aviation and entrepreneurship has led him to build a successful business that caters to a high-end clientele. In this interview, he shares his journey as a founder, the challenges he’s faced, and his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

What inspired you to start PlaneAhead?

My love for aviation and entrepreneurship inspired me to start PlaneAhead. I’ve been passionate about airplanes and flying since I was a child. I started flying lessons when I was 16 and got my private pilot’s license at 18. After working in finance for a few years, I realized that my true calling was in aviation. I saw an opportunity to combine my passion with my business skills and create a company that provides a better experience for private jet travelers.

How did you validate the business idea and find your first customers?

To validate the business idea, I conducted extensive market research and engaged in conversations with prospective customers. I attended aviation industry events and trade shows to network and get feedback on my concept. I also reached out to existing private jet charter companies and learned about their operations and customer needs. Once I felt confident that there was a demand for my service. I started reaching out to potential customers through my personal network and online advertising. Our first customers were primarily referrals from friends and family. But as we grew, we started getting more business from corporate clients and high-net-worth individuals.

What challenges have you faced as a founder, and how have you overcome them?

As a founder, I’ve faced many challenges, including raising capital, building a team, and navigating regulatory hurdles. One of the biggest challenges was building a brand and establishing credibility in a competitive industry. To overcome this, I focused on providing exceptional customer service and building relationships with customers and industry partners. I also invested in marketing and PR to raise awareness of our brand and services. Another challenge was managing growth and scaling the business without sacrificing quality. We overcame this by hiring experienced professionals and implementing processes and systems to streamline our operations.

How do you differentiate your services from private jet charter industry competitors?

We differentiate ourselves from competitors by offering a personalized and customized experience for our clients. We take the time to understand their needs and preferences and tailor our services to meet their specific requirements. Our investment in technology and data analytics enables us to offer our customers real-time information and valuable insights. Additionally, we have a network of industry partners and suppliers that allows us to offer unique amenities and services, such as in-flight catering and ground transportation.

What is your vision for the future of PlaneAhead, and how do you plan to achieve it?

Our vision for PlaneAhead is to become the leading provider of private jet charter services globally. We plan to achieve this by expanding our network of aircraft and destinations, investing in technology to enhance the customer experience, and building strong relationships with our clients and industry partners. We also plan to focus on sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint by investing in eco-friendly technology and initiatives.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the aviation industry?

My advice would be to gain as much knowledge and experience in the industry as possible before starting a business. This could include working for an aviation company, getting a pilot’s license, or attending industry events and conferences. It’s also important to do your research and understand the market and competition. Finally, you should be prepared to work hard and be persistent, as building a successful business takes time and effort.

How do you balance your work and personal life as a founder and CEO?

Balancing work and personal life can be a challenge as a founder and CEO, but it’s important to prioritize self-care and time with loved ones. I try to maintain a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries and delegating tasks to my team. I also make time for hobbies and activities that help me relax and recharge, such as traveling and flying.

Closing Paragraph

Alex Malebranche’s passion for aviation and entrepreneurship has led him to build a successful business that provides exceptional private jet charter services. His journey as a founder has not been without its challenges. Still, his dedication to building a strong brand and providing personalized service has set PlaneAhead apart from competitors in the industry. Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from his experience and commitment to excellence. You can follow Alex Malebranche on his LinkedIn profile or visit PlaneAhead’s website to learn more about their services.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Omer Molad

Continue Reading


Interview with Omer Molad: Insights on Building a Startup, the Future of Hiring, and Staying Creative



Interview with Omer Molad, Co-Founder of Vervoe

Table of Contents


Omer Molad is the co-founder of Vervoe, an AI-powered hiring platform that helps employers hire the best candidates for their open positions. Prior to starting Vervoe, Omer Molad worked in marketing and analytics for various tech companies, including Waze and Google. He has also served as a mentor and advisor for several startups.

In this interview, Omer Molad shares insights about his experience as a startup founder and his vision for the future of the hiring process.

What inspired you to start Vervoe?

My co-founder David Weinberg and I were both frustrated with the traditional hiring process, which often relies heavily on resumes and subjective evaluations. We wanted to create a more objective and efficient way for employers to assess candidates, and we saw an opportunity to do that with AI. Our vision was to build a platform that could evaluate candidates’ skills and abilities through real-world simulations, rather than relying solely on their past experience or education. That’s how Vervoe was born.

How does Vervoe differentiate itself from other hiring platforms?

One of the key ways we differentiate ourselves is by using AI to automate the hiring process as much as possible. Our platform can evaluate candidates’ skills and abilities in real-time, which means employers can get a more accurate and objective assessment of their capabilities. Additionally, we provide a library of customizable assessments that are tailored to specific job roles, so employers can ensure they’re evaluating the right skills for each position. Finally, we provide a candidate management system that streamlines the entire hiring process from start to finish, which saves employers time and resources.

Can you tell us about a significant challenge you faced while building Vervoe and how you overcame it?

One of the biggest challenges we faced early on was getting the word out about Vervoe and convincing employers to try our platform. We knew we had a great product, but it was difficult to break through the noise and get noticed. To overcome this, we focused on building relationships with potential customers and showcasing our product through demos and case studies. We also leveraged content marketing and social media to raise awareness about Vervoe and the benefits of our platform. Over time, we were able to build a strong customer base and grow the business.

What advice do you have for other startup founders?

My advice would be to stay focused on your vision and don’t get sidetracked by distractions or noise from the outside world. Building a startup is hard, and there will be many ups and downs along the way. But if you believe in what you’re doing and stay committed to your goals, you’ll be able to weather any storm. It’s also important to be adaptable and open to feedback from customers and the market. Listen to what people are telling you, and be willing to pivot your strategy if necessary. Finally, surround yourself with a strong team of people who share your vision and are committed to helping you succeed.

What is your vision for the future of the hiring process?

Our vision is to make the hiring process more objective, efficient, and fair for everyone involved. We believe that AI has the potential to revolutionize hiring by providing a more accurate assessment of candidates’ skills and abilities. We also think that the traditional resume-based approach will eventually become obsolete and that employers will rely more on real-world simulations and other objective measures to evaluate candidates. Ultimately, our goal is to create a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to showcase their skills and get hired based on merit, not just their credentials.

Can you share a project or initiative that you’re currently working on that excites you?

We’re currently working on a project to integrate Vervoe with other HR technology platforms, such as applicant tracking systems and video interviewing tools. This will allow us to offer a more seamless and integrated experience for our customers and their candidates. We’re also exploring ways to use machine learning to analyze candidate data and provide insights that can help employers make better hiring decisions. I’m excited about the potential of these projects to make a real impact in the hiring industry.

What do you do outside of work to recharge and stay creative?

I’m a big believer in the power of exercise and mindfulness to recharge and stay creative. I try to work out regularly and make time for activities like hiking and yoga. I also make a point of disconnecting from work and technology for a few hours each day, whether it’s by reading a book or spending time with family and friends. Finally, I find that travel is a great way to gain new perspectives and stay inspired, so I try to take at least one big trip each year.

Closing Paragraph

Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us, Omer. Where can our readers learn more about you and Vervoe?

You can learn more about Vervoe and Omer Molad. You can also follow me on LinkedIn at for updates on our latest projects and initiatives.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Cam Sloan

Continue Reading