April 11, 2024

Entrepreneur’s Resilience: From zero to 112,000 YouTube subscribers (podcast episode #94)


Find my latest interview below. I talked to Frank Spitzer, CEO, Pelecanus, about startup grit, YouTube channel success, personal responsibility, cultural adaptation, and his unyielding journey from the world of high finance to small business owner in the travel industry.

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

Entrepreneur’s Resilience: From zero to 112,000 YouTube subscribers (podcast episode #94)

Get even more ideas from this episode by using the Analysts – Video Transcript expert assistant in MECLABS AI. It’s totally FREE to use (for now). (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

Whatever it is you’re working on and struggling with, don’t pivot too soon. Make sure you give it enough time to work.

For as this episode’s guest explains – resilience pays out.

Frank Spitzer, CEO, Pelecanus, shares the story of how he grew his company’s YouTube channel from zero to 100,000 subscribes, along with many more lesson-filled stories.

Pelecanus has $250,000 in annual revenue. Spitzer manages a team of four employees, along with four freelancers and interns.

Listen to our conversation using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.


Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on Amazon Music

Stories (with lessons) about what he made in marketing

Here are some lessons from Spitzer that emerged in our discussion.

Taking responsibility leads to rewards

Spitzer told about this moment from his childhood that really shaped him. Back in Switzerland, life was a world away from what he later experienced in Colombia, especially in terms of education. Picture a six-year-old Spitzer cruising around his neighborhood on his trusty little bike. His area was filled with these ten-story apartment buildings, buzzing with kids playing outside until dinnertime.

Now, there was this bully named Dominique. One day, he demanded Spitzer’s bike to show him something ‘cool.’ Reluctantly, Spitzer handed it over, and what followed was chaos. Domnique gave it a push down a hill, and Spitzer’s bike ended up crashing into a flower garden, destroying a bunch of blooms. He was devastated. Tears streaming, he ran home to tell his parents everything.

His mom, bless her, urged him to own up to what happened and fix it. So, armed with a box of chocolates as a peace offering, he went with his dad to the neighbor's door. He must have been a sight—teary-eyed and clutching onto his dad's hand. But you know what? The neighbor not only forgave him but also rewarded his honesty with even more chocolates and returned his bike. That experience taught him the importance of taking responsibility, tackling problems head-on, and always being honest – a lesson that's stuck with him ever since.

Resilience Pays Out: From zero to 112,000 subscribers

Another more recent story is that his team started their YouTube channel in 2017 to change the perception of Colombia all over the world, to show people that Colombia today is not the Colombia 20 years ago and that it has really changed a lot. But the YouTube channel started really slow and he would say in the first year they had no views or almost no views. Also skeptical people were making fun of the Swiss guy with a YouTube channel.

And now seven years later, the numbers tell a totally different story. Five months ago they reached 10,000 subscribers, and now they have 112,000 subscribers. So this really showed him that resilience pays out. If you shout once, nobody will hear you. But if you don't stop shouting, people will start hearing you and that's what you need to do: callout, shout, go get the people. Do it again and again and again and again. Not do it once. Do it 100 times and you will be heard. This is a valuable lesson that has shaped his approach to challenges in both business and life.

Embracing honesty can lead to deeper connections, personal growth, and inner peace

Spitzer has always believed in honesty, a principle deeply ingrained in his Swiss upbringing. However, when he moved to Colombia, he quickly realized that communication norms there are quite different. Unlike in Switzerland, where honesty is prized, in Colombia, there's a different approach. Not saying the whole truth isn't considered lying; it's just part of the culture.

This cultural difference presented a challenge for him. He struggled to reconcile his Swiss values with the communication norms in Colombia. But then, he made a decision. He decided to embrace honesty wholeheartedly, regardless of cultural differences. He committed to always speaking his truth, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.

Since then, he has noticed a significant improvement in his personal well-being. Being honest has not only strengthened his relationships but also given him a sense of inner peace. While it can sometimes be difficult for others to hear the truth, he found that honesty ultimately leads to deeper connections and a greater sense of authenticity.

Spitzer also discussed localizing content for the five languages his company’s blog serves. For example, when Spitzer wanted to cut fluff out of Spanish content, his head of digital marketing, Ana María Parra, convinced him that Spanish-language blog posts should be more flowery, because that is what the Spanish-speaking market expects.

Lessons (with stories) from people he collaborated with

Spitzer also shared lessons he learned from the people he collaborated with.

Dedication shapes an entrepreneurial journey

via Donald Spitzer

One of Frank’s greatest influences is his father, Donald Spitzer, an architect and entrepreneur. Growing up, his father dedicated long hours to his work, often leaving home before they woke up and returning late in the evening. Despite his demanding schedule, his father still found time to pursue his passions, such as hockey and tennis. His calm demeanor, integrity, and strong work ethic deeply impacted Frank and inspired his own journey as an entrepreneur.

His father’s company, Spitzer Architekten AG, reflects his dedication and vision, qualities Frank strives to emulate in his career.

