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August 18, 2021
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49. Meet Technology Leader Kirk Marple : Founder of Unstruk Data
Annie Law interviews Kirk Marple in episode 49 of “ANDWHY.” Annie and Kirk talk about candid aspects of the startup process from origins to work life balance to mental health. Kirk Marple offers a more intimate perspective on his life and gives advice on taking care of oneself, one’s family, and one’s employees through centering empathy, reflection, and fearlessness.
In this episode, you will learn:
- What Kirk Marple does on a day to day basis as the founder of Unstruk
- Work-Life balance, both personally and professionally.
- Advice for students and millenials.
- The benefit of allowing yourself to try and fail (and try again)
- Advice for those adverse to change
- Mental health talk, destigmatizing seeking help and how it comes up in the industry
Good Question & Answer 1:
Yeah, so obviously you didn’t learn this overnight but I really want to talk about your different career changes. because you know, when we’re young- which is most of my audience- they’re all thinking that you have to do what your majoring in. They kind of get stuck in this path they think “This is it..” you know? And it’s hard to get out of the mindset of you have to do what you majored in or committed to. I guess a very straightforward path where you just climb that ladder instead of, you know, trying things horizontally. So do you have any advice for those students or maybe millennials who are listening to this?
I think it’s interesting. I’ve never been one to plan 5-10 years out. So I think a lot of it is following your passion. I mean, it’s a cliche, but it’s easier to work on things that you love. I just got kind of lucky. After college, I went and worked for a couple of different you could call them startups -they were small companies back then-on the East Coast and really didn’t have a plan. I just kind of bounced from one to the other. I felt like I learned enough and wanted to learn more about something different. I tended to follow what I was interested in, interested in learning more than what I wanted to achieve. I kind of got to a point where I’m like, “Look, I really want to go to grad school, there’s more I want to learn.” I think I kind of hit these inflection points, like every couple years, but really was open to change. I moved from Washington DC, all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia for grad school- completely other side of the country, big change. …So I think you just have to be adaptable, and have a general gist of what makes you happy, or what you want to learn and things like that. But also, don’t be too rigid, things are gonna come your way and and it’s okay to fail fast. If you don’t like something- I’ve quit things like in a week or two, I thought I thought it was the right thing. You don’t have to stick with things that aren’t making you happy. Even in Microsoft, I remember taking a job that I was there for, I don’t know, four or five weeks, and I just realized, this is not what I wanted to do…this is not like what I expected it to be. I literally just went and took a different job there and they were fine with it. You think that would look bad on your record or whatever, but no… Not every place will be as easy as that, but I think you can make changes and adapt if you need to.
Good Question & Answer 2:
Yeah, that’s really cool. So let’s talk about your work life balance, because like being a CEO is not easy. And you’ve been CEO of multiple companies, how were you able to manage your work life, and then also manage your personal life because I am an employee and I’m having trouble doing that already…. Is there like a tip you would say that really helped you?
I mean, I think you fail a lot. My kids are a bit older now, back when I had the first company they were young…but it’s a struggle. I’ve gone on both sides where you get so sucked into the business side of it that you’re not putting in time into your family and you learn to bounce off of things and know what to fix. But it’s really an important thing I think I mean just from mental health perspective…work life balance perspective, it’s it’s super important to have….So you end up kind of surfing it a little bit where it’s like, you mess up, you fix it, you realize it, you kind of get better, and you go back and forth. But, I know that other people could do a lot better…
I think self awareness is probably the biggest thing, being humble, and kind of like not assuming you always have your shit together… just be able to keep one eye back on yourself. Are you keeping an eye on your health?…I mean I’ve been there where I’m like “oh I’m too busy, I can’t go to the gym.” things like that. COVID was terrible for that, not leaving the house. This is not that balance of just keeping your body moving and your mind moving at the same time. Trying to balance all those things, I’ve done it right sometimes…It’s a struggle. Especially as you get older, it’s not not as easy, but you got to be self aware about making sure that you’re managing your brain and your body like work.
Additional topics discussed:
- Other spaces Unstruk could potentially expand into (arts, humanities, consumer facing)
- The build up to the company, how COVID affected it
- How Unstruk works
Host / Podcast Bio: “ANDWHY” originally began as Annie Law’s personal blog. Described as “Her outlet to express her thirst for knowledge and her understanding of why things are the way they are.” the blog expanded into a magazine and the featured podcast series. Her goal with ANDWHY is to share stories that are unwritten- with an emphasis on intimacy in storytelling and the uniqueness of each story in hopes of inspiring others’ pursuit for creative endeavors and knowledge.
Guest Bio: Kirk Marple is the CEO of Unstruk. He began his career in Media Management and entertainment, owning a transcoding company. After selling it to diversify his prospects, Marple found inspiration within other areas of data management such as the automotive industry. To Marple, the use of data for car imagery and closed captioning had parallels in “time based telemetry.” However, Marple noticed problems within the storage of unstructured data and metadata within file based formatting and decided to expand into the business of optimizing a system to store, organize, and analyze metadata within pools of stored information.
Resources and links mentioned in the show: