Bringing a Little Indiana Jones to the Dilbert Cube with Dr. Marlo Rencher

Dr. Russell Strickland [00:42:00] Yeah. And I think that’s really where I think you you help clear something up for me. Is this notion of venture capital being harder to come by solves the problem in a sense. You mentioned that there’s some of these folks that they want to focus on solving the problem, making the world a better place. And anthropologist’s, I guess, is the context. You mentioned anthropologist, that we bring money into it. It kind of dilutes or poisons or lessens the the the the the situation in some way. I find a lot of folks that we work with who are experts have the same kind of feeling that they don’t want to get paid, but they don’t like the idea of selling this concept of selling. They think of this as the used car salesman. That that kind of stereotype and what you have to do is you have to understand that that selling that making money, that bringing in money is the way that you help people. It’s the way that you make things better. And this notion of, you know, not being able to get a big check from venture capital and go out and spend somebody else’s money to solve your problem. It I think it fixes the mindset issue of why are we doing this dirty business model thing, doing it, because that’s how we help people, right? That’s how we get the job done. I think it should probably help with a lot of that mindset issue to know that this is a thing we’ve got to do, not because, you know, we’re greedy or capitalist or any of those kinds of things, but simply because this is what’s needed to to make things better. If you get in and if you get paid, the more you get paid, the more people you can help.


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:43:39] And let me just say also, I am we have some there are people who have that mindset of who I want to hold my nose and sell something. But the reason why technology exists is is is not even as much to get people to get to their entrepreneur dreams. That’s part of it. But because of all the people that you’re able to employ as a result of having a thriving and successful business. I grew up in the city of Detroit. If I had if we had like five, 10 high growth businesses the way that I grew up and the things that I saw growing up would be very, very different from what other people would see. Right. I’m interested in people making lots of money and employing people who are very, very able to put their kids in the schools if they want to put them in, have them go to the colleges they want them to go to. And they have the quality of life that that they need to have a better life. So that money takes it takes money to do that and it takes profitable businesses in order to have those kinds of employees. So I wholeheartedly believe in and in the way that capital capitalism works in that situation.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:44:57] Absolutely. Yeah, it’s certainly so. Capitalism is a kind of a mathematical system and these things have stable points in a variety of areas. It certainly works the way that you said there’s a halo effect that the entrepreneur, when when when they’re making themselves strong, when they’re when they’re bringing in money, they’re making themselves richer in order for them to do that. They can’t they can’t do everything themselves. So they have to employ people. There has to be some distribution of that wealth. It just has to be that way. You know, if you have a social concern about it, it is how you value and how you decide how much of that wealth you want to distribute into your organization. And that’s where we’re we’re finding some problems with capitalism, is that it’s getting too concentrated in specific areas. And I’m not sure exactly how we’re going to solve that problem. But but I think there is a way to to to get there. And and it is something where to is, to a certain extent, a rising tide lifts all boats. So, yes, you’re going to say that the CEOs and some of the founders and entrepreneurs, their boats might be rising faster than others, but the others are rising as well. And so that’s that’s an important thing to to keep in mind. If you are an entrepreneur, if you’re thinking about getting into this, that that naturally you’re going to be able to to help not just your customers and the people that you were thinking about helping, but your community as well as as you become a place of hiring employees and having those employees go out to lunch around the office and renting office space. And all of those things that drive in economy is. It’s important to understand.


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:46:49] Yeah, absolutely, and as you have more people who are from the U.S., you have a different group of people leading these companies and they’re led a different way. Absolutely. I’m really excited about that opportunity.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:47:02] So tell me, with Tech Town, who is who’s the person that you’re talking to? We mentioned this notion before of knowing who you’re you’re benefiting and what not. Who’s the person? If somebody wanted to get in touch with you about the work you’re doing at Tech Town, who’s the person that you’re talking to and and who would who you would best be able to serve.


