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Marketing is often confused with promotion. But really, it's about much more than that. Marketing is about knowing and understanding your customer so well that your product or service fits them, and ultimately, sells itself. In short, marketing is about insight, above all else.
In the spirit of those insights, we present our Meet the Marketer series, where we discuss the careers and tactics of marketers behind industry-leading brands.
In this episode, we sit down with Jackson Jeyanayagam, Vice President and General Manager of the Nutranext direct consumer business at The Clorox Company.
As a seasoned brand marketer, Jackson has held a variety of positions during his illustrious 20-year career. Like many marketers, Jackson's career started on the agency side, where he held a variety of roles and worked with brands such as Microsoft, T-Mobile, Old Spice, Dentyne, Proctor & Gamble, Jordan Brand and NASCAR, among many others. Jackson then transitioned in-house, becoming the head of digital for Chipotle, followed by a CMO position at Boxed, where he was named to the Forbes CMO Next 2018 list, identifying the 50 CMOs redefining the role and shaping the future.
Can you tell our audience about what you’re up to now at Clorox?
Reid: So, let's set the stage a bit here. And can you tell our audience about what you're up to now at Clorox?
Jackson: Yeah. Well first off, does the audience know we go way back?
Reid: Oh, no. They should probably understand it, right?
Jackson: Come on, man. Come on. Come on.
Reid: Yes. We were University of Oregon fraternity buddies, so there's many more stories that probably do not belong on a podcast.
Jackson: No, but you know what, in all seriousness, though, Reid, you were one of the reasons I joined the fraternity. You were a year ahead of me, if I remember correctly.
Reid: Yeah. Yeah.
Jackson: You graduated in '99, I was 2000. So '96 was my freshman year and you and Paul and a few of those guys were folks that I definitely looked up to and saw really smart, ambitious, hungry but fun guys who I was like, "Oh, these seem like the kind of guys I'd want to hang around with more." I didn't think much more beyond that at 19 or 18.
Jackson: But you were definitely a big reason for that, man. So it's been cool to enjoy the friendship and stay in touch all these years.
Reid: Oh, for sure, man.
Jackson: To see your success, also, of course.
Reid: Oh, you too, man. It's been fantastic. And we went through the same programs, so we got to share a lot of that, as well.
Reid: So it's been a ton of fun through the years. Got me involved in the alumni association board, as well. Stoked to be just giving back to the university and keep it going. So go Ducks, right?
Jackson: They're lucky to have you. Yeah, man. Yeah. Big game.
Jackson: Yeah, so where am I? So I'm at Clorox now. I have been here for, gosh, 10 months. I started in January this year. I took over officially in March. I transitioned onto Nutranext. So Nutranext, as I think you know, was acquired by Clorox last year for a healthy sum. Within the Nutranext business, which is mainly health and wellness supplements, as a direct-to-consumer business, which is roughly about 25% of the total business. So it's big, but not huge.
Jackson: As Clorox acquired that, they saw a lot of opportunity with it, but they were also very honest about the fact that they didn't really know direct-to-consumer. They knew e-commerce from a selling standpoint, right, selling to Amazon, Walmart.com, and so forth. But they didn't really understand direct-to-consumer. And then they were really great about like, hey, saying, "We're not just going to move people into this role, let's go find some people to lead this group and lead this division," as that founder of that group in particular was leaving. And that's how I got hired into the role. Spent two months transitioning, learning about health and wellness supplements, learning about the product category, learning about Clorox, of course.
Jackson: Now, since March, officially taking over, I lead all of DTC for Nutranext, which is products that some people probably know very well. Rainbow Light, which is a very popular prenatal product; Natural Vitality, which is a magnesium product; NeoCell, which is a collagen product, and collagens like blowing up everywhere right now.
Reid: Big time.
Jackson: And then Stop Aging Now, which is my brand, which is a boomer-based supplements brand. We're actually launching a new one next week. So that's all under my purview, and then working closely with the direct-to-consumer brands at Clorox, which includes like Burt's Bees, is kind of the biggest one.
Reid: Yeah. No, and man they found the right guy for all of this. You've been a unicorn-
Reid: Yeah, no. That's right. Well, you've got the deep performance marketing experience, you understand brand, you can dig into numbers. I mean, so how did you accumulate this with the context of our listeners likely feeling the pressure to follow your path here?
You have deep performance marketing experience, understand brand, and can dig into the numbers. How did you “accumulate” these skills?
Jackson: Yeah, shit. Can I say shit? Is that okay?
Reid: You can.
Jackson: You going to beep me out later? All right dude.
Reid: No, this is marketing, man. We've got a lot of ground to cover here.
Jackson: There you go.
Reid: And sometimes you've got to use the right words.
Jackson: Yeah, if we can't be ourselves, what's the point, right? Yeah. Unless we have the beep button for after the fact, anyway.
Jackson: Yeah dude, listen. I fell into it, to be honest. I got kind of lucky. Right place, right time. Had some good managers, had some bad managers. I started in PR, man. I started as far away from the quant as you could get-
Jackson: ...as far away from the revenue as you could get. You know, in early, gosh, 2000, obviously graduated from University of Oregon, and then the digital social age evolved and I started falling in love with social media, did some stuff with T-Mobile and the Sidekick and that was a blast.
