“I wasn’t aware that was something a person could do,” King George sang in Hamilton, when he learned George Washington was yielding his power.
I had the same feeling when I heard our podcast’s latest guest explain her relationship with her client – the SVP of Entertainment at Holland America Line. He readily tells her to stop with the agency song-and-dance, and just update him on what’s going on.
Seems obvious when I type it out. But it never occurred to me in those terms.
I hope the How I Made It In Marketing podcast has brought similar (marketing)life lessons to you. And there are many more lessons from the funny, poignant, and honest stories in our latest episode.
Listen in to hear stories filled with lessons from Nasya Kamrat, CEO and co-founder, FACULTY. Lessons about knowing when to ask for help and embracing empathy and humor in leadership.
This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
Empathy is not just the human choice, it’s the right choice for business. The power that your own stories have to connect more effectively with others.
These are a few of the lessons from the stories Nasya Kamrat, CEO and co-founder, FACULTY, shared with me in Episode #8 of the How I Made It in Marketing podcast.
Some lessons from Kamrat that emerged in our discussion:
Know when to ask for help
While in the maternity ward, Kamrat led a big pitch via video conference. In the middle of the meeting, the woman in the room next to her went into labor – alarms blaring, hospital machines beeping, people shouting and lights flashing. Of course, she couldn’t mute fast enough. Everyone on the call stopped and looked at her. She responded, “oh, you know, the sounds of Brooklyn.” They all nodded like that was a totally acceptable answer and went on with the meeting.
Empathy is not just the human choice, it’s the right choice for business.
In the early days of Covid, Kamrat had a Zoom call with a prospective client. She went into pitch mode instead of having empathy. Her agency did not get a second call.
Supporting other underrepresented founders, lifting as we climb
When she started her business 12 years ago, Kamrat and her founding partner had to make a decision –were they going to get certified as a woman-owned or a minority-owned agency? Much to their surprise, they couldn’t be both.
Kamrat also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with in her career:
Bill Prince, SVP of Entertainment, Holland America Line: An example of how to be authentic
The cruise line is a current and long-standing client of Kamrat’s agency. Early on, Prince would get incredibly annoyed with her. She’d come up with a fancy deck in her fancy clothes and spout all the expected marketing speak. And he’d immediately tune out. The minute she started talking to him as a real person and not a client, they not only became friends but also very effective partners.
Aaron Wolfe, Chief Creative Officer, Faculty: The power that your own stories have to connect more effectively with others
Hearing her co-worker’s story of moving out of New York City inspired Kumrat to move her family out of the city as well.
Lori Spielberger Klein, Consultant, LSK Creative Connect: How to embrace empathy and humor in leadership
Kamrat worked with Klein at Havas Health, when Klein was an Executive Vice President and the Director of Creative Strategy. Klein created an environment that made the creative work fun, exemplified by a New Yorker cartoon she had on her door of a bunch of brain surgeons with the caption, “hey, at least it’s not advertising.”
Not ready for a listen just yet? Interested in searching the content? No problem. Below is a rough transcript of our conversation.
Daniel Burstein: My middle school age daughter asked me a prescient question the other day. She said, Dad, I have all these team projects now, and it's frustrating having to rely on these other people. Do you have to work with teams? And I thought about it. I told her I did. But I got to admit, I try as much as possible to be on my own. So, I'm not reliant on others. And it made me realize, you know, I thought I had a tough time asking for help. And, you know, I kind of do. But then, oh, my gosh, I got the story from today's guest it's an extremely powerful story about how hard it can be to ask for help from our team, because we just we feel like we're bulletproof sometimes as marketing leaders.
We feel like we can do everything. That's a great story. You're going to love it. You're going to learn a lot from it. She's going to also share other stories from what she's made in her marketing career, illustrating why empathy is not just the human choice. It's the right choice for business and supporting other underrepresented founders. She calls it lifting as they climb.
Joining me today to share that story and many more is Nasya Kamrat, CEO and founder of Faculty. Thanks for joining us, Nasya.
Nasya Kamrat: Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.
Daniel Burstein: All right. So just going really quick for your LinkedIn and let people know who you are. First, I noticed that B.E., sorry, B.A. in English and theater from Florida State University. You got to mention it's my alma maters to rival, I went to UF. You started out in creative and production at Havas Group and right now you co-founded your own agency, and your client list has included Puma, Holland America Line, AT&T, Lifetime Movie Network, Thrillist, Tums, Bartoli, Johnson, Johnson, Pfizer, Walgreens, so many more I can’t even mention them all. Tell us briefly about your current role as CEO at Faculty.
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah, so Faculty is a storytelling agency. We do a lot in sort of traditional brand storytelling, but also a lot in the sort of experiential and experience design space. And so really what we play most in is telling stories that, you know, have rich technology behind them and really sort of push brands forward. And that's really where our sweet spot is.
Daniel Burstein: Oh, perfect. We're going to ask you to do a lot of storytelling today. So let's get into some of the lessons from the things you made in marketing. So that's kind of unique. I feel like in the marketing profession, you know, like dentists or financial managers or bankers, all these things, they don't really get to make things. We get to make things. And jumping into the first thing you made, which is, you know, a human being, I guess. So tell us about Ezra. How did you learn to know when to ask for help?
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah, so I when I first started in advertising, you know, it was in the early 2000’s and you know, being a female in advertising was its own thing. And so I was sort of very independent. I thought, I can do everything. I hated asking for help. I loved the like brainstorming and like coming up with ideas together. But in terms of like executing, the reason why I did both creative and production is I didn't want someone else to bring my ideas to life.
I had to control it all that sort of how I grew up in the advertising world. And so, I started my own agency about ten years ago and, you know, thought that, you know, you had to be really strong as a leader. You had to, like, not show any cracks. You had to be always put together and be on your A-game.
And so, and that served me like pretty well for the first, you know, five years of my business. And then I got pregnant and then about six months into my pregnancy, I got some complications and ended up, you know, having to be on bed rest in the hospital for the duration of my pregnancy. And I made the decision to not tell any of my clients because I thought if my clients knew, then they would lose faith in the agency and they would be like, oh, well, she's going to have a baby and she won't be able to service our brand and all that silliness.
And so, I didn't tell anyone. I told my, you know, my business partner and a couple of my team members. I told some of my clients that were pregnant, but very few knew that I was having any, you know, any challenges. So again, all good and fine until I was actually, we were pitching for a new client, and I was in the hospital, and I was on, you know, a Zoom call.
This was obviously before Zoom was like a thing, so I was on like a video chat, but it was before the last few years where this was like super comfortable to do. And so, I would kind of like I sort of set my stage. I looked everything looked fantastic. I had my makeup on the whole nine. And I'm talking about, you know, the proposal and all the things that we could do.
And all of a sudden, all these sirens go off and like lights starting to flash. And the woman in the room next to me went into emergency labor, and I quickly, like, shut my camera off. And I was like, you know, I'm in Brooklyn. The sounds of Brooklyn are weird, like, it's not a big deal. The clients totally bought it, I think. And but it was at that moment where I was like, oh, my goodness, like this hiding myself from the people that I'm working with, or want to be working with the amount of, like, complication this presents in the world is beyond, like, what is humanly possible to sort of go with. And so it was sort of at that moment where I was like, okay, this is no longer working.
And then and then I, you know, the end result is I had a baby, right? And so, like, it's sort of okay to hide it. It's like kind of easy-ish to hide a pregnancy. Like…
Daniel Burstein: Just carry a box in front of you and.
Nasya Kamrat: or like you just like you just like, oh, we're going to take calls. I'm not going to go to meetings or whatever. And, you know, so like I, I was able to kind of make that work. But like, then you have like a human, like a crying human that needs food and needs your attention. And it's really hard to hide that.
And so I was, you know, a new mom and I was trying to grow the business and I was, you know, going into the office and I was like pumping and I was traveling. Like, I think I went on my first business trip and Ezra was like maybe a month old and like pumping in like pumping in the Uber, like that level of stupid. And I just realized that, like, you know, in retrospect, I should have stopped and said, you know what? Like, I have an amazing team. I have amazing clients. Who care and like, people would understand, having a human life is a big deal? And it's a big thing to make, as you said. And if I would have been able to share more of myself in those moments and ask for help, I think I would have had a little bit of an easier time. But since that point, it sort of made me grow my own network. I had this incredible network of other women executives who all have kind of been through similar stuff. And so now we're able to support each other better.
