As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Zammuto. Michael is the chief executive officer of Completed.com. Mike is a startup and technology executive with over 20 years’ experience and several successful exits. He has served on several boards and has been a CEO, COO, CTO and held executive level sales and marketing leadership roles. He is a former manager with Microsoft’s product development team in Redmond, Washington. Mike is a sought after commentator on the technology industry and online reputation and privacy. He is also an experienced public speaker and contributor on CIO.com. Mike is an alumnus of both the Tulane AB Freeman and Harvard business schools and he lives in South Florida.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
One of the greatest challenges in the hiring process is identifying the right talent for your business. Over the years, some of the greatest candidates on paper (resume, LinkedIn profile) end up being the worst hires.
I found myself utilizing platforms such as Upwork more and more due to the fact that I have had access to the reviews of freelancers from previous contracts. These reviews make it much easier to determine the true level of talent of the freelancers.
For part-time and full-time team members, there is no standardized rating system that an employer can rely on. Additionally, for professionals such as lawyers and doctors, there are indeed rating systems across multiple platforms such as AVVO, ZocDoc, etc.
The Completed.com mission is to create a standardized rating system for all professionals in the workforce. Every professional interaction can turn into a reviewable experience, providing valuable insight into the company. This is a solution that we need as management to determine the best talent out there, therefore we created it as a solution that we will utilize in hiring decisions in the future. Built by working professionals, for working professionals.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I had the unique experience of building a business that sold to Microsoft. During the transition, I worked at Microsoft, which was a wonderful experience. Microsoft is a great company with a fantastic culture.
Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?
Completed.com is the world’s first standardized rating system for all working professionals that will create a true meritocracy in the workforce. We believe that LinkedIn is of minimal value in the hiring process due to the fact that all profiles are curated to make professionals look their best. Completed.com will create an open-loop review system where all professionals in the workplace will receive reviews based upon experiences others have with them in the workplace. This will allow for hiring managers to better identify the right talent in their organizations.
How do you think this will change the world?
GlassDoor took the first step in reviewing CEOs and the inner-workings of companies, which has proven to be very useful to both companies and personnel.
Most people don’t report to the CEOs, especially in larger organizations. Therefore, Completed gets much more granular, by rating all management and other key team members in organizations. Now, for the first time ever, current personnel can leave reviews for their direct boss that future personnel can rely on when making a decision on whether to accept a job offer or not. The business world will never be the same.
AVVO, ZocDoc, RateMyProfessor and dozens of other review sites exist today for rating professionals. Completed.com pulls together all industries into one single platform to create the first standardized rating system.
The Completed Platform has a strict anti-cyber bullying policy and algorithms that strive to minimize false reviews. Trust is our number one concern.
With regards to Black Mirror, that was a fictional tale of a rating system for people on a personal level, i.e. your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. We believe that is a terrible idea, much like the Peeple App.
Completed is in the vein of AVVO for lawyers and GlassDoor for CEOs. Now for the first time ever the VP of Sales along with the Chief Marketing Officer can receive reviews. We believe this is fundamentally important for these professionals along with all others in an organization to receive reviews. Limiting this to the CEO does not provide a holistic or “Completed” picture of an organization. Completed solves that problem.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
For years I’ve hired personnel from LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, and CraigsList. When I discovered Upwork, I realized just how important reviews are to hiring decisions, yet reviews only exist in organizations for the CEO. It was at that point that our team decided to proceed forward with Completed, creating the first standardized rating system for all personnel in an organization. This is a platform that the world needs and we’re resolved to see it all the way through.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
Time, money, the right team and persistence.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Agencies don’t typically have exits, and if they do they’re not very high. Basically, I worked in agency before and believed we would have a large exit. Truth is that agencies sell at max 1x revenue, but that rarely happens. I wish I would have known this before dedicating a lot of time to the agency model earlier in my career.
2. Don’t invest heavily in nice offices. In a previous venture we had the nicest office in the building, but at the end of the day this doesn’t matter very much to your team, what matters is how much money they make and how great your product is. Take the money that would go into nicer offices and put it in your product plus the team members’ bonuses.
3. Take plenty of time off. Earlier in my career, I would work 7 days a week. I’ve found that a healthy balance with sufficient down time will improve your overall work product. I believe in taking time off now to decompress and relax.
4. Location matters. While this is not as much the case as it used to be, earlier in my career I was involved in startups that were in the wrong place geographically. For tech startups, especially in the past, you had to be in Silicon Valley.
5. Hire slow, fire fast. Earlier in my career, I made some impulsive hires and held onto personnel that should have been let go. We take our time in hiring now and if we believe that someone is not a good fit, I firmly believe it is a disservice to them to keep them on board, for the individual and the company.
The future of work is a common theme. What can one do to “future proof” their career?
There is no certainty in the future, however by providing a great service, showing up, and staying persistent, good things will naturally come to you in life.
Based on the future trends in your industry, if you had a million dollars, what would you invest in?
Completed.com. This is the future.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
I believe there is no substitute for focus and hard work. The key is to focus on the right things, then work your tail off.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
Indeed. There are a certain subset of people that have the resolve to make it through anything in life, and I mean anything. They don’t make up excuses or point fingers, rather they put their head down and get to work.
Those same people have an unwavering belief in themselves. The world will try to tear you down at times. Those that have the tenacity to push through the tough times, and stay humble during the good, seem to consistently accomplish their goals in life.
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?
The only thing better than the Completed Platform concept is the talented team behind it. We have the rare institutional knowledge to take an idea like this and turn it into a reality ☺
How can our readers follow you on social media? https://twitter.com/completedreview
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.