Founder Fridays: Mike Karnjanaprakorn of Skillshare

Mike Karnjanaprakorn has done more for Good Stock, directly and indirectly, than almost anyone not employed by our small company. Directly, he’s given me so many tips and ideas on strategy, organization, hiring, team-building, and more. Mike pushed me to offer jambalaya and sweet tea at our booth at Smorgasburg, which probably ended up being two of our most popular items. Lastly, he actually gave up quite a few Saturdays to come work at our booth at Smorgasburg, where he excelled at slinging both soup and sweet tea. For a man who works as hard as anyone I know, him giving up his one day off a week meant a ton to us.

Indirectly, Mike started a badass company called Skillshare, whose mission is to help anyone learn anything from anyone. I’ve leaned on it heavily as we launched Good Stock. I’ve taken so many different classes on Skillshare, such as launching a businessfood photographyemail marketingmeat, and more. It’s truly an amazing company, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Whether you want to learn something specific, or you’re just curious and want to pick up some new knowledge, go to Skillshare. 

Why did you start Skillshare?

For me and many people at Skillshare, it came out of a personal experience. When I graduated from UVA, I had a great education but I didn't have any real world applicable skills. I slowly started to realize that the world was moving so quickly that there would be no school in the world that would be able to cover all the skills needed in today's economy. So, I started Skillshare to provide access to high quality learning. It works just like Netflix where students can spend $10/month and get access to thousands of classes. 

What is the most important thing you learned?

The importance of listening. It's such a vital part of being a great leader - knowing when to listen and when to talk. These days, I try to spend majority of my time listening and digging into what my team, investors, and community members are saying. I've surprised myself at how much faster I've learned by actively listening and how it's led to all the success we've had to date.

What music do you listen to while you work?

I grew up listening to Hip Hop but I rarely listen to Drake while working. Most of my mornings are listening to ambient sounds like Explosions in the Sky. If you check my Spotify most listened albums in 2016, it's probably Explosions in the Sky or Tycho. 

How does creativity play a role in your work?

Creativity plays a huge rule on my work. For me, I define it less like an artist and more around creative problem solving. I spent a lot of my free time on the weekends pursuing creativity (reading, visiting art galleries, watching documentaries, etc) and I've carved out different ways to facilitate creativity during work. Some examples include working from a different workspace every Tuesday morning or going on a personal annual retreat every year. These are great ways for me to focus in on doing my best, uninterrupted work. 

What is your favorite soup?

I lived in New Orleans for a year so I will have to say gumbo. But, otherwise, I would have to say ramen if that counts as a soup! [Ed. note: ramen definitely counts as soup.]