Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz 2:57

I’m sure if you are listening the audio and you watch the video, you’re seeing Bill’s website up right now. And it’s fantastic. What kind of companies are attracted to this, at what point did you figure out this is your messaging brands go through awkward phases, we get them back on track again.

Bill Harper 3:15

Honestly, it’s because it’s who we like to work with. So I cut my teeth working on some of the brands that you get very excited about when you’re coming out of school, right? Like Anheuser Busch and blockbuster, now I’m dating myself and enterprise, rent a car and all that, and I loved them, they were a lot of fun. And I learned a ton and working with them. But what I also learned was that you couldn’t have as big of an influence on how to change them, they were really focused on maintaining their position, or going from number three to number two, or from number two to number one. This was what kept them up at night, right. And so it was a lot of that kind of positioning. And what we really focused on and what I kind of fell in love with as I progressed in my career was helping companies that had billion-dollar potential, but were stuck in multimillion-dollar universes. And most of the time, the kinds of things that they were doing, really lent themselves to the same strategies that those bigger players had figured out. But they hadn’t figured out how to implement it yet. And we’re really good at that. So kind of, the way we think about it is, as you’ve got here, emerging brands, declining brands, challenger brands, and investor brands. And the thing we’re looking for is that like 25 million to $250 million company that wants to add a zero. And that’s really the sweet spot that we play in. It’s a lot of fun.

Jeremy Weisz 4:39

We’re going to walk through some examples because I’d love to hear how you think about this and what you do and specifically with Delsey luggage. Like talking about when they came to you, what were they looking for? Where were they at and what did you do?

Bill Harper 4:52

Yeah, so Delsey was a really interesting study. A French luggage manufacturer, they were in the entry-level side of the world I kind of jokingly referred with the President that they were talking about pricing, right, it was like 7999 and 119, for their base package things. And they had really good distribution. And they were incredibly well known in Europe and Asia, but they really didn’t do as well as they would like in the United States. And if you take a look at the marketing back then it was a lot of the stuff that you see that’s happening, unfortunately, in the category now. It was lots of price points and things about ballistic nylon and self-healing zippers and skid plates and four-wheel drive. And it was like all the same parody stuff that everybody else was talking about. This, we had Delsey about a decade or just a little over. And at the time, it was 2003. And the impact from 911 was still being pretty profoundly felt. And when we went to go interview consumers and do our research, we kept hearing this really interesting comment back, everybody kept saying travels become a drag, it’s become a drag, it’s become a drag. And we really kind of tuck that into the back of our brain. And I was walking on the floor one day, and President David Beaver at the time was showing me a product that they were about to launch called helium. And I was asking him about it. And he said, oh, helium, it’s 22% lighter, but has the same structural rigidity as everybody else. And I said, well, like what does that mean? He goes, well usually about a pair of shoes and some pants. And I was like, okay, well, if you’re charged 50 bucks every time your bag is a little heavy, then this would be something and he said I can see the fire in your eyes. He said, But your UPS tried it Samsonite stride it, nobody can really make it work. I don’t think people really care about lightweight as a concept. He said, but if you can show me one thing, and it’s good that you stop there, because that’s the one that launched at all. He said, if you can show me one idea that I don’t hate, I’ll let you run it for a year and we’ll see what happens. So that was kind of the thing. And so I came back to him and I said, “Look, I want to I think I see an opportunity for you guys to really own this lightweight thing. And here’s what we’d like to do.” So this first ad that I brought to him that was basically a comp was a woman walking through wet cement, where she leaves tracks and the bag doesn’t, we got rid of all that feature and benefits stuff. And instead, we just replaced it with this little tag that you can still find on most of the products that are sold in the US today that just says lightweight and has a little feather on it. From this add we had an 86% increase in sales year one, another 72% year two, and an incredible 837% sales increase over a six-year window. This completely changed the way that the US was seen. And we brought them up to equal unaided awareness to me, which was third in the market in under two years. So it was really pretty amazing. But the funny thing about it, and nothing ever came from it was really funny. I got a phone call one day from a woman and she said, I’m looking for the agency who came up with the Delsey ad with a woman walking through wet cement. And I said, Well, you’ve you found us. That’s it.” She said I’m with American Standard that toilet manufacturer, she said my boss came in and said go find out who did this. It was a strangest call ever. But it was like a real, it was a real compliment, right? Like, here’s this massive toilet manufacturer.

Jeremy Weisz 8:33

How do they track you down?

Bill Harper 8:36

I have no idea. I guess she took the ad and must have done some kind of research. But it was really funny. So this assistant called me one day and again, it was a really funny story because nothing ever came from it. But I was like, yes, that’s us. We did it. This is how it happened. She asked me a couple of questions and then disappeared. But so our ad was very effective in a number of different ways.

Jeremy Weisz 8:59

I love this. And there’s a lot of years of experience and time energy effort that goes into this. What is the brainstorming process look like to get to this? What we see here, if people are looking at the screen, it’s a lady walking through wet cement. She’s wheeling her suitcase in one hand, but her that’s not making any marks in the wet cement but her feet are.

Bill Harper 9:31

So I think the thing that you’re looking for at least what we look for is tension. Nobody cares about the tech of it, they just don’t right because it’s too similar to what everybody else is. So if you’re finding in the research and that’s why research is such a critical part of our process, you’re looking for the thing that they are heavily emotionally engaged with. And in this instance, it was travel had really changed, people used to look forward to it and save up for it. And they would get dressed up to go on the plane. And like it was a big family event or something that they really looked forward to. And it had been changed now to something that was much more mundane and was not fun, and the rest of it. And so this idea of sort of taking the lug out of luggage, really, like Lego had very nicely with their existing frustration. And so it wasn’t really about the product, which I think is what’s so hard for most brands to recognize. It’s not about the product, it’s about how the product leaves the consumer in a better emotional state. And so once you find what the consumer values, what they’re either striving for, or moving away from, then you’ve got something to play with. And that’s the same playbook that every major brand plays from, I think it’s a surprise that so few brands have sort of locked onto that insight. But once they do, their growth is significant.

Jeremy Weisz 11:02

Another company, I wanted to choose a few that were just far from each other. And there was another one that is the Breast Cancer Index. So talk about them and how did they come to you? And what did you do with them?

Bill Harper 11:19

Now, so BCI was a completely different animal, right? So Delsey is an eight-year by cycle and a durable good and all the rest of it. Breast Cancer Index was incredibly niche. So their whole thing is they are a test for women with HR-positive breast cancer to determine whether they will benefit from the second five-year regimen of endocrine therapy. And the simple fact is that 95% of women don’t. So it’s not like 3%, or 5% 95% of women don’t benefit from this. So this test really told two things. Number one, are you going to benefit from this therapy? And number two, are you likely or unlikely to have a recurrence of the cancer in the first place. And so this became a really, really interesting, while much more than interesting, let me back up for half a second. Oncologists were really struggling. And the reason that they were is because they didn’t have a definitive test. And as such, they were prescribing this thing that they knew darn well wasn’t helping. But there was no way to tell who wouldn’t. And so the safer bet was to make sure that everybody had the best opportunity by continuing the second five-year regimen. So they were really looking for something. This is the first genomic test of its kind that could definitively say whether somebody would benefit or not. And that was a massive, massive plus for those oncologists. What we did though in here that was different, as you’re seeing in the work is oncologists or maybe some of the most targeted human beings on the planet, right, everybody has something new that they want them to be aware of. And so we really needed a way to get oncologist tension beyond just the standard path. And what we chose to do here strategically was we empowered and really activated the support groups surrounding cancer patients and the cancer patients themselves by giving them the information that they needed to begin the discussion with their oncologist. So we literally gave them a PDF that helped them to go to their oncologist and say, I saw this thing in the media. And I think it might be for me, can you answer these questions for me to see whether or not it would be a good fit. And in doing that, we caused a tremendous spike in engagement. And that was really what they wanted. So they came to us with a top-line revenue of just about 35 million with the ask that we helped them achieve a valuation or an exit of 250 million within a three-year window. And as luck has it, we were able to help them reach 230 million in just over 18 months. And so it was a huge success for them. And really a huge success for us as well.

Jeremy Weisz 14:19

You said you reached some of the oncologist through individuals, what are some of the channels you deployed to reach those individuals?

Bill Harper 14:30

So there were a number of things that we did, we did influencer marketing, we did digital marketing, we were part of their trade shows which helped on one side but then there was some event marketing that happened as well to generate interest but a lot of this actually lead to social and the reason why is because cancer has become such a shared occurrence. It’s not it’s not quite Like the taboo thing that it was 20 years ago. This has affected so many families now. And we really found that the social aspect was a huge way to begin the conversation. And so once we had engaged with some people who had experience of their own, that they were willing to share, and those influencers became a part of the discussion, and we picked, I think it was 15, across the country that we really invited in and made ambassadors on behalf of the brand, then we went into target markets, and we made the brand visible, right. So we are of the belief that nobody buys from brands that they’re not familiar with. And so we needed to put a face on the company that was in support of the stories that were being told by the influencers. And several of those influencers have either heard of the brand, or had friends or family that had been a part of the BCI process. And so that really, that brought to light a lot of support in those stories being something that was a direct experience, or close to direct experience.

Jeremy Weisz 16:01

Bill, you’ve been doing this in agency world for a minute for a little while now, I don’t want to age you. But just give me a brief overview of your journey. Like, where did you start, and then some of the places along the way to current? I know, there’s a bunch of companies, but just, if we were to do a kind of a fast forward reel through your career, what were some of the stopping points?

Bill Harper 16:34

I think DMB&B was certainly the place where I got my real exposure. And that was their flagship office in St. Louis, which was a phenomenal experience. Oddly enough, coming out of that, I think they were 350 or 400 people at that office. And I wound up taking a role working on Denny’s, which was down in Greenville, South Carolina at one of their satellite offices, and went from all of those people down to about 20. And that was my real first taste of how impactful a small team could be. So I see the DMB&B experience as being one of the most profound in terms of my personal education and growth in the career. And then along the way, I found working at Henderson, which was also in South Carolina, they had Michelin and Rio B and peerless, and a number of other things. And I was, in some cases working in a support role on some of those. And in some working alongside people who were working on it, but having a front-row seat to that team, which at the time was I think about 70 or so people. And that was really further reinforcing the impact that could be had on those brands. And so, as I progressed, in my career, what I found was the teams kept getting smaller, because we had greater impact on them, which was a lot of fun. And then one day, my first business partner who I was trying to hire at an agency where I was working called me and said, “Actually, I think you’d be really good helping me run this company, why don’t you come do it?” And ultimately, I wound up doing just that. And that experience really put me on a path that I haven’t strayed from sinse. So actually that was prior to that was Underground Advertising. And so underground was the first like ownership experience. And then, after we sold Underground, I did some consulting, and then I had an agency and then I sold it and then I did consulting. And so I’ve sort of been back and forth between those two models. But the truth is, I think once you’ve been bitten by the ownership bug, it’s practically impossible to go back. It’s just too much fun.

Jeremy Weisz 18:53

Talk about some of the selling of the companies, what lessons did you learn what things do you look back that maybe you wish you would have done differently?

Bill Harper 19:03

I think when you’re young, at least this was the case for me, it was much more about the work than it was the company itself in terms of its value. And so there was a belief on the front end that our company because it was very creative, forward and very strategically creative and the rest of it that that would somehow be a much bigger impact in terms of its value than it was. At the end of the day, it truly comes down to not being involved and being able to have a machine that can operate independently of you. And that requires that you have a solid understanding of who you’re working with and a solid process that allows you to hire the right kinds of people to be valuing the things the same way that you are. So that transition which certainly did not happen overnight has really I think been the biggest thing. It wasn’t that any of the sales or sales to partners as I exited certain companies were in and of themselves, specifically profound. I think the thing that was really instrumental in all of it was learning how other people looked at the company’s value from the outside and the things that were most important to me weren’t always the things that were the most important to them and being able to bring those two things together.

Jeremy Weisz 20:21

What would be an example that was something that was important to you wasn’t important to them, or vice versa?

Bill Harper 20:28

I think the biggest thing is, I didn’t realize in the early stages, just how critical not being involved was. I think, I heard somebody say this, not long ago, I wish I could remember who it was it told me because it was such a beautiful sentiment, but they said, when you start a company, you wear all the hats. And if you do it right, you give them all away. And I think that there are so many leaders that feel that knee-jerk reaction or dependence of being involved as though it’s suddenly going to go off the rails without them. And I think at the end of the day, that’s really indicative of someone who isn’t trying to build a company as much as they are trying to protect their hobby, or the thing that the lifestyle that they really like. If you’re trying to grow companies for scale and if you want to be able to truly have something that’s valuation is going to be as high as possible, it needs to be able to operate independent of you.

Jeremy Weisz 21:21

What was the evolution of the different services you offered as you had different companies and sold them?

Bill Harper 21:33

All of that directly tied back to which ones made the greatest impact. And I’ll give you a great example, we used to do website development back end. And we stopped. And the reason that we stopped is because it became a 24 hour a day, seven days a week, 365 day a year requirement that somebody gets in the back end and makes a mistake, as some clients do. And you’re getting a panic phone call at 11 o’clock at night going, oh my god, I just crashed the website, I have no idea what to do. There are a number of teams that are infinitely better set up than a branding agency is to be able to manage that. And so we spent about four years developing the sites that we created on the front end the user experiences and the design so that we knew exactly what we could do with them. And that education was critical from the standpoint of knowing how and where we could bend and flex the design to be able to work with platform. So I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. But I think that’s a great example of, was that really a larger scale benefit to them? No, the partnerships that were able to scale according to need was a far more significant value to them. So I think us really honing down on the things that we do best, which is that, front end, leadership alignment, that consumer insights piece, and then using that alignment between the insights that we gather and what it is that so important to that company, as the foundation that we use to go swinging for the fences in terms of creating a point of differentiation and unique voice in the category was really where the greatest value came to each of our clients. And as such, we structured ourselves around it.

Jeremy Weisz 23:20

So you’ve grown several agencies at this point, I’d love to hear some of the key hires, as you grew. And it could be with wmHarper or any of the other companies? What were some of the key hires as you grew from a small team to a larger team?

Bill Harper 23:37

I’ll tell you actually, I think there’s, if you don’t mind, there’s a better question to answer with that. And it was the thing that I learned at this company that I didn’t know before. And that was I used to hire for talent almost exclusively. And I was always struck by how hard it was to create culture, when I had such great talent. And it was a real surprise to me. This time around, however, we did it differently. We hired everybody of course, you had to have the talent to be at the table but the deciding factor was values, personal values. For instance, I don’t hire people that are running away from something, I hire people that are running to something. I no longer expect anybody to find their joy in my dream, I openly embrace and trumpet the dream that they are chasing on their own behalf. The idea being if you’re allowed to say out loud as I’ve had copywriters do and the rest, I want to own my own agency one day and I want to have my own clients and I want to use this experience to be able to learn how to do that. Fantastic come-in. That gives me an understanding of how you value the time here. Now we’re working off the same page if what you want and what I want are in alignment, it brings a richness to the communication. The other thing is the development plans, I used to write them for my team and the heads of each department would. And now, instead, we have them write them for themselves, and then we work on them together instead. So rather than having that dreaded annual or biannual meeting where you come in, and it’s like, well, you did these three things, right? And now I’m going to blast the hell out of you on all the things that I didn’t think you did well. Instead, now it’s let me come in. And at the very beginning, we’re going to sit down at about six months, and we’re going to write your personal development plan, and it’s going to be what are the things that excite you the most? What are the things that you hate the most? Where are you trying to go? How are you going to value it, if you were to have the greatest year ever? What would happen. And in doing that, what we really get is kind of a research into our own team, right. And this is, what’s important to them, and what they get excited about and what they dislike about their job. And in doing that, it gives them a better experience, which, oddly enough results in a nice culture, because everybody is valuing the same thing. And so even while it has become significantly harder to maintain culture, I would say for most companies, because they are working remotely, when you have that foundation, at least, you know everybody is swinging from the same direction. And I have found that to be tremendous. So there, there have been amazing people in every discipline that I have had the privilege of working with. But I think the teams that have come through WMH have been the most satisfying, because the folks that were here, were able to be so open about what it was that they wanted to do and who they want it to be, and so forth. And that has proven to be extremely positive in a number of ways.

Jeremy Weisz 26:56

Bill, I love that, and how do you give direction to that person to, “Hey, go out, come up with a development plan, a personal plan?” Do you give them direction on where to go with that?

Bill Harper 27:11

Yeah, it’s a structured document. I think the blank page is a little too big on that one, right? What do you want to be when you grow up? Right, all of us struggle? Hell, I don’t think I can answer that question. So I think at the end of the day, it’s much more about saying, let’s talk about the things you like, let’s talk about things you don’t like. If you were going to set three goals for this year, that you feel would help you get to a better place in your career, what would they be? If you were going to say this is the year that I call my mom and said, I had the best year ever, what would that be? Would it be an award that you won? Would it be an account that you had? Would it be a level that you rose to? Would it be a financial thing that you achieved? Like how would you define that? And by asking them to give up some of that insight? It’s kind of a breath of fresh air. Right. And I think that that’s what’s been good about that kind of an approach is that they’re able to say, hey, instead of just trying to like reverse engineer, how or why we’re doing something so that ultimately they can have their own agency for an example. Instead, it’s an open conversation where it’s, “Hey, why did you think of this? How did you think of this? How is this relevant to what you were trying to build? How can I do something like that similarly, or begin to learn that same skill set?” If that’s what’s really important to them, as a part of this journey, they have a front-row seat to ask those questions. I don’t see a reason in the world to try and hide it. There’s much, much more room out there for all of us to play than there is a reason to protect it. I don’t think anybody’s going to come swinging around yanking clients away or in even if they did, there’s plenty in the pool. Like there’s no reason in the world to get upset about it.

Jeremy Weisz 28:57

Talk about the hiring process. Because you are saying you look for really personal values. How is that baked into the hiring process?

Bill Harper 29:06

To see a Fight Club, everybody stands on the porch for three days. No.

Jeremy Weisz 29:12

You put them in the basement.

Bill Harper 29:13

No, it’s it. I don’t think that it’s so unusual except that we don’t start with the question about Tell me about your history. And what did you hate about your last job? I don’t ask any of that. I ask them what are you trying to achieve? What do you want? Start there? Tell me what you want. Like when you close your eyes and you think man, I will have really gotten to the place I want to go when I blank. What’s in the blank? And then let’s begin there. Did you feel at your last job like you were getting there? If so? Tell me how, if no, if that was the reason that you left tell me why, like what was the thing you were bumping into that wouldn’t let you get to the place you were trying to go. And an understanding that, again, just like a focus group, what they’re really sharing is, I don’t like this kind of conflict, or I don’t want somebody to box me in just this way or what have you. And it really begins to give both parties a nice vocabulary for understanding what’s important to one another and being able to talk about it as it’s relevant to them, which is, of course, what everybody cares about, right? You care about the 10 feet in front of you, if you didn’t feel like this would be good podcast, fodder, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Everybody does that. So instead of trying to hide it or ignore it, why not embrace it and say, “Where are you going? And what do you need?” And that way, we can all be at least making sure that we’re reinforcing it. If it’s completely opposite, then that’s a whole new ballgame. I’ve had people come in and sit down and be like, God, I got to get out of my job. And I’m like, Okay, you’re not ready for this yet. Because what I’m going to ask you to do is be highly accountable to what you say you want to achieve. That’s the quid pro quo, you get to openly admit what it is. But then I expect you to give 110% towards that goal, so that we have something to measure at the end of the day, if you’re running from something, you’re not ready to be running towards something because you haven’t figured out what you’re trying to get to. So I have found that to be a little dangerous, and potentially toxic to the rest of the team. Because they’re not coming in saying, “Hey, this is what I’m really good at. And here’s how I can be positive influence with the thing I’m trying to get under my belt? Who can I align with? And the team that already maybe knows more about that than I do? And who can I be sharing it with that? Maybe I know more than they do about it?”

Jeremy Weisz 31:42

Yeah, and before we hit record, we’re joking around that, if you’re looking to start an agency, you should run. Okay. What did you mean by that?

