Get ideas for partnering with a visionary, overcoming imposter syndrome, and more by listening to episode #54 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. I had a disruptive conversation with David Apple, Chief Marketing Officer, Intuitive Health.
Listen now to hear lessons from a CMO about experiences vs. experience, marketing buzzwords, a data-driven mindset, and leadership measured in character.
The How I Made It In Marketing podcast is underwritten by MECLABS Institute, the parent organization of MarketingSherpa. To learn how MECLABS Services can help you get better business results from deeper customer understanding, visit MECLABS.com/results.
I think this one of the biggest challenges for when you grow in your career…
When you get into a certain role, you – and others as well – have a general idea of how someone should be in that role. Let’s call the it ‘central casting version of a CMO.’
And yet, in my life I’ve been more successful when I’ve been able to drop the mask and be as much of my true authentic self in my life – even in my work life – as possible.
Our next guests is here to talk about that overcoming imposter syndrome by valuing your experience – he words the lesson as “There is a big difference between 10 years of experience and 10 years of experiences.”
Our guest on Episode #54 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast told us the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson-filled stories – David Apple, Chief Marketing Officer, Intuitive Health.
Intuitive Health treated 467,000 patients in 2022. Apple manages a $10 million marketing budget, including joint ventures.
Listen to our conversation using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.
Some lessons from Apple that emerged in our discussion:
Apple has had to overcome imposter syndrome. He is still dealing with it, but at least it doesn’t paralyze him anymore.
He remembers sitting with a new CEO appointed by the company’s equity sponsor, as the company at the time had just raised a big Series B and started to make revenue headway. Then he was the VP of Marketing, and all things sales, marketing, and paint-color-picker-outer, when the CEO appointed him Chief Marketing Officer. The United States was in a deep recession, they were executing smartphone tech at a time of 5%+ (and growing fast) smartphone penetration, and all eyes were on them.
An initial phase of excitement was immediately followed by an image of the $300 blue jeans, white shirt, sports coat, MBA, perfect teeth CMO coming into his head – the exact opposite of what he was then and still is today. Could he do the job? Could he be a real Chief Marketing Officer? One of the key lessons that has emerged in the 13 years since that moment, is there is a big difference between experience and experiences.
Apple was never going to be the Ivy League graduate or TED Talk speaker image he put in his head the moment he was appointed CMO. He needed to shift, and shift quickly, to what he did have – experiences. He was where he was because he had unique experiences. He had fulfilled his promises in every experience of leaving a concept or company more profitable and better for his tenure and has continued that today.
Falling back on the above experience, as Apple progressed in his role as a CMO, his interactions with marketing leadership expanded. As a student of listening, he always believed this time in front of globally sized company marketing leaders was free education. Mainly, he considers his network and list of mentors extensive and is where he is due to it.
With that said, a lesson that emerged was the marketing buzzword vomit dump coinciding with budget bragging typically showed a general lack of any real experience and a massive reliance on delegating and job padding by having the ability to blend in vs. lead and drive marketing initiatives.
Patience is a virtue, and Apple didn’t have it. The perception always seemed to be that everyone else was getting it done with some magic switch – “Brilliant!” would be followed by “Damn it, why can’t I think of that?” The reality was clear; nothing worked on the first try. Ideas build, brands build over time and benchmarks and goals are rarely, if ever, achieved on the first go. He has adopted a very analytical and data-driven mindset, asked many questions and made the customer the only authority.
Apple also shared lessons he learned from the people he collaborated with.
via Anthony Iacovone – Founder of Augme Tech, AdTheorent, BioSymetrics and friend
If Apple could wish one thing for his kids, it is to partner with a true visionary, one so brilliant their social cues are off, they have weird ticks and inconsistent dressing habits, but they need you, and when they speak, the words are brilliant and the problems they solve change evolution.
via Charlie Brignac
We are only as good as how we handle humbling moments and moments when we let someone we love and respect down, and they tell it to us. Brignac was a global packaging executive, a spiritual leader, and someone who, if they like you, it feels like you can do anything. Apple let him down, and it was one of his worst moments, but one that changed how he carries himself forever.
If the Jennifer Aniston character in the movie “Horrible Bosses” had an inspiration, Lisa was it. It was laughable; she lives in fakelore with the hundreds she influenced. But the lessons were insurmountable in what not to do and seeing the absolute 0 on the pH scale allows you to find a balance and understand that leadership is not measured in years but in character, Apple says.
This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages free digital marketing course.
If you would like to apply to be a guest on How I Made It In Marketing, here is the podcast guest application.
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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.
00:01 - David
We have uh facilities all around the country. We have different demographics around the country. We have different payer mixes because it's health care. So um it's not the singular customer. Uh So that's exciting. So we get to, we get to write, create, educate on a regular basis all around the country and get to learn so much about these unique dynamic micro, I call them micro markets because we are, we're, we're not e-commerce. We're still in physical retail. You have to walk in, to generate revenue.
00:32 - Daniel
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. I think here's one of the biggest challenges for you when you grow in your career. When you get into a certain role, you and others as well. You've got this general idea of how someone should be in that role. Let's call that the central casting version of a CMO and yet in my life, I've been more successful when I've been able to take off that mask and be as much of my true authentic self as possible in my life. Even in my work life, our next guest is here to talk about overcoming imposter syndrome, avoiding the marketing buzzword vomit dump. Oh my gosh. I love hearing that though. I'll say that again. The marketing buzzword vomit dump that can coincide with budget bragging and many more lesson filled stories. So thank you for joining us today, David Apple, the Chief Marketing Officer of Intuitive Health.
01:48 - David
Great to be here, Daniel. Thank you very much. Have a great day.
01:52 - Daniel
So let's just um cherry pick from your background a bit. Let people know who uh we're listening to you were the Director of Business Development at CBS Television Stations Group. You were the CMO of Ogni Technologies and for the past eight years, you have been the CMO of intuitive health. Intuitive health treated 467,000 patients in 2022 and Apple, you are responsible for a $10 million marketing budget including joint ventures. So give us an idea. What is your day like as a CMO of intuitive health?
02:22 - David
typically uh beg for more money on a regular basis as any, as any marketer should. Uh No, we're, we're uh we're really dynamic group. We're a pretty small company, uh fast paced growth company. Um So uh as a preferred model, uh I A model I prefer is, you know, no day is the same. Uh So we have uh facilities all around the country. We have different demographics around the country. We have different payer mixes cause it's health care. So um it's not the singular customer. Uh So that's exciting. So we get to, we get to write, create, educate on a regular basis all around the country and get to learn so much about these unique dynamic micro, I call them micro markets because we are, we're, we're not e-commerce, we're still physical retail, you have to walk into to generate revenue. Um So that, that it's very old fashioned, captures the consumer uh at that moment. So it, it, no, no, two days are alike, not to use that common cliche, but it really isn't. Um We, we look at the challenges and we uh we are um performance centric on a daily basis. And what that means is we look at volume, we look at performance and, and quite a few key numbers that we can get into on a daily basis. So it's, it's kind of a, it's kind of a, a militant type of operation. You look at the, you look at the, the, the daily uh workload or 24 7, every single one of our facilities never closes. So that's another, you know, dynamic. So you, you are always on, but we're looking at those daily numbers on a regular basis and, and, and reacting and building um from there.
