In this episode of the Talk Commerce Podcast, hosts Brent and Jackie are joined by Gen Furukawa, co-founder of Prehook, a company specializing in creating quizzes for Shopify stores. With years of experience in the e-commerce SaaS space, Gen shares his insights on how quizzes can lead to increased sales, personalized marketing, and better customer engagement.
The journey from Amazon to Shopify: Gen shares his experience transitioning from working at Jungle Scout, an Amazon product research tool, to focusing on Shopify and its unique e-commerce opportunities. The power of quizzes: Gen explains how quizzes can help Shopify store owners learn more about their customers’ challenges, interests, preferences, and goals, ultimately leading to better product recommendations and improved conversion rates.
Zero-party data and its importance: Gen breaks down the concept of zero-party data, its advantages over first-party data, and how it enables brands to create more personalized and engaging marketing strategies.
Navigating the digital landscape: With the introduction of iOS 14.5, it’s become harder for brands to track customer activity across the internet. Gen discusses the increasing importance of capturing leads and building direct relationships with customers via quizzes and zero-party data.
Riverbend Consulting is a company that specializes in helping Amazon sellers who are facing suspension, deactivation, or blocks. They’ve helped thousands of third-party sellers get their accounts and ASINs back up and running again. But they don’t just write form-letter appeals – their team of Amazon experts, including former Amazon employees, digs deep to find the root cause of the problem and develop practical, real-world solutions to improve operational performance and profitability.
And that’s not all. Riverbend Consulting provides ongoing services, including reimbursements to ensure FBA sellers get every dollar Amazon owes them, account management to remove negative feedback and handle customer service across multiple platforms, and seller account protection to monitor and answer performance notifications to keep accounts healthy. They also offer account audits for possible acquisitions and project-based consulting services such as pick-and-pack engineering, warehouse management audits, and customer service audits.
Lesley and her team are not “gurus” or sole proprietors – they manage a team of Amazon sellers, former Amazon team members, and highly skilled consultants who love working with small business clients.
So if you’re an Amazon seller needing an emergency room, Riverbend Consulting is the place to call. Stay tuned for an insightful conversation with Lesley about Amazon selling and her expertise in the field.
Patrick Jacobs joins us to discuss the future of online shopping and how live video is changing the game. Patrick has been on an entrepreneurial journey for the past ten years, starting in the cable television industry before transitioning into entrepreneurship.
After successfully launching and running his cable network, he sought to replicate his experience in other ventures but found it challenging until he joined Immers. Immers is redefining the shopping experience by connecting customers with product experts in the most efficient way possible.
The company uses live video to help customers get the answers they need to make informed purchasing decisions. With immersive experiences, brands can build lasting customer relationships and differentiate themselves in a crowded market.
In this episode, our guest explains how live video can help you sell more products and create stronger customer loyalty. Tune in to learn more about the future of commerce and how you can stay ahead of the curve.
With the rapid growth of digital commerce, businesses are constantly seeking innovative ways to stand out and deliver exceptional customer experiences. In this post, we’ll discuss the powerful impact of live video on the online shopping landscape and introduce you to an industry game-changer, Immers. Get ready to discover the future of online shopping and learn how you can stay ahead of the curve by embracing these groundbreaking advancements.
From addressing the persistent “rate of return” issue to enhancing conversions and customer satisfaction through cutting-edge advancements like immersive Virtual Fitting Rooms, we’re here to bring you to the forefront of AI-driven breakthroughs.
We explore how businesses can leverage game-changing technologies for outstanding results. So, relax, tune in, and join us on this journey to uncover the future of eCommerce. In today’s episode, we’re thrilled to have a conversation with James Bloomfield from Moda Match, a company revolutionizing the apparel industry. Stay tuned, and let’s dive right in!
Brent: Welcome to this episode of Talk Commerce Today have James Bloomfield. James is the c e o and Co-founder of Modem Match. James, go ahead. Introduce yourself. Tell us your day-to-day role and maybe one of your passions in life. .
James: Thank you very much, Brent. It’s great to be on today and I’ve been looking forward to this for some time.
James: And yep. I am the founder and co-founder and c e O of Motor Match, which is a fashion technology company. We utilize highly advanced AI technologies in order to deliver cutting edge solutions to the fashion apparel space. In terms of my daily activities as a startup CEO and co-founder, the, you wear a lot of hats and you have a lot of responsibilities and it’s been quite the journey taking from a an unknown startup with my partners and getting us to the position we are today, which is very exciting, working with a number of large corporate retail partners as well as SM.
James: And just trying our best to bring a new element of technology, functionality, optimization, interactivity to the apparel space. In addition to trying to speak to some of the problems that we have seen that are inherent to the space that might not be as always, principally business related ideas like sustainability.
James: Increasing the diversity, inclusivity, and representation within the space. These kinds of values that we truly believe in as a company, but are really needed to be addressed within the space at large.
Brent: That’s awesome. I know that in our green room, you agreed you agreed to participate in the free joke project.
Brent: So before we get into into the content we’re gonna, I’m just gonna tell you a joke and you can tell me if that joke should remain free or if we could charge for it. So here we go. What do you call a pair of shoes with uplifting quotes, written all over them, motivational sneakers.
James: I that definitely deserves to be free , right? I would say a strong definite
Brent: deserves to be free . Excellent. Good. All right. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks for that. All right. So let’s tell us a little bit about mode to match and tell us the goal of why you started it and a little bit of background.
James: Sure. Mode Match was founded a bit over four years ago, and we were initially founded within Tel Aviv Israel, which is well known, as you may know. As it. Tech hub and a real startup hotspot. And we really were dedicated to the project. I personally came at it from a background in fashion apparel.
James: I used to work at a fashion startup here in Canada where I’m talking to you from and where I’m born and raised. And it was during my time at this fashion startup that I began to see. , the kinds of problems that are so widely felt throughout the space in terms of outdated technology, in terms of outmoded practices, in terms of highly established sense of conventional thinking amongst decision makers throughout the space.
James: And, everybody within apparel has made a significant. For a long time doing things in a very specific way. And why change and in addition to all of that is the idea that fashion as it stands, is a very fractured very. You could call it disorganized industry. And a great example of that is the idea that there’s no such thing as an international sizing guide, which is why a, a medium T-shirt is, can be so different from whether it’s in Canada, the United States, or in Asia, or in India or in Europe.
James: It’s vastly different and it causes an enormous number of problems. Not only in terms of business, but in terms of, returns and the ubiquity of free returns has made it enormously costy in terms of dollars and cents. But these ideas of returns are also, and again, going back to some of the values that we have extraordinarily damaging to the environment.
James: But in any case I’m getting a little bit off base. We the fashion startup I was working for in Montreal, Canada, was successfully we had a successful exit within about the first 18 months. And we were very pleased about that. And it was at that time that I got my feet wet, as they would say within the fashion space.
James: Learned. And was, became very aware of the pain points within the space. And and it was the idea of trying to introduce new technology to the fashion industry was in the back of my mind for some time really going about my regular business, but constantly thinking about the best way to go about it.
James: What would work best for people, what’s going to be impactful for a shopper, but also be seamless and convenient and functional for a retailer trying to marry those two ideas. And it really boiled down to a question of technology. The technology didn’t exist to take into account the variables at. And have them work cohesively to deliver a solution that would work for anybody in a scalable, seamless convention, a convenient manner.
James: And a number of years later, I found myself in Tel Aviv, Israel, which again, very well known for its tech, for its startup space with a big emphasis on ai. And long story short, I came into contact with my now two partners and we. we’re able to leverage some highly advanced AI technology worked on by our supremely talented engineering team in order to take into account those variables and really deliver a solution that would be functional and would be convenient and would be, hold value for both shoppers and for retail.
James: And so at that point we wanted to continue raising money for our solution, which was what we had developed was a virtual fitting room, a plug-in white label solution that would allow shoppers to upload an image of themselves or choose from a range of models and dress them hyper accurately with their clothing selections by having a very strong emphasis on real.
James: On fit and on aesthetic. We were able to address with our virtual fitting room a number of the drivers of returns, which represent one of the biggest pain points within the industry. And we wanted to, we were so happy with the work that we had done, and we were so pleased with our solution. We wanted to continue fundraising and increasing the functionality and optimizing.
James: But unfortunately we found ourselves. Odd space of having an amazing piece of technology and an amazing solution, but trying to introduce it into a space that has tried to get this kind of thing done for some time. The introduction of new technology into fashion apparel is not a new concept.
James: It’s been actively attempted for the better part of 25 years but never successfully implemented or executed. And we were so pleased with the work we had done and the reactions we were getting were enormously. But they always ended. Every pitch would end with, this is really great, but we want you to work with X number of clients.
James: Be round for X amount of period of time, prove that you’re a company of substance. Prove that you can make this work. Bring in more data, more case studies, more everything really. And so at that point we, we realized that we had to come to market. We had to continue to get the kind of validation we needed from brands and from retailers.
James: And it was at that point that we decided to move the company from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Montreal, Canada, where we are currently based. And come to market here. We were had to deal with the pandemic, which was not convenient , although in reality it hyper accelerated the space because it precluded the ability to go shop for clothes in brick and mortar locations.
James: So apparently commerce was hyper accelerated. . But again, we dealt with a tremendous amount of skepticism, of trepidation. And I understood where it was coming from but you still, you need to look for that big break. And so we would, we were really hitting the pavement. We were talking to everybody, taking any meeting that they would speak with us and really doing everything that you need to as a startup really grinding for it.
James: And we’re able to find a. digital first retailer here in Montreal who had an absolutely fantastic founder. A young influencer who have, has an amazing fashion sense and she wanted to bring her sense of fashion to her community. And she was very Digitally minded and very digital first, and was thrilled about the opportunity to implement new technology.
James: And, we were able to launch, we had really strong response, not only from users but from retailers that we were showing it to. And, things that was our big break and things really began to pick up from there. And as we we continue to grow and work with larger and larger clients at this point we are now the solution is a plug-in white.
James: Application that’s available on a number of e-commerce platforms such as Shopify. And we really do facilitate a new experience for shoppers on a, in their e-commerce experience, allowing them to see how clothes will look, how they’ll fit, mix, and match, and really, Interact with their shopping experience in a new way that is accurate, that is fun, that is experiential, that is at interactive and the response has been enormously positive.
James: So positive in fact that we were approached by another company in our space with not a. Competing solution, but a complimentary one. And we decided to, in fact, join forces. And we are, we have merged together and have allowed us to position the company as it stands today, which is a fashion technology company with several solutions existing within our suite of services.
James: which allow us to be enormously flexible when we speak to brands and retailers, as well as be able to speak to much more of the wants and needs of shoppers. The second solution being one focused on the production of digital models who are photorealistic. The main thrust of it being the elimination of photo shoots, which, as long as there’s been.
James: Cameras, and as long as there’s been fashion, there have been fashion photo shoots. And so it’s considered to be a sunk cost. But the fact is photo shoots are enormously costly, enormously time consuming, enormously laborsome, especially for brands who potentially will do multiple photo shoots in a year or maybe even multiple photo shoots in a season.
James: And so by having. Digitally photorealistic models that we can completely customize, we can produce at a much faster and more cost effective rate. Really allows us to provide a tremendous amount of value to these brands as well as to users. We. in a time of growing personalization and the need for that by shoppers.
James: The only way as a fashion company you could really speak to all of your users would be to have essentially, a model of every single person in the world. That’s to really get that sense of personal, real personalization. But of course, that’s not reasonable. And so the only, the way that we can actually provide.
James: Is through the use of these kinds of digital models. And they also allow us to facilitate a much greater sense of inclusivity and representation and diversity within a fashion brand’s array of models that they make available.
Brent: Yeah. I’d like to key in on the, on that diversity. I know that in, in your intro you div you mentioned diversity, sustainability you also mentioned optimization.
Brent: I’d like to get into that. But let’s talk specifically about diversity. I can share my experience that on this podcast itself, I did get a little lazy and I just depended on people sending. Sending me guests and all I got was white males at some point. So in this, in my space, in the, in, in the tech space in general, I think there’s not a lot of diversity and you really have to make, you have to make everybody aware of diversity.
Brent: So just speak to the diverse part of it and why that’s important in especially in the fashion.
James: Let me just be I’m gonna ask you, are you asking about diversity within the tech space? Are you asking about diversity within the fashion space? Because they’re both things that need to be addressed.
James: But they’re very two different conversations.
Brent: Yeah. I think for you, for the fashion space, and I think the answer’s probably obvious because everybody’s different and everybody wears clothes for the most part. , unless you’re in a, a clothing optional part of of the world or in a hippie commune.
Brent: But in the tech space, I think that’s, yeah, you’re right. That is a whole nother conversation That’s a challenge in and in itself. But let’s talk about, let’s talk about the fashion space and why diversity is why you feel diversity is important and what you’re doing.
James: The lack fashion as it stands, has a problem with.
James: exclusivity. And by that really, they speak to, they have a certain idea of what’s beautiful and what size is beautiful, what look is beautiful and everybody who doesn’t fit that mold is on the outs, on the out, on the outside looking in. and whether that’s about your, your gender or your body type or your ethnicity or, speaking of plus size women or petites for men as well.
James: And it makes it so difficult to have fashion, feel like it speaks to you. And to make you feel included. And, I’ll tell a very brief anecdote, which really highlights a very important and impactful moment for me during my time at the company. A number of years ago when we were first coming to market and developing the platform, we were.
James: Fo doing numbers of focus groups, having people try the application. Just talking to as many people as we could, having as many people as possible to try it and just tell us their thoughts. And I was with a number of people doing a pilot’s test of the application. And when the test was over, I had a young plus size woman come up to me and tell me a story.
James: an experience that she had recently had going out and looking for clothes. A similar experience that anybody who’s listening to this is familiar with where you walk into a store and you browse and you find something that you like and maybe you try it on or maybe you look for something that’s more in your size.
James: And she went through all the normal paces. She found something she liked and called over a sales assistant to, to, and asked. It’s size range and whether or not, they could have it potentially in her size. And the response she received was not only did the brand not carry her size in store, the brand didn’t make that size period to which, there’s a moment of pause where it’s okay, where does this conversation go for, essentially come get out of here because we can’t sell to you.
James: And she went home and. essentially went straight to her bedroom, and started to cry and cry with these feelings of embarrassment and shame and, reinforcing these, this discomfort within herself of her personal confidence and her body and her, and how she looked.
James: And as she was telling me this story, she was close to tears. And at that point I found myself, Close to tears cuz it was an experience that I had never dealt with myself personally. And it was something that I just, it, I just, every once in a while when you see something, it seems like it’s so obvious, but your eyes really, but you’ve somehow have not of clocked it previously.
James: And this was a number of years ago and I don’t know who, what her name is, I never saw her again after. , but her story was enormously impactful on me to this day. And in fact I often think about her when I make decisions about the company. My and in the back of my mind do I say, how do I make.
James: life easier for her. How do I make sure that she never has to deal with this kind of problem ever again? Cuz she shouldn’t, not her, not anybody should ever be made to feel that way. And fashion is so personal and it’s it plays such a significant part in so many different people’s lives.
James: And the fact that. It’s so not inclusive. So my thinking, as I said, I often think of her and when I make decisions, cuz if I can make a, if we can make a difference for her, then I know we can make a difference for a lot of people. And this idea of, especially when it comes to measurements and body types is, the lack of diversity within this space is something that desperately needs to be addressed.
James: I think. Slowly is. But by no means is it moving fast enough for my taste? And we’re doing everything that we can to make sure that, that kind of thing is an experience of the past.
Brent: Yeah can I share one more experience on measurements? I travel to India once a year, typically, and in my travels I always try to do a running race.
Brent: My first time I did the Mumbai marathon, I asked, is this size medium or size large? Is that a US size large or an Indian size larger? How does that work? And they said it’s a US company, so it’s probably a US size. . And so I got the large and sure enough it’s a small or a medium. , so I totally get it.
Brent: And. In that space, in, just simply in the, in that little vertical of runners you don’t wanna wear a small shirt cuz it’s never gonna fit you or it’s not gonna be comfortable. So I’d imagine like in general, when you’re wearing it and for comfort or just clothing as fashion, that sizing across the world is so important.
Brent: , you mentioned then also sustainability. Talk a little bit about how sustainability is important.
James: It’s a topic that I think a lot of people finally are starting to take much more seriously and be much more aware of. And fashion space in particular has a problem with sustainability. They say that the industry at large contributes anywhere upwards of 10% of global carbon emissions, which is more than.
James: Maritime shipping and airfare combined, which is simply outrageous. And that’s just talking about carbon emissions. That doesn’t even take into account other damages like the production of waste water through the creation of denim, which is, it’s shocking really, the amount of environmental damage that is produced by those practices.
James: And not only that, A lot of the attempts by the space to address it in the recent years have amounted to what they call greenwashing, which is to make a. Relatively superficial attempt to become a more sustainable brand. But it’s really more of a marketing flow than anything. It’s surface level only.
James: And they’ll say, we source our, some of our fabrics from we’ll get our fabric from renewable sources. And when you do and that sounds great, but when you do a little bit of a deeper dive, you realize that yeah. Five or 10% of that fabric is coming from renewable source, but the rest of it is still being produced in a terribly damaging way.
James: And the fact of the matter is when it comes to returns, especially the fact that there’s no such thing as standardized sizing means that there’s very little consumer confidence in what they purchase, which is given rise to its own kind of phenomenon that. Been born on the back of the ubiquity of free returns, which is called Bracket Shopping or bracketing, which anybody who’s listening to this probably has personal experience with, which is the act of going online and ordering multiple items, sometimes the same item in different.
James: Colors and different sizes and ordering 10, 20, 30, 40 items. And when they receive them, they go to, their bedroom and they try them on and they see what looks good and they see what fits and they’ll return everything else. Most, if not all of the items get returned. And and why shouldn’t they?
James: If they don’t fit? If they don’t look right and you have a free return then why wouldn’t she return it? So the process. sending that to and fro on the part of a brand or a retailer, is a huge contributor to those carbon emissions. When you talk about, shipping and handling, by the time it gets back to the brand, oftentimes it’s not cost effective to reshelve, and so it gets pushed downstream whether it be into a, Potentially a discount barrel in a Walmart.
James: But by and large, those items will end up either in the incinerator or in the landfill. And, with the rise of synthetic fibers, that item in that landfill, it might be out of sight, out of mind, but the fact is it’s there and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Sustainability is something that.
James: should be personal to all of us. We’ve only got one planet and so it’s up to all of us to be cognizant of what we’re doing with it. And so if we can address some of these problems through new technology, then that will allow us to not only deliver value to businesses and to shoppers, but help make what is a very damaging environment, environmentally damaging.
