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The SuccessLab Podcast: Where Entrepreneurs Collaborate for Success
43 minutes | 3 months ago
Making Bets on Yourself
When something is broken, oftentimes, the natural instinct is to turn a blind eye and hope someone else will fix it — but this wasn’t the case for Paul Roetzer. While working at a public relations agency early in his career, Paul was having a hard time reconciling the services he was providing for clients with the cost of their retainers. So, he set to work on a solution that would standardize PR services and prices. And in 2005, Paul launched PR 20/20, a marketing consulting and services firm that became the first firm in HubSpot's certified partner program which now includes thousands of agencies from around the world. According to Paul, success isn’t solely financial — it’s about bringing true value to others and aligning yourself with people who have a similar take on life. He truly believes his career successes — from growing PR 20/20 to authoring two books (The Marketing Performance Blueprint and The Marketing Agency Blueprint) to launching the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute — is a direct indication of this. In this episode, Paul discusses why getting uncomfortable and making small bets on yourself is one of the best ways to fuel your career and achieve the goals you set for yourself. This mindset has helped him successfully manage the rapid growth of PR 20/20 while dealing with the tragic passing of his best friend — an event that forever changed his perspective on life and business. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. What led you to create PR 20/20? In the early 2000s, I was working at a PR agency and I didn't really understand the business model. Everything was billable hours and in my young mind, it didn’t make sense. I would send invoices to clients every month and it'd be a block of text of all the things we did. The client would call me and say, “this looks great, but what did we get for $12,000 last month?”. I wanted this process to be more tangible for myself and for clients, so I started working on this idea of standardized services and set pricing. “PR 20/20” was originally a paper I wrote about how the industry needed a new vision for how it did everything. A year and a half after writing it, I went home and told my wife that I'm going to start a business. She said, “okay, what does that mean?”. I said, “I don't know, but I'll make sure we have health insurance and a paycheck when I do.” That was a Wednesday and on that Sunday, I got a $25,000 loan from a family member and I started the business two weeks later. What was one of your darkest moments, and how did you emerge from it? I was 27 when I started the agency. I didn't have any kids and my wife and I had been married for four or five years at that point. Life was pretty good and then my father-in-law passed away suddenly of cancer. We tried to figure out how to move on with life after that and then the following year, my best friend died in a tragic accident. Here I was in the midst of 100% growth, and from the outside, it seemed as though I had everything figured out. On the inside, I was a wreck and was trying to figure out how to piece together the next day. I threw myself into business even harder because it became my escape and the growth distracted me from dealing with the reality of life. It was the reality that took me a long time to kind of come to grips with. No one wants to live through that stuff, but I have a totally different perspective on life and business once I eventually made it through. What has been one of the best things you’ve done for the business to grow it? I made a bet on HubSpot in the very early days. I think what I've done well in my career is finding people I wanted to surround myself with — people who had really interesting visions and who I thought had the will to see them through. HubSpot was very much a bet on its people, not on its technology. I truly believed Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah were committed to building a different kind of company and eventually a much better product that would help our clients and us. Many of the doors that opened in my life — like writing books to eventually moving into the AI space — came from these early days and the relationships I built at HubSpot. How have you managed to juggle the growth and sustainability of both 20/20 and the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute? Part of the way I balance everything is that I never get too high or too low on anything because stuff goes sideways all the time. I teach my team that when something goes sideways, you can't get caught up in the totality of the thing that went wrong. You have to break that thing into little pieces — and then attack those pieces and solve them one at a time. As long as you stay focused on the thing you can actually affect, then you don't get caught up in the bigger problem that can make you feel overwhelmed. Are there one or two connections you’ve made along your journey that made a big impact? Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan at HubSpot. They're just good people. Jay Baer also comes to mind. He is one of those people who is bigger than life on stage, but is probably a 10 times better person in real life. Other people I can think of include Ann Handley, David Meerman Scott, Mitch Joel, Marcus Sheridan, Joe Pulizzi, and Andrew Davis — they're just incredible humans. I've been really lucky to not only become peers with them on the speaking circuit and in the author world, but actually become friends with them to the point where we can grab dinner, jump on a call or drop a text message. They've always been there and that's just the kind of people they are. What's advice would you have for fellow entrepreneurs looking to launch a side hustle or second business? Having talked to a lot of entrepreneurs, they think success is what their family, friends, peers or competitors think of what they're building, but none of their opinions matter. I think not enough successful entrepreneurs tell the emerging entrepreneurs that they get to define their own success, so that would be my takeaway for them. Speed round: Coffee drinker, yes or no? Yes. Three to four cups a day. One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? I'm real keen on what we're doing with MarketMuse. Favorite piece of technology? I really love the Philips Hue lights. I like being able to have a million different colors and control it from my phone. What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? Human + Machine. It does a really good job of laying the groundwork for how marketers, agency professionals, and people will work with AI in the future — without a bunch of technical jargon. One person you’d like to make a connection with? Mark Cuban What would be your icebreaker if you were to meet Mark Cuban? I would probably ask him what AI tools he's using now because he's got to be using some cool stuff. How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? Six to seven hours. Which Lil’ Wayne song is your favorite? I love his remix of “Imagine” with Imagine Dragons. He just has the one section in the song, but I think it's really cool and it's the only Lil’ Wayne song my daughter can listen to. How can people connect with you? Twitter and LinkedIn. Just make sure to add a little note that you heard me on this podcast.
36 minutes | 4 months ago
Venturing Boldly into the Emerging World of Femtech
When a routine –– and very common –– medical procedure went awry, it prompted a major career and life shift for Stephanie Schull. Stephanie’s mother underwent a procedure that hundreds of thousands of women have undergone, and like many that have –– which they would soon come to learn –– her outcome was unsuccessful, leaving her in pain for the rest of her life. Refusing to accept this fate, Stephanie left her career as a philosophy professor in pursuit of a better solution for the many women who—like her mother—experience pelvic floor issues. Today, Stephanie is the founder and inventor of Kegelbell, the only FDA-registered external vaginal weight that provides a natural way to get stronger pelvic floor muscles. Through Kegelbell, she is aiming to remove stigmas around women’s health and bring a voice to pelvic floor issues that have been kept quiet far too long. In this episode, we learn about Stephanie’s sweeping move from academia to the business world, the challenges she faced in producing solutions for what is still mostly a taboo subject, and the creative ways she’s been able to run her company with a lean team. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. What led you to create what is today known as Kegelbell? My mother got a pelvic mesh surgery that didn't work well for her and she will be in pain for the rest of her life. When I learned about this, I was shocked to know that she had problems with her pelvic floor for all these decades. And I was shocked that there was a surgery with such a questionable success. My response to the problem was to research it. That's when I realized that most women have problems with their pelvic floor and as of five or so years ago, people weren't talking about it. The solutions, as a result, were flawed because there wasn't enough conversation. As I dug, I saw that there was a good option, it was just not being utilized. When I talked to people about it and discovered they weren't going to make it right, that's where I decided I had to get involved, so I quit academia and started Kegelbell. What's been one of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome in building Kegelbell? The first challenge was that the subject of pelvic floor issues was taboo. My mother had the problem for decades and didn't tell us about it. When I started wanting to fundraise, I heard a lot of “no, that's not really a problem” and “it's too expensive to educate people about it.” Something else that I got pushed back on was the solution I was proposing to fix, treat and prevent weakened pelvic muscles. A lot of investors were saying, “you need to provide an ongoing band-aid solution that keeps the customer on the hook.” I ran into some pretty systemic problems right out the gate. What was one of your darkest moments, and how did you emerge from it? The darkest moment is an ongoing, everyday concern. With a physical product, I'm looking down the barrel of bank account and cash flow issues every day. Looking at cash flow problems is uncomfortable and it's like I'm flying too close to the sun all the time. As I get bigger, it's the same problem, just with larger numbers. This isn't going to go away. I have to adjust to this reality, which is a bit different than the things I've been used to up until this point. What keeps you going? Listening to podcasts like these so you don't feel alone. It’s important to hear from other people with multi-billion dollar companies and hearing them say it's never comfortable and that they're always close to the edge. I recently heard the founders of Lyft talk about how some of the scary moments just don't go away, and I’ve been telling myself that. Finding comfort in hearing from others is why I wanted to share my experience in hopes it helps someone else. What has been one of the best things you’ve done for the business to grow it? Not giving up. If you stick with it, it grows a little bit incrementally and then that growth becomes exponential. It's been hard because I haven't paid myself this whole time. We have very few paid people, but that helps us grow. Also, finding the right people to have around. In this case, it's people willing to work as a volunteer for free or at a reduced rate because they really love the mission. I need their energy and talents for this to work, so bringing on more people, even though I didn't have the money to, really mattered. What does the future look like for Kegelbell? More products. I have so many products on the shelf that I want to launch. Everyone has warned me that it’s too soon and to wait until Kegelbell is strong enough. But, you have to innovate and offer more. The investors are right in that having just one product isn't sufficient. Once you've acquired the customer at that cost, you need more than one product. So, rather than give them a solution that isn't permanent, I'm just going to give them more products that do different things and solve different problems. I hope to be known as a company that solves problems in a novel way. Are there one or two impactful connections along your journey that made a big impact? I think a big deal for me was getting connected to SEED SPOT, which is an incubator/accelerator for businesses with a social impact. I went from having no business network to immediately being connected to a world where people were helpful. One of my favorite memories of another impactful connection stemmed from an architecture trip to LA I went on with a friend. During one of her meetings, I went to a pot pie place. There was a nice gentleman there behind the cash register. He came by and asked me how the pot pie was. Eventually, I began to tell him all about Kegelbell. He started asking questions and then he offered some advice. I found this guy to be really resourceful and that he had some useful information. He said he'd be happy to look at my website and give me some feedback. Later, I found out that this guy was not the cashier at a pot pie place. He was a former CMO at Pixar, Disney, Nestle, and was the current CMO at Sears. He’s also one of the Harvard Business School Angel Association and has been a mentor and one of my advisors since that day. What's one piece of advice you would give to fellow entrepreneurs looking to make impactful connections? Hopefully that story of the pot pie place is a lesson that you never know where a connection will be made. I’d also say that too many people are hesitant and take the safe route. Be a little more risky, because bold gestures often end up resonating. Speed round: Coffee drinker, yes or no? Yes. One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? Gorgias Favorite piece of technology? The cell phone What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss One person you’d like to make a connection with? Tim Ferriss or Sigmund Freud What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone (either online or off)? If someone says you look familiar, I say, do you watch a lot of porn? And then they're like, “Oh wait...no. Do you?” I say I don't but that I was just looking for a conversation starter. It slays every time, and if someone runs away scared, you probably didn't want to hang out with them anyway. How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? At least eight hours, sometimes seven. How can people connect with you or Kegelbell? You pretty much can find us on any platform—TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. You can also email email@example.com.