04:02 - Daniel
Yeah, it's great. I think there's a lot of healthcare marketers. I can learn from you but also just people with physical brick and mortar locations, franchisees because that's kind of similar to what you're doing, people interested in joint ventures, you know, brand partnerships. So I think there's a lot we can learn. But one thing I did want to mention when you, when you talked about budgets. So we used to have marketing show, but we would have uh benchmarks of all different things. And, you know, every year we would ask marketers, you know, what's your biggest challenge? And it didn't matter if the economy was booming or if the economy was doing horrible, whatever was going on. The number one challenge was always like, my budget isn't big enough. Isn't that so funny? Um But it's what you do with your budget, not, it's not the size of your budget. It's, it's what you do with it. So let's talk about what you've been able to do with it and what lessons you've learned in your career. The first lesson to talk about from some of the things you made in your career. You said there is a big difference between 10 years of experience and 10 years of experiences. So what do you mean by that? And, and how did you learn that well, that's
04:54 - David
excuse I had to make because I wasn't an Ivy League guy. Nobody was gonna pick me up because of academics, um I'm sure I could have been a straight ass my whole entire life and, and graduated from prestigious college. But I, I must have made those uh uh choices uh differently somewhere along the line. But I realized that this ability to be a curious learner and listener puts you in situations where you can gain some key experience. Uh You know, I did all my education in New York City, um was with the big guys, the big agencies um was part of a CBS uh television stations group when they were transitioning to this big digital roll out model. And we were consolidating radio, TV, multimedia all into one really specific um platform. And if you, if you, if you sat back and you took that as an experience, not a job. Um And you got to listen to these great agencies and these great content developers and um even just the great sales, you know, sales guys and leaders on how they address those. You say this is an experience that I know for a fact, I'm going to take through the rest of my career and it was uh and I, I always kinda was, you know, a big advocate and felt a little bit upset when people didn't look at it that way because it's, it's free education. I mean, this is, this is, this is cutting your teeth with the, with the big guys and um, you know, it's sitting in a, in a meeting with the NCAA and listening to how that really works. So you could say this is a terrible organization. Um, that's not about kids, athletics, academics or anything like that, that on the surface, you could, you could probably say that. But if you really sit down and listen to how it works or you could take advantage of it, that's an experience that, that is, um that is learned and earned on, on, on a really regular basis. And, and uh so II I realized that, um, you know, again, I wasn't going to be picked out of the crowd because of, you know, my Harvard degree, I was gonna be picked out of a crowd because I had real experience, I was able to take zero revenue, make it 10 million, make it 56 million, make it 80 million and have a plan and deliver a plan um and execute on it. So it's really, it's, it's, it's kind of an excuse. It's kind of a way out of saying, hey, I got, you know, uh I've been doing this for, for 20 years, but let me tell you what I've been doing for 20 years. The experiences are pretty broad. Um So that's really, that's really why, how I um, you know, address that and as you get older you kinda, uh, I think you, you know, I'm, I'm 46 now. I've been doing this. Um, I started at CBS when I was 22 and really never took my foot off the gas. Um, and you, you're still pulling from those experiences, right? And, uh, every single day, no matter where, where you go and, and you, and you have better ways of dealing with adversity and challenges. Because of those experiences. I took that all day long, I never really understood companies who could say, you know, uh these mobile phones, I worked in, in mobile technology, we can get into that a little bit. But, you know, it's funny to me if we're, we're sitting at, you know, smartphone penetration at five, 10% right? In the early days of the Apple one iphone and all these companies were emerging and these agencies were hiring uh uh mobile um groups and they would say we have 15 years of mobile experience and you're going, what are you talking about? Like we're, we're not even, we haven't even defined what the space is yet, you know, um we can't even deliver content yet to all the phones. And you're telling me there's somebody out there with 15 years uh uh of experience. Um How about somebody with two years of hardcore experiences in mobile, actually delivering the content and delivering the results? I always thought that played better So I always had trouble understanding, um, just the listed experience.
08:57 - Daniel
Well, I like what you're saying and a lesson that I've learned in my career is especially like when you're going through the most painful times in your career, like going through layoffs and, and all these other things like having to, you know, lay off people in your company. And I've learned that, you know, like this good, good way to look at it is to reframe it as well. This is an education. This is a horrible thing to go through and, and maybe never want to go through again or especially feel empathy for the other people going through it with you. But boy, there is an education here and I'm learning, you know, it's one thing is uh you know, when, when the times are good and all the boats are floating pretty high, you know what I mean? It's one thing to be successful then, but to be successful when it's really hitting the fan to be successful and a really tough economy. I think we both lived through the kind of 2008, 2009 downturn in our career. I mean, I always looked at that as like, man, this is, this is the hard earned lessons I'm, I'm gonna get. So I really like what you're saying there and maybe someone listening might be going through something difficult and maybe it will help them to kind of reframe it and understand it that way. This is where I'm gonna get the lessons when the times are tough. Um But I wanna ask you another, another version of experiences because this is something I've done in my career. What about your experiences as a customer, has that ever informed a campaign or a brand or a product? And I'll give you a specific example for my career here real quick is uh yeah, I wrote about uh customer first marketing should prioritize the customer experience over ups sells because I would go into Barnes and Noble. I love Barnes and Noble magazines, newspapers. And every time I would purchase, they would try to Upsell me on the membership hard, you know, the cashier. And I realized, you know, the, the value proposition here, the differentiation between Amazon and Barnes and Noble cause I could easily just buy subscriptions to these things online is, is there's that experience I'm walking in, I'm smelling the coffee, I'm getting the physical newspaper, whatever it is and they're just undercutting that experience by trying to Upsell me each time. Let that cashier who's probably passionate about the same things I am, you know, magazines, newspapers, reading, let them have a real human connection. So it's different from Amazon, you know, so I just wonder for you, as a customer, to talk about experiences. Yes. Our, our experiences in our, in our business career and our work life but as a customer has that ever influenced any campaign or product you rolled out
11:03 - David
So I have quite a few examples of that, but I'll give you one that's key and kind of close to home. You think about um you know, what intuitive health does? We have a really specific value proposition where a dual model emergency room and urgent care under one roof and we build in really specific trade areas. So the places that you are comfortable going, getting your groceries going, um you know, getting massages and you know, go to the Home Depot, you can get care now and you don't have to and it's easy, it's accessible. Um It's full service, it's a high attention to customer customer service. We can get into all the training mechanisms and the components to that. But it's, but it's, it has to be true. So the problem with healthcare today is the brand is a lie, right? So the expectations of health care is low. So Daniel, you're sick, your son is sick or your daughter is sick. You're having a crappy day. Your expectations of walking through that door at a hospital are super low. Uh You know, you're going to be disappointed for the, for the, for the most part, we can accept that. I think we can all unanimously say that's kind of the general sense we're transitioning that 100% we'll get into that. But if you think as a consumer, um I had, you know, quite a journey iw. We were moving from Texas back to New Jersey in 2012. Um Getting ready to close on a house that we're gonna tear down and rebuild it. Got a young family, hurricane Sandy hits or Superstorm Sandy by the time it hit New Jersey destroys the house that we're supposed to be moving into. So we came back to Texas homeless. Basically, we rent a home. We were literally looking for a house as we were driving back to Texas, we found a home in Frisco, Texas um about a mile from our first intuitive location. Um Ironically, right. No, that wasn't planned. We have no furniture. Um I put a couple of chairs up in the kitchen. Um So me and the kids are eating at the counter. Uh my young son uh jumps up on the chair to, you know, get on my lap. He's two years old. He falls over, breaks his foot, and is 100%. We know it's broken, it swells up. You know, the kid doesn't cry. He doesn't, he's got that high threshold for pain as a two year old. Oh man, it's broken. Ok, I grab them, I'm calming them down. My wife goes and packs an overnight bag of clothes, blankets, food, everything because her expectation and my expectation is I'm gonna walk through the hospital door and I'm gonna be there until the sun comes up. You know, it's eight o'clock at night. I'm gonna be there until early in the morning. Right. That's everybody's expectations. I said before I go to the hospital, I'm gonna go down to that little place on the corner. It says it's an emergency room. It says it's open 24 hours. Let me just give it a try. And she said you are not taking our son to that little doc in the box thing. They're gonna do something and they're gonna screw up everything. I said I have to, I have to try. I'm not staying at the hospital all night. Ok? Because back in our day, we would just wrap it in a we just wrapped it in a, in a blanket or something or put some ice on it and just walked it off, right. Walk it, walk
14:37 - Daniel
off, right. Take some aspirin.
14:40 - David
So I go down to this little place. Low expectations. We just talked about that right? Thinking it's gonna be no, they're not gonna know what to do. I walk through the door, the lady behind the front desk, there's no glass partition, there's no nothing. She's dressed normal. She's got a huge smile on her face. She says, oh give me that baby. Let me, let me, let me get them. She grab, takes them from me. She's rocking them. She gets them a lollipop. She's hanging out with them, walks right through the, the door down back to the, puts him in a room. We have an X ray. Daniel in 45 seconds. We were in the X ray uh, machine. Everybody was playing with them nurses, doc doctors, everybody was coming in, calming them down. Within, within 15 minutes, we had full X ray. We had Splint started, I was back in my house in 45 minutes. I wasn't even, I didn't even care about his foot anymore. I said, I handed him back to my wife. I said, you're never gonna believe what, what just happened. That place is gonna be on the corner of every corner in America. It was awesome. It was exactly what it should be. This is gonna change the world and from there, that's where, you know, that's where my journey with intuitive started because believe it or not, and this is probably for another podcast, but I forced myself in here. I said, these guys are gonna raise money. I'm gonna keep an eye on it. They raise capital. I literally came over here, knocked on the door and said, I'm gonna be your chief marketing officer and they said, we don't need a Chief Marketing Officer. I said, you, you will, I'm gonna, I'm gonna be the Chief marketing officer. So that's how I got the job here basically. Um I kind of forced my way in because I was such a believer in the model and it's as a believer because I was a consumer first. And throughout this company, you will find that on a pretty regular basis where they, where they tried the experience and they said, wow, this is different. I understand this. I, I'm in this industry and we, and the, um, and they, and they got here through that path.
16:46 - Daniel
So that, I mean, that's an amazing story. And I think that's a good lesson there for anyone also interested, interested in franchise marketing, right? Which is essentially, I know you probably don't call it that, but it's very similar to what I see franchisees do. But I think the other lesson I I think about when you talk about that is, and this applies to really everyone outside of healthcare to any, any industry is there are a lot of costs outside of the monetary cost for our products and services. And a lot of times we overlook that like you said for healthcare. So yes, if you need to go to the emergency room or urgent care, there's gonna be that price of it. You know what I mean? There's gonna be, you know, maybe your insurance covers it, maybe it doesn't however that works right? But one reason that some and it's funny when you said that I don't really even think about one reason that I've sometimes not gone in the middle of the night or just kind of waited is because of the cost of the horrible experience. You are about to endure the time, the friction and all those things you're going through. So I think that's a great lesson too for everyone going through and thinking about, you know, your experience as a customer going through your product or service purchase or just even experience with the product and thinking beyond that monetary cost and what you can do to reduce friction and anxiety.
17:45 - David
Well, yeah. And if you think it's just one point on that because you're, you're absolutely right. If you think about the mo like our model, it and any model retail, it's time and money, right? What are consumers most upset about that you took advantage of is their time and their money, right? And it's no different in, in for what, what we do. So it's really at the pinnacle. I mean, you look at our tagline, it's right. Care, right. Price close to home and that's, that's it. There's nothing else to, to, to share there. It's a pretty simple proposition. It's changing health care that takes a little bit more education and a little bit more convincing. But it's really simple because it's time and money.
18:28 - Daniel
Yeah. Well, I, I'll give you one other quick example, not healthcare related and this was during the height of the pandemic. So in fairness that might have made things more difficult. Uh you know, we're going to pick up food because you can't, you know, um, you know, eat at places really at that time. And so we go, there's this big upscale luxury mall called Saint Johnstown Center. And so me and my kids wanted Chipotle, but my wife won, I won't name them. It was an upscale, you know, restaurant that cost 10 times more than Chipotle or whatever. And so we go, we grabbed the Chipotle boom and then we go, you know, they're supposed to have this drive up and you know, give you the food type of thing. We go and we wait there. My daughter came with me. We were, I think, 45 minutes at least for this food that's supposed to be ready, you know, right away. We ordered at the same time in Chipotle and she called this one. I didn't even know it was such a huge experience. She's like once we got it, she's like, do you notice how on a Chipotle bag, it has a specific time when it is going to be ready and it didn't have it on the bag for this other restaurant? And I was like, that's a great insight and I was like, I'm not, is that had nothing to do with the Monte cost. I'm like, I am not putting myself through that time cost again. That is just not worth it. Um Let's talk about another lesson here. You mentioned fancy terms can lead to bigger missed expectations. So how did you learn this lesson?
19:35 - David
Yeah, I, you know, I was uh I was always really nervous about this part because I think this is this kind of plays in the role of, you know, the imposter syndrome too is as you grow in your career and you, and you go do I match up with, you know, these people, I'm gonna be working with, I have an exceptional amount of responsibility now and I have a exceptional amount of revenue, responsibility and job responsibility. People work, work for me and, you know, can I keep up? And, I always thought that the difference between somebody kind of trying to space themselves from the daily grind and the people executing the daily grind was the fancy terms. And, you know, I had this really unique experience where um Ame technologies were, we were a mobile start up and, you know, things were really going well and we, we, we got in into these major CPG brands, the big ones, all of them, Kellogg's Kimberly Clark, Sarah Lee. Uh I mean, you name it, we were, we were working, uh we were working with them because we were solving a very specific, you know, problem. Now, you think about it was recession time 2008, you know, housing bust, you know, a lot of these big CPG companies were laying off, you know, every day in the news, 1,502,000 people. It was, it was kind of it was actually more exciting to be at a startup, I think, than it was to be at a, at a big safe, you know, CPG company. Um And so everybody was on edge about it, which they should be, right? Everybody was looking for job security and mobile was the answer that everybody needed because that was gonna be the new delivery methodology for um content and branding, you know, as it is today, right? So it's not that we predicted it would be this big, but we predicted this would be a very sophisticated channel. So we, we ran into a lot of um you know, chief marketing officers, big strategy title people at the CPG companies who we're trying to out vocabulary us on a pretty regular basis, like you don't know what you're doing, you're just a small start up. We're the big brand, we have all the power and we're gonna, and we're gonna use these terms to make you make you ask, I don't understand what that is because as soon as you say that then I have the advantage, you know, and it, so it felt like we were running into that a lot. And at the end of the day, if you put a uh you know, maybe a financial calculator, you look at a, you look at a AAA timeline, there were a lot of mixed expectations in that. So it seemed like the more push back we got from people who weren't willing to partner, work together, solve the problem together. Um, the, the, the bigger the missed, you know, missed expectations and, and honestly, I, I don't even know if I just, personally, I just don't have any patience for it. I don't, I don't, I'm, I'm pretty contrarian, you know, when it comes to these types of things, I'm like, just, just say what it is. Don't make me, don't make me google the word just because it makes you feel important that you have a, you know, leg up on, on, on the word, especially when it relates to, you know, a specific technology or processes that we're all gonna work on together. We can keep it simple. We don't have to, we don't have to get too complicated. Um So I, I, you know, I don't have any, you know, hard statistics, but a lot of the people that met us, um uh you know, head on and were, were, were pretty challenging us who really specifically wanted to show their clout using, you know, the fancy terms. Um uh did not work out very often. Um You know, in the end.
23:17 - Daniel
So what advice would you give for someone having to work with someone like that? So I think it's easy at the CMO level. The advice is don't hire them and, and you know what I've seen it happen more is with consultants, you know, where it's like, oh my gosh, this consultant is, is just kind of like trying to make, it sounds like they know what they're talking about. They don't really. But let's say if you're, you know, kind of more junior in your career and you're working in an agency, you've got to work with people or at a vendor, you've got to work with people that's brand or, or vice versa, you're stuck working with people. It's an agency or consultant and you see this going on. Do you have any advice, you know, having to live with that of, of how can you handle that and still be successful? Yeah,
23:49 - David
I do a little bit and whether it's good advice or not, I don't, I don't know. Um you just go up there and you just smack the crap out of them and you shake them and you just say shut up, you know. No, I'm just kidding. Don't do that. But, um, no, I, I, you know, one of my, the repetitive themes that I have is, is people, I mean, I'm here because of people, my mentors and people I've met and, and, and, and the, the characters, the cast of characters that I've, you know, been involved in for sure. And I think if um the way I handle it now is obviously there's a certain level of maturity now and kind of comfort in who I am, you know, versus maybe back in those days, um when we all were striving for job security and we didn't know if we were gonna have homes and paychecks the next week. It was kind of scary, um, time. But now my advice would be, you can learn something from everybody hands down, be patient with people. Um, if somebody is really using that as a way to create power to sit higher in their chair, um, they have, there might be some fundamental flaws there but let them talk, there's go, they're gonna say something that you can take. Um you know, we can learn something just as much from the, from the heart of relationship as we can from the, from the better relationships. Um And we deal with it on a regular basis now. Um and we have some young team members and, and uh and, and, you know, we're working with massive health systems, huge, huge, the, the biggest in the country. Um And there's a lot of people who do these things that, you know, you guys are just a small company. You have no idea how to challenge this. And we, and we just say, look, this is how it's gonna be. We're not gonna challenge this person's character. We're gonna listen, we're gonna empower them and once we make them feel important and listen to it usually calms down honestly, once they have established the pecking order, um we usually see a real transition and kind of character. Um and, you know, lack of a better term pushiness and, you know, they, they kind of feel more collaborative once they feel like they have the control back and they've reestablished, you know, the, the, that pecking order and that hierarchy. Um So t to me it's, you know, hey, we can learn, we, we say it all the time, we have a very uh we have a um servant leadership culture here. Uh And we talk about, you know, we don't bash any of our customers, even the toughest, even the toughest characters. We say, hey, they're making us better, you know, and I think that every single one of those relationships can make you better if you leverage it um the right way. So that'd be the advice I give. Don't, you know, don't shut down, you know, stay true to your, stay true to your passions and your and your callings. But listen, you know, keep those ears open because there's, they, they do typically have the experiences that you can leverage for sure.
26:43 - Daniel
And I, I imagine and this ties into the next lesson I want to ask you about. It also might specifically be in the healthcare industry. So I haven't worked in that industry as much but working in the tech industry where I do not have an engineering background or those things. There's definitely also, it's not just from other marketers, it's from technical people like wait a minute, like do you even know these things and you're a marketer and coming in here. So I'd imagine healthcare could be the same with, you know, especially an industry that doesn't even know marketing as much could, could have the, the same issue. So I wanna ask you about this next lesson. Um, and I, and I'd imagine that a whole impostor syndrome can tie in there as well. Um You say, make it work. And, one of the things that I really appreciated when I saw, you know, just so people listening to understand we got, I think we've got like 2300, 2600 applications so far. This is gonna be an episode in the fifties, you know, 5354 something like that. So, you know, we get a lot of these applications and one of the things that really stuck out to me about yours, not just the humility and, and the lessons you're, you're clearly explaining right now. But um I had read in Florida Trend magazine about, I didn't know intuitive health was a company involved in it, but it was a, a major local healthcare brand, hospital brand that was opening this new uh type of thing down the road from my house and it was a mixture of an urgent care center and an emergency room. And it's basically like you got a problem, you just come here and we'll build you properly, you know, not, you're not sure like, should I go to the, er, for that, should I go to the, you know, urgent care for that? We'll bill you properly. You just came in and what really struck me about that was there? I have not seen much of uh unique value proposition in the, I guess, I don't know, it's called healthcare services or patient services field. Like obviously when it comes to technology, when it comes to drugs. Yes, to patent, you have some unique value proposition or medical device. But actually in healthcare services, it's always so difficult. Who, who do I choose? You know what I mean? It's very not patient focussed. Uh all the things you mentioned, very not cost focused. So when I saw that, that just jumped out at me, right? Like wow, there is a unique value proposition, you know, for this type of thing and it is more kind of customer first marketing, the things we talk about, which I haven't seen in that field. So I wanna ask you when it comes to making it work, you mentioned you came in like many franchises may when it was a one location. Now you're rolling this out across the country, you're rolling this out in an industry to kind of tie back into what you were just saying that is filled with healthcare professionals, not marketers or maybe people that understand the customer, you are also working in an industry where the people showing up are not always paying the majority or any of what of the cost because there's a third party payer. So give us a sense, maybe there's one specific lesson in this and how did you, as you say, make it work? Yeah.
29:14 - David
And, and it, it comes, it's, it's kind of two parts and I, I feel like you, that was a great explanation. So I appreciate you really understanding the model. I feel like if I could rip this microphone off, I would just drop the microphone and say, we're, we're, we're done here. We got it. We, we're good. Um, I finally reached a customer after eight years. This is great. Um It, it, it's, it was, it, the one of the lessons was for me, one of the lessons was for, you know, this brand and this company and a lesson for me was um maybe being from the northeast and being that, you know, kind of, uh you know, especially growing up in New York City in those days of early career. I mean, it was fast, fast, fast, fast, you had to be first and I had to learn patience because um and I, and I learned this through some, you know, really great mentors and great people to say, just don't accept the first answer, just keep building, keep building. And, you know, it's funny and that was hard for me to do it really, it really was. And I, and I strongly suggest all marketers should, should do that, should collaborate and build and build on ideas. Because the 3rd and 4th and 5th idea is way better than the first, even if it was like the greatest aha moment ever. Um, the fifth is gonna be even more aha than the first. It 100% works out that way. Um So that was the first lesson was really the patience, let things build, ask the questions and, and, and build on the idea. Don't rush it out, rush it out the door and, and because also once you rush it out the door, it's everybody's so someone can take that first iteration and then build on it. And they're like, I can't believe they missed all these great points to this and now we're just gonna build on it. Um So, you know, deliver the best product for sure 100%. But then they make it work as it was related to intuitive was you said, how could we, you know, how, how are we going to convince the Daniels of the world with, you know, kids and, and stuff that this is a safe place to go? Right. And we had all this, you know, you think about when I joined the organization as a fresh capital raise. Wild West, no idea how this is gonna work. We, we don't have any IP we, we don't, there's nothing, I mean, I'll, I'll tell you something that's gonna blow your mind. We are an emergency room who chooses to bill people who don't need an emergency room at urgent care. We're making that choice. If you went to a healthcare executive, they say that's the stupidest idea I've ever heard. If you're going to see 100 patients, why not just bill 100 patients in the emergency room? You're not doing anything illegally. We're saying we're doing something ethically illegal, right? That person just had the flu. Why are we going to charge them $1900 in facility fee because of the flu? So it's a stupid idea. Daniel. I mean, it's a stupid idea to everybody trying to make a living in health care, right? But we said we're customers, it's a fantastic idea and people will, you know, people will understand it. So we, when I came in, even our equity group said, you know, marketing can't influence the health care decision. And I said, maybe, maybe not, but we're not talking about health care decisions. We're talking about retail health care decisions. You add retail there. People are making their own choice to come through that door. I guarantee you we can influence that choice. That's a marketing problem. Now we can do it. And by the way here in Texas, I'll give you another little stat that'll blow your mind. This is, you know, retail health, this is the wild west here. This is the state with the easiest legislation. Florida is probably second, Colorado is in there too. There are six locations in North Texas, four in um, central Texas now. But in the six locations in North Texas, uh we have 480 competitors and I am not counting hospitals. So in, just in our drive time, our 13 minute drive time to these facilities, we have over 400 competitors. So I'm telling you, it's on every corner. Um I it's, it's uh it's, it's, it's pretty significant. So to me, heck yeah, let's bring on a marketing problem because now you no longer, you, have accepted the fact that you can get urgent care and even emergency room care in these retail sized facilities. We're talking 6000, 10,000 square feet, not much bigger than a QSR, you know, um uh facility, right? So they're, they're blended right in there. They're in the shadow of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and, and, and Publix in Florida, you know, um they're, they're right in the shadows of now. People are convinced that the market has trained them. Now we have to influence them to our, to our brand over that brand. And it's the model, that's the difference. So what we wanted to make work was educating the consumer on this dual model you don't have to choose. And then you would say the consumer says, well, what you're gonna do is you're just gonna use the emergency, you're gonna use the urgent care to lure me in and then you're gonna charge the emergency room. Ok. How do we make that messaging work? Well, here's the data. You know, we see 500,000 patients a year, 400,000 of them get billed at urgent care level. So those 100,000 patients are emergency room patients. True blue. It's not subjective, it's objective. We have an objective process to determine that we're fully in network, meaning your insurance company and payer accepts that notion. So we had to really test. So you think about it, we can't really control cost, right? That's, that's one of the unique things about health care is like we can't really control cost because it is the third payer model. You know, your employer has a specific contract with your uh uh you know, insurance company. So we can't really say, oh, it's $15. No, we're gonna give you $15 off. We can't incentivize a visit. That's against the law. I can't say, hey, every, every time we see you in your family, Daniel, you get $10 off your next visit. That's a, you know, we all go to jail for that statement to put it out. So um you know, we go into it. So we had to, we had to really make the content work and we had to prove it with data. We had to prove it with data and we had to prove it with experience and that experience part is a whole another um you know, element to the. So you think about this evolution, we're talking, we're talking years and we're still doing it. And even our private equity firm who said, you know, marketing doesn't influence. I mean, they told me, they said, hey, just come and get us established, put the, put the components in place for a marketing, you know, division, hire your replacement and then move on to the next private equity back. Well, we're gonna need you for 18 months and that was eight years ago, right? But I just, you know, we fell in love with the model and the growth and we were making an impact right off the bat. It was costing us about 100 and $25 to acquire a new patient customer. Uh when I started and now we know we are sub $20 in basically every single market. So, and that's with 22 to 30%. Same store sales growth year over year since, since the beginning. Um So, and we're just driving, you know, cost down because that messaging and that service level has created that earned patient. So people are coming in. You, you, you, you how many, I don't know how many kids you have, but I have two kids. We see, we see your size family 25 times a year. Because they're, because they go, they go in, they have a sore throat, every head because it's no, because it's a no brainer. You go there during the lunch break. The nurse, the school nurse, tells you to go there. Hey, just bring little Joey over there. Tell, just make sure I just wanna make sure it's not a strip, he can come back to school in 20 minutes. He comes into our facility. He's done, you know, and, and he's back in school in 45 minutes. So people have just adopted this really simplistic, you know, uh care um component and, and that's, that's the result of the messaging plus the experience. So it's, it's a, it's a, it's probably an over explanation of, of the make it work. Um but you, but you have to understand the there's still, and there always will be this reluctance to, to create loyalty with, with health care because there isn't any, the brand means nothing on, on the side of a hospital. It's just where it's placed, right? It's the closest, you know, it's, it's the, the brand doesn't have as much equity as it does in a specific, you know, retail, but it's the fact that it's easy to get into time and money are considered, you know, are, are being considered all the time and then your satisfaction is being considered all the time.
38:12 - Daniel
Yeah. So uh first of all, I mean, I, and this is very true for any industry that, or, or anyone going through something where it's difficult to change an industry where it's difficult to change a company. So, I think there's a lot of lessons there. But are you saying you, your competition is as vast as going from a primary care doctor or pediatrician all the way to a hospital with an emergency room? Because that is a, you know, you, you talk about all those different types of customer segments that might be involved there.
38:35 - David
Yeah, that's right. That's right. So it's, it's pediatrics to Medicare, right? I mean, it's, it's, it's the full um it's the full gamut but from a co competition standpoint, I'm just, I'm just speaking of urgent cares and freestanding emergency rooms. That's how many there are here in Texas because of the licensure and everything else. Uh like that, I'm not even you, you, you include, you know, uh PC PS and everybody else into the mix. We're talking about thousands of options for care in Texas. It's probably the most accessible care state in the whole country by far.
39:07 - Daniel
Let me ask you this question for the B to B Marketers, right? Because we talked a lot about the B to C but for the B to B marketers. So I know in this market, what, what drew my eye, like I said, I didn't even know intuitive health was the company behind it. I don't even know if that is how you are publicly messaging. Uh you're messaging with a major local healthcare brand now that major local healthcare brand has emergency rooms. Right? And so I would imagine just the way health care is set up. And I, again, I'm not a healthcare marketer, they're getting a certain percentage of the business no matter what and they're charging emergency room rates for it. Uh So how do you go? And I think you JV, you know, joint ventures all around the country when you're introducing to the local market markets, which is great because that's helping in that local market. You've already got that, you know, trust with the healthcare provider, which I'd assume would be used for something like healthcare, actually trusting, you know, who's gonna, who's gonna serve you there. Um So how do you make that sale though to these groups that probably already have the emergency rooms? They're already gonna get a certain percentage of the business. They can already charge that like wait a minute, 80% of these people charge at the urgent care rate.
40:08 - David
Yeah. Yeah. So what typically happens is we're not building in the shadow of their, of their core emergency room, right? So uh uh out by you, it's University of Florida, it's a great, you know, great partnership. Um We're building these away from the main hospital to gain market share, right? Because you might have two or three hospital options to get care. Um And so we're really strategic, we put a lot of emphasis on location. We have a very sophisticated real estate selection process and um it's awesome. Um you know, the, the marketing teams involved in that side as well because we want to make sure we have the right, you know, throughput and, and we have these uh kind of core uh components that we look at from a, from a locations uh standpoint, you know, proximity to schools and rooftops and you know, the you, you know your home, you know where, where the two plus uh kid homes are uh things like that. So, so it, it is a, it is a very specific market share, you know, geography uh grab. But you, you said another kind of core component to that is like, why would they, why would they want to do this? Well, if you think about, you know, transitioning in industry, we're talking about 12,000 square foot facilities. There is nothing in a health care system's vocabulary that's 12,000 square feet. They can't even think along those lines. And there, then, then we tell them that in these 12 to 15 room facilities, that's all they are. We're gonna push through 100 100 and 25 patients a day in 45 minutes and they go, that is crazy. Uh You know, that just, just can't happen. We, we, we push it, it takes us, you know, it takes us hours and hours to get 60 patients through the hospitals. So we really sell them on this specific kind of um, brand awareness. So if you, if you say, ok, now the closest front door you have to University of Florida Daniel now is our facility on Bay Meadows down, you know, close to, to your home. That's a great first impression to the broader UF brand. Now you go in there with your um, child and let's just say he's having trouble with his knee. He had a sports injury. You go in there, you have a great experience. And he says, hey, I have a great orthopedic, by the way, he's part of the UF system and that you're gonna recommend it to you. Boom, there's a nice thing that we have captured a patient, we're keeping them in the market that would have never happened. Had you had to drive, had to drive 45 minutes to the, to the main hospital. So now we've just captured another patient for the UF services. And if, and if God forbid, it's more serious, which, you know, we always hope it's not. Um, we have a very easy transfer process. So you come into our facility and if it's a cardio stroke something very, very um high, what we call high acuity. Yeah, you've transferred very quickly systematically right to the hospital. Um you know, door everything is transferred. It's, it's, it's, it's easy access. So they are doing it with the intent of gaining more patients and leaving, you know, potential revenue on the table with the urgent care always pays itself back in loyalty, right? And, and, and, and recommendations and, and um and referrals for sure.
43:33 - Daniel
So that's a great lesson there with anyone who's scared of cannibalizing their own offering because, you know, the business, uh you know, textbooks are littered with companies that had a pretty strong position, would not cannibalize their own offering and someone else came across to do it. So if you're in a similar industry, I think there are some lessons there from David. Um So in the first half of the podcast, we talked about lessons from the things you made. In the second half, we're gonna talk about lessons from the things that people you made them with. That's a great thing we get to do as marketers, we get to make things, you know, and like I always say, I've never been a podiatrist or an actuary, but, you know, I've never been in those industries, but I feel like we get to make things and I don't think everyone does. Um and we get to make them with people. Um So before we talk about that first lesson, I just want to mention as well that how I made it in a marketing podcast is underwritten by MecLabs Institute, the parent organization of Marketing Sherpa. And to learn how Mec Lab services can help you better get better business results from deeper customer understanding. You can visit mec labs dot com slash results. Um But now let's jump into uh of your lessons from, from people. You made it with a partner with a true visionary, which I like. And you said you learned this from working with Anthony Aone, who is the founder of Ogni tech ad, the Bio symmetric and personal friends. So how, how do you learn this from me? So it's
44:46 - David
Akon. He, he's gonna, he's gonna, I can, I can sense the text message coming through right now, still getting it wrong. But uh you know, he's a good guy and I, and I say true visionary because I think, you know, you, you can't just put on the same blue hoodie every single day and same jeans and call yourself an eccentric and, you know, a founder. And I think there's, there's a, there's a certain quirkiness and a passion to these really true visionaries and I don't even think that they recognize that they have competition. Um You know, this is somebody that's like, uh you know, this is the best and, and that's such a uh you, you could say, hey, that's a, that's a weirdo they don't understand the market or you could say I can get on board with this person and learn from this passion and where I've always fit. Um And I've just kind of identified this as being real to myself as I partner really well with these visionaries because I can keep them in check. I'm a great go to market person. I love this idea, Anthony Aone, right? I love the fact that you pace around the room and you, you do all these, you know, weird things and, and, uh uh you know, um but the keep innovating, just keep spilling out the ideas and the direction, let me paper them, put them into a process, find out how we get into Kellogg's and you know, Kimberly Clark and, and, and those are really rewarding experiences because you find out um uh when you're not in a process environment meaning like somebody like Anthony Akon, I didn't, when I met him, I, I fell in love with him right away cause I'm like, oh this guy is great. His ideas are great and he's weird as hell. I love this. Like this is like, this is, this is the guy you read on, you watch on CNBC talking about, you know, billion dollar valuations, you know, 33 years in because he's got this really, really strong vision and he's a, he was talking about, you know, mobile marketing before when we were still flipping our phones open, right? And, and looking for re reception. So, you know, I gravitated to that. So that a visionary and what you for me, the lesson for me was, hey, I have no guard rails. There's no, there's no coo saying, OK, here's your project management process. Here's your, we had to build from the scratch from scratch. Not only do we have to build the product, we had to build the delivery methodology, we had to build the account management team, we had to build the sales team, we had to build the um you know, tech team and, and, and uh you wanna learn something about yourself with the pressures of a visionary. You do it in that kind of environment, you know, because they're not gonna stop and you're either gonna keep up um or you're gonna fail. Um And that's where, you know, I really, you know, I learned so much from him and, and he's just a wonderful, he's a wonderful person. He's a wonderful entrepreneur, he's a wonderful um friend. Um But he set a pace for me. Um Even at a time when I had my first two kids were itty bitty. I was traveling all around the, you know, I, but I believed in it and I think if, if you can really have just one opportunity in your career, and I've been so fortunate to have basically every single one of them have the same feeling, but I believed in it. You know, you would, you, you would, you would, you know, not die in the literal sense but you, you, you know, I'm going down with this, we're, we're, we're either gonna succeed or we're gonna, and I, and I believe in it and I see it work and that's what I, I, you know, that partnering with that visionary is, is, is, is so powerful. Um And it's, and again, it's that reoccurring theme for me of, of people, find the right people, right? And find those mentors that really mean something to you and believe in you. It's always nice to be believe then too, right. You know, you get that phone call in the middle of the night because he would call, I'm not sure he ever slept. I'm not sure he still slept. Um but you know, it didn't matter if it was one o'clock or two o'clock in the morning. It was a great idea. It's a great idea. And you know, the fact that you, you'd say, well, dude, I need to sleep for a second. You know, I got infant babies that I'm, we're trying to feed. Um but I need to sleep for a second. But you, but you go look in the mirror and go, he's calling me. He believes in me. He believes that his great or kooky idea can be executed through me. I'll take that all day long. He's not. We, we had a, we had a, you know, general counsel from Harvard, we had the CEO uh advisor from, you know, a big bank in Silicon Valley. He's calling me, you know, uh out of all the people. So that was, that meant a lot that helped me get out of this, you know, kind of imposter syndrome and said, hey, man, just, just do it. Let's, let's just, let's just do it. Let's, and, and uh, and, and, and you can really believe in it and you could just, it's, it's contagious when you, when you, when you meet that right person like that.
49:34 - Daniel
So, I mean, I love what you're saying there about when you're partnering with someone like that, to be able to be that operational person that can execute on things. But I also wonder if there is anything that you've learned from him that you've taken on in your career? And I'll give you a quick example. I interviewed Derek De Tener, the Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer at Batteries Plus on how I made it in marketing. And he mentioned learning from his CEO just seeing upfront and personal, how he was able to press for change, yet keep a calm demeanor, right? Not something he took with him in his career. I wonder if there's something you took because as marketers, we also need to be those innovators, right? And we need to
50:08 - David
Yeah. And, and yeah, and I take, like I said, I'm, I'm a, I'm a lesson hound and, and a curious listener. So I got lessons and lessons and, um, you know, uh in books and things along those lines. But, um, I think from Anthony, you know, I learned this kind of fearlessness Right. And, he didn't see Johnson and Johnson as a, you know, $60 billion conglomerate. He saw it as an opportunity and I said, we're gonna just walk into this place. He's like, yeah, we got kind of a warm intro but like, what kind of intro are they expecting us? Well, not really, but just follow me, you know, and it worked out, you know, it, it worked right, because we had something good. We knew we had something good. And I, I, if you look back at the kind of good ideas that failed, a lot of times it was because they didn't have that fearlessness, that fearlessness, right? They didn't get it to enough people or they hesitated or they tried to overcomplicate it and, and if he saw an opportunity, he just went for it and sometimes he pushed me first through the door and said, go make it happen. But, you know, he created that fearlessness, that fearlessness. Uh And when you believe in it, there's, it, it's, it's, it's fear, but it's also confidence. Like if I, if I do get this person's ear, you know, if I am sitting with the president of l'oreal, which we did on a, on a regular basis. Um I bet, I bet we can, I bet we can sell him. I bet we can convince him, you know, because he's gonna see this passion and they did. And so that was a great, that was a great lesson of, of kind of that go for it, you know, attitude. If you have something that you really believe in,
51:50 - Daniel
talk about another lesson. So you're kind of talking there about conquering the world and climbing mountains. All lessons you mentioned are only as good as how we handle humbling moments and you learn this from Charlie Brignac. So I feel like there's probably some painful story behind this.
52:04 - David
Yeah, I, you know, I think, and I tell some younger people that I work with on a regular basis. II I think you have to be humbled on a pretty uh you know, you, you should have humbling moments and they're gonna happen. Um I have, you know, quite a few of them because like I said, I didn't have the, the, the best education or the best academic, you know, background and sometimes it got brought up and um Charlie Brignac is uh he was the gentleman who came on to me who got us into these big consumer package, good companies because he was a packaging leader, believe it or not. And we, we, we felt the physical print space was a great place to launch mobile because you could activate through SMS, you could activate through QR codes. I mean, all stuff that people didn't understand back then. Uh but you know, it's kind of normal uh vernacular now. Um But we were innovating that and, and, and, and so he got us through the door and he's a, he's a spiritual guy. He's a gentle, kind person. Um, he, he, he loved you. Um, and, and if he respected you, you felt, you felt amazing, you felt validated, you felt he's just a, just a really good person again, still somebody that's, you know, deep in my life in a, in a good and a good friend. And he's another one who was passionately a believer, you know, he'd go through that door with us on a, on a regular basis and, and I had a moment where, you know, we, the, like I said, that the company will be a made for TV, um show at some point. It, um it, it's kind of like maybe uh the office meets Games of Thrones meets Jack Ryan. I don't know if some, if, if some writer out there, I'll, I'll, I'll do with the data dump for you if somebody can figure out how to put it all together. Um But as any fast paced start up, we were growing really big. Um, our covering bank brought in, you know, Paul and Phil, that's all I'll call them, you know, with their suit and ties. And it's like they read the Microsoft manual and walked around the room telling everybody that they're gonna be millionaires and we make everybody millionaires. And that was the first sign that we were going the wrong direction. But these guys came in and, and, um, you know, kind of took over one of the IP, one of the start suing people who were using our IP as they thought were legal and, and here we are, you know, deep, deep into Kellogg's and all these big CPG companies, we're getting agency record contracts as a, you know, 6 to 15 person team. You know, the year we signed an agency record, there's a little side note but the year we signed the agency record contract with Kellogg's, they had 100 and 25 agencies on their roster. And because of the recession in sales figures, everyone, you know, everybody was going through cuts, they consolidated down to 16 and we made the cut. So that is a champagne popping, you know, moment. And these guys just kind of sucked all the fun out of the room because they were like, well, then they have to sign this big legal binding document of, you know, a million dollars a year for our license and, you know, and if not, we're gonna sue them and, you know, the court of sentences, you know, all this kind of stuff was really, um, you know, really upsetting. Well, things got tenser because I'm a, I'm a big equity holder, Anthony Aone is a big equity holder. Charlie is a big equity holder, right? We were kind of the, the, the original Amigos and we grew this company and we, we felt very passionate about it and felt passionate about the people we hired and uh we were really involved. So things got a little tense. We had a meeting with some key leaders. Charlie was looking at me as the guy who knew everything about the company, the brand, the direction, you know, because Anthony is the visionary, right? So you, you weren't gonna ask him those questions. And I, I let my emotions get ahead of my words and I, I cursed a little bit. I was a little bit downtrodden and he pulled me aside after it was a really important meeting and said, I'm super disappointed in you and that stung so bad. It hurt, it hurt and, and, and, and, and immediately it was this emotion of you're right. You brought me here to represent you and me and this company and, and I had the perfect audience to, to win them over and I went the wrong way. I got my emotions that, you know, ahead of me were tired. We were grinding and, and, and, and now you're disappointed in me. That's the worst thing I've ever heard, worse than the meeting, worse than anything. And, and that was a, that was a huge, huge humbling moment because it was later on in my life too. You know, I'm a dad. Um You know, we're, we're making money. I'm in the press all the time. I felt like I was really kind of rolling along and then here's a guy that I love, like a family member, say, I'm disappointed in you. That was a terrible performance. Stop with the bad language. You're better than this. Uh, uh, you know, uh, we need to, we, we need to kind of re reset, you know, reset and, and, uh, and I, and I remind them on a regular basis, you know, that was a big moment. Uh, you know, that was a big moment for me and it changed, it changed the trajectory of everything changed, how I lead, changed how I hire changed how I, I uh interact with, you know, my team members and, and uh and, and other leaders in the, in the company for sure.