Jackson: But really, it was like when I went to digital marketing on the agency side in New York, and then I when to Chipotle, where I was like, "Oh, this whole analytics side, the CRM side's pretty interesting." But it really wasn't until Boxed, as the CMO, where I had to understand the financial impact of marketing, right? Because as you know, Reid, with startups, and E-commerce companies, especially E-com startups, everything's about cost to acquire-
Jackson: ...retention curves, LTV, turn rate, where it was like, I'd argue 10 years ago, unless you were at Amazon or maybe some early-stage startups none of us in marketing were thinking about that. We were thinking about analytics like impressions, open rates, but it wasn't really dictating how we did things. There was still a lot of qualitative research, focus groups, instinct-based. Creative directors still ran the strategy, it felt like.
Jackson: And now it's this whole performance marketing side, there's still obviously a need for big top-of-the-funnel, above-the-line marketing, no question about it. But the combination of the two they have to work together and more importantly agency leads, agency founders like yourself, CMOs, presidents and so forth have to understand the cost of marketing and have to showcase return. And it can't just be, "Oh, well the cost of marketing is X." No, the return on marketing is 'Y'. And I think that's the biggest difference.
Jackson: And again, I got lucky, man. Like I know a marketer's now feeling it more and more, even if you're at like an AT&T or Nike, I think you're feeling it just as if you were at Airbnb or WeWork-
Jackson: ...or, you know, Netflix.
Reid: Yeah. Well, I mean basically what you're talking about is going from being cost center to being a profit center. I mean-
Jackson: That's right.
Reid: And I don't think anyone disagree that they'd rather drive profit or growth of the business rather than be seen as some kind of a burden, I guess.
Reid: Maybe a worse or a necessary evil, they feel like, "Oh, God, we have to do it, so we're just going to stick them in a corner and do something that way."
You’ve talked about turning marketing into a “Profit Center” vs “Cost Center.” What does the perception around marketing actually look like?
Jackson: Yeah. So listen, I think there's two shapes to that perception. I think for the marketing side, there's still some marketers who are like, "Well, marketing works, I'm going to convince you that marketing works," and don't necessarily feel like they have to connect the dots to revenue numbers.
Jackson: They think they do all the rest of us a disservice when they continue to have those conversations with board members and CEOs and say, just, "Marketing works. This 30 second ad that you spent 'X' amount on works. Look at the surveys we did at pre, during and post." That, I'd argue, is doing a disservice to all of us, so I think the marketers that are starting to understand that hybrid nature ... And it's, by the way, not all performance. It can't just be performance. You've got to build awareness and educate and build brand and so forth. And that's done through content and storytelling and influencers and so forth.
Jackson: But on the other side, I think the perception is that, if a CMO comes to the table, I think what your question is, what's the perception now from non-marketers, from executives? If a CMO comes to the table, "We're going to hire a new CMO.", which by the way that role, you could argue you could make a whole podcast about that.
Jackson: It seems like that CMO role is going away.
Jackson: I feel like I'm seeing more and more people vacate a CMO role, and it's being shifted into a couple different areas.
Jackson: But if you are hired as CMO, I think there's more expectation that you come to the table with a very clear POV and thought process with how every action you drive or spend on is going to drive some kind of ROAS, some kind of bottom line impact or top line impact that satisfies stock holders, that satisfies Wall Street or private investors. But the perception is, not all marketers get it and a lot of people call those marketers unicorns. Actually that's a bull shit term it's like, "Well, I shouldn't be a unicorn, I shouldn't be this thing that's like you can't... why can't?" You and I have talked about this around text. Why can't you do both?
Jackson: It's almost doing a discredit the marketers saying, "We can't comprehend the math?" Like, come on. I don't thinks that's actually accurate. Just that whether you really want to lean into it and really give it, it's value I think is important. But I don't think its a unicorn per say.
Reid: Right. It's a balance. It's a balance. No, I mean that's what it is. It's a balance that we have to figure out and get things sorted out so people are able to put both metrics and art and science to it. I think that's where we're trying to get to.
Reid: So now one of the other things you're responsible for doing is... as we're talking about here is hiring other marketers. And so what from that stand point what are you looking for? What are the questions you're starting to ask them? And what's the proof you're looking for in their background?
Jackson: Yeah so the way that functions and I have set up the team is my executive team, my director of boards are separated by five functions. Strategy, Strategy/Chief of Staff. Growth, which is, call it marketing, acquisition, retention falls under growth and partnerships and basically any revenue stream is growth. Product, product experience, head of product. Not physical product but that store front experience the whole UX, UI front-end. And then engineering. So the back end obviously technology piece of it. And then data science analytics.
Jackson: So growth you would argue is the marketing function, but I would actually say my product lead she is a UX/UI design leader. She's the head of product design. Product design needs them. She has a product manager, she has a site merchandiser. I mean, man I'd argue that is as much marketing as someone who's running an e-mail campaign or running a TV campaign right? I look at them through a little different lens and then my engineers that's obviously a little more straight forward. The data science analytics. My data science analytic folks don't have the marketing mindset . How can they model a term prediction? How can they do a LTB analysis? How can they do kind of analysis on a cohort of people that came in on a certain channel and then are behaving a certain way and inform their retention team on how to then serve them up different messages or just serving them up different content, different channels, IES, MS via email, versus retargeting?