James: Better cleaner, more sustainable, more environmentally conscious. And that’s something that really needs to happen sooner rather than later. And it’s something that is very close to us at Modem Match.
Brent: I want to just I want to put a statistic by you or a workflow and a shipping workflow by you and just comment on it.
Brent: We had a, we have a had a client in Mexico who’s a fashion brand, and they told us that most of the cotton is actually produced in the us. and then it’s shipped to Vietnam or or Asia to get made into string. . And then that string is shipped to say or it’s processed, then it goes to Malaysia to do something else.
Brent: Maybe made making into some fabric. . And then it’s shipped back to Mexico to get made into clothing and then it’s shipped. Mm-hmm. Back to min to the US to actually get sold on the racks. , which seems like a crazy amount of movement of. Of a commodity . , especially when it starts here and then it goes around the world and comes back to the North America.
Brent: And I should even, yeah. That’s
James: one, that’s one full lap around the planet. Yeah.
Brent: So number one, is that, is that a pre, is that a pretty common case? Especially as you get into big retailers or big manufacturers of clothing? It,
James: It’s not uncommon. It’s definitely not uncommon. But they’re again, this boils back to the fractured nature of global fashion industry.
James: In terms of their practices more and more are we seeing small to medium sized brands try to nearshore their. Production to avoid some of these exact problems that you’ve outlined, which were really starkly highlighted during the pandemic when shipping and handling was so uncertain and items were coming from the far east.
James: And with, for instance, through China with their zero covid policies. It became very difficult to do business in a clear and profitable manner. And they’re, I think that’s readily apparent now to, to a lot of the industry. And there has been a greater push to nearshore a lot of these practices.
James: But it’s still, for bigger brands, they and they’re producing tens of thousands of SKUs. They look at their bottom line and they see where they can get it done in the most cost effective manner. And that’s, the way the cookie crumbles essentially.
Brent: I wanna draw parallel then to your solution and sustainability and say sizing.
Brent: And then I want to point, I wanna point out a outlier, not an outlier, but a business model, like the box model, stitch Fix or whatever they’re called, where they’re actually putting you, giving you a whole bunch of stuff and then they’re encouraging you to return it. If you don’t like it.
Brent: A can you just maybe quickly address that, that boxed model that what is it? Subscription based fashion model and then, , maybe go right into how your solution helps that helps with the sustainability. .
James: Sure. Stitch Fix is a fantastic company, and I’ve always been very taken with them and I think it’s a great idea and I think that the idea of helping people find their fashion sense, find items that they know fit their sense of style, fit the kind of look that they’re going for, I think that all that is fantastic, especially for those of us who are maybe not the most active shoppers.
James: It’s almost like you’re having a personal stylist do it for yourself. So I think that’s a fantastic. Saying all of that. There are any number of companies that are doing really good work in terms of trying to make this space more sustainable. But a tremendous amount of that effort is focused on, shipping materials, for instance.
James: So I was speaking with an associate recently, and they’re using, cardboard, but it’s all recycled and it comes from, it’s all renewable and it’s a fantastic idea. And it was great work that they were doing and I was so impressed with it. . But if the fact of the matter is that is trying to address a problem that is, that has already happened.
James: The horses have left the barn and we’re trying to corral them. What we are trying to do at Motor Match is really address the problem at its source. If we can stop that return from happen. right from the get-go, by delivering an item that is targeted, that looks the way it’s supposed to look, that fits the way it’s supposed to fit and you know you’re happy with it right from the get-go, then we can stop this whole chain of events from happening right to begin with.
James: And although a company like Stitch Fix, I think it’s a great idea. It does not do a lot in terms of helping the sustainability of the space because of that shipping to and fro of these box.
Brent: Let’s move into technology a little bit. My experience with a lot of with a lot of fashion owners or fashion brands is the larger ones anyways, are own owned by, let’s just call ’em older.
Brent: People that are more mature and they don’t, or maybe they’re nervous about the technology or they don’t have a lot of that need to think about what is happening, and so they prefer to make it just stay the course instead of moving into new places. , maybe you could just talk about.
Brent: How Moda is changing some of that. And how are you getting, like you mentioned earlier the younger brand that you worked with. How do you break through into the older ownership and into people that aren’t necessarily in tune with what’s happening? .
James: It’s a great question and it’s something that we and many other companies, whether they be in startups in the fashion space or in any other space, have to contend with.
James: It’s part of the nature of doing startup work, which is proving yourself, proving the viability of your solution, proving the viability of the space trying to determine and marry these ideas of wants and needs and so sometimes solutions and ideas speak for themselves and sometimes you have to work a little harder.
James: It’s something that we can tend with very. Often, which is this, and I spoke about it briefly previously about this kind of skepticism. People have been trying to introduce new technology for a long time now. Nothing successfully worked. And so there is a natural sense of, why you, why now, why this tech, why this approach?
James: And in fact, the rest of the space that I work in is, I often call it a little bit like the wild west because nobody’s certain what that final answer looks like in terms of. Technology, what backend, what ux ui, what front end, what’s going to work with all of the relevant players? And so really me and my counterpoints at other technologies companies, we’re all trying to, get that formula right and really find something that is going to work for everybody and provide that kind of value.
James: But coming back to your question, the way to break through to these older companies, these more established companies, don’t feel the same kind of potentially, financially driven. Need to try new things. Why try new things when you could? Making a lot of money doing things in a certain way and let somebody else try it first.
James: And so that’s basically what we’ve been forced to do, which is work with smaller brands, SMEs, digital digital first or digital exclusive companies who, who don’t even have a brick and mortar storefront and for whom these kinds of things are enormously. . And so it’s really a process for us of just working with as many clients as we can, making sure that edge, each one of our clients is very happy with the work that we’re doing and really gain that validation from the space in order to prove to them that we’re not, just a, a.
James: Fancy presentation or a fancy new piece of tech that looks impressive, but might not actually deliver value in the long term. And it’s, and funnily enough, as a Canadian, I feel it, it comes very naturally to us to want to move very deliberately. Fairly cautiously, very thoughtfully as opposed to a, maybe a more of a Silicon Valley type of thinking, which is, move fast and break things.
James: This particular space really does reward those who are willing to move thoughtfully, deliberately and really build a foundation for the work that we do. And that’s how we’ve gained, success with these larger brands. It’s been a struggle. Definitely been a struggle, but, we’ve always been very big believers in not only our technology, but in the value that we can offer.
James: And once we were able to have the data to, to back that up, then our the job became a little bit easier. .
Brent: Yeah. I would imagine that changing the habits of the user is ultimately the thing that is gonna change the thought patterns of the owners, because as people start going to places that are more advantageous to the buying experience, then the somebody’s gonna have to take notice.
Brent: . So you talk a little bit about just how you help you, you did talk about measuring. How do you help to optimize that? Then what do you, what is it that you help with in terms of optimization and helping the the merchant and then also the consumer have a better experience in terms of on that PDP pager, wherever the, wherever you’re presenting the.
James: It’s an expansive question. I, if you wanna maybe, and I don’t, I know we have a limited time, so I don’t want to go off on maybe a little bit more of a tangent, which I’m very passionate about the space that I work in. I’m very enthusiastic, so I have a slight tendency to to expand readily on the talking point.
James: If you wanna maybe ask that in a little bit more specific way, I think I can give you more of a targeted
Brent: answer. Yeah, let’s, talk, let’s talk specifically about just optimizing a product page with your solution.
James: Sure. Both of our solutions offer a tremendous amount of value.
James: Of our Premier Premium solutions offer tremendous amount of value depending on the needs of the. Brand or the retailer, or the shopper. Just as an example if a page is looking for a reduction rate of return, greater interactivity the ability to target bigger customer bases and different demo, different demographics.
James: The virtual fitting room is something that is shown to have a lot of value because of its ability to, show, provide, really give the tools for that. To engage in their e-commerce experience in a way that is completely different, that is much more accurate. You can really see how the items will look and how they’ll fit.
James: You can choose from a range of models on a variety of body types going for petite all the way to plus size so that nobody really feels excluded. That you can, and not only feel excluded, but be able to buy for a particular kind of body type. People have different. Relationships with their bodies in terms of their self-perception.
James: They might be going on a diet they might have recently on weight, it’s, it fluctuates between each of us. And in some cases very rapidly. And so you need to be able to speak to that in a way that is targeted and a way that is, is valuable and functional. And so the virtual fitting room is enormously beneficial in that respect, in terms of optimizing that experie.
James: And again, by being able to show people how items look and fit correctly and accurately, which are the two principle drivers of returns do we really optimize that process? Whereas our digital modeling solution, the focus is much more about eliminating what is a very. Costly and laborsome step in the process and make this kind of imagery a much more readily available, much more customizable.
James: If you think about something like the availability of models. People often will look at a, It’s one of those areas that people don’t always delve more deeply into. And so it’s, if you’re a, say an SME and you wanna have a model at a photo shoot, you think about the costs that go into that, whether it’s, when you.
James: Take into account a location and equipment and professionals, whether they be stylists or photographers or lighters, or people who work in post-production, editing those images so that they, to be able to produce these kinds of prototypical airbrush, Photoshop perfect hand model that you’ll see on a billboard, which, Is great, but that person shares a body type with, one other person on the planet.
James: So it might do a lot for making a brand look cool and fashionable, but it does nothing for the, the regular shopper. And so by being able to utilize these digital models, which, allow us to produce this imagery photo realistically very quickly, very cost effectively, very customizable.
James: We really can be helpful not only to bigger brands, but we’ve seen a tremendous amount of interest from these small to medium size enterprises who would not be able to typically afford the costs associated with a photo shoot. Be able to use the kinds of models that they want to use be able to, have the kinds of images that they want to use, whether they’re studio or lifestyle shots.
James: And so it’s again, providing a tremendous amount of value to them. one of my. . One of the things that I enjoy the most about my work is working with, up and coming brands or designers who are so fantastically talented and, are held back by, limited budgets and by limited opportunity.
James: And so if we can help facilitate, this very important element of fashion, which is to be able to see, modeling is an important part of fashion. And if we can help. Do that in a way that speaks to them and their vision then that’s something that is, it’s really great for me and a very satisfying element of my work.
Brent: I’d like to finish out our conversation today around AI and machine learning. I think the, there has been a perception of machine learning where people that don’t understand it are afraid of. How do you help to introduce that idea and and make people comfortable with what it is?
James: It’s a good question. And I think we’re helped in part by the growing. Introduction of ai, machine learning driven technologies and solutions into the, the economy at large. More and more companies are coming to market with these kinds of solutions. So I think that in general, we’re starting to become more comfortable with it.
James: It’s a. It’s an unknown, it’s a definite unknown. And so I often try to think about the different ways that this is going to play out and where it’s going to be helpful and where it might be less than helpful, maybe even potentially harmful when you talk about job losses and things of that nature.
James: To make people feel comfortable. I think it’s more of a question of just delivering value consistently and, really having that evidence in front of you. A picture the, while they would say a picture’s worth a thousand words, I would argue that, a data spreadsheet, if a picture’s worth a thousand and that spreadsheet’s worth 10,000 words the, we’re, it’s a, it can be a very cutthroat business, and they want, they’re focusing on their bottom.
James: And if we can just show that value in a consistent, reliable way then, that does a lot of the talking for us.
Brent: I can share a little bit of my experience around it and I’m super fascinated with machine learning and I’ve been using a lot of Dolly and I’ve started , I’ve started making portraits of famous artists holding Jack Russell Terriers.
Brent: And recently, I know, crazy, right? Recently I did a portrait of by Leonardo Leo, Leonardo da Vinci, holding a Jack Russell. And I posted it on Instagram and somebody commented that that they didn’t. Jack the breed hadn’t been invented or discovered or whatever developed when Da Vinci was around and I pointed out this is a joke, and it’s a representation of a portrait, , so i, I, but the, the idea there is that. it is good enough to I don’t wanna say fake it cuz it’s easier to make a representation of a famous artist, especially when it’s digital. You can’t touch it and see it, , you can’t, you’re looking at it on your computer screen.
Brent: But the flip side is that it, it looks convincing enough that it looks like an artist’s portrait of a Madonna holding a Jack Russell terrier from, whatever the 15 hundreds. I feel like it’s super exciting and it’s going in places that it’s only gonna get more exciting as we grow with it.
Brent: And I think what we’ve talked about today and especially a solution helps us to the diversity part I think is one of the, one of the most important. And I, we didn’t really get into that enough, that, that there isn’t enough reference and representation of other peop types of people in the industry.
Brent: And we in our green room, I, we talked about we talked about technology versus the fashion industry that There’s even less diversity in the technology industry and how important that is. If you have, if you have some bit of nugget that you could tell an Etailer and what they should be looking at as they move into 20 20 23, what is it that you think that would, one thing they could be looking at, especially a fashion retailer?
James: Well, a fashion eTail, I think the real. , the real thing that should be considered right now is being hyper aware of what’s going on in the space. The, one of the most interesting aspects to AI and machine learning is how quickly the technology develops. I, in many cases, what could be deemed as exponential growth in terms of its functionality and its capabilities.
James: And so for us at Modem Match, the our technology is heavily based on AI and. , just, I’m often taken aback by how quickly our technology is able to advance, due to my previous experience working in tech where it’s, slow progress and often all these kinds of hindrances and problems.
James: But with ai it’s moving so quickly that, it’s. To the benefit of everyone that retailers make a dedicated effort to have an open mind, to be very aware of what’s going on because there’s so much value to be had out there in terms of optimization, in terms of increased sustainability and in terms of diversity, in terms of everything really.
James: There, there is the ability for brands right now to onboard new digital tools such as those who are offering at Modem match and really allow them to. A, not a small step forward, but almost a quantum leap forward in terms of what they’re able to provide to their shoppers, what they’re able to do with their own bottom lines their backend processes.
James: It’s important that we, everybody takes a moment, looks around, takes a, gets a sense of the landscape and is willing to try new things. Those who are willing to adopt new technologies, who are willing to grow, who are willing to evolve are going to be well positioned to continue to grow and be successful in the future.
James: And those who are, business as usual and are unwilling to make those considerations and unwilling to make those attempts to try new things are, at one point. Probably sooner rather than later, going to be left behind. And so it’s, it’s, again, it’s a fantastic, there’s so much amazing stuff happening and so it’s important as a retailer to really take a look around, know what’s going on, and connect with as many kinds of technologies as, and solutions as they can.
James: Not everything is gonna work and fit with everyone’s vision. And some companies unfortunately do not have the kind of stain power that, that you could call maybe a flash in the. And over my four years of doing, of leaving modem match, I’ve seen many come and go. As I previously mentioned, it’s a little bit like the wild west.
James: And so there’s these ideas of what’s going to work. Is it going to be hardware, is it going to be software? Where in the supply line and the production chain, and should it be implemented? And so by for us, we want to be. Say that we wanna be able to service a whole range of needs and that’s why we have been working and offering multiple solutions so that we can really address a range of problems.
James: But I would encourage brands and retailers to, again, be very aware of what’s going on in the space. Connect and talk with as many of these entrepreneurs as they can. And find a company, find a solution that works well for you, works well for your company, and that you are able to see long-term.
James: and not some, kitche niche solution that might be cool for one season, but then, is a thing of the past just as quickly as as quickly gone, as quickly as it.
Brent: James, it’s been such a good conversation and you’re so articulate. I thank you so much for being here today.
Brent: As I close out the podcast, I give everybody an opportunity to do a shameless plug about anything you’d like. What would you like to plug today?
James: I would typically, my first instinct would be to plug my business. But I, there’s the chance that I might have done that already to its fullest extent in this conversation.
James: I think my only plug would be, Take in, in this current, holiday season is to, it’s a tough time that we’ve all been going through with the pandemic and with the changes that have come to our society. So it’s important to look around at at our loved ones, hold each other close, but also to look around and see the world through new eyes and realize that the world has changed, is changing rapidly and not, and that can be for the.
James: If only we focus on it, if only we make a really dedicated and deliberate effort to take these new technologies, to take these changes and use them as a force for good, not only just in terms of business and bottom lines, but these other ideas that are so important, that, that we touched on in this conversation, like greater inclusivity, not just in fashion, but in, in every space.
James: Greater representation, greater and diversity. And these, this need to really take a hard look at the world and how we operate and how damage, how much damage we’ve done to the world around us and say, enough is enough and we can’t continue as, And we have to change. There’s, it’s not going to, we don’t have as the chances don’t, won’t exist forever.
James: So now is the time. There’s no better time than the present as my mother would say. And it’s again, just to know, take a breath, look around and realize that, that things are changing and we have to change. Times are changing and we’ve gotta change.
Brent: James it’s, thank you so much for being here.
Brent: James Bloomfield, the c e o and co-founder of Motor Match. It’s been a pleasure talking to you today,
James: Brent. Thank you so much for having me. Great. Pleasure talking with you as well. And I’m you let me know next time I, and I look forward to the next free or charge joke, .
Brent: Yeah. And I should mention too, I’ll put all your contact information in the show notes so people know how to get ahold of you and how to find mode match.
James: Great. Please do so and I would encourage anybody to reach out to me. I’m a little bit of a workaholic, so you reach out to me and I will get back to you. Guaranted. And at the very least, I’m always happy to have a conversation and, connect with people. There’s so many amazing, fantastic people who work, not only in the tech space that I’m in, but the, the fashion industry and the apparel industry.
James: These new up and comers who have, who are so driven, who are so talented, who’re so incredibly intelligent and charming and everything that you could want. And please reach out and I’d love to chat. Thank you. All right. Thank you.
We often hear about toxic workplaces, but what about toxic bosses? As a boss or leader, your behavior and actions can significantly impact your team’s productivity, morale, and overall well-being. But how do you know if you’re a toxic boss? And more importantly, how can you fix it?
In this episode, we will dive deep into the signs and characteristics of a toxic boss. We will discuss the effects of toxic leadership on employees and the organization as a whole. We will also provide practical tips and strategies for improving your leadership style and creating a healthy work environment for your team.
Whether you’re a new or experienced leader, or just starting out this episode is a must-listen. So, grab a pen and paper, and let’s get started on the journey to becoming a better boss!
Tiffany is a career strategy coach and a former Fortune 500 senior director, and she is passionate about giving back and paying it forward so others don’t have to feel alone in their career. She spends a lot of time with her family and enjoys the quality moments they have together.
Tiffany: When it comes to people’s confidence and the way they value themselves, we wanna be really clear about which ones need to be taken very seriously and which ones probably need some adjustment in strategy and action steps that can actually make a current situation a lot better.
Tiffany: I think subjectivity versus objectivity is really important. Subjectivity leads to a lot of room for interpretation. Moving towards the objective is what’s going to get the best buy-in, especially when we are working with more challenging bosses or managers.
Brent: I know one thing, and it’s that everybody should have a number.
Tiffany: I agree, and I think that key performance indicators are really essential to help you track your own progression as well.
When you don’t have a proper baseline to go off of, it’s much easier to move the goalpost and say you didn’t achieve this, and you don’t know what you’re supposed to achieve. It’s still subjective and surface level, and so it leads to stagnation and frustration for the employee. It’s not actually quantifiable enough in the feedback or metric driven.
If your manager or boss tends to stay very surface level in their answers, try to get more specificity. If they use a condescending tone, try to explain why you don’t understand what they’re trying to say.
Tiffany: When a manager doesn’t make it clear what they want, the employee feels bad and insecure. To counter this, the manager should explain what they want and how they want it done, and the employee should be able to see the other side of the coin.
Brent: I can relate to the fact that sometimes I’m a visionary in assuming that everybody else understands what I would like out of something, and then I get frustrated in the fact that they didn’t understand what I wanted to get out of it.
Brent and Tiffany discuss how to motivate people to achieve their goals, including writing out, creating clear goals, and making sure that everybody is tracking them. They also discuss the importance of sharing the vision and why their involvement in the vision is so critical.
Tiffany: Managing expectations is about knowing what the vision means for you and your colleagues, and mobilizing your people in the right way.
Tiffany: It doesn’t always have to be you that gives those action steps, it could be a collaborative effort. It could be like, this is the vision that I want us to achieve, let’s talk about some strategy.
Brent: When something goes wrong with a client’s website, a boss can either help or hinder the situation. I was a very poor crisis boss, and I try to avoid “shoulding” on people. When in a crisis, you as the leader should be looking at the solution, let’s work together to find ways to move past this and be proactive. This means having processes in place, and different types of mechanisms that will help should things end up going sour.
In those actual moments when it happens, you want to be able to motivate your team and stay calm and level-headed. Try to look at the crisis from an objective point of view and act on the things you can control.
Tiffany: I think the most important thing is to get people’s involvement, without falling into a dictatorship of you gotta do this, or you should do this, or why don’t you do that. And then you as a leader have to take responsibility for it if it goes wrong.
When a leader says you should do this, and it didn’t work. Then the person who did it screws up, and suddenly we’ve thrown them under the bus for doing it wrong, I think as a leader you must take on that responsibility and then not shift the blame to anybody else.
Tiffany: A lot of companies and teams almost discount that importance where it’s okay, just to move on to the next thing. We don’t actually analyze enough what went wrong that led to that crisis. But taking ownership as the leader, as the boss honestly brings more respect than anything else.
Brent: We talk about having a feedback loop and having the ability for employees to talk to their boss. One lady said her boss would give her 30 minutes every other week to bitch and complain.
Tiffany: I definitely think leaders should lead by example, and encourage others to do the same. However, it’s important to be cautious when using openness to share and vent, especially with senior leaders who are often important decision-makers around internal movement.
If employees get the sense that you can speak about people in a certain way, they will feel more comfortable sharing. But I think there is a reason why a lot of companies don’t necessarily have those types of platforms available.
Brent: To fill out the surveys, right?
Tiffany: To learn more about them, to know something a little bit about them, to understand how they think things might play out in this current work setting.
I think anonymity as you said, is really important. It’s not the type of thing that changes overnight, but the baby steps that are going to help people feel more open to sharing feedback.
Tiffany: HR is normally the person that employees feel comfortable going to with any sort of complaint, but it depends on the type of organizational culture. If you have a complaint, bring it forward, but pair it with a solution. This helps them already get the ball rolling, and it becomes much more collaborative and well-received at the end of HR.
Tiffany: Maybe it’s worth considering versus seeing it just as negativity coming to their door, and I’m part of a community where often people have a complaint about the community without a solution.
Tiffany: It’s so easy for people to complain about something, but they’re the last to share a solution. I think that is a skill that needs to be developed.
Tiffany: Strength for you in the workplace especially, and as you grow and are exposed to senior leaders as well, they’re going to expect that of you. Take ownership of what can be done to be improved.
Tiffany: When people feel heard and understood, they start speaking with you at a different level of understanding than something that’s more authoritative alone in nature. This helps whatever strategies, and recommendations elements you bring forward to be so much better received.
Tiffany: Take the time to understand so that when you bring forward suggestions and solutions, you’re already integrating those pain points. This will help build up a lot of trust and a lot of rapport faster.
Tiffany: A little bit of anticipation factor as well as the realization that if we don’t actually fix this, it can lead to X, Y, Z. So it’s your responsibility to bring those points forward in those conversations, to help resolve it, to help move things in the right direction.
Employee turnover has been a big thing in the last couple of years. Is there a way through exit interviews or other ways to figure out why are people leaving?
Tiffany suggests that when you’re onboarding team members, really take the time to understand what motivates them, and what gets them excited to come to work, and then help them do work that feeds into that direction, you’ll have a lot less turnover.
Tiffany: You constantly have conversations with them. If there are tough times in the organization, check in with them regularly, help them feel supported, and let them know that you’re there with them and that they’re not alone.
Tiffany: Maybe a different opportunity came their way that they were so passionate about, and perhaps the progress they were seeing internally wasn’t what they wanted. But by having these types of conversations more actively, you can avoid this situation.
Tiffany: I think the employee review process should cover a little of that, but I don’t limit it to that. Having a more continuous dialogue with your team is another aspect that I’m a big believer in, and that might be a reflection of your boss.
If your boss doesn’t understand your job, it is your responsibility to build your own track record and bring forward the evolution that you are showcasing in your role. It could be impromptu, pre-prep for a certain eval, or something that you are prompting more in an ongoing way.
Brent: Communicate in a way that helps them to understand.
Tiffany: Show them the importance of certain elements of your work and why it plays into the bigger picture, and they understand at least the value that you play. One approach is to write things out for them, or share something more visually that they can follow along with you, and that helps them see the scope of the complexity that something takes or the level of diligence that’s required.
Tiffany is hosting a Free Workplace Essentials workshop that will help you navigate workplace dynamics fairly effectively and activate your most successful self. If you’re open to joining again, the workshop is on March 22nd at 12:00 PM EST.
Brent: I have a lot of different free resources as well, Tiffany. One of them is a LinkedIn learning course, a nano course all around answering common interview questions, and if people want a little bit of one-on-one action time with me in terms of a workshop.
[00:03:54] Brent: Welcome to Talk Commerce. Today I have Tiffany Uman. Tiffany is a career coach. Tiffany, go ahead and introduce yourself. Tell us about your day-to-day role and maybe one of your passions in life.
[00:04:05] Tiffany: Sure. Thanks so much for having me, Brent. Really happy to be here. So I am a career strategy coach. I focus on empowering high achievers.
[00:04:14] Tiffany: To become the top 1% in their career, really fast, track their success and start becoming very much fast tracked in their promotions, raises, job opportunities, and ultimately filling in a lot of the gaps that school never teaches us. Formerly from becoming a career strategy coach, I was a former Fortune 500 senior director in the Fortune 500 space, so a lot of firsthand learnings.
[00:04:40] Tiffany: Fuel into my coaching practice today, and I’m very passionate about giving back and paying it forward so others don’t have to feel alone in their career. And what it takes to really become that top 1% something that I am, I’m really passionate about. I’d say definitely my family when I’m not working, I’m definitely spending a lot of time with them and soaking up the quality moments that we have together brings a lot of light into my life.
[00:05:03] Tiffany: So I, I’m definitely prioritizing that more and more.
[00:05:07] Brent: That’s awesome. So we met because one of my employees sent me a link that you had done an Instagram link and I thought it was very good.
[00:05:16] Brent: But but we did want to talk about bad bosses and I thought I guess I was a little bit encouraged that an employee would send me something about a bad boss tell us some of the toxicity that can come with bad bosses.
[00:05:30] Tiffany: Oh yes. Unfortunately it’s a little bit too prevalent.
[00:05:34] Tiffany: I’ve heard a lot of horror stories over the last few years alone, and I’ve definitely experienced some very challenging moments myself. I’ve had great bosses, I’ve had not so great bosses, and I really feel for people going through some of those darker moments because it can really take a toll, to your point, Brent, it can impact your confidence, your self-esteem, your self.
[00:05:56] Tiffany: How you view your capabilities and what your abilities are. And I think bad bosses, toxic bosses, that word is thrown a lot around a lot, and there is a really important distinction around, a true toxicity driven boss versus maybe just having. A clash of leadership style versus what you need as an employee to be best supported.
[00:06:17] Tiffany: So that is a really important distinction because when it’s really talking about people’s confidence and the way they value themselves, we wanna be really clear about, which ones need to be taken very seriously, especially when it comes to wellbeing and mental health, and which ones probably need some adjustment in strategy and action steps that can actually make a current situation a lot.
[00:06:39] Tiffany: Better. But we see things from, micromanagement to nepotism, to favoritism, to down, talking to, throwing under the bus, not looking out for your best interest as their employee really yelling at you or just being really mean and embarrassing in, in many work moments.
[00:06:59] Tiffany: The list goes on. There could be also very unethical behavior. I’ve certainly. Supported quite a few of my clients with those types of really unfortunate circumstances around harassment. Things that have taken a turn, for the worst in those moments. So I never want anybody to feel alone going through that because there is hope, there is light at the end of this, but often we need that kind of support in an objective way to help you get to the other.
[00:07:25] Brent: Yeah. You bring up a lot of good points about the how you interact with your subordinates and how your subordinates theoretically should interact with you as the boss. . I know that laughter in the workplaces of value and we talked about. The free joke project, which I completely forgot when we did our interest.
[00:07:44] Brent: So waiting up front. Yeah, I’m sorry. We’re gonna pause. Take 30 seconds and I’m gonna tell you a joke. And we decided if this joke should be toxic or not. So it could be the toxic joke project and I don’t have any toxic jokes. They’re all dad jokes, I apologize. We’re just gonna take 30 seconds.
[00:08:00] Brent: I’m gonna tell you the joke. All you have to do is tell me if you feel that joke should be free, or if someday we should charge for it. And it’s an easy one. Okay? We had a contest at work for the best neckwear. It was a tie. . Yeah I agree. We had to get it out of the way cause, but up bum . Yes.
[00:08:21] Brent: Yeah. I’m sorry. I like it. Delivery was a very poor on that one. Alright, so let’s, it’s okay. I like
[00:08:26] Tiffany: it. It’s clever. I don’t see anything particularly wrong with that joke. .
[00:08:31] Brent: Yeah. Yeah, it’s I won’t make any more. I was gonna make a bunch of puns cuz I’m also good at that, but I
[00:08:36] Tiffany: won’t do that.
[00:08:36] Tiffany: Yeah I was saying that’s a good pun. a good play on words for sure. .
[00:08:40] Brent: Alright let’s just talk with let’s come back to the toxic boss and talk about how. You mentioned throwing under the bus. You mentioned not supporting you playing favoritism. , a lot of those things really work against having a great team.
[00:08:57] Brent: And Oh yeah. I know that I’ve been in situations where somebody leaves and then all of a sudden that person is the worst person in the world. Or if there’s somebody that you know is in a company and you as the boss are saying bad things about that person . Talk a little bit about the differences between.
[00:09:15] Brent: say subjective things you’re saying about somebody and being objective in terms of how you would like to that person to improve. Oh
[00:09:24] Tiffany: yeah. I think the subjectivity versus objectivity is a really important one because, subjectivity leads a lot of room for interpretation. What’s really actionable there?
[00:09:34] Tiffany: What is actually founded in something that has some weight to it? When it comes to whether it’s feedback, whether it’s improving in a certain situation, I definitely tend to recommend moving towards objective because that’s what’s gonna get the best buy-in. It doesn’t seem like it’s emotionally driven.
[00:09:53] Tiffany: It doesn’t seem like it’s just based off of feeling, but rather something that’s going to help move the situation. Forward, and I think that’s really important, especially when we are working with more challenging bosses or managers. You don’t wanna stay in that emotional subjective. Likely going to backfire.
[00:10:10] Tiffany: We need to be able to move into more of an objective lens and dialogue that’s going to help your case and at least put some cards on your side to see if this is a relationship that’s worth, that’s able to be improved and salvaged. .
[00:10:24] Brent: Yeah, I know one thing. So I’m a big believer in EOS entrepreneurial operating system, and in that framework we have a scorecard that, and the kind of the rule is, or not the rule, but best practice is that everybody should have a number.
[00:10:37] Brent: And a lot of people look at that. Maybe employees would look at that as saying, Hey, I’m only a number. . But I think that, that gives you an objective way of measuring your perform. and it also gives your boss a way of saying, Hey, here’s some objectives that we would like to achieve. Here’s the data that helps us to determine if we’re being successful in that or not.
[00:10:56] Brent: . And it doesn’t have to necessarily be bad. It could be something that points to something else that says, I wasn’t able to achieve my number because of blah, blah, blah, or, but I think it’s a great starting point to have something concrete to look at, to measure how well you’re
[00:11:11] Tiffany: doing. . Oh, a hundred percent.
[00:11:13] Tiffany: Yeah. Key performance indicators are really essential. Otherwise, how can you hold yourself accountable? Your boss can’t really hold you accountable otherwise and these are really critical to help you track your own progression as well. If goals, objectives are very surface level, are very qualitative only, it’s going to lead to a little bit of messy waters ahead.
[00:11:34] Tiffany: I can say it like that because you don’t really have a proper baseline to go off of. To your point, Brent, when you’ve got those numbers, when you’ve got those types of metrics, To use as a bit of a guideline. Now you know what your targets are and now you know what kind of room you have for improvement and you can use that to your advantage if you’re, really intentional and strategic about it.
[00:11:56] Brent: Yeah. And I think you as an employee are more comfortable when you know where the playing field is and the goalpost isn’t getting moved. Oh, yeah. In the subjectivity. And when it’s subjective, it’s much easier to move the goalpost and say you didn’t achieve this. . . And you don’t know what you’re supposed to achieve.
[00:12:12] Tiffany: Exactly. Exactly. I’ve seen it a lot, right? I’ve seen it happen a lot where, someone will have a conversation with their boss. They’ll say, yeah, you’re on your way to your next step. We just need to see this. They work on that and it’s such a surface level type of thing. So they think they’re doing what they need to do, and then sure enough, they have another conversation a little while later and their boss throws in something else in the mix being like, no we also still need you to do this.
[00:12:36] Tiffany: And it’s still very subjective and surface level, and so it leads you to stay in your positions a lot longer than needed. It creates a lot of stagnation and frustration for the employee because they’re trying to follow suit on what feedback they’re being given. But the issue there is that it’s not actually quantifiable enough in the feedback or metric driven that will allow them to have a better sense of accountability to drive their progression forward as well.
[00:13:03] Tiffany: So if you have a manager or a boss who just tends to stay very surface level in their answers giving you a little bit of direction, but not enough that you can really sink your teeth into, that’s likely a, a big watch out that you wanna try to get more specificity. , what
[00:13:19] Brent: about when you consistently hear your boss say, I was very clear in what I was trying to say, and, but nobody is clear in what they’re trying to say.
[00:13:31] Brent: , how from and this is, I suppose more for the for the manager or the boss to help them understand why they’re not clear. . Yeah. Just I’m a big proponent of simply putting it in writing and saying, this is what we’re trying to do. Yeah. Rather than just stating it. , and.
[00:13:49] Brent: Look, comment on that. I’m so clear that, why don’t you understand
[00:13:52] Tiffany: what I’m saying? Oh, yeah. And it could also depend on the tone, right? Are they using like a condescending tone on top of it when they’re telling you that of I was very clear in what I said. I don’t understand why you don’t get it.
[00:14:02] Tiffany: Like that again is really making the employee feel very bad and insecure in that moment of, okay, maybe I am missing something, maybe. Me when it could absolutely be the onus of the manager, but they’re projecting that onto their employees as if they’re doing something wrong. But the big thing here is a lot of managers, because they are so distant from the day-to-day work or the execution, let’s say that their team is handling, they might say something, thinking that it is super clear, but there’s other flares to this, other facets to it that they don’t have as.
[00:14:33] Tiffany: They don’t have as much connection to anymore. So for them it sounds very obvious what they’re asking, but the employee who’s the one that’s actually doing it is hang on a second. That’s actually not very clear, because in order to do what I think you’re asking, it actually involves X, Y, Z and you’re not mentioning X, Y, Z.
[00:14:50] Tiffany: So a good way to counter that is the employees, to help them see the other side of that coin, right? You could of course, give them feedback on maybe how they’re actually delivering. The message if that’s where the issue lies. But if it’s more around a disconnect between what they think they’re sharing with you and what actually needs to get done, you need to be able to close that gap of saying, I understand.
[00:15:13] Tiffany: That you want us to work towards, fill in the blank. In order to do that though, there is a piece that you haven’t mentioned, and I believe that’s where the confusion is coming from. And then share more around that part so they understand where you’re coming from, and you could find a middle ground to move forward more effectively than stay in this limbo state of confusion and disarray.
[00:15:34] Brent: Yeah, I can relate to the fact that so I’m in a visionary and oftentimes there’s 4 million things going in my head, and I’m assuming that everybody else understands what I would like out of something, right? Yeah. And that assumption is not met because they’re not doing it. And then I get frustrated.
[00:15:52] Brent: , I’m gonna use past tenses because I’m hoping I’m doing better. I would get frustrated in the fact that they didn’t understand what I wanted to get out of it, even though. They should have, I, put me putting some projection or whatever that on the other person is often a problem in the sense that I’m, my expectation is, you know everything I know, right?
[00:16:13] Brent: Yeah. And that you can just go ahead and do it, and I don’t have to give you much direction. All you have to do is do it. Yeah. And then if you don’t. , I’ll get a little bit frustrated in that. And yeah, it, for me it’s vis I’m very visible. When I’m frustrated. You can see it right. On Zoom even. Yeah.
[00:16:28] Brent: Again I think it probably comes down to writing it out and creating some clear goals. Yeah. And making sure that everybody’s tracking those. Yeah, that’s
[00:16:37] Tiffany: a big part of it. And I would also add to manage, expect. There’s nothing wrong with being visionary. I think that’s what’s really gonna inspire people, especially if you’re really passionate about it and you’re sharing it in a way where they could feel your excitement.
[00:16:50] Tiffany: They can feel like this could be something amazing that they get to be a part of, but to really get their buy-in. Yes. It’s part around sharing the vision. , but also, why their involvement in that vision is so critical. And to help break down more of the action steps that’s gonna help deliver on that.
[00:17:06] Tiffany: And that’s what I mean by managing expectations, because it’s one thing to get the vision, but then, okay, what does that actually mean for me as this particular employer? What does that mean for my colleague who’s also working on this? And it will help you as that manager and the leader to know that you’re mobilizing your people in the right way.