So, in the end, it worked out fine, but it definitely took me a little bit to learn how to not do it all myself, ask for help when I need to and, you know, share who I am because I think that actually creates better relationships with your colleagues and with your clients.
Daniel Burstein: I mean, something we've repeatedly seen on the podcast is leaders being vulnerable or when people on the podcast whose leaders were vulnerable, how they made such a closer connection to them. But I would say in my own career there has been sometimes the most stressful thing, trying to balance work and life. But it's weird because when I think on the other hand, when I know when someone else has been going through something and they ask me for help, like I am happy and excited and lean forward to like to help this person go through that thing right but it's such a weird thing on this and being able to say like, No, no, everything's fine, I'm going to get through it all. But your stories before COVID, right?
Nasya Kamrat: It was so this was so my son just turned four in November so that this was about five, five, four or five years ago and this was all going down. So pre-COVID, you know, people were still expecting you to travel like all the time. And the fact that I wasn't at that pitch was like a big deal. I had to make lots of excuses to not be there.
So, it's definitely a different time now. And I also think that the level of empathy and vulnerability that leadership is trying, you know, is doing now, I think is different now than it was. I think that we've you know, we've seen to each other's homes now we you know, we get we're both there now. We see, you know, the kids the kids come in, the dogs are barking.
We see a little bit more into people's lives. And I think that has actually made us be better in business. So, although COVID is terrible and there's so many horrible things, I do think that it sort of allowed us to be more empathetic, more vulnerable, share more of who we are and in turn sort of be better towards each other in business, which I think ultimately is a good thing.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I agree. You know, don't put me down is against COVID, not I'm not for COVID, but I think we've probably earned about ten years of growth for every year we've gone through and covered like the two or three years we've gone through it now. And that is definitely one I think upside of this as you know people were allowed to kind of be more human and have lives more, and kind of just figure all that out together because while obviously COVID did not impact everyone in the same way you know it impacted everyone. Everyone I mean from Tom Hanks to me; I mean probably not as much right. And so, I think that's kind of been a beautiful just leadership and marketing lesson for all of us outside of that is to balance that humanity to it. And I also think and maybe you've felt this way, too, that humanity makes us better markers.
I know since I've had my kids, my kids are lesson machines. It's amazing. And they've taught me so much and it's definitely made me a better communicator, better marketer, more empathetic, you know, understanding people and being more curious.
Nasya Kamrat: 100%. I think having my son has definitely made me better in business, a better leader, 100%. Like just the amount of understanding I have towards like just general human nature is like grown crazy amounts. I'm also like, you see, you know, seeing your four year old discover things, that moment of discovery that they have and using that to sort of help you know, particularly with what we do is we create experiences and like if we can get everyone who go through one of our experiences, whether that be digital or physical, have that moment of joy that like my kid has when he like went on like a roller coaster for the first time.
Right. Or he's like, his mind was blown or like, you know, we took him this weekend to go see his first play because, you know, it's been COVID and you don't do that, or we haven't been able do that. And so just to see him watch something live on stage and that moment of wonder. And I think taking those lessons and saying, how do we like battle that and like allow consumers and audiences to sort of have those experiences in whatever way is sort of brand appropriate, I think is a great learning for all marketers. 100%.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. I would say another thing that children do very well is they are amazed by the banal, like just taking my young daughter to Publix, which is a grocery store here in Florida, and seeing the things that would catch her eye and blow her away really gets you to look at things and do it. And the questions I ask, like they, they would ask me like, why are things this way?
And I think as marketers and whether on the agency side of the brand side, that's what we need to be. We need to be the questioners in the organization saying, why are things away? Say, why do we fulfill through a third-party vendor versus directly and have a better brand experience? Like why do they have to be this?
So great lesson from there. Nasya said her lesson was know when to ask for help. The lesson we can all take away. Now, let's move on to your next lesson, your next story. Empathy is not just the human choice, it's the right choice for business. And so now I think we fast forward to the COVID era in your career and tell us about this experience.
Nasya Kamrat: So, you know, COVID, as you said, hit everyone, hit some people more than others for sure, in a variety of ways. And so being in, running a small business, and running one where so much of what we do is experiences and a lot of those being physical experiences, like one of our longest standing clients is a cruise line, which is it was a challenging time during COVID, or we do lots of events and, you know, big activations and brand activations and retail experiences.