Jackson: So while the growth team is heavy marketing. I kind of look at people like, are you going to fall into my product design team? Or you going to get product managers AV testing the crap out of every message, every promo, the app to cart anchor, or the color font that they use on the check out? Or are you going to be a UX/UI designer just thinking about CX and the flow through and then the navigation where you click to what, and what you hover over? Or are you going to be more of a side merchant who's really obsessing over like merchandise, products and what you see, when you see the pricing, the thumbnails, or the Amazon that does side merchandise better than anyone?
Jackson: As boring as their aesthetic is it works it’s functional, it’s utilitarian, and it’s clean and you get what you need. So that’s marketing, then you have the classic growth marketers that I hire for, and my head of growth she leads that, or we're thinking of acquisition performance marketers. But I just hired a comms lead from my old agency. Probably going to hire someone to do above the funnel, above the line stuff, top of the funnel stuff. So TV, radio. But all that’s kind of mixed. Addressable TV, programmatic direct mail, like you argue, podcasts, you could argue is that below the line? It’s so targeted, is it above the line?
Jackson: It really depends on the function. Marketing five years ago, when I thought about marketing it was probably three functions. It was creative, which we have a head of creative.
Jackson: Open rec actually, we have a whole creative team. It was creative it was probably planning and strategy and there's probably media buying right? I feel like pretty much everyone fell into one of those three at least on the agency side. Brand side was a little bit different. Now I kind of feel like its much, much broader and marketing might not even be the right term for it.
Reid: Yeah. So with that, if you're going to spend more of your time with one of those functions, where do you spend the majority of your time? Is there someone you feel like you are more aligned with? Or is it just something you think is a priority? Or is it just moving and shaking all the time depending on where the fire is?
Jackson: Definitely the latter. You know my boss, and I came in. And he called it he said, "listen you're going to come in as a GM now for the first time in your career managing 80 people. A good size P&L. And you're going to go right to the marketing. You're going to go to growth, you're going to go to acquisition retention because that's where your head is. You're going to go to creative because, that's where your head is." And he's right, he was right, it's like you're going to have to fight yourself not to. You're going to have to hire the right people and trust they can do it. You're going to push yourself to go into the financial side even more. Go to your FP&A.
Jackson: We just hired an FP&A from Amazon it was awesome. He did all the prime stuff, did the Whole Food's transaction, did a lot of the discount and fulfillment strategies. He said "So, you're going to go to that person." Or whoever it is you hire. "You're going to want to go to your data science analysts" even though I've worked with them before. Now I'm overseeing it. We just hired a head of data science from Jet.com who's awesome she just started last week. I'm spending more time with her.
Jackson: My head of product came from Brandless we hired her three months ago. Spending more time with her. As much as I do want to go to marketing, and I do trust me, my head of growth can tell you that I spend way too much time with her and bug the crap out of her. I've had to force myself to let go there and go to the place where I need to learn and grow and learn from the people I hire. As well as her also. But it depends, we are launching a new product and new site experience in a week and a half. Now I'm spending a lot of time engineering the product. Dude, honestly half the time it's pushing them and challenging them to do things they didn't think they could do, based on timelines and scope and environments.
Jackson: But also asking a shit load of dumb questions. "Wait, when you said that? What did you mean by that?" And it's cool. It's like you know I don't have an MBA. I feel like I'm getting my MBA now. If I was just paying attention to marketing it would be probably not good for anyone. Right? So, that surprise I would say it's a little bit of everything.
Reid: You highlighted a few places where you are getting the talent from. Is there categorically places where you really focus on acquiring that talent from brand side, you've got agency side, you've got arguably in some of the cases you've got the direct-to-consumer type brands and then you have brands that have always kind of been so lead-gen or disconnected sale. Are there certain types of people or categories or places you're going to get this talent?
What do you look for in the marketing talent joining your team to support your vision? What is absolutely critical? Where is the talent you’re hiring coming from?
Jackson: Yeah, you know better than I do because of the way you've scaled about your organization. You know part of it's a culture. You go for a little bit of a fit, complementary skill sets in people. You kind of know what culture you want. You know what you don't want probably, I'm guessing, as you've hired people, maybe learn the hard way early, in the early years.
Jackson: The same thing for me. You know I want pace, so I feel like you tend to get pace from people who come from agency life or a start up right?
Jackson: Not to dismiss you know my experience with a larger fortune hundred brands. Been there for a long time. You're moving, your pace is very different than the pace that you and I are used to or someone from a start up is used to.
Jackson: That said, eCommerce is really important. Clorox has amazing CPG folks. They have amazing McKinsey, Bain type folks, so awesome experience. They don't have a ton of eCommerce specific talent there's just a nuance, a very different skill set and mind set. So I do look for that, I do like start up mentality because you do a lot more with less. You're used to moving fast. People are autonomous, go get shit done. The don't get caught up in titles and functions and the business.