[00:17:22] Tiffany: And it doesn’t always have to be you. Necessarily being the one giving those action steps. It could be like a collaborative effort. It could be like, Hey, this is the vision that, I want us to achieve. Let’s have a conversation around some strategy that will help us get there, or some goals that will help be be good milestone indicators.
[00:17:40] Tiffany: Towards the end outcome, as an example. So there’s ways of doing it that makes it a little bit more tangible without taking away you as a visionary, because that’s probably what makes you and what can make someone really a great boss and leader.
[00:17:54] Brent: I want to talk a little bit about crisis and how a boss can either help or hinder in a crisis.
[00:18:02] Brent: And I’m gonna again, share my own personal experience on how. I can now look back and see. I was a very poor crisis boss. When something happens and, let’s just say in the software, in industry, something is going wrong with the client’s website and you as the boss are were disconnected from the day-to-day actions of whatever is happening in that project.
[00:18:28] Brent: You’re asked to come in to try to help and solve something. And I used to, and I’m I’m hoping I don’t do this anymore, but I used to immediately start doing the shoulds. And in EO Entrepreneurs’ organization, we have this thing called we don’t should on anybody. We try to share our own experience rather than shoulding on people.
[00:18:46] Brent: And as I look back at my, myself, my previous self, in the last 10 years, even I can remember how many times that I entered a stressful time. And instead of being a good coach or a mentor or in somebody to try to help somebody move forward, I started saying, I’m so disappointed in this team. I, you should have done this.
[00:19:10] Brent: Why didn’t we do that? When, at that time of crisis, you as the leader should be looking at, and I just used the word, should I should have been doing things. , let’s find the solution. Let’s work together to find ways to move past this or whatever. Yeah. To talk a little bit about how a leader can come in and either be a hindrance or a big asset in that type of situation.
[00:19:32] Tiffany: It’s such a great point, Brent. There’s a few things that come to mind. I’ll say, as a starting point when it comes to crisis manage. being proactive is going to help so much. What I mean by this is you almost wanna be ready for the crisis before it even happens. You don’t want to necessarily be in crisis mode to start coming up with strategy backup plans and spread the team a little bit thin when they’re already likely a little bit stressed about what’s going on.
[00:20:00] Tiffany: So that level of anticipation as a leader and a boss can be really helpful of, know. When times are good, that’s actually a good time to have things in place, have processes different types of mechanisms that will help should things, end up going sour a little bit later on.
[00:20:17] Tiffany: But in those actual moments when it happens, I the key is obviously, You wanna be able to still motivate your team during that time of challenge because that’s where a lot of their light can shine through of how they rise above in a very difficult occasion. And yes, I’m with you on the should.
[00:20:35] Tiffany: It’s sometimes tempting to say of you should just do this, or, why didn’t we think of that and get a little bit accusatory, but that’s probably very counterproductive in those moments. When the crisis is happening, obviously trying to stay calm and levelheaded and more solution focused and really putting on that problem solver hat is going to be key because that’s gonna show that you’re leading by example of saying, okay, look, let’s, bring our heads together.
[00:20:58] Tiffany: This is obviously not an ideal situation, but getting overly stressed and worked up is probably only gonna make matters worse. So let’s, try to keep calm and look at this from as an objective. Point of view as possible. What are things that are in our control that we can actually action right now?
[00:21:15] Tiffany: And then get people’s involvement so they feel okay, I have a voice in this. I am being valued in what my contributions are without it falling into a little bit of that dictatorship of you gotta do this, or you should do this, or, why don’t you do that? And that’s will probably make them feel even worse in an already very difficult situation.
[00:21:33] Brent: Yeah. And I, there is a balance there because I can think of, I maybe I’ve swayed sometimes the opposite direction where all I’m doing is sharing my experience and hoping that somebody gleans something off of that. Where sometimes in a crisis you do need a leader that says, go this way. Do these things.
[00:21:52] Brent: Let’s just, let’s head down this. and then it’s of course on me as the leader to take responsibility for it. I think that’s the second part of that is , you as a leader, say, here’s the direction we’re gonna take. We’re gonna solve it this way, and I’m taking responsibility. If it goes wrong, right?
[00:22:07] Brent: Oh, yeah. Because the other side to that is, if you as a leader say You should do this, and that should didn’t work, and then the person who did it screws up and then suddenly, like you said earlier, we’ve thrown them under the bus for doing it wrong. . I think as a leader, absolutely. Taking it taking on that responsibility and then not shifting the blame to anybody else.
[00:22:29] Brent: At the end of the day, you as the owner or the ceo, are ultimately responsible for everything that happens. . Yeah. And certainly a one off or a two off could be your team, but a three off, a four off and a 10 off is usually a management problem or a leadership problem.
[00:22:46] Tiffany: It’s so true. It’s so true.
[00:22:48] Tiffany: Being able to take that ownership. And that’s a really great way to inspire your team as well if they can see that, hey, Brent is, not afraid to say, this was the wrong decision, or, maybe we should have taken a different direction. Often those postmortem learnings are just as important as the learnings throughout the process.
[00:23:05] Tiffany: And a lot of, companies and teams almost discount that importance where it’s okay, just onto the next thing. Or we don’t actually analyze enough what went wrong that led to that crisis. We can prevent it happening another time. So tho those elements are really important because there’s a lot of gold that can come from those types of learnings and retrospective on, what might have happened and how to serve up differently moving forward.
[00:23:30] Tiffany: But taking the ownership as the leader, as the boss honestly brings a lot more respect than anything else. If you are the type of boss that’s gonna just blame it on your team. Shame on you as the boss because you’re still their boss and you let that happen. So it’s just gonna backfire either way if you try to almost brush it onto your team members, when at the end of the day, you’re the one that made the decision.
[00:23:51] Tiffany: You’re the one that helped guided things in that way, and you have to take some level of responsibility if not a full part of that responsibility.
[00:24:00] Brent: We talk you talk about having a feedback loop and having an ability for. The having a safe place for employees to be able to talk to their boss.
[00:24:11] Brent: I, I did an interview a couple of months ago where a lady who was a VP said that her, the owner of the company would give her 30 minutes every other week to simply bitch and complain about what’s wrong at work without any feedback. No problem solving, just listening. How would you recommend a, an owner open up that channel and make people feel comfortable doing that?
[00:24:42] Tiffany: Definitely leading by example. If they can show that, they’re open to doing it and encourage others to do it, that. It starts there because this is something that trickles down from leadership. I love that example because I don’t think we see enough companies doing that there.
[00:24:56] Tiffany: There’s always kind of two sides to that coin too, right? As much as we might feel, okay, there’s an openness to share and vent, it’s also sometimes begs the question, will this somehow backfire or will this get back to someone? You don’t wanna necessarily use that opening as a way to bash other people or throw your boss under the bus or, say really bad things about other individuals, because I think that’s just a testament to your character as well, and how you wanna present yourself in a professional setting.
[00:25:24] Tiffany: I don’t think there’s anything wrong though about fostering a feedback culture around. Weights that things can be improved, maybe around more processes, inefficiencies, things like that. But I could see a little bit of delicacy in how open people are in those settings, especially with senior leaders who are often important decision makers around internal movement.
[00:25:45] Tiffany: If they get the sense that, you can speak about people in a certain way. So the intention is good because of course, Employees are thinking this and they wanna be able to create that environment where they feel comfortable sharing. But I think there’s a reason why a lot of companies don’t necessarily have those types of platforms available because of.
[00:26:04] Tiffany: Will people truly be as transparent? Maybe yes, maybe no. A lot of organizations choose to have more of these anonymous surveys where they can actually collect information and get a better sense of where problems are and where people feel more comfortable sharing because it is anonymous. So if there is an a anonym anonymity to the type of platform and sharing that will probably help go a long way in the openness of what people are willing to share.
[00:26:29] Brent: Yeah. We used a system called Office Vibe that allow you, that allowed you to put in anonymous feedback and there was a number of questions that came out every week. Yeah. I found when I was managing it, I found it hard to often get everybody or main, make sure everybody stayed engaged in it, if we had a hundred people, you would slowly see that engagement rate drop down unless you went back and encourage people to.
[00:26:55] Brent: To fill out the surveys, right? Yeah. I can also share that six months ago I started doing the ask me anything you want and nobody took me up on it. I’ll correct myself. I think out of six months, in about 200 meetings, I probably had had three people who just had that, who wanted to use that 15 minutes to vent.
[00:27:19] Brent: Yeah. And most of the time people wanted to just tell me about their jobs and Yeah. My, I was trying, my goal was to learn more about them, and I would steer them towards how is your family, how many kids do you have? Blah, blah, blah. Cause you, at some point you can’t know everybody on the team, that and I was trying to just know something a little bit about somebody. I can see that. . Yeah, I can I see where you’re saying, I, I can definitely understand what you’re saying about it could get off the rails.
[00:27:47] Tiffany: It can, and it might not even be anything to do with you as an example, Brent.
[00:27:51] Tiffany: It could be maybe a past experience that they had that didn’t play out very well. So now they’ve got a bit of a guard up. Of how things might play out in this current work setting, as an example. So it’s always good to come from a place. I think the anonymity, like you said, is really important.
[00:28:06] Tiffany: There’s gonna be the people who choose to take you up on it, who are really eager to fill feedback. Others that might feel like I don’t feel like if I say anything, it’s gonna change anything. So I’m just not gonna say anything at all, which is a little unfortunate, but that’s probably being trickled down by the leadership that’s making them feel that their voice doesn’t matter and that’s a bigger problem.
[00:28:25] Tiffany: So there, there’s different nuances here to play into all of this, but I am still a very big advocate of trying to foster feedback in a way that will work for a specific individual. Company’s culture because that’s where it starts. The more that this becomes second nature, the more that it becomes a habit is going to help, employees really feel a lot more comfortable sharing.
[00:28:45] Tiffany: And this is something that, I had done and been part of in my corporate work. And it, it made a big changes in a good way of allowing people to feel more open to share feedback, whereas prior, it wasn’t something that was actively welcome. So it’s not the type of thing that changes overnight, but the baby steps that.
[00:29:02] Tiffany: If it’s something that is, walking the walk and talking the talk from a leadership standpoint with time, it will move things in the right direction.
[00:29:11] Brent: Is the HR person that person who should be open to listening to any sort of complaint? Is there somebody in the company that anybody should feel comfortable with?
[00:29:22] Brent: If they have some huge concern or gripe?
[00:29:27] Tiffany: Technically, yes. HR is normally that entity that will do that and be that, that sounding board. Will that always be the case? Not necessarily. I’ve certainly heard and seen a lot of stories where HR wasn’t necessarily the one that helped in that situation, but I’ve seen situations where they absolutely have.
[00:29:48] Tiffany: So I, I think it really depends on the type of organizational culture. But generally, because a HR plays a pretty pivotal role in, employee development and growth and enablement internally, they normally are quite a good. Type of department to get on your side and bring these types of topics forward.
[00:30:07] Tiffany: Especially if you’re bringing it in a way where there’s opportunity for improvement. It’s not just coming to complaint. I think that’s could be a really big pet peeve for someone in HR where they’re just hearing complaint after complaint, but no solutions. So I’m a big believer of, okay, if you have a complaint, bring it forward.
[00:30:25] Tiffany: but pair it with an with a solution, help them already get the ball rolling. You’re, if you’re the one feeling this particular challenge, you probably also have a sense of what can change to make it better, and at least bring that part to the conversation as well. So it becomes much more collaborative and well received on the end of HR to say, okay, you know what?
[00:30:45] Tiffany: They actually have a good point. Maybe, that’s something that is worth considering versus seeing it just as negativity coming to
[00:30:51] Brent: their door. . Yeah. And I’m that applies to almost every situation in life. And I’m part of a community or a bunch of, a number of communities, and oftentimes people in the Comu community have a complaint about the community without a solution.
[00:31:06] Brent: And for me, that’s, that is you’re gonna complain about this, but you don’t have anything that you would like to add to it. It’s kinda like you want to chisel it down, but you don’t want to Oh, yeah. Help
[00:31:17] Tiffany: repair it. So easy for people to do that. You’re so right, Brendan. All, I think we could all relate in with people in our lives who are very quick to complain about something, to bring something down, that yet they’re the last person that will actually share a solution, right?
[00:31:32] Tiffany: It’s okay, what are you gonna do about it? And then their face goes blank, right? They’re not ready for that, but they’re ready to openly share what’s not working. So I think that is definitely a skill that needs to be developed. But adopting that problem solving mindset is a real.
[00:31:48] Tiffany: Strength for you in the workplace especially, and as you grow and be and are more exposed with senior leaders as well, they’re gonna expect that of you, right? They’re gonna expect that it’s not just about bringing problems forward. You have to be already taking some ownership on what can be done to be improved.
[00:32:05] Brent: How about the word empathy? As a leader, how important is that?
[00:32:10] Tiffany: Oh my gosh, friends, huge. Huge. I can tell you I am a huge advocate of empathy. Especially in leadership styles it really moves mountains. It’s definitely not as prominent as it should be, and is something that can make mountains move like in a beautiful way in a workplace setting.
[00:32:32] Tiffany: When people feel heard and understood and really identified with you, you start speaking with them in such a different level of understanding than something that’s more authoritative alone in nature. When people feel like they are on the same page, that you are understanding where they’re coming from and really listening with them to understand them, it’s going to help whatever strategies, recommendations elements that you bring forward to be so much better received because it’s coming from a place of really tapping into those insights, right?
[00:33:05] Tiffany: I say this, as like a new boss as an example. If you’re starting on a team, Whether as a first time people manager or just a new boss on a team, take the time to really speak with your team members, understand where are the pain points, where are things that have been challenges for them?
[00:33:20] Tiffany: Really take that time to understand so that when you bring forward suggestions and solutions, you’re already integrating those pain points so that they’re gonna be like, oh my gosh, where was this strategy, a year ago or six months ago? And it’s going to help build up a lot of trust and a lot of rapport a lot faster.
[00:33:39] Tiffany: So I’m huge believer in empathy as a very effective leadership style and integrated in how you manage your teams for success.
[00:33:49] Brent: You’ve mentioned, take the time to speak and listen. What if, so as an employee, what if you are in a meeting? and your boss is telling you the same thing that, that to solve a problem that’s been happening for a year, let’s say, or two years or something like that, and then he or she starts discounting the problem saying, it’s not really a problem, let’s just sweep it under the rug and move on.
[00:34:16] Tiffany: Oh yes. In those moments, it’s really key to. Let them know that it’s not something that should be discounted. That could be done by sharing facts or data as to maybe the gravity of keeping that unresolved. It could be showing that this has already created quite a few consequences on the business results.
[00:34:36] Tiffany: It could also be sharing, if we don’t actually fix this, it can lead to X, y, Z. So a little bit of that anticipation factor as well. But also because sometimes they might not realize, How significant of an issue it is they might be, again, at a bit more of a bird’s eye view. So I’m like, oh, it’s not really as much of a problem, or we probably don’t need to fix that.
[00:34:56] Tiffany: But by not fixing that, it’s gonna create a much. Much worse ripple effect that will then bite them afterwards. So as the employee, maybe even as the manager of that team, it really is your responsibility to bring those points forward in those conversations, to help resolve it, to help move things in the right direction.
[00:35:15] Tiffany: Help them understand that by making a change here, there’s actually a big benefit in doing that and here’s why. And help them see what that is, versus just leaving it untouched and hoping for the best, which will probably really work against them.
[00:35:31] Brent: The employee turnover has been such a big thing now in the last couple years.
[00:35:35] Brent: Yeah. And it’s only gotten worse if you’ve consistently had ploy turnover or. You’re seeing it more and more. Is there a way through exit interviews or other ways to figure out why are people leaving? And if they’re if they’re there for a year, if you can, I know you, you pointed out to data and I’m a firm believer in data.
[00:35:57] Brent: Yeah. If you can determine they’re there for six months and then they leave or they’re there for a year, then they leave and nobody else has ever been here longer than two years, is what is the issue there? Where can we try to dig in and figure out. And try to solve that employee turnover
[00:36:11] Tiffany: problem.
[00:36:12] Tiffany: Yeah, it’s a great point, Brent. I’m not a opposed to exit interviews, but I do believe that they’re a little bit too late in the game. That’s the point where they’ve already made their decision to leave and we’re not early enough in the process to avoid getting to that point. A much more important thing to do would be almost like, Intro interviews and I don’t treat it that way with my clients, but it’s more around, when you’re onboarding team members, when you’re welcoming new people, really take the time to understand what motivates them, what gets them excited to come to work.
[00:36:46] Tiffany: Really, again, empathy, understand, identify with your employees because if you know that very early on and you are helping them do work and have a role that feeds into that directly you’re gonna have a lot less turnover. I can tell you, I, I was case in point of this with my teams, I had hardly any turnover.
[00:37:05] Tiffany: The only turnover I had was people moving on to different teams because they were getting promoted, which was more of a reflection of their progress they were making. There’s something to be said about really taking the time to understand. What drives your team members so that you constantly have a pulse and it’s not just a one-time thing.
[00:37:21] Tiffany: You constantly have conversations. Check in with them. Be in touch with them. See if you’re recognizing changes in their behavior that might prompt something about their happiness level, their motivation level. Don’t just ignore it. And be like, ah, it’s probably just tough times right now. If there’s tough times in the organization, that’s all the more important to check in with them regularly, help them feel supported, help them know that you’re there with them, that they’re not alone.
[00:37:46] Tiffany: And that’s going to help alleviate a lot of need for exit interviews because there won’t be so many people leaving the organization. They’re gonna feel really well taken care of. Of course, there’s always gonna be circumstances that what might leave someone to leave could be personal circumstances.
[00:37:59] Tiffany: Maybe it’s, a different opportunity that came their way that. They really just were so passionate about, and perhaps the progress they were seeing internally wasn’t what they wanted. But I guarantee by having these types of conversations more actively, it’s going to get to the root of the situation before waiting till exit interviews and this entire exodus of, turnover of what’s happening, what is going on here?
[00:38:23] Tiffany: Ole didn’t realize, oh, there’s probably things we should have been doing. Earlier on in our onboarding or follow through with employee development, that would’ve avoided us being in this situation.
[00:38:34] Brent: The employee review process should cover a little of that, do you think?
[00:38:39] Tiffany: It definitely should. But I don’t limit it to that.
[00:38:42] Tiffany: I think, performance reviews is one aspect that I’m a big believer in. Having more continuous dialogue to really check in with your team and help guide them and make sure they’re on track with their goals and helping to be a champion. Obviously, coming to the beginning part of our conversation, if you have a really bad boss or a toxic boss, they might not be so supportive in that, and that might be a reflection of.