To Achieve Success: Hard work trumps natural talent

via Lucas Ramseyer

Another influential figure in his life is his close friend Ramseyer. They met during officer school in Switzerland, where they both trained as infantry officers. From the moment he met Ramseyer, Spitzer admired his natural leadership abilities and magnetic personality. While he effortlessly commanded attention and respect, Spitzer often struggled to make a similar impact.

Through their friendship, he learned the value of recognizing inherent talents while also acknowledging the importance of hard work and discipline. Ramseyer taught him that while some may possess innate abilities, others, like Spitzer, can achieve success through dedication and perseverance.

 A good leader stands up for their team

via Heidi Schlegel

Throughout his 20 years in finance, he encountered various bosses, but only one truly stood out as a great leader. Most bosses he worked under lacked essential leadership qualities, such as charisma and integrity. They seemed to have obtained their positions based on seniority rather than merit, leading to weak leadership throughout the industry.

One exceptional leader he had the privilege of working with was Schlegel, the head of the stock exchange area during his apprenticeship at Credit Suisse. Schlegel was a tough and formidable woman who commanded respect in a challenging environment filled with straightforward communication and occasional bullying.

He vividly recalled an encounter with a senior trader who questioned his presence in the trading area. Despite his young age, he responded assertively, matching the tone of the environment. Later, he learned that the trader he had spoken to was none other than a member of the board and a senior figure within Credit Suisse.

When Schlegel heard about the incident, she handled it with grace and humor, dismissing Berchtold's complaint and standing up for Spitzer. Her unwavering support and willingness to defend her team members left a lasting impression on him.

From Schlegel, he learned a valuable lesson in leadership: a good leader stands up for their team. Shlegel’s actions demonstrated that leadership is not just about holding a title but also about advocating for and supporting those under your guidance. Her example inspired him to strive for excellence in leadership and to always stand up for his team members.

Discussed in this episode

Female Entrepreneurship and Marketing: Having built a big community doesn't mean you will be able to monetize it

PR, Writing, and Marketing Agency Corporate Culture: Think big (podcast episode #49)

Marketing Leadership: Aligning the entire team around the unifying vision is an integral part of project management

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

Frank Spitzer : Every two weeks we have a company meeting and we always have different topics I'm talking about. For example, when I went to a trip to new destinations, I explained what I saw, what was good, what was bad, what's the problem? I'm really honest about that. I talk about the finances of the company and when we struggle, I tell people why we struggle, what's the problem?

And I always encourage people to ask questions.

Intro: Welcome to how I made it in marketing from Marketing Sherpa. We scour pitches from hundreds of creative leaders and uncover specific examples, not just trending ideas or buzzword laden schmaltz, real world examples to help you transform yourself as a marketer. Now here's your host, The senior director of Content and Marketing at Marketing Sherpa Daniel Burstein, to tell you about today's guest.

Frank Spitzer : Speaker and.

Daniel Burstein: Don't give up quite yet. Whatever it is you're working on and struggling with, don't pivot too soon. Make sure you give it enough time to let it work. Or, as my next guest explains, resilience pays out. Here to share the story of how he grew his company's YouTube channel from 0 to 100000 subscribers, along with many more lesson filled stories, is Frank Spitzer, the CEO of Pelecanos.

Thanks for joining me, Frank.

Frank Spitzer : Thank you, Daniel, for having me.

Daniel Burstein: But let's take a quick look at your background. You were a first lieutenant and platoon leader in the Infantry Corps of the Swiss Army. You spent 20 years in finance, including being an operations officer at Zurich's Gutter Investments and a structure at Credit Suisse. And eight years ago, you founded Pelecanos, So. PELECANOS Right now, I think most recent numbers, $250,000 in revenue for the year.

And Frank has four employees that report to him, along with four freelancers and interns. So, Frank, give us a sense. What is your day like as CEO?

Frank Spitzer : Well, usually I get up early in the morning, around 6:00. I wake up without a yellow card, which is very nice. I walk down the stairs and my day starts and then I work all day and evening is usually open, ends. I usually work between 60 to 90 hours a week. So what's the weekends? This is at the office when I travel because I run the travel agency or travel operator.

Then the hours go up.

Daniel Burstein: So you talk about all the fun, beautiful things to do in Colombia. Do you have time to do any of them? It sounds like you don't.

Frank Spitzer : Yeah, actually, I do a lot. I travel a lot around Colombia, and that's awesome. But I do not really have to always experience because I'm rushing everywhere. I run from A to B to C, and then drive everywhere by car and I see the stuff, but who needs work? Because I have to. People have to be tells. I have to film everything.

Sometimes I have somebody with me helping with filming, but usually I'm a one man show and it's tough. Those trips y highly satisfying.

Daniel Burstein: That's also that's part of running a small company. All right, let's take a look at some lessons from your career. Some of the things you mean. Your first lesson you said take responsibility. Taking responsibility leads to rewards. And this was back. This is a very early formative lesson for you that you still remember today. So you want to tell us about this?

Frank Spitzer : absolutely. And I think this is a very important tool to give the audience some context, because I grew up in Switzerland, the close to Suruc on the countryside, and now I live in Colombia, and the culture will be different. So here in Switzerland, the Gaultier mes, when we grow kids, they become responsible adults. So education of kids is therefore a little bit different than in many other countries.