Jackson: I do like that. I love agency people to. Agency people I think are versatile but thick skinned, they deal with clients. You know how this is. Man you could throw anything at them and they will figure that shit out.
Jackson: They're curious. They've got grit.
Jackson: I just love good agency people man. Fifteen years of agency life, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I wouldn't go back for me, I like in house, but I value the shit out of people that come from agency side. I value my agency partners. Reid I would say the three things I look for if I narrow it down are versatility, empathy and curiosity. I found if I get all three of that, you know I assume critical reasoning kind of at the point of entry, but if you'e versatile you can do a lot of different things. You can adapt. Adapt or die. If you're empathetic, you're a good person and treat people with respect and not run them over. Because you can have a great, great performer but if their running people over man. That sucks!
Jackson: Especially in a small company where you have a lot of change. And then if you're curious, you're asking questions, you're pushing back on me, you're challenging me saying "Jackson you said this but why?" Probably 90% of the time my ideas are wrong and someone has a better idea, but they're just not maybe curious enough or don't have the thought process to say "Hey, maybe I should questions him." I want people who do have that. So for me those three things actually trump where you come from. But where you come from is important as well.
Reid: Yeah. I think what you're also saying is that the wrapper around that is culture and a place that allows you to explore that. I mean curiosity will go only so far if all of a sudden you get your hand slapped every time you ask a question.
Jackson: You probably have a better opinion then I do given how big you scale your firm. Safe environment man. I keep reading especially in this day and age safe in every aspect of the word. You didn't have think about that until three years ago. Until, I had daughters. But safe environment where you can come to work and say what you feel and question people with respect. Be respectful. You can do it in the right way, you can challenge people, you can come to work and be respected and not worry about being treated a certain way because of how you look or what you wear, what gender you are or what your religion is. For me that's become really, really important. And I truly believe man if you're in a fox hole with a bunch of people who are empathetic, smart, curious, versatile. Dude, you can solve anything. It's not when the shit's going well.
Jackson: You can reveal character. Shit is hitting the fan. Like right now our revenue's down this quarter. We got a lot of shit going on. People working all night to get this thing launched. This is the time right now when the character is real. You realize what people are like. It's not when you're partying, 30% Y/Y growth, you just sold the business. Dude everyone's loving each other then. When the team is zero and five, you're about to hit your big growing streak. Are you going to come together? And how's that going to come to life? It's not the smartest person, right. It's the people that work together, respect each other. The people that evolve. Those are the people I want in the fox hole with me. I really believe in that shit man.
Jackson: It matters so much.
Reid: I mean you have been through some shit too. One of the things I wanted to talk about to was your time at Chipotle. You went through some rough times there. Was this some of the...what you're talking about now? Some of that come from your experience there? Good or bad? What do you take away from that?
You were at Chipotle during a challenging time. What lessons did you take away from that experience?
Jackson: Everyone says "no regrets," right? I believe it to an extent but sometimes you look at things in your life. Personal, professional, like "Man I kind of do regret that." As better off as I am, that needing to go through, that scale maybe not quite.
Jackson: And Chipotle was awesome. And I think if anyone talked to Chipotle, if they're still there, I think most of them are gone now, they would say the same thing. I don't think I'm saying anything that's shocking. When I went in there dude, I took a big salary cut. Took a 30% salary cut. I was having my first baby. My wife was like "Are you sure you want to do this coming from the agency side?" Well I need to go in-house I want to try and see if this is something I can really love and Chipotle is a great brand. This is pre-food crisis. You know back then Chipotle the whole thing was just like... I think Nike does this too, they're known for this at least. "Hey, you're not coming here for the money you're coming here for the resume, experience, the skill set, the culture, the people."
Jackson: I'm all about that right, like I would sacrifice the money on the surface level for that. And of course you know the stock and the bonus helped right. Chipotle was blowing up at the time. But a food crisis four months later your stock and bonus under water right. Saw none of that, still had my salary cut from the last job, and I had a baby on the way. Now I'm dealing with a food crisis. And that was so interesting because immediately it was fight or flight. My whole career at agency side you're always fighting there is no like take the day off. There is no "Oh, if you don't come to work today things will stay get going."
Jackson: Chipotle I can do my job or not do my job the line would still be wrapped around the corner. They would still be selling out. Carnitas, they would still have great comp sales. That was the first time I have ever been to a company, and the last time where 'do my work, not do my work' and performace was great, until the food crisis. But what was great was a lot of people at Chipotle had been there forever they weren't used to fighting. They didn't have to fight for customers. They didn't have to fight Wall street. And I was like well this is what I've been doing for 15 years agency side. This just seems like normal. That was a shitty experience. I mean it sucked and there's a lot of things we did wrong. More we did wrong then right. I think we learned a hard lesson there. A lot of people are gone from the top all the way down. A lot was left on our own. And others were forced out clearly. Very publicly. For me, I don't regret that. I wish it wasn't as long. I was there for a year going through that, and it was just painful.