[00:39:05] Tiffany: Them as a leader, but also possibly for you to move to a different team or maybe find a different type of organization that will enable really effective managers versus ones that are driving talent out the door. But it’s definitely something that plays into performance reviews and evaluations that goes beyond that.
[00:39:22] Tiffany: If it’s a really good boss, they’re gonna take the time to have more conversations and make sure that their team feels really motivated at all times. ,
[00:39:32] Brent: do you recommend as an employee pressing for interim reviews and maybe some kind of pre-performance check in with your immediate supervisor to make sure you’re on track?
[00:39:45] Brent: I
[00:39:45] Tiffany: do. Yes, I do. And it doesn’t even have to be anything formal. , it could be pretty informal. Just check in. And again, as the employee, this is your responsibility to build your own track record and bring forward the evolution that you’re showcasing in your role. You don’t wanna just rely on your boss to just know everything that you’re doing because they, they probably don’t, and you don’t wanna miss.
[00:40:08] Tiffany: Those golden moments to share, how much that you’ve advanced or progressed in a certain way. So having those continuity of conversations is really important. And it could definitely be impromptu, pre prep for a certain eval or something that you’re prompting more in an ongoing way that your boss and you can really discuss together.
[00:40:28] Brent: All right. One last topic cuz I know we’re going along here, but let’s just say your boss doesn’t understand your job. and you are working hard to figure out what are the key points that I need to communicate to show that I’m doing my job. And you feel as though you, maybe you’re not appreciated in what you’re doing because they don’t understand it and you can’t.
[00:40:52] Brent: Communicate in a way that helps them to understand
[00:40:56] Tiffany: it. Yeah. Yeah, that’s an excellent point. There’s a couple things. I think obviously there’s a gap there in their understanding of the roles. So finding those opportunities of filling them in on maybe the complexity of the work that you’re managing or that.
[00:41:12] Tiffany: things wouldn’t get done without you doing X, Y, Z, and showing like really the importance of certain elements of your work and why it plays into the bigger picture, that could be one way to get their attention without even needing to understand every single detail. They understand at least the value that you play in the work that you do.
[00:41:30] Tiffany: That’s one approach that you can take. Another is to also almost lay it out for them. You said it earlier, writing things out maybe. Sharing something more visually that they can follow along with you, and you can really walk them through, a little bit of the scope of the complexity that something takes or the level of diligence that’s required, or the amount of stakeholders that might be involved on a certain project, and that this is something that you’re really leading and owning in your work to get to that end outcome.
[00:41:58] Tiffany: So sometimes visual support can help them see it a lot more clearly. and allow you to then pair that with the value that you’re bringing in those tasks and projects as well. .
[00:42:09] Brent: And that’s great. And I have so many more questions, but I think we’re gonna have to , we’re gonna have to round it out here.
[00:42:14] Brent: Tiffany, as we close out the podcast, I give everybody an opportunity to do a shameless plug about anything you’d like to plug. What would you like to plug today? .
[00:42:22] Tiffany: Thanks Fred. I love how you coined this the joke and the shameless pluck. If anybody is interested and it’s timely with the topic of today.
[00:42:30] Tiffany: Next week on March 22nd, I’m actually hosting a Free Workplace Essentials workshop. It’s a very exciting workshop, a 60 minute event that is going to help you navigate workplace dynamics fairly effectively and activate your most successful. You. There’s a lot of things that school never teaches us.
[00:42:48] Tiffany: A lot of what Brent and I talked about today fall into that camp as well. And I’d love to really be there. Fill in those gaps and set you up for so much success in the workplace, because that’s the foundation of inevitable success for you, and we wanna get those things right. So yes, if you’re open to joining again, it’s March 22nd at 12:00 PM e s t.
[00:43:09] Brent: Awesome. So you have just, I’m gonna commit, cuz my podcast comes out every Tuesday. So this will be, I’m gonna make this one come out on the 21st of March. Oh, . And so we’ll get it live by then. And I will put all the contact information in the show notes as well. Okay. And maybe I’ll write something as a blog post in advance if you wanna send it.
[00:43:30] Brent: And we can direct you some people your way.
[00:43:32] Tiffany: Oh, I appreciate that. And I have a lot of different free resources as well, Brent. I just published a new free LinkedIn learning course as well, a nano course all around answering common interview questions. So that is readily available, but if people want a little bit one, one-on-one action time with me in terms of a workshop.
[00:43:51] Tiffany: It’d be great to see them join us there as well. And,
[00:43:54] Brent: One last question. Are you Canadian? I am. All right, good. So I got my accent right? Yes. Still . I had a Canadian yesterday as well. So where are you calling
[00:44:03] Tiffany: in from? I’m from Montreal.
[00:44:05] Brent: Oh, wow. Okay. Excellent. Yes. Good. Tiffany, this has been so enjoyable.
[00:44:09] Brent: I had another topic I wanted to talk about. It was the fluffy pancake versus the crepe. Or you, either you spread somebody so thin that it’s, loose and flavor or versus the oven pancake where everything is all rich and inside and you have plenty of space to work Anyways, maybe it’ll be a new topic we can do in the future.
[00:44:27] Tiffany: I love it. Brent, thank you so much for having me. This was a lot of
Today, I have Dave Malda from Jitterbit. In this episode, we’ll be talking about the top tech conferences in the United States and how they are shaping the future of technology.
We also chat about ChatGPT, a powerful language model trained by OpenAI, which can answer any question on various topics. So please sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of tech conferences and ChatGPT.
What is your perception of life in a war zone? Most of us can’t imagine what it is like to work in conditions where air raid sirens are normal. We’ve interviewed Roman Kuzub with Default Value agency on his team, their work, and life in a warzone.
What you will learn
Roman Kuzub is the CEO of Default Value, located in Ukraine. He is passionate about making things work easier and saving people time for something.
Roman: I wanted to mention the team because I was surprised by their behavior. We have 80 people in our company. I considered moving the company somewhere safe, but only 5% of employees decided to do so.
Roman: The whole team decided to stay in Cherkasy and started working remotely when we didn’t have enough experience with this. They did a great job and saved the workload, so I wanted to mention it.
Roman says that his team has come together and that the war has become normal for them. However, he took several rides to Kyiv.
Roman: We stay here because we have relatives, we have families, and we want to be closer to them because each day can bring anything, actually. But we don’t feel it’s a huge problem with our physical situation. It’s more about our mental state. It’s a difficult thing. Because it’s been a year of war, and you always expect a rocket in your city. It drives you crazy a bit.
Roman: I’m proud of my clients because nobody ran from us or moved the project outside Ukraine. And actually, I got spammed with different proposals to help the army or move the company to Germany.
Brent: Europe and the US have been united in supporting Ukraine and helping you as a country and you as people. What was your sort of leadership journey? Did you have any struggles coping with anything in particular? And I think you’ll come out stronger at the end of this.
Roman: I almost don’t remember March of 2022, but I know I filmed 10 to 12 videos for my team and customers that month, ensuring they know what is happening, where we are, and what we are doing.
Roman: I struggled to gather the team because they were spread in different places, but that’s my job. For me personally, the challenge is always about being positive when you see that everything is not that bright.
Roman: It was extra hard at least the first half of the year, but hopefully, family helped, the team, my closest teammates helped me to do this, and we are still functioning. We currently work at our office, but most of the team works remotely.
Roman: It started before the invasion because we had the COVID-19 experience. But now we ask people if we should move to a fully remote company type. More than 90% of employees said they’re waiting for the end of the war to return to the office because they lack personal communication and struggle to work just from home.
Brent: I wanted to ask why Ukraine is so strong regarding Magento and e-commerce.
Roman: The roots of Magento are here in Ukraine and in Belarus, as far as I remember. We have guys who were working in a core team development, the Magento 1, for about 15 years, and they are still here. They know the DNA of the system.
Roman: The second part is more about the attitude to work and being honest with the clients. You should trust your partner to do your project. When you work with agencies from other countries, and they don’t deliver the project. And when you come to Ukraine to work with the agency that does while being bombed, you understand these guys are serious. And that’s about the commitments.
Roman: That’s about something how work should be done, and here we have those attitudes. We can work with businesses in Europe and USA because when we are talking about something, we are serious about it.
Brent: Tell us about Default Value.
Roman: We do end-to-end development and help businesses grow not only by delivering the projects.
Roman: Our company is built by two really cool developers. We are a family-type company, we communicate freely, and there’s no such huge hierarchy here or very tough processes or something like that.
Roman: What sold this company to me is a totally honest approach towards customers and employees. We communicate clearly. Even when we are fucked up, sorry, we come and say, “We’re fucked up and need to solve this.” That’s the DNA of the company. That’s something that really makes us stand out. And it makes it difficult for me to find managers who can maintain such an approach.
Brent: Roman, what are your plans when the war is over? Will you have a big celebration? Can you see that day?
Roman: I can see that day. I want to build an international company and visit different places.
Roman: I want to stay here, and I definitely want to help my country to succeed. I understand that most people watching this podcast are not from Ukraine, so please push your politicians to support Ukraine, and don’t get tired because the war is not over and is not even close to the end.
One of the most effective strategies for building customer loyalty is sending handwritten notes. Handwritten notes show care and attention that any other medium cannot match. Handwritten notes are a powerful way to make a personal connection and can be used to thank your client for their business.
Handwritten notes can be sent as a thank you after a purchase, to celebrate a milestone, or to show appreciation for being a loyal client. The personal touch of a handwritten note will make your client feel like they are being acknowledged and valued.
Rick Elmore shows how to build loyalty and show appreciation to clients by connecting with them personally.
What you will learn
Rick Elmore is the founder and CEO of Simply Noted. He played college and professional sports, and then went on to work in corporate medical device sales and marketing until he had an itch that he just couldn’t scratch with what he was doing then.
Rick enjoys being outdoors and is training for a half marathon. He enjoys doing physical activity and has a three and a five-year-old now.
Quote from Rick “When I was in my sales career, it was really hard to stand out from the crowd, especially in the corporate world where there’s always a competitor in everything that you do. So I started writing handwritten notes to my customers to try and get their attention.“
Quote from Rick “When I was doing my MBA class, my professor said that handwritten notes still work. I had a classmate of mine and myself that got to work and sent out 500 handwritten notes that were written by a pen plotter and had a phenomenal response rate.“
Rick founded simply noted full-time and has been doing that for the last four and a half years. It’s a powerful tool that can be used in just so many different facets of business, not just sales.
Brent: I’ve had conversations with other entrepreneurs who say that handwritten notes are a lost art. One famous guy in the Twin Cities sends out 30 thank-you notes a day.
Ricks notest that they are a handwritten notes platform that helps companies automate sending thank you or handwritten thank you notes to their customers. By doing so, their customer lifetime value goes up; they’re gonna be happier, they’re gonna re-refer their friends, and they’re gonna write better reviews.
Rick: We’ve invested over $850,000 in the last almost two years developing our own handwriting robot. It’s a real three-access, a pantry-based system that’s auto-fed, and it helps realtors, mortgage professionals, e-commerce businesses, politicians, and nonprofits, to either automate it or scale it.
You can create your own handwriting style using our software, and we have a portfolio of about 900 handwriting styles. If you’re a person of influence, we can create a handwriting style for you, but there is a cost associated with that.
Rick describes the technology that goes into creating a genuine handwritten note, and how it compares to an e at the beginning of a word versus an e at the end of a word.
Rick: Our handwriting engine is Mach machine Learning right now, and it completely varies every single time it writes. So if you put a hundred custom messages into our handwriting software and you wrote out a hundred notes, it’s literally gonna look at 100% different every single time it’s written.
The real way to tell if it’s actually pen written or not is the smudge test. We actually built our own pen and developed a weighted pen insert, so when our motor lifts it, it actually lifts the pen, but when it goes down, it has a downward force.
Rick explains how his pen works and how he gets a nice little pen and dation plus it’s ink, so it’s gonna smear. However, people are starting to understand that this is a service that is out there and that simply noted is a good product. Rick: I’ve heard that getting handwritten notes has helped other companies get a better response rate on campaigns and outreach. Brent: First handwritten notes have a 99% open rate.
If you’re thinking about doing direct mail and you’re doing print, you might as well just throw seven out of every $10 in the trash, cuz it’s not gonna do anything. But if you can retain 5% more each year, you can grow your business.
When it comes down to it, it’s about building deeper relationships with your clients. If you have deeper, more loyal relationships, they’re gonna stick around, refer their friends and write better reviews, which really is gonna help you grow your business.
Rick: We have a luxury jewelry brand that uses us for customer complaints, but they don’t apologize to the customer. Instead, they automate the message and send hundreds of notes a week.
Brent: It’s interesting on the customer complaint, cuz it’s a little bit of a risk, especially if you automate it too much. Rick: I don’t know, I think you want to keep it super generic and give them the opportunity to reach back out to you.
Rick: If you’re trying to get super custom, give them the option to contact you again and talk.
Brent: I’ve heard that you can overdo handwritten notes, so we recommend sending them three to four times a year at the most, at least once or twice a year. Rick: You still gotta do everything else, too, like email, phone calls, social, etc.
Rick: We help you build that strong relationship on an automatic or scaled, you know, level, and we recommend sending something that is as personalized as possible, but short and sweet, because these clients have seven second attention spans.
Rick suggests sending three or four sentences, and putting yourself on the receiving end of the message. This is much more impactful than a thank you upsell, hard close, 150 word message, where they’re gonna start skim reading if you don’t have their attention within three seconds.
Rick: If you are gonna use email for sales or marketing, you gotta include three things: who you are, what company you’re with, what you can do for them, and how can you make their life better.
Rick: We’re primarily focused on helping companies do it, but we still want to help average realtors or mortgage professionals send a card. They can send their first card free so they can see what it’s like, touch it, get it in their mail.
Rick: I think it’s Rafiki, and his handwriting is terrible. He says he’ll send a handwritten note or two a day, but he’ll still use our system because his handwriting is so terrible. Rick Elmore’s handwriting style is not enjoyable to read, so he doesn’t want it on the website.
Rick says that customers should focus on the relationship rather than the product going into quarter one or just throughout for 2023. He wants to keep the people that have worked with him two years ago or last year. Rick says to get in front of clients early on every single year to get their loyalty stuck to you and your brand.
Rick says to stay in front of your clients, do something that others aren’t doing, and get their trust and loyalty. This will help you stay on top of mind 24 7 and get them 100% on your ship every single year.
Rick: I think that personal touch is a great way to stand out from the noise of generic social media and generic email. I used a podcasting service that sent me a video thanking me for being a client. Rick and Brent discuss using Zoom to record personal little video responses, and Brent gives everybody a chance to do a shameless plug.
Rick: If you go to our website and fill out the business page, we’ll send you a nice sample kit with writing samples, brochures, case studies, handwriting styles, um, basically everything. And usually what happens is that three to six months later a light bulb goes off and they contact us.
[00:03:07] Brent: All right. Welcome to this episode, oft Commerce. Today I have Rick Elmore. Rick Elmore is the founder and c e o of simply noted Rick. Go ahead, introduce yourself. Tell us your day-to-day role and maybe one of your passions in life.
[00:03:23] Rick: Yeah, so, um, my name is Rick Elmore. I’m the owner of Simply Noted, um, it, that is a handwritten notes platform.
[00:03:29] Rick: We, we’ll kind of dive into what that is later, but my background is in athletics. I played college and professional sports. Played at the University of Arizona, which was a three year starter for Mike Stoops and then was drafted in 2010 in the NFL draft. Um, after that, um, was in corporate medical device sales and marketing.
[00:03:48] Rick: First year was Rookie of the year. Next, uh, six years was either top 1% or top five rep in the company. And then 2017 came around. I had an itch that I just couldn’t scratch with what I was doing then. So I went back and did my MBA and, and uh, that’s where the idea for simply Noted began.
[00:04:06] Brent: That’s awesome.
[00:04:07] Brent: Um, and, um, so passion is still athletics are. playing football still.
[00:04:14] Rick: Yeah. Oh yeah. I guess, yeah. Then, uh, my passions, you know, I’m a, an avid outdoorsman. Uh, I have a three and a five year old now, so I have to be a lot more calculated, um, in what I do with my time off. You know, I, I can’t do those three and four day adventures anymore, so I have to be a little bit, uh, you know, what’s closer to home.
[00:04:32] Rick: But yeah, I would say, you know, I’m doing a, a half marathon this upcoming weekend, so I, I still try to do a lot of physical activity. That’s what I enjoy doing most outside of work.
[00:04:42] Brent: Awesome. That’s great. Um, I, I warned you in the green room that, uh, we’re doing this free joke project and you agreed to participate.
[00:04:50] Brent: So I’m just gonna tell you a joke and you can tell me if that joke should remain free or if we could charge for it. And, um, I’m just gonna preempt today that the joke I have found, I’m gonna guarantee your kids are gonna love or at some point. But anyways, here we go. Yesterday my doctor told me my chronic diarrhea is inherited.
[00:05:13] Brent: Runs in the family.
[00:05:17] Rick: I would say that’s a good dad joke, but , let’s keep that one free . Yeah.
[00:05:22] Brent: I, I, I agree with you. So . Yeah. Um, alright, so, uh, simply noted, you know, I’m, I’m a big, I’m a big believer in, in handwritten notes. Tell me a little bit about it.
[00:05:34] Rick: Yeah, so, um, you know, when I was in my sales career, , you know, it was really hard, especially in the corporate, um, like infrastructure seemed to really stand out and, and be different because, you know, in the corporate world there’s always a competitor actually in everything that you do.
[00:05:52] Rick: There’s always competition. There’s a different option. Um, all the customers are being, you know, pulled in every direction by every vendor to try to get their attention. And when I was doing in my MBA class, I had a marketing professor, I was just talking about like success rates and market. and, um, everything was super marginal.
[00:06:11] Rick: Everything was like low single digit percentage, you know, email, cold call, print, direct mail, um, knocking on doors. And I had a professor that said handwritten notes, guys, like at the end, at the end of the lecture, he said, kind of half jokingly said, Hey guys, you know what still works is a good old fashioned handwritten note.
[00:06:28] Rick: Um, it gets opened almost 100% of the time, says it’s actually 99% and there’s just nothing like it. I don’t think he knew what he was doing then because the light bulb started going off and, uh, I had a classmate of mine and myself we got to work. We, uh, worked with the mailing house here in Phoenix, Arizona, flew some technology and from South America, China, and basically it was a pen potter.
[00:06:53] Rick: I, where’s that? I have a, usually have a pen plotter in here to show you. But, um, sent out some really bad handwritten notes that were written by this pen plotter. Uh, it took us about a month to write out 500 of them, and, uh, just had a phenomenal response rate. Just, you know, as a salesperson, having a client call you back.