And I remember when I was like five or six years old and just learned how to ride my little bicycle and the local bally and he he took my bicycle and taught me how the bicycle can run by its owner. And unfortunately, the bicycle on its own run down flowers in in the garden of a lady. And I was so scared.

So I ran back home and told it to my parents and they just told told me, yeah, your problem, solve it. And I was so scared. So my, my dad, he and me took me by a hand, but he said, look, you were. I will ring on the door. I'm on that lady, but you need to solve the situation and clarify everything.

And my mom, she gave me a box of chocolates and you can imagine. So my, my. It was there at the entrance with me and I rang the bell, and then a lady opened and I was just crying and this lady didn't understand what was going on. So she took me into the apartment to my dad. He waited outside and finally I came out with my bicycle and the second box of chocolates and as kids, this is such an important lesson that you that you learn that we teach when you take all responsibility, you actually can get rewarded.

And this was very important for my life because like this, my brain got wired the way that I attack the problems and take responsibility.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. Can you think of any example in your career where there was a difficult thing but you had to take responsibility? It paid off. I mean, I know you previously worked in an industry that the finance industry that had some issues with that perhaps or even in your current industry, because I know when I've managed people, I hope I took responsibility myself.

It's it's hard for me to say, I sure hope I did. But I know, like when you manage people, you can tell like when something goes wrong or some people manage that. It starts with it's not my fault and goes from there and you know, maybe it wasn't, but then there's other people who just, boom, they fess up, it's this, and then it doesn't get to the, you know, blaming them part or that punishing them.

It's great. Now let's jump in, see what we can learn to fix it. That's why that helps so much. So from your career, can you think of something a specific time where you took responsibility or maybe one of your team members did? And what you did from there?

Frank Spitzer : Well, I would say this is this is all over our in many situation, many stations of my life. Responsibility was also a big part. I'm also also in the army. I'm there anywhere anyway, because when you have subordinates that that do something wrong, make mistakes or whatever you were there at the head, you were the team leader. And finally you have to take over responsibility because you have been responsible for that training or the supervision.

And whenever day or something is going on and your supervisor, or if then you responsibility you to face. And I think the army was a really good school too to really get the more deep in into these leadership principles.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, no, that's a great point too because not only personal responsibility as a leader, you've got to take responsibility for your team. And I'm sure as CEO, if something goes wrong for a customer, you can't just blame one of your employees, right? You got to take responsibility and make it right for them. Here's another lesson. As you say, resilience pays out and you grew from 0 to 100000.

I think it's actually 104,000 right now. Subscribers on your YouTube channel. So you can tell us about that.

Frank Spitzer : Yeah, that that's actually a great story. And I think it makes a good example for many people to show resilience is so important in life. So we started the YouTube channel in 2018 and growth was really slow, so we never had that viral video. Whatever. And we reached 10,000 subscriber only like six months ago. And then within the last six months we reached over 100,000 subscribers.

And there were I mean, I remember in the first year of the YouTube channel, there were only where like and use video or 20 views or 50 views, mostly where my family and friends all over the place. And it was so frustrating and we were like really shooting so many videos and uploading every week. And the needle was not moving, not at all.

But I knew we are providing quality content and really valuable information all around Colombia and we have to maintain this pace and show people that we are here. We have the great information and it's a best source for everybody wants to travel to Colombia and little by little the numbers increased, but really little by little. And yeah, finally now we are on over 100,000 subscribers.

And that that's really awesome. And I think and they were lucky people. They start something and whatever they touch, it leads to success. But I think what we did here is just the usual path that is usually valid for, for normal entrepreneurs. You start and then you maintain and invest and invest for years with all your energy and everything you have.

And then one time, one moment in the future, after years of investment and dedication, then it really starts to pay back.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, that's powerful. Can you think of any specific tactics that worked or didn't work for you on YouTube? I mean, I know some people are like, it's, it's the thumbnail. Use a cover image, the way you write their headline, the description, the hashtag where you share it. I mean, people have all these different theories about what worked and didn't work on YouTube.

What work for you? Because what you're saying about Brazilians paying off for that again and again, especially when it comes to content marketing, where it's like heads down focused on quality content. People see these stories, right? They'll hear the story of 104,000 subscribers for you. And if you didn't explain that, they would just see that number and be like, I want to get that.

And they don't get it in three months and they give up. Do that again and again for content. It's kind of like a hockey stick. It's a long, hard slog of quality content for many years and then it takes off when they're doing that. A lot of people are experimenting with different, okay, what should I try it this way?

I tried this type of content again. Should I try this headline, this this thumbnail, this image? You know, what should I do? So too. Were there any specific tactics that either worked well for you or didn't work well for you in growing that YouTube channel?

Frank Spitzer : Yeah, So we had the strategy change and I think that was very crucial. So in the beginning, the I, I don't want to be in front of the camera. I don't want it to moderate videos and it's because I, I low profile, I'm really Swiss and I don't want to be the front man. So when we started, we showed beautiful videos.

Great. Edie Edie, the patient with cool music and wonderful, really cool to show the sights, but some In some moment I realized we are missing something. It's we are not reaching the emotional bases on the spectators, so we need something that people can connect and people connect people. So I realized we need somebody in the videos. We need somebody who presents Colombia to to heckle emotions.

