Matthew Ziemke

My day job is currently a work in progress—I’m looking for my next career!

Over the years, I’ve had the chance to work in a number of different companies, mostly in the field of insurance. I’ve often been in a leadership role, but I find myself wanting to be more in the field, closer to the client.

At this point, my goal is to find a role that allows me to give back to the community. A lot of people gave back to me over the course of my career—now I’d like to give back to others. There are so many cool organizations in the greater Madison area, and I’d love to bring my expertise to them. 

In each of my roles, I’ve found that the key thing in an organization’s success is the people. You have to understand what motivates them and how to build a strong team. Every one of your employees is different: You’ve got to find out what makes them tick. YOU have to bend and be malleable, not your employees.

Each employee has to understand the organization’s goal and want to achieve it—but they also need the freedom to take their own approach to getting there. I’ve found that some of the best ideas weren’t at all how I thought something should be done.

When the people in your organization are working 8-10 hours a day—or more!—I want them to be excited when they get up in the morning. My goal is to create that for my employees.

My most memorable caffeine was the coffee I’d drink with my Grandpa Louie in his shop. His office was in the front half of his house, and I’d go there when I was seven or eight and hang out with him. There was a lot of cream and sugar involved. I treasured time alone with my grandpa and that’s where I really learned to love coffee.

 My current caffeine of choice is coffee with cream. Three or four years ago, I gave up dairy to help my blood sugars. It worked! I did soy and almond for a while, but I decided if there’s one little thing to cheat on, I was going to choose coffee with real cream. I grew up on a farm and I remember going to the cooler when I was a kid. There would be a full tank of milk and you’d wait for it to settle and for the cream to rise to the top. It was the best.

My favorite place for caffeine is someplace local. I’m not a chain type person—I like to try little local places. During COVID, my wife and I would go to Sofra Family Bistro to help support them. I love that it’s family owned.

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is my Grandpa Louie, my mom’s dad. He was a great man who ran his own business and I think I’ve patterned some of my life around his. He owned a cinderblock company that made a lot of the old cinder tracks (for runners) around the country. It’s a surface that’s a little bit cushiony vs. a dirt track.

He died when I was just a freshman in high school. I’d love to talk to him again and wish I’d gotten to know him better.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: There are so many problems in today’s world. But with my roots in farming, I’d say it would be something around getting proper, nutritious food to people around the world. If I could have that moment of clarity that allowed me to provide people with the food they need to have healthy lives, that would be just great.