37 minutes | 7 months ago
The Art of Living: Bringing Intention to Everything
Seven continents, 70 countries, countless books, studies in psychology, philosophy and physiology at Oxford with a specialization in brain chemistry were all part of a quest to figure out how to live a good life and what a good life even means. And that search eventually led Arthur Worsley to create The Art of Living. Prior to, however, he had been working 80+ hour weeks at McKinsey for three years. Burnout and several other life events prompted him to leave and finally start to uncover what it means to live a good life. Today, after immersing himself in studying this, he is helping others get more out of life and achieve self mastery through his TRACKTION Masterclass and The Art of Living. The following is the transcript from the show. But first, a few helpful links: More about the TRACTION Masterclass (tip: use code “wiredpr75” to get 75% off the class! Only the first 50 people) GTD (Getting Things Done) book summary Productivity & Performance: Do More, Better How to accelerate learning What led you to create The Art of Living? I left McKinsey and I'd been doing a whole load of things. I'd been studying, I learned five languages, I did an ultra marathon through the Sahara desert, I'd been traveling and reading books, and I wanted a way to capture all of that. I stumbled on the Fineman method of learning –– learning by teaching it to someone else. I started putting this stuff down and people started reading it. I've always been fascinated with being good at life. I had a father who was an alcoholic and despite having all of the advantages that he could have possibly had, he sort of threw his life away. If I look back at my decision on why I wanted to study psychology, why I've always been so interested in reading and why I went traveling, a lot of them link back to trying to get to the bottom of these questions, which is how can we live a good life? How can we not throw away everything that we're given? What does a good life even mean? That's where The Art of Living really came from. What was the turning point when you realized you had stumbled onto something viable with The Art of Living? When I started out and people started resonating with the stuff I was writing, that was the first moment where I thought, maybe this is possible. The moment that I realized that this was really going to be something cool was when I was with one of my partner's friends who’s a retired CEO. I was chatting to him and his wife about the life philosophy that I'd put together, the way I organize my weeks and my days and how I avoid burnout and they said, “Hey, would you give us some coaching?” I'd never really thought about coaching people on that, and that is when I realized that the business was probably going to be viable. What were the early days like? Once you knew you wanted to build this, how long did it take you? I started out reading a lot of books and it was a huge learning curve for me. Some people start a business and they come from a strong marketing background and then they find a product that they can sell. Some people have a product or a cause that they believe in, and then they're trying to work out the marketing aspect of it. For me, even though the product had been evolving, I knew what it was I wanted to help people with from a very early stage and I focused on one channel. I’m a big search engine optimization guy. I love the idea of just optimizing something and then leaving it out there and having it slowly accrue more people. That was my top-of-funnel and then I had to work out how to turn those readers into subscribers and those subscribers into buyers? That was a long process of trial and error and learning from people who'd been there before me. It’s quite a different path than McKinsey, was there anything you had to overcome mentally to let go of that chapter and pursue this as a new path? I think it's surprisingly similar to McKinsey in two ways. The first is that what I do involves taking really big problems and breaking them down into really small problems that are easy to solve. The reason I'm able to help people find more balance and meaning in their lives is when you break it down into eight different areas and five different time horizons, suddenly it becomes a set of much smaller problems. The second thing is that it's all about learning super steep learning curves. I would start a project at McKinsey knowing nothing about oil and gas or defense or healthcare or supermarkets in the UK and within three months you're helping the CEO clarify decisions they're going to make. One of the things that I did struggle with is I've always loved problem solving for the sake of problem solving and that tends to mean that I put more energy into solving the problem than it necessarily needs. I have to keep catching myself not to get sucked into spending more time than I need solving the problems that are in front of me. One of the things you’re most known for is your TRACKTION productivity system. In that, one of the first steps is to diagnose what’s holding you back. Can you share some tips on how to identify that? There's two kinds of people in this world: those who know what they need to be doing and aren't doing it, and the people who genuinely don't know what they need to be doing. For a lot of people, getting clear on which of those they are, is important. A lot of people know what's going to move the needle and what the most important thing in their business is, and they just can't seem to focus on it. For those, I think one of the most important things you can do is start tracking your time and creating a bit of an inventory of what it is that you're actually working on. When you track your time, it creates accountability. I don't mean on a minute by minute basis or with an app where you build pie charts. You can do this very simply on a piece of paper. You say, 7:15am start breakfast, 7:45am start work, whatever it is that you do. You get a lot of clarity around how much of that time is not being spent on the stuff that's important. For the people who genuinely don't know what to do, the most important thing is to just sit down and work out what that most important thing is. You can go through a basic planning method where you work out what it is you're trying to achieve. The model I use is ‘what, why not, how, what if and what next’. You ask yourself, what’s the what? Then you write down all the reasons that you're not already there. Then you go, how can I solve all of those things? Then you go through a what if phase, which is where you anticipate anything that could come up that could derail you. Then you look at that entire list and go, what's the most important thing on this list that I could be working on and you get on with that. If you do that, you'll naturally squeeze the stuff that doesn't matter off your plate. How do you then identify things you may be doing on a daily basis that don’t really matter? The most powerful way is when you have a vision of what awesome looks like for each area of your life. Something I like to get people to do is write down all the things they're working on right now and then you give each of those things a score from minus five to plus five. Minus five is any activity that's taking you strongly away from that vision that you've written down. Plus five is anything that's taking you strongly towards that. It creates a huge amount of clarity to go down that list and give everything a number. What people who are really struggling tend to do is they have a few minus ones and minus twos on that list and those are things you can easily get rid of. What people who are very productive but are struggling to get to the next level find is they have a lot of plus ones and plus twos and those are things that are hard to give up because they're not doing you any harm and might be slightly pleasant, but they're not as important as the plus five and plus four stuff that’s getting you towards your vision. Doing that process is super helpful for getting clear. If you don't have time to think about what awesome looks like or you haven't done any visions for the different areas of your life, you can use a few heuristic models. I tend to use three nets. The first is the ABC method. A is something that if you did or didn't do, it would have a big impact and C is something that would have no impact at all. B is something that would have a little impact. You go down the list and you go, this is an A task and if I stopped doing it, stuff's really going to start going wrong. This is a C task, if I stopped doing it, nothing will really happen. The second model, I call “hero-based thinking”. Think who's your business hero and then look at each of the things on your task list and go, would my hero be doing this or not? The last net is the $10 task test. Go down the list and ask, how much would it cost to outsource this to a freelancer and that will give you the final clue, which is, is this something that I personally should be doing? If you're an entrepreneur and you aspire to be paid $1,000 an hour, and you've got a lot of $10-tasks on your list, or even a lot of $100-tasks, then you're short changing yourself. Those three nets will tell you, is it important, should it be done at all and should I be doing it? You work with a lot of entrepreneurs who are facing burnout whether because their work has taken over their lives or they feel like they have to compromise their lives in some way to grow the business. Is there a common thread among these entrepreneurs that you’ve seen –– something that’s keeping them in that pattern? How can they start to break free from that? The two most common ones are lack of energy and lack of clarity. For lack of energy, I talk about three kinds of days: A days, B days and C days. An A day is a work day where you're working on the most important projects. B days are planning days where you work out what success looks like or get clear on your inboxes. C days are recovery days where you get to the end of the day with more energy. For the last four weeks, mark in your calendar as an all day event if it was an A day, B day or C day. Suddenly people go, I haven't had a C day in four weeks, no wonder I'm feeling a bit run down. Or, I've only had two C-ish days because I was at a wedding and that doesn't really count. A lot of the time, it's just creating clarity. It's so easy to forget how long and how hard we've been working as an entrepreneur. And then you can put for the next four weeks when are you going to do your A, B and C days. My rhythm is five A days, one C day and one B day every week, and every four weeks, I try and take at least three or four consecutive C days to recuperate my batteries. The second is, a lot of the reason people end up just working on work is because they don't have a best alternative to working on work. I encourage people to get really clear on what it is they actually want out of the other areas of life. What does success look like for their family, their health, their wealth, the learning and growth that they want to through? When you're offered a choice, it doesn't just become a default of I'll do more work. On The SuccessLab Podcast we talk about the idea of impactful connections and how they can really transform the trajectory of your career or your business. Are there one or two along your journey that made a big impact? One of the most important set of relationships that I've had are the mentors in the books I've read. There are two ways that you can approach a book. You can approach it as you listen to what it is that's being said to you, or you can treat it as an active dialogue with the author. Those relationships are very powerful. That's a kind of academic answer so I think the most important relationship that I've got at the moment is my partner, Erin. She's amazing. Lastly, I have a very specific set of values that I look for in the friends that I keep around me and all of those people are constantly inspiring me, making me feel grateful to be alive and showing me new ways of thinking and challenging some of the parts of me that need more development. What's one piece of advice you would give to fellow entrepreneurs looking to make a change in their lives? It’s really helpful to get smart at breaking problems down. Peter Drucker says, if you give two highly competent people a role and they both fail at it, the chances are it's not the people, it's the role that needs to be broken down into more specific roles. I think the same is true of problems. If you throw a lot of people, time and effort at a problem and you can't solve it, it's probably because you haven't worked out how to break it down yet. One of the most important pieces of advice I got when I started out with my blogging was to split my efforts into readers, subscribers, and buyers. That seems like such an obvious thing to do but the moment you break that problem down, it clarifies everything you need to do. Learning to break problems down into smaller pieces is really helpful. Another general problem-solving tip is to invert things. If someone says what does success look like for your business or what should you be working on? You can invert that question and ask, what's the thing that I shouldn't be working on or what don't I want from my business? That will help you narrow the solution space in a way that makes getting to the positive answer more easy. Speed round: Coffee drinker, yes or no? No. One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? ActiveCampaign Favorite piece of technology? My iPad Pro and Apple Pencil What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? Getting Things Done by David Allen One person you’d like to make a connection with? I really wish I could have met Stephen Covey. What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone? Smile. I think the positivity, energy and interest that you show in other people is almost always reflected back. How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? I always give myself an eight-hour sleep opportunity and then I also have a siesta every afternoon that's usually 20 minutes to 60 minutes, depending on how well I slept the night before or how tired I am. How can people connect with you and The Art of Living? theartofliving.com You will find the blog organized by the different areas of life. There's book recommendations, book summaries, articles and courses. If you're overwhelmed, you can sign up to my mailing list and I spend the first week guiding you around the very best content on the site.