And so, you know, COVID hit and we just saw contracts cancel or being put on hold and day after day with just like pure panic, a constant and just being like, okay, you know, scenario one, scenario 30, scenario 122, just sort of trying to say what would happen if this been what? And so we had this opportunity with a new, potentially new client and we were going to, you know, do a capabilities presentation, get to know them a little bit.
It was someone who had been talking to you for a little while now. So I hadn't known him personally but he was going to get his team and my team on the phone or we're going to have a big kind of get to know each other moment. And right before the meeting about, you know, a few hours before that meeting, he emailed me is like, hey, can we reschedule? We just had to layoff, you know, half of our team, could reschedule. And I was like, oh, of course. Yes, no problem. Hope everything's okay, you know? Yeah, give me sometimes. And so, we were scheduled for like a week or two later. So, we had the meeting, and it was going well. You know, we were asking how things were going. They were telling us how things were. And my team, as they were hearing about this company that just laid off half of their workforce, I could see their like faces and the anxiety behind their eyes. And I was like, and I just went into like car sales mode, which is like totally not who I am. I'm like, I am not a car salesman. But like, I would just like, I just was like so worried about my team. I was like and I just started selling. And the minute I started selling, I saw this potential client just shut down because they didn't need a sales pitch. They needed, like, camaraderie. They needed understanding they needed a relationship, they needed empathy. And, you know, I kind of finished up my thing and the call ended, and I got off the phone and like, you know, like you're on calls and you're like, oh, that felt fantastic.
And then you're like, you get off something and you're like, oh, my God, that was horrible. And so, like, I knew it was a latter for this one. Like, I knew I was like, that did not go the way that we intended that to go. And I realized in that moment that, like, I was so worried about sort of my own story and my own concerns and my own team and my own worries.
That I didn't consider that every single human on that call was like, right about, like, homeschooling their kid or like taking care of their aging parents or all the other things like washing off their groceries like we did in the early days of COVID. And it reminded me that, like, sympathy is one thing, so being sympathetic towards someone else's experience, but really being empathetic and really knowing that every single person, particularly during COVID, we've all been through something pretty intense and pretty traumatic and pretty crazy.
And if we can take that shared experience and learn from it and sort of really, truly lead with empathy and communicate with empathy, it allows for richer relationships, I think, and allows for long relationships. So, like if I would have handled that call differently, I think not only would we have potentially been able to get a new client, I mean, I would have had this amazing story to tell of like this amazing lesson that I learned. I mean, right, like totally. So, you have great stories. Yeah, exactly. But I do think I could have like actually created a long-standing relationship with every human on that call. Some who are still that place, some other place. And I, in my anxiety will say, I sort of made that not be what the reality was. So, I think it was a good lesson in empathy. I think all of COVID has been a good lesson of empathy.
But I think that was the first one for me where I was like, oh, right. Like this is a shared experience that we all need to be able to better support each other in and understand each other. And I think that is, that is, you know, one of the one of the positive things of COVID is do you think that's and again, COVID is there's not that there's not very many positive things, but I do think that it's made us more human and has made us more vulnerable and made us more accepting where each and every one of us are every day
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. I mean, yeah. And what you're talking about is you're talking about that communication with clients, with your own team. But, you know, something we commonly talk about here in the how I made it in marketing podcast is we've got to do that with our customers. It's very hard. And you brought up, I think, a really good word that we hadn't talked about yet when it comes to us is anxiety.
And I think a lot of times when you see poor marketing that doesn't really consider the customer, it is anxiety of am I going to hit my numbers this quarter or this week? Am I going to get enough leads on this? Doesn't mean just push, push, push, push, and ask for too much and cold calls and spam and whatever these things are.
And you know, the number one thing we have to think about is, you know, we call it customer theory, we actually have a tool. It's called how to develop your customer theory, right? We sit down to ask all these questions about a customer because we live, we have such a different lived experience in the customer. Sometimes it's very different from ourselves.
So, I think about, you know, what it needs to make a video or, you know, an ad and you go into the studio with an editor and have a nice catered lunch and you see it on this big, beautiful monitor and these great speakers, and it's a fantastic experience. Then it gets out in the world and it's, you know, a busy mom working on her phone while her kid just dropped a hot dog on the ground and is crying and, you know, and her husband just got laid off, you know, and it's like such a different experience we face.