[00:07:13] Rick: Right. That, that’s a big deal. And, um, what we really noticed, , you know, how powerful they can be, how powerful of a tool. It can be used in just so many other different facets of business, not just sales, um, you know, client retention, um, relationship building, you know, booking appointments, um, saying top of mind.
[00:07:34] Rick: You know, there’s just a bunch of ways that you can use this tool in a, in very valuable ways. But for me, what sparked the idea was outreach, booking appointments, and closing. So, um, had tremendous success in 2017 doing that 2018 and then, you know, the business kind of just grew organically in 2019. We founded, uh, simply noted full-time, and uh, that’s what we’ve been doing for the last four and a half years.
[00:07:58] Rick: That’s awesome.
[00:07:58] Brent: Yeah, I, I definitely have had conversations with other entrepreneurs and business owners who, uh, especially people that are in an older generation who say, mm-hmm. , that, uh, that’s a lost art, is the, um, is a handwritten note. Um, I, I remember sitting through a meeting or a, you know, a panel with one of the, um, one of the more famous guys in the Twin Cities who had said, Uh, he picks 30 people a day out of his sales.
[00:08:29] Brent: He had a retail and he would send them a handwritten thank you note mm-hmm. , and he would hand write every single one of them. So, uh, I, I, I can certainly appreciate it. And, and so tell us a little bit about your system and how you’re not asking actually everybody to hand write it, like you mentioned
[00:08:48] Rick: plotters and stuff.
[00:08:49] Rick: Yeah, so what’s simply noted as is we’re a handwritten notes platform. We help companies either automate it, so think of like a new client signs up. We can automate sending a thank you or handwritten thank you note or say it’s, um, after their fifth purchase we can set up some type of trigger using Zap.
[00:09:05] Rick: You’re an API integration of Web Hook. Um, once they hit that milestone to think then, or an anniversary or a birthday, um, we really like. , you know, kind of consult our clients on the relationship side of building, um, these hand uh, sending these notes on a relationship purpose because you know, they’re going, they’re gonna stick around a lot longer.
[00:09:26] Rick: The lifetime value’s gonna go up, they’re gonna be happier. They’re gonna re refer their friends, they’re gonna write better reviews. So we think, you know, the tool of sending a handwritten note should just be simply to thank somebody, um, because just saying thank you, it’s worth its weight in gold. Um, it’s gonna come back to you tenfold over.
[00:09:41] Rick: Um, it just takes time. Um, and all good things do take time. So simply noted. Helps you automate it or scale it. So, um, if you need to send one, if you have all the stuff we always tell our clients, like if you have handwritten notes or notes in your desk and you wanna send one-offs, um, we tell you to do it because, you know, there’s just nothing like a handwritten note from you, but, Just a tiny little speck below that’s simply noted.
[00:10:07] Rick: Everything we do is real genuine pen written. Um, we’ve invested over $850,000 in the last almost two years developing our own handwriting robot. Um, it’s a real. Three access, uh, you know, left, right up, down, uh, forward backwards, you know, three access, pantry based system that’s auto fed. Um, we’ve developed our own handwriting engine, our own software, our own mechanics.
[00:10:31] Rick: It’s, it’s pretty, it’s pretty awesome. Software integrations. So, yeah, so simply known as just a platform that helps, you know, realtors, mortgage professionals, e-commerce businesses, um, politicians, nonprofits, to either automate it or. .
[00:10:48] Brent: Yeah. That’s awesome. I, I know that we’ve, I’ve talked to other people who’ve done something similar and so you, you have the ability to mimic somebody else’s handwriting and or use a general hand write handwriting to send the
[00:11:02] Rick: note.
[00:11:03] Rick: Yeah, so we have about 32. Last time we checked 32 handwriting styles available on the website. Um, we have about a portfolio of about 900 handwriting styles. Um, it really becomes analysis paralysis, like if you like, start looking at tons and tons of these handwriting styles. Um, if you’re a person of influence where like, you know, your stuff’s gonna end up online, um, you, you’re a public figure and you want to do your own handwriting style, we absolutely can do that.
[00:11:32] Rick: Um, most people. because there’s a cost associated with that. But we don’t just create a font, we create a handwriting style. And what that means is like we’re actually pulling out like the characteristics of how you write, you know, You like when you write like, like the natural spacing, the kering, you know, of what an A next to a B looks like, an A next to a, you know, a c I mean, everything is like pulled out, you know, ligature styles.
[00:11:58] Rick: What do two T’s look like next to each other? Do you loop ’em? Do you connect ’em? You know, it’s what’s an e at the beginning of a word look like versus an e at the end of a word. I mean, it’s lit. It’s, it’s, it’s pretty intense. You know, the, what has gone into creating, uh, a genuine handwritten note.
[00:12:15] Rick: There’s tons of technology on the, on the back end that allows us to send a simple hand handwritten note on the front end. So it’s, it’s pretty, um, spectacular.
[00:12:25] Brent: Um, I know ma, machine learning is such a, um, a buzzword right now. Uh, how does machine learning kind of play into this? And does it, and
[00:12:35] Rick: so our soft, yeah.
[00:12:36] Rick: So it’s, I mean, I would say our, our handwriting engine is Mach machine Learning right now. Um, it completely varies every single time it writes. Um, I wouldn’t say that it’s, it’s a true, smart, like machine learning, but what it does is it, Constantly varies. Every single handwritten note. So if you plugged a hundred custom messages, you know, into our handwriting software and you wrote out a hundred notes and you put ’em all next to each other, it’s literally gonna look at, look 100% different every single time it’s written.
[00:13:05] Rick: So, um, we put a lot of thought in, in research and development to making sure that they look as real as possible. Cuz if not, I mean, there’s really no purpose of our, our service if you know the notes that we are. Don’t look the most authentic.
[00:13:22] Brent: Yeah, I, I can say that I’ve gotten many realtor email or, uh, physical letters that is, that are clearly just printed out on a printer and mm-hmm.
[00:13:31] Brent: and have some font that, that sort of ties together some cursive .
[00:13:35] Rick: Yeah. Um, Yeah, so the real way of telling that is the smudge test. You just lick your finger and just like try to smudge the ink. Um, a laser printed hand, like a laser printed font will not smudge, but like, since these are real pens, um, we actually had to build our own pen.
[00:13:50] Rick: Um, we can dive into because we write so many notes, but, um, . If you actually write it with a real pen and you try to smudge it, the will smear. So that’s like the number one way to tell if it’s actually pen written or not.
[00:14:03] Brent: And you have some kind of, uh, it, it does a little indent on the paper as well.
[00:14:07] Rick: Yep, yep.
[00:14:08] Rick: And that was another reason, you know, we had to develop room technology. So those actually drop machines. All they have is little lift motor and there’s no downward pressure force. So we actually, we did a weighted pen. Um, we actually developed this pen. Um, we developed our own pen insert. We’re writing capacity, so when our motor lifts it, it actually lifts the pen, but when it goes down, we actually have a right, like a downward force on it.
[00:14:33] Rick: So we actually have a, a spring force that actually pushes the pen into the paper as well. So, um, so you’re gonna get that nice little pen and dation plus it’s ink, so it’s gonna smear. So it really, it’s gonna be really hard, you know, I mean, you really, really have to try to. Some type of, you know, um, woody pattern in these when there, there isn’t, but.
[00:14:55] Rick: That’s, yeah.
[00:14:57] Brent: Have you ever had anybody ask for Mount Blanc Black blue Ink?
[00:15:01] Rick: Yeah, when we were like first getting started. That was really funny. Like the early customers would ask for like that crazy stuff. But no more, I think people are starting to understand that, you know, this is a service that is out there.
[00:15:12] Rick: Um, You know, there are a couple competitors out there. There’s really only maybe two serious players in this space. Um, but, uh, yeah, I think, you know, businesses now just want, you know, something that’s easy to use, efficient, um, authentic, a good product. And that’s what we’re trying to do for our clients that we here at simply noted.
[00:15:34] Rick: Do you
[00:15:34] Brent: have some numbers that you could share that show sort of the uptick, uh, on, at the end of a sales cycle or response rate? I, I’ve heard that, you know, getting handwritten note has helped other companies, uh, get a better response rate on campaigns and. And, and just
[00:15:49] Rick: outreach. Yeah. Well, first handwritten notes have a 99% open rate.
[00:15:55] Rick: That’s a 300% improvement over print mail. Um, so if you’re thinking about doing direct mail and you’re doing print, you might as well just throw seven out of every $10 in the trash, cuz it’s not gonna do anything. Um, this was actually an American Express study, but they found out that just, you know, this is a client, you know, a client experience, um, study.
[00:16:16] Rick: American Express did, but just a simple 5% improvement in client retention will increase profits year over year by 25 to 95%. They did that on business accounts, but just retaining 5% more each year is gonna help you grow your business or grow your sales by 25 to 95% year over year. For me, I mean, that makes complete sense.
[00:16:36] Rick: If we were able to, you know, keep our current business clients, you know, year over year, um, especially, you know, our, our larger accounts, it would be easier to grow your business. So that makes total sense. Um, also, there’s, you know, customers who feel appreciated, you know, five, they’re five times more likely to make a repeat purchase.
[00:16:53] Rick: So just saying thank you. You’re gonna increase your like repeat purchases from your clients, repeat business by 500%. That was also American Express study as well. So really when it comes down to, it’s like just building deeper relationships with your clients because when you have deeper, more loyal relationships, they’re gonna stick around.
[00:17:12] Rick: You know, they’re gonna refer their friends and they’re gonna write better reviews, which really is gonna help you grow your business. And that’s what we’re really trying to do. Um, yeah. Yeah, I’d say those are some good stats with simply.
[00:17:24] Brent: Do you have some, um, sort of, you don’t have to say any client names, but, uh, any examples of situations, maybe retail or e-commerce or even just regular B2B type of outreach that have been very successful?
[00:17:40] Rick: Yeah, so we work with a luxury hat brand. Um, what they do is when somebody tries like their. Discounted hat. What they’ll do is they’ll automate a, um, handwritten note with a discount code to try their more expensive hat. So they’re trying to upsell them. So, I mean, they’ve been doing that for over a year.
[00:17:59] Rick: So I think if it was working, they, I mean, if it wasn’t working, they wouldn’t keep doing it. So that’s kind of a cool, unique, um, uh, kind of use case that we’ve seen in the e-com. Also, um, it’s, we have a, a luxury, um, uh, jewelry brand. And it’s really funny. It’s like, you know, their average sale probably is $3,000 or more, but what they use us for is when they get a customer complaint.
[00:18:26] Rick: So we see the, you know, somebody who didn’t have a good experience. We see that message get automated all the time. Um, it’s a global, global company and you know, they’re sending hundreds of notes a week. Um, but you would think, you know, , um, you know, using something like that to just apologize and get them back on board to, you know, get them to like the brand more, um, to try to get that loyalty back.
[00:18:50] Rick: Um, so yeah, we’ve seen them for upselling. We’ve seen them for saying sorry, to try to, you know, earn their trust back. So, yeah, there’s a bunch of ways to use it.
[00:18:58] Brent: That’s interesting on the customer complaint, cuz it, it is a little bit of a risk, especially if you automate it too much. Is that something worse?
[00:19:05] Brent: Somebody would actually write out, hand write, not handwriting super, but type. I type it out and then it comes to your engine and then gets mailed out.
[00:19:13] Rick: Yeah. I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t know. I, I think in something like that, you want to keep it super generic, you know, and give them the opportunity to reach back out to you.
[00:19:22] Rick: Um, that’s what this brand does. , um, they just say that they’re really sorry, you know, they’re apologizing for that experience. If you wanna talk, I’d love to talk to you more about it. And they put their a contact number for them so it actually looks, you know, as authentic as possible. They’re trying to be authentic, they’re trying to fix it.
[00:19:37] Rick: I think if you’re trying to get super custom and it’s just like a, um, a use case just to send it and forget it, I wouldn’t say that’s the best case. But if you’re giving them the option to then further contact you again and talk. The authenticity of something like that is, is something that’s extremely powerful.
[00:19:56] Brent: Um, I’ve heard. You can overdo handwritten notes as well, like the, it is something that should be spaced out over time and like, if, if you’re tagging somebody at the end of an e-commerce, uh, sale and you don’t wanna send ’em an handwritten note every week saying, Hey, thanks
[00:20:13] Rick: for this. No, well, I mean, we would love it if, you know , I can’t send, you know, hundreds to each of their clients.
[00:20:20] Rick: But, um, yeah, we, we try to recommend to our, our, our businesses, you know, three to four times a year at the most, um, at least once or twice a year. You know, we’re in the holidays right now, so it’s our busiest time of the year. That’s when most of our businesses are using us. Um, but I would say, you know, maybe thank you for a purchase, maybe a birthday or an anniversary of a purchase, and then a holiday.
[00:20:42] Rick: You know, just stay top of mind, you know, simply note as just another tool in the belt. That’s what we try to tell ’em as well. You still gotta do everything else. You still gotta have great customer service or great product, email, you know, phone calls, social, I mean, you gotta have all the other elements to build a successful business.
[00:20:56] Rick: It’s just, What we do is help you just build that strong relationship on an automatic or scaled, you know, level.
[00:21:05] Brent: Um, on the, um, on that, on that experience part and scale, I should say, um, our customers seeing some kind of, uh, um, or, or I should say, are merchants seeing a better uptick when it’s a little bit personalized or.
[00:21:27] Brent: Uh, are, is it, is it still effective if you’re sending out a nice note with a thank you and, and the person’s name at the end?
[00:21:36] Rick: Well, we always recommend to, uh, personalize it. Um, that’s the power of all the technologies that’s out there right now. Um, you know, using platforms like Zapier, integr, Matt Mat, um, or make, you know, whatever they are now, um, integrate, you know, you can pull information automatically from your software and personalize.
[00:21:56] Rick: The message as much as possible. Um, we definitely don’t recommend just putting a generic message on there cuz it kind of, it can come off as impersonal. Um, when the product that we are trying to provide is a very high level touch personal. So, um, We would absolutely recommend sending something that is as personalized as possible, but short and sweet, you know, these, your clients have seven second attention spans.
[00:22:21] Rick: Three or four sentences. Respect their time. Don’t send them, you know, two paragraphs of a message. It’s just not real or authentic. Um, you know, try to put yourself in their shoes. Be on the receiving end of this. What would you like to receive? . You know, maybe a simple Thank you. We appreciate you so much.
[00:22:38] Rick: You know, you know, please let us know if we can do anything for you. You know, short, sweet to the point is gonna be much more impactful than a thank you upsell, hard close , you know, 150 word message where they’re gonna, you know, if you don’t, if they don’t. You know, I was just listening to a podcast yesterday actually, about something.
[00:22:57] Rick: If you don’t have them hooked within three seconds, they just start skim reading. Like if you don’t have their attention within that first sentence, you know, I was trying to listen to podcasts about developing stronger messaging, and there’s like within three seconds, if you don’t have ’em, they just start, they just start skim reading.
[00:23:11] Rick: So again, short and sweet to the point is what, uh, works the best, but make sure it’s personalized to them. .
[00:23:17] Brent: And how about hooks in that message to get them to do some action? Is there, is there something in there that you’d, that sometimes you’d like them to do? Or is it some, is it just a, Hey, thanks for, for your
[00:23:29] Rick: customer?
[00:23:30] Rick: So my, my background’s in sales and marketing, so I’m, we use it to, to grow our business. Um, um, But what I always try to tell people is just say thank you, but if you are gonna use it for like a sales or marketing tool to book more appointments or close more deals, I always say there’s three things you gotta include so you know who you are.
[00:23:52] Rick: Make a quick introduction, one sentence, who you are, what company you’re with. Um, you know, what’s your value proposition? So number two, like what, how can you help them? How are you gonna make their life better? And then just simple, make an ass, you know, um, can we get on the call? You know, can we buy you lunch?
[00:24:08] Rick: Something like that. Just really quick. And to the point, respect their time. If they’re interested, you know, they’ll call you back. But yeah, I would say make an introduction, value proposition, you know, and then they can. ,
[00:24:22] Brent: is there a crossover into the personal space? You know, sending birthday cards and Christmas cards and things like that?
[00:24:27] Brent: Are you primarily
[00:24:29] Rick: commercial? So our website, simply noted.com, can send just one card for any reason. Um, but that our website was built on purpose. We had to the API first company. Um, so all of our orders, you know, they do go through our website, but they use software to. Um, but if anybody, you know, wants to go in and send a quick birthday card or a holiday card, um, you can do that on our website.
[00:24:57] Rick: Um, but we’re primarily focused on helping companies, um, do it because they have the technology and the resources put in place, you know, to leverage a system like this. But we still want to help, you know. Average realtor or mortgage professional, or just anybody who wants to send a card. It’s actually a good reason for a lot of people to just try us out as well.
[00:25:19] Rick: You know, they want to try before they buy, so they’ll go on there and we allow them to send their first card free so they can send it, see what it’s like, touch it, get it in their mail. Um, yeah.
[00:25:30] Brent: Excellent. Um, do you have a font that is can’t read? So if my, nobody can read my handwriting. So do you have it so they’ll know that, Hey, this is coming from Brent, so Definit.
[00:25:41] Brent: I can’t even read it. .
[00:25:43] Rick: Yeah. So, um, yeah, I think it’s Rafiki. It’s kind of like a, a doctor’s, I would call it scratch. I mean, it’s super dis disgusting. It’s really hard to read. But, um, I mean, I, you know, I’ll send a handwritten note or two a day just to, you know, people stay in touch or thank them for something they’ve done for me recently, and I’ll still use our system because, you know, if I wrote it, it, it, my handwriting is so terrible that I, I, I’ll write it out and then I’ll try to read ’em.
[00:26:13] Rick: Like, this is just terrible on the. Like, this isn’t even a nice reading experience. Like I’d rather use that handwriting style that we have on our website and put our message in online just to send one or two , because I just, my handwriting is terrible. So, um, there’s just something like that too. I’m trying to put myself in the recipient shoes as well.
[00:26:33] Rick: It’s like, do they wanna read my chicken scratch or they want to have some, you know, handwriting style that does. Like a handwriting style, but it’s actually enjoyable to read cuz mine like will literally hurt your eyes. . . It would be a lot. Sweet. So we can’t go, what is that? Yeah,
[00:26:48] Brent: we can’t go onto the website and pick the Rick Elmore font.
[00:26:52] Rick: No, no, that, that will never be on the website cuz I don’t think anybody would choose it.
[00:26:57] Brent: Um, if you had one nugget that you think. Customers should do going into quarter one or just throughout for 2023. What, what do you think is something that people could be doing in both customer experience and uh, and communication?