35 minutes | 9 months ago
Rising to the Occasion
To leave the corporate world at the beginning of a financial recession to start a company requires big thinking and even bigger action—and Rebecca Clyde has both in spades. Add that to her ability to outhustle and outwork her competitors and it’s no wonder Rebecca was able to quickly find innovative paths to revenue and growth for her clients despite all odds. Today, Rebecca has built one of the most highly sought after marketing communications agencies in Phoenix, Ideas Collide, in addition to co-founding her newest venture Botco.ai, a platform that offers chat-nurturing solutions for businesses. How does she do it? By leading with value and operating under the mentality that if you pay it forward, the rest will follow. In this episode, we talk with Rebecca about the forces that drive her enterprising spirit, the hard lessons she’s learned along the way, and how she creates channels for paying it forward. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. What led you to leave the corporate confines to build your own company, Ideas Collide? At the time, I worked at a good company and really enjoyed everything I did while I was there. But I wanted to take more control of my destiny and my income and I realized the corporate world had a lot of limitations. I realized I had outgrown my ability to work for somebody else and was ready to spread my own wings. In those early days, what were some of the challenges you had to overcome to achieve growth? We started the company in the middle of the recession in 2008. The very beginning years were scrappy. Our goal was to help our clients find a path to revenue and growth despite all of those downward forces. We were also lucky that we were a startup. We didn't have the overhead of a big agency so we could charge less, be nimble, try different things and experiment without a lot of risks. Our clients really appreciated that and as a result, some of our fastest growth years were during that period where most other companies in our industry were contracting. What was the turning point when you realized you had stumbled onto something viable with Botco.ai? My co-founders and I had a hypothesis that the world has shifted to become on-demand. Everyone was struggling to keep up with that on-demand world because the marketing technologies, processes and frameworks that have been built were not designed for it. If we could shift that, and make businesses really responsive, then they would be able to attract more customers and retain them for longer. Last year, one of my customers at Botco.ai A/B tested a campaign where half of their customers were driven to a ‘chat with us’ experience in which they got to interact with the Botco.ai chat. The other half went to their typical landing page to book an appointment. What we learned was when people have a chance to ask questions and get an instant answer, they're twice as likely to convert and become customers. As soon as I saw the results from that effort, I knew we were onto something. Was it tough to make the decision to leave Ideas Collide and go full time with Botco.ai? It was a transition I had to plan over a good amount of time. I couldn't just walk away from it without being very thoughtful. One of the things I did was make a list of all of my duties and responsibilities and slowly began training people to take on each one of those tasks. It was a way to be able to step away from that business so I could start a new company, but it was also a really great way to develop my team. It created that growth trajectory for many of the team members to step up, take on ownership, and truly have an opportunity to run the business, not just be an employee. It was also a growth opportunity for me because it was time for me to build a new company. There was a lot I needed to learn. I needed to have that space to be able to fully give Botco.ai the attention it deserved. What was one of your darkest moments and how did you emerge from it? With both companies, it had to do with the loss of a major customer or client. With Ideas Collide, there was one particular client that was doing a lot of work with us until they essentially shut down and disappeared. I felt like a punch in the stomach. We had all these outstanding payments with this one client and I had not put in good measures to protect ourselves against that. It was a good lesson. Sometimes these learnings can cost a little bit from a dollar standpoint, but we recovered. With Botco.ai, we also had one client that was hit really hard with the pandemic. Unfortunately, their business contracted almost down to zero overnight. They had to go dark and having to deal with that again was a big blow. Very quickly we had to pivot our value proposition to target customers and industries that were not affected by the pandemic, or at least were affected in a different way. We realized that everything we had put in place could be easily adapted into other sectors. We took those knowledge bases and workflows we had created for our old industry and customers and pivoted those for the sector that was going to be having a lot of movement and activity as a result of COVID. What’s one of the best things you’ve done for Botco.ai to help propel its growth? Getting really plugged into the Arizona startup ecosystem. Phoenix is a very young scene for the startup world. Many people would say we're largely underdeveloped, but because of that, there's a lot of desire to help and a lot of great resources. What specifically helped us was winning last year’s Arizona Innovation Challenge. We were one of 10 companies to receive a $150,000 grant. It also came with incredible wraparound services that I am incredibly grateful for. We got to participate in a 500-startup entrepreneurship bootcamp that was really transformational for the business. It's resources like that that have helped us get more visibility and teach me things that I didn't know. Are there one or two connections along your journey that made a big impact? I could write a list of the people in my life to whom I am deeply grateful. Mike Denning has been my coach for many years and has been instrumental for me in terms of my leadership development. Meghan Bednarz, one of my first bosses at Intel, was one of those people who believed in me and my abilities and presented opportunities to me that propelled my career in many ways. Dorothy Dowling at Best Western has also been an incredible mentor and opportunity provider. She’s super visionary and an incredible leader that I admire hugely. Gina Corley is one of those quiet forces here in Arizona who is doing a lot to move businesses forward and to modernize the state of digital marketing in this town. Zack Ferris over at Coplex has been an incredible mentor and friend. Eric Miller at the Arizona Tech Council. One of the big things I really believe in is surrounding myself with positive, high energy, experienced leaders because they have so much they can share and if I'm willing to listen and pay attention, then maybe some of that will rub off onto me. What's one piece of advice you would give to fellow entrepreneurs looking to make impactful connections? The most important thing is to always give and provide value first. For every ask I make, I give 10 times. In my case, I do a lot of giving back through Girls In Tech. I also get asked to support a lot of other organizations here, whether it's teaching a seminar for Local First Arizona and helping small business entrepreneurs, or helping a friend that just wants to learn a little bit about software or sales. Or supporting a fellow founder that just needs a friend to listen to or confide in. There's so many ways we can give back, but unless we're willing to do that on a pretty regular basis, I think the asking will fall short and we'll ring hollow. Make sure you have channels for paying it forward, and then the rest will just take care of itself. Speed round: Coffee drinker, yes or no? Sometimes One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? Botco.AI, obviously. Favorite piece of technology? The Hypersphere. It's a workout ball that helps loosen up your muscles so that you're not so tight. What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? Pitch Anything One person you’d like to make a connection with? The founder of Infusionsoft/Keap, Clate Mask. What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone? I would say, “My name is Rebecca Clyde. I'm the CEO of Botco.Ai and I'm helping businesses double their conversion rates with intelligent chat.” How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? Not enough. Probably about five. How can people connect with you and Botco.ai? It's probably best on LinkedIn. Just mention in your note about how you heard about me, whether it was on this podcast or at a conference or wherever. Just include a little note because I'm most likely to see it that way. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
33 minutes | 9 months ago
Fear Less, Love More
When MeiMei Fox submitted her first book proposal, never in her wildest dreams did she think it would lead to a life-long writing career. But, a fateful connection to the right person (combined with her innate writing talent) soon catapulted MeiMei into the ranks of the New York Times bestselling authors. Today, she is also a contributor to Forbes, The Huffington Post, and Self Magazine, among other publications, and has co-authored several other notable titles. On top of all that, she manages to find the time to serve as a life coach and mother to twin boys. What’s her secret sauce? Fear less, love more. In this episode, we talk to MeiMei about how she fearlessly pursues audacious goals, how she overcomes challenges and her approach for getting big things done: worst first. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above.Your background is in psychology, so what led you to writing? I studied psychology then I went to work at McKinsey as a management consultant and I intended to go down that path, but I was really unhappy. It was fascinating and I was surrounded by brilliant people, but I didn't feel that my work was meaningful and helping the world be a better place. After I finished my two-year program with McKinsey, I was lost and I didn't know what to do next. I was talking with a friend who was a doctor, and he wanted to write a book about supplements and I said, “I can help you write that.” I bought a book called “How to Write a Book Proposal” and I wrote up a proposal for this book that we would co-author. One of my friends knew someone at Penguin Putnam so I sent her the proposal and she wrote back about a week later and said, “I never do this, but we're going to buy your book.” That's how my career in writing got started. What’s been one of your favorite subjects or pieces to write? I've been blessed to have been taken down this path through my mentor in the publishing world. She got me into writing books on spirituality. When I began to work on a book with Robert Thurman, who's a professor of Buddhism at Columbia University (one of the Dalai Lama's oldest friends and also Uma Thurman's dad), I was taken with Buddhism. It's been fascinating to work on several books about Buddhism, learn more about it and find that it really resonated with everything that I believed about the world. I feel like I was almost called down that path during my career in writing. From there, I went to work on The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World with Howard Cutler, which was co-authored with the Dalai Lama. How have you accomplished so much over the course of your career? I expected, and wanted, to have children at a younger age, but I ended up getting divorced and spent most of my 30s being single and not getting remarried until I was almost 40 and starting to have a family then. Even though that wasn't what I wanted, I ended up with all this time. So, I just kept pursuing my interests. Everything I've done has been driven by my passion and my purpose. I don't seek out to win awards or be the wealthiest or most successful. I just go after what excites me and gets me up in the morning with a smile on my face. What, if any, was a significant challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career? Choosing this path is the biggest challenge. There's a great deal of instability and in the world of book editing and ghostwriting—it can be feast or famine. I get a really huge project and get a big chunk of payment upfront and then another chunk when the book is finished. Other times, it's like I'm scrambling to pay the monthly bills. You have to be really comfortable with uncertainty. The trade off has been the excitement and the freedom. I've literally spent most of my career working whenever and wherever in the world that I wanted to. As a life coach, are there any common threads you see in what tends to limit individuals from pursuing or realizing those dreams? I definitely think so. I have a mantra that I've developed over the years, which is “fear less, love more.” What I've seen with a lot of my coaching clients is that it's fear that's holding them back from taking a risk. I think everybody's suited to different levels of risk and different levels of stability. There are ways that you can keep working a steady job and have a reliable income while also beginning to explore some of your passions. What I often find helpful is breaking it down into smaller steps. The other big part of it is holding people accountable. It's so easy to put off our dreams and our passion projects and to procrastinate them or push them to the bottom of the pile. A big part of what I do is holding people accountable to say, “here's this small goal that you set to reach your big dream. What's the timing of that? What are you going to have done in two weeks? What are you going to have done in a month? How can we just start moving there step by step?” Are there one or two impactful connections that shaped your journey significantly? Amy Hurts. She's the one who was the senior editor at Penguin Putnam who bought and published the book. We became friends as we were working on that book together. At the end of that process, she said, “You know, you can do this for a living.” Even though I now had a published book, I still was in denial over the fact that one could be a professional writer. She said, “I will get you a literary agent and your first freelance editing project.” And she did. She remained at my side, guiding me through that process for a decade. I'm immensely indebted to her. What's one piece of advice you would give to someone struggling to achieve an ambitious dream? I think it's so important to break big audacious goals into smaller, more manageable chunks. I also think that you don't have to work with a coach. You don't have to pay anyone. It could be a partner, a parent, a best friend, but I think it's really critical to state your intentions out loud and make them known and have someone who is holding you accountable, checking up on you and seeing if you're continuing to make progress to your goals. Another thing is, a long time ago I heard one piece of advice that I really love –– “worst first.” It's the idea that you have your to-do list and in the morning you do the worst thing first. Speed round: Coffee drinker, yes or no? Yes. One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? Zoom Favorite piece of technology? My smart phone What’s one book you’d pass along to someone who may be looking for new inspiration or a change? The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle One person you’d like to make a connection with? Oprah What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone (either online or off)? My name. MeiMei is Chinese and means little sister. It was a nickname that my brother gave me when I was born, but stuck my whole life. It's a really fun topic of conversation. How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? Seven to eight How can people connect with you? All the social. You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, My Forbes Author Page. And my website is meimeifox.com.
54 minutes | a year ago
Redefining Success on Your Terms
When was the last time you paused, reflected on what was going on in your life, and took a hard look at how it was affecting your happiness, health and overall success? Has it been awhile? More than likely, the answer is “yes.” Often we rush from one task, milestone or accomplishment to the next, in constant pursuit of what we think we need to make us happy, successful and fulfilled. In other words, we’re always looking for more and it’s exhausting. For Karen Mangia, VP of Customer & Market Insights at Salesforce, this was her reality until a health issue forced her to press pause. But as they say, it’s often life’s most challenging situations that present the best gifts. Through this journey, Karen learned that success, happiness and fulfillment wasn’t about more. In fact, it was just the opposite –– a topic she explores in her book, “Success With Less”. In this episode, we talk to Karen about how the idea of “pause, ponder, prioritize” came about, how to peacefully coexist with old habits, and how to identify when you’re at a crossroads and what to do about it. What led you to write “Success With Less”? I think back to those early days when my mom would do this chore chart. It would be a list every day of the things that you were supposed to do and the behaviors you were supposed to display. If I did it, I would get one of those gold stars. I loved being able to see the stars across the board, like these little moments of achievement. I took that gold star mentality forward in life. Keep saying yes, keep performing, and keep amassing those gold stars. It was a formula that worked incredibly well early in my career. I earned several promotions and got some recognition and rewards that created more opportunities. The challenge was that the further you go in your career and life, you have to be more thoughtful about what you're saying yes to and whether it’s serving you and moving closer to your goals. All those gold stars eventually added up to a really major setback in my life and I started discovering that “Success With Less” formula. How I defined success changed radically. Success was getting healthy enough again to be able to enjoy my life and that was a very different definition than getting gold stars, and that was okay. Being a type-A personality, how did you teach yourself to pause more frequently? In some ways, the pause was forced on me because I was conscious that I really did have limited time and energy. What I found during that time was that having a success mindset and an outcome in mind helped me start saying “no” to things that might drain my energy and not get me closer to my goal. What I started to discover when I was saying “no” on my own terms or pausing from endless activity was the pauses that we choose feel really different than the ones that are forced on us. What I started finding was when I could choose these moments to pause because they would help me refresh or reset, it felt a little more empowering. How do keep from returning to old habits and thought patterns that set you back? It is really difficult to change our routines and boundaries and then stick with them because that takes energy. We don't always have all the energy that we need to endlessly keep everything in perfect balance. What's important is how do you reset when you find that happening? I'll never forget what my friend once said—that it is okay to look behind you and acknowledge that that person with those habits is still there and it's always going to be there. The difference is you can see that person from a distance and peacefully coexist which means you now have permission to make a different choice. Having a little bit of saving grace that you're still human and you're gonna make mistakes will go a long way. Are there one or two people along your journey who have really transformed the trajectory of your career? There are a couple who come to mind. I had hit a point where I was looking for a role outside of sales and I had flown to another city for a job interview in my same company. When I got to the city and in my rental car, the interviewer called me and canceled the interview. I'm like, what do I do now? I found this mentor and she said, “Drive to my office, I'll think of a plan.” When I got there, she said, “Great news. You and our Chief Operating Officer graduated from the same university. You'll call him, tell him you're in town and that you would love to meet him because he went to the same university.” I thought this sounded like a horrible plan, but I was desperate. I called, met up with him, and ultimately ended up working for him. This sent me on a completely different career path and really brought me to where I am now. Another really formative person that stands out for me is an executive coach I had named Diane. I dedicated the Success with Less book to her because it never would have happened without her coaching and encouragement. What are some of the best ways you intentionally make impactful connections to grow yourself? When I think about growth, I think about what I want to learn and experience next. Sometimes those things come about organically and sometimes I'll find it when I'm listening to somebody else describe a hobby or something they do in their role. I get really excited and I think I would love to try that. That's always been something that's guided my career and my life, where I've sampled different hobbies and experiences. I've found that that has led me on some really interesting paths. What would you recommend to somebody who maybe feels like they're at a crossroads but don’t know what direction to go? I refer to that as the general malaise—that feeling that nothing is getting you super excited and you don't really feel a clear sense of where to go next. In those times, I try to think about any small thing that might be enjoyable or what is it that you did when you were five that you absolutely loved? Do just a little something that sparks that nostalgic joy. Be really observant about if anything lights you up. Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to figure it out in an instant, but it's okay to live in that spot for a while. Another tool that has helped me is going with the people who I don't know that invite me to connect and have a conversation. I will go through a period where I just say “yes.” I don't know where I'm headed at the moment so this “yes” might be something that ignites excitement or opens up a path to a new opportunity. Speed Round Are you a coffee drinker? Yes What is one business tool you're geeking out over right now? I hate to admit it, and it's so cliche, but Zoom. What is your favorite piece of technology? My mobile phone What's one book you'd pass along to someone who may be looking for new inspiration? Lifescale by Brian Solis. He has some fantastic tools about how to shut out distractions and work in 90 minute sprints. Who is one person you'd like to make a connection with? Brené Brown. I find what she has to say to be incredibly practical, soulful and challenging. What is one of your favorite icebreakers? Two things that I like to ask people about are what are you excited about right now and what was their first job? How many hours of sleep do you get each night on average? I make a concentrated effort to get eight hours of sleep every night. How can people connect you? You can find me on Twitter @karenmangia or you can find me on LinkedIn. I would love to connect with you and hear your story and learn from you.
80 minutes | a year ago
Marketers: It’s Time to Own More of the Funnel
When most people think of marketing, they think big energy, big talkers, big ideas and even bigger results. And while this may be true, building an effective marketing strategy—and team—is about starting small and ensuring quality always overrides quantity. It’s with this mentality that Charlotte Bohnett, senior director of demand generation at WebPT, and Brooke Andrus, content marketing manager at WebPT, have helped develop an extremely effective inbound marketing engine that has led WebPT to become the third-most sought after resource for compliance and billing in the rehab therapy industry. In this episode of The SuccessLab Podcast, Charlotte and Brooke talk about how they got their start in marketing and how they’ve built a powerhouse marketing engine that has helped grow WebPT from a bootstrapped startup to a rapid-growth tech company. This dynamic duo also explains the pivotal role WebPT’s content marketing strategy plays within the team’s approach to demand generation as well as why marketing teams should own more of the funnel. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. What led you to WebPT? Charlotte: I started at WebPT eight years ago. I finished graduate school in Northwestern Ohio and was working at a B2B company that was a distributor of media to public library systems in the US and Canada. They had just expanded into developing a software that libraries could use for checking out video content so I started dabbling in software as a service in the B2B space. My husband and I both wanted to spread our wings in marketing so we applied for jobs all over the country. Fortunately, WebPT reached out to me for a copywriter position. I had a really good feeling about it, so my husband and I packed up and we drove across the country. I knew it was the right fit for me. Brooke: I went to journalism school at the University of Montana and started out my career as a community newspaper reporter and photographer. The parent company that ran our newspaper was constantly reducing newsrooms across the entire organization and I always felt like my job was in jeopardy. Me and my editor were doing the work of six people so I burned out really fast and I decided that it was time to look for something else. I expanded my reach beyond journalism and dabbled in some communications and media relations roles. The company that I was at before WebPT was basically a startup that ended up failing right in the middle of my contract with them. I started looking around and saw the listing at WebPT and was immediately struck by how different and fun it was. I had no idea what an EMR was. I didn't know what SaaS was, but the style and tone of the listing spoke to me so I applied. They called me an hour later to set up an interview. I ended up taking the job, driving across the country and started a new life in Phoenix. What have you been most proud of during your time at WebPT? Charlotte: The team. I have played a hand in hiring every single person in the marketing department. It’s my top highlight because without this team we wouldn't have been able to demonstrate the overwhelming value of marketing and of intentionally crafting a very human brand. Without this team, we wouldn't see month-over-month and year-over-year success regardless of the economic or political climate. WebPT has been a juggernaut for over a decade and it is in large part due to this marketing team. Brooke: Making our “Annual State of Rehab Therapy Report” into what it is now. Originally, it was supposed to be a product marketing project to survey the industry and find the data they need to make sure what we were developing was solving our industry's needs. In the middle of the survey our product marketing manager ended up leaving and nobody was stepping in to close the loop on the project. Even though I didn't necessarily want to, I knew it needed to be done so I ended up taking the reins and seeing it through. It turned into this really awesome report and over the years it's evolved into our flagship content marketing piece. We've now done three and I've become the point person for the entire project, from distributing the survey and collecting the data to turning it into this beautiful, polished book. What role does content marketing play in your go-to-market and demand-gen strategies? Charlotte: Content marketing is the foundation of everything we do. Roughly 60% of our leads come in through pure inbound. We wouldn't get so many leads on our website if we didn't have so much traffic coming in organically and that traffic is purely because of how stellar our content is. We wouldn't amass the email marketing leads that we have if our email marketing wasn't fueled by a fantastic monthly newsletter, weekly blog digest, and a webinar series. We also use marketing automation to drip anybody who interacts with any of our content. We have figured out how to make connections to our products with content at every stage of the funnel. Without our content marketing program, we would not see the volume of leads that we are driving. Brooke: Our enterprise sales development works a little bit differently than everything else. Our reps are working bigger accounts for multi-location practices or hospitals. Those are longer sales cycles so they have to do a lot more outreach to keep those leads warm. Everything from blog posts to the industry report has helped give those reps the tools they need to reach out and keep the conversation going. What connections along your journeys have made the biggest impact? Charlotte: One person who has majorly impacted both me and Brooke is Heidi Jannenga. She is an example of an executive who has figured out how to be one with the people. She’s honest, transparent, tough as nails and absolutely brilliant. She trusts and respects other people and prioritizes surrounding herself with people who are going to teach her things and then she empowers them. One other person is Mike Manheimer. He's one of the people who fought to hire me at WebPT and he worked with me closely for the entire time he was at WebPT. Before he left to lead demand gen marketing at Gainsight, he fought to promote me to an official manager title and give me authority. After he left, I felt empowered to lead that team. Without Mike showing me that a boss could be somebody who can treat you as an equal, I don't know if I would have known that that's the kind of team that I could create at WebPT. Brooke: I definitely owe my start in marketing and the progression through my roles in the marketing team to Charlotte. I had zero management ambition when I started, but Charlotte recognized the potential in me and it is a huge reason why I ended up pursuing a leadership path. She believed I could do it even though I had no experience managing people and I wasn't confident in my natural leadership abilities. She helped me make that transition and she's always had my back. No matter what happens, whether I feel like I made the right or wrong decision, Charlotte's there to help me turn it into a growth experience. What is one piece of advice you would give to marketers who might be struggling to scale or operationalize content within the organization? Charlotte: Make marketing own more of the funnel. Don't hand over prospects who download a white paper to sales. Keep those people in the marketing funnel, nurture them and get them to commit to a demo because then you're able to control more of the entire funnel and you take a load off of sales, which demonstrates the value of marketing. Marketing is proving that we can qualify the leads through marketing automation. Brooke: Start small. Our content marketing program is a multifaceted, well-oiled machine at this point, but it was not always that way. It's a process. The first step is getting in tune with your audience, understanding what they want to consume, when they want to consume it and how they want to consume it. Create a plan for a month, then try to plan for a quarter, then try to do a high level plan for a year. Keep in mind you don't have to publish something every single day. I think that's a mistake that a lot of content marketers make. Be thoughtful about the content that you're producing and focus more on quality than on quantity. Speed Round Are you a coffee drinker, yes or no? Brooke: Yes. I have one or two cups of coffee first thing in the morning and nothing after that. Charlotte: Yes. I consume all my coffee before noon, but I drink coffee all morning long. What is one marketing tool you are geeking out over right now? Charlotte: Our company is very into Drift right now. What is your favorite piece of technology? Charlotte: Roku Brooke: Garmin watch What's one book you would pass along to a fellow marketer? Charlotte: The book that I would give people is no book at all. I would tell them to be more observant of the marketing world around them. Brooke: This isn't really a marketing book, but a writing book that I recommend to people is “Eats, Shoots & Leaves.” It’s incredibly entertaining but it also teaches a lot about writing in a clear, concise manner. Who's one person you'd like to make a connection with? Charlotte: Jameela Jamil Brooke: Barbara Walters What is one of your favorite ice breakers when you're introducing yourself to someone? Charlotte: Talking to people about the food and drinks at events, which actually works out very well because people always want to critique whatever they're eating and drinking at that moment. Brooke: If you see somebody with cool swag from the trade show floor, you can ask them where they got it. How many hours of sleep on average do you guys each get each night? Charlotte: About 7 hours Brooke: 7-8 hours Connect with Charlotte, Brooke and WebPT: You can go to webpt.com. You can follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest. If you want to get in touch with me or Brooke you