Bill Harper 31:56

I think, the Digital Influence has been so profound. And you have to marry that with the economic misperception that you can continuously buy growth, in the sense of, I’m going to buy another digital Avenue, I’m going to buy this thing, like it has become so top-heavy buy my way to success, that it’s stopped, like, there’s no reasoning in it anymore. And I’ll give you a great example, we’ve had two clients this year alone, that were actually spending more money in their outreach efforts, because they had become so convinced that the outreach effort would ultimately yield results that they were actually upside down, just they were spending 15 bucks to earn 10. And I’m seeing this happen more and more and more. And I believe it to be a result of a desire on one side. Well, it’s multifaceted, but in its simplest form, a desire on one side to have trackability and accountability, right. I bought this, I got X number for it, I’m able to track who did it or used it, whatever. And that gives us very false sense of security on that side. Number two is the demand to be able to move immediately. Nobody wants to be patient for anything anymore. I’m not entirely sure how that’s come except by way of the digital thing being like, well, you can have it right now. And it does cost a lot you attract the hell out of it. And at the end of the day, then what comes is, well, then I can chase every shiny object in the world because I’m going to produce 50 things anyway. Right? And the answer to that is no, that’s not sustainable or efficient or effective in any measure at all. If you’re just banging stuff out, trying to quote-unquote, AB test your way to success, chances are really, really good that you’re testing mediocrity, and then trying to protect the mediocre thing that performed best, which is ultimately just horrible for everybody involved. So I think a lot of this kind of comes down to a number of things that are in a perfect storm. Oh, and then, of course, the ever-expanding media thing, right? I had a guy. I was doing a presentation at an economic development thing a couple of years ago, and I literally had a guy who like had his head on the table in his hands. He was like, TikTok, and then Facebook, and then this and then this, and then this and then this. He goes, “How do I keep up?” And I said, don’t stop. Like, are you even thinking about who’s on them? Are you even thinking about whether or not your product or service makes any sense to be on there? And he was like, “Well, no.” Right? And neither are the majority. They’re like, oh, my gosh, well, there’s a new platform. Boy, we got to get on that because everybody else is gonna be on it. Let everybody else do it. I mean, not to sound like mom. But if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow them? I mean, at some point, you’ve got to still remember that at the end of the day, it all comes down to the metrics of the company and you take your eye off that ball because you become so invested in the idea of I’ll buy more, I’ll buy more, they’ve got to be out there somewhere, I’ll find them, I’ll find them. The truth is, is you are now tactics way before or instead, in the worst-case scenario of strategy. And at that point, you’re just spending money. I mean, you might as well just burn it and just burn it out a window, it will do as much good.

Jeremy Weisz 35:24

People feel the need to fall the shiny objects.

Bill Harper 35:28

Where I used to see this was couponing. A number of years ago, I worked with precision tune auto care, phenomenal bunch of people. But somebody at HQ had gotten it in their head that they were angry about Jiffy Lube coming in and taking their oil changes. So they started racing against Jiffy Lube for oil changes. Now, I want you to really think about this for half a second. Here’s a group of people that is fully capable of competing with the dealership for doing transmission repairs, brake changes, oil, engine repair, whatever, like major massive things on a car, that cost three and four and five and more $100 per ticket. And they’re fighting for 30 bucks oil change. So they’re filling their base with $30 oil changes by the time we were working with them when we were working with Maryland and Delaware at the time, the franchise coops. And when we sat down with them, they were so coupon dependent, that like I couldn’t get them to let go of like it was literally a stalemate one day at our offices, and I’m standing there I said, “You don’t understand, you’re killing yourself, you are forcing $30 jobs to replace $300 jobs. You do not have to be a Harvard MBA to understand that this is not sustainable, you must let go.” And they said if we do, we’ll lose all our customers. I said great. None of them are loyal to you at all. They’re looking for a $14 oil change, what are you going to drop down to 14 like you must let go. And when they finally did, we held the highest ticket average in the country for two years. And by a lot, we were 2X for two years, everybody else that was on this path, because they filled it back up with appropriate jobs that were at their business model. And so I think, what I saw then is what I’m watching happen again now. It’s like the instead of it being a coupon, which is of course redeemable right, that was what everybody loved about it, I printed 1000 coupons, and I got 300 coupons back, and therefore I know my ROI or ROI is on coupons. In this instance, I see it the exact same way only now, there’s a bajillion coupons, I can buy TikTok coupons and I can buy Facebook tickets, and I can get them all. And so like now I’m really razzed up about the idea of my coupons. And in truth, it’s the same, like the scaffolding behind that picture is exactly the same.

Jeremy Weisz 37:56

So I don’t know if I’m allowed to mention this in North Carolina tire Hill land, but it reminds me of the John Wooden quote, UCLA basketball coach, never mistake activity for achievement. And it feels like that’s kind of what they were doing. They’re busy, and they’re worried that we’re going to get less busy, but you were guiding them towards a better business model and strategy overall with that.

