August 03, 2022
Article

NFTs For Brands: It’s OK to say no, always be a student, don’t resist change (podcast episode #26)

SUMMARY:

Get inspiration for your next great idea or career move by listening to episode #26 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. I had a playful and informative conversation with Frank Weil, Founder & CEO, Myntr.

Weil discussed finding great mentors, how to identify the best job opportunity when making a career change, the one-third revenue rule, and much more.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

NFTs For Brands: It’s OK to say no, always be a student, don’t resist change

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

We recently launched a free digital marketing course – Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages. And here’s one thing I’ve noticed…even the most experienced executive makes a mental shift when taking a course – from decision maker to student. From the one dishing out the advice to someone malleable and open to expanding their knowledge base.

Marketers and entrepreneurs need to make this mindshift throughout our careers – a lesson our next guest discovered when entering the ecommerce space many years ago and again more recently while launching a startup in the NFT industry. “Always be a student,” he says.

You can hear the story behind this lesson – and many more lesson-filled stories – from Frank Weil, Founder & CEO, Myntr, in our latest episode.

The team Weil manages at Mynter consists of 10 people and two agencies. And Myntr itself is an agency for Advertising Week and Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Listen using the embedded player below or click through to your preferred audio streaming service.

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Stories (with lessons) about what he made in marketing

Some lessons from Weil that emerged in our discussion:

Find great mentors for all aspects of your life.

Elaine Sugimura, who was the CEO of Havaianas, taught Weil just as much about himself as she did about business. For example, Weil had a serious girlfriend that he introduced to Sugimura. After they met, Sugimura told him his girlfriend was not right for him. They broke up the following week. That is how seriously he took what Sugimura says to him and how much he valued her insights. He felt that she always had his best interest at heart – whether that’s a business deal or his personal life – and that is the sign of a great mentor.
 

Do not resist change.

When Weil ran an ecommerce business, his company had a homegrown platform. But they realized some of their customers would be better served by Magento, so they became a Magento partner as well…making a significant change that essentially competed with their own platform.

Always be a student.

When Weil entered the non-fungible token space, he met NFT experts that were half his age. Rather than take an ego-driven approach thinking he knew more than them since he had more experience, he approached them like a student realizing they knew more than he did about this emerging technology.  

Stories (with lessons) about the people he made it with

Weil also shared lessons he learned from the people he collaborated with:

The best opportunity with the wrong leader is a painful uphill journey, but with the right leader/partner, a tough task is achievable.

via Dwight Tom, Co-Founder, cLuxury

Weil was debating between a few opportunities as he was advancing in his career in the mid-2000s and could not decide what was best for him. Some opportunities excited him more, some paid better, and some had more security and work/life balance. Tom gave him this advice.

It is ok to say no!

via Jeffrey Fina, VP, Michael C. Fina

Weil was working on winning a big client that was a public company, trying to sign them to a services contract. But the company kept pushing for more and more. After taking Fina’s advice, he told them “No” to the scope creep. The company stopped pushing and signed the contract.

One-third of your revenue goes to expenses, one-third goes to people/payroll, and the other one-third goes to profit.

via Sam Kliger, CEO, KWI

Kliger always made a point to run a business to be profitable. Kliger also said of course this is different for high-growth companies or startups, but he made a point to stress profitability. That is something Weil thinks got lost with the race to spend as much as you can to grow as fast as you can and then have huge exits. Weill sees it this way – a founder of a profitable company never had to worry about raising money to keep the lights on. And this lesson has been top-of-mind to him lately as he considers hiring and other investment decisions at his current startup.

Related content mentioned in this episode

Scaling to a $15 million company in 18 months by transparently serving an ideal customer (and saying “no” to other business) (podcast episode #1) – Whitney Hill, Co-Founder and Head of Business Operations & Development, Snap ADU

About this podcast

This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages free digital marketing course.

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Transcript

Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a tough transcript of our discussion.

Daniel Burstein: Many people listening to my voice right now, maybe going is very conundrum job switching or even career switching. Hey, there may be darkness on the edge of town for the economy. I can't see the future. I don't know. But we know this right now. Marketing talent is still far too scarce. Which means you, dear marketer, are a precious commodity.

So do you have many options to choose from? How do you decide? Our next guest says, look at the leader you'll be working with. He words the lesson he learned from a mentor this way, the best opportunity with the wrong leader is a painful uphill journey. But with the right leader or partner, a task is achievable. We'll hear the story behind that lesson for our latest guest, along with many other lesson filled stories. Joining me now is Frank Weil the CEO of Myntr. Thanks for being here, Frank.

Frank Weil: Thank you for having me. And that sounded like a very profound statement that you just read. I loved hearing that.