[00:27:13] Rick: So I would, what do you, you know, there’s a hundred different. You know, competitors to every service, it doesn’t matter. You know, we live in 2022, almost 2023. Um, competition’s so fierce across the board in everything that we do. Um, so what I try to do with my clients is give them 10 times more value, um, and appreciation.
[00:27:35] Rick: So no matter what, you know, they’re gonna be loyal to us, um, because I know they have the ability to go out there and, and shop around and try other people. So what I try to do is just focus on that relationship because I know our product is gonna get better and it’s always going to be improving. But I want the people that have worked with us two years ago or last year to stay with us and come with us and help us.
[00:27:57] Rick: So I would say, you know, early on every single year is somehow get in front of your clients. It doesn’t matter if you’re gonna pick up the phone and call them and thank them for what they did for you last year. Um, do something to engage them in a way. that you’re getting their loyalty stuck to you and your brand.
[00:28:14] Rick: Like what are you doing, um, to build that loyalty on a consistent basis. Because, you know, like I, I’m, I’m a big tech guy and I have, you know, tech brands that I like to follow, but you know, there’s different options, but. I do have one brand that always somehow gets my attention and, um, they’re really good at staying on, on top of, on staying on top of mind.
[00:28:37] Rick: And actually, they, they called me after my last purchase and said, Hey, we saw you like you’re on your seventh purchase. Thank you so much. Like, that’s impactful. You know, what are you doing to stay in front, um, of your clients? Um, because you know that attention span, especially with ads and social and digital, um, it’s really.
[00:28:56] Rick: You know, to stay top of mind 24 7 when everybody, including your competitors, are fighting for that space. So I would say definitely figure out a way to, to get that trust, get that loyalty, you know, get them, you know, 100% on your, on your ship. Every single year.
[00:29:13] Brent: Yeah, I mean, that’s a really good point.
[00:29:15] Brent: There’s so much noise out there nowadays and, and making sure that, uh, you’re kind of going above the fray. You have to do something that others aren’t doing. And I think that personal touch be it, be it a personal phone call or, uh, handwritten note is such a great way of making sure that you’re up above what everybody else is doing and trying to stay out of that noise of generic social media and generic email.
[00:29:40] Rick: um, Rick, somebody, you know Yeah, go ahead. I have another little nugget here. Somebody. I use a podcasting service, you know, to help us, um, with our outreach. And the owner of this company gave me a phone call and I didn’t answer cuz I didn’t know how it was. And then what he did was recorded a message on Zoom.
[00:29:59] Rick: Just thanking me for being a client on his platform. And he sent me an email and saying, Hey, just sent you this message. Just wanted to, whatever. And it was a video, like a three minute video thanking me of being a client, like , like, am I gonna be loyal to him or go try some different service? You know? So that was a cool, cool way.
[00:30:17] Rick: Somebody just got my attention recently as well. And that takes two or three minutes. You know, it’s really easy to do, you know, on a computer nowadays, everybody knows how to use Zoom and, and do that recording.
[00:30:27] Brent: Yeah, I think Vineyard is a great tool to use just to give those personal little video responses.
[00:30:33] Brent: Um, Rick, as I close out the podcast, uh, I give everybody a chance to do a shameless plug. You can plug anything you’d like. What would you like to plug today?
[00:30:44] Rick: Yeah, so what we do is anybody who goes to our website, we’ll actually send them a nice sample kit. So we do a good job of putting together this big 10 by 13 folio, um, with writing samples, brochures, case studies, handwriting styles, um, basically everything.
[00:31:00] Rick: that you, I mean, after four and a half years of doing this, we know what questions people ask and we answer those questions in this sample kit. So if you went to simply noted.com, um, and just go to the business page and you can fill out your information. We’ll send you this nice sample kit. Um, and usually what happens, you know, people request it and then three to six months later, you know, a light bulb goes off and then they’ll contact us.
[00:31:23] Rick: So we highly recommend you just to go to simply no.com and go to the business page and let us send you a free sample. Okay? It’s on us. Um, and yeah, and just see, you know, how great this technology is and simply noted. Really just wants to help automate it and. Um, and you can see how we can do that with this sample kit.
[00:31:44] Brent: That’s awesome. Rick, thanks so much being here today. It’s been a pleasure.
[00:31:49] Rick: Thank you so much, Brent. It’s great to be here.
Thank you for making it to the end of this episode of Talk Commerce. Please rate this episode wherever you download your podcast. We are actively looking for people to participate in the Free Joke Project. Go to talk hyphen commerce.com and sign up for your free spot on the Free Joke Project. If you are a business, I will do a 32nd elevator.
In the spot to help promote your business. That’s talk hyphen commerce.com.
This week on our podcast, we will discuss the incredible story behind John’s Crazy Socks and our mission to spread happiness. We’ll explore how John, who has Down Syndrome, and his dad, Mark, started this business with a simple mission: to spread happiness.
We’ll talk about how their business has grown and evolved over the years and how they have impacted the lives of so many. Additionally, we’ll discuss the importance of inclusion and how John’s Crazy Socks has created a community of acceptance and respect.
Tune in to learn more about this inspiring story and how you can help make a difference!
What you will learn from this podcast
[00:04:22] Mark: dad.
Mark is a fan of Bob Dylan and recently embarked on a project to send out a Bob Dylan song of the day.
[00:05:20] John: son,
Mark and I built a website and got a little inventory, and we were bootstrapping. The only marketing we did was set up a Facebook page.
Brent wants to get your feedback on a joke before we get into the regular content, so he’s gonna tell you a joke and then you’re gonna tell me a joke after that.
[00:09:33] Brent: Oof
Mark: I don’t know if you’ve ever had to participate in a mission statement writing exercise, but it drives everything we do. We’ve created a social enterprise that has both the social and the business purpose, and they feed off of each other.
Mark: It’s about giving back, supporting causes, and creating customer experiences. And so we’re spreading happiness.
[00:12:23] Brent: happiness.
Brent: Yeah, I’m a big believer in the entrepreneurial operating system, so we do mission statements and we set up our core values.
Mark: I’m familiar with E os and we have our five pillars, and everybody knows that, so if you walk around here and you say, what’s the mission, everybody will be able to tell you and they’ll be able to tell you why their job matters.
Mark: work. We have to make this a great place to work, and we can start by making sure people know why their job matters.
When you buy socks from us, you are helping us employ people with different abilities, give back, and spread happiness. You get a thank you note from John, and on the packing slip, you see the picture of the person who picked your on.
Brent: I agree that happiness has to start with the staff and then bring it out to the customers.
[00:15:51] Mark: happiness?
Mark: We believe in what we’re doing and we’re committed to making our customers happy, so we go the extra mile for them. We give things away, we refund money, we give a guarantee of happiness, and it’s good business.
Mark: We get happy employees, happy customers, and loyal customer. We have a great website, great selection, great products, and great service, so we frequently hear from new customers how surprised they were and how quickly they got their product.
Mark: We do better shipping than Amazon and Jeff Bezos over in Amazon, and we do it because we hire people with different abilities.
Brent: I think businesses overlook two of the five pillars, the social and the environmental, and also the community. Maybe you could touch a little bit on the community side of it?
Mark: we work with people with different abilities, and we make products that celebrate causes and raise money for those causes.
[00:19:39] Mark: You
Mark: Socks raised money for the National Down Syndrome Society. We work with the local schools, we host school tours, we get involved in the local chamber of commerce, and it turns out to be good for business.
Brent: I get that, and I volunteer for a running organization that helps incarcerated, formerly incarcerated people start changing their lives through running. The community aspect is even more important than the running part, and you have to make sure that you’re maintaining that and being part of it.
Brent: Leaders should always try to serve others rather than getting something from them. Mark: Leaders should work for everybody else and give them what they need to succeed.
Mark said we were going to sell crazy socks, and John’s Crazy Socks became somewhat anachronistic, but it’s about the joy and the passion and the energy.
Mark: When you get tossed ass over heels, you got your north star, and your values help keep you on track. So when we got hit by a pandemic, we knew we had to take care of our colleagues’ health.
Mark: We moved our tours online, we made socks to say thank you to frontline workers, we sold masks to spread happiness, and we made healthcare superhero socks to raise $50,000 for the American Nurses Foundation.
Mark founded SOS to spread happiness and started a Facebook live show and a podcast. He says that if you know what you are really, you can adapt no matter what the circumstances are.
John and Mark are the owners of johns crazy socks, which makes great socks and helps people with different ability. By buying from them, you’re also helping them spread happiness.
Please rate this episode wherever you download your podcast and sign up for the Free Joke Project to help promote your business.
[00:03:35] Brent: Welcome to Tak Commerce. Today I have John and Mark Cronan. They are, uh, the founders of the Crazy Sox. Anyways, John and Mark, why don’t you do an introduction Tell me, uh, a little bit about yourselves, one of your passions in life. Correct. Any of my mistakes, and tell me, uh, tell me everything. , you
[00:03:55] Mark: wanna
[00:03:55] John: introduce us?
[00:03:56] John: Um, my name is John. This my partner, my dad, mark Aswan. Uh, we are John and our mission is spreading
[00:04:05] Mark: happiness spread and happiness. So we help bring a little happiness, friends passions. You got a lot of passions here. I do dancing. Is that one of them? I
[00:04:14] John: can’t sing and I do. Um, I, I dancing and I, um, I I love my
[00:04:22] Mark: dad.
[00:04:23] Mark: Well, that’s a passion of yours, so, okay, so what’s a passion of mine? Uh, completely non-business related. I am a fan of Bob Dylan. Fan is short for fanatic . Um, so I have recently. Well, not that recently embarked on one of the more absurd projects I’ve ever taken on Kevin’s son. I, I started selling out, sending out a Bob Dylan song of the day.
[00:04:54] Mark: Um, and I do a little write up, you know, but it frequently like a thousand words or so.
[00:04:59] John: Um, he’s son about,
[00:05:02] Mark: uh, uh, whatever Bob Dylan song comes to mind that day, and today I’m on day 211. and I suggest to people try to write something for 200 days in a row. ? .
[00:05:18] Brent: Yeah. It’s not easy. He has
[00:05:20] John: son,
[00:05:21] Mark: right? I have sons, yes.
[00:05:23] Mark: What do you want me to say about my sons? He have son and wife. I have a wife too. Yes. I told them I’m talking about one thing. . Come on now. . So Brent wants to know about John’s Crazy Sox. Um, it’s named for you because it was your idea. Give my idea. Um, we started just over six years ago. We just celebrated our six anniversary.
[00:05:50] Mark: Um, born at an necessity. Right. John, you, where were you six years ago? Uh,
[00:05:55] John: I was at high. .
[00:05:58] Mark: He was in his last year of school trying to figure out, I’m last year, what do I do next? John has Down Syndrome. There just aren’t a lot of opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. We know you have a lot of entrepreneurs in the audience.
[00:06:12] Mark: John’s a natural entrepreneur. He couldn’t find anything he wanted. He couldn’t find a job. So what’d you say? I want quit. I wanna make one. I’ll make a job.
[00:06:22] John: What’d you tell me? I told my dad I was gonna be with him. .
[00:06:27] Mark: So ultimately we just, he suggested we sell socks. We had, he had won these crazy socks his whole life.
[00:06:36] Mark: We said, okay, let’s go test the idea. So we went the lean startup route. We built a website, got a little inventory. We were bootstrapping. Uh, we recently were talking to some students and they said, well, what does bootstrapping. It means you have no money, um, and you gotta make due with what you have. So the only marketing we did was set up a Facebook page.
[00:07:01] Mark: I would take out my cell phone and we made videos. And who was in those videos? I am,
[00:07:07] John: I’m talking by socks. Socks on my sock.
[00:07:10] Mark: And we opened on Friday, December 9th, 2016. Yes. Not knowing what to expect. We got 42 orders the first day. , we did home deliveries to people. Most of ’em were local. Um, and after two weeks, after that first month, or really two weeks, um, we had 452 waters and we knew we could, we could grow something today.
[00:07:38] Mark: How many different socks do we have? We
[00:07:40] John: have 4,000 d.
[00:07:44] Mark: 4,000 socks, which means John here owns the world’s largest sock store in terms of choice, right? Not, we’re not out selling Walmart and the like, um, but we just celebrate our six anniversary, just shipped our 400000th package. Um, we’ve been able to create 34 jobs.
[00:08:05] Mark: 22 of those are held by people with different abilities and, uh, giving back is a big part of what we do. And, and. We’ve now raised $600,000 for our charity partner. So, uh, uh, things have been good so far.
[00:08:22] Brent: Yeah. That’s awesome. Um, uh, one of the things that, uh, that I prepped you with in the green room, and I noticed, uh, you, you have the banner in the background that’s spreading happiness.
[00:08:33] Brent: Um, I did say that I was gonna tell you a joke and I wanted to just get your feedback on the joke. So before we get into the regular content, I’m gonna tell you a. and then, uh, you just have to tell me if that joke should be free or not. And then as I understand it, you’re gonna tell me a joke as well after, after I tell you the joke.
[00:08:52] Brent: All right, let’s go Brent. So, um, I’m hoping I’m gonna spread some happiness. Um, alright, here we go. What does a building wear a dress?
[00:09:07] Mark: So you tell jokes like
[00:09:08] Brent: John ? Yes.
[00:09:11] Mark: I didn’t,
[00:09:13] John: ah, I don’t think you can charge for that.
[00:09:16] Mark: I’m not sure You can give
[00:09:17] John: that
[00:09:17] Mark: away. .
[00:09:19] Brent: Well, we just gave it away. Should. Alright, should we do one more? Okay. All right. I’ll do one more. Since, since that one, that one was so successful. Um, a storm blew away 25% of my roof last.
[00:09:33] Brent: Oof
[00:09:36] Brent: I know. That was a, that was, that was even worse.
[00:09:41] Mark: That is upon worthy of James Joyce, you know? Yes, absolutely. Do you have a joke you
[00:09:47] John: want to tell? I do. That’s here. Why? Why is Don wear, why has thunder
[00:09:54] Mark: wear, why does thunder wear. , why does underwear, underwear. Underwear. Okay. I’m not sure if I get it. You know, , sometimes I think you’re speaking a different language.
[00:10:11] Brent: All right. Let, let’s talk a little bit about spreading happiness. Um, tell us, tell us some of the background of that. And, and, and I mean, I, I can, I am, I’m also a believer in spreading happiness, but tell us a little bit about that. .
[00:10:27] Mark: Well, we are believers that if you wanna lead an organization, you gotta know what you’re about.
[00:10:37] Mark: You gotta know what your purpose is about. Um, and ours is spreading happiness. And so, and how do you, what do you say are the keys to spreading
[00:10:46] John: happiness? It’s gratitude for
[00:10:48] Mark: others. Gratitude and do for others. And that drives through everything we. , um, I don’t know, Brent, if you’ve ever been, if you’ve ever had to participate in a mission statement writing exercise, I, I hope not.
[00:11:03] Mark: You know, you go away and you parse the language and you come back and people put it on the wall and no one pays any attention to it. We talk about this every day, and it drives our decision making. It drives our budget process. And it has to then infuse everything we do. So what we’ve done to make that happen is we’ve created a social enterprise.
[00:11:31] Mark: So it’s a slightly different type of business model. We have both the social and the business purpose, and they feed off of each other. And, and really the, the keys for us, it’s, it’s like John says, it’s have an attitude of gratitude and it’s due for others and for us. That’s really about showing what we can do, what, what people with different abilities can do.
[00:11:57] Mark: It’s about giving back, you know, supporting causes. Um, and it’s about making those connections with our customers, you know, so we’re always looking for relationships, not just transactions. We’re looking to create customer experiences. And so what we do all. our, we’re spreading happiness and our customers are spreading
[00:12:23] Brent: happiness.
[00:12:25] Brent: Yeah, that’s great. I, I’m a, I’m a big believer in the entrepreneurial operating system, so as, as we do eos, it’s called, we have to do mission statements and we have to set up our core values, so absolutely. I’ve gone through that and I’m a big believer in living and working towards your core values and hiring for your core values.
[00:12:43] Brent: That, that’s awesome. Yes. So,
[00:12:46] Mark: yes. Yeah, go ahead. It. I’m familiar with E os and you know, we, we gotta know our purpose. We have our five pillars. Um, everybody knows that, you know, if you walk around here and you say, what’s the mission? Everybody will be able to tell you and they’ll be able to tell you why their job matters and connects.
[00:13:07] Brent: Yeah, that’s good. So tell, tell me a little bit about, uh, the happiness part. What is it that, um, just, so what is it that you’re doing to promote happiness and how, and I’m assuming it’s happiness for employees and for customers,
[00:13:20] Mark: for everybody. Right. Um, it was the old Milton Friedman line that, you know, companies and corporations only had an obligation as shareholders.
[00:13:31] Mark: Uh, we believe in a different, will we have an obligation to our colleagues, to our customers, to the community, to the environment, and to our shareholders. Um, you know, I mentioned the five pillars we have. What’s our, what are our five
[00:13:48] John: pillars? Um, it’s present in hope. Give me back five prior, uh, five prior.
[00:13:54] John: You can love, make partner and make it clear to
[00:13:58] Mark: work. So, you know, you ask how you do that happiness. Well, it’s gotta start here. It’s gotta start with our colleagues. We have to make this a great place to work, and we could dive into how we do that, but much of it is about making sure we offer people mission worthy of their commitment, making sure everybody knows why their job matters.
[00:14:19] Mark: Putting people in a position that succeed, recognizing what they do, um, making it personal. We sell online, but we’re always looking to create a personal connection with our customers. It’s, it’s exemplified by our packaging. What, what do you put in every
[00:14:38] John: package? Every package Get, uh, taken there from me and Candy.
[00:14:43] Mark: So when you buy from us, right? You, you as a customer, you, you’re gonna get great socks. We’ve got 30,005 star reviews. But you are helping us employ people with different abilities. You help us give back. You help us spread happiness that’s embodied in the package. So when you get a package from us, you see John’s smiling face in the outside, you open it up, you get your socks, you get a thank you note from John.
[00:15:12] Mark: On the flip side of that is the story of John’s Crazy Socks. You get a package of candy and on the packing slip you see the picture and the. Of the person who picked your on. So you are not just getting socks, you’re getting this little dose of happiness. Right. That’s, that’s one, that’s one of the ways we do it.
[00:15:36] Brent: That’s good. I’m also a believer in that, uh, happiness has to start with the organization. It has to start with the staff and the staff then bring it out to the customers. It can’t happen the other way around if. A bunch of crabby staff, you’re, you’re never gonna have happy customers. Now how are we gonna
[00:15:50] John: spread
[00:15:51] Mark: happiness?