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:47:24] So what we focus ourselves on are my whole home or my whole job is to kind of increase the pipeline of entrepreneurs who are in and out of the city of Detroit. That is a different entrepreneur, tech entrepreneur than most people see. What I would say is that folks who have a tech idea, something that you might not even identify yourself as a tech founder or techie, but if you have an idea that’s around technology, that’s where we’re intended to serve.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:48:06] And you do you have any sort of incubator process processes to help folks that are in the earliest stages, or do you work with folks who have already have proven a proof of concept? Where do you really start working with folks in this process?


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:48:20] I say yes to all of that because we have multiple programs that we start with, Star Studio, that is. Do you have an idea? And the intention with that is if you have an idea that you thought about you formed that you are really interested in finding out should you go or no go. That’s our program. We have a 12 week program that goes to the customer validation process. We use all types of anthropological techniques, even assign an anthropologist to you. And I think we’re the only program probably that exists right now that does that we assign anthropologists to you that helps you through that customer discovery process. And at the end of it, you do a go or no go. And at the end of it, if it’s a go, you have an MVP or an early prototype with a by. But that’s the intention. But we also have a program that’s incubator. That’s for companies that have started generating revenue. And that’s how do you go from being a startup? Kind of. This is my idea. And we’re starting to generate revenue to building the operations and infrastructure to be a small business.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:49:23] Grow and scale.


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:49:25] Exactly. And also we’re developing this program right now, the the name of which is to be announced that we’ll be opening up in the beginning of the second quarter. That is that like you have this MVP with a buy button. Let’s figure out the business model that gets you to recurring revenue. So that’s the one that I’m really excited about. We’re going to be kind of combining the podcast type of way to deliver information and a peer learning platform. So it’s not just like this lecture. This is what you need to do. It’s like this is the experience that we’re all going through. We’re going through this training. It’s kind of like a dojo or something where you’re trying to figure out what’s the best way and your you have a leader board. Everything is tracked. You know, it’s actually something that I’m really excited about, really. I think it’ll be a really great experience for folks who are trying to build great businesses and not just pitching to get money.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:50:27] Well, I think that sounds great because it sounds like you’re developing a community. And we talked about this notion of normative pressure when you were in the dissertation process of needing some of the books around you doing what you’re doing. So that’s I think that’s that’s that’s an awesome experience for folks to get plugged into.


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:50:43] The normative pressure and community, the practice, so that learning from each other, that apprenticeship program that you’re talking, a predictive model that you talk about, the older ones are teaching them once all that stuff should be working on their on their behalf.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:50:58] Very, very cool. Now, I just found it interesting that picking out of that description as to how this program works, you mentioned assigning an anthropologist to someone. So give us a plug for anthropology. Now what why would you use that term that you have? What is an anthropologist going to bring to bear in this particular application that folks starting a new business?


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:51:22] Really glad you asked, because most most people who are starting a business is really they’re pitching the business. When they’re talking to customers, they’re asking, do you really like me? Do you really like my business? Would you buy this thing? Anthropologist’s allow you to step back and say, OK, what is the problem? Can we get a little deeper into the context? What is your. And it allows us to get back some of the assumptions that we as entrepreneurs might have about the problem that we’re trying to solve, even allowing us to understand it as a problem to be solved rather than this is my business. So anthropologists, particularly the ones that we’re working with, because we’ve tweaked their methodology to work really well within the entrepreneurial context, we find it really, really important to get to those insights. And that saves our clients, the entrepreneurs, a lot of time and money because they’re not building things that people don’t like.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:52:24] Yeah, that’s that’s very important. And I think I picked up on one of those a key word we used to talk about when I was in graduate school, that there were there’s probably about five to ten keywords that you have to use in order to fit in to any group of people. And I think I picked up earlier when you were talking on one of the keywords and anthropology, seems like it was ritual. You use that word a lot right there. So that’s just a concept I’ve seen that come up over and over again where if you if you just know how to use about five to ten words, if you’re going to get through all the cocktail parties, you. Absolutely. Get in deeper than that, even at some point, they’ll find out you don’t know stuff actually, you know, got you got your real credentials. But but it is really kind of interesting how these cultures develop this little shorthand vocabulary. And it’s almost like a password of knowing if you’re in the group or not. Did you use that word correctly? Because if I’m talking about something and you’re like, why didn’t you say ritual? He’s not an anthropologist.


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:53:33] What is interesting is you say that somebody introduced me to the class. There’s a whole conversation around that. But it’s the code that you need. Yeah, we’re doing another program that’s for 50 black women entrepreneurs around. How to be a tech founder and there is an entire anthropological take that I’ve had as part of my dissertation, as well as there’s a way of speaking, there’s a way of dressing. There are those those words actually have I have a list of one hundred of them that people need to know when you’re in this world of the tech. And those are things that we’re we’re also giving to people so that they when they step into this world where they’re. A lot of times seen as being the other or the outsider, they can at least know the language and feel a little bit more comfortable.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:54:27] Yeah, that’s it, it really is a notion of. You know, seeming like you fit, not knowing, knowing what’s what’s the how you should act in a particular situation. For whatever reason, I don’t know why when you said that this scene from the Harry Potter books flashed into my head where where one of the kids was like pretending to be this this evil witch, and she was going to the bank to try to clear out her vault or something like that. And she said, excuse me or I’m sorry or something. And someone who was with her, like, kind of hit her said she wouldn’t say that. But you act in this situation and it’s important to be authentic. But at the same time, you’ve got to also look like you belong. And so that’s an interesting balance to to strike. Well, this program you mentioned, is this something that you’re currently recruiting for these women or where you got in the development of that program?


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:55:32] So we’ve gotten our first session. So is 50 this year that we’re working with? We got our first half recruited for and will be recruiting that next group of folks in a few months, let’s say, around May, April timeframe. So that’s what we are. We’re about to start. I think that the first week in February, we’re starting our programing.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:56:01] Awesome. That sounds great in terms of those folks that are going to be coming in in the spring or you kind of openly recruiting for those folks. Do you want to you want to tell them how to get in touch with you, or is this something that that is handled a little bit more close to the vest?


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:56:14] I think the best way to look at it is to go to And that way you can see kind of all the things that we’re doing, including the state program. And we’re what we’re focused around Detroit. We’re looking to expand pretty soon.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:56:32] That’s good. That’s awesome. So Yes, the URL, if folks want to get in touch with you to continue this conversation in any other way, what’s what’s the best way for someone to reach out to you?


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:56:45] Best way to reach out to me is through LinkedIn. And my tag there is Marlo Rencher and they are awesome.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:56:56] Now we will have on our blog on We will have show notes and we’ll make sure we get those URLs in there in case anybody missed them. But I want to thank you so much for being with us today, Dr. Rencher. I had a great time talking to people from different kind of academic backgrounds, I think is always really fun. And I don’t know that I’ve talked with an anthropologist before…


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:57:19] Now  you have.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:57:21] A thing to put down on the list. But I but I really enjoy getting to to see kind of the different perspectives that you bring to problems that other guests of mine have been working on and that I’ve thought about. And to see that different perspective is really, really cool. I really appreciate that.


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:57:38] Thanks so much for the conversation, Dr. Strickland.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:57:40] Oh, absolutely. I’d like to remind everybody this episode has been brought to you by Dissertation Done. So if you’re working on your dissertation, getting ready to start or feeling bogged down in the process, reach out to us at We’ll have a conversation and see if we might be able help you out. And if you are in that expert space and you would like to expand your authority platform, reach out to us at We’ll help you go from a blank page to a published author so that you can get your message out there and help others. Again, Dr. Rencher, thank you so much for being with me. I had a blast today.


Dr. Marlo Rencher [00:58:16] Me too, thanks so much. I appreciate the invitation.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:58:19] You’re quite welcome. And for everybody else, go out there and live your unconventional life.


Outro [00:58:30] This has been an unconventional life. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed today’s episode, subscribe now to keep getting inspirational stories of unconventional lives as soon as they’re released. Until then, go out and live your best unconventional life.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.