57:33 - Daniel
Well, I wanna ask about how you lead because uh I, I noticed servant leadership on your linkedin profile. So one way we learn humility is through painful stories like that. There's no experience, but also we learn it, there's a positive way and I'll give you an example real quick of how we learn it just by seeing humble leaders ourselves. And so, for example, I interviewed Ariel Glassman, the Director of Marketing Stage Communications. And one of her lessons was that humble leaders provide more than expertise and direction. And she talked about how she works in the Federal Space and the government space and she works with military and intelligence leaders. I mean, these generals and these people are probably just deciding the outcome of our society and our planet at levels we probably don't understand. Right. And, they were so humble in how they worked with her because she had a specific expertise that she brought in to help them, you know, communicate and now as they were kind of moving into consulting. So I wonder from your perspective and how you lead, how do you bring that humility to that leadership in a, in a positive way where, you know, we don't always need that horrible failed story to, to understand the importance of humility.
58:29 - David
Yeah. Well, I do share stories because I think you, you, you have to, you have to see people as humans, not as bosses, right? We, we, we let you know the the servant leaders, there's a lot that goes into the servant leadership culture, but it's not a, it's kind of a reverse paradigm, right? So the customers at the top, you know, not the CEO so we're not looking up all the time and, and uh and we, we hire along those lines, right? So all of these leaders that are in our organization are just fabulous. They're from different walks of life, they're from different industries and they have a great perspective. Um But they, I, you, you know, you'll know more about them as a human than as a professional before anything. And that's how we've set it up, right? So we know spouses and husbands and partners and, you know, kids and life and, you know, what are you into and hobbies and, and, and things along those lines before we really know the, the professional person. Um, and that, you know, that certainly helps. So, you know, sh share a lot of stories, you know, have that human, um, interaction but also learn together. I think the, the, the thing that we, we try to do is, uh, I, like, I, I'll, I'll be very transparent. I hate, I don't want to be a manager. I don't ever want the title. I don't ever want to be a part of it. It's not my style. I want, we're a team, you know, uh I'm not a boss, we're a team. So one of the things that we, we try to do is is learn together. Let's let's learn together. This is going to be a very difficult client, for example, right? We know that this is going to be a very difficult client. I am not going to dictate how we do this. Let's do it together. Let's learn from this. Let's build upon these um you know, relationships, we'll read books together, really specific books. So we um we are a uh an NPS till you die organization. So we net promoter score, earn patient revenue, all these things that are just really, really innate into our organization. You won't see any of that listed publicly. We're not, it's, it's about our operational uh per performance, but you, you have to learn, you have to learn on a, on a, on a regular basis and we, we share failures, we share failures, we on and, and it's not to chastise anybody. It's not to say, you know, nurse, nurse Daniel, you know, you, you, you guys screwed up again. It's, hey, let's look at, we see three specific components in this experience that we can improve on and let's do it. You do it, you improve on it, your scores go up, things go up. Now, Daniel, we're gonna empower you to lead the other seven organizations or seven facilities that are having the same challenges, you know. So now you've gone from having things that you have to fix to now leading how to fix them. So we're constantly empowering, you know, leadership and, and uh you know, opportunity. And I think um that really, really, that really helps and ho honestly, probably similar to the example that you just gave for your other podcast. Guess title has nothing to do with it. There is not a, there's not a, you know, yes, you know, our CFO is an amazing guy. I've been as, as a market, this is marketing podcast as a marketer. I'm telling you, I don't know, for all the listening audience, I don't know how I got so lucky. Every single CFO I've ever worked with has been awesome. So I don't, I know that's not, that's not the norm, but, but it, it it uh very, very collaborative. So, yeah, our CFO is this, this, this um has all these great experiences that he brings into it. But he's a bigger listener as I am a listener um as the CEO as a listener. So we're listening, we're learning and we're empowering on a regular basis. So there's really no hierarchy like, oh the CEO is talking and we're gonna do it, you know, this way and we share the burden, we share burden every day volume, you know, performance, we share the but you know, we, we are still private equity backed and funded. There's a burden to that. If anybody listening, you know, is in that same organization, you understand that burden, they're not bad people, but it's a burden. And so we share it together. We don't expect the CEO to have all that burden uh on, on it, on his shoulders. We, we, we share. So that's one of the components. And we, we're, we're big enough now that uh you know, there was some thought that as we, I was, there were only five of us when I started in 2015. We have over 1000 employees now. Um And we, you know, we thought could, can you scale that kind of culture? And we have been because those leaders are strong and they're hiring the right leaders and we will leave a position vacant for longer if necessary, the wrong person creates cancer all the time. It's 100% you know, every single time. If you, if you just um i if you just accept some, some mediocrity or the fact that you have to fill the role, uh it won't work out. Uh And it never has for us. So um that's, that's kind of our philosophy there.
63:39 - Daniel
Let's talk about learning from the wrong person, from your perspective. Uh So your final lesson here, leadership is not measured in years, but in character, you said you learned this from Lisa, only Lisa, we're saying only Lisa and we'll see, we'll see in a minute. Why can you tell us a story about how you learn this?
63:55 - David
So uh as a, as a young, as a young book, um I went from Viacom International, which was uh you know, the theme owner of, of uh you know, Paramount and MTV and, and I was in mergers and acquisitions and worked on the uh Viacom CBS merger. Um And then uh found out that, oh, when you do that, you might not have a job. But as you know, a 22 year old, I didn't care. I was like, I'll go back to the beach for an extra extra day. But yeah, so, um but because of those relationships that I made and it was just this amazing organization. Again, some mentors there that I met that are still a big part of my life. But they said, hey, go over to CBS. Um There's a lot of great opportunity for, for guys of your skill set and, and, uh, to, to, to, to have a really great career, went over there. It was probably about a four day transition. And next thing I know I'm at, you know, CBS and there's where I met Lisa. Uh, and, and I probably, if I didn't have strong enough morals and character, I probably would have thought the entire world was like Lisa. But you could identify quickly that it, it wasn't. Um, and this was somebody who never led by example, you know, pushing people out the door, uh, numbers, numbers, numbers, you know, you know, those, those kind of things and, and, uh, and a lot of pressure and she was truly the horrible boss. Like we, my, my, my wife and I, um, watched the horrible Bosses, the movie for the first time. We said this has got like she has to be involved in this somehow because she also has and, and she was not of, uh Jennifer Aniston's, uh, uh, makeup, let's just say that way. And, but that's something she would do. She would say, oh, I'm best suited to be played by Jennifer Aniston. So we, we were totally convinced that this was, this was her movie that she had, uh she had written, but it was, it was when you're in the moment you say this is terrible, this person's bad. They don't have any interest in my performance. They don't have any interest in my career. They don't have any interest in my growth. They are only interested in making their numbers with this little, you know, frac or a little friction as, as you know, possible. But then it's that realization, you step back and you go, well, I don't have to do this. I don't have to be a part of this. I don't have to leave this way. And Daniel, what you find out is really the bad people and the bad leaders and the people with bad intentions don't have any longevity. It works out, it works itself out 100% of the time. So yes, it can be painful while you're going through it. But there's always an end game to it if you don't get sucked into it, if you stay, keep, you know, keep your distance, you learn, you learn from it. Um It works itself out all the time. I mean, I just, I've never not seen it, you know, work out. I have, you know, plenty of people I work with and friends that, you know, say very, you know, similar things. But it's, it's um you know, it just works itself out. But that was uh it was quite the experience she, she lives in folklore with, with hundreds and hundreds of, of, of my former colleagues. So we hope she's doing well. But um we we uh we don't send her Christmas cards, let's put it that way.