Jackson: Having a newborn. I was never home, and it just sucked. But I learned a lot and made some good friends. We learned a lot about each other. There some people there that man in a heartbeat I would hire or work with. I would work for. Those other people I want nothing to do with you know that really reveals their character. What I found was we didn't use data well enough. We didn't get ahead of things before it happened. I'd argue no matter what brand you are name the hottest band out right now out there. Glossier, Netflix whatever it is. There will be a moment where you'll be challenged right? Just point to the Blockbuster and Netflix. They had a chance to buy Netflix for 50 million and passed on them and now look what happened right?
Jackson: There's a moment where you won't always be top dog. And we didn't see that, we didn't get ahead of it and we didn't react enough. We weren't transparent enough Reid. I think you probably coach your clients all the time. Be transparent. Own it. And we were stuck in "oh well, lets wait until we have everything. Lets, not freak out too much before it becomes real issue" and all of a sudden it's a real issue and it's too late.
Jackson: A great learning man. I don't want to ever, ever , ever go through it again. Yeah there was a lot of things to learn from that. Culture stand point, leadership stand point , from a transparency stand point I take with me. I took them in a box. I'm taking them with me here, or am trying to.
Reid: Yeah. And beyond that one of the others things you mentioned is the network that comes from something like that. You got more exposure. A lot of people scattered in different places. And what I know about you is you're an amazing networker and you use your network really well. And I think you are reciprocal in that way. Maybe talk a little bit about that again for the sake of listeners of how you cultivate and network and how important it is to you? And ultimately what's the value of it to you today?
You're an incredible networker and value your network. How much of your time do you put toward that and where did that drive come from?
Jackson: It's funny you say this. I was talking to a buddy last night that came from the media world. He was at Kanye Nash and worked for some amazing titles. And he was a journalist. As you imagine journalism has changed quite a bit right? So early 2000's and when I graduated from the University of Oregon, how many of our friends were dying to go work at The Rolling Stone, or Vibe, or whatever right?
Jackson: And that's changed. He was talking about where he wants to go and what he wants to do, and get out of publishing or journalism, and get into marketing or strategy and asking "how do you do a LinkedIn? What do you do for networking?" For me what I told him was "Listen man, if I end up on Instagram comments for more than four minutes,"and, it is addicting right? I can watch a LeBron video on ESPN, and I go on Instagram comments. I'm watching these 14 year old boys attack each other, and I'm dying. This is amazing. I want to get into it. "Then I'm like what am I doing? This is putrid comments. What am I reading here? If I'm spending five minutes on Instagram. That means I can spend five minutes on LinkedIn."
Jackson: Which is actually going to net me some value. There is nothing that's going to happen on Instagram comments.
Reid: Absorbing culture man. You got to absorb culture.
Jackson: I think that went to the edge of society, Instagram comments. It is addictive I won't lie. Its very entertaining. Especially the insults kids use now-a-days at each other. You know what, let me get my stuff out of here and let me go to LinkedIn because that actually drives value. I can connect with people. My strategy on LinkedIn at least has been simple, And I don't mean to simplify networking to LinkedIn but that's a big part of it there. If you're looking for a job, I always say " Don't look for a job when you need it, look for a job when you have a great job" Which means essentially in my head network with people connect with people. I'm adding people all the time. If, I meet you, I probably don't have a business card on me. But I'm quickly pulling out my phone and adding you on LinkedIn.
Jackson: I try to comment on articles, I try to connect people to each other. I use LinkedIn as my hub so when people ask me "Hey, I'm looking for a job. Do you know anyone at this company? " Or "Do you know anyone I can connect with?" I immediately go to LinkedIn to see who I'm connected with, or I look for anything that anyone has posted. Because a lot of my network is either B2B or recruiters. Intentionally right, because I want to be connected to the right people. So, when opportunities, hopefully passively, are coming to me when I'm not even looking that I can send it along to someone else. I do believe in paying it forward especially the younger folks out of college. You and I didn't have a LinkedIn out of college, which I think was much harder.
Jackson: And I think kids now-a-days have a lot of the resources at their fingertips. They might not know how to use it. I feel like it's my duty if I can especially if they came from Oregon to hook them up. Or if it's a friend of a friend. Like if you have a nephew that's looking to go work in the CPG that might hit me up. Be one of the first things I would do is connect him with whoever is in my network. So I use LinkedIn, and I just use my physical interactions with people. Kind of bring it back to LinkedIn so it's not some old school Rolodex and I just constantly add and connect with people and try to pay it forward whenever someone needs help. I can't do it all the time. I know that's what I would have wanted. I know how hard it can be just to find a job when you don't really know where to start. Or you don't even know what you want to do.
Jackson: Like my buddy who is switching careers. That's daunting that's hard man. He's got a kid too. Man you went into journalism at the peak thinking "this is it" now he's like "Now what do I do?" And I respect that because that's hard to do. The least I can do is help him out there.
Jackson: Does that answer your question?
Reid: Absolutely! I mean that's how I got my first job. Obviously LinkedIn wasn't around. The professors, talking to friends actually another one of our fraternity brothers helped me get that first job by connecting me to the right people. And me following up and doing my responsibility too. I mean you can only do so much. But having people like you out there generously saying, "Hey let me see what I can do?" And moving it along, but then you have to take that personal accountability and follow through and pay that forward to move on. And using our networks, yeah.
Jackson: And hopefully they're good. I do believe and I'm sure you do too. Putting your name on someone is a big deal.
Jackson: I have two way to approach it right. Here's someone I just met. I don't ever bull shit. I never say hey if I don't know Reid "Reid's the greatest guy, big heart has a work ethic like this. He does this, this and that" That's crazy I don't really know you right. I'm just trying to link, I'll say "Reids into a job and thought you might be interested. Connect with him or her whatever, whatever." If it's someone I know, I also take that really seriously. Because you know how it is when you're looking for a lot of people a specialized talent say analytics, data science. There could be a lot of people that are trash. There could be a lot of people that bull shit what they did. You hear all these crazy stories about people bull shitting their LinkedIn and resumes. I've had people like this and honestly when I send my trust and if you bring me someone Reid say "this guy is great" or "This gal is really great" and they do this and this and this. That's going to go so much further even if they didn't look on paper like what I need.
Jackson: You saying they're personal and they can do this, this and this.
Jackson: They're immediately going to the top of my pile. They're somebody I am going to talk to right away. I believe in the value of that as well.
Reid: Absolutely. And actually you talk about some of those qualities and the qualities that are going to resonate with you and line up. And you talked earlier a little bit about pace and curiosity and those things. What about the aspect of people who particularly I think a lot of curious people want to try a lot of different things. Work in different industries you've been on a ton of different brands. Do you feel like having specific industry experience in this case CPG or something like that is of greater value? Or do you want people who have this diverse background who look at it with fresh eyes? I'm kind of leading the question. I feel like it's a little bit more that latter. But I think a lot people deal with that in a crisis mode of they've always been in one category. Now they are looking for something new and they won't get a second look from somebody who's outside a category. But that's kind of bull shit right?
While you've mostly focused on Business-to-Consumer, your brand experience hasn’t been in any one category. What’s your perspective on the pros and cons of that variety?
Jackson: Yeah. I love diversity. I love people that challenge themselves. I like people who don't come from my category. I value that more. I will say, I won't lie. I mean someone that's been at CPG for 20 years, are you not versatile enough to leave CPG? Are you not able to break that barrier? I do think that's a question of mine. That said, they come with referral. If, I get a generic LinkedIn message from them I'm not paying attention. I've gotten very thoughtful, I'm sure you have to, detailed messages where here, I thought on paper it looked like somebody you might want to hire, but here's what I can do. Here's why I chose, made these decisions to stay in CPG. Or stay in this verse. I want to move on to eCommerce. I get stuff like that or referral I do spend more time with them. I will give them at least a chance to have a talk. I will be very honest. " I am concerned that you won't be able to keep up the pace I want" Or "You're just stuck in the CPG way of doing things." So I do think it's a real concern. But I will give people a chance if their forthright and thoughtful about how they approach me. But I do value versatility, I value people that challenge themselves. Going beyond industries. I never looked for someone who comes from my industry honestly. I do like SMEs when it comes to a lead role. I look for people who know 70% of the job and structure for the other 30%. But if I'm hiring a head of data science and analytics you do have to know something about data science and analytics. It doesn't mean you have to be a 20 year vet. All my execs have between 10 and 11 years experience. And their VP's. I like the high ceiling and that stretch-ability, giving them opportunities to learn and do new things. Then I would say, okay underneath those teams are there people I can take chances on. If I got a great SME in place. Maybe take a chance on someone else on the manager level or senior manager level that doesn't really have that much experience but has that man that grip, that work ethic. They don't mind taking a little bit of a cut.
Jackson: Like we all did at some point. I value that. It is a little tough though I get that. But then you also want to go somewhere people don't value that. Meaning if someone has been at one end of something 20 years and their really trying to break out and they feel like they have to force their way in. I don't know if that's good either. Because, you don't want to have to like, how do I put it, have to defend your experience all of the time at a new job. For instance like I saw this at Boxed start up. Great company, great founders. But there's some people that came from more traditional old school kind of resumes and there were some people to question. "Oh are they going to be able to keep up with our pace?" And "Keep up in start up?" From day one I thought they always had to defend themselves or ideas. I know this is a big end way of thinking but we could do this and all of a sudden and people be like "Oh you see." That's where you don't do crawl research. Crawl research is a pretty valuable tool right?
Jackson: How and when you use it. Be like you know doesn't come in all shapes and sizes. I would say that's also not the best place for someone. You've got to go to a place that would value your experience but also gives the opportunity to learn and grow in new ways.
Reid: Yeah. It's trying to find the fit. Its interesting too, you talk about some of the experience and that versatility. Some of that comes as a result I think of the era where we've grown up in and now growing our careers in is because so many of the jobs we are in now didn't exist a decade ago or 20 years ago certainly. So we had to figure some things out here and there. Be a trail blazer on some things. What do you think in this era that we are today though are we baked for the next 10, 20 years as far as saying we are in a particular moment and time where its made the shift and now we're going to have these jobs for the next 10, 20 years that are consistent and similar? Or are we just on the precipices of perpetual change where everything will always be new? This is a little more philosophical question.