Daniel Burstein: I can't wait to hear the story behind that profound statement. So let's start by looking at Frank's background real quick. So, you know who you're talking to, you majored in finance at the University of Florida, my alma mater, even graduated the same year, a special place in my heart. There is Director of Marketing and eCommerce at Havaianas, which I'm wearing something right now in his honor. Adjunct Instructor at NYU, where he taught digital analytics a required course for the digital marketing certificate.

And recently, I don't know if everyone was listening we had the Academic Director of NYU Integrated Marketing Program on an earlier episode. You’d probably learn a lot from that one. But now, Frank, you're the CEO of Myntr. You manage ten people, you manage two agencies, and you yourself are a vendor agency to brands like the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest into Advertising Week. So give us an idea. What is your day like as a CEO of Myntr?

Frank Weil: First off, are we going to spend any time talking about the Harvard of the South? The University of Florida? I love that we both went there. So go gators. I have to start off by saying that. So,  for Myntr and you know, kind of being the CEO of a startup, really, you do everything, from raising money to sales calls to getting the team everything they need, to hiring the team to, you know, taking out the trash. Whatever is needed is what we do.

Daniel Burstein: Perfect. Perfect. Yeah. I should mention Frank is wearing a Gator shirt.  I'm wearing the Havaianas to channel him. He’s wearing the Gators shirt to maybe channel both of us. Well, let's just jump in. We start on this podcast with the things you made. We as marketers, we have that special thing. I've never been a podiatrist or an actuary or something else, but I feel like we get to make things and not many others do. We make campaigns, we make brands. So let's see what you learn from the things you made.

So your first lesson is find great mentors for all aspects of your life and you learned that from Elaine Sugimura, who is the CEO of Havaianas. So tell us the story behind that.

Frank Weil: So Elaine has such a special place in my heart. She's a dear friend and mentor. And, you know, she taught me at a really young age, I was probably maybe 25 at the time that, you know, find good mentors and life becomes much easier. You know, whether it's on the personal side, whether it's the professional side, whether, you know, you're lucky enough to find someone that kind of can transcend both, which is what Elaine is for me.

Elaine, you know, is someone who taught me so much about business and, you know, just dealing with people. But also, you know, I remember I had a really serious girlfriend at the time and I introduced her to Elaine. And, you know, the next morning, I go into Elaine's office and I said, Would you think of her?

We're going to leave names out of this for the sake of this podcast. And, you know, Elaine looked at me right in the eyes and said, she's not for you. And that stung so much that, you know, that the person who I wanted to really like her didn’t. And Elaine was right. And, you know, a week later, we broke up and she wasn't right for me. All right. So, you know, finding someone who really has your best interests at heart and is willing to teach you is invaluable.

Daniel Burstein: Now that you're more experienced in your career and I'm sure you mentor people, I mean, how do you use the lessons you learned from Elaine? Because one thing actually in that story that struck me, which I don't know what the right line is, is especially these days, you know, that's so helpful and profound to be, to work with someone so close that you can trust them on that level.

But then also, you know, we have this weird work life balance with the people we work with, I'm sure, especially at a startup. So like where do you now as a CEO know like where should I mentor people or where should I maybe pull some punches? Maybe it's their personal life and maybe not get too much in? Like, how do you find that balance?

Frank Weil: You know, and I love mentoring people and, you know, helping people start businesses and grow businesses. And I think that the most important aspect of being a mentor is just genuinely looking out for them and caring about them in all aspects. Right? Like a lot of times in marketing, we, think we're, you know, saving the world, but we're not, right? We're marketing a product or service, you know, and at the end of day, there's probably things that are more important in life than that.

So I try to really help people keep things in perspective about what's important. When should it be important? You know, prioritizing family and downtime are really, really important. You know, we're even thinking about a four day workweek to really help with that work life balance. So I think that, you know, mentorship is all about like genuinely trying to help the person that you're that you're mentoring.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. You know, and I think that's so important. I'm glad you mentioned that in an industry like ours where we're not a through put industry, you know what I mean? We're not manufacturers on assembly line. We're not trying to get our team to just get, you know, a hundred cogs out a day. The product that we sell is essentially our ideas.

So making sure you are looking after that whole person, because I'm sure, even if I think it's great, you're saying looking out for other people, even if you're listening to this call, you're like, I don't really care about anyone else. I'm just super selfish and could care less. It would even help you out then, because if the people that are working for your team or you're working with, you know, if they're in a good place in their life with everything that's going on, they're going to have better ideas. They're going to produce more for you ultimately than if you just try to squeeze as much as you can out of them. So I love that. Some great advice, Frank. So let's talk.

Frank Weil: And I'm also very happy to announce that Elaine actually just joined our advisory board. So I get I still get her mentorship, you know, 20 years later, which is really special.

Daniel Burstein: That's a great long-term relationship for someone too to keep. You know, we’re going to start by networking. We've got LinkedIn, which is this kind of pseudo networking that's a real human network to stay connected with that length of time. So that's perfect. The next lesson you talk about is do not resist change. So how did you learn that lesson? I know I hear people say this all the time. How’d you really live that Frank?