[00:15:51] Mark: Right. And it’s, and it relates, you know, we see it in the way people work here. Um, they believe in what we’re doing and they’re committed. So they go the extra distance for our customers, right? And it, and it frames the relationship. You know, you, you’ve heard the line, the customer is always right. Nonsense.
[00:16:14] Mark: The customer can be dead. , but we’re not in the business of being right. We’re in the business of making that customer happy, so we’ll do anything we can. We, the people that work directly with customers, their, their title is Happiness Creator. They know they can spend 200 hours on any customer for any reason at any.
[00:16:38] Mark: We give things away. We refund money. Um, we give a guarantee, a two year guarantee of happiness. You know, two years you’re happy with the socks. At any point, you’re not, you don’t have, we don’t want your socks back. We’ll make it up to you and, but here’s the thing. Here’s why it’s good business. What do we get out of that?
[00:16:59] Mark: We get happy employees. We get happy customers, we get loyal customer. and our return rate, our refund rate is less than 0.3 of 1%. Right. It’s good business. So they’re great stocks as well. Yeah, you have to, the social mission matters, you know, when people, frequently they want to talk to us about hiring people with different abilities or the giving back, but at its core we have to be at great e-commerce.
[00:17:34] Mark: You gotta have a great website, you gotta have great selection. The products have to be great, and the service has to be great. So we do same day shipping. An order comes in today, it’s going out today. You’re gonna get it right away. We frequently hear from new customers how surprised they were and how quickly they got their product.
[00:17:53] Mark: We do better shipping than Amazon and Jeff Bezos over in Amazon. He’s not putting a thank you note in candy in his packages. Right? It’s. And we do that in part cuz we want to show why it makes business sense to hire people with different abilities. So we’re able to achieve this because of whom we hire.
[00:18:16] Mark: Um, and we want, we want the world to see that. .
[00:18:19] Brent: Yeah, I, you mentioned the five pillars, and I’m gonna just point out to ’em from that. Often businesses, I, I feel like businesses overlook at least two of them. The social and the environmental. Certainly there’s a lot of businesses that focus on environmental.
[00:18:32] Brent: I think there’s less businesses that’s focus on the social. And then you did, you mentioned community as well. I think a lot of businesses, especially business owners, tend to overlook the community side of it. Maybe you could touch a little bit. On the community side of it. And then, and we, if we have some time, we could talk a little bit about the environmental and the social.
[00:18:53] Brent: So social. Well
[00:18:54] Mark: let’s talk about community and defining community. So part of our community are working with people with different abilities and so we’ll do that’s important to. So we make products that celebrate causes, raise awareness and raise money for those causes. And we, and, and that also drives our giving back.
[00:19:18] Mark: So in that community, we started by pledging 5% of our earnings to the Special Olympics. And, and why the Special
[00:19:26] John: Olympics? I, I pick Athlete
[00:19:29] Mark: John’s been doing Special Olympics for 21. No Special Olympics. There’s no Johns Crazy socks, but, but we have these awareness socks. What was the first awareness sock?
[00:19:39] Mark: You
[00:19:40] John: created Down Awareness
[00:19:42] Mark: Socks. And they raised money for the National Down Syndrome Society. So that’s part of the community. What can we do to advocate? What can we do to support them? But there’s also the local community and we’ve gotta be good. And we call it corporate citizens. So we work with the local schools.
[00:20:03] Mark: We host school tours coming through here in work groups. We’ve had more than a thousand students come through here on tours. You, we get involved in the local chamber of commerce. Um, we get involved in our local towns and the local community cuz we have a presence. This is where we live. And I, I think that’s important, uh, that, that you play that role.
[00:20:28] Mark: It comes back to spreading happiness. , what can we do for others? The more we do for others, the better off we are. And then, oh, by the way, it turns out to be good for business because people know us. So they order direct and we, we, we sell to other businesses. So we get companies calling us up because they want custom socks or they want to give packaging services.
[00:20:51] Mark: We offer, or we’ve created a a, uh, a charity fundraising program. Uh, it was great for, for nonprofits and so PTAs and special education PTAs like that. And I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sell stuff, but you were asking, you know, why do you do this? Um, that’s why it’s
[00:21:12] Brent: all of a whole. , you know, I, I get that. Uh, I, I volunteer for a running organization that helps incarcerated, formerly incarcerated people, uh, start changing their lives through running.
[00:21:24] Brent: And one of the things that we’ve noticed is that the community aspect, the fact that you’re talking to somebody and sometimes you’re spending an hour or two hours with them, that that community is even more important than the running part. The running part is just a byproduct of the community. Right. Um, and I, I, I.
[00:21:43] Brent: Y you’re saying you’re, you’re telling the same story that the community is, is maybe as important as the business itself and, and making sure that you’re maintaining that and being part of it. You’re not just sitting there in your own little perch.
[00:21:58] Mark: No. It’s our, our overall strategy is drive the mission that drives our brand and that drives sales.
[00:22:10] Mark: But it starts with that focus on, on others, you know, on what can we do for others, what can we do for you? If we have that focus, the business will follow and it’s more sustainable.
[00:22:25] Brent: Um, I I, I just want to key on that. So what can I, what, what can we do for you? I think a lot of times, um, a, a lot of times business leaders often get that back.
[00:22:38] Brent: Especially with their own team, they’re saying to their team, what can you do for me? Right. As a, as a leader, I think the, the trajectory should be, as a leader, you’re always trying to serve others rather than trying to get something from others. It’s,
[00:22:55] Mark: you know, you talk about servant leadership and if you, if you ask about our role, well, some of our role is to set the vision and the tone in the overall direction, but other.
[00:23:07] Mark: It’s to serve everybody else. I work for everybody else here. My job is to put them in a position to succeed and to give them what they need. Oh man.
[00:23:20] Brent: That, yeah, I just,
[00:23:21] Mark: yeah, go ahead. I think that’s the type of leadership we need. It’s, it’s not about self-aggrandizement. It’s not about beating your chest.
[00:23:31] Mark: It’s about what can I do for others because that multipl. The impact. And that’s really what lets us get things done.
[00:23:41] Brent: Uh, talk, just take a few minutes and talk about just the name John’s Crazy Socks. Where did you come up with the name? I mean, I know John is sitting there. What your name? I’m
[00:23:53] Mark: John. John. Um, he’s the one who came up with the name.
[00:23:57] Mark: He said, we’re gonna sell crazy socks. John’s Crazy Socks. Um, we have upon occasion, , we thought that a little bit because of negative mental health implications. But in the end, even if it says become somewhat anachronistic, it’s about the joy and the passion and the energy. Um, and it’s John, right? Yeah. Dad, I did suggest Mark’s Murray sauce for Mark Sirius socks, but that was going nowhere.
[00:24:33] Brent: Yeah. Mark Sirius socks doesn’t have the same ring, does it? Um, so if, if you have, um, if you had a little piece of nugget or some kind of advice, I hate the word, we don’t use the word advice usually in entrepreneurship or in our preneur group. We’d like to, we like to say we don’t should on people. We like to share experience.
[00:24:53] Brent: If you could share your experience on helping others understand why those five pillars are so important in your business. Is, is there anything that, that you could offer somebody to get started?
[00:25:07] Mark: I, I do. I, you have to. I, I, I believe this. You have to know what you are about. You have to know what your purpose is.
[00:25:16] Mark: That becomes your north star and your values help keep you on track. So when you get tossed ass over heels, as you will be, you got your North star, you know where you’re going. Well, here’s a concrete example. So we roll into 2020, and then you may have heard, we get hit by a pandemic, right? It was awful.
[00:25:45] Mark: For our business, it cost us hundreds of thousands of times. What do you do? Well, as long as you know what you are about, you’re gonna be able to steer the weight. . So we knew first we had to take care of our colleagues. We could stay open, but we had to make sure we took care of everybody’s health, particularly because so many of our colleagues were vulnerable.
[00:26:09] Mark: Then you say, okay, how do we adapt to this? Well, we do a lot of speaking engagements. We moved those online. We moved our tours online. Turns out that opened the. . We now have student groups from around the world come and take tours. Um, we make socks. What could we do? Well, we made healthcare superhero socks to say thank you to frontline workers, and those raised over $50,000 to the American Nurses Foundation’s Covid 19 fund, because we knew what we were about.
[00:26:48] Mark: But then you also say, all right, well our mission is spreading happiness. How do we do. In a pandemic. Well, we did something new. We sold mask. But how do you spread happiness? So what do you do every Tuesday
[00:27:03] John: afternoon? Uh, every Tuesday I hold, I dance, pray every, every Tuesday. Um, Is the time
[00:27:11] Mark: he hosts an online dance party.
[00:27:13] Mark: Yes. What better way to spread happiness. And we started a Facebook live show. You know, a voter shut down. How can we reach people? How can we share some happiness? And that’s, we still do that. And that’s evolved also, we now have a podcast. Um, so you don’t immediately say you’re a sock company, you should have a dance party.
[00:27:36] Mark: But if you know what you are really. , then you can adapt no matter what the circumstances are. Right? And and for us, yes, we’re the world’s largest sos but at the end of the day, we’re not really a soman. The SOS become the physical manifestation for the mission and the story.
[00:28:04] Brent: Yeah, I like that. Um, John and Mark, as, as we close out the podcast, they give everybody a chance to do a shameless plug about anything you’d like.
[00:28:14] Brent: What would you like to plug today?
[00:28:17] Mark: Well, where, ask for your support. Where can people find us?
[00:28:22] John: I’ll go at john’s crazy
[00:28:24] Mark: socks.com. Johns crazy socks.com. And here’s the thing, if you buy from us, you’re gonna get great sock. You’re gonna get whenever you want because we have such great choice. But more than that, you’re gonna help us hire people with different ability.
[00:28:43] Mark: You’re gonna help us get back and most of all, you’re gonna help us spread happiness. So that’s as shameless as we get.
[00:28:51] Brent: That’s awesome. Thank you so much. Uh, John and Mark, I will put all these also in the show notes so they can find john’s crazy socks.com as a link as part of the podcast. And it has been a pleasure to speak to you today.
[00:29:06] Mark: Well, thank you very much.
[00:29:08] John: Thank you so much.
Thank you for making it to the end of this episode of Talk Commerce. Please rate this episode wherever you download your podcast. We are actively looking for people to participate in the Free Joke Project. Go to talk hyphen commerce.com and sign up for your free spot on the Free Joke Project. If you are a business, I will do a 32nd elevator.
In the spot to help promote your business. That’s talk hyphen commerce.com.
Veteran Twin Cities marketer, Scott Moore thinks he’s found that most elusive of opportunities. A new way for businesses to reach the parts and touch the hearts of customers that the $300bn US ad industry simply cannot.
After a storied and successful career beginning at the legendary Fallon agency, rising to the top of marketing at Best Buy and then as CMO of Wynn Resorts, Scott has invested billions of dollars on every form of marketing and has seen every enduring and ephemeral 21st century trend.
Which makes his latest move one that we should all stand up and pay attention to.
Last year, bitten by the collab bug and smitten by the business opportunity, Scott left corporate marketing behind to launch Colaboratory with his co-founder Brian Bispala, formerly the CTO of Code 42.
Colaboratory is a marketing automation platform that makes it easy for brands of all types and stripes, shapes and sizes to meet, match and execute brand x brand collabs to drive growth and enhance brand perception.
In today’s episode Scott explains how;
Brand collabs cut through the digital clutter to create impactful and effective marketing in an age when marketing has been increasingly commodified.
Collabs will counter a cookie-less future promising less creativity and a return to “bigger-takes-all” message bombing.
How a “collab marketplace” solves many of the friction points stymying brands as they try to get in the game.
Collabs are now available to all brands not just a tool that has been mastered by culture-forward brands in Food, Fashion, Sports and Entertainment.
Collabs help brands, “share and square” their equity across platforms and touchpoints, dimensions and domains.
Brand collabs enable brands to divide the effort and multiply returns as they expand customer perception and accelerate new product and promotional opportunities.
Today’s show is an insider view on how the best marketing brains are developing this new muscle, and masterclass on how you can too.
Brand-to-brand CoLab and innovative partnerships go beyond just creating a funny ad, like you see in the Super Bowl. That’s creative, but that’s ephemeral. It’s art.
These Colabs that are being built today are conceptually interesting. They’re not just visually arresting.You’re like, wait a minute. What’s that? It catches your attention.
We interview Scott Moore who is building solutions where you don’t have to be Jay-Z or the CEO of Nike to do a collab.
You shouldn’t have to be the president of Ralph Lauren. All brands should be able to say, Hey, these are my customers. This is what I’m trying to do with them. Who can I partner with to grow my brand.
Unlock and Unleash the power of Brand to Brand Colaborations
The Talk Summary
Scott is co-founder and CEO of Collaboratory, a venture back startup that helps brands connect to brands to grow their market more efficiently, more effectively with their partners.
I’m a former marketer, started an advertise, was the COO of a marketing tech company, sold to private equity, and then was the CMO of wind resorts. I’m now the CEO of High Alpha, a new business with my partner Brian Bisk.
Scott: I hired the team, defined a big space where such that if you win, you really win, and then went build products and experiences that meet your customer’s needs.
Scott says that if someone slaps you at a high frequency, it hurts. Brent says that he used to say the joke in the preamble and have a little laugh track that goes on behind it, but then he decided to just start telling the joke to the listeners.
Scott: I worked for Win, Wind resorts, and Encore, and they’re all world class companies. Encore Boston Harbor is like a full on Vegas style hotel at wind level of execution, five minutes from downtown Boston.
Brent: I’m interested in the collaboration space and Andy Hel has been helping me get informed and learn about it. We could also talk about entrepreneurship and getting funded, and yesterday I was sat next to a venture capital backed company who is going for his second round of funding.
Brand partnerships are more than just having your JBL stereo in your Pontiac Sunfire. They can be as big as McDonald’s Monopoly and Best Buy. Scott: It came to light through proximity, existing relationships, or serendipity. I don’t know how Senator Serendipity works, but it doesn’t fit to a 21st century world or 21st century marketing in any way.
In the market for love, the way we solved it was meet your, best friend’s sister. In the market for jobs, the way we solved it is through Indeed, and in the market for collectibles, Etsy does the same thing.
Scott: I can do better segmentation to figure out should they target you or me, and then I’ve got amazing pipes into your life. But I don’t remember a single ad from today, and that’s an age old marketing problem.
Scott says that he’s never bought a Clinique product in his life, but he has bought a lot of Crayola, and he noticed that the two brands have a shared audience. He says that if you can find relevant audience connections, you can fill in the gaps.
Scott: We want to build solutions where you don’t have to be Jay-Z or the CEO of Nike to do a collab. We want to do it in a software data-driven, technology kind of way.
Scott: In the past, a lot of these collaborations have been incidental or by accident. But now, as social media matures, influencers are still pretty strong, and Adidas knows their business and they can do it.
Scott: A TicTacs on TikTok is on fire, so leave that alone. The maturation means you’re paying a CPM cost per thousand when you buy media.
A partnership between any two brands can be very interesting. You could pick ’em, and the other brand may have an equal set of assets, but they may have a different spin on the customer audience.
Scott: There’s a lot of brilliant, creative marketing people across all organizations of all sizes, and there are ways to bring data to this work. Brent: There are risks and rewards to collaborations, but the ones that are well constructed tend to perform better.
Scott: Those ones tend to outperform Who I happen to know from high school. Brand partnerships and collaborations are the way to grow strategically, and we’re saying just let us, let’s role play back. Scott: Sometimes we smarty pants people get over our skis with all the rational, and we need to go back to the local third grade classroom and see if they even understand our strategy.
Scott: Let’s go to the third grade class. They can vote on whether or not to partner with the Rolling Stones, Justin Bieber, or Athlete A. And there’s no math.
Scott: I think collaboration opportunities have always been there, but they’ve been viewed tactically and opportunistically, not strategically. I think collaboratory is uncovering these opportunities, and it’s emanating from culture leading categories like sport, music, culinary fashion of course.
In my past life I worked with a RUM brand that had a partnership with the Boston Red Sox. I think that was a strategic rather than opportunistic collaboration, and the Red Sox are very strategic in how they grow.
Scott: That doesn’t sound super strategic, although it’s intuitively right. The Red Sox are very analytics focused, and if they said, Hey, look at what’s happening in our audience, aside from the fact they we’re performing, and we have the trend you just talked about, the twins, that is also true.
Great commerce and digital properties do three things: they create demand, they capture demand, and they help brands grow. The Red Sox need to create demand, and they need to tell brands and partners what they’re interested in.
We have a tool called partner capture tool that gets put on in people’s emails, on their websites that says We’re open to co. partner with us. We take all this demand, capture it, organize it so they can go through it quickly.
Scott: I know I’ve seen more than my fair share of bad ideas, but I also know what to do with them. The good ones we just sort calmly off they go.
Scott: So we have demand creation, demand capture, and demand activation. Once we decide two brands, they have to meet, assess, agree this match, go do these things, and then go mobilize whatever they’re gonna do.
Scott: I don’t know who has what capabilities, but Coca-Cola can do something in stores better than I can, and Netflix probably has better content creation. We collaborate with agencies, design firms, TikTok, makers, email, but it’s more based on the customer’s needs.
Scott: The biggest advice I would give a CMO or a cro or a CEO who wants to get started in a collaborate collaboration is that it’s not to start with hey, our first collab should be the Rolling Stones or don’t start. Start one.
Scott: You can get started in Collaboratory with a quick start. You can use the marketplace to capture signal, find like-minded partners, and capture signal back from the partners and their customers, and you’re just gonna be smarter. Scott would like to plug his book, but I can’t tell if that was on Coth.
Scott says that he’s building a business that connects brands, but he also needs to build a community of collaborators. Scott: People who think this way, who care, are massive inveterate connectors, like I just connect people all the time. I don’t really worry about the payback we used once a year, but I would connect you in general.
Andy Hele is leading the cultivation of a community of collaborators. If you’re interested in this topic and want to play, reach out to us and let’s make match.com smarter so you can stop targeting supermodels and start finding people whose interests are more like yours.
Going back to the rules of marketing, Scott says measuring is one of the three big things you need to do. He also says there are thousands of potential collaborations, including Mrs. Meyers soap and some scrubbing, something.
I wanted to build a relationship with Brady for that other purpose, but I thought TB 12 should be at the wind. Two years later, I run into their leadership team and guy comes up, he’s sky, we’re at the wind.
Scott: I’d much rather be paid a commission, but I felt some inherent joy in saying, Hey, this is a good idea. Brent: I think we need to take this seriously, use data, use a platform, be pay it forward in this, and trust that you’re gonna meet more innovative people.