Bill Harper 38:24

I think at the end of the day, smart quotes are allowed anywhere, regardless of which country you’re in the entire country or not. But at the end of the day, I would have to agree with that. And I think it’s been said, by so many coaches and leaders over time, don’t be dazzled by the movement, be dazzled by the achievement. And I think leadership teams are so stressed right now at the tail end of the second year, and the logistics problems and the war effort and tell you about that, there’s constantly something sitting on the horizon right now that’s a threat. And so what they’re doing is, is they’re going down to these little teeny things that they see as bite-sized and inexpensive ish and trackable ish. And they’re taking an undue sense of security from that perception, when in fact, that’s not really the thing. I heard a really phenomenal economist talking about the new religion of business, and I thought it was really fascinating. This was a couple of years ago, but it was just one of those things that I tucked away. He was saying it used to be that a company would get started, and then it would begin to make money and as it made money, it would take the revenue that it made at the end of the year and it would reinvest it in innovation, and then the cycle would come back around right and it would gain momentum based on this thing and then eventually it would start throwing off profit dividend however you want to think about it. He said, but the new religion and economics is skip the investment part bottom-line focus. And he said in what you’re watching now is companies that have squeezed themselves to the point where they can’t innovate any longer. And thus, the fear factor to be able to quote-unquote hit their numbers has become so artificially inflated, because they’re not thinking about it in terms of a long-term strategy. They’re thinking about getting to the next quarter getting to the next statement, that they’ve taken their eye off real growth. And I would have to say that in my experience from the frontlines of marketing, I would say that I have seen way too many companies that have fallen squarely in that definition.

Jeremy Weisz 40:43

I love that. Bill, first of all, I have one last question. And before I ask it, I just want to thank you for sharing your journey, your advice, your stories, and people should check out to learn more check out more and just explore their beautiful website. And you have to check out the pictures there if you’re listening the audio, I just don’t even want to, me talking about doesn’t do justice, you have to go there and check it out. Last question, Bill is mentors of yours, that could be colleagues and mentors that you learn from or could be in personally or distant mentors, just books or resources that you’ve enjoyed throughout the years.

Bill Harper 41:26

I read, and I’m a voracious reader. So I read all the time, and usually five or six books at a time. So I think the most profound impact that I’ve had from a book in the last couple of years was and this is going to sound like we’re on the bandwagon because it’s become so hot lately is EOS by Gino Wickman.

Jeremy Weisz 41:48

I’ve had him on the podcast.

Bill Harper 41:53

Yeah, it’s a phenomenal structure to begin. And it’s like any good base, you can really build off of it. And there’s a lot of room to grow. There was a book and I tried to remember the title of it off the top of my head that was all about selling t value. And it was a really interesting set of insights with respect to stop focusing on the deliverables within a proposal set. It doesn’t matter. Like at the end of the day, do you care how I get you to the spot as long as ethically and morally speaking, and let’s just assume that that’s a plus work. But at the end of the day, if the way that I get there is to, you know, put a tinfoil hat on my head and sit in a room upside down lighting candles with my feet? Like does it really matter if what we get you is something at the end of that process that achieves the thing that you want to achieve? And I think it’s really interesting. I have this argument with people all this. I think it’s funny how leadership teams want to be able to control marketing, nowhere else in their world do they do this, they will go to a mechanic and not tell their mechanic had to do stuff. They’ll have somebody come into their house and lay table and they won’t tell them how to do their job, or they’ll go to a restaurant and ingest food and never once ask a question about how it was prepared or why. But somehow, when they get involved in marketing, they suddenly feel like everybody’s an expert. And I always say this is like me telling my dentists how to draw my tooth, you are not qualified to tell me how to do this job. What you want instead is me to get you from here to there. So please stop mucking it up and let us actually do the thing that we’re trying to do. But I think it’s really funny that that has become such a big thing. Deep Dive is another book that I really enjoyed, super interesting insights on how leadership teams are vulnerable with respect to the education that they receive at MBA programs and their experiences phenomenal book there. I don’t I could probably send you a list more than I could think of them because there are so many that I have a tendency to be like, oh, yeah, and I grabbed this one thing from here and this one thing from there. And so I hope that that’s at least a good place to start.

Jeremy Weisz 44:03

I love it. Bill, I want to be the first one to thank you. Check out Check out more episodes of the podcast and thanks, Bill. Thanks, everyone.

Bill Harper 44:11