And so that's such an important thing to remember. Not only that empathy for others that we're interacting with on one-on-one basis like clients and teams, but those customers we may never see, don’t let our anxiety get in the way. Really learn about them and try to have that empathy for them and understand them.
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah, that's such a good point too, because I think so much of marketing has that sort of anxiety in the background. Like you said, like it is like you know, we're like, Oh, well, we have to reach our numbers or you know, I always laugh at, you know, and like we, we all do this, but like when we're doing persona work, we're like, oh, we're going to like we're going to put this like idea of a human and this is who are trying to target. And the reality is, we will give her a name, we'll call her Molly. But the real Molly is the woman whose kid just dropped their hot dog and whose husband just got laid off. And so, all of that contact us surrounds who that customer is and who that audience is. And not even like in general, like in the moment that they're receiving your communication.
And it's really hard to be planful of that. But I do think that if you create work and create marketing that is incredibly human, people will be able to find truth and wherever they are. Right. And so, I think a lot of times the marketing that often fails is the one that is like, oh, yes, it was a beautifully shot thing and it was all polished. And I think that worked at one time. I think that was what advertising was at one time. I don't think that is what's resonating with the audience today. I think audiences want the realness and they expect that level of conversation with the brands that they care about.
Daniel Burstein: Well, I will challenge you on the fact that that's new because you used a great word there, truth. And you know, the best definition I've ever heard of advertising probably a hundred years old is the truth well told, right? Oh, good ads have always been on it, they’ve just always been tapping into some you know truth that deep that goes you know to our humanity, I think.
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah, no and 100% I think we just don't need the level of polish that we once needed. Right. Like I don't think that the expectation is like we're going to like, you know, have that million dollar spot, that 15 second spot that took, you know, X amount of days and X amount of humans, and you know a crew of 75 in some remote place of the world, right.
Like I think that that has changed because a, I think the world is moving faster than that for sure. And I do think that there is, there is some truth that gets lost in that. So, I think smart, honest, relevant, creative is still what resonates, and I think that's what we should all be striving for. And like I do think that, you know, I think COVID has sort of helped us learn that too, is that, you know, we want to have we want to create loyalists, not just customers. Right. We want to get people who believe in the brand and believe in the brand ethos. And I think that comes when you have really incredible advertising, not just great marketing plans.
Daniel Burstein: Not just a lot of polish on something doesn't have that deep truth to it. So, here’s the here's the last lesson you want to share with us from the things you made, supporting other underrepresented founders, lifting as we climb. So how did you learn this lesson, Nasya?
Nasya Kamrat: So, yeah, I think, you know, it's over the years, I've sort of learned this lesson time and again. I think, you know, even as early as when I first started my business, you know, I identify as a woman. My founding partner is Taiwanese, and I remember when we first started the agency, we had to choose one or the other to be either like certified women owned or certified minority owned it.
We couldn't be both and that was like a moment where I was like, that's weird. Why can't we be like, why wouldn't you be able to be both? We both we equally owned the company and we both, you know, are part of underrepresented communities. And that's just not the way the system worked. And that was sort of like a moment where, you know, I was sort of I was sort of shocked by it, but and disappointed by it. But, you know, you sort of go along with the ride and then I think, you know, a few years later, I, you know, and this has happened a few times, but, you know, there's one, one call I had with a procurement a Fortune 50 company, and they said, you know, we love your work. We love what you do. But, you know, we're only hiring this type of agency because, you know, it was during some big hashtagged moment, and they only wanted to hire for the hashtag because of optics.
And it took me a second to sort of, you know, 100%. Yes, we should be supporting all underrepresented founders. But by this idea that we have to be separated into these boxes and we have to be, you know, black owned or women owned or LGBTQ plus or any of those boxes, they're actually sort of separating us further.
And so, I think by combining our voices. And so to be saying, hey, no, we are, we're kind of all in this together. We have different experiences, but we have a shared experience of being less heard in this space. And so, for me, it was that moment after that call where I was like, yes, you know, Faculty is a woman owned company and we’re certified and all of that, but by finding different voices and supporting all of the underrepresented founders who are doing really interesting work and really independent, amazing work, we're actually sort of able to no longer be the minority, which I think is a really exciting thing. So, what I try to do in my efforts is take all the various underrepresented agencies that I know and sort of have us always work together to sort of be a solution towards the sort of traditional holding company model of being able to do really great work and having a really diverse voices work together on them.
Daniel Burstein: Sounds like a co-op kind of.
Nasya Kamrat: It is. So, I so it is. So, we actually started a it is a co-op, but it is a network so we actually took the model of a holding company. And we have different specialist agencies who kind of handle all the various specialties, but they're all everyone within it is a woman minority, LGBTQ plus BIPOC led independent shop. But really it's a little bit different because we actually are taking the holding company model and just sort of flipping on its head and we just happen to all be independent and we're not all sort of paying to, you know, the French guy at top.
Daniel Burstein: With the shareholders.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. All right. So those are some of the things that Nasya shared from what she's made. But there's something else we do as markers too. We collaborate with people, we work with others, and hopefully we're really taking something from that along the way. A lot of lessons that we learned. So, your first lesson from someone you collaborated with is Bill Prince. He's the SVP of Entertainment at Holland America Line. And you said you learned a great example of how to be authentic. How did how did you learn that from Bill?
Nasya Kamrat: So, we've been working with Holland America Line for about eight years now, and Bill very early on, like, you know, like we're in the agency world so we'd put together the fancy presentation and we print out beautiful boards. We do the show, and he'd just be like, I don't want any of that. Just like, tell me what's going on. Like all of the, like, song and dance agency stuff that were so prepared to do all the time, every time I start to kind of go there, he just be like, all right, just tell me what you want to do. Tell me how much does it cost? Tell me how we're going to get there. Why is a great idea? And like, there is no B.S., There is no smoke and mirrors. It's just like, how do we create great work and be really authentic? And, you know, it's become it's an actual real collaboration, which I think is really interesting from a client and vendor perspective where he doesn't want to be treated like a client. He wants to be treated like a collaborator.
So, like, let's just like roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. So there's this level of authenticity that we have that I think is like no other client relationship that I've ever had, which has been amazing. But it's also like sometimes you forget, and you put on a song and dance, and then he rolls his eyes and he's like stop. So, I kind of always have to remind myself that, like, I don't have to do that with him, which I think is a really freeing experience.
Daniel Burstein: Well, that sounds like you have a real relationship, too. I mean, that's what we should want from our agency. Like that real relationship where they can have those honest conversations with you.
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah. And it’s become a friendship, right? Like, you know, like there's a trust there and a friendship there and you know, we want to do great work for him because, like, we enjoy working with him. And so I think it's a little bit of a different mode than a lot of like other relationships that sort of, you know, brands have with their agency vendors.
Daniel Burstein: Absolutely. Yeah. Let's talk about a relationship you have inside your agency. Aaron Wolfe, the Chief Creative Officer at Faculty. You said you learned from Aaron, the power that your own stories have to connect more effectively with others, which is great. And that's the whole point of this podcast. So, it's great. How did how did you learn that story?
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah, so Aaron is amazing. So, Aaron, I think, was like one of our very first freelancers, ten years ago, and slowly we brought him into the fold and then he became full time, and now he's our third partner. So we slowly kind of brought him into the fold and he you know, he is an incredible storyteller. He's very involved in the moth community, and he is, you know, a very you know, renowned storyteller.
And there was one time a few years back, I think my son was probably about like five or six months old. And we were living in Brooklyn and, you know, living in Brooklyn with a small human is like it's hard, right? Like I realized very, very, very quickly that I was not the mom to take the stroller on the subway and not be really annoyed by my life like I was that was not for me.
And so, you know, I think my husband, I were like folding laundry or something. And we were listening to one of Aaron's stories. He was doing a podcast, or he was telling one of his stage stories, and we were listening to it. And it was the story of how he had to make the decision to leave New York. You know, he had a kid and he his wife had a really amazing opportunity and just outside of Boston or in Boston.
And he, you know, he was like me, he was a New Yorker. He like very strong ties to New Yorker. Like, my family was like born and raised in Brooklyn. I had very strong ties to New York. And so he tells this really beautiful, honest, like human story about how he had to decide this, like, really hard decision of leaving his identity, basically, and then moving because it was the right choice for his family.
And so, my husband and I were listening to this, we’re folding laundry and we like kind of look at each other and were like, oh damn it. And so, a few months later, we moved to Portland, Oregon, because it was the right choice for our family. But it was in that moment, not just that, like, hey, we're going to like you know, change our entire life and move across the country.
But was the moment where I realized how powerful stories can be, not just in like in a personal relationship in terms of friends, but also in a business relationship of like hearing a colleague of mine be that honest and that transparent and that authentic. And that human telling so much of who he was sort of made me realize how storytelling can actually create incredible business relationships that are beyond the sort of sort of personal ones that we so know.
So, he's taught me that he that, he teaches me that time and again. And that has actually since he's been sort of on, you know, as a partner and even before that, like so much of what we do has taken that the passion for storytelling and really amplified it and the how we been able to do that for our clients. But that was the first moment where I was like, huh, storytelling really does matter. Look at that. And it was sort of a nice life lesson for me.
Daniel Burstein: Well, it's funny that we have the word conversion in marketing and conversion optimization and….
Nasya Kamrat: Oh, he converted me 100%. Like, without a doubt, I am now living in Portland, Oregon, which is not something I ever thought I would be doing because he was so convincing in his storytelling abilities to convert me that I did not need to identify as, or I can still identify as a New Yorker without even being in New York. I think was the lesson. Yeah.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. I mean, that's. Yeah. When you were saying that I was thinking that sounds like a conversion. So, whether it's, you know, converting someone from not subscribing to our email to subscribing to our email or, you know, not purchasing our product or purchasing our product or living in New York or not living in New York, I mean, those stories make such a big difference. I was trying to think through what you know, there's a lot of podcasts out there and there's so many podcasts about marketing. I think that the name for this podcast is like the 12th name I came up with because they're all taken before and thinking, you know, what is kind of missing in that landscape. It came to what you just mentioned is the stories because I don't hear, you know, like I hear so many buzzwords in our industry. I hear about how you say I and you know, use marketing automation or be authentic.
But like the opening story you had that we talked about, we could have said you could have just said, you know, hey, you know, you need to reach out to your team when you need help. And that's being good marketing leader. But when you're walking through that story of saying, I was in a maternity ward on a client pitch, I mean, that illustrates it so much. And so, I think for everyone on the call, look at your brands and think, you know, they've all got stories. What are those stories? And how can you more honestly and authentically tell them.
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah. And reaching the right audience, you know, like when you're trying to reach people like I am sure I told my maternity ward story and there's like some mom or soon-To-Be mom or someone who's thinking about having a kid or someone who had an experience that was like or like remembers, you know, being pregnant, being like, oh, that would have sucked, you know, like that connectivity that you get by having that on the storytelling, I think is, is what really transforms that.
Like, conversion is important but like if you don't convert to loyalty, like it doesn't matter, right? Like, sure, I can sign up for the email, but if I don't read, it doesn't matter. Right. So how do you actually use story to kind of continuously connect with your, your customers and your audience and create a relationship that's not one sided?
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. And I think to your point, it's respecting and understanding that there is a customer journey and where are your customers in that journey and what are they have to hear at that time? Right. So, you are clearly at that point in your journey where you are ready to hear that story. It was perfect for you. And so that as marketers, that's the best we can be is getting that story to that person when they need to hear it.
Nasya Kamrat: Exactly. So, it was 100% like I heard the story. I think I probably actually heard the story like a few years, like a couple of years before that and like it didn't resonate right. Like, I heard him tell me the story. But in that moment, because, you know, we just got that the small human to sleep after like whatever. And we were tired, and we were like in that new parent insanity. That was the only story we can hear at the moment to justify what our decision was. And so, I think using that and then again, like, you know, we brought Aaron on as a partner because that is his sweet spot. And so, he's been able to translate that for our clients as well. And that's been really a powerful thing to sort of witness.
Daniel Burstein: Well, I think that's a great example to as you look at a customer theory or persona or whatever you want to call it, you are probably the same, you know, Nasya between 25 and 45 who, you know, shopped for organic food and likes hiking or whatever, right at both those times you were totally different person. You were a totally different person, even though you fall into that same demographic.
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah, much more sleep deprived, 100% sleep deprived in that moment. So maybe more receptive to alternative thinking of what my life would be?
Daniel Burstein: So, find sleep deprived customers. And the final person you learn a lesson from. You want to talk about Lori Spielberer Klein. She's now a consultant at LSK Creative. But I think this happened when she was the executive creative director at Havas Health, and you learn how to embrace empathy and humor in leadership. How did you learn that from Lori?
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah. So, Lori was amazing. So, I didn't intend to be in advertising. I actually went to New York to do theater and then I needed health insurance. So, I started working at Havas, as you do. And she was my you know, she was my boss, and she was hilarious and kind and funny and so, so smart. But I remember very vividly she had this sort of comic on her wall in her office. And it was a New Yorker, a New Yorker comic. And it was a bunch of like doctors sort of like around a table, like doing surgery and like the line underneath was, oh, at least it’s not advertising. And so that was sort of how she approached everything were like, you know, we are doing we are doing great work, we're doing creative work, we're doing it, you know, in the best way we possibly can, but like, we should have some humor in there, right?
Like, we are not, this isn't brain surgery. We are making ads. And I think that sort of learning with that mindset, with that level of humor and empathy and kindness and like, let's just not take it so seriously. Even though we love what we do. I think sort of really put me on the track that I that I ended up being on because she was such a great mentor in my sort of really early formative years in my twenties.
Daniel Burstein: And that's a great leadership lesson. You know, it's by nature a deadline driven industry. It's a pressure filled industry because you could lose a client. You cannot get the sales you want, but you're not going to get the best work out of people when they feel under the gun. I mean, this is we're an idea industry we're a creative industry.
And you have to have that that levity to it and that feeling of like, I can spread my wings, I can risk, I can fail, I can, you know, and it's not going to be so serious. I have worked with people who have been dead serious over a period or a comma in a headline. And it was like, you know, life itself would end if we did not end this headline in a period. And sometimes you just have to remind yourself in those moments that, like you said, it's not a life-or-death decision. It's just advertising, folks. It's just marketing.
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah. I and I agree. And, you know, and again, I love what I do and, you know, I am very passionate about the type of work that we do, but I do I do recognize that, you know, nothing's going to die on the table right now if we don't get our work done appropriately. So I think that was a great lesson.
And she's just, she was a really patient, kind, humorous, you know, mentor her, particularly during a time in advertising where, you know, you know, it was like in the early 2000’s, there wasn't much mentorship happening or humor happening or kindness happening in other places. So having that as sort of my first leader to learn from was really, really transformative.
Daniel Burstein: Well, maybe I'll be leaders like Lori. That’s a great lesson. Yeah. Well, let’s end here with the same question we ask everyone on the show. We've talked about a wide range of topics from creating a human life to moving out of the city to so many other things. But it begs the question, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer? What do we need to be able to do all these things?
Nasya Kamrat: So, I would say if there are sort of three things and I think sort of our conversation really leads to these three things. One is sort of empathy. I think you need to understand other humans to be able to be good at marketing. You need to understand how to talk to people, how to tell those stories, how to reach those people and where to reach them and when. And I think that is that comes with understanding human nature and being empathetic. I think you have to sort of always be learning. I think part of what makes great marketing amazing is that it's evolving, right? And you learn from your mistakes, you learn from the data, you learn from the metrics, but you also learn from just the conversations around what you're putting out into the world.
And so always learning, always sort of being curious about how to push things forward and sort of do something differently, I think is a really imperative part of being in this marketing game. And then I think the last thing is like just have fun. Like, this is a, you know, life could be hard, right? Like if the last two years have taught us anything like it's hard.
And so, find those moments of joy, find those moments of fun and they may be hard to find sometimes like it is you know, it could be it's been a weighty couple of years for sure. And so I think finding some time to just laugh and realize that we actually get to do really fun stuff and really cool stuff and like we could be doing stuff that isn't so fun and it isn't so cool.
So, sort of appreciating the fact that we get to be creative, and we get to, you know, do things that are a little bit out of the norm. I think appreciating that and enjoying the ride, I think is a big the big one to for all marketers to understand.
Daniel Burstein: Enjoy the ride. I like it. Yeah. Well, thanks for joining us and I've certainly enjoyed this conversation.
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It's been, it's been a fun conversation. I think I’ve; I've learned a lot even from this conversation. It's amazing how you can kind of keep evolving what you know.
Daniel Burstein: Absolutely. And hopefully everyone listening learned as well. So, thanks to you all for listening.
Nasya Kamrat: Yeah. Thanks again.
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