And I knew right away it can kind of be somebody else to me because I I'm the head of the company and entrepreneur. It's everything is micro checked. So I have to step in front of the camera and start changing the way we produce the videos. And in the beginning it was really tough because I was stumbling. And for my my team that was editing the videos, it must been have a really difficult work to to cut out all that the stumbling but we training and doing more and more videos.

I will also I also got better and you less also a process in the beginning a disaster and then the learning process. And today I can step in front of the camera and back to our core. I've worked 10 minutes without one moment of stumbling, so that that's really cool. And I think that was really something that made the difference that people saw me explaining the stuff and also that people saw me traveling all those great destinations in Colombia.

And this is how they built up trust in in me as a as a person. And also that I think that led to finally also to an increase in riders. All the other tactics I think there's no magic sauce come meals are cool to to experiment with me we tried we didn't see a significant change also titles and lots of descriptions with rewards and he would stop being and doing so much in the description section.

We tried a lot and also I did some time and we did a promotion for YouTube channel and of course the abuse increased and then we stopped the pay promotion and then the use decreased again to the same level then before. So this didn't work. So I would say all those techniques, they they might make a difference. We didn't see a difference at all in the city when we were crunching the numbers.

So to me everything comes down to consistency to publish video after video. And these is these how you can grow.

Daniel Burstein: That's great, Frank. That's a lot of good information right there. Let's just jump into one of your other lessons. You said embracing honesty can lead to deeper connections, personal growth and inner peace. So how did you learn this lesson?

Frank Spitzer : This is, I would say, also something very specific due to the Swiss culture that we usually very honest, direct. We're very friendly also, but very direct in what we say. And in Colombia, the communication culture is totally different. Not saying the truth is not really lying or regarded as lying in Colombia. It's more part of the communication culture in Colombia and for everybody.

Okay, So I can make you a little example. Let's say you will have your 50th birthday, the Saturday next week, and you invited me and me as a Swiss. I will tell you right away, yes, I can make it or I cannot make it because I know why would I check my agenda if you're in Colombia? So let's say I'm Colombian and I already have a trip plans.

I will travel to Sydney for two months and I will not be here. And you invite me next week for your birthday. I will tell you. wow, that's awesome. 15 years I will. I will get some booze and we'll party all night long and we will have so much fun. So this is a typical response in Colombia and everybody knows this means nothing.

And to me, at the beginning, it was really tough to to understand that different culture. And I also had lots of conflicts because when I enter Colombia, I started with the MBA in a local university and that guiding me all my and will my older student mates all the time. I didn't understand at the beginning. So what I started to do is I told people, Look, I'm from Switzerland, I have a different culture and I'm very honest and straightforward and like this everything relaxed.

And since then I found Colombians that also have a similar mindset that do not like too much the local communication culture, but that they appreciate and very clear. And that recommendation communication. For example, all my allies around Colombia, because in all the regions I have local operators. We we developed a relationship of trust and honesty so different to Colombians or Latins.

And within Latins we are very straightforward and talk just the way stuff is. And this is to me and to them a huge benefit because we don't lose time. And we know right away from the first moment what it is all about.

Daniel Burstein: That's is a great example of a cultural shift and choosing not to adapt. And you know, I've interviewed a lot of people who've gone to a different market, gone to a different country and, you know, had to figure out, okay, now how do I operate with this within this country? That's a great example of choosing not to adapt, but wonder if you can think of a specific example of something you did for your customers or your audience where you had to make a change to adapt to that local culture.

Because I know your blog publishes across five languages, you've had 2000 blog posts. Across five languages, you get 10,000 organic visitors a month. So I'm guessing your target audience is in many different countries. For example, I interviewed Claudia Flegal, the marketing director of On How I Made it a marketing, and one of her lessons was Market localization is important and she told the story of how she learned that when Airbnb launches experience product in Africa, different things mean different things in different countries.

So can you think of an example of anything you've had to do? Like you have such a wide and diverse audience, five languages to localize something to a market?

Frank Spitzer : Yeah, absolutely. So usually my writers, we have they're they're all Colombians because I run a Colombian country, Air Colombia company. So I also wanted to have a Colombian stuff. And all the content we produce, we usually write in Spanish, and then we translated to different languages. And by myself, I do translations to English and to German. And when I usually take a piece in Spanish, I in the beginning I, I went crazy because there's so much fluff in sight.

But this is again, these is the culture. When you when you write a Spanish text, you have a very colorful explaining stuff and you can write a paragraph without saying nothing. But it's just the language, the culture, that the context is right because when you write, like in in English or in German, right to the point, you just write one phrase This is fine in English and German, but in Spanish, it's just the way you write and not the way people want to read it.

And the Spanish content is very important for us because the Spanish speaking market, it's 600 million people. It's huge. So we need to have good, good text, good, good blog posts. So when I was fighting a lot, we did with Ana maria that you got to know by by email. Now she's the head of digital marketing in my company and she finally convinced me and teach me, Look, you know a lot of stuff, Frank, but you have to learn that not everything is the way you think in the world.