51 minutes | a year ago
Making Content "Sticky" Starts With Effective Planning
“Use analytics to see what's working. Double down on those things and cancel something else.” How much time do you spend with your analytics? Seeing what’s delivering results and what’s not? Looking at what content played well across which channels –– and what content gave you the most mileage. This is where Andy Crestodina, co-founder and CMO of Orbit Media Studios, a digital agency based in Chicago, believes content marketers should start their content planning. In this episode of The SuccessLab Podcast, Andy shares how this strategy has helped him and his team create a winning (and scalable) content strategy. What prompted you to change your role from Strategic Director to CMO now at Orbit? Amanda Gant is our in-house marketer and she is 100% deserving of the director title. Partly to keep there from being confusion, we titled up a little bit. Amanda has a title that's more fitting of her role and I am a cofounder. I just ended up being the CFO. We're only a 40 person company so the titles are not super meaningful. I actually still do a good bit of sales, but a lot of my time is spent doing content marketing and I still do tons of writing, speaking and teaching. What are you doing at Orbit for your clients? Have things changed at all in the last month in terms of how you’re servicing clients? Our company is primarily focused on web design and development. The content we're creating is basically evergreen content for sales pages. The purpose of these projects is to improve the foundation and platform for marketing and these are things that aren't affected by the massive change in the economy. It has definitely impacted the business environment and the work life of everyone we collaborate with. It's affected the appetite for risk, the concern about cash flow, the pace of sales and pipeline and leads. It's had a big impact but not in the deliverable itself. I can't just publish another ‘how to get more Twitter followers’. What I had to do was to look at what would give comfort to an email subscriber. What kind of article would make sense, and concluded that it would be useful to people in my audience to see what is happening in the industry. I quickly got a survey out of 122 agency owners to ask, what has the impact been for you? I was able to hopefully add to the conversation by putting out a bit of original research. There's some charts in there that really show how providers of different services were affected at different levels. There's a lot of unity in what's happening. I've adapted my communication strategy with clients a bit, but that piece of content is an example of how we can all be sensitive and still create value for an audience. That is a pivot away from the classic common topics and content strategy that we used to run. As companies are thinking about their content strategies, is it a time to be accelerating content marketing efforts or is it time to pull back? We all still have the same number of hours in a day. Some of us who now have zero travel time, have more hours in the day. Rather than doing content marketing or PR, if you're a brand, go back and revise the sales pages on your website, improve the homepage of your website, add testimonials or re-update all of those service pages and product pages. I used to wake up in the morning and spend half an hour or an hour on an article. Now I'm waking up in the morning and spending half an hour or an article rewriting a sales page. Similarly, it's a good time to polish your social media bios and do a little personal branding. You can also build content that can be released later. Let's say you'd always wanted to create a new program with a series of weekly videos. You can now go ahead and pre-record an entire series of content and when it's ready, just queue them up. Go look at all this stuff you're paying for or evaluate a tool that you've never used before. PR people and content marketers can keep strong relationships right now. It's a really powerful time to build stronger relationships and just show that you care and show that you're here. What steps should marketers take to make their content more discoverable? Or what are some of the things that you do? There was always this debate about bounce rate. We built a thousand websites over the years so I have access to hundreds of analytics accounts. I actually had a VA go look at all these analytics accounts and copy and paste different bounce rates from different traffic sources into a spreadsheet. We got up to 500 analytics accounts. I averaged all these and published this number. The average bounce rate on websites is 61%. Then I did it by industry and I did it by traffic source and produced this piece of research that was built to be promoted. It took maybe 30 or 40 hours to make this whole thing. Now I have a piece of content that is totally original. It is the best page on the internet for its topic. It's beginning now to rank in search and it's been picked up by other websites. It looks great in streams because of the visuals. I can reference it from other articles that I've written and as time goes on, I'm going to look for ways to incorporate this into presentations and other content. Are there some other best practices for content distribution? One of the things that it took me a while to figure out is that when you look at a topic or a headline, it's often true that that topic or headline has a natural advantage in either search or in social. If the piece that you're working on answers a question and has long detailed answers, that is likely something that will work well in search. On the other hand, if the piece is a little bit unexpected and has visuals and it's highly collaborative, that is going to work well on social media. They're sort of opposites. In search, your job is to meet expectations but in social, your job is to be a little bit unexpected because you know nothing about what they're thinking. You can basically look at a topic or a headline and ask yourself, is someone looking for this? Does this satisfy an information need or is this kind of emotional? Does this leave curiosity or is it unexpected? That dichotomy and understanding the different psychologies of people in those channels has helped me a lot. When I even begin to think about a topic, I'm already planning how and where that might work best and then tuning it up to work in that place. On the SuccessLab podcast, we often talk about this idea of impactful connections and how they can really transform the trajectory of your career or your business in some way. Is there one or two along your journey that made a really big impact? There is someone that I knew in the early days of our company. His name is Ed Tucker and he was the co-founder of a company called Octane Communications. He was a more mature business person at the time. He'd come from big agencies so he had that experience of pitching larger projects. He showed me how to have tough conversations with clients and that pricing things at a level where you can feed yourself is possible. Watching someone make decisions made a difference and was really useful to me. What's one piece of advice you would give to fellow marketers who may be struggling to scale or operationalized content in their organizations? Use analytics to see what's working. Double down on those things and cancel something else. Try to get a little bit of data about what's working and then do much more of what seems to be working and stop doing some things that weren't working. I wish I had done this years earlier. What people often find is that bigger and harder thing is worth it. It might be two or three times harder to create, but it might give you 10 or 20 times the result. I have learned that it makes more sense for me to do a larger, more authoritative, longer exhaustive piece of content less often. Speed Round Are you a coffee drinker? Yes or no? Yes. What is one marketing tool you're geeking out over right now? Analytics What is a favorite piece of technology? Noise-canceling headphones What is one book you'd pass along to a fellow marketer? Deep Work by Cal Newport Who's one person that you would like to make a connection with? I am blown away by the vision of Elon Musk. I think that guy's brain is fascinating and it'd be fun to hang out with him for an afternoon. What is your favorite icebreaker when introducing yourself to someone, either online or in person? I like to just leave it pretty open and ask someone what they're working on. It often leads to good conversation. They may get specific about a project and you instantly move away from small talk towards something interesting that they feel passionate for. How many hours of sleep do you get each night on average? Six and a half. I have a one-year-old though. How can people connect with you or orbit? Sign up for a biweekly newsletter on our blog at orbitmedia.com/blog. I also wrote a book which is called Content Chemistry. Another great resource Andy mentioned during the interview is this blog post: https://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/whats-a-good-bounce-rate/
44 minutes | a year ago
Content That Converts Starts With Knowing Your Audience
Want to build an effective go-to-market strategy? Get out and talk to your stakeholders. That may not be a novel concept, but it’s one that’s often forgotten. For Cory Fetter, product marketing and go-to-market leader at Front, it’s foundational to an effective go-to-market strategy. And when we’re talking stakeholders, it’s not just customers, it’s also product, sales and customer success teams. In this interview, Cory shares how he approaches building strategies, how he thinks about and uses content to better enable the sales team, increase funnel velocity, and build a loyal customer base, and why he believes effective marketing starts with caring. Tell us about your journey? How did you get into leading go-to-market strategies for SaaS companies? When I started my career, I didn't envision this. I originally was on the corporate communications side and I joined a global technology distributor in Phoenix called Avnet. I loved the value that was put into effective communication, especially around different cultures and geographies and the rigorous review processes they had. Thereafter, I joined Infusionsoft, which is now rebranded as Keep. I eventually led the PR team and focused a lot of my time on messaging and positioning around the product. I eventually transitioned into product marketing and more formally go-to-market strategy. Then I joined a company called Gainsight. Originally, I focused on growing their SMB segment of business and I leveraged a lot of what I learned at Infusionsoft [Keap] in that role. We eventually acquired a company and then I led the go-to-market strategy for that product line. Most recently, I've joined Front where I'm focused on building and leading the go to market across key industries and in different use cases. You recently landed at Front, what were some of the first steps you took to set yourself (and the company) up for success? I'm still very much in the process of this. I view my first 30 days as primarily to understand the landscape. I've been talking with a lot of people in sales within the product team, the success team, support team and marketing. I am focusing on key questions like, what is our primary target market today? Who do we believe to be the ideal customer profile and trying to learn more about our competitors, their strengths and how are they positioning their product? What types of content are they pushing out into the market? Are there gaps or resources the team needs to help accelerate the pipeline? What has worked within our target audience and what marketing channels are we leveraging? Answering those questions within the first 30 days will allow me to effectively craft the go-to-market strategies. How do you determine what niches to focus on and then how do you dig in and learn about them? When you talk to enough people or listen to enough sales conversations, you're going to start finding a pattern. That's usually where I start. I get directional guidance, but then I also look at the data and the usage behind our existing customer base. At Front, I'm fortunate we have some tools that make it easier for me to go in and explore among our customer base and what industries they fall in. Going through that process of narrowing it down with that anecdotal or directional insight from the conversations you've had upfront to more of the analytical data-driven approach, you can layer those on top of each other to get a really good understanding of where you should focus. What role does content marketing play in your GTM strategies? I can have sales enablement sessions with our sales team and make sure that they understand who our target audience is and what key messages should they hit on, but if the team and company doesn't have any content to generate the interest, we're not going to have anyone to talk to. If the sales team doesn't have the content to help facilitate those conversations, you don’t have all of the tools in your toolbox to close that deal as effectively as you can. Content is at the core of all of my go-to-market campaigns that I focus on. Are there one or two impactful connections along your journey that made a big impact? I've had several mentors in my career that really did change the trajectory. Rhett Wilson. He is not even in the marketing industry but has provided so much guidance. He works for the White House Historical Association and his advice on how to interact with others in business helped me so much early in my career and still helps me to this day. Others that are in marketing, like Greg Head who was the CMO at Infusionsoft or Terry Hicks, who was the COO, modeled by example and the one-off conversations that you may not think of as being very formative ended up being very formative. Some of the greatest advice that I got from everyone collectively is be intentional with your career and ask yourself every year, every quarter or every month, are you getting what you need within your current role to achieve the goals that you've set out for yourself? If you're not, that's when you have to ask the questions around what can I re-architect or change within my current role? Or, is it time to go look for that next challenge? What's one piece of advice you would give to fellow marketers who may be struggling to scale or operationalize content in their organizations? I'm going to pull from one of my favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Have the conversation around why you're doing this and why should they care about your content goals and your go-to-market goals and help them see the value of pushing through a new process or scaling content in a certain way. Speed round: Coffee drinker, yes or no? Yes. One marketing tool you’re geeking out over right now? Looker, a marketing analytics tool that enables self-serve analysis. Favorite piece of technology? Front has totally changed the way that I look at email. What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow marketer? Never Eat Alone One person you’d like to make a connection with? Jeff Bezos. Given what's happening in the world and how Amazon is truly allowing us to continue to function, it would be so interesting. What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone (either online or off)? Sharing a stat about Arizona, that it is literally one of the sunniest places in the world. A lot of people outside of the state don’t know that and they always find that to be somewhat interesting. How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? Six or seven. Connect with Cory on LinkedIn. For Front, check out frontapp.com. (P.S. You can try the software for free!)