67:15 - Daniel
Uh Well, I think there's some great career lessons there, but I can't help but think, "Is there a lesson in how you interact with the customer? Right? Because I think customers have the same challenge you'll see externally. And you mentioned this before too about, you know, the number of years, you know, some, some companies talk about that, you know, you see externally, there's a certain brand around something or a certain around the people that work at that brand. But then you can, you know, have experiences with it and it's horrible. So then you just start thinking and I mean, healthcare specifically too, as we mentioned, like you start thinking like I'm gonna have this bad experience there. So I think for an example with us, you know, um mccloud's marketing shirt, but we have been around since the early days of digital marketing. We do mention that sometimes, but the thing we do more is we try to give customers positive experiences with us. And like, so for one example, we had a copywriting contest with our audience. So, you know, as opposed to saying, we've been around since the early days, we know a lot about copywriting. We say let's do this contest together and let's, you know, kind of learn together and you have that experience from it. And so I wonder, I, I don't, I can't imagine how you could do this in healthcare. But I just want to ask or maybe some other, you know, industries you've worked in, how do you try to give them some of that experience? You know, besides from saying, hey, we're the oldest brand here, you know, since 1863 we had a hospital here. You know, how do you kind of give them a bit of that experience when they've had other negative experiences? Yeah.
68:27 - David
Well, I love that example because we, we, we've learned that the, the brand promise at these bigger hospitals is, is, is sometimes a lot because there is always that big story or the scripture on the wall, you know, and it's, it's people are, they're reading it but they, they're getting more upset because they're not living it while they're there. Right. Exactly. And that's, and that's, you know, frustrating because I'm sure the, the intention is always good, right? I mean, especially those health systems that go back, you know, 100 years and, you know, yeah, it was, it was the change, you know, environment, create a healthy community, you know, all that stuff. But um they kind of live by, they live by that lie. And that was one of the, you know, kind of the founding principles of our model was to, was to really create a consumer customer service model and what we needed to do by that is don't let them, don't let them leave this experience without feeling that they can provide feedback. So we saw 500,000 patients plus last year, we got 350,000 pieces of feedback. Um from those, from those patients. Are they all good? No, of course not. Are are a majority of them good. Yes. Um but we're asking, we're not saying leave us review. We're asking for feedback. How can we improve this experience? And the greatest part is, is like, like I said, sometimes we see people 15, the same last name, 1525 times. And they say uh 10, this time, nine, this time 10, this time five, I was really upset, you know, usually I'm in here and it's, it's, it's great. The, it was a little dirty uh the waiting room. I didn't like this new doctor, you know that do, do we, do we tell him that's just stupid, you know, that's a stupid observation. You know, the doctor is fine. You know, he's, he's got, he's from Notre Dame and he's his dad was a no, of course not. We say call them up. We call 100% of our patients. We, we have a whole feedback, you know, methodology. Hey, tell, tell us a little bit more about your experience uh you know, with, with the the doctor so we can improve for the next time. Your loyalty is super important. Um And what's the number one answer we get all the time when we when we do that. Oh, you read this? you actually read the feedback. Yeah, we read 100% of them. We read 100% of them and, and that really kind of triggers this emotional connection. Right. That's what they're not getting in other places. And so we, we really talk even the toughest consumers, even though we, you, you can imagine in health care, like I said, we get a lot of people and having bad days, bad months, bad years, there's a lot of things going on. Um And we, we've heard it all at this point. I mean, we, you know, if you, you're the worst in the world, I hate you. I'm gonna kill, you know, everything about you, you know, stinks. Hey, we're sorry to hear that. How, what, what part you know, can, can we improve on what's, you know, how can we help you through this building problem? How can we help you through this? Um So we really, it's the same interaction that we have in the walls is we're proving to the consumer too. So the same way I'm going to talk to, you know, my, our employees and our clinical staff is the same way. I'm going to talk to the consumer like humans who we appreciate. This is something that healthcare doesn't do either. You think about it, you go into the hospital right now, you went to a hospital, any hospital and your son was totally convinced he was, his leg was broken and you go in there and it's not broken and the nurse says he didn't need to be here. Right. That's, that's not a negative, that's not a positive experience. It's a negative experience. Right? We say we're happy you're here. How can we help you? Yes, we would have came into, we're concerned too. I have, I have kids. I would have done the same thing as you, Daniel. Good, you know, good on you for getting in here and getting it checked out, just transitioning that language in that way. We talked to the consumer has changed everything for us. There's a lot of money in that. You know, there's a lot of profit in that. There's a lot of loyalty in that and there's a lot of revenue. Um, you know, in that, I mean, we're, we're, we're seeing 70 80% of our first time patients come back within um, 12 months, you know, for, for, for, you know, different ailments and that obviously drives our cost way down as well. So,
72:48 - Daniel
David, we've talked so much about all these different elements of what it means to be a marketer, from empathy and ability to what you're doing, influencing choice even in an industry like health care. So if you had to break it down, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer?
73:03 - David
First I say, you know, listen to the consumer, right? So what is the market telling you, what is the consumer telling you? What are the challenges that they have? Don't, don't ever ignore that um by any means um to be a consumer. Um, I love the secret shopper. I love, you know, uh you know, I love the, the, the uh I love the opportunity to, to experience a brand. We do it with our own, our own brands all the time. Experience, the brand, find the loopholes, find the challenges. And then third is, is, as I said, often is, listen, uh you know, it is so dynamic right now. Um even in, in something as boring as health care and is challenging and, and regulated as health care is changing every single day. Um So go to the conferences, go to the webinars, just, just learn. If you, if you think you're a seo expert, listen to another seo expert, listen to how their approach is just open your, your mind up in your opportunity to, to broaden your your experiences and get perspective this Totter and kinda I always thought this may, maybe it kind of goes back to your fancy terms, missed expectations. There's always this like Totter and you know, aspect like I've always, I came out of the womb as the best marketer on the planet. You know, I came out as, you know, C CMO and you know, that's not true. Um You know, and, and it was this inability to change perspective, right? Is it like this way or no way? And I think that's not gonna get you in a, in a, in a world where these new platforms are emerging every single day. And there are Anthony Avos out there in the world that are visionaries changing the world every day. If you're not paying attention to that pulse, you, you're gonna be, you're gonna be left, you know, you're gonna be left behind. Um So I think it's, you know, listen, learn, attend, ask questions, you know, ask, you know, those questions and, and uh and collaborate with your, collaborate with your competitors. Uh You know, we, we, you know, we are not necessarily here in, in, in Texas, but since I'm involved in this, you know, health care, I'm constantly, you know, uh networking with other healthcare marketing executives that are trying to solve the same problems. Um Yes, we are competing for the same patient. Um But there's no harm in just, you know, asking the questions be, you know, be a good person too, you know, I, you know, I think that, you know, having a, having a cocktail with a competitor and, and, and knowing a little bit about their family and being, you know, kind of involved in their lives and just being a good friend and, and, and, and part part of that, I think you uh you broadened so much of, of uh your experiences and you may need them at some point in your, in your career as well. I don't, it, it, it hurts the network because you're, you're essentially kind of solving the same problem. And you're also feeding your families, and trying to solve those same problems too. So I don't think it hurts to, to collaborate anymore, especially with this, this open network, you know, flat world now that this, this has got us so intertwined with each
76:10 - Daniel
Well, thanks for sharing so much of what you've learned in your career with us today. It's just been a pleasure listening to you, David. Yeah.
76:15 - David
Pleasure. Pleasure is all mine. This has been a lot of fun. Daniel. Thank you.
76:18 - Daniel
Thanks to everyone for listening. Thank you for joining us for how I made it in marketing with Daniel Burstein. Now that you've got an inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for your next marketing campaign from marketing Sherpa's extensive library of free case studies at marketingsherpa.com.
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