So in the Spanish language, it just works a different way. And I said, You're right, so let's keep it maybe with 10% less fluff, but we keep it like the way you think. It's correct.

Daniel Burstein: I like that 10% less fluff. No, I. But I've written in international operations before. Yeah, there's definitely some complaining from some other languages because they talk about, for example, we'd get a template right, that the white paper, whatever would appear and I'd be able to write. And in another culture, for example, Spanish would be like, Well, wait a minute, like anything we write in Spanish is going to be 25% longer than English.

We need a template for our language too. We can't stick it into the English template. So I know you're talking about. All right, we just talked about some lessons from the things Frank has built. In just a moment, we'll talk about some lessons from the people he built things with and collaborated with and learn from. That's a great thing we get to do as marketers, as entrepreneurs.

We get to build things, but we get to do it with other people and learn from them. But first, I should mention that how I made it in Marketing podcast is underwritten by McLeod's Institute, the parent organization of marketing Sherpa McLeod's Eyes ten Expert assistance and guided headline writing Path can help you with every facet of your marketing.

It is totally free to use for now, you can just go to McLeod's Ecom and start using it. That's MVC, ab s a ICOM and start getting artificial intelligence and a patented methodology working for you. All right, Frank, let's talk about first person you collaborated with and like your other lessons. This starts very early in your career. Even before it started, you mentioned that dedication shapes an entrepreneurial spirit, and you learned this from Donald Spitzer.

Who is your father?

Frank Spitzer : I do. I my my dad is my idol. And he was a father by early still when he was studying architecture at the university here in Zurich. And he started working early, not just as an architect, but also like emptying and train wagons and laying out carpets in houses because he made them he had to make some money because he already had a family.

The young men and he was an entrepreneur all his life. And he just walked out the door. He's today 76 years old and he's still working full time. So he just went to the construction site. The trick, what the guys are doing, and he still walks up to the buildings on the construction site. And the workers there are sometimes very surprised when they hear about his age.

And he was not always around because his hours were long. Sometimes he left in the morning before we got up and came back at night when we already went to bed and also the weekends he was working. But I think this is, yeah, dedication through to your job, to your profession. And the beautiful thing is later when I grew up a little bit, we played tennis together.

He was a hockey players. we also played hockey, ice hockey in the same team. That was very cool. And he was just always such a balanced person and so dedicated to his profession, really in love with what he was doing. And therefore, I think finally, after over 20 years in banking, I also decided to go into entrepreneurship and started my own company.

Daniel Burstein: So it takes dedication. You talked about that. You also you also mentioned his vision. And so my question for you, as we talked about, you had 20 years in finance there in Switzerland and you go into starting a company in the travel industry. Do you want to walk us through like, how did you get the vision and could takes that occasion?

How would you get the vision to launch company what what it should be? Because for example, I interviewed Jeff Bradford, he's the president of Adult Nashville. I interviewed him on the how I mark Marketing podcast. And one of his lessons was Think Big and he talked about how him and his team, they raised $150 million for a symphony hall, which at first that goal seemed unattainable.

And that's a perfect example of what it is when you're an entrepreneur, when you're switching industries, when you're, you know, doing something like that, like it all seems unattainable at first. But you, you somehow have to have that vision and then execute on it. So can you give us an idea like how do you as an entrepreneur, as a as a company owner, how do you you get that vision, How do you shape that vision?

How do you figure that out?

Frank Spitzer : Good. I think those 20 years in finance, especially the last years when I was structuring private label funds for the ultra rich all over the world, I learned so much. And what I found is that it doesn't matter in what industry you're going to if you do it right, you can become very successful and being successful, money is a logical part of it.

So my goal is not to become rich, but being successful. And then money wise, I don't have to. It doesn't matter anymore if I spend a little more as little less so. But I'm really focused. I have a big wish to become a big player in tourism in Columbia. So when I came to Colombia and entered the markets through my MBA at the University of the first semester, I was traveling around the country.

And you have to understand the context of Colombia. 20 years ago, the armed groups were still outside the capital of Bogota on the mountain, so local people couldn't even drive outside of the city because it was too dangerous. You had all those armed force members. And when I was in Colombia in 2015, who is already started to develop, but the service quality was was still very, very on the low level to strolling around the country.

And I saw this beautiful place and just stunning. I traveled all my life like through 60 or 70 countries in total so far. And what I saw in Colombia, the potential they actually have as country, I never saw that in know what a control of the world. And I knew tourism. That is a huge potential for this country.

So finally I decided to start in tourism. Then I decide what what type of company I want to start. So I was thinking about of starting a hotel or a hostel. And finally I decided starting a tour operator, because as a tour operator, you were actually building a platform. You managed to clients directly. And this will also give you a big potential for growth because when you manage to clients, then it's very easy to expand on that vertical and horizontal level because where the clients has the power and there was also a shifting in the company strategy, I think that makes sense to included here in the travel agency.

The usual way you work as a tour operator locally, you work as a DMC, it's called Destination Management Company. So you receive the clients from foreign travel agencies. So in New York, when you go around the corner, you go to a travel agency and they sell you a standard package traveling two weeks in Colombia, big cities. And when you arrive, then a local tour operator will take over and organized who are guides driving and everything.

What do you do then in Colombia? And I was focused on the luxury market and the German market, but very soon I found out those markets are already gone to 95% because there is a German guy also in Bogota. He was since 2005, they were in Bogota and all the travel agencies, they work with him and there's another guy, Swiss guy, and the rest is working with those guys.

And I just saw no option to to get into this market and to do grow the way I want it. So I changed the strategy and I said to my I said to myself, so what I need to do is I need to acquire to clients directly. And this was also one of the reasons why we started the YouTube channel.

So on one side, we started YouTube channel to change the image of the country, to teach people all over the world that today's Colombia is not only Pablo Escobar, it's armed groups and everything. And on the other side, to to pitch our services. And because Colombia has such a huge potential in tourism and will grow a lot, for me it was clear if I just will grow with the normal growth rate in tourism, it will be good.

Of course, my my goal is to be a little bit more ambitious. The plan is to grow much more than than the market. And that's my vision to use the travel operator company as a platform to grow to to do that. This is why we need the marketing a lot to acquire all those clients that way and then when I have the the necessary client base, then I can expand in hotels or accommodation, transportation, everything that is actually related with tourism.

Because as I said, if you have the clients, you have the power and you just need to set.

Daniel Burstein: That is a great example of both finding an unmet need or want or opportunity, but also understanding the structure of the industry in the marketplace, because that is an other key thing. Sometimes there's a reason it's unmet or sometimes you have to understand how to navigate that. So that's a great example. I know at one point in my career I found an unmet need, an industry, but I didn't understand the structure of the industry and I mean, that's why I ultimately failed because, okay, there was already all these like, you know, contracts locked in and the way it was structured.

So when you could try really hard to change that structure or you could do like you're doing, I'm like, okay, find an opportunity within that structure that someone hasn't met. So that's that's very helpful. All right. Let's take a look at another lesson. You said to achieve success, hard work, Trump's natural talent. And you learned this from Lucas Ram sire back when you were in the Swiss Army.

So how did you learn this from Lucas?

Frank Spitzer : Yeah. So Luke's is probably my my best friend here in Switzerland, and I got to know him in officer school in 2000. And then it happened that we have been in the same company. So we was the two platoon leaders, him and me. And then we had the captain and see stability. And then we became very close friends and he is such a great leader.

I never met somebody else that is such a gifted natural leader like him. He enters the room and everybody looks at him and wants to know him. Wants to know who's this guy? To me, it's a little bit different. I am like kind of anti talents. I found out because when I entered the room, people look at me and they think, What an asshole.

And I though I don't know if my bad charisma is a little gone in the meantime, but I, I experienced that a lot and when I was younger and I found out this is it's a difficult start, but it really makes you work hard to change your image and to invest. And if you keep focused and and you you get to the people and you show them, show them your chill face and you can convince them that you're a good guy and they can as value this perception people have in the beginning, that will change.

And also it leads to a much deeper connection because you invest and people steal.

Daniel Burstein: That is he said you don't have that natural charisma. But again, you as you mentioned earlier, you are perhaps reluctantly, but you're the spokesperson. These videos, you're the host in these videos. And as we talked about, you're going 200, 4000 subscribers. So I wonder, what did you learn to be able to be the host in these videos, to be able to be the spokesperson for your company?

Right. What have you learned? Because from what I found is we've done speaker training and different things. And I'm also I'm very introverted, so I'm not natural. Speaker I've got two speakers. But what I found is that people, when it's something comes to you naturally, you're not very good at teaching it, right? You say, What's the problem? You go up there, you talk, you know what I mean?

They just come. But when you have to kind of struggle to figure things out or to get it like that's when you can really convey it to someone else. That's when when you know, something can really make a difference. You really learn it because you've had to struggle through it to get to it. And a lot of company founders, right?

I mean, that's is Elon Musk. Now you see there a lot of different people like it has become a big thing for that company founder to play a prominent role. And a lot of company founders, they might be technocrats or engineers, different things. It doesn't come naturally to them. So what did you learn to not only just, you know, be able to be a spokesperson for your company, but to be, I mean, a star?

In some ways, that's what a content content host is like. Well, what have you learned?

Frank Spitzer : Well, you know, different things came came with that. And well, I'm one thing maybe that is different in in my case that you Columbia nobody knows me because my channel is in English and Colombians do not speak English. So I can walk around Colombia and nobody has a clue where I am because they just see a foreigner always.

And so I don't have this public attention that usually people that are getting famous in social media will receive. But what I learned and this is something very interestingly clients. So I have some clients that literally watched all my videos and we have now over 300 long me videos and we have all the shorts and when people call me and they have me on their phone for the first time, they're like, my God, I cannot believe you.

I cannot believe it that I'm talking to you on the phone right now. How are you videos? And it's so great. And this is something new for me and this is is kind of funny because my reality is totally different. I'm just a guy, I'm entrepreneur, and I try to to organize the best trips of operators in Colombia, and they see me on the YouTube channels.

And when they have me on the phone and they talk to me, they are so impressed. And, and this is kind of very interesting. And but what I feel and what I experienced, people are really interested in those stories. So many of my clients, they want to to have dinner with me. So they invite me in Bogota. When I'm around, we go to a restaurant and usually we go to the better restaurants because my clients are usually high end.

And this is very good because I love food. When I was a teenager, I almost became a chef and I was a cook a lot. So this is this is a very good side effect of of being a YouTuber. And also something very interesting that I learned. So imagine your your you have some money and went to have a great trip to to Colombia and the trip costs you 20 $30,000.

I always was scared that my clients will be very reluctant to make a bank transfer of $30,000 from like Switzerland or England or the USA to Colombia because it's still Colombia. Imagine Colombia with this image. I never had this issue. All my clients so far since the beginning. I sent them the accounts information and they made the wire transfer.

We'd out assistance. That was unbelievable. And I think a big part of it was really the YouTube channel that people had the option to to see me. Inflation blog on the YouTube channel and see me talking and well so it being very honest because on the YouTube channel when I tell about the different destinations, it's not everything always great.

I always talk about I always also talk about the bad stuff and we have problems in in Colombia and not everything is great. Some stuff is really bad and I tell it right away. I explained to people why it's bad and what's going on and people really seem to appreciate that the dishonesty and those also converts finally in in Good Business.

Daniel Burstein: That's a great example. You with our marketing in general, but especially with our content and our inbound like if you wanted the ultimate would be, like you said, to become a trusted resource. And to do that you do have to play it straight with people. Not every product is right for every person right. And what your marketing and your content should do is help people determine, is this right for me?

And if it's if they're not your ideal customer, it's not right for you. The best thing you can do is tell them that and then you build that trust. Maybe they refer you to someone it is right for. I also, like you mentioned that trust because, you know, sometimes I'm in like marketers are really stuck and they're like, I just I need sales, I need this.

And so they do cold emailing, which is spam or cold calling telemarketing or, you know, hitting everyone on LinkedIn, whatever it is. They feel like I need to do this for the numbers. And so as we talked about kind of before, that content inbound approach, it can take longer like it took longer for you to scale up to those subscribers.

But if you've got it hitting and if you've got it well, and if you're really serving customers with it, Wow. What trust? I mean, like you said, wiring $30,000 to some guy in Colombia, that that is trust That is, I think, the ultimate win and a great example of showing what how well, you know, like this approach could work.

All right. Let's take a look at one more lesson. A good leader stands up for their team. And you learned this from Heidi Schlegel back when you were in the finance industry. How did you learn this from Heidi?

Frank Spitzer : Yeah. Hey, these Legos. She was so. Yeah, that was awesome. When in in Switzerland we have a dual education system. So that means you make either apprenticeship to three or four years, depending on the profession, like becoming a chef, carpenter or banker, or you go to university and you study in Switzerland, we only have a quota of like between 23 and 26% of academics.

That's study at the university. The rest are all. It's like a technician that you start with the company and then four days a week you, you work within the company and then once a week you go to school and then you get finally your degree. So as I already mentioned, I always almost became a chef. So I went cooking in a hotel, in a hotel and restaurant, and I found that cooking at home is very different to cooking professionally because it's such a tough profession and so I became a banker.

I started with Credit Suisse. Then it was called Fight Station, credentialed in 95 and at the first station, I made six stations in three years, and the first station was the the on the salary plots that the main building at the cashier. And the second station was the stock exchange. And the the way people deal with each other in the stock exchange department, it's quite rough.

So people are making fun of each other and there is a lot of swearing and lots of masculinity and testosterone. Not many women are working there. So I was in the in the middle phase and I always had to go upstairs to the upper floor, to the traders to get the slips, some some papers that their where the traits made to process them.

So always when I went up there talking a little bit to the guys and they made fun. They made fun. And one day I went up there to to get my slips and there was a new guy on the desk and having his feet on on the desk. And he was looking at me and asking me, Hey, you young guy, have you been to the military already?

And I was 16 years old, so I said, No, no, no, no. It's too early for me. I still have to become 18 and then I will see what I'm going to do in the army, because in Switzerland the army's compulsory and it's a militia. So everybody's you go and besides work, you also go yomi. And then I looked at him and said, Yeah, but when I look at you, you also still have to go to the army and he was just he didn't say anything anymore with his mouth open.

So and then I said, okay, I have to work, I have to take my, my slips and go that process to process. Okay, bye guys. And then one week later we had drinks in the apartment and the department head of the hopes who will meet office was Haiti's legal. She was the managing director. We all were there. And she was not only a women, she was like for decades the only leader I met that I really saw.

That's a real leader. She was so good. Everybody laughed to her and she was such a person of respect and she was so relaxed. She was so cool, a real idol. And she called me over and said, Hey, Frank and I had some complaints about you last week. You were talking to a guy who's one of the traders and and he told me everything that happens.

And do you actually know who you talk to? And I said, no, sorry, I don't know. No idea who I talk to. So he said, Yeah, there was a lady in Baltimore told you was head of trading and later become chief private banking and was a board member, big guy. And then she explained me. Yeah, he told me everything that you have been a little bit rude with him.