30 minutes | a year ago
Get Out, Get Uncomfortable
Steven Kiger got the entrepreneurial itch in high school, creating odd jobs for himself that would fund weekend excursions with his friend. Today, Steven has founded several ventures, and is currently a partner and CPO at RocketSource, a company specializing in transforming the customer experience, and the co-founder of Platstack, a platform that allows you to save, organize and share topics you care most about. On this episode of The SuccessLab Podcast, Steven shares why getting uncomfortable has been key to his success, the value of surrounding yourself with people who have experienced both great successes and great failures, and how he was able to push through multiple startup failures. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. You have a storied career in entrepreneurship. What was your first venture and how did you start? My very first entrepreneurial venture was back in high school. During the summer, my friends and I would knock door to door to see if people would want us to spray paint address numbers on their curbs. We would strategize around how many doors we had to knock to afford our night out. These entrepreneurial moments continued throughout college and then into my first job, which was at a Fortune 500 company in the dental space. I noticed there was a huge demand for dental marketing and there weren't a lot of companies doing it. I decided to actually quit my full-time job and start a dental marketing company. What were the early days of your entrepreneurial journey like? I was lucky to start at an early age. I was 24 years old. I was single. I had no dependents and I just had to make sure I paid my rent every month. It wasn't a huge amount of stress because I knew there wasn't a lot of risk in doing it. It was exciting. I would say the biggest thing is just getting uncomfortable and doing something you've never done before. What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered as you grew the business? It was just myself for a long time, so for me, the hardest thing was hiring that first person. It took me many, many years to get to the courage to do that. But it was one of the best decisions I made –– and he's still with me. What was one of your darkest hours and how did you pull yourself out of it? I started an app six or seven years ago called Mover, which was like an Uber for renting trucks. We spent a lot of money on it and built it out. Unfortunately, we never found product-market fit in Utah because everyone has a truck or knows someone that has a truck. Any sort of failure like that, where you spend years of your time, energy, excitement and money only to shut it down, hurts. With those failures, I've learned a lot and to continue pushing forward. What led you to RocketSource and ultimately to sell your other marketing company? It was a tough decision to sell the company but I got to the point where I wanted to build my own products. I had a lot of conversations with my wife and luckily she has been super supportive. I was also lucky enough to get connected my now co-founder, Buckley Barlow. We joined forces and then I brought in the third partner who I worked with in the past. He ran his own digital technology coding shop. And so we needed that dev partner as well. So we had a creative, a growth guy and a dev guy needed to create RocketSource. The ultimate goal with RocketSource was to create a service-based company that can generate some good revenue and ultimately build really cool products we can grow. What has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned along your entrepreneurial journey? My mantra is to never burn a bridge. I've had really crappy clients in the 20 years I've been doing this and I always suck it up and do the job to make sure they’re happy. Interestingly, some of my best clients have come as referrals from some of my worst clients. It has served me very well. Has there been a connection you’ve made along your journey that made a big impact? My partner in crime, Buckley Barlow. He's a genius in a lot of ways. He's mentored me over the last seven years to become someone who I wasn't before. What’s one of the best ways you make impactful connections to grow yourself and your business? It's amazing what now is available versus when I started 20 years ago. I would say to challenge yourself. Go find entrepreneurial clubs, look on Meetup, find lunches, join a local Slack group, get super uncomfortable. Ultimately, most people want to help each other and one of the best ways to do that is to just get out there. Speed round: One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? Slack Favorite piece of technology? Anything that can save time through a mobile device. What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? Don't Make Me Think One person you’d like to make a connection with? Barack Obama What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone (either online or off)? Normally I like to talk about travel, anything along the lines of finding out where they've been, what they've done. What is your favorite way you rejuvenate and refresh? Snowboarding. Just getting outdoors and turning off the devices. How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? Eight How can people connect with you or RocketSource? We'd love to have anyone try out Platstack. We haven't fully launched yet so there might be some bugs but we're looking for people to try it out and give us some feedback. You can connect with me on LinkedIn and RocketSource.com is our website.
23 minutes | a year ago
Patience: More Than a Virtue, It’s a Strategy
Like many entrepreneurs, Jacob Findlay gave up the comforts of a secure job, a reliable paycheck and benefits for a new world of unknowns. But unlike other entrepreneurs, he decided to take a year to work in the field he was aiming to disrupt to learn it from the inside out. Leaving his job as the director of finance at a rapid-growth SaaS company to work in a diesel repair shop may sound unorthodox, but for Jacob, it was a necessary step in his entrepreneurial journey. Today, Jacob is the founder and CEO of Fullbay, a cloud-based heavy duty truck repair and shop management software based in Phoenix. Now in its fifth year, Fullbay has grown to become the number-one fleet repair platform in North America, completed a very successful Series A funding round, and was recently named the outright winner of Invest Southwest’s and Arizona Commerce Authority’s Venture Madness competition. In this episode of The Success Lab Podcast, Jacob talks about the importance of starting lean, building a network that helps you focus rather than distract you, and, above all, the value of practicing patience in business. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. What led to you build Fullbay? I fell into the software startup world on the electronic medical record side and was fortunate enough to be involved in three startups. At one point, I heard from a friend who was looking to find good software for his truck shop and was frustrated in what was out there. The idea was sparked and I thought, “why don’t we just build it?” So, I quit my job and I worked in a truck shop for a year to gain some credibility before we launched Fullbay. What's been one of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome as founder of a fast-growth SaaS company? Learning patience. We are five years in and we're just now doing the things I've wanted to do since the beginning. It's really satisfying. I think it's easy to get pulled into chasing shiny objects that don't necessarily build a company. We've been fortunate enough to keep our eye on the ball and be patient enough to wait to do the amazing things we know we can do. What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs looking to build impactful connections? The way you build anything is to start with a thesis and then test it. Based on that evidence, you're going to establish the next thesis. Another thing that I think is important is that you don't have to be in endless rounds of fundraising, which can be a huge distraction. Try to start your organization as a lean startup. You can continue doing that as it scales. I believe this vastly increases the probability that it's going to survive. What’s one of the best ways you make impactful connections to grow yourself and your business? For about three years I've been involved with the StartupAZ Foundation, which is an incredible group and anybody who has or is looking to start a company should definitely become part of that or something similar in your community. Speed round: Coffee drinker, yes or no? No, LaCroix. One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? Bamboo HR Favorite piece of technology? The iPhone is amazing. One person you’d like to make a connection with? Elon Musk What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone (either online or off)? I try to get them talking about themselves. How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? Seven hours and 15 minutes. How can people connect with you or Fullbay? On the web at fullbay.com. And you can always hit me up on LinkedIn.
45 minutes | a year ago
Show Up and Follow Up: The Keys to Making Impactful Connections
Finding the courage to be yourself –– and showing up as your full self everyday –– isn’t the easiest thing to do for most. But that’s exactly what Park Howell put his time and energy into doing and it’s been one of the keys to living a fulfilling life, personally and professionally. As the founder of The Business of Story, a platform-based system that helps purpose-driven brands find their voice and connect through the art of storytelling, Park knows firsthand the struggles that come with growing a business. Well, two in his case. He is also the founder of Park&Co., an advertising and marketing agency, which has been in business for over 24 years, as well as the host of The Business of Story podcast. In this episode of The Success Lab Podcast, we have a frank discussion with Park about what the early days were like as a startup entrepreneur, how he eventually achieved a true work-life balance, and the importance of simply showing up and following up. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. What led you to create Park&Co.? I grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the Seattle area. I graduated from Washington State University and moved down to Phoenix in 1985 thinking I was going to be here for a year or two. But I met my wife and had three kids and have been here ever since. While here, I started working as a writer for a public relations firm. I really love the creativity of copywriting for advertising so I moved over to the ad world side. I worked then in-house for a company called Quorum International as its creative director. When I left there, I knew it was time for me to start my own ad agency so I started as a one man band and grew it from there. What were those early days like? In the early days I was literally working out of this tiny little room in the back of our very first house that we bought while raising our three kids. Like any entrepreneurial struggle, you get up early, you get on the phone, you deal with clients, and you fend off little kids trying to get your attention while you're trying to get work done at home. You live that for what seems like 24/7 for the first couple of years until you get your feet beneath you. I was very blessed because my very first client was Forever Living Products International. They brought me into their fold like family and I worked with them for about 18 years and still do some consulting with them on the side. My second client was Sky Harbor International Airport and I represented them for about 10 years. I had a really fortunate one-two punch with clients when starting up my agency. What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered in growing Park&Co.? I remember on a couple of occasions becoming very overwhelmed by biting off way more than I could possibly chew. Although I had the energy to put into it, I was also looking at work-life balance with our family. I grew up in a family of seven kids and my parents were always there for us. Balance is really important to me. It's something you chip away at it and hope to figure it out sooner than later. We did, but it was a challenge, especially while we were continuing to build the company without spending a lot of money on employees. What has been one of the best things you’ve done for The Business of Story to help propel its growth? The (Business of Story) podcast I do once a week. It is a lot of work, but it enables me to connect with amazing minds from all around the world. We cover every aspect of business storytelling. I've also got a really excellent person that handles my community development and SEO for my company. What was one of the most important lessons you’ve learned along the way? I think the secret to achieving your goals is 50% showing up and 50% following up. You have to do what you say you're going to do, otherwise you will lose complete and utter credibility. What connections along your journey have made a big impact? There was a gentleman who has totally changed the course of my life. His name is Bruno Sarda. At the time, he was working at Dell in sustainability and supply chain and was also teaching at Arizona State University. At a conference in Phoenix, Bruno came over, introduced himself and we became friends. Bruno called me one day and said ASU was looking for a leadership professor and he wanted to invite me to write out the communications curriculum around my storytelling program. I'd never done anything like that before and I ended up doing it for five years. You just never ever know when that person's going to step into your world and have that tremendous impact. What's one piece of advice you would give to fellow entrepreneurs looking to make impactful connections? Be yourself –– show up as who you are. I know people hear that all the time, but often when we're young in our careers and we're trying to look accomplished and as if we have our act together, it gets in the way of who we really are and all the foibles and the vulnerabilities we have. I was talking to my mom, who's 95 and in great health, and I asked her, “What's the difference from 30 years ago to who you are now?” She said, “I worry a heck of a lot less.” I would tell people, stop worrying about themselves and get over the fact that you don't have it all figured out because none of us do. Speed round: Coffee drinker, yes or no? Yes. One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? My Calendly calendar invite system. Favorite piece of technology? This microphone and the ability to be able to record. What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? One of my favorite storytelling books in business is Shawn Callahan's Putting Stories to Work. One person you’d like to make a connection with? Ben Folds. He’s a great songwriter, piano player, and pop rock and roller. What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone (either online or off)? I don't have one icebreaker that fits all. I have to first look at the background and I'll ask a question particular to their situation so I can connect with them as quickly as possible. How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? I get between six and eight hours. How can people connect with you or The Business of Story? Head on over to the website businessofstory.com. If you have any questions specific to me, feel free to shoot me an email at email@example.com or we also have a private Facebook group, a Business of Story for leaders. We welcome all newcomers who are interested in learning how to better communicate and have more confidence in their communication using the power of story.