What core skills do marketers need to develop to succeed in growing a direct-to-consumer brand in the next couple of years?
Jackson: It is, and if I knew the answer Reid I don't know if I'd be sitting here with you, I'd be on an island somewhere with Richard Branson. I do think that change will accelerate or I mean what do I know I might be the dumbest person in the room. I would say from my perspective, if you think about our industry. Manufacturing has always been kind of a core tent of our economy, Western hemisphere United States. As manufacturing goes to more contracting for instance. It's always been said "Hey, that's a sign of a recession" "That's the sign of economic downturn" I still think it's a big sign it's an indicator just because of manufacturer. But I will argue there is other trends from a technology stand point from a data stand point from an industry stand point that are growing so significantly That adds such an out sized disproportionate make up of our total economic value that as you see trends there you're going to see different shifts and different impacts on our economic viability and stability. I think that's changing quite a bit like we've never seen. Manufacturing was just such you know, I mean that was it.
Jackson: Now you're seeing manufacturing plus, cyber security plus. There's probably a couple other areas that you could argue that kind of fall under that tenant. I think you will continue to see more faster evolution now that we have a foundation of technology that we have never had before right? So whether its robotics, automation, macro data. On the financial services side they have gone through an insane evolution in a much larger scale and faster than anything they've gone through before.
Jackson: I feel like banking evolution in the 70's, 80's, 90's okay you have a checkbook. Now you have an electronic checking account. I don't know not really that significant. Now looking at banking right. There's a whole new potential currency that hasn't even regulated yet. I do think it's going to change at a faster clip. What's it going to look like and how's that's going to come alive I have no idea. But I am fairly confident it's not going to happen here in the US until we make some changes. I think it's going to come from China. I think it's going to come from the east because I think we have slowed down on our ability to innovate to be first to market. So I'm hoping that changes. But we aren't making the right investments in my opinion.
Reid: Yeah that's kind of where I'm going a little bit with this, is you know you got some of the innovation. Is it harder to be innovative in some of these environments. You went into Clorox its such a household brand. Was easy probably for them to say were just doing what were doing. Were going to keep going because we believe in our products. In this case they acquired their way into something that they may have saw as innovative. Certainly within their space. Which is bold and that's tough. Is it easier being more innovative in a starved environment, something completely new. I can go off and do it because no one is judging me for my background or where I've been because I'm starting it new myself anyway? Or to move into something that's old line and possibly set in their ways as an industry, as a brand and now drop somebody into it. And they're now asking you to do something transformative.
Jackson: And the way I look at that is, it's really interesting...philosophical. How many Starbucks pop up everyday? I feel like its hundreds. Every time I like a product on Instagram I get 50 competitors retargeting me. I mean that's a start up too. That's a thing too? Definitely in our category in supplements and health and wellness but how many of them are ever going to see the light of day? If they get to 10 - 15 million they could probably get there. But passed that? They've run out of money, they're not profitable, like no ones going to acquire them. They're done right? They've run out. Even good smart people. That's the risk. Yeah you can go do it in your garage. You might have a bunch of smart people, and you have the great idea. You have the new mouse trap. But no one ever see or hears you its gotten so competitive to market even in DTC. You don't have the funding , you don't have the research to compete. So now what I've thought about over the last couple years is well, do I want to go do it my way? Which could be easier or do I want to make an impact? And the other thing about impacts is, I can go into Clorox and to companies that are truly open minded about it and who really want to change. Man it's going to be hard. There is no question it is hard dude. Like I fight on things that are very little that are a big deal to Clorox right?
Jackson: It makes sense. Guys why are we spending hours on or weeks on this thing we should just figure this out now and these are like small things. But if you do it that impact is far outside. Now granted of course Netflix, Ubers of the world. But there is only so many of those kinds of companies. For every Netflix and Uber and Warbee. Like thousands of start ups are in the graveyard of Silicon Valley and New York and all the other cities right? Maybe you scale it and you grow and that's amazing, or maybe you fail three or four times before you get there. In my head well I can also go transform a company that is really credible Fortune 500s. Strong APS, strong Wall Street performer, but maybe lacking that growth store. Maybe lacking that inventory in my case. So that's hard in its own right and that takes a different kind of grit. Because you have to be paid to do that influence. It is an interesting story for a philosophical question, think about it Reid. But I would say there is a big shift happening because it used to be like God getting people out of start ups is really tough. Everyone wants to go to a start up last tech seniors everyone wants to work with a hot start up. After Uber, after WeWork I think there is a little bit, not across the board, but a little bit of skepticism where it used to be "oh, its just Travis being Travis". Just him being him. But I don't think that's going to fly anymore. I think its a wow. That's not a healthy environment after all. Maybe those numbers aren't so healthy like we thought I don't know. It's interesting times though.
Reid: Yeah. I imagine that's just Reid being Reid is a bygone at this point. But I can't rest on that anymore. I probably should get my shit together.
