No. 131 - Karl Schmieder - on turning weaknesses into strengths - Issue No. 7 - Autumn 2019.

December 3rd, 2019

Over the summer I talked with Karl Schmieder at his place in Park Slope. His short story, "Fifteen Minute Confession," appears within Issue No. 7 - Autumn 2019. Schmieder founded the first iteration of MessagingLab over twenty years ago, and spoke about the company's journey from its earliest stages to its present work in helping entrepreneurs and brands in the life sciences industry connect with their audiences and tell their stories more effectively.

Two excerpts from the interview, along with portraits and photographs by Emily Fishman of Schmieder and his place, below.

- Isaac Myers III

Interviewers: How did you decide to move to New York?

Karl: I was a punk rock kid, and I loved seeing bands live. I went to a lot of shows all over Southern California. When I was in high school in Ventura, it was novel to drive down to Hollywood or someplace in L.A. to see a band.

But for college, I moved to Riverside in the so-called Inland Empire, about an hour directly east of L.A. So to go see a show, I’d find myself in a car with a friend and we’d be driving an hour, hour-and-a-half to see the show. Sometimes it was more like two hours because we’d be going to some new club, didn’t know where we were going and I’d be driving and was always the worst with directions. Then after the show, it was another hour, hour-and-a-half to get back. But an hour there, and an hour back gets old fast.

Eventually, I realized I couldn't handle that kind of driving and I was going to move to New York.

Interviewers: What do you think it was, or is about punk rock, that does it for you?

Karl: For sure, there’s an energy there but for me growing up it was two things: One, it’s about turning your weaknesses into strengths. Two, it’s about asking questions and challenging the status quo.

I’ve started to think that punk paved the way for a lot of creative endeavors. During the dot com boom, people would get together and start companies. I see a lot of that. And I think that being on the wavelength of asking questions, challenging the status quo, and understanding weakness as strength, has helped me realize if I want to create whether it’s through writing or in business, then I can. And so can you.

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