36 minutes | a year ago
Trailblazing a Community Through the Power of Yes
How do you make an impact with others? Purple hair can help. But Holly Rushton’s secret sauce is being a “yes” person and tapping into positive energy. These two simple –– yet highly effective tips –– have helped her navigate a major acquisition and make a name for herself at Salesforce, where she is a senior manager of content marketing, works with Salesforce’s Trailblazer Community and oversees content for AppExchange. Her “you get out what you put in” attitude has also been highly effective in her ability to manage the highs and lows that come with working remotely –– namely helping her build and maintain solid relationships with her coworkers. In this episode of The Success Lab Podcast, Holly talks about the journey that led her to Salesforce, how she has navigated her role through acquisitions, and reveals what she’s most excited about from a content marketing perspective in 2020. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. How did you land at Salesforce? Looking back, I think it was always a goal to work for a larger enterprise. I worked for a Midwestern tech startup called ExactTarget, and we were acquired by Salesforce in 2013. And the rest is history. What is one of the most rewarding perks of working at Salesforce that only those on the inside would know? I don't want to give away all of our secrets, but you'll probably hear two things. The first one’s a bit tongue in cheek –– we get really great snacks in the office. There's a whole cult following of all of our wonderful snacks, which is a testament to Salesforce and how much they care about their employees and want to make sure that they’re productive. However, I think the most rewarding part of working at Salesforce is the ability to try new things and to grow. I have worked for a handful of other companies prior to coming to this ecosystem and the opportunity to grow your career path has not been there. I would work for companies where you had to literally be fired and rehired if you wanted to change departments or your level of contribution –– and that's not a way to run an employee culture. How do you maintain strong relationships being a remote employee? It actually hasn't been a very easy journey for me. I started working remotely in 2016. It was a really hard change for me and it was difficult for me to feel connected and motivated. What helps is to identify people who are also not based at HQ that you can develop strong relationships with. We have an internal network called Ohana at Home. It's for all remote employees. We share photos of our cats or our workspaces and we participate in a lot of general conversations. Also, being present helps. Video conferencing is a game-changer. I used to never turn on my webcam but being in front of people and showing your face, even if it's just to nod or say hi, is really important. You really need to put in the energy. At least that's what I've found has been successful for me. What's one piece of advice you would give to fellow marketers looking to make impactful connections? Being open and being willing to say, "yes." Bringing the energy to building relationships because connections aren't going to be made. Connections take work. You have to be at certain places or talk to certain people. You get what you put in. What are you most excited about from a content marketing perspective for 2020? I was recently reading a piece from the Content Marketing Institute, and Jay Baer, from Convince & Convert, was talking about the importance of user-generated content. He said for 2020, you'll need to determine what inspires your audience to create and share your story, and that it's not about changing the message, it's about changing the messenger. I think that’s a really exciting prediction. Lightening Round: Coffee drinker, yes or no? Yes. One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? I love this Chrome extension called Momentum. Every time you open your browser or a new tab, it displays a beautiful photo and an inspirational quote. You can also keep a digital to-do list on there, which is really helpful for me. Favorite marketing tool? The Salesforce Marketing Cloud. We also use a tool on my team called Social Studio, which is also owned by us. It's really great for engagement. What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? It's not a traditional marketing book, but Stephen King's On Writing was an important book for me when I was just finishing up college and knew I wanted to do writing in some format. One person you’d like to make a connection with? Barack Obama. Definitely. What’s your favorite ice breaker when introducing yourself to someone (either online or off)? I like to do Two Truths and A Lie. How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? Probably, five to six. What’s your favorite board game? I'm a big board gamer and I would have to say I really love Lords of Waterdeep. Which was your favorite musical act from this year’s Dreamforce? It would definitely be Fleetwood Mac. You can always give me a follow on Twitter –– you can find me at @hollymrushton. I’m also available to connect via LinkedIn. Just look for the girl with purple hair and black glasses.
56 minutes | a year ago
Paving the Way for the Fashion Industry in Arizona
Fashion is a $400-billion-dollar industry in the U.S. But until recently, Phoenix was only capturing a small sliver of that pie at best. That changed when two Valley entrepreneurs came together and decided those aspiring to carve out careers in the fashion industry, shouldn’t have to relocate to hubs like Los Angeles or New York to be successful. In this episode of The SuccessLab Podcast, Sherri Berry and Angela Johnson, co-founders of the Arizona Apparel Foundation and F.A.B.R.I.C, share their uphill climb to launching the fashion business resource and innovation center, and how they’ve grown it to a beacon for fashion design businesses in the community. Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., Sherri and Angela have grown F.A.B.R.I.C. into an important economic development initiative, opening the doors for fashion entrepreneurs to put down roots and thrive in the Valley –– and they did it all on a very limited budget. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. How did you get into the world of fashion? Angela: I went to Northern Arizona University (NAU) and got my degree in speech communication. When I graduated, I realized I could do some public speaking, but didn't have expertise in anything. So I decided to pursue fashion because I have always had a love for it. I went to Los Angeles and earned a degree from The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). Then I worked in Los Angeles for a few different brands until I eventually started my own collection. Sherri: When I graduated with my business degree from the University of Wisconsin, I really wanted to be a fashion designer. At the time there wasn't the internet, so you needed a million-dollar ad budget to be able to advertise so people would recognize your brand and buy it in a store. That wasn't realistic for me, so I went into retail and 17 years later I was running 350 stores. I burned out so I decided to launch my fashion brand. I got my MBA and then took two years off to learn everything I could about apparel, design, development and manufacturing. I also spent a lot of time in California working with Frances Harder. She had a consultancy called Fashion Business Incorporated and she wrote a very famous book called, Fashion For Profit. I met Angela during this time. Angela was literally the matriarch of the whole fashion community in Phoenix. Whatever resources were available here, Angela was connected to and willing to share. What traits have helped you advance your career? Sherri: When I started my retail career, I was an assistant manager at a store with a college degree. It didn't pay very well but it was a great opportunity because it was in close proximity to the corporate headquarters of Famous Footwear. Because all the buyers and vendors would come in, the store and our customer service had to be perfect. It helped me learn you're only as good as the people you hire. You can be on your game, but if one of your employees isn't, then you're not on your game either. It really is about finding people who share in your desires and beliefs and motivations, and also that you support them in their goals as much as they support you in yours. Have you had any low points as an entrepreneur? How did you pull yourself out of it? Angela: I ended up moving back to Arizona to take care of my grandfather when my grandmother passed away. My brand, Monkeywench, was selling internationally and was profitable. But soon I realized that none of the resources I had been using in Los Angeles existed in Arizona. I couldn't operate this business that I had spent years growing anymore if I was going to live in Arizona. So I made the hardest decision of my life to close down a profitable business because of proximity. It was a dark day, but I decided at that moment I wasn't going to let that be the end of my story. Instead, I was going to solve my own problem while also solving the same problem for other people. I pulled together the community from a directory of fashion businesses in Arizona. Now LabelHorde is the directory we use here at F.A.B.R.I.C. to tie everybody together. Is there a common mistake you see first-time entrepreneurs making? Sherri: I try to explain to designers that less is always more when you're starting a fashion design business. It's more important they decide what their niche is and who their target customer is, and then get enough product in enough quantities to build up that brand. That's the beauty of social media right now. You can take beautiful pictures and videos to put out there, and then do pre-sales without investing a ton in your manufacturing. What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs? Angela: Educating yourself in your industry before you enter it is probably the most important thing. What's great about F.A.B.R.I.C. is that we want to educate people so they know what they're doing and are actually taking on all the responsibilities of this complex industry. Speed Round: Are you a coffee drinker, yes or no? Angela: Yes. Sherri: Oh my God, yes. What’s one business tool you are geeking out over right now? Sherri: I'm looking at CRM systems right now. What is your favorite piece of technology? Angela: It seems so obvious but when my computer doesn't work, my whole world comes crashing down. Sherri: It's amazing what you can do through a phone now. I can be on the move and be able to do important things without having my laptop or an internet connection. What's one book you'd pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? Angela: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing is a great book for any fashion design entrepreneur. Sherri: Who Moved My Cheese? It's a short, quirky book, but if you're feeling stuck, you have to read it. Who is one person you'd like to make a connection with? Sherri: I have two: Doug Ducey and Sandra Watson. Angela: Michael Krohn. What would be your icebreaker? Angela: “How would you like to disrupt an industry and help put Arizona on the map for a brand new, innovative industry in the 21st century?” How many hours of sleep do you each get each night, on average? Angela: Oh, that's embarrassing. Five, maybe. Sherri: I try to get as much sleep as possible. How can people connect with you or F.A.B.R.I.C? Angela: Fabrictempe.com takes you to everything that we do. Contact us from there or come in for a tour.
30 minutes | a year ago
Creating a Solution That’s Good for Profits, People, and the Planet
In the U.S., we waste approximately 30 to 40 percent of the food supply, which translates to more than 130 billion pounds and close to $200 billion every year. But not for long. Ben Deda is the CEO of FoodMaven, a Denver company that diverts food bound for the landfill to restaurants and other food service providers. In this episode of The SuccessLab Podcast, Ben shares how FoodMaven is bringing agility and flexibility to the food system and how the company plans to expand. Ben, who previously held executive, also talks about how his time in the Marine Corps prepared him for business leadership and how he made the switch to the world of technology. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. What led you to FoodMaven? I got connected with the folks at FoodMaven through one of the board members I previously worked with at Galvanize. I was drawn to the fact that they were doing good and in a way that helps people on the planet. It was an opportunity too good to pass up. What’s your approach to making genuine connections in your career? Every single step in my career has been through connections I've made. There's a concept about increasing your surface area for collisions –– the more collisions you can have with the right targeted folks, the better that can be for everyone. It’s those chance encounters that are the ones that pay off both personally and professionally. That was a big part of why we came up with a Startup Week –– to help increase those chances of collisions. What was your biggest challenge stepping into the role of CEO at FoodMaven? How to maintain culture when you scale. When it's a small group, it's really easy. As you start to add folks, there will be different reasons they join the company. You want to make sure that throughout the recruiting process you're getting folks who share important values, whether they’re a warehouse worker, a developer, a driver, or a salesperson. Does FoodMaven have a set of core values? We have our vision of, "All food used in good purpose." We always talk about our mission, and about capturing and creating a market for food otherwise lost in the food system with positive givebacks to profits, people and planet. We broke that down into values and our core culture and we try to live those every day. During our monthly all-hands meetings, we walk through one of our core values and a scenario that came up in the previous month we thought was a great example of that. If there's misalignment between the core values of your company and how your folks see people acting, then those values start to lose importance. What’s your advice for entrepreneurs looking to build quality relationships? The biggest thing is being deliberate in what surface area you're building. When you base this off what’s important to you, then those collisions will be the most valuable. It doesn’t have to be transactional. When you both share a passion about a subject, you can build that deeper connection overall. Then once you have that connection, learn to listen. Listening will help you develop that deeper relationship more quickly. What's next for FoodMaven? We're focused on a couple of key things. One is continuing to prove this model works here in Colorado. From there, we’re looking to expand. Once we've shown we can take this and replicate it in another market, that's the point where we become really interesting to investors. The ability to take this to 10, 20 or 30 markets is absolutely in the cards. Speed Round: Are you a coffee drinker? Always. What is one business tool you're geeking out over right now? I continue to geek out on Excel every day. I find some new little trick that I hadn't known the day before. Do you have a favorite piece of technology? Probably my iPhone. It continues to amaze me how much you can get done from a business standpoint. What's one book you'd pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? I still go back to Ben Horwitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things. It's a great book to get yourself in the right mindset for the hard decisions you have to make as a leader. Who's one person you'd like to make a connection with? I would like to make a connection with whoever we could help the most with what we do here at FoodMaven. What's your favorite icebreaker when introducing yourself to someone? I always just say, "Tell me about yourself". You never know what you're going to hear. How many hours of sleep do you get each night on average? According to my phone, I sit right at about six. I try to get seven. I've got a three year old who makes sure I'm up pretty early. How can people connect with you and FoodMaven? Visit foodmaven.com. We've got some great content up there where you can see stories about our suppliers and our buyers. There's also the ability to sign up to become either those. To connect with me, reach out on LinkedIn or Twitter at @Ben_Deda.