Frank Weil: Listen as human beings we’re wired to resist change, right? Like we're Oh, this is easy. Like, let's go forward with it, right? Like not the whole population didn't go buy an iPhone, you know, with the iPhone I, right? It took people time to kind of adapt. So I think that to not be resistant to change is a really, really hard thing. And I remember when I was running an e-commerce platform, we had our own platform and at the time we started to really hear a lot about this platform called Magento. And, you know, we had an opportunity to either really embrace it, lean in and understand about Magento and learn it and be a part of that ecosystem or kind of ignore it and just go full steam ahead with our platform.

And, you know, we decided to lean into it and really learned it and added it to our tool kit where we still had our own platform, but we kind of embraced the change that was coming in the industry and became one of Magento’s bigger implementers. So it was, you know, if we had resisted seeing that, we would have missed a big opportunity and a lot of clients.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I mean that's great. Business books are littered with companies that will not cannibalize their own products when something better comes along. And so you're looking at that. You're with your team. You're in the early days of ecommerce. Like where did you get the sense or did you have to convince anyone to say like, hey, you know, we invested so much in this product, but we got to go with what's better for our customers? Like, was there any like challenge there with your team?

Frank Weil: Of course it was. Why do we need this? We have our own platform and our own platform is great. And then we had to say that yeah, but you know, our platform might not be for everyone and there might be clients of a certain size or industry that Magento is perfect for. So we don't want to lose out on those. So let's embrace it. Let's learn. Let's see what we can learn from the Magento platform that we might need to adopt, and that's kind of the way we went about it.

Daniel Burstein: That's great. I think that not for everyone is so key. I think we're going to get into this a little later. But, you know, when we talk about a really powerful value proposition. Value proposition is powerful to an ideal customer, right? It's not powerful to everyone, right? Like we were joking, like right behind Frank's head right now, there's a picture of the dunk. And anyone who's a Knicks fan knows very well what the dunk is. It’s John Stark in this beautiful moment dunking over two bulls, I think one of them is Jordan maybe a Horace Grant too. And so to me and to a guy like Frank we're the ideal customer for that picture and we're like, right on, you know? But I've got a friend, a guy I grew up with he’s a huge Bulls fan. Give me a many, many hard times over all the playoffs we lost. He would see that and that would not appeal to him.

And so it's so obvious with something like, you know, sports, but with all of our products is getting that really human understanding of our products, flaws and vulnerabilities and knowing who can it best serve. And for the people it can’t best serve, either help direct them to the right place or like Frank did, maybe sometimes cannibalize on a product and team up with that other product to still serve your customers.

Frank Weil: And it is Horace Grant, correct. And you know, just like with any marketing, it's really not a one size fits all model. Not everything is right for everyone. So it's really understanding who you're speaking to and what's best for them. You know, that's what makes good marketing.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, exactly. So let's talk about one of your other lessons, always be a student. You were talking about you were there in the early days of eCommerce. Now you're there in the early days of NFT, which stands for Non-Fungible Token. So tell us, how do you apply that lesson to always be a student? Also, just tell us for anyone at this point who doesn't know, just make the quick 32nd minute cheap definition of what the heck is a non-fungible token.

Frank Weil: I love that you also said Nonfungible token because I haven't even said that in so long. And I really don't like when industries try to mystify things. And so an NFT is very simply a digital asset that you can prove you own and you can sell and you can transfer. And that digital asset can be any form of digital media, could be an image, could be a video, could be an audio file, could be a newsletter. You know, whatever digital media you want. So Nfts aren't super complicated. I think the industry has made it a little more complicated and it gets lumped in with cryptocurrency and everything else. But NFT is simply a digital asset that you can prove you own. So, so hopefully that helps a little bit.

Daniel Burstein: Absolutely. And it can't be changed, right? That's what Nonfungible means.

Frank Weil: Correct, correct, it's unique. And there's a lot of parallels in the NFT space now to e-commerce back in the early 2000s of I don't know it, I need to learn it, there's so many acronyms. This is confusing. I don't understand this technology. So there's a lot of that right now in the NFT space. And even like the adoption of kind of e-commerce websites in the late 90’s like 99 to where the crypto adoption rate now is, is almost like identical chart, which is, which is very interesting.

And so, you know, as we learned and taught people ecommerce back in the day, NFT’s are new. So, you know, I was very fortunate to meet what I call the kids. They hate when I call them the kids, but they're, you know, 22 years old so they could be my kids. And they're these web3 enthusiasts that are so passionate about NFT’s and, you know, I learned so much from them and was so open to learning so much from them, even though they were half my age, right. Like I didn't go into the conversation saying, you know, okay, let me hear a little bit, but let me teach you guys something. It was, you know, please teach me more about this.

I'm a huge believer that you'll learn the most from people that are actively doing something and doing it passionately, then you will from reading a book about it or Googling it or anything else. So when you can find people that are passionate about the subject matter you want to learn, you know, take that time and invest in those conversations because it will really pay off.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. You know, I get to speak at the university sometimes here and, you know just working and something I've noticed is, something that's flipped itself on its head from when I started my career is youth can have advantages that it didn't have back then. And what I mean is this, when I started e-commerce was out and stuff, but I mean, I was writing print ads for the Wall Street Journal. I was doing big direct mail pieces and stuff, and I didn't even get into digital stuff right probably until five years or more into my career. So when I came in, I was very hierarchical. Like, you were young, you don't know the things as much and the people that they knew have been doing that same thing. They've been writing print ads in the newspaper for this many years and they know it better.

But coming out now, you know, I always tell students they've got this big leg up being younger because they are, you know, as we say, digital natives, not digital tourists or whatever, you know, like they came up using social media and then it's always changing too, right? I told them that back then when, you know, Facebook was new or Twitter is new, well, now that's the next new thing. It's Tok or it's like you said, using NFT’s or crypto or something. So I think as leaders we kind of have to do a bit of that shift in our head too of saying not take that hierarchical approach and say, we've got this experience, we know everything, but say what can we learn from these people who will know these things?

We got to admit they will know certain things better than we ever will. It's like when you're a native speaker of a language, you can learn a new language, but you're never going to know it as well as that native speaker. So that kind of interested me. Like you go up, you see these young guys, how do you vet them? I'm sure like with your experience you can use, I'm sure that many other kids or young people, whatever were trying to sell you on something and you’re like nah you don't really know what you're talking about. What were some of the things where you vetted them out and said, Hey, this is the new industry, it's NFT. These folks, they know their stuff. Like from my experience, I can tell these are some people I need to listen to.

Frank Weil: So and I think that, you know, any time I even look to add to the team or hire people, I really don't care much about experience or where they went to school or anything like that. So much is based on, you know, that feeling that the, you know, what's their personality profile are they going to be easy to work with. Are they going to be a problem? Are they, you know, do they know what they're talking about? Can you tell they are like kind of making stuff up as they go.

And when I met, you know, the kids, they were just so passionate, spoke so intelligently, were so gracious with their time of educating me, you know? And you would talk about like all the different platforms that, okay, it's Instagram now, tick tock. I remember when we formed the business and I set up a Slack channel, they're like, No, no, no, we're not using Slack. Like you have to use Discord. I'm like, what another thing, like, what are you talking? So like, you know, it's just that, you know, push forward with them. That's great. And they have got me comfortable with things that I wasn't comfortable with. And, you know, I think that the personality profile of someone is probably the most important thing you can look for when you're going to partner with people.

Daniel Burstein: And that's great. And I'm also worried about kind of personally profile within yourself. And when you want to hear always be a student, I think of, you know, we recently launched a free digital marketing course and before we launched, I was having a strategy discussion with our founder, Flint McGlaughlin. I was telling him, like, you know, marketing professionals, we don't want these students. You know, we don't want to these students. We want to just find problem, solve problems, do these things. And then our SEO agency came back, they did some data, and to search and they found out I was way off, I was way wrong. You know, it’s a big desire to be a student still, which I think is great.

And here's one thing I've noticed. You know, from our own experience distributing this course. It's a chance for people to make a shift in their minds right. Like I just got back from vacation, it’s great. I had this mental shift for a week. I just kind of let my, you know, brain go to a different place and think about waves and beach and sand and things that I'm not normally thinking. Then they see even a high level executive, when they're taking a course, in that moment they're not an executive as much. If they let themselves go into, they make a mental shift to become a student.

So for you, I was wondering when you mentioned this, your second time moving into a new very emerging field in within yourself. You know especially this one being later in your career, what do you do to make that mental shift, to open your mind so you can learn?

Frank Weil: Honestly, for this time it was I didn't overthink it, you know, it just felt right. And I leaned into it, you know, I think, you know, having a little bit of success always helps, you know, provide some security in okay, I've done this before. I can do it again. But I believe in trusting my gut. It has served me well over the years and I just didn't fight it. It was like, oh, like this feels like an industry I want to learn about and get involved in. And I just went full steam ahead.

Daniel Burstein: That's great. So trusting your gut, I mean, there's downsides. We talk a lot about AB testing and data and some of these things, but I think trusting your gut, really, that's the upside of experience, right? It's pattern recognition when you notice, you know, A happens and B happens and C happens. You notice that three or four or five times and you see it come up again and be like, I think C is going to happen. So definitely don't overlook your gut.

Frank Weil: Yeah, I think it's also as you get a little older, at least for me, you know, my ego got a little smaller and I'm less afraid to fail at something or not be perfect at something, you know? So starting a new business in a new industry, you know, I wasn't worried about the downside. I just went into it thinking about the upside. Whereas, you know, if I was very early in my career, I might be, you know, scared to make that mistake or what will people think of me my whole career if this didn't work? So I think that's something that's important as well.

Daniel Burstein: You know, that's something I've learned in my career, too, something where some changes would happen and I have a tough time with them or I try to think through, you know, like, well, why am I having a tough time with this or whatever? And I realized it was my ego. It was my ego getting in the way. I actually did an interview a few episodes ago, and that one the marketers was talking about getting a project manager on her team. And she didn’t like it and she didn’t want it and you know I couldn’t understand.  I'm like, well I'm a creative marketer too. I love getting a project manager because I could take some of the mental weight off and not have to think about deadlines and managing teams and all these things. It’s like why wouldn’t you want a project manager? And she admitted she's like, you know, honestly, it was an ego thing. I realized after it was an ego thing. And she’s like now that I have had that positive experience with project manager, I realized I don't need to do everything. I need to focus on what I do best, and then I need to surround myself with other people that do some things better than me. And that's fine. I can let go of my ego and say, That's fine, that's a better place to be.

Frank Weil: I actually think that is a much better place to be in that there was, you know, someone who I work with named Lisa, who was the Chief People Officer at a company I was at. And we all took this thing called Strengths Finder. And it wasn't meant to say, okay, you're good at this, you're not great at this. Let's get you better at the thing you're not good at. It was actually to figure out what you're really good at and to take all the other stuff off your plate so you can just focus on what you're naturally gifted at, because you'll do that better than anybody else will. And there are other people who will do the thing that you're not good at, much better than you will ever do it. So, you know, it used to be in performance reviews. Okay, you're good at this. You're not good at this. Let's get you better. But I really like the mindset of letting people do what they do best and just go really hard on those things.

Daniel Burstein: You always tell people that manage,  I feel like any position in a company is like a Venn diagram, right? In one circle we have, here's the things you're good and passionate about. And the other circle we have here is the things that the company needs to do essentially to stay in business, make money, whatever, and they're never going to overlap 100%, but they also should overlap 0%. So how can we manage entire team to find each person's strengths and weaknesses and get these two things to overlap as much as possible? So the things you're doing in your role are the things you're passionate about and good at. And things are improving are only the things that, like you said, you absolutely have to.

I am never going to be a good designer. I'm a word guy. I'm a visual guy. I am never going to be a good designer. I'm always you know, I could take all the courses you like, learn Adobe Photoshop so I've learned I need to partner in my career, in my life with people who are better visually than me. And so I think everyone listening kind of, I like the Strengths Finder, do you think them through? Or if you can take a test like that, where are you strong? What are your gaps? What do you absolutely have to fill on your own? Like for a startup guy like you Frank, there's probably things like you’d like to bring people on, we can't yet. I need to find a way to get through this on my own. And where can you bring in or team with or find the right agencies, vendors, people on your team to kind of, you know, handle those parts of it. So as a whole, you collaborate and create a great overall final experience product, whatever it is.

Frank Weil: Yeah. And I think that when a company is in its infancy, you know, you kind of have a team of generalists where everyone's kind of doing everything. But as a company grows in maturity, you then become the team of experts, right? So I think that it's, you know, at what point do you get to make those transitions?

Daniel Burstein: Absolutely. And it's perfect because now the next part of our podcast, we talk about people you collaborate with. Since we're talking about collaboration. So let's talk about the people you collaborated with, lessons you learned a great thing about marketing. We get to make things, but we get to make things with people. Like we said that the people we collaborate with are so key because we can't often do everything, or at least we're not good at everything.

So the first person you mentioned was Dwight Tom. He was a co-founder of C Luxury, and this is kind of I mentioned to open up the podcast, I set it up real good Frank so you got to deliver here.

Frank Weil:  No pressure.

Daniel Burstein: So you said the best opportunity with the wrong leader is a painful uphill journey. But with a right leader, a partner, a tough task is achievable. So take us back, I think it was the mid 2000’s you had a lot of career opportunities. How did you learn this lesson from Dwight?

Frank Weil: So Dwight was one of the original Staples people, was been consulting like this, just like powerhouse of a business person I had met through another friend who had a business that I was working with. And he set us up. And, you know, Dwight was always such a great mentor and we would talk business strategies and everything else. And then I got to kind of this crossroads of, you know, do I go left or do I go right or do I go straight in terms of my career and in terms of what I want my next opportunity to be.

And, you know, I'm trying to come at this like a mature business person. And I have this whole list of like, okay, here's the role, here's the title, here's the compensation, here's the day to day. You know, all these different things that I thought were important at the time. And he's looking at this and he's kind of nodding his head. And I remember this is in like New York City, I think Cafe Metro on 45th Street between Madison. I remember like it was yesterday, even though it was not yesterday. And he looked at me and he goes, okay. And he basically took the piece of paper and crumpled it up. And he goes, you're not telling me the most important thing? I was like, no, no. I put salaries on here I told you the most important thing. And he kind of looked at me and, you know, smacked me the upside the head and he's like, Tell me about who you're going to report to.

I was like, okay, like that makes sense. I can't believe I didn't really think about that. And then we went into it and he looked at me and he goes with zero hesitation, who can you work best with? And I answered and he goes, That's the opportunity you should take. And that stuck with me forever. You know him saying that the best opportunity with the wrong leader would be a horrible opportunity and a tough situation with a great leader is not so bad. And they kind of paraphrase, you just stare, you read it earlier, but, you know, that has always, always stuck with me, with who we choose to work with, who we want to bring on to the team. You know, who I want to work for, whatever it might be. That was just so profound to me. Because I thought it was money, I'm like, what do you mean? This one had the most money? Why was that not the best one?

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. You know, I think the I mean, and frankly, the reason we choose to use money as the gig so often is it's very easy. The things that are sometimes easy to measure, the things we focus on, you know, we could see 175 more than 150. That's easy to your point, Frank. You know, those kind of soft skill things of like, well, we're going to spend a huge part of our life with these people and what do we think of these people and how are you going to, you know, work with them?

So I wonder on the flip side, you're hiring. As you mentioned some of the things you look at when you're hiring. So I know it's, you know, a competitive hiring environment, too. So what do you do to kind of set that up to people you're interviewing with to do anything special you do to kind of give them a sense for who you are, who the team is as part of what you know you would be offering them if you hire them.

Obviously, there's a compensation package. Here's your salary, here's your health insurance. That was one thing for me when I started interviewing. You know, one of the great things of having a skill as a marketer, when you use it well, is you can just apply it to everything in life. And so, you know, when I got to recruiting at universities to get people hire for us or to interviewing too, you know, I didn't as much take the HR mindset, rather than of course, here are the things you have to do. It's kind of a marketing mindset of, you know, we're a potential product and you are a potential customer and likewise you are potential product and we're a potential customer.

So, on our side too, you know, sometimes kind of get a good, thorough interview to really learn about someone, push them on mistakes they may, whatever it is. But also trying to set up here as honestly as we can. Here's the value proposition for us and here's the people it works for and here's the people it doesn't. So, I was just wondering on your side what do you do to kind of say, here's that value proposition of working with this leader or what have you?

Frank Weil: So when it comes to hiring, you know, I let the experts in the field, you know, go through. Can this person do the job? Do they understand what's necessary? And then when I speak with candidates, it's really them interviewing me. Like, I have very few questions for them. I'm always curious what they ask me, but go into it saying like, this has to be a two-way street. You have to be as excited about coming to work for us as we are about you joining us. So what do you want to know about the company? What do you want to know about me? What do you want to know about the background? And we just talk as human beings, right? Because I think that the best way to get people to feel comfortable is when you talk on that humanistic level. And that's what's so important.

So, you know, so many people that I've hired, they're just conversations of them asking me questions because I want to know what do they want to know right. That's the questions they ask are very telling. But more so they need to go into it with eyes wide open, because if they join a company and it's not what they thought, it costs us all more money because they're going to leave. We're going to have to replace them. And that's more headache because we took some time training them and everything else. So it's really got to work both ways.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And also, I guess you see you need to hire someone curious, especially in an emerging field like that, how curious are they or do they not have any questions for you?  All right you say you work with Jeffrey Fina, the VP of Michael C Fina. You learn from him, it is okay to say no. Not only did Frank say it's okay to say no, it's okay to say no exclamation point. It is okay to say no! So take us to a time where it was a difficult time when you had to say No. When none of us like saying no.

Frank Weil: So it was always so hard for me because I'm, you know, by nature, I want to please people. I want to have good relationships. I'm an empathetic person. So I never, like to say no, I always want to figure out, all right, how do we get to yes? But, you know I was talking to Jeff, who is a brilliant business person and good friend of mine and, you know, I was going over situation with him and he looked at me as like, just say no. Like what do you mean just say no? You can't just say no to people. He's like, No, no, you can and you should. I'm like, wait let's talk more about this. So, you know, he kind of educated me on it a bit.

And I remember we were in the final stages of winning a really, really big client that was a public company. And every day I'm like, Cool, were there we got it. And then they kept coming back and asking for more and asking for more. And I finally got to the point. I was like, No. I said, No, we're done. This is what we can do, you know? And they came back and signed a couple of days later, and that kind of was really eye opening for me of oh wow like sometimes in negotiations people need to hear no so they know to stop asking, right?

But there's multiple different facets in which to say no, right. There's in the sake of a negotiation. Then there's in the client service world where clients keep asking for more and more. And I want you to do certain things. And in that respect, I realize that it's also okay to say no. You just need to be solutions oriented and explain why you're saying no. Like, we're not good at this. You don't really need this. This will cost you money you don't need to spend. But come up with a solution. So if you can say no, give a reason why. But come up with the solution that you feel in your heart is the best thing for them. It'll be a positive experience all the way around, and you won't put your company in trouble by doing things that you shouldn't be doing.

And then that kind of goes to really the third component of, you know, running a business or being a marketer and running campaigns. And, you know, if you're a marketer, you're getting a million calls a day from every platform and everything under the sun saying, you guys should use me, you guys should use me. So, you know, I think that by understanding value based prioritization and what are the most important things that I need to say yes to everything else, I have to say no to, or we're going to fail as a business because we're doing too much and not staying focused on the most important things. I think that's a critical component as well.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. You know, one question I love, I ask myself, I learned this from I mentioned before, Flint McGlaughlin, he's our CEO and Founder. And is this the highest and best use of my time? And because you, Frank, I think like most people, we want to say yes, we want to be doing everything, get involved with everything. But then when you kind of break it down, is this the highest and best use of my time? You get to the point of like, well, you can't do everything. Where are you going to focus?

But let me ask you this, so we kind of touched on this earlier and in the very first episode of How I Made It Marketing podcast, I talked to Whitney Hill, the Head of Business Development at SNAP ADU. She told us her go to market story and how it revolved around saying no. So essentially they were a construction company and they said no to all sorts of other work so they could only build accessory dwelling units. And they were really successful with that. And so I want to see how you use this lesson to power your your career. You know, has it formed a go to marketing strategy. You're building a company. How have you learned to say, you know, when you're kind of building that go to market offering. Yeah, we're going to try to serve these customers. You can't serve everyone in the world. We have to say no to these other ones, in our marketing and the way we put our value proposition, whatever we're doing.

Frank Weil: And again, it's so hard to do because as a company, especially, you know, in an early stage company, you want revenue, you want to say yes to everything, you don't want to let things kind of slip through. But, you have to, if you don't stick to what your main focus and main business unit is, you will not do that well and you will fail.

So, you know, in terms a mentor, there's certain pieces of technology that we built that other people are like, oh, can you build this? And we're like, No, because we need to focus our attention here, right? If we had said yes, we wouldn't have done the main thing well. And, you know, I think that something that is a little underappreciated is that attention units are really our most precious commodity. So we have to spend them very wisely. There's only so many things that you can do and that you can focus on. And by trying to put too many things into that is a recipe for disaster. So, you have to kind of treat your time as if it's a currency, which is what I like to refer to as attention units and be very mindful of how you use them.

Daniel Burstein: Well, I like attention units and it’s also on the flip side is the attention unit of the customer too. So we had that the CMO SAATVA on earlier and he told this great story early in his career he was going to be a copywriter and he had this ad with all these messages in it and some great legendary ad man. I forgot his name right now. He had this board with all these nails on it and he tried to slam another board on it and nothing really got through. But then he had another board with just one nail and he slammed the board on it and it went right through, right. And when you talk about attention units, so if you're trying to do everything, if you're trying to be that company out there doing everything, you're not really breaking through to the customers, hearing all these different messages about all these things. But if you get known for that right niche, whatever size that niche is, small or big, you know what I mean? That you do that better than everyone else, at least for this ideal customer. That's how you really get through and that's how you become that company.

Because there's probably a few brands in the world like Amazon or, you know, Wal Mart or whatever they may be, that do just pretty much everything. But very, very few brands, especially start ups, especially smaller companies, they're going to succeed unless they have that real strong niche that just gets to that attention and get through to the customer's brain.

Frank Weil: And listen, Amazon didn't start that way, right? Because I was very, very focused on being a bookseller until they reached a level of success and could transform and transition on to bigger things. And when you talk about what we talked about earlier about change, the only constant is that there will be change. You know, no one ever thought, you know, probably from our age group, that Sears would ever go out of business. And, you know, Bezos said Amazon will be out of business one day, right? The only constant in anything is that there'll be change. So you have to be open to it.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, great. So this last lesson this is a very, very specific lesson probably one most specific lessons we’ve ever had on the podcast, I like it. So it's from Sam Kliger, the CEO of KWI, and he taught you one third of your revenue goes to expenses, one third goes to people in payroll, and the other one third goes to profit. So that's very specific. So how do you use this lesson to help you make decisions when it comes to hiring or acquiring or how do you use it?

Frank Weil: Yeah. And just to clarify also for Sam, who will be listening to this, that yes, it depends on the stage of company that you're at, whether you're in early stage or mature stage, how much you want to grow and things like that. So it's not a hard rule, but it's so important. It was so profound when he said that to me, because, you know, so many companies are racing to spend as much money as possible to grow as fast as possible without thinking about profitability.

But if you really run a business that a third of your revenue is profit, the lights are always going to stay on, right? Like no one ever went broke or out of business from making a profit, you know. So every day that's in the back of my head. Are we going to spend money on this? Do we need to hire? The team wants to bring on more account managers, but when we run the numbers, that doesn't fit into the formula. So we can't do it yet. Right. So it's being very disciplined in when we spend money. And again, a contradiction of this at the moment because we raise a little bit of money. We're losing money right now, but that's all by design for the first 12 months. And then we'll be profitable and we’lll operate that way. But it was just such a like profound thing to hear at a time when everyone was just spending as much money as possible. You know, that you can grow before you scale and not scale to grow, right? So I think that is a really good lesson for people.

Daniel Burstein: I'm glad you mentioned, too, that there's exceptions. And I think Picasso's the one that said to be a true artist, you need to know the rules before you break them. So I think that maybe also where the rule is helpful, where, yes, you have this business plan, a strategy where you're consciously breaking now, but you're kind of building to this.

So I wonder, where does this rule become the most painful? So if you've got a huge client you're about to bring on or, you know, where is it most where you got to make that tough decision, the things that keep you up at night.

Frank Weil: So I think it's you know, as you look at your ideal customer profile and how big or small that customer has to be to fit into your metrics in your formula. But usually it's the most painful on the hiring side, your team wants to hire people. You have X amount of people where you think you should have a Y amount of people and do you keep adding on because you don't want your team to get burnt out and you want to support them.

But based on the math, based on the metrics of, you know, revenue per client or headcount per client or whatever KPI you're looking at, you know, if that doesn't say hire, but the team says, hey, we'd like this, right? And we like this versus we need this are different statements. But I think that's really the most painful is when it comes to adding headcount.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I think a lot of companies are actually learning that now when you see how some of the tech companies are slowing down their own hiring. Some of the huge tech companies.

Frank Weil: Yeah, scary..

Daniel Burstein: Well we'll see what the future holds. Like you said the only constant is change. So whatever change is going to come, I know everyone is kind of on the edge of their seats now with these kind of two opposing forces that you're involved with. There’s this one this macro economy, where is it going? Is there inflation? Is there a recession? And then two, there is this next explosive Web 3.0, you know, growth rate. Where are we heading? Do we go in this direction, do we go in that direction,  is it going to slow things down, are we ultimately getting here? These are the scary things. But ultimately, I think this is the fun of marketing, right?

Frank Weil: It’s for sure, it's for sure the fun thing. Listen, I think that in 2 to 3 years from now, every loyalty program and every event ticket is going to be an NFT that's sitting in your native wallet on, you know, Apple Wallet or Google Wallet, right. That's where things are headed. How fast we get there is the question mark. But these are all really fun things to embrace.

Daniel Burstein: And that's the fun thing about being a marketer, right? You get to jump into all these different things. It's not going to be the same, it wasn't the same for me when my career started, it’s not going to be the same when my career ended. So we talked about all boatload of different things. We talked about it's okay to say no. We talk about lessons for your revenue. We talk about the ideal customer. We even talked about John Starks, fortunately. But if we had to break it all down. What would you say Frank in your opinion? What are the key qualities of an effective marketer? He turned around, by the way, to look at Starks to see that final product of inspiration before we went to the final question.

Frank Weil: I did because when I look at Starks I am going to come up with three.

Daniel Burstein: Okay. There you go. Number three. John Starks, yeah.

Frank Weil: Three as the number of what we are going to do. The first one is always keep the end in mind, right. Whether it's a business, whether it's a campaign, whether it's a meeting, right. Like what do I want to get out of doing this? So you have very clear expectations and goals.

I would say. The other is, and this is you know, a big part of the digital analytics class that I taught at NYU was test, analyze, and optimize. We think we know things, but we don't know if we know things. And just because something works for one brand doesn't mean it'll work for another. So test, take chances, analyze, optimize, rinse and repeat that often. And that's a good recipe for success.

And I would say the most important is put yourself in the shoes of your target consumer. We're all consumers. We know how we want to be treated. We know how we want to be spoken to. We know how we want to be communicated with. Don't lose sight of that when you're on the other side of the table, right. Like take advantage of the fact that you're also a consumer and say, like, would I like this? How would I react if this if this was communicated to me this way? I think it is pretty valuable as well.

Daniel Burstein: Super valuable it’ss one of the toughest things to do when we've got something that's pulling us in this other direction, like our paycheck or our sales number. To say, yeah what would it be like to be this person? Well, Frank, what fun conversation. Great to connect with the fellow UF alum thanks for joining us today.

Frank Weil: Yes. Go, go. Gators and Daniel, I really appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

Daniel Burstein: Great. And thanks to everyone for listening.


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