Ask the Expert text

The Art of the Long Game

Mike Molinet
Photo: Branch Metrics
" " After building a tech company from scratch, Mike Molinet ’07 is experiencing his long-awaited payout. He spent nearly a decade pursuing and refining his vision for Branch, a mobile linking platform that helps businesses ensure customers have a seamless user experience across devices. Appearing on campus this April as the Freeman College of Management’s 2023 Walling Lecturer, Molinet offers insight on how to thrive in the long game.
How do you stay focused on your vision?
By staying true to myself, my interests and my long-term objectives. It’s easy to get distracted by others’ success. Like when others were securing great jobs at consulting firms or big tech companies, and I was sleeping on couches. Or when our first startup wasn’t working, and we couldn’t figure out why. In those moments, keep pushing. In the long run, you’ll find yourself in a great spot.
How do you find the right opportunity?
Don’t wait. I’ve always tried to jump in headfirst with a focus on learning and iterating quickly. We never would have come up with Branch in a vacuum imagining theoretical ideas. We did it by identifying challenges we faced while working on an app, and the development of that app was preceded by prior ideas too. If you’re interested in doing something, jump in. You probably won’t get it right from the beginning, and you can’t leapfrog to the finished product. Just start doing something you care about.
How do you identify a worthy idea?
When I get consumed by an interest for a couple months, it’s a good sign I should act. I start by doing small things — small actions build into bigger actions. If you stick with it, you’ll see results. Whether that’s trying to sell a product, write blog posts or build a new skill set — small steps lead to growth.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned?
Your worst-case scenario is probably not as bad as you imagine it to be. Tens of thousands of dollars of debt? Couch surfing for months? Living in a garage for years? I’ve done it, and I survived. I knew committing to what I believed in would make up for those less-than-ideal situations. Don’t let fear of failure prevent action.
What's the key to a successful long game?
The people around you. If you find others with a growth mindset, similar values and a strong work ethic, you’ll grow in unbounded ways. As you build a team, invest back into the people who have followed you. Success comes from making other people successful — because their wins elevate you with them.