And you know what I did? I just laughed at him and she said, okay, don't don't care. Nothing will happen. Everything is good, everything yourself, don't worry. And yet this is this was a big lesson that leadership is more than just taking the big salary and and being the boss, taking over responsibility and taking care of your team and protecting your team.

That is hard. All of the work you have to do, people say, and yeah, I never will, will ever forget this story because this is also something as a as a young kid, I learned that this just I kept this with me.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. I mean, what a great lesson. You were 16. I mean, that just blows my mind. You're 16 and working at, like, a major investment bank. I mean, no kidding. Were, like, perfect. They're like, wow. But I mean, what? Good for her for sticking up there. I think that's a great lesson for anyone listening to me. Like, okay, how can we look out for maybe they're not going to be 16, but the young people in our organizations, the interns that, you know, people just starting well, I mean, something I found is they don't always know the we we are so used to the operational ways of business or office works.

Don't know some of the simple niceties or some of the simple even like how to use an outlook calendar invite or something just kind of taking their hand and help them with a few of those things can go a long way. But another thing I want to ask you about, leaving team. I mean, I mentioned vision earlier. It seems like for a founder, for CEO, for a small company, it's so important not just to have that vision, but to communicate it out to the team.

And I wonder how you communicate that vision to the team. It's just such a key part of leadership. You know, for example, when I've written about this before and talked about it's important to clearly communicate a value proposition internally. So a lot of times of the value proposition, we're very focused on the overall value proposition of the company, but making sure that everyone understands the value proposition of that that campaign or offer that specific thing we're wanting to get them to do, not only the value proposition to what it would mean for the customer, but what will it mean for them.

Like in a bigger organization, it might be what does it mean for every different department, but in a smaller company, just what does it mean for that individual? And that's, you know, how do we motivate them and get them on board? For some people, it's, you know, money. But there's other ways, too. So for you, frankly, how do you now you we mentioned earlier with that vision you have for what you want to do with your company, how do you know communicate that out to your team, considering you, especially, as we mentioned, some of those people that are on your team are interns or they're fairly young like you were when you started?

Frank Spitzer : Yeah, that's true. And so the way I do it, I, I talk direct to go team every two weeks we have a company meeting and we always have different topics. I'm talking about, for example, when I went to a trip to a new destinations, I explained what I saw, what was good, what was bad, What's the problem? I'm really honest about that.

I talk about the finances of the company. When we struggle, I tell people why we struggle, what's the problem? And I always encourage the people to ask questions. And this is always so satisfying. Some interns, they're really interested and then they start asking questions. Some. Some they're really scared. This is also a cultural thing in Colombia. It's very hierarchy, hierarchical, but some they really take the location and they ask and ask and ask.

And then we have a discussion. And I always motivates all my team and the interns ask questions. It's a big opportunity, usually six months with me or with us. And I always tell them, Look, this is a big opportunity for you. You have access to to me on those two meetings. If you have any questions, if you do not understand something, ask because this is a lifetime chance.

You don't have this somewhere else. Probably because it's not just I'm the head of of a small company, but I have a lot of experience. I have a different culture. And this also plays with within and these are how we communicate. And also I tell my interns, Look, if you have any questions or problems or you need if we they or whatever, you have my WhatsApp number, text me or call me.

We have direct communication 360 and usually in the beginning the interns are all very shy because they they're young and they don't have the experience. And what they learned from is how we, we within the team communicate to each other. So my team members and especially my head of digital marketing, Ana maria, she has a very dark humor and she's also very direct and that sometimes she makes heart jokes on me also during that calls because I also make jokes and this relaxes the whole situations and shows them, especially the interns that trust we have within the team, within the company, the way we communicate that we communicate with respect, but that we are also

open to jokes and that we are very honest and direct. Yes, this is the culprit. Corporate culture. I, I implemented and I may pay and my staff big thanks to them. They were able to adapt to reach their zone of comfort and their culture in in that aspect and adjust and adapt this corporate culture. We are running at my company and this is awesome.

So this is how we communicate and this works really great.

Daniel Burstein: That's great. So from from all the conversations we've had, Frank, from your lesson, from your stories, we talked about many different things about what it means to be a marketer. So you had to break it down just directly. In your opinion, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer?

Frank Spitzer : I think the analyzes part is so important that you understand who is target audience and how can you reach them with and how, what, what will be the message and what will it do with your potential clients? I think the the execution of everything is also important, but I think the first step, the analysis, this is where we need to invest the most time and the most energy because this is the fundamental first thing.

So for marketers, I think, and if you are not able to combine the company goals where you need to go and what clients you need to talk to, you will not be able to develop all the rest of of the strategy and the information and execution. So to me and the license and understanding the core of it, that's that's absolutely key.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you for sharing your understanding of marketing with us. Say, Frank, and your career journey, your entrepreneurial journey. Very interesting. Thank you very much.

Frank Spitzer : I'm very happy to share everything I learned with everybody.

Daniel Burstein: And thanks to everyone for listening.

Outro: Thank you for joining us for how I made it in marketing with Daniel Bernstein. Now that you've got an inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for your next marketing campaign. From Marketing Sherpas, Extensive library of free case studies at marketing Sherpa dot com That's marketing s h e RPA E-Comm and.

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