30 minutes | a year ago
How Your Strongest Connections May Be Those in Your Peripherals
When we think of the circular economy and sustainability, many of the organizations in this burgeoning space –– and moreover what they do –– may seem nuanced to the general population. However, in reality, people have been implementing these practices for generations. At its core, the circular economy is a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design –– a concept that has been around since perhaps the beginning of humankind. Forrest Carroll, the CFO of Revolv (soon to undergo rebranding as Muuse), knows this firsthand having grown up on a farm in Maryland where the concepts of land stewardship, gardening, composting and fixing what was broken reigned supreme. Forrest directly attributes his upbringing to his foray into the renewable energy industry, which eventually led him to Muuse. On a mission to solve the ocean plastic problem, Muuse was created to empower food and beverage, and consumer packaged goods companies to shift away from the single-use products and instead adopt their reusable foodware products and deposit system. In this episode of The Success Lab Podcast, Forrest breaks down how Revolv (soon to be be Muuse) works, the inspiration behind the organization, how to build a network of allies, and the importance of cultivating relationships with, who he calls, consequential strangers. Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above. What does Revolv do? So, Revolv –– actually, I guess this is as good a place as any to announce our rebranding as Muuse1. Anyway, Muuse is a software platform for reusable foodware. We’re mainly working on coffee cups and to-go food boxes right now. In its simplest form, we have a coffee cup with an RFID chip in it that you check out through a digital deposit at any of the cafes in our network. When you're done with your coffee, you drop it off at any of those participating cafes or into one of our smart return stations, which reads the chip and sends a signal to our system to reimburse your deposit immediately. There’s a need for this right now because the recycling systems we work with currently are seemingly ineffective and, in many instances, like with bioplastics, they aren’t performing as they were intended to perform. So businesses and consumers are turning to this rapidly growing class of reusable goods. Editor’s note: We will refer to Revolv as Muuse throughout the remainder of this blog post What led you to Muuse? The journey really starts on the farm where I grew up. I grew up in Maryland where there’s this idea of land stewardship and gardening, which is the ultimate example of the circular economy and implementing sustainable practices in everyday life. On the farm, you're constantly fixing things instead of throwing them out. Take composting, for example. It's using existing natural systems to repurpose organic matter. Further down the line, this led me to work in the renewable energy space where I helped design and build solar energy products across the U.S., which then led me to Muuse. Part of how I got there was due to my old boss, who I worked with at my last renewal energy company, inviting me to see what he was starting in Indonesia. He talked about that pilot test case in Indonesia, and that mixed with my growing love for the ocean and my new surfing addiction. So I'd say the mesh of those two things really led me to Muuse and it has been a whirlwind ever since. I haven't looked back. How do you build impactful connections? The advantage to what we're building at Muuse, and to a lot of the things I've worked on in my business career, is we're building a mission-driven organization. We really don't have to spend a lot of time defending the sustainability benefits of what we're working on. People get it. We know what we're going to offset or that we're going to replace that single-use coffee cup you just bought with a reusable one that never ends up in landfills or the ocean. Finding people whose mission aligns with that is really valuable because they become part of your network of allies. Eventually, you build a large enough network and they are connected to people who you really want to talk to at the business table. And the other benefit we have is that, to their credit, a lot of these large corporations –– I'll use Starbucks as an example –– are trying to figure out solutions to the enormous amount of waste that they're creating right now. They are consumer-facing, so they're getting a lot of pushback. They're in the media. It’s to our benefit that we have people who are trying to work on this in these large corporate roles, which are important allies because they're the ones who know what a good solution is. What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome at Muuse? Patience is one of them. When you move from a big company to a lean startup model and everything is going really fast, you just assume everything will take off immediately, right? But that’s not the reality. You have to build all of these systems you never had to think of before. And ultimately, you're still working with these large, multinational companies that think you have these systems in place, so they push back on contract terms and methodology and expect you to have a crack legal team that can help reach a compromise on a contract term, et cetera. Part of the way I've overcome this is having worked to embrace this process of discovery and reflect and appreciate the amount of knowledge we have accumulated as an organization through the testing and piloting programs we've conducted in six different global markets, and from talking to untold number of coffee drinkers, right, or baristas or a cafe managers. When you're working in such a fast-paced organization, there is a lot to build beyond just that reusable cup. Are there one or two impactful connections that have significantly shaped your journey? I've got to talk about Brian Riley, who's the true founder of this company I'm working on and is someone I first met working at NRG. He immediately occupied this role as a mentor and a boss, which in and of itself is very rare, especially in a hierarchical work environment. But what is even rarer is to find a mentor who treats you like an equal from the onset. That enabled me to grow in a way I hadn't been able to grow before and is one of the reasons I agreed to go see the operation he was building in Indonesia and why I’m where I’m at now. Another source of impactful connections comes from this idea of consequential strangers, which are most of the people you meet outside of your family and friends –– the people on the peripheral who lie in that social territory between strangers and intimates. If you pay attention to those consequential strangers, the sort of collective power of them to help you move ideas forward or to give you advice on very specific parts of your business, your personal life or your professional development. Put them together, and they are a very powerful and impactful connection. I've run into a lot of those consequential strangers over the last year working at Muuse. What is one piece of advice you’d give to a fellow entrepreneur? I think a part of it is meeting consequential strangers and being open to diving deeper into that informal network all of us have. Asking people for help and asking people for explicit advice or expertise –– and then paying attention to what they have to say –– is really important. It might not be as relevant to the exact question you're asking but helps peel away this veil of what that person's really good at or what they understand. Being flexible and opportunistic allows you to dive in with that person perhaps on something that you didn't previously anticipate. Speed round Coffee drinker, yes or no? No. One business tool you’re geeking out over right now? Fusion 360. It’s a 3D modeling software. Favorite piece of technology? Oh, well (Muuse’s) ultra-high-frequency RFID chip, obviously. What’s one book you’d pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. One person you’d like to make a connection with? Oh boy, that's a good one. I want to make a connection with John John Florence. He's a famous surfer and he's working on ocean solutions –– and I think he should become an ambassador of Muuse. What’s your favorite ice breaker? I like getting away from the chit chat and immediately going for questions that get to the heart. Here's one: what's the most important lesson your father ever taught you? How many hours of sleep do you get each night, on average? Two. No, I'm just kidding. It just swings so much, it's hard to come up with an average. I try my best to get eight. I really need my sleep. How can people connect with you? We have a pretty significant online and social media presence, but we are still transitioning from the name Revolv. However, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
41 minutes | a year ago
This Entrepreneur Leapfrogged Convention to Design His Own Career
Design –– it’s much more than a pastime, a creative outlet, or an ability to pair complementary colors. Rather, it’s a way for people like Jack Morgan to shed light on an issues impacting millions of people. Jack has been designing to help educational platforms find a voice and solve large-scale problems for nearly 10 years. Formerly the design lead for Google’s digital education division where he helped create the Google Academy London, Jack currently leads the design team at Duolingo, a language-learning website and app focused on making education free and accessible to all. His work at Duolingo has enabled him to help more than 300 million people learn a new language. It also inspired Jack to produce a short documentary about the impact of language on the lives of four Syrian refugees. In this episode of The Success Lab Podcast, Jack talks about how his upbringing in East London influenced his career path, how his purpose as a designer and entrepreneur has evolved over the years, and how the Japanese idiom "ichi-go ichi-e" impacts his life –– personally and professionally.
23 minutes | a year ago
Going the Distance with the Next Wave of Video Analytics
The next wave of artificial intelligence is rushing toward the business world like a tsunami. More and more, companies are realizing they need to get prepared or risk being consumed by the swift changes this technology will bring. Jeff Cox is one entrepreneur who decided to get ahead of the trend and founded a company that leverages AI to help its clients increase their customer value. Jeff is the co-founder and executive chairman of Radius AI, a technology that allows brick and mortar stores to deliver more personalized customer experiences. Prior to founding Radius AI, Jeff consulted and developed technology-based solutions for companies like American Express, McKesson, PayPal, and Apple, to name a few. In this interview, Jeff shares what inspired him to start Radius AI and why he felt so confident handing off his role as CEO two years after launching. Jeff also explains why he focuses on people, trusts his gut and always strikes up conversations in coffee shops.
36 minutes | a year ago
From Small-Town Paper to CNBC: One Reporter’s Relentless Hustle to the Top
Social media has completely rewired our society. It’s given new meaning to “breaking news”, and given us new ways to share, engage and express ourselves. But it’s also had a pervasive impact on the economy, politics, international relations, all corners of society, and the list goes on. Nobody has a better front-row seat to this activity than the journalists covering these beats. Salvador Rodriguez (aka Sal) is one such journalist. He is a tech reporter for the San Francisco Bureau of CNBC where he covers Facebook and social media. Needless to say, he’s a busy guy. Prior to CNBC, he reported on the tech industry for Reuters, Inc. Magazine, the International Business Times and the L.A. Times. In this episode, hosts Beth Cochran and Breanne Krager welcome Sal to The SuccessLab Podcast to hear how his love of football ended up being the catalyst for his pursuit of journalism. Sal also shares how his single-minded hustle as a college student led to a job at the L.A. Times, how he learned to look out for his career the hard way and what it takes to develop trusted relationships with sources.
53 minutes | a year ago
How Being Open, Honest and Curious Pays Greater Dividends
Oftentimes, we encounter guests on this show who had never envisioned an entrepreneurial career for themselves until they were actually doing it. And it isn’t uncommon for these journeys to take a meandering approach, replete with twists, turns, setbacks and big wins. Travis Van can attest to this. Travis earned a degree in journalism, went on to become a public relations manager, and then became employee number three at MuleSoft. Having never worked at a technology company, MuleSoft opened a number of doors for Travis and gave him the confidence he needed to eventually embark on his own venture. Today, Travis is the founder of TechNews (formerly known as IT Database), a software platform built specifically for tech companies to organize their public relations programs. On this episode of The SuccessLab Podcast, Travis talks about his storied entrepreneurial journey and the biggest challenges he faced as a non-technical person starting a software company.
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