Jackson: And I will say I hired a bunch of star people but man, I'm not going to say names but people would say its so nice of me to be in a healthy environment where people are treated professionally and with respect. I took that shit for granted. Start ups its just. If you look at Branson, Bezos, Jobs these are three of our most iconic classic start up founders. In their day, if you read The Everything Store or you read the Jobs documentary. The way we treated people, the way they come down on people the way they...that shit would not fly now-a-days. I was thinking about this the other day. The way they built those companies, these are like gods right.
Reid: Titans absolutely.
Jackson: Titans. Different time different era. And I guess it was effective and I guess it was effective how they determine figure. But they treated people like shit, all three of them. Even Richard Branson talks about this he said "I've changed, what I was before would not work now." I wonder like the modern day was Adam Newman's or the Travis's whoever it is. It made me think that, that won't fly anymore. So what do people want, what inspires them and its not just the genius who's got this idea who can like build something. Hey especially our kids Reid when they grow up. They want people who believe and respect them. Maybe it doesn't even matter what the product is. Maybe it doesn't even matter what the name of the company on the door is. Who are those people? Who is that person behind there? What's in your soul? What's in your heart? Are you a good person? Do you take care of your family? Do you actually care? In a weird way I think we are getting back to this olden time of like values and core and like whatever your family is. I could be a dog, I could be a single parent. Whatever it is I'm really fascinated by this topic.
Reid: Yeah and I've always been big on this idea of balance and the Yin and the Yang and that sort of stuff. As we move towards this pace and technology and all the stuff I think there some people still craving this in order to balance that out is this kind of rooted in some of those older values and humanness as fast as we want to go we want time back. And things like that. I think it's going to be interesting to see how this reshapes and I think like you said with our kids and I think that's how it's going to balance and how that's going to transform. I do hope it becomes more technological we get it becomes more human. And I think that's where hopefully these things stat to balance. And so to bring it back from the next 20 - 30 years and start to wrap us up here. What do you think in the shorter term? As, the listeners are here that's what we're now talking about this high philosophical level right now. What do I need to think about over the next 18 months of my career. What's the next stop? What do I need to start planning for? How to reshape what I'm doing in my career? To be effective in either my role directly, or the future role I want to get?
Jackson: Yeah. It's also a really good question. I'll go really broad given your audience is probably pretty broad. Maybe not just marketers. The way I looked at it was. I would say challenge yourself. If something seems really comfortable and like the obvious thing to do maybe not do it or take a second guess. Is this what I want to do? This would be the obvious thing I work at Unly where the obvious thing for me to do is go to P&G. If I worked at Y&K obvious thing for me to do is go to Seventy Two and Sunny. Whatever it is right. What's the less obvious thing? What's the less obvious road? What's an instant challenge for yourself and an opportunity to learn. And who are the people you're going to work with? Going back to our earlier conversation we just had. Maybe it's not the sexy name on the door. Sometimes the sexy jobs, I learned from Clorox man of all the jobs I was looking at and all the roles I've taken, this is the least sexiest and the weirdest thing is Chipotle, Boxed I was talking about some other pretty known start ups. I feel way, more engaged and I just feel like a whole new person in a way I haven't almost since my first job. I got to say. Out of college. And I would say look at things with an extra layer. Peel that onion back okay that's the surface level but what's really there? What's the substance? Who are the people you're working with? What do you do? Who's going to challenge you? Who's going to value and respect you? In a way that have skill sets that you're lacking. And this is the hardest part. Hire people around you that complement you even threaten you a little bit. Are you going to get the skillsets you're not good at? Fight yourself if you're creative don't go on the creative side. Go think of the analytics. Go sit with the data scientists and start thinking about that world. Something about rounding yourself out, challenging yourself. And the last thing I'd say is swim where the currents are going and not against it. Listen. There's certain categories, industries not defending but I'm not going to say them. Personally I would never go there because there dying. But there's other areas where its like that's interesting that's hot. That might be the next thing. Whatever that becomes. I don't know but maybe that's an area to go. So I would say think about that. And the final piece I would say. Challenge yourself by the people you're surrounding yourself by. I constantly, don't want to hire people that look just like me, talk like me, act like me, and that's hard right. Human nature is such that you find comfort in what you're similar in. And you know how it is building an agency in different functions like for me I have had to challenge myself. Does he or she think or talk like me? And now am I liking them because of that? And maybe that's not the right thing I need to do. And that's not the right person I need to hire. I need to hire another person who is going to challenge me and is going to push me in the right way. And really complement me. I think from a broad spectrum of ways. Whether, you're looking to get promoted whether, you're looking to change jobs, change industries, move cities, I would say explore everything. Leave everything open. Life is really short, and you really never know what could happen. The stupid decisions that you make might actually be the best decisions you made in life, right.
Jackson: So I know that was really broad and wide you probably have a really broad audience.
Reid: No, I feel like a lot people take a lot away from it. I always enjoy our time together, and I just appreciate this time. Thanks for joining us on the show and again I look forward to seeing you here in person again sometime very soon.
Jackson: Yeah brother thanks for having me. I really appreciate it man.
Reid: You got it.
Jackson: Look forward to seeing you too.
Reid: Yeah, Take Care. Thank you. All right so listeners thanks for joining us on this episode of Meet the Marketer with Jackson Jeyanayagam and be sure to leave us a review and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts. Take care!