The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Applied Innovation. Applied Innovation is helping to shape the future of accounts receivable management. Product development is driven by customer feedback, agency profitability and compliance and includes platforms addressing client portal access, document management, payment negotiation, Regulation E focused electronic payment authorizations and TCPA communication authorization platforms. Partner with a company who understands your business challenges and evolves to provide cutting edge technology to overcome those challenges and achieve success.
Aside from his questionable taste in whom he admires, everything about Todd Santa Maria shows you how much he cares for the accounts receivable management industry, and those who work in it. It sounds trite when someone is called a “nice” guy — like you couldn’t think of anything else to say about him — but genuinely nice people, who care more about you than they do about themselves, need to be celebrated. So let’s celebrate Todd. Read on to learn more about Todd, his deep love of a genre of music you might not have ever heard of, and why you’re safe if you ever drop something in his presence.
Name: Todd Santa Maria
Current Role/Job Title: President
Company: VoApps DirectDrop Voicemail
Length of time at current company: Seven years
Length of time in industry: Seven years involved with the ARM industry, many more in the software business.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was originally brought in to run client services for VoApps by one of the company’s investors that I had worked with before at other Atlanta startups. I don’t think I even knew at the time that I was getting into the ARM industry, but I have really enjoyed getting to know the good people that make up this industry. It is a fun challenge to navigate the ARM waters.
What is your career highlight so far?
It was a thrill for me to go to the CFPB in DC during the Reg F comment period with a team from VoApps and the ACA to ask them to clearly define the rules around our service – because it worked! The NPRM was fuzzy on the topic, but we were very happy that they made it clear in the final rule that our service can be used in the practice of debt collection.
When or how are you most productive?
If I’m working on a big project, unfortunately it’s later in the evening that I get my deepest work done. That’s when the phone isn’t ringing and email isn’t piling up. During the day, I’m often jumping from task to task to support my team. I try to guard my calendar and limit meetings to absolutely necessary ones so I can schedule some focused work time in there, but you know how that can go.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
If you make me choose one, I’d have to say Mike Gibb. The guy’s output is amazing! If you allow me more, LaDonna Bohling, Eric Najork, Mary Shores, Debbie Frank, Shawn Suhr, Mindy Chumbley, Melissa Nash, Jack Gordon, Kelly Knepper-Stephens, Rick Bonitzer, Scott Purcell, and David Kaminski are among many more I hold in great esteem.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I catch everything that is falling. It is extremely rare that a spoon falls off the counter or a pen rolls off the desk that I don’t snatch it before it hits the floor. Other than my useless cat-like reflexes, I don’t do anything better than everyone else. My skills that are most important to our organization are calm, data-driven decision making, listening and understanding people and their goals and helping them get there.
What do you like most about this industry?
I know everyone always says the people, but it’s because it’s true! A close second: witnessing how well an entire industry adapts to the constant change in the legal and regulatory landscape. I have never worked in another industry where everyone has to be so nimble but continues to pull it off. Impressive.
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What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
I wish there was some differentiation in the regulations between good businesses doing honest work to help the economy and the bad actors that are the real problem. Too often, the government makes a reactionary rule because of a problem created by a bad few (that aren’t going to follow the rules anyway!) that just ends up limiting the ability of the good folks to innovate and use modern technology. There’s got to be a better way.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
If money were no object, I’d be traveling around the country with my family in our RV, but realistically, I’m sure I’d be building another software company.
Describe a typical work day.
I triage my email in the early morning at home, set my priorities for the day, then go to the gym and then on to the office. At work, my job is to support my team so they can do their best work. That could mean speaking to clients or prospects, editing sales presentations, translating feature requests to our development team, making coffee, answering support chats, etc. Several nights a week, after the kids are in bed at night, I am back at my desk working on longer-term projects and planning.
What is your guilty pleasure?
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The more you give, the more you receive. My family and I try to be as generous with our time, money, attention as possible. As I get older, the more I realize how full your life can become as a result.
What are you currently reading?
At any one time, I’m listening to one business/personal development book on Audible, reading one book on meditation or spirituality on the Kindle, and reading one paper book for entertainment. Right now, those are “It Takes What It Takes” by Trevor Moawad, “The Art of Living” by Thich Nhat Hanh, and “Life in a Medieval City” by Frances and Joseph Gies. All are very good so far!
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
Most of my business philosophies for running a software company come from (or were validated by) the book “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson – the braintrust behind the Basecamp software and a few other books. Limiting meetings, not hiring until it hurts, letting client requests guide development, and many more ways VoApps operates are key principles of Rework. I’d strongly recommend reading it for perspective, even if many people will disagree with much of it.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Debbie Frank of Credit Bureau Services in Missouri
The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Applied Innovation. Applied Innovation is helping to shape the future of accounts receivable management. Product development is driven by customer feedback, agency profitability and compliance and includes platforms addressing client portal access, document management, payment negotiation, Regulation E focused electronic payment authorizations and TCPA communication authorization platforms. Partner with a company who understands your business challenges and evolves to provide cutting edge technology to overcome those challenges and achieve success