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 Mr. Monkey and Me: Mike Smerklo 

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Michael Santos

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Regardless of where we are, we can learn from leaders. If you’re going through a challenging time, learn from leaders that faced struggles and overcame those struggles. Learn lessons from Mike Smerklo’s book: Mr. Monkey and Me: A Real Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs.

Why I Read Mr. Monkey and Me:

I read Mr. Monkey and Me: A Real Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs because the author, Mike Smerklo inspires me. He didn’t know that he inspires me. In fact, he didn’t know me at all. I heard about Mike Smerklo for the first time when I was in my 25th year of a long prison sentence.

At the time, I was serving those final months of my sentence alongside Greg Reyes, the former CEO of Brocade Communications, a publicly-traded technology company. Greg had become a close friend and mentor. While working together on a manuscript that would describe Greg’s impressive career, Greg told me about his work with Mike Smerklo. Mike had led the investment banking team at Morgan Stanley, the firm that helped Greg raise capital for his company, Brocade Communications.

Greg told me about the time he spent with Mike and about Mike’s ambitions of becoming CEO of a public company. Greg said that Mike left investment banking in pursuit of his dream.

On the day that Mike’s company, ServiceSource, went public, Mike took a snapshot of the NASDAQ billboard that congratulated him. He sent the picture to Greg in prison. I remember Greg showing me the picture of the NASDAQ billboard. Greg felt a great sense of happiness for his friend.

That story of Mike Smerklo inspired me. When I learned that Mike authored Mr. Monkey and Me: A Real Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs, I reached out to him with hopes of learning more. He agreed to sit for an interview with me, which you can see below.

What I Learned from Reading Mr. Monkey and Me

In Mr. Monkey and Me, Mike reveals a great deal about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. Regardless of where a person begins, if an individual cultivates the right mindset and pursues a deliberate path, that person can reach a higher potential.

Mike is the kind of guy that doesn’t only talk about aspiring to success. Like all CEOs, Mike understand the pattern:

  • Step 1: Define Success
  • Step 2: Document the strategy
  • Step 3: Create tools, tactics, and resources,
  • Step 4: Measure progress every day.

Mike trained himself sets goals. Then he made a commitment to pursuing those goals, and he measured progress daily. Rather than offering platitudes about what it takes to be a CEO, Mike offers action steps that a person should take if he wants to become an entrepreneur.

In Mr. Monkey and Me, readers learn the pathway that Mike pursued to go from struggle to prosperity. They learn how Mike leveraged incremental success to build teams, new leadership levels, and personal wealth. Readers also learn the importance of making a commitment to building stronger communities.

Struggle to Prosperity:

Mr. Monkey and Me begins with Mike’s upbringing in Ohio. As a young man, he knew that he didn’t like his surroundings and that he wanted to build a better life. Through sports he learned the importance of hard work, and he excelled. Lessons in leadership led to his enrolling in college and becoming an accountant. With higher ambitions, he strove to learn more. Mike enrolled in one of the nation’s top business schools to earn an MBA. Then, he moved to Silicon Valley to pursue a career with Morgan Stanley.

In Mr. Monkey and Me, we learn the importance of making strategic, deliberate decisions. Mike relocated to Silicon Valley at the right time. The Internet was on fire. Companies were raising capital through initial public offerings. As a lead investment banker, Mike met and befriended some of the leading entrepreneurs of the digital age. He offers an entire section on what he learned from Greg Reyes, one of the most impressive CEOs in the valley.

As a result of becoming one of the leading investment bankers in Silicon Valley, Morgan Stanley offered Mike a $1 million annual salary if he would stay with the firm. Rather than taking the money, he chose to pursue his own path. He didn’t want to live someone else’s dream when he could build his own. He wanted to become an entrepreneur, and he understood the work ethic that would be necessary to succeed.

How Reading Mr. Monkey and Me will contribute to a reader’s success:

Readers who aspire to become more successful in any area of life will find enormous value in the SHAPE acronym that Mike devised for this book:

  • Self: Know thyself. Learn how to reach your highest potential and take the steps necessary to succeed.
  • Help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Invest the time and energy to build the pathway that will persuade others to invest time and energy to work with you.
  • Authenticity: Don’t be an imposter. Instead, pursue success with 100 percent commitment and the world we recognize your growth.
  • Persistence: Keep that never-quit-mentality and be willing to outwork everyone.
  • Expectations: Set expectations high, and then create a solid pathway that will lead you to become the best in the world at what you do.

Mike doesn’t ask anyone to do anything that he didn’t do himself. After learning the pathway that would take a person from struggle to success, he pushed forward to succeed. Now he helps others do the same. After leaving his company, he launched Next Coast Ventures, a venture capitalist business that invest in people who build their dreams.

Mr. Monkey and Me: A Real Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs, by Mike Smerklo

The following link to purchase a